Written for the "Passionate About Paul" one-shot contest
Pen Name: SheeWolf85
Title: The Call
Primary Players: Paul and Rachel
Summary: On a blind date going horribly wrong, Paul steps outside to smoke. A payphone rings. Against his better judgment, he answers. What follows might just be the best night of his life.
Word Count: 4,701
Beta'd by: MeraNaamJoker and jkane180
Disclaimer: All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.
To see other entries in the "Passionate About Paul" contest, please visit
A/N: Paul was so much fun to write! I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Is it time to leave yet? I poked the decimated remains of steak and potatoes on my plate and cast a menacing glare at Jared. How could the asshole do this to me?
Jared was supposed to be my friend. I'd known him pretty much all twenty-eight years of my life. We grew up in the same small town of Forks, Washington together. Our parents were best friends, and thanks to them, we saw each other every day, whether we liked it or not.
Jared didn't seem to notice my scowl. He was too busy smiling at Kim while she told a story about something that had happened at work. Jared and Kim had been a couple since high school. Nine years later, they were still going strong. It was actually pretty sickening.
I didn't have much luck with women. It was mostly because I didn't bother looking. But, if you took out that little detail, it was because women didn't like me. I was 'childish,' 'stupid,' and, occasionally, 'offensive.' I preferred to call it 'sarcastic.' I was who I was, and I didn't see any reason to change that for some woman.
My lack of luck with women was what had me trapped here tonight, on a blind double-date with one of Kim's friends, Sarah. Kim thought we'd be great together, and Sarah was looking for a boyfriend.
Kim said we looked good together because we were a contrast. My six foot four frame towered over Sarah's five foot three inches. I had short black hair and dark brown eyes, where she had long brown hair and pretty green eyes.
If I was just going off her looks, I'd say Sarah was beautiful. Her personality left a lot to be desired, though. She complained about nearly everything, and the one time I did try to put my arm around her shoulders when we got to the restaurant, she gave me a "go to hell and die" look and asked me what I was doing. I hadn't tried to touch her since.
I glanced over at Sarah to see her grimacing at the chicken on her plate. It had been overcooked, and she didn't even try to be graceful about her complaints. She didn't want to involve management and make a scene, though, which I guess I could appreciate. She just had to make everyone at the table aware—over and over again—how dry and tasteless it was.
I sighed and decided it was time to get out of there for a minute.
"I'm gonna go smoke," I said, tapping the table. Jared and Kim nodded at me.
"Ew, Paul, you smoke? You shouldn't do that. It's gross," Sarah complained.
I shrugged. "Yeah, I know." I walked away without a backward glance.
The night was warm, and the clouds had dispersed just enough to let the moonlight and some stars shine through. It wasn't all that common to see the stars in Seattle. I leaned against the building next to some payphones and dug my smokes out of my pocket, then lit one and took a long drag.
As I exhaled, I tried to think of anything that could get me out of this ridiculous date. I could just leave. I'd met them all here, so it wasn't like the girl needed a ride home. I was sure they thought I'd end up taking her home, but I hoped that Jared could read my face. Sarah was nothing but torture.
The nicotine calmed me down a little, and I closed my eyes and rested my head back against the rough brick of the building as I blew out a puff of smoke. A few people passed by, and some older lady shook her head at me and waved her hand in front of her nose. I smirked to myself and took another drag.
I finished the cigarette and dropped it on the ground, putting it out with my foot. Just as I was getting ready to go back inside, one of the payphones began to ring.
I stopped short, surprised by the unexpected sound. Payphones didn't just ring… did they? People had to be calling them. Maybe it was someone testing the phone.
That just sounded stupid. How would they even know it worked unless someone picked up?
Don't do it, Paul.
Why not? What's the worst that could happen?
Remember the movie Phone Booth? A guy picks up a phone and suddenly he's in a hostage situation.
Even if that did happen, it would get me out of this so-called date thing.
Ignoring my common sense, I picked up the phone and brought the receiver to my ear.
I heard a gasp and then what sounded like the phone being dropped. I furrowed my brow and thought about just hanging up, but then the phone was picked back up and someone on the other end laughed nervously.
"Oh, my God… I didn't think anyone would actually answer…" The voice was definitely feminine, and it shook as she spoke.
What do you say when you pick up some random stranger's phone call? "Who's this?"
The person sniffled, and I was intrigued. "I'm so sorry for bugging you. I just dialed a random number."
I raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
She sniffled again. "It's been a terrible night, and you don't want to hear it. I'm sorry."
"Wait," I said before she could hang up. I wasn't ready to go back inside yet. "This isn't my phone. It's actually a payphone, so you didn't bug me at all. What's your name?"
"Um… my name's Rachel. Who are you?" She sounded young, but if I had to wager a guess, I'd say she was in her twenties. She didn't sound like a teenager.
"I'm Paul. Why are you calling random numbers?" I leaned back against the building again and pulled out my smokes.
"You really don't want to know."
I lit a cigarette before responding. "Don't you think I should be the judge of that?"
She sighed. "It's difficult to sum it up. My brother and I had a fight, and I don't want to be alone. It's stupid because I am alone, but…I don't know. I feel safer talking to someone."
I furrowed my brow as I exhaled slowly. "Do you mean he comes around and yells at you or hits you?" I wasn't a fan of domestic violence in any situation, and it pissed me off to think that some guy out there was hurting this woman.
"It's not like that. He's a great guy, but we disagree on a lot of things. He doesn't think I should go away for college."
"Oh, okay. So, what did you do? Just decide to make random phone calls?" That sounded even worse than this pitiful excuse for a date.
She laughed nervously. "Pretty much. Pathetic, isn't it?"
"Why not go out? Have some fun with friends?"
An idea began forming in the back of my head, but I told myself to just stop right there. I wasn't getting involved. Period. End of story.
I could hear the shrug in her voice when she answered. "I don't really have that many friends. I'm probably keeping you from your night, so I should—"
"No, not really. I'm on a date from hell, so feel free to talk all you want." As much as I told myself I wasn't going to do anything, I was still planning. I wasn't sure what I was planning, but I was doing it anyway.
She laughed, and I liked the sound of it. "It's so bad you'd rather spend your time talking to a stranger on a payphone?"
"You have no idea. So what are you going to do tonight? Just make calls until you feel better?" And why the hell am I asking?
"Probably. What about you? You can't hide from the hell-date forever."
I laughed and put the cigarette out. "No, but I can try. Where do you want to go to college?"
She sighed. "I don't know yet. I've applied to several out-of-state but haven't heard back on any of them yet. Jacob, my brother, wants me to stay in Seattle. I can't really blame him. I mean, all that's left of our family is him, me, and our dad. If I leave, it'll be just him and Dad. I'm sorry; you probably don't want my whole life story."
I smiled to myself. "I don't mind, really."
"Why is your date so bad? Is she really ugly or something?"
I laughed again and got more comfortable against the wall. "She's kind of cute, I guess, but she's evil and picky. Not one thing about tonight has made her happy."
"Ugh. I don't like people like that. I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault. What would you do tonight, if you could do anything you wanted?"
She paused for a minute and hummed like she was thinking. "I'd probably go see a movie and eat some pizza. What about you?"
Pizza and a movie actually sounded fun. "The same thing. What movie?"
She clicked her tongue, thinking again. "I'd want something scary. Like really scary. So scary it would leave me paranoid for a week."
Girls that liked horror movies were hard to find. Some claimed they did, but then couldn't handle it when the movie got good.
"What kind of scary?"
"I don't know. Like a really good ghost story."
My kind of girl. Movie, I mean; my kind of movie. "The new Paranormal Activity movie is out. Did you see the first one?"
"I did," she said excitedly, and I smiled. "I thought it was great. Jacob hated it, though. He said it was boring."
I nodded. "Well, it was if you didn't pay attention. The ending only makes sense if you know what's going on before that."
"That's what I said. He wouldn't listen, though."
My cell phone vibrated in my pocket, interrupting what I was about to say. "Hold on a sec," I said as I dug my phone out. It was a text from Jared.
I smiled again. "My friend is texting me, asking if I've run away," I told Rachel.
She laughed. "Should I let you go?"
"No, I'll just tell him I'm still out here. What kind of pizza do you like?" I typed a quick message back to Jared as she answered.
"I like the combination with everything except mushrooms."
"Why not mushrooms? They're good."
"I don't eat fungus," she answered matter-of-factly.
"Oh," I laughed. "Okay. No fungus. What about pineapple?"
"Ew, no way. Fruit and pizza do not go good together. What kind do you like?"
"I'm a meat-lover kind of guy―the more meat on the pizza, the better. And, you know, some people say that tomatoes are fruit. What about that?"
She scoffed. "I don't care what people say; tomatoes are vegetables. Always have been; always will be."
This call just kept getting better and better. "I agree with that. So how old are you, Rachel?"
"I'm twenty-three. You?"
I might have been a little proud of myself for guessing her general age. "Twenty-eight." I wondered what she thought about older guys. I was only five years older, but some girls thought that was too much. I also wondered what she'd think about going out with someone she met through a random phone call. I was considering asking her about acting on our little movie and pizza scenario when she interrupted my thoughts.
"Um, I should probably go. It's been great talking to you, Paul."
I almost panicked. I didn't want to ask her out on a date—not a real date, anyway. Not until I actually met her. But I wanted to meet her in person.
"You know, Rachel… uh, I was thinking… Well, first of all, would you believe me if I told you I wasn't a deranged serial killer?"
She laughed. "What kind of question is that?"
"It's the kind of question that leads up to me asking if you'd like to go see Paranormal Activity 2 and eat pizza with me tonight." I knew I'd only end up regretting it the rest of my life if I didn't at least try.
Everything was quiet for a few seconds. "Are you asking me out?" she asked hesitantly.
I cleared my throat. "I don't think so," I said hesitantly. "I thought maybe we could meet in person and see what happens from there."
She was quiet again. I prayed she said yes. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"You promise you're not a deranged serial killer?"
"I promise I'm not. I'm just a normal guy." I anxiously lit another cigarette as I hoped her question meant she'd agree.
"How do you know I'm not?" she asked.
I smirked. "If you were, you wouldn't hesitate to agree and have a chance to hack me up."
She laughed, and it calmed my nerves a little. "I guess that's true. Okay, Paul."
"Okay? You'll go with me?"
"Yes, I'll go with you."
Score! "Should I come get you, or do you want to meet somewhere?"
"I don't have a car right now, and I don't want to borrow my dad's. I'd really appreciate it if you'd come get me. Do you have a pen? I'll tell you how to get here."
I patted my pockets as I looked around. I didn't have a pen with me, but I noticed one lying on the ground. I picked it up and tested it on my hand. I couldn't believe my luck when it worked.
"I've got one. What's your address?"
She told me where she lived and a few directions. I wrote everything down on my hand and smiled at it.
"You're really sure about this, Paul?" she confirmed.
"I am. Are you?"
She hesitated. "I think so. But Jacob… he's not going to like it too much. He's protective of me even around guys I've known for years."
"Is he there?"
"Yeah, he is. I'm living with him and my dad while I decide where to go to college. I might be able to sneak out without him noticing."
"Yeah, but that'll cause trouble for you later when you get home. Do you think he'd kick my ass if I met him?" I laughed to myself. I could take him.
"He might try. He's younger than me, but he's a lot bigger."
"How old is he?" I doubted he was bigger than me.
"He's twenty. I can try to butter him up before you get here."
"Sure, you do that, and I'll be there in a few minutes." I hadn't been this thrilled about anything for months.
"Sounds good. Um, I'm excited."
I smirked to myself. "Me, too."
"See you soon."
"Yep." I wasn't sure why I didn't want to hang up.
She laughed. "So, goodbye for a minute."
Finally, I managed to put the receiver back on the base. I took a deep breath and dug my keys out of my pocket. On my way to the car, I texted Jared again.
Cover my bill? I'll pay you back later. I'm outta here. Sorry, dude, that girl is poison.
I hit send and put my cigarette out before I got in the car. Just as I put the car in reverse, Jared texted back.
Can't blame ya, man. Where you headed?
I chuckled. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Catch you later.
I double-checked the address on my hand before I pulled out of the parking lot. As I drove, I kept checking my hand to make sure I was going in the right direction. When I found the place, I parked on the curb and walked up to the two-story, blue house. I hesitated before I knocked on the door.
You can do this, Paul. If you can answer a payphone and strike up a conversation with a total stranger, then end up asking her out, you can knock on a damn door.
I took a deep breath and knocked three times.
I heard muffled voices—one male and one female—but I couldn't make out any words. It sounded like a lighthearted argument. Maybe he was teasing her. Two minutes passed before the door finally opened.
Instead of the woman I'd been expecting, I was face to face with a man. He stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. He was maybe an inch or two taller than me with ear-length black hair and black eyes. He looked me over before he spoke.
I nodded and held out my hand. "Yes, I'm Paul. Are you Jacob?"
He shook my hand briefly. "I am." He narrowed his eyes. "What are you going to do and how long are you going to be gone?"
I shrugged. "The plan is to see a movie and get some pizza."
He was interrupted by a woman smacking his arm. "Jacob, knock it off. Could you let him in?"
Jacob looked down at her. She was about a foot shorter than him with long black hair. Her eyes were black like Jacob's, but they were wide and feminine. She had strong but beautiful features, and from what I could see of her body, she looked athletic and healthy. I liked that she wasn't stick-thin, and that she had some beautiful curves.
Jacob finally stepped back, and she moved around him. She cleared her throat and met my eyes.
"Hi… Paul?" She held out her hand.
I took her hand. "Yes. Rachel?"
She blushed and nodded. "Yeah." She laughed nervously and glanced back at her brother. "I'll be back later, Jake. I've got my phone, but it'll probably be silent while we're in the theater. I'll call you, though, okay?"
"Be careful." He looked at me. "If I don't hear from her in three hours, I will come find you."
I nodded. "I'll make sure you hear from her then."
Rachel stepped out of the house and looked up at me. I smiled and put my hand on her back to lead her to my car. Jacob didn't shut the door until I opened the car door for Rachel and she sat down. When I got in the driver's seat, I turned to her.
"I'm sorry," she said with a nervous smile. "He's way too overprotective sometimes."
I shrugged. "You're going to see a movie with a guy you don't know. I'd be overprotective, too." I couldn't blame Jacob for wanting his sister to be safe.
"I know, but he's… never mind. Let's go." She put her seatbelt on. I followed suit and started driving.
I wanted to ask her to continue her thought, but I didn't want to push her. Instead, I tried to think of something else to say. "I have to admit I didn't check movie times or anything. Hopefully there's still one playing." I was a little embarrassed, but she smiled at me.
"That's okay. Even if there isn't one, we can still get pizza, right?"
When we got to the theater, I put my hand on her back again as we walked up to the cashier. I looked up at the movie times, and was relieved to see one showing in an hour.
"Would that be too late?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Nope. I'll just let Jacob know that it's a later showing. Maybe we could get some pizza before the movie?"
I moved my hand up to her shoulder, and she stepped closer to me. "That sounds great."
I paid for the tickets, and since the theater had some food places inside, we just headed in. The pizza place offered personal pizzas, so I let her order what she wanted, and I got one with every kind of meat they had. She was smiling at me as we took our trays to a table.
"What?" I asked.
She shrugged and blushed as we sat down. "Nothing. I guess it's just weird. You know, you said you liked meat on a pizza, but now I'm with you… I'm sorry; I'm rambling."
I smirked. "Don't be sorry; I don't mind you rambling. I think I know what you mean. I said it on the phone, but now you know it's true."
She nodded. "Exactly."
We ate for a few minutes, and she complimented the pizza. It felt nice to be with someone who didn't look for things to complain about.
"So what did you say to get out of your date from hell?" she asked.
I shrugged. "It was a double date. We were there with my friend Jared and his girlfriend. I didn't even go back in; I just texted him to tell him I was leaving. He wasn't upset."
"Nice. You think she'll get over you?"
"No, she'll probably hate herself forever."
Rachel laughed and mumbled something under breath. I leaned forward. "What?"
She blushed and looked at me with wide eyes for a second. "I said I wouldn't blame her."
I smiled cockily but didn't push it. "What were you saying earlier in the car? About Jacob?"
She furrowed her eyebrows. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"We were talking about him being overprotective, and you started saying something. You stopped, though, and I was just wondering what you were going to say."
"Oh, yeah. Well, he kind of has a reason for being so protective." She shrugged.
She had to know I was going to ask for more. She couldn't just leave it there. "Of course he does. You're his sister."
She sighed. "That's not the only reason, though. Five years ago, our mother and sister were killed in a car accident. They went out to get dinner one night and never came home." She looked down at her tray, and I felt like an ass.
"I'm sorry, Rachel." I reached out and touched her hand, and she peeked up at me through her lashes.
"Thanks, Paul. It's okay, though. It was a long time ago, but it left a pretty good dent in our lives."
I didn't know what to say. I'd never lost anyone close to me, so I couldn't say I understood. I just held her hand and hoped she knew I could at least sympathize.
She smiled and took a deep breath. "So what's your favorite dessert?" she asked.
I didn't let go of her hand as I answered. "Anything loaded with sugar. And preferably topped with whipped cream."
She laughed. "How about ice cream?"
"I could do that. Do you like it?"
"Yes, I do. Banana splits are my favorite."
I looked around and spotted an ice cream parlor across the huge room. "Should we go see if we can get one?"
Rachel smiled a huge smile and nodded. "That would be perfect."
We threw away our garbage, and I checked the time as we walked over. "We have twenty minutes; you think we can make it?"
"Oh, yeah. I can put down dessert like nobody's business."
I laughed and put my hand on her shoulder as we walked. "Well, you are a woman. But I bet you can't eat it faster than I can."
She gave me a serious look. "You're on."
The parlor didn't have banana splits, but they did have sundaes. I got Rachel and I each a hot fudge sundae, and we sat down at the bar. "Are we betting anything?" I asked.
She shrugged. "You're the one that made the bet in the first place."
"Okay. How's this… If I win, I get to take you out on a real date."
Rachel paused for a moment before she looked at me. I was almost worried for a minute, but then she smiled shyly. "It probably won't matter who wins, then, because that was kind of what I wanted."
Could this night get any better? "New plan. If I win, I get to choose what we do on our date. If you win, you get to choose."
She smiled brightly. "I can live with that."
With that, we started eating. I didn't know how she did it, but she won. By a landslide. I was only halfway done when she finished and put her spoon down on the counter. I looked at her with wide eyes.
"What did you do with it all?" I asked.
She laughed. "I ate it, thank you very much. And I'm pretty sure it'll all end up on my hips."
I laughed and kept eating. "You want another one?"
"No, thank you."
When I was done, it was time for the movie. Rachel and I found some seats in the middle. I smiled when she took my hand. The movie was decent. I only liked her more when she didn't scream or leave the theater. She did jump once or twice and even squeezed my hand, but I could handle that. When the movie was over, she texted her brother.
"So what did you think of it?" she asked me when she put her phone back in her pocket.
"It was okay. It had a few good scares."
She nodded. "I don't think I liked it as much as the first movie, but it was endurable."
We walked outside. "Are you ready to go home?"
Rachel nodded. "I'm getting kind of tired. What time is it?"
I checked my watch. "It's eleven thirty."
I took out my cigarettes as we walked to the car. She gave them a strange look, and without thinking, I offered her one.
She shook her head. "No, thanks, I don't smoke."
"Good. Don't ever start." I tried to keep the smoke away from her as we walked.
We reached my car, and she smiled up at me. "I had a really fun time tonight. I'm glad I called that number."
I smiled and put the cigarette out. "Me, too."
"So when are we going to get together again?"
I moved my fingers up her arm. "How about Saturday?" That was just four days, and as much as I wanted to see her the next day, it just wasn't possible. This was why work sucked ass.
Rachel smiled. "Saturday would be great. I get to decide what we do, right?"
"Of course. You won, although I'm still not sure how."
"Okay. How about I call you Friday and let you know what I decided?"
"That sounds perfect."
I realized then that I'd been leaning closer to her. My face was inches from hers, and I had one hand on the car while the other held her shoulder. She had reached up at some point, and her hands were on my arms. Without over-thinking, I closed the distance and kissed her. It was a simple, closed mouth kiss that only lasted a few seconds. But in those few seconds, I felt an electric shock from my lips to my toes.
I pulled back slowly, a little stunned. Her eyes remained closed for a moment, and I smiled at the look on her face. Her lips were parted slightly, and her brow was furrowed just a tiny bit. She was truly a beautiful woman.
She finally opened her eyes and blushed. "I, um… I should probably get home."
I nodded and opened the car door for her. "Yeah, probably."
I drove her back to her house, and we exchanged phone numbers when I parked in front of the curb. I walked her up to her door, and she smiled again as she opened the door.
"Thanks again for a great night, Paul," she said. She stood on her toes to kiss my cheek.
Jacob was in front of her almost as soon as the door opened. He glanced back and forth between us, looking impatient to get her alone so he could ask her if I'd done anything even slightly inappropriate.
"It was my pleasure, Rachel. I'll talk to you Friday?"
She nodded. "Of course."
I hugged her quickly, and she gave me one last glance before she stepped inside and shut the door. I almost skipped my way back to the car.
One thing was certain: Saturday couldn't come soon enough.