A/N: Let me just warn, right now, of the dramatic and sappy contents of this chapter. It's the result of having an unstable love life. I only hope it isn't too bad.
Oh and thanks to Sleeping Angel, Mass Descent, and Simply-june for the encouraging and awesome reviews. I'm much obliged :)
I rode the bus home again that day, this time seated with not one, but two other kids. They were Pokémon card collecting freshman, who, by the looks of it, have never had a girlfriend. But they were really nice, more gentlemen-like than most guys I knew. They tried to make as much room as possible for me to sit down and ended up having to sit on top of each other.
As I sat there, listening to the two of them trade cards, my forever rambling mind drifted to Simon. I wondered if I had been a little reckless for practically spilling my guts to a guy I hardly knew but disliked. What have I done? My faced burned in shame at my foolishness. But then I remembered his eyes and how I saw trust there. Bet he was the kind of guy a girl could tell and anything and he'd never tell. The guy who fell in love and never got the feelings returned. A little like me, I guess.
I sighed out loud and the freshman looked at me expectantly. I smiled apologetically at them.
"Sorry," I murmured.
"It's okay," they said and went back to talking cards.
I sat back and looked up at the roof of the bus. I guess one of the reasons I was beginning to like Simon was that he had stopped bitching. Kinda. When he wasn't complaining about popular people, he was a pretty nice guy, pretty normal, pretty cute. I pulled my eyes down to rest on my lap. Ok, I was really going to have to stop thinking about him in an abnormal way. Luke. Luke was the one I was wildly in love with. Not Mr. Daye.
But wasn't it pointless having feelings for a guy who felt that he had already found his soul mate? Yet, wasn't that pointless since Joslyn didn't love him? I sighed again, this time silently. Oh what a tangle web we weave...
When I was dropped off, I took my time going in the house due to fresh new thoughts. I had to talk to Jos and convince her to tell Luke the truth. He deserved that much, didn't he? If not, I would just have to tell him myself.
As soon as I walked through the front door, the phone rang. April nearly ran me over to answer it.
"Hey!" I yelled after her.
"Sorry, sis," she apologized over her shoulder as she raced to the phone, which was located on the coffee table. "Please, let it be Shawn. Please, please, please," she prayed before answering it. I shook my head at her and put my book bag on the love seat. Then I headed into the kitchen.
"Hello?" April's voice was so bright with hope, before it dropped with disappointment. "Oh, hey, Joslyn."
I stopped in my tracks, inches away from the fridge. It was Jos. The gold glow of opportunity beckoned.
"No, no-she's in the kitchen....yes, I'll get her...ASH, IT'S FOR YOU!"
"Ok, I'll just us the phone in the kitchen," I shouted back, heading toward the cordless. I picked it up and pressed the "Talk" button then I put it to my ear. The first thing I heard was April hanging up the phone. The second was-
"He doesn't hate me, Aisia!" Joslyn's soft, velvety voice was like a breath of fresh air. Had I missed someone I hated that much? "He loves me more than ever." And then I heard her words and the good feeling just died.
"Where were you today, Jos?" I asked distantly. My tone didn't effect her happiness.
"With Luke...in lover's paradise." She laughed. "Miss me? I missed you..."
"How did you get passed your mom?"
"Told her I was sick. Being pregnant does have a convenient side." She laughed again. I was disgusted .
"Well, I'm glad you're feeling so crazy about it. Do you know how many times I had to cover for your ass?" I hissed angrily.
"No." She sighed. "Sorry, Ash. And thanks...for covering for me."
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah."
A strained silence formed between us. I could just imagine her lying on her back on her bed, twirling a strand of her dark wavy hair that I envied strongly, trying to think of something to talk about.
"Hey," she said suddenly. "Did you get my stuff from English class yesterday?"
"So you have the letter," she stated. "Do you mind giving it to me tomorrow at school? I would come over, but Mom thinks I'm oh so ill."
"Yeah, sure." I guess.
"Thank you so much. Listen, I have to go-I have make up work to get made up. Argh...remind me to never skip school again, Ash."
I smiled at the regret in her voice.
"Sure thing, Jos."
"Well, I see ya tomorrow."
"Yeah, see ya."
I hung up first, then swore. I forgot to talk to her about Luke. I was about to call her back when the doorbell rang. I walked into the living room just in time to see April fly to the door.
"It's Shawn this time. It has to be," she murmured before opening the door. Once again, it wasn't. It was somebody better.
Luke stepped a little closer to the door.
"Is Aisia home?" he asked somewhat impatiently. Hearing Jos' voice was nothing compared to hearing his. It was like coming home form a long, long tiring visit at your grandma's.
"Oh," April said dully. "Hi, Luke. Yeah, she's home. Come on in." Luke did just that. April closed the door behind him. "ASH, IT'S FOR-"
"I'm right here, April," I said quietly. I couldn't keep my eyes off Luke. He changed somehow, looking more gorgeous than before.
"Oh," April stated. "Well, there you go, Luke."
He waited until April slumped out of sight before rushing over to me. To my surprise-and pleasure-he wrapped his arms around me, spinning me around a couple of times. It was like a dream, it had to be. Or it would've been if my dreams were this good. I was trembling in his touch, my heart pounding in ecstasy. Yes, this is what I've been waiting my whole life for...to be held in the angelic arms of Luke Coffee. I breathed in the familiar scent of his cologne, tears popping in my eyes. Because good things come to those who wait. Finally.
Luke laughed softly in my ear. I cherished every note. Then for the strangest reason possible, he said-
"She loves me, Ash! She still loves me!"
And that was when the music died and the sunshine faded. I felt what piece of life that had crawled out from within me break and a familiar, stale ache return to me heart. Only this time, I wasn't bitter and angry. I was out of my mind.
"No, she doesn't," I whispered wistfully. and Luke stopped is sing-song laughter and released me a little to look me in the eyes.
I choked up then, not wanting to say it, not wanting to betray Jos or confess my feelings. But when you were so close to tasting love for the first time, morality and sacrifice no long matter and you'd do anything to regain the dignity that would allow you to pick up the broken pieces of your heart that lied at his feet.
So I begin to tell him. Everything. I took no prisoners.
"There are some things you have to know, Luke, and I'm sorry that some of it's going to hurt."
Luke swallowed and let me go. He was staring at me as if I was some kind of monstrous disease that he couldn't believe he'd come in contact with.
"Joslyn?" His voice was soft and cracked. I nodded. "Then don't say anything, Ash. Just-just let me go talk to her-"
"No!" I yelled. Now, I was angry. How dare he threaten me by going to her-how dare he try to leave me in my time of need. Dammit, I had come before she had, I was the best friend. Doesn't that count towards anything?
"She'd just lie to you, Luke," I said grabbing hold of his arm. Looking sick, he wiggled out of my grasp. Feeling sick, I continued. "Hurt you like before."
Luke was shaking his head. "No, you don't understand, Aisia. She loves me. I know what she did was wrong, we all do, but she's sorry. I know she is."
"Did she say so, Luke?" I asked shrewdly. "Did she actually come, saying 'Oh Luke, I'm sorry. Oh Luke, I was wrong'?" Luke's face began to cloud and he looked away from me. "No? Luke," I reached out and touched his shoulder, and this time he didn't protest. "Did she tell you that she loves him?"
"She was drunk!" He exploded before pulling away. He sat down on the love seat and put his head in his hands.
"Drunk in love, maybe." I sat down beside him. "Luke, I don't think she's sorry."
"Why are you telling me this?" I heard his muffled question.
"Because I-I....I'm in love with you." And there was silence. Luke raised his head and looked at me. His dark blue eyes were bright with tears. He looked so innocent and melancholic that I wasn't mad anymore. I was remorseful.
"Ever since we were kids, I think. It's funny when I think about it," I forced a weak laugh, "when you used to chase me with your affections. Now it's the other way around, except I...I was never good at expressing my feelings."
I touched his face to wipe the tears away. He only stared at me. I sighed, looking at him.
"I'm sorry, Luke," I said, then leaned in and kissed him.
I once heard that a kiss was a kiss and sex was just sex if not filled with feeling and love. I heard that if you really loved someone, that even if you never told them, they can tell it in your kiss. And I've heard that first kisses were always so memorable and cherished...a once in a lifetime type thing. I've heard a lot of things about it really, but none that prepared me for this.
It was like the life was being drained from me, the moment our lips met. All that was bright became gray, everything yellow was now blue. This was no special, intimate phenomenon that was occurring in our touch. There was no love. It was just me and Luke,. two best friends who were in love with each other at different times.
I was about to pull away when Luke began to kiss back, his cold lips burying into my shock-frozen ones. He pushed me back onto the couch, until my back was against the cushions. His hands went to my face and I felt the soft firmness I often longed for, but not the loving touch. What he was doing to me seemed so dishonest and artificial that it hurt. I cringed as he ended the kiss.
"If you really were sorry, you wouldn't have done that to me, Ash," he was saying bitterly. "And if you really love me, you wouldn't have broke my heart."
He stood up from the sofa and stared accusingly down at me. I could feel the angry loneliness and pain in his look and something deep inside of me cried because of what I've done to my friend. Both of them. He left then, without another word, and I was all alone with my guilt and permanently torn heart.
After a moment, I realized that I had been crying all that time. I sighed shakily and wiped some of the tears off my cheeks. It took me another moment to realize the tears weren't mine.
A/N: Okay, um, that chapter took me almost forever to write, almost six months I think. I blame writer's block. But now that it's over, I can continue this story and maybe even finish it. Hooray!
Review, s'il vous plait!