Echo fiddles with her mug, eyes darting to the closed bedroom door and Eric's profile. He casually sips his coffee, seemingly unfazed by the abrupt display of aggression.
She's yet to say anything for a couple reasons. One, Eric eerily calm demeanor is slightly alarming. And two, she doesn't want this Hailey to hear anything she has to say.
After several moments, the silence thickening with every passing second, Hailey finally emerges from his bedroom. Four boxes precariously sit atop one another, the weight straining her thin arms.
Eric makes no attempt to help, opting to stare at the young woman and glide his thumb around the ceramic rim of his mug.
Hailey mutters and bumps along, disappearing from sight as she heads to the front door. They hear her voice get pitchy at the person in the hall, then the front door is closed.
Echo and Eric remain in the stilled silence for a few heartbeats. Then, Echo moves forward, placing her nearly empty mug on the coffee table.
She comes around to his plush chair, carefully kneeling.
Eric had slumped back, massaging the crease between his brows. This night had taken yet another detour that did not put him in the most favorable light.
He's sure Echo is done entertaining his bullshit tonight.
But the young woman surprises him, grasping the hand from his forehead. She laces her soft, delicate fingers with his, clasping the back of his hand with her other.
All Echo said was his name. But the meaning and warmth in her voice drew about a wave of tears he wasn't prepared for. Along with a surge of anger at the vulnerability.
But before he can become hostile with her, she squeezes his hand, settling the bundle in her lap.
She brought him forward with the new position, trying to keep him from withdrawing into his aloof indifference.
"Eric. You really shouldn't go punching walls. They truly don't stand a chance."
The watery laugh from him brings a beautiful smile to Echo's face. She doesn't want to offer him half-hearted hopes or empty reassurances.
She doesn't know him, but knows that finding the humor in any situation can help ease the tension.
And it does. Eric places his coffee on the floor, swiping a hand over his eyes to compose him. The sweet caress of Echo's fingers over his swelling knuckles reminds him of what a fool he is.
"Fuck, Echo. I was expecting some cliche punchline that would reaffirm what a bitch Hailey is and what a kickass man I am."
"Oh well," Echo sighs, tugging on his hand dramatically as she bring up their bundled hands,"My poor, dear Eric. Hailey is such a skank hoe that never deserved your beautiful, valiant-"
Eric rolls his eyes and playfully nudges Echo back, who loses her balance. He ends up tangling with her on the ground, the breathless laughter echoing in the rather lonesome apartment.