“Uh, Riley?” Nate poked his head into my office and looked directly over at my desk, but I wasn’t sitting there.
No, I was sitting on the couch by the door with a box of Cheez-Its on my chest still in my pajamas. I had a cat curled up beside me on my left and right and a water bottle beside one of the cats. I smacked the cheese crackers loudly while staring blankly at the TV in front of me.
When Nate looked away from my empty desk and saw me slumped on the couch, he jumped back shocked and gasped. “Oh, um… Hey. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I groaned tossing in a couple more crackers into my mouth. One of the cats arched his back and stretched all the way out before curling back into a ball. He accidentally kicked my water bottle off the couch.
“Crap,” I muttered staring at it, but not bothering to move to pick it up. “I was just about to take a sip…”
Nate slowly bent down to pick up the water. He placed it back onto the couch eying me nervously. It was almost as though he was sticking his hand inside a tiger cage and he was expecting to get it ripped off from his body.
“Oh, thanks,” I smiled taking the bottle of him. I wiped some crumbs on my pants and then opened the water bottle taking a sip.
“Riley, are you alright? What’s going on?” Nate asked.
I looked away from my show and stared up at Nate confused. “What are you talking about?”
“This is…” Nate pointed to me and looked me up and down. I could tell he was trying to think of a way to word whatever he wanted to say delicately. “This is certainly a side of you I have never seen before.”
I shrugged my shoulders and turned back to the TV. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do about that.
He looked over at my laptop. He put his hands on his hips looking back over at me. “Have you written anything at all today for NaNo?”
“I suck. The novel sucks. The words aren’t flowing as well as they did when the challenge first began. It’s stupid. I’m stupid.” I grumbled still not taking my eyes off of the TV.
Nate wagged an index finger in the air a sly grin forming across his lips. “Ah, I see what this is.”
I turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow. What did he know? Nothing, probably.
“I read about this on that website I found the first day you started this challenge.” Nate explained. He took out his cell phone and looked at something. “According to my calendar, we’re two days into week two of November. You’re experiencing the NaNo Week Two Slump.”
I kept a steady gaze on his face. I had to admit that I was impressed by his research. So far, he had gone above and beyond to encourage me to continue writing. He brought me a coffee multiple times during the day, every day. He loaded me up with sugar like doughnuts and candy, and he had even cooked dinner most nights so I could continue writing or just take a break. He really was one of a kind.
“Apparently, this happens to pretty much everyone who participates in NaNo.” Nate explained as though I didn’t know. This wasn’t my first year participating in the challenge.
“You just need a little coaxing.” Nate bent down and picked up the remote. He turned off the TV, ignoring my protests, which startled the two cats.
He took away my snack and picked up the cats shooing them away. “No more cuddling, no more moping.” He grabbed my water bottle and put it on m desk turning on my laptop. “You can keep going.”
“But I have no idea where my novel is even going.” I groaned.
“So write a different scene.” Nate came back over to me and took my by the hands. He pulled me off the couch grunting as I let my body go limp. “Come on, Riley!”
“I don’t wanna…”
“I heard that if you write a different scene or just try to plan out different scenarios, your mind will get back on track.” Nate said and then took a deep breath. He was a lot stronger than me, but he was still out of breath as he pushed me, with my heels dug into the ground, towards my desk.
He sat me down at my desk and I glared at him.
“You’re stupid.” I said.
“The website also mentioned to not get offended if you spoke profanities at me.” Nate said cockily.
“I hate you.”
“Great,” Nate clapped his hands together. “I’m going to make you another cup of coffee, so finish that water and hydrate. Then you can get started on catching up.”
I took another sip of my water—because I was thirsty, not because he told me to—and then leaned back in my chair. I stared at my screen as my novel popped up on the screen. I had never exited out of it the day before. I just closed my laptop and walked away pouting.
“How many words do you need to write in order to be on par?” Nate asked.
I glanced down at the word count in the bottom left corner of the screen. “I need to write about 2,500 words…” I muttered.
“That doesn’t sound too bad.” Nate nodded his head. “I know you can do it.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. Why did he have to be so perky about it?
“Listen, if you write 2,500 words, I’ll make broccoli cheddar soup for dinner.” Nate said with a wink.
I softened my gaze at me. I certainly didn’t feel like cooking, so having Nate make dinner was good to hear. Plus, broccoli cheddar soup was my favorite. It was definitely a good incentive.
“If you write 2,500 words plus a little more,” Nate continued, “then we can go out for ice cream afterwards. I think you would use some sun and fresh air, so it will be a win-win for everybody.”
I perked up and smiled, but immediately frowned again. I didn’t want Nate to think that his bribery was working, but judging by his own grin he definitely noticed me get excited. I mean, who could say no to ice cream?
I started typing away on my novel that I didn’t even hear the door click closed as Nate left to give me privacy.