Some days I couldn't get up couldn't get down
I'm bored of everything
Somehow a little black cloud would rain over me
Someone was making me mad good turned bad
And I'd lose everything to get you back
Just to get you back but...
These days the world's alright
The sun shines bright
I'm kicking out the dreams
These days I don't think twice
I walk on ice
I'm positively somewhere
These days go on
Long after you've gone
These days go on
Long after you've gone
These days go on and on...
I'm out of the fire and into the swimming pool
Sometimes I'd drown my tears
But the same old fears come back
Someone's been making me ill
I bet you're still a 2,3,4 letter word
Yes, you heard the pretty little birds fly home, cause...
The sun kicks in
The good guys win
I'm illegal in the back seat
These days I'm safe and sound
Not dragged down
You wanna know the reason?
These days go on...
Thank you for not being here
I feel better when you're not sleeping in my head
Tossing and turning an' messing up the sheets
The love we made was incomplete
Like the shoes on your feet
Same stuff I've heard before
That philosophy starting to bore me now
Now you won't have to smile and ignore me
These days the karma's right
The sun shines bright
I'm kicking out the bad dreams
These days I don't think twice
I walk on light
I'm positively somewhere
These Days - Jennifer Paige
I finally realized where the destruction came from; what initiated it. I never pushed hard enough to make her happy. I wasn’t perfect enough to keep us together. I tried my best, but sometimes that just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t flawless enough. I wasn’t flawless enough. I figured if I kept that smile on her face, if I just tried a little harder and made her a little prouder, she would never stop loving me. But I was wrong. She was waiting for me to screw up. She was waiting to prey upon me the very second it all came crashing down. I always felt so drunk with her, yet I was as sober as a virgin daiquiri.
I have one more stupid question. Do we all have reasons for being here? Were we all put on this damned world to be insanely psyched at the fact that we were put here because of some higher reasoning, some actual purpose? And if so were we chosen for that purpose because we were better than the person before us? Was I the best at failing, screwing over every minimal good thing in my life that ever became something? Was I better at it than the man before me? So that was more than one question.
It doesn’t change the fact that she’s gone. After our sunny day romance changed gears and drove us apart, we still both ended up in Boston. We still both ended up as friends. And in the beginning it was hard to even achieve something so simple; so natural. And now that I’m closer to her than I could’ve ever pleaded for after everything I put her through…it’s harder. It’s so much harder. Even when I close my eyes, let the static run through the blackness, she won’t just fade away. She’s damned me. She still sleeps under my messy covers, the monster in my bed. She’s still the dirt preserved beneath my fingernails, making me scratch in the desperate ache to be free of her. She’s still the salt in the tears she swelled. She’s still bleeding from the open wounds she made sure she infected. She’s everywhere. She’s goddamn everywhere.
I want to hate her. I want to hate her so much that I can learn how to forget her. But I don’t know how to hate Joey Potter. She doesn’t mean to drive me insane. She can’t help it. All I really should want now is peace from the pain she’s left behind with me. But I don’t want peace. I want a fucking explosion. I want to feel so crowded and frightened I can’t breathe…but I can forget what we used to be. I want to take a bullet to the left side of my chest until I bleed so much something hunts me down. I want to hunt the hunter. I want distraction. I want the discomfort of knowing I really don’t know what I want anymore.
I’m chicken shit. I can’t just be brave enough to call over a taxicab and give her a first class ride out of that part of me that still loves her too damned much.
Laying here in the homely embrace of this yacht I’m about to lose, I find myself scrutinizing the shadows in distrust. I feel like a cowardly lion, pacing the interior of my cage, my very own prison until the soles of my feet are so worn down it hurts to walk anymore. Even more like a fish, caught but not killed. Just left on the cold tiles of a floor to squirm until I slowly die; till I slowly suffocate from the very air I breathe. I know that I’m not happy about how things ended off. But I don’t know why I find it a laughing matter.
When you’re happy and you know it stomp your feet. I love walking up in the blistering sunshine to see the priceless, blinding sign of Civilization. It shouts out ‘success’ to me. It’s the only thing that’s been calling on my attentions lately. It’s the restaurant that actually found a small corner for me to hide in. Dougie never could imagine me, the satisfied slacker of Capeside actually having a few cents in his pockets. But then again, I could never imagine him as anything more than a homosexual closet case excuse for a law-abiding officer.
I never realized how much I would like getting my hands dirty. And no matter how sickening it has become to be wallowing the days away in a humid kitchen that holds reminders of Karen in every corner, a woman who almost politely rejected me and left, it is still work. And as hard as it is surviving a boss who compares too easily to a hormonal rabbit, it still pays. And that to me is every bit worth the self-improvement and ‘oh my gods’ from my nonexistent parental units back home. I’m sure they probably haven’t even dragged themselves away from ‘When Wild Animals Attack’ long enough to realize I’m actually gone. And if they have, they’ve probably held the mother of all celebrations. I can see it now, a marching band, balloons and hats, and last but not least a big banner with a ‘hooray’ painted on it. I hope they didn’t forget the double fudge cake.
“You’re late!” is my chirpy morning greeting from Danny as I bombard through the barricade of swiveling doors into the kitchen. I am fascinated with those doors. Everyone else disregards them, but I find intrigue in the way they seemingly float open at my presence with nothing but a subtle shove.
“Correction. I am fashionably late, and five minutes and thirty-two seconds at that.”
He passes me a quick roll of his eyes and does his best not to smile at the charm he hired me for. One day he’ll catch up.
“Pacey, thank god you’re here. My hair…is flat.”
Audrey. What else must I say? She looks absolutely horrid with that expression of pure despise. She’s already complaining like a sourpuss when she only just got this job, thanks to the leg up I gave her. She’s one damn brave woman to be wearing the lip.
“Ah, my little minion. If I were Alberto I could possibly help you with that…but I’m not. So I have one word for you. Deal.” I wear a toothy grin of mirth, and I can see the rampaging anger pulsating in her veins. I’m sure right now I’m at the top of her list titled ‘People I Should Kill Before They Kill Me’.
“Since when did customers have the right to come in such large dosages?”
“Since it became a public restaurant,” I counter. I see her emerald orbs become cat-like, and my acumen senses await the much-perceived hiss that will probably accompany it. Good thing she’s de-clawed.
She frowns subtly. “And since when did it become illegal to kill annoyances as great as yourself?”
I shrug. “Since it became legal to be in the company of whiners like you.” I love this. I feed on this. My ultimate passion putting all seawater speeches behind is this. The back and forth frolic of two snake-like tongues that have the ability to consume all invariable insults as well as snap their own without the guilt of imposing. This is sweet survival for my kind.
“Bite me,” she rhymes off before pointedly rolling her eyes in a motion that is so quick and unheeded, yet so undeniably slow I catch every second of it.
“Maybe later,” I mumble on my own terms, slipping on the ivory apron that is too Martha Stewart for me to wear without burdening my dignity as a man.
“We survived,” I muster through the grogginess in my throat. One busy night always lets us live for another. And me, carrying lady luck on my shoulders as usual, ended up with cleanup duty. Audrey to my surprise offered her assistance, four hands making the job easier. Even with my alarm at that I couldn’t really voice my gratitude. It was choked in my throat, like if I said it I was somehow actually willing to give her some benefit of the doubt.
“I knew we’d survive the night…I just wasn’t sure if we’d survive each other,” she rhymes off in a lippy tone.
“That’s because I brought my survival kit. A sledgehammer, some Tylenol, some…”
“And I’m expecting the Tylenol was for me and the monstrous headache you triggered,” she interrupts my train of thought swiftly. For that she earns some brownie points and even more of my respect. She keeps getting better and better at this.
I quirk my heavy brows with a serious expression, though I’m sure my eyes are laughing with hers. “No. The Tylenol was for me. The Ritalin was for you.”
“I’m just dying of laughter, Pace,” she muses sarcastically.
“Well, good. It’ll save me the trouble.” I know I’m too quick for her, and that’s the pure joy of it. Watching her struggle every inch of the way, challenging me blindly without any regards to whether she wins or loses. It’s not the beginning that counts. It’s always the end, who forces in the last words and obstructs the others sense of control and dominance over the game. It’s all a game.
Her flamboyantly tainted lips part in haste, readying her comeback before realizing she didn’t have one to begin with. So she just smiles. The best thing about Audrey is that she smiles too much, and I’m in love with that. It’s as if she devotes herself to practicing and perfecting it because she does it so often. And she has. Her smile is contagious though she wears it unknowingly. I could count every pearly white in the length she manages to prolong each one. They are all so honest, greedy and overpowering and they wash over you with a sense of complete relief and contentment. But I also know they are deadly. Because anything that has a power to make me that weak is never a good thing. It’s too easy to use to her every whim.
“What are you staring at?” she mentions in lingering thought.
I clear my throat, settling with a depleted exhale. “Nothing.” I debate the thought. “Nothing at all.”
Her thin brows furrow inquisitively, and her glossy lips form an incomplete grin this time, unsure with herself. “Oh. You were staring at me like I had food stuck between my teeth.”
“Which wouldn’t surprise me, but no. Just some nose hairs I couldn’t help but notice.”
“Pacey!” she growls beneath her breath and shoots me a sharp right-hander against my shoulder. Ouch. That’ll leave a bruise. “Is this all you ever do? Kill people silently but deadly with your unfathomable presence?”
“No. That’s your job.” I smirk while swinging my limp appendages in swelling boredom as we sit side-by-side on the metallic counter, allowing my feet to hover above the tiled floor that still holds splashes of stains from spaghetti sauce.
I hear her feisty snort before she grants me a response. “You really need to get a life, Witter.”
“No, Liddell. We really need to get a drink.”
She snaps her fingers bluntly. “See? No magical alcoholic beverages to help us get our groove on.” Her features became drowned in a stupidity I almost raise chuckles to.
“I wasn’t looking for a magic show. Over there is…” I pause simply to catch her attentions, pulling her strings inch by inch until her eyes visibly widen and she threatens to let her wad of gum slip from the moist interior of her mouth.
“Is?” She hurries my attempts to prolong the nuisance of it, making a spectacle of the cupboard I had gestured to.
“The cupboard,” I pronounce each word with a heavy undercurrent of possibilities, burdening her with the weight of curiosity.
“The cupboard being…?” She struggles to comprehend.
“A stowaway for all of Danny’s most prized wines. The oldest and the damn best too. Never will you have tasted anything so rich and sweet as what’s behind those doors,” I announce before I ease off the counter and advance in a stalking procedure for what was to become our prey. I gape open the wooden blockage with a soundless creak, my hand venturing inwards to find the desired contents. I lazily flip through a few of the less admired labels, before finding one that fits the bill. “Here is one that’ll blow the socks off you.”
“Unfortunately that wasn’t the effect I was looking for.” She smiles inwardly at me before greedily snatching the chilled bottle out of my hands. She pops the cork, her nostrils gyrating over the small opening to take a deep sniff. I shade my laughter, as she is startled backwards at the acerb stench of it, choking wildly as she touches her fingertips to her stinging nose. “Can you say yuck? Wouldn’t Danny call this stealing, Pace?” She suddenly becomes my guilty conscience, which I do my best to ignore.
“No. Technically it is called borrowing,” I explain.
“Right.” She blinks cautiously before studying the amber abyss of liquids that lie within. “This wine must be expensive,” she assumes.
“I thought diamonds were a girl’s best friend? If I recall correctly, some less than handsome guy with a bulging wallet could easily make you come home wagging your little tail,” I deviously retort, feasting on her wide grin in response.
“Only ones that know how to shine their shoes.” She laughs.
I search the clean stacks of dishes for suitable wine glasses, her laughter breezing by as I catch it from behind. “Oh, well. Life is much too short to drink cheap wine,” I speak animatedly, trying to win over her approval of the act.
“Amen to that!”
The moment I swivel, extending open palms with two lost and found glasses, she already has the open tunnel to her lips as the warm liquid glides down her throat. I am mesmerized by how quickly her Adams apple pulsates with each swig. Mother of pearl, she’s chugging!
I feel like I’m on the merry-go-round. We’re both drunk. Not tripping over our own feet, convulsively vomiting drunk. Just pleasantly drunk. Drunk enough that I have been able to unbutton my shirt and she has been able to kick off her shoes. I notice that perspiration clings to both of us, causing our hair to have become slick against the back of our necks. It’s kind of a relieving process to be this careless and senseless without reasoning. The icy tiling of the floor we rest upon is definitely a thoughtful reassurance.
“So, Witter boy. Do tell me where this terrific girlfriend of yours is. As much as you enjoy bragging, I’m beginning to think she’s joined invisible women anonymous.” She takes another deep swallow of the bubbly liquid, and she seems to have developed the habit of it now, not even knowing the difference between when the bottle is to her lips or when it rests ineffectually in her sweaty grasp.
“Ah, Melanie. She has currently dissipated into thin air, also known as law school.” I find my relationship with the highly classed blonde like a game of charades. I feel like I’m miming to her. All my words are completely swallowed in her pity, and she never hears a damned thing. So I’m left to bitter silence, my tenability lost and forgotten. She’s mangled everything at one point in time I actually admired myself for.
“The intellectual type, huh? That surprises me.” She stares blankly ahead, her dark and penetrating stare finding a cemented stationing in the empty air that looms before her.
“Why is that so surprising?” I immediately seek vengeance.
“She just doesn’t seem like your type, that’s all,” she reconsiders her choice of words.
“Well, Audrey, please enlighten me. What exactly is my type?” I grow curious to her reasoning.
She is blunt. “Not her.”
“Are you saying the likes of you would suit me more efficiently?” I almost grin at the thought of her humiliation.
That was risqué. “Are you offering?”
An eruption splits her lips, choking on her own brief laughter. Retaliation is too easy for her. “Over my dead body.” She finally lets her shadowed emeralds seek mine out in the dimly lit ambiance.
“Take the morbid death sequence out of that phrase and it might seem half appealing,” I form a platonic innuendo.
“All I’m saying is I don’t think you wear her well,” her voice has softened considerably, and a cringe of sincerity disturbs it.
I immediately retrieve the bottle webbed between her fingertips, bringing it to my own lips for an airy sip. “Easy for you to say. You weren’t there when I was wearing her.” I know my mock of what intimacy I shared with Melanie paints the imagery of a barbarian, but I fail to care.
“All I’m saying is you deserve better.” With the accompaniment of her solemn features and delicately traced gaze, I am entranced by how genuine she comes off.
“Thank you.” I don’t know how exactly I mustered my gratitude. It fell from my tongue before I had the chance to catch it in my teeth.
“So…tell me about this Melanie of yours.” She slouches, contorting her physique to suit a comfortable medium that makes me think she must perceive there’s a lot to tell.
I grow still, passing off the vibes that would guarantee further silence. But I speak. “There’s not much to tell. She was on a manhunt for a fly that was stupid enough to be caught in her web; namely me. I lost my manifesto with her.” I sighed at the forced subject of something I would much rather have left in the dark. “I mean, on the outside I was what every well brought up boy should be, mannered and forgiving of her. I gave her all the attention she desired. I gave her every shred of dignity I had, letting her play me like a puppet attached to her strings. I was a show. I was her joke. But even that wasn’t enough.” I chuckled bitterly at how easily the words came to me now. “I was her lucky crown bearer. What else do you want me to tell? She made me stronger I suppose.” Slowly I felt myself need resolution, need to just form some base of acceptance that everything I had taken her for was only what she wanted me to believe. “It doesn’t matter. I’m nothing but a skeleton in her closet now.” I eased back against the counter, allowing my heavy lids to engulf an abyss about my senses momentarily.
“Bummer. You should’ve gotten out before you got in. I never recommend getting into something you know is going to trample your heart.” She seems to be at a sudden loss of words, a rare yet pleasant compliment.
“Either way, I learned something. One inch closer to knowing everything there is to know about life, right?” I mumble nonchalantly. I sense her eyes widen.
“You can never know everything, Pace. Even I know that, the queen of knowing.” She hinders in a pause that makes me clueless to whether she plans to proceed past this. “Did you love her?” She seeks the personal knowledge not quizzically, but with a frailty of my dead emotions.
I’m alarmed at the fact that I’m not alarmed. I feel no burning sensation rise in me as I speak the full-fledged honesty of the situation. “I don’t know.”
She quiets briefly, slipping her luminescent gaze from me. “Then I guess you’re back one inch from knowing everything there is to know about life.”
The lazy hum of the refrigerator prevailed, and the darkness seemed to weep around me with intoxication much worse than the alcohol that pulsed through my compressed headache. I felt as if my identity had been ruled out and I was effaced from my very own life in the big picture. For some reason that didn’t bother me. For once I didn’t want to be in the regretful spotlight. I wanted to run around naked in my living room, bared to nobody but myself. I didn’t want to give a shit.
“So who’s Karen?”
“Are you bored yet?”
“Really?” she grows with excitement.
“I was bored after I read the prologue.”
I can’t believe that I am sitting here almost willingly, leafing through the stench of new paper from a book. A book I rather see burned than actually bother to hold. It feels heavier than my head right now. But only Josephine Potter could’ve convinced me into this situation.
“Pacey…please take this seriously. I want to know your honest opinion on Professor Wilder’s book,” she pleads with those chocolate liquids.
I pass her a completely flabbergasted expression after the extensive reading of only two chapters in the book. “Jo, have you honestly read this?” my voice comes out as a wail, completely in awe at the stupidity of the reading material she has somehow forced me to acknowledge.
“Of course I have!”
“And you’re sitting here watching me read it?” I feel my heavy brows inquire, arching at her earnest begging.
“Yes,” her voice is flat.
“And there hasn’t been an eclipse?” I squeal in exasperation.
“Pacey…” she trails in a motherly tone of reprimand as I smack the thickness of the book back together with a distorted expression of grossness.
“Don’t even bother with the pouts, Potter.” I pass it back to her frantically. “If anyone likes that book, they are probably reading it on their deathbed right now, enjoying underground living conditions in a coffin somewhere. I don’t know how the guy sells it.”
“Pacey, for your information, I enjoyed it quite thoroughly.”
“You being you, Joey; the girl who will kiss ass to any teacher for a flying colours mark.” Her dark brows crash together at my insult, indenting her forehead. “Has anyone else actually admitted to liking it?”
She elevates with the precious book in hand, glaring down upon me resentfully before standing stock-still. “Yes, as a matter of fact,” she answers calmly with a centered ordinance.
“Uh, huh. And these people being…?” I wonder for the life of me.
She rests the book back upon her desk; shaking her head so shortly it causes her brunette strands to slap her features unnoticeably. “Our whole writing class.”
“Ah, of course. Them being the female student body.” I grin in reprisal.
“No. The male gender have enjoyed it just as much,” she explains, dropping to the softness of her dorm room mattress aside me as her olive toned fingertips lifelessly fidget with her exposed navel.
“And you’re expecting me to believe that? Please, Joey. I thought you could do better than that. Is there even a point to me reading such a foul excuse for realism?”
“Yes, believe it or not.” She deflates with a delusional sigh. “I need opinions of various individuals, including the mentally unstable ones,” she edges in her well-marked pun.
“Opinions?” I grimace, falling back against her mattress in a copying antic. “What the hell for?”
“Because we were all chosen to read a book off a specified list and write a report on it, including some intelligent opinions, excluding the ruder ones.” She passes me a steady glare that hints at what I already know.
“Well…why didn’t you just say so? Ready to quote me on this one?” I spread my toothy grin at her. “It sucks.”
She growls, ignoring my waggish demeanor and childish approach to the importance she makes of this report of hers. “Can I have permission to kill? Because I am armed and dangerous,” she voices her useless threat.
“With what? A case of bad breath? Toe fungus? Puny microorganisms that crawl on you in your sleep?” I grin as I tickle the sensitive flesh of her arm, earning a shriek from her that is sure to irritate all of Worthington’s occupants. “It still doesn’t change the fact that you only chose Wilder’s book because you’re all hot and bothered over him,” I tease.
“Pacey, this coming from the guy that first slept with one of his teachers and then spit in one of their faces?”
“Hey, each occurrence had well thought out reasoning,” I explain in a poetic voice.
“The same kind of reasoning that made you try and create a ménage a trois with the single sexed snails in our marine biology project all those years ago?”
Damn this woman. She knows how to use her banter for mutiny. “I’m sure they enjoyed it.”
She stares at me idly for a moment, completely expressionless. I feel my gaze drawn to her in an unusual impatience for her next words of wisdom. Just as I perceive they’re coming, she explodes into that crooked simper that makes me want to reach out and straighten it even though it’s one of her most familiar and cherished attributes. I live for that smile, as mutated as it appears.
“Well?” She sounds overly wistful.
I break my casual ignorance and smile up at the ceiling I can’t decode the pattern of anymore. “Alright, alright. I’ll read the damn book.”
She doesn’t even bother to say thank you. She just sashays away from the bed like some hierarchy feline as she stretches the slim length of her body skyward while elapsing with an anxious yawn. But before I can actually pay gratitude to the comforting silence, Audrey peels in with a glorious torment to her features. She looks stunned at the sight of me.
“Oh, great. You’re here.” She darts me a flip-flop smile.
I grasp my side with an expression of devastation. “I’m wounded.”
“Was that your version of a misguided hero complex?”
“No. It was my version of the effects having a misalliance with you could bring.”
“You speak yahoo language, boy.” I love how she never takes the yoga approach, disciplined and lengthy to devise. Her responses are always witty and quick, and utmost are they never yielding.
“Only in my throes with you.”
A pang of guilt thoughtlessly betrays me as I realize Joey’s unconscious state of being cornered with a thumbscrew, her presence abated over our altering bickers. Audrey follows my sudden reaction of silence, tucking a few of her golden threads behind her lobes. The very second she catches Joey’s gaze; it is a cursed reflection, Joey doing the same with one of her brunette strands.
“Hey…Audrey.” She was usually the first greeted with Audrey’s chirpy salutations, but this time being left unnoticed obviously caused unstable territory.
“Hey, bunny,” she responds before sending me a flurried gaze and extracting herself from the situation, aimlessly devouring it with pleasant conversation. “Where’s your checklist of hot guys single and willing to accompany a damsel in distress on a date?” She hurriedly advances upon Joey, clutching with anxiety to the limp hands that had fallen to her side.
“I don’t have a list, Audrey.” She smiles reluctantly, her brows furrowed slightly.
“Well, I just picked up this new dress mom sent me. The first I’ve actually resisted the urge to throw in the city dump. It’s actually quite nice. So I was thinking fancy that, the woman actually does have some taste. Maybe I should put it to good use…” she’s interrupted by my grounding cough as I try to avoid becoming breakable with a grin. “And,” she continues, “there’s this killer party going down tonight, compliments to some of the much-cute boys on the first floor.”
“And I’m somehow intertwined with these plans…how?” Joey inquires obliviously.
“I need a date! Everyone knows number one rule to partygoers everywhere is never to arrive without a date if you’re planning to try and earn the affections of one of the guests.”
Joey stares at her incredulously. “Let me get this straight. You want a good-looking date, only so you can hook up with another good-looking guy that’s going to be at this party? Does that not completely defeat the purpose of giving off the single aura?”
“No. It is the purpose of giving the shout out ‘I am desirable’ aura that matters.”
Joey lets out a short chortle of laughter. “Audrey, you’re such a freak. If it’s such a big deal for you to have a date, I can go with you.”
Audrey frowns shamefully, squirming with aggravated whines. “As lush as you would make a bride to be, honey, I just don’t do that girl dating scene.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” I manage to squeeze into the gap of portrayed hesitance, only to receive identical glowers from both the females. “Oh, boy,” I back off.
“Well, Audrey, I don’t know any Mel Gibson’s,” Joey’s response comes with a fatigued shrug before she approaches her desk, dwelling near it as if to wait for the homework she had lined up on her pages to jump out and strangle her.
“Uh, yuck. You just gave me very unneeded and gruesome imagery, baby. His butt is so overrated.” She sours, pondering thoughtlessly to herself.
“Your welcome.” Joey smirks proudly.
“Sorry to interrupt this little fiasco, ladies, but I do believe you have overlooked a very important point.” I feel my toes buried in the soles of my shoes as I wiggle them delightfully.
“What?” they both snap simultaneously.
“The whole good looking, very available, good-doer type part.” I release a breathy exhale, grinning in a haughty fashion that they seem to dispose of.
“You’ve got someone in mind?” Joey smiles ignorantly, following Audrey’s example.
“I may. It would have to be someone who would make an astounding performance with a very admirable first impression for you, Audrey.” I gesture to her mildly, knowing that I am engraving the obvious in stone and they are simply enjoying the destruction of it for their own amusement.
“Yeah, well, tell me when you find him, Pace,” Audrey mumbles.
“Hello! Yours truly?” I incline, seemingly fashioning myself off to the highest bidder. They just erupt into hysterics of hyena laughter before gently hushing one another.
Audrey slowly advances upon me. “Sure, Pace. I’ll order one of you and a barf bag to go.”
Regardless of the rejection both Audrey and Joey dared to impose upon my sensitive little heart, I was having a hell of a time. I really didn’t think that people who occupied such a famously aroused university knew how to party. They weren’t extraterrestrials after all.
“Pace, come on!” I felt her vice-like grip upon my arm, dragging me onto the setout dance floor for the millionth time that night. Beacons of rebellious lights swarmed the dark ambiance, unreadable music blaring from speakers that surrounded the entire proximity, and a massive crowd that seemed to multiply every time I looked like a welcomed plague.
“Woman, I can’t pull a Patrick Swayze here. We’ve been dirty dancing all night, and I for one think you’re looking awfully flushed. Maybe you should take a rest,” I instruct with a leisurely grin.
“What’s wrong? Can’t keep up?” she challenges. Oh, she just challenged me. That was definitely a challenge without any terms of sweetness.
“Of course I can. My toes are just sore from you stepping on them. Plus, I thought the whole purpose of me coming here tonight was to show off just how desirable you are and pass you off to the first real live walking, talking specimen that was male?” I ease her against me until our bodies are thick against one another, the breathing space becoming nothing but a welded source of blistering heat.
“Why don’t you let your feet move as fast as your mouth does for once?” She quirks a finely chiseled brow at me, her ebony lashes splaying across her cheeks as she exposes a glint of dark eye shadow that gives her emerald eyes a lambent appeal.
“Alright,” I whisper hoarsely, and in perfect unison with my soft agreement I feel the initiating thrust of her loins. My head is swirling with a myriad of ecstasy, and as much as I try to steer myself out of the danger zone, my body begs to differ.
“Touché,” she smiles against the flesh of my cheek, and as I feel her body squirm about mine I feel my fingertips clawing with ache at the exposed flesh of her back. The red dress she was wriggling to be clad in earlier is one that fails to let me breathe. It clings to her savagely, embracing her sinister flesh shamelessly. I feel the sharp sting of her perspiration kiss my velvety fingertips as I slide around her body in rhythmic adoration with the fluidness of her motions. She moves across my body like a tampering demon, sliding and pressing, giving me only a mere moment to part my lips for breath before trapping it in my dry throat again. It’s too damned hot. I can’t breathe.
I’m off the track, or rather tied to it seeing the headlights of a freight train like beacons that sweep me out of the darkness. And then it crashes into me and bathes me in the sirens that warn me away from her existence. But I can’t stop.
Within time we were interrupted, and a softer and more fluid song gained entry into my ears. We both remained idle in our detained embrace, praying for a detachment that wasn’t invited. I felt the breath that she had kept trapped in my throat exhale achingly upon the sensitive flesh of her neckline before we made the silent agreement to withstand another dance. But this one was tender, and I felt my hands behold a weakness that was not there before. The sequence of her dress raked across my fingertips as I struggled to not let them slip from her body with my loss of strength.
“You dance like you’ve never done this before,” I tease huskily. She knows I wouldn’t let such an intimately threatening moment prevail without cruelty.
“Even more surprising. You dance like you have.” She’s quiet, and I gather she doesn’t feel expressive with words right now if she feels as magnetically drawn as I am struggling not to be. But my mileage with women is so high I don’t want to be influenced or bothered by another.
I feel the sudden lost of her warmth against mine, and I’m surprised at how selfish I have become to want it back so forcefully like it was my right to have it there in the first place. I feel myself tighten around her, unwilling to let her part our bodies no matter how brief or little. But her eyes want a confrontation I’m not sure I can accept or stand guard to. When her depthless emeralds are tossed my way, I find myself addicted. As easy as I could be to cigarettes, needing that addiction to help me function and breathe no matter how much damage they cause.
“You must still be in love with her to be so close to her.” She is vague.
“Who?” My further inquiry is almost forceful.
“Joey,” she mentions matter-of-factly, startling my senses at the suddenness of her syncopated voice.
My gaze regretfully descends, losing track of my swaying movements and just trusting my own body to have memorized them. “I just don’t want to be some forgotten bottle of whisky in the back of her cupboard.”
“And it’s hard not to love her after everything we’ve shared and all the torment we’ve had to go through to get it. She’ll always be the same Joey Potter that used to need help tying her shoelaces to me. Losing our friendship over a love that was eventually wasted was not an option with her. Never has been. Something is better than nothing.”
She adverts her gaze lower, sneakily discovering mine and guiding it upwards once more. “Would you ever tell me about everything that happened between you and her without dubbing me with a snoopiness I wasn’t intending?” She smiles soundlessly, easing the tension she must’ve sensed in my movements.
“Joey and I are complicated. But one day,” I reassure. My addiction with her eyes is growing to such an intense degree I want to dive into their pool of complete abyss, and never have the desire to swim in them, only to drown in them.
“What are you staring at?” She grows self-conscious.
“Your eyes,” I respond simplistically.
She smirks in almost distrust of my easy reply. “Last time I checked I had two.”
“Last time I checked they weren’t so beautiful.” The words are too late gone to retrieve them, so all I do is fall prey to the way she bites her lower lip and puts a barricade up between us, no longer allowing me to feel like I share her ground. “Hey…what are you thinking?” This time I must find her gaze before I can suffer it the penalty of becoming one with mine.
“That we’re in trouble…” she trails.
She’s been avoiding me ever since. It seems somehow she’s just fallen into darkness. I feel completely lost. That fucking explosion I was looking for isn’t all I cut it out to be. It’s blinding, unsteady, and I need consistency. I need to have her at the end of my fingertips. But she’s like a damned weasel, always finding a hole to bury herself in or an escape route too small for me to fit through. There’s too much guesswork that she’s left piled on the desk. And now it’s just collecting dust because I sure as hell am not going to pirouette around it. She knows without a doubt how degraded she’s made me feel. How much I resemble shit. How much I want to take every piece of evidence that we had something more to discover about whatever it was we had and burn it to a pulp. She knows. She knows she’s just like everyone else in my life. I wonder if she knows why she did it.
The quiet clinking of cutlery has readied me with the provisions to get out of here as soon as humanly possible. I don’t want to be here. I really don’t. Last time the whole gang of us got together for a shared dinner I took the trouble of preparing, the deadly combination of Jen the deflowerer, Dawson the deflowered, and Joey the girl still lost in the façade of being Dawson’s soul mate made for an awkward evening many of us could’ve lived without. Now this is like some freaky reoccurrence of deja vous. Except for the gratitude I praise grams with for being the one to cook the meal, and despite all the criticism I got for my cooking abilities, grams has received zero, nada, zip. The only other thing missing is Audrey.
“Thanks for having us over this weekend for supper, you guys.” Joey can’t resist a dubious stare at the way Dawson and Jen had blossomed overnight, the way they never lost contact with one another’s flesh, and the way they were constantly putting on a discreet show for her.
“Oh, it was grams’ idea.” Jen passes a quick smile in the cardinal of her elderly parental unit before delicately stroking Dawson’s thigh beneath the table. They probably can’t wait for us all to take a leave of absence so they can pounce on each other. Their gaining use of pet names makes me want to slaughter myself. They’re too happy. Sesame Street happy is never a good thing. But I have to give thumbs up to Dawson, my man, for finally taking the leap of lust. He found his balls. It took him long enough.
The combination of Jen and Dawson’s puppy eyes, the determination of Joey to once again play the rational mind with small talk that leads to nowhere, Jack’s complete lack of attentions that drive him to be engrossed in his food, and grams’ complete silence is frankly catching up to me and nipping me in the rear. I have completely lost my appetite.
“Joey, where’s Audrey?” I do my best not to seem obvious, wiping whatever I imagine rests on my lips with a stray napkin before quieting my chewing.
“How am I supposed to know? She said she’d try to be here, and she appreciated the invitation but she wasn’t sure if she could make it. Why?” She continues to engulf the small heaps of vegetables that sit upon her fork, edged to be slightly suspicious.
“No reason.” I bristle, studying the food devouring my plate like it is foreign matter that will turn me inside out. “I just needed to tell her I could give her a ride to work tomorrow.”
“I’ll tell her.”
Silence prolongs, inevitable talk of nothingness prolongs, and my anger prolongs. I am angry. I have every right to be angry with Audrey for writing me off the past few days. I feel desperation for something. I don’t know what, just something that will feed the hunger that inhabits me.
“Wow. I feel like I just walked in on an episode of ‘The Walton Family’.”
The door gapes open as the blonde misfit makes her usual entrance, always followed by a sudden moment of comic relief and then subtle alarm. I was surprised at her coming to say the least, and all I did was stare at the disregard she bestowed upon me.
“Hey, Audrey,” Jack is the first to greet.
“Hey, handsome.” She grins fiercely and I am struck dead as her gaze momentarily floats past mine before sweeping around to the others without anything more. A quiet exchange of greetings follows between them all that I perceive as nonchalant hums.
“You’re late.” I sound like some superior father figure I realize, and everyone else around the table passes me curious stares.
I am met with her cold glare, before she clears her throat and relieves the moment. “Correction. I am fashionably late, and twelve minutes and five seconds at that.”
“Well, come on in, dear,” grams invites.
“Okay, sexy.” She forces a crimson blush out of grams from her interesting choice of words and forwardness.
“Close the door and don’t wait by the cold. Just hang your coat up,” grams instructs with a lulled voice that Audrey obeys.
“So, am I too late for dessert?”
“No, we just started. You’re just in time for first course.” Dawson smiles up at her as Joey shuffles over to make room so she can sit down. Joey is between us like some brick wall. Could things get any more penalizing?
“How unfortunate,” Audrey teases, feigning disappointment only to earn a soft grin from Joey.
This is going to be a long night.
Audrey has managed to finish her food more quickly than anyone else, even with the additional twelve minutes and five seconds everyone else had. I on the other hand managed to finish nothing but a few hasty bites.
“I’ll take my dishes into the kitchen to save you the trouble, grams.” Audrey smiles politely.
“It’s alright, dear. I can do it.”
“No, I insist. Make good use of your retirement.” Audrey is stunningly whole-hearted, easing away from the table and disappearing into the kitchen.
My dark stare follows her departure. “You know what? I think I’m going to do the same.”
“Pace, you’ve hardly eaten anything. Are you okay?” Joey passes me one of her wildly uncertain stares, followed by Jen’s suspicious one.
I look them both over briefly. “Yeah, just not hungry. I was trying to prove your assumptions that all men being pigs is a little on the bogus side.” I shrug off their concern, my anticipated strides carrying me into the kitchen where she awaits.
I am faced with her back. She stands over the sink, stilled as a sculpted goddess. I am thankful for the utter silence that dances around the kitchen, hesitating in mid stride to inhale the very sight of her. Her head is tilted, descended in thought until she senses my presence. Gradually it inclines and I take that as an invitation to approach, soundlessly placing my dishes in the sink before loitering in her company as she does mine.
“What are you doing?” Her lips are the only microscopic movement I note as she speaks.
“I do believe I was doing the same thing you were. Unless putting your dishes in the sink has become a crime. I should notify Dougie of that. He’d be jealous of all the real active crime going down here.”
“Stop,” she forces the loathsome word out of her throat and down mine, making sure I swallow it uneasily.
“I didn’t know I was doing anything. Unless of course freedom of speech has now become a crime too.” I am nimble enough to take her blows.
“Pacey…” she trails in aggravation, defiantly responding with the hardening of her aimless stare.
“Yes, that’s my name. Good to know you are aware of it, because you sure didn’t seem very aware of my existence tonight.”
Suddenly she spins, her lips firm with an indignant fluster. “What do you want?”
“You’ve been avoiding me.” I’ve remained completely solemn and calm, one of my skillful possessions after surviving my childhood with the family I had.
“Gee, good observation, Sherlock,” she sassily remarks, her brows furrowed in the attempt to intimidate me further.
“This isn’t funny, Audrey. This isn’t a game.” Suddenly I feel my own fury and temperament incline to an edgy degree.
“Could’ve fooled me.” She passes me off as some toyed influence, deliberately turning away from me before making an escape for the dining room.
I feel myself unable to contain the reflex action of grabbing her back into my wrath. “You have no right to make it seem like nothing happened the other night.”
“No. You have no right to make it seem like something did,” she resists powerfully.
“Audrey…” I struggle with her, trying to make any suitable compromise.
“Pace, just let me go. As a female I was born with the privilege of being able to use skin-crawling screams to my advantage. You willing to risk that?”
“I’m not willing to risk losing out on something you’re too stubborn talk about.” My Capeside temper has returned from the packed away boxes.
Her eyes haze over, changing to a whole new leaf, a whole new magnitude of discovery. I watch as her features soften in blissful retrogress, becoming as frail as a doll’s I wish I could shower with affections I know she will find offending.
“You don’t get it, do you?” her voice has grown absurdly gentle, like the soft purr of a kitten.
“No, I guess I don’t. So please notify me.”
“You had Joey before this year. And then you wound up in a destructive relationship with that Melanie. And in between the lines you had a quickie with that waitress you used to work with. Are you not seeing a pattern here?”
She has baffled me. “Am I supposed to?”
“I’m just one to add to your list. After Joey and you broke apart, all you’ve had are these short shots of medicine to treat your sickness.”
“What sickness?” I unknowingly heard my voice rise to a hoarse anger.
“Your depression. You’re sick without her. You miss her, Pacey. You miss Joey the nice girl. You know it just as well as me. I’m not going to be some temporary installment for you.”
I am hung out cold to dry by the evident hurt in her eyes. My grip loosens until I can’t feel anything but complete disorientation. “You know what, Audrey? You’re right. Maybe I do miss her. But that’s a sickness in me that will never go away. I sure as hell can’t stop that from happening. But I also sure as hell can’t stop myself from seeing you in a different light. I have to move on.” I feel myself slowly weakening and the repetition of dying over and over again has made me so dead that I have nothing to die for anymore. “I’m sorry I thought differently of you. I’m sorry I thought you might’ve seen more in me than a monster. I’m sorry you thought I was just seeking revenge by manipulating an underclass girl. I’m sorry…I guess it’s not worth it.” I need out. I can’t breathe. I feel paralyzed and shot with the sense of a trespassing imposter. So I rid myself of her, backing away with a truly effaced expression. I can’t bear to see the reflection of a monster in the saline of her depthless orbs. I can’t bear that damnation.
In the very second my system has become run down by such an imperil fear; she has managed to pour her tantalizing warmth into my desperate embrace. Her lips imprint mine in a frantic and forceful shove before she pushes me backwards superiorly in surprise at her own actions.
“You just kissed me!” Her eyes widen in complete awe, wiping the moistness from her swollen lips in disbelief.
I snort at her reversal. “Excuse me?” I wave my arms to catch her drifting attentions. “I do believe you were the one who fell on my mouth.”
Before I have a chance to argue my perspective I feel the sudden impulse of her lips against mine once again as she quiets my words to a trapped murmur. I feel condensed into this heavenly affection she impinges upon me, lost in her fiery kiss of ultimate surrender. I feel myself pool around her, swallowing her body as the heat of her tongue ricochets off mine in a war of indescribable passion. The collisions of our lips are maddening, and I feel my muscles tighten with arousal and a neediness she pleases with the breathless pressure of our bodies bent on one another. Our mouths are merged, our bodies hurried into some need for release as we blindly try to find some resting pose. But we can’t. Our hands are everywhere, mine always being kidnapped in her knotted tresses. We devour one another temperamentally, cursing each others chastise of desire. I am tumbling into a new surrounding that is lacking any definite limits. There are no limits.
That was until she walked in on us.
My attentions had been drifting at work that day, despite Audrey’s snappy clue-ins. I had refilled the ketchup bottle with mustard, included a dash of sugar rather than a dash of salt in the chicken broth many customers soon filed complaints for, and through it all I wore my apron on inside out.
Joey had walked in on Audrey and I in a very compromising position the other night, and I was utterly wordless for explanations. My only explanation was ‘because’. That would never satisfy Joey’s need for reasoning. That would never satisfy my knowing that she deserved more. Because what I have isn’t good enough. She has earned an explanation out of me if nothing more, and yet I have nothing to offer her. Absolutely nothing. That alone tears me into irreplaceable shreds. I feel like I owe her some rational reasoning for what occurred between Audrey and I, but I am faced with nothing but a completely blank void. I don’t know how to fix things. I don’t know how to make it right. I don’t know how to tell her how sorry I am for falling for a woman who conveniently happens to be not only her roommate, but also one of her closest friends. I could easily point a trembling finger at her to take the blame away from myself. But that wouldn’t make it any easier. What would make it easier is if I didn’t owe her anything. Not even regard or acknowledgement. Nothing.
“Ten bucks if you explain it to her,” I murmur into the blonde’s awaiting lobe as we approach both her and Joey’s dorm room. I had offered to drive her back after her shift was over.
“Fifteen if you do,” she counters.
“I’m shocked, Liddell. That’s bribery. If you don’t tell her, I will be forced to go to more drastic measures such as causing you to tumble into a black pit of loneliness after I refuse to be in your presence until you fess up to her.” I cock a pleasant smirk, leaning against the doorframe as I scrutinize the closed entrance with dubious insecurities.
“Nice imagery, hon. But I do believe that is what you call blackmail.” She smiles easily in return with a slyness that never fails to get her noticed.
“I’ve got a compromise. We could both talk to her.”
She cocks a brow lightly. “Fine by me. You first.”
“Hey! Have you never heard the common rule of ladies first?”
She smirks in fullness too intelligent for her own good. “Yes…and it’s the twentieth century. Things have changed. I have one word for you. Deal. I’ll wait out here and listen.” She rolls her hand over the doorknob, and with a forceful shove I’m sent into the roomy ambiance that feels too open an expanse to consume. My existence is that of a shrew, impure and insignificant.
“Pace?” a freshly showered Joey emerges from the bathroom, tousling her wet strands with a towel.
“Hey, Potter.” I put on my best smile, but it feels hardened and plastered to my features like a clown’s. “Just dropped in to return your book.” I feel the book that hangs limp in my hand battling to fall to the carpet, yet I manage to hold it in my sweaty palm.
She becomes completely awed. “I’m impressed.”
“You should be. I even wrote up my opinion in paragraph form, which was a big stretch. All for you and this Professor Wilder. You’ll have to excuse the pages with drool stains, though. I fell asleep between each paragraph and it just happened to make the perfect head rest. You know, being so large and all.” The teasing is more for my benefit than hers, knowing that if I can induce laughter, she can’t induce as much anger.
“Thank you,” she murmurs empathetically, retrieving her possession and returning to her completely natural flair. She doesn’t want everyone to keep making sure she’s okay with him or her moving on, because the truth of the matter is she’s not. But making everyone think she is will be an easier task for her than admitting she isn’t.
“Uh, Joey…can we possibly talk?” I scratch irritably at the back of my neck, feeling the hairs there on end as I observe her carry on with the task of detangling her sleek strands.
“Sure. What about?”
As if she doesn’t know. As if she hasn’t been dancing around the facts. As if she is that oblivious to her surroundings.
“Us.” It’s almost too hard to force.
She attracts a clueless simplicity in return. “What about us?”
She bloody well isn’t going to make this any fucking easier. “What you saw…last night.”
“You mean the obvious aversion of your attentions to Audrey?”
“Yes,” I voice triumphantly as she finally grasps to what I am here for.
There’s an unreadable silence she floats into, staring at me as if she could bore holes into my entirety. For the first time I can’t comprehend her. I can’t challenge her emotions if I don’t know what they are. It’s as if she’s learning a new language, lost but concentrated with a glower of competence.
“What do you want me to say?” she stuns me in a fierce coldness that shatters the perfection of her silence.
“I want you to say whatever you need to say.” I feel like I must be flexible with delicacy.
Everything about her takes a sudden perk of dominance over the conversation. “Well, then. I’ll say what I want to say. I’m not surprised in the least. I think that it was more than a little expected. I mean…you are after all two of a kind.” She mutates into her angry, bullheaded face that I must stand guard to with patience. “I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time making sex a priority in your relationship, and to be honest, I couldn’t care less. So enjoy the ride while you’ve got one.” She smiles indignantly as a follow-up to her blunt approach, turning away and sitting at her desk as if my presence was only that of an ignored rodent that was misplaced. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do. I have a report to write.” She picks up her pen before focusing herself into a frenzy of scrawling.
I am emotionless, which scares me the most. I can’t trace any sense of loss or freedom, happiness or anger. All I know is to stand here and make something of nothing. I wish something would devour me. Guilt. Hate. Anything that would make this more comprehendible; more acknowledgeable would be worth that effort. But it doesn’t have any need to spoil me. It wants me to be in the dark, lost, completely unbalanced. I have no excuse for my indiscretions.
“Joey…this isn’t fair,” my edginess is hoarse and undefined.
She spins to force her glare at me, her skin scrunched into wrinkles that give her a sudden aged appearance. “You have no right in hell to tell me what is and isn’t fair. You knew it was hard for me to accept Dawson’s relationship with Jen. You were there at my side overflowing with your Witter wisdom, weren’t you?” She was angry at my silence. “Weren’t you?” her voice inclined to a piercing volume.
Silence seemed like a melody to my ears, unable to muster a response, unable to fester anything but solitude. No answer would be acceptable. But with silence it could not be punishable.
“Yeah, well I guess your best friends end up being your worst enemies in cases like this.” She proceeds back to her writing almost daintily, as if she is untouched; unfazed.
“It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Her pencil slaps the desk with an electric rage before she stands and stalks towards me in a way I’m not ashamed to say I’m scared of. I’m so damn scared I can’t breathe or feel the heat of my circulation. I’m empty, and too vulnerable for her liking.
“It does have to be that way, Pacey. And you know why? You moved on. You moved on with my roommate, one of my closest friends. And you made my life hell.” She hesitates, on the brink of self-destruction if not my own. “How do you think I felt when I walked in on Dawson and Jen the other week? How do you think it felt after you knew how hurt I was about that and I walked in on you and Audrey last night? Do you think that didn’t hurt me? Do you?”
“I know it did.” I bear the sacrifice of my words.
“Then don’t you dare tell me it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t you dare tell me any different than what I know is the truth. If this little sex play with Audrey is better than our friendship…”
“Don’t even start with that, Joey. You know that’s not what it’s about,” I interrupt. Her brows crash together in a raging storm. “Excuse me? Like I don’t know what you two are about. I’m not stupid,” she stings me heartlessly.
“Feel free to stick your foot in your mouth anytime, Jo. I won’t mind. In fact, I’ll think of it as common decency.” She has ignited my fume, and I have no other choice than to charge full-fledged into the heat.
“Just leave,” she snarls.
“Joey, tell me something. Before Dawson and Jen happened, did you and him not become involved? What about you moving on with Dawson, my best friend? What about the truth in that?”
Cat caught her tongue.
“You can’t bring Dawson into this, Pacey. Him and I are just…” she hesitates, shifting on her tip-toes to bring more power to her behaviour, “complicated.”
I feel a laugh struggle in my throat. “No, you’re pretty damn simple, Jo. Crystal clear.”
I can’t be in this hellhole anymore. I can’t even determine if it’s numbness I feel or the high of free fall. The smile that envelops my lips is that of goofy flavour, and it accompanies my angry fragrance ironically. I leave.
“Ouch!” Audrey complains at a whisper as she falls against me when I open the door. Quickly she backs away so Joey doesn’t catch sight of her.
“That’s what eavesdropping will do to you.” I wish I could offer her a smile so I don’t seem so sardonic, but I don’t have the emotional or physical strength I would need.
She frowns subtly, tugging on my fingertips. “Baby,” she murmurs sensually, the wild heat of her breath enough to make me hinder in my tracks and face her with appreciation. “Talk to me.”
“Later…” I trail cautiously, and she responds with a disobedient frown and a quizzical stare. “I promise. Just right now, I’ve got to get out of here. And I’m taking you with me. Because the last thing I’m going to is throw you into the fire I’ve already spit on.”
“But…I should talk to her,” she is hesitant.
“Please?” I feel my eyebrows arch in inquiry, tugging her petite hand to an elevation that enables my lips to tenderly lay across her silky flesh.
She observes my affections sincerely. “With cherries on top?” A smile edges onto her features.
I nod. “And whipped cream.”
“A restaurant?” She halts at the entrance, staring at it incredulously.
My stare follows hers, before gazing at her with uncertainty. “Yeah. Something wrong? I’m sure we can find some rat droppings around to warm up for you if you don’t approve of perfectly good Italian cuisine.”
Her features squish together childishly, which I find nothing short of amusing. “It’s just…we work…in a restaurant.”
“And once again you remind me you are blonde by stating the obvious.” I smirk before throwing a brawny appendage around her shoulders affectionately.
“My point being, I don’t feel like eating in a restaurant after spending an entire day in a restaurant. It’s lost its appeal, sweetheart.” She shrugs in a nonchalant manner, using our linked positioning to her advantage as she forces us in the opposite cardinal.
“Well, what do you suggest?” I inquire carelessly.
“I suggest the park bench that we are heading towards right now.”
“You mean the park bench you are heading us towards right now,” I correct her waggishly.
“You better quit while you’re ahead, honey,” she jokes at my egotistical status.
“Note to self, be a good boy.”
I feel inner sereneness with the peaceful quiet that hums between our embraced physiques. The skyline holds every emotion with an array of colours that shower the rest of the natural earth around us innocently. I feel different somehow. Whole. Full and enriched with wholeness I forgot how to feel and accept. It dwells in me easily now, and is not abandoned at first sense of it. And the warmth of her wrapped in my arms in the middle of a park, on a vacant bench, all alone, is all I could ever ask from her. She gives everything to me freely without fuss, only acceptance and a devotion I almost envy her for. The soft scent of her hair, the gentle brush of her fingertips, and the light pounce of her breath coo to me with a sensation of comfort. A comfort I have always denied I would ever experience. But she lets me experience everything about her as slowly or as quickly as I desire. She never tampers with progression or plays foolish games with hesitation. She is at ease knowing I am. And that is enough to drive me up the highest wall and make me fall to the lowest ground.
“What are you thinking about?” her question of depth doesn’t release me from thought, only allows me to share it with her. I can feel her quiet breath exhale tantalizingly against my fingertips that rest by her lips, her head poised on my lap as she stretches herself over the length of the park bench.
“How wrong I was about you. You aren’t what I expected…you’re not…”
“Materialistic?” she finishes.
“Maybe.” I find myself staring at the breeze as if it was visible, waving like the sea before me.
“I misjudged you, too.”
“Really?” I allow my gaze to descend to hers as she looks up at me with a calmness I thought could never exist in her buzzing existence. “How so?”
“You treat me…like someone. I’m not used to swallowing something that honest.”
“Does that surprise you?” I murmur as my fingertips flutter over the warmth of her clothed midriff.
“Yes. So don’t be surprised if I hold my breath until these butterflies go away. I feel…” she hesitates, her lips forced together in thought, “helpless. But I don’t mind it…because I like just being with you.”
Her sincerity doesn’t catch me off guard, but quickens the hearty pounding in my veins until the beauty of my obsession with her engrosses me. I can’t mute myself out to the way she pieces me together with carefulness uncommon to her recklessness. I thought she would make me fall apart.
“So does that mean you think I’m a possibility for you?” I smile meekly, allowing my fingertips to sleep against her lips.
“No. I think it’s your fault if you become one.”
“Here we are. Time for the realistic version of ‘Doom’.” She smiles cautiously up at me, threading her fingertips through mine as I walk her back to her dorm room with a swooning regret.
“The one where Joey goes boom,” I verse in a rhyming format, tenderly kissing the plain of her forehead as she expresses her sick worry with a frown and darkly set gaze.
“I don’t know how to talk to Joey. How do I approach her? What am I supposed to say? Do I bring it up, or wait for her to say something?” She rambles frantically, horrifically scared. “Should I smile? Or will she think I’m screwing off? Maybe I should be serious. Or maybe I shouldn’t talk at all. Maybe I should write it down…or maybe…”
I interrupt her unconcealed insecurities, the first I have ever witnessed by cupping her features in my overpowering palms and causing our lips to collide with a well-aimed force. My lips trickle over hers with a sense of power until she responds. Only then as her lips challenge mine for the dominant stance do I tenderize, pacing the kiss until it is a deathly slow rhythm that is maddening to her. What she doesn’t realize is it’s harder on me than it is on her. I could easily fall prey to the quickened rhythm she is trying to inflict, but reluctantly she obeys me and puddles into my embrace as every delicate contact of our lips becomes slow and dying. She is the first to part as usual, and I am flushed and heated with arousal as I follow her lead.
“You sure you’re going to be okay?” I manage through lips that feel deserted and abandoned, struggling to regain composure as I press our foreheads together and allow our gazes to mingle.
“If I don’t call you in an hour, send the squad out with all their weaponry.” She exhales in depletion.
“Audrey! You going to need that to kill Joey?” I fake an exasperated expression.
“No. To kill myself.” She grins widely.
“Should I come in with you and save you the pain?”
“No. I’m never going to be prepared to hurt the innocence of Joey Potter. So…I guess now is the time for your overflowing supply of romantic imagery to make the pain seem better.”
I held her against me like it was the last time I would feel human warmth. “The pain won’t get better. As for imagery…it’s going to be like a thousand knives stabbed into you when all you need is a spoon to get rid of the bloody mess it’s going to make. And as much faith as I have in what we could be, Audrey…I left a big mess behind with Joey. Nothing I say or do can change that. It will be a bumpy ride if we drive it.”
“Then how do you expect me to trust something that could turn yuck so easily?” she murmurs into my shoulder.
I force her away, sternly connecting my blue eyes with her emeralds. “I’ll do the trusting as long as you don’t do the denying.”
She smiles thoughtfully, gently penetrating our lips for what was only to be mild and brief affection. But I pursue it, pressing her against the back of the door with a gentle thump that alarms her enough to pull away.
“Pacey, you should be wishing me good luck before you feed me to the wolves. I have to face Joey and you’re not helping matters any,” she growls. “Joey goes to the library at seven. She’s always gone for a few hours. I’ll leave the door open in case I’m in the middle of my yoga session.”
I felt a tiger’s growl erupt from my throat playfully as I caught her drift, gently stroking a blonde wisp from her radiant features. She was not humiliated by my forwardness, or her own. She held her confident stance despite my male behaviour.
“As the yogi master desires. If I show up late, can I still sneak in?” I press against her with anticipation, watching her desirable gaze descend as she is engulfed by me.
“Only if you’re fashionably late.”
I was late, terribly late. I was an hour, twenty minutes, and thirty-two seconds at that. But as she had requested, and as I had desired, I felt selfish for her warmth and the comfort and ease of her affection. I wanted to be with her. I’ve made my bed. I’ve trimmed my nails. I’ve dried my tears. And I’ve let my wounds scab. She’s nowhere. Audrey…is everywhere.
I could knock, but I don’t. For some reason the suspense of her not being aware of my presence thrills me to such the extent that I walk through the door that she left open for me without permission. She feels safe and secure in my trust.
I gape open the barricading door without hesitance. An overpowering dizziness flocks to me as her scent dances around my nostrils combined with a fiercer essence. I can smell her on my clothing. It licks my lips with a lustful agony. All I can do is hope she forgives me for sneaking around like I don’t belong here.
She has her back to me, sitting up cross-legged on her mattress as she surfs through the static of her regular yoga sessions, looking as if she is utterly dead with boredom. I feel a mandatory smile grace my lips. She’s so damn beautiful when she turns slightly startled by my touch to her shoulder, opening her eyes.
“You’re late,” she snaps, taking a mad front to the situation.
“Fashionably.” I earn her softened smile.
“Now that really is an understatement.”
I nearly tumble through the dark, widening my eyes as the curls of perfume around her sting my senses. “For god sakes, woman. What are you trying to do, drug me?”
“It’s called incense,” she jolts.
“Is that what they’re calling it now?” I smirk.
She smiles while portraying her sarcasm. “Pacey…you realize what you just did, right?”
“No,” I muse, clearly more attentive on showering her cheek with kisses.
“Well, you interrupted my center of balance. You know how long it takes to achieve superstar balance? I guess you wouldn’t…” she rambles.
“Yeah...” I trail huskily, painting Braille on her back with my fingertips while delicately clipping her earlobe with my moist lips.
“And you know, I need to be calm and collected with my inner self,” she continues while ignoring my eagerness.
“Of course…” I respond without concentration, embedding my fingertips in her golden strands as I move my lips across her neckline hungrily.
“Which means keeping my attentions focused,” I hear her become breathless as I devour her collarbone, my tongue gliding smoothly within each dip of her flesh.
“And…” she persists.
I drain the words from her as my index finger is held to her parted lips, hushing her into a contrary quiet that only lets our breathing and the soft pounding of our hearts become audible. No words past that are needed. I want to be primal. I want to tear our clothing apart, and get it all over with at a furious fastness. I need that release. I need to just have her before I fall apart. But that isn’t demanding enough, so I am buckled to a slow tempo that she will relentlessly drive.
She stands and moves face-to-face with me now. I feel the cotton material of my t-shirt graze my flesh as she projects it upwards off my body without concern. She is suddenly becoming eager, not giving me a chance to think. Her nimble fingertips work steadily at the clasp of my pants but my hand lowers to steady her, regardless of the throbbing ache that inhabits me to let her have her way with me.
I feel her awaken from her actions, her gaze remaining descended like a child who has feigned defeat. But she is strong and likes to have her own way with a head that sits on her shoulders all too well. She pushes past my barrier, making another impatient attempt to remove my lower clothing. I feel dryness trapped in my throat and my eyes become heavy-lidded as my features fall into the small groove of her shoulder with a moan of protest. I slow her once more after she has managed to unbutton and unzip my pants. My lips part in haste, laid over the flesh of her collarbone while my cheek resides upon the soft shoulder her tank top exposes. I rest there momentarily with unbearable aching, as she is quiet to the nonexistent body contact we share except for the cradling of my features in her shoulder groove. I feel breathless, though whatever heat evacuates my mouth manages to pour upon her sensitive flesh and ricochet back to my lips.
We are stilled, left to the mounted unevenness of our breathing. I hear her swallow as my tender lips meet the scalding flesh of her neckline in open-mouthed kisses that cause her to arch against me in want. She moans and forgets about removing my pants in the midst of her own pleasure. I’m losing control.
My calloused fingertips crawl up her sides, dipping beneath the hem of her tank top until they are met with the quivering surface area of her midriff. My fingertips rake across her newly exposed flesh, causing her belly to resemble an ocean with a lazy current as she quakes beneath my touch. I hear the hitch in her breath as I follow her trail of goose bumps, hunting them the way they hunt me. She keeps her vision strained on my feet, as much as I persist for her to raise it. I am passionate about the expressions she reflects in regards to the effect I have upon her.
I proceed to linger, delicately catching the corner of her mouth with my lips. The moment she turns for full contact, I pull away to roll the tank top off her body. Only then do I allow our mouths to pulsate in exploration against one another. Within moments our last garments of clothing are discarded and we are completely bared to one another. I am finally worthy enough to have her.
I am burned to the core as I merge us. I watch each individual expression she shares with me as I tremble with her. Fear. Pain. Adoration. Ecstasy. When I am met with the haze and weakness as we fall into shallowness, I become empty and distrustful of the shadows in this bed. Now I am left only to know the anger and hurt still befriends me.
I lay with her until I know it’s too dangerous a risk to pretend Joey isn’t going to be back sooner or later. Now I just feel like a fucking bastard. And I’m going to hurt both of them in the end, when and if that end didn’t already come while I was sleeping with her in my arms. She hasn’t even awoken, and the obnoxious snores she produces do not irritate me as much as knowing I might never hear them again does. What if she regrets it? What if I am unworthy for her now?
The moonlight basks her tanned flesh in dimly lit rays that I only imagined I would see on the movie screen. But that light chooses to leave me in the dark.
I slip on my plain boxers and the disheveled pants that are sprawled over the floor in vague memory. I nearly topple over my own feet, forcing myself into a rush that only slows me even more. Between the curses I mutter beneath my breath, I hear her groan her awakening. Shit.
“Baby? What are you doing?”
I crawl back onto the bed, hovering above her as I follow the trail of her words to her lips. I descend upon them, focusing on the warmth as our saliva moistens the chaffed resemblance my lips have with hers.
“Joey will be home soon. I have to beat it, Liddell,” I try to explain, though I want nothing more than to spend the entire heat of night with her.
“I have to tell you something first.”
My eyes sigh down upon her before I shift and lay against her, allowing my thigh to rest against hers as we both stare at the ceiling. “Anything.”
“I talked to Joey last night…like I said I was going to,” she begins.
I contort my head to an angle I can see her from. “How did she take it from you?”
“Ten times worse. Like worst of the worst bad. It took me forever to even get her to pass me a glance without seeing me as the holiness of smuttiness.” She seems to catch her second breath. “She thought I was a slut when she first met me, Pace. But…I don’t know.” She shrugged with a meek smile. “She kind of sees me different now. We’re close…really close. But she’s giving me an ultimatum, Pacey. She doesn’t want us together. She sure as hell doesn’t give her blessing. I could lose her friendship.”
“What are you saying?” my voice is empty of emotions.
Gently she shifts to face me, propping up on an elbow to gaze down upon me wholeheartedly as saline floods her wildly untamable eyes. Something that was worse than the worst of the worst was coming, and I felt it shrivel up my spine like a slowly devouring disease, biting every inch of me until there were only shreds of evidence I actually had lived in contentment once or twice.
“I can’t risk losing that. I don’t think you can either.”
I felt myself staring at her for so lengthy a time that I became too concentrated to see anything but hollowness in her dark spheres. I felt my emotions become obsolete, praying for a funeral that would never come. I was dead…so dead that not even death would grant me anything that I didn’t already have. Nothing but the peace I didn’t used to want.
“Okay.” I swallow, as if that word sums up a cauldron of lies. I don’t want to do anything but leave, and she sure as hell doesn’t protest. I don’t even want to say I’m sorry. I don’t want her to say it either. I just want to forget this ever happened.
My manipulated movements are that of a corpse, dragging me in a lulling havoc out of the room in complete silence with all my belongings. The university halls are damned to vacancy now, nearly everyone shut away from the darkness I find myself walking through again. Only stragglers still reside. And then just as I feel the inevitable drowning sensation of loss, Joey crosses my path as she returns from the library carrying a small stack of books. Her eyes are sensationally apologizing, though her lips are still firm with a forgiveness she locks in and is unwilling to present to me though I deserve it. God knows I deserve it. Why can’t she just fucking say she’s sorry for raising questions to the answers I thought I found? I’m at a loss to care. I just stand in her way with the ultimate discomfort of hurt.
“Pacey…” she trails, unsure how to proceed from there. I’m a stranger until I see her completely break away from her defense and drape herself against me in an embrace that is far too sour for me to return. I can’t. I’m immobile.
Audrey’s gone. She’s inevitably gone. I’m broken thinking I might have loved her. I don’t even know. I didn’t have the chance to know. And somehow I have to keep driving, but I don’t know how to get behind the steering wheel. The windshield’s shattered so I can’t see anything and the gas pedal is stiff enough it refuses to work. I’m back to square one. I’ll be an eighty-two year old man and I’ll still have her adrenaline pumping through my veins. But I’ll die two seconds too late to remember just how happy I was.