I lay back in my bed, thinking through what I had done this past night. I couldn't help but smile when I thought about Jack, but I couldn't help but cry when I thought about Cassie. I hated her so much, but at the same time I loved her so much. I was like trying to love a person who didn't love herself. No matter what I said, she was always going to have that same self-doubt she always had. She was beautiful, smart and funny. Everyone loved her upon meeting her, but once they got to know her, they saw those cracks in her perfection. They saw how ugly and cruel she could really be. I didn't know what to do other than to let it all out. I cried. I cried hard and for once in my life, I felt remorse for myself instead of her.
The next day I got up from my bed with my hair sticking up in all directions, thanks to the shower I had before I went to bed. I tried my hardest to brush it out and pull it back in a ponytail just enough to get by for work. I looked like a mess, but I smiled my way through it because I knew I would see Jack there. He would be there to cheer me up with that great smile of his. I parked my car in my usual spot and came in through the back door. I went into the office and grabbed the black cash bag. Jack wasn't in his office. I went out and pushed my small key into the register to open the till. I looked around as I tried to shove the money into the slots for Jack. He was nowhere to be seen and I really just wanted a smile or at least something to reassure me that the world was right. I was on the verge of tears again and I wanted to go home.
"Are you okay?" Colleen asked me as she came up behind me.
"I just had this massive blow out with Cassie," I said, "we fought big time."
"I heard," she said and tried to force a smile.
"What did you hear?" I asked shocked that my stupid fight with Cassie was some how gossip worthy.
"I heard that you were on a date with Jack, she said you were…" she trailed off.
"We were what Colleen?" I asked.
"You guys were having sex, like, hot and heavy," she answered, "I didn't believe her because I know you."
"Thanks," I said absently. My throat began to swell as I came face to face with the horrible truth in her words. Cassie now officially hated me.
"I have to go," I said and turned around to bump into Jack who looked like he had seen a ghost.
"I need to talk to you," he said with a grim note in his voice, "we need to talk right now."
"Alright," I said and followed him down the aisles to his office. I sat down in the leather chair in front of his desk and he sat in his big chair. I felt like a little kid in the principal's office after having said Fuck without realizing that it was a bad word.
"What's going on?" I asked as he looked up from his desk to me.
"Cassie is spreading around that she saw us sleeping together," he answered, "I could get into some massive trouble for this."
"We didn't have sex though," I said, "I know that."
"You know that, but they don't know that," he said as he ran his hands through his hair.
"They who?" I asked.
"Everyone," he said huffing a little, tThey will all think I'm some dirty pervert trying to seduce a teenage girl."
"I'm 18 years old," I said firmly, "I'm a woman and not a girl, I'm a virgin and I don't plan on losing my virginity until I think its right for me. I think you're just being really paranoid about this whole thing."
"I think…"he said before I cut him off.
"If the next word out of your mouth is we shouldn't see each other any more, then spare your breath," I said while the tears swelled at my eyes.
"Laci," he laughed softly and got up from the big leather chair, "I was never going to say that."
"You just called me in here and I just thought you were going to drop me like hot potatoes."
"Never," he said and smiled, brushing my hair softly out of my face, "I was going to say I think we should go talk to Cassie about this."
"See, I told you I can be cynical," I said through tears.
"I think I see you as someone who's really in a tough spot," he said and kissed my cheek, "someone you trusted is telling secrets and rumors about you."
"It's so evil of her to do this," I said and let out a long sigh, "I hate her for this."
"You should go sort this out, I'm going to just put you down as working and I'll cover your shift."
"You'd do that?" I asked with a smile.
"Yeah," he said and pushed her shoulder lightly, "I like you enough."
"Shouldn't you be all manager-like and say 'don't let this happen again'."
"Nah," he said, "I think it's important for you and I to get this over with."
"True," I answered and got up from the chair. I wiped my eyes out and opened my arms for a hug from Jack. He wrapped his arms around me while I leaned in for a kiss. He gave me a small kiss and let me go. I turned around and headed towards my car in the back.
I drove with tears in my eyes and I knew exactly where to go. She didn't have my house to raid anymore, she didn't have a place to sleep like she used to, so I knew she would be at home. I pulled into her driveway and I saw her standing in front of the window with a scowl on her face. I parked and got out. I knocked on the door and received no answer. After a few minutes, I knocked harder and yelled.
"Cassie, I know you're in there," I yelled out, "let me in."
Cassie finally came to accept that I wasn't going anywhere and opened the door in a spurt of hate. She placed her perfect hands on her perfect hips and stared at me like I was some little thing to crush.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"I need to talk to you about everything," I said, "can I please come in?"
"No, talk to me right here about 'everything'," she said and stood her ground firmly.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked.
"Doing what?" she asked playing dumb.
"Don't fucking play stupid, you know what. Making up all that shit about me and Jack sleeping together," I almost yelled.
"Oh," she said, "you called me a slut, so I felt the need to pay you back for it."
"How could you do that after us being best friends for so long?" I asked her, "after everything, even if we ever parted ways I thought you'd still be loyal enough not to do something as low as that."
"It was pay back for being such a righteous bitch all the time, Laci" she yelled, "you make me feel like scum on the sidewalk with the way you go on and on about sex, dating and especially about Josh."
"Cassie, this is stupid," I said, "I had your back, I gave you food, a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on and when we get in one stupid fight, you throw it all away."
"I didn't," she said and started to close the door, "you did."
With that, I broke down into tears. She opened the door up a little and gave me a hard look. I tried to wipe the tears away, but they wouldn't stop flowing. I hated it when I cried because I ended up looking weak and stupid. Never mind that I really was weak and stupid. Cassie gave me a look and threw a tissue out at me. I wiped my eyes and my nose.
"Laci," she said, "why do you always have to make me feel like less around you?"
"You're fucking perfect!" I yelled, "you're beautiful, you took it all and only left me some!"
"You think I'm perfect?" she asked and looked me up and down, "you're messed in the head. Listen, get out of my face, get off my doorstep and don't look at me ever again."
"Cassie?" I looked up questioningly.
"I don't want anything to do with you anymore," she said and shut the door, in my face at that. The door to Cassie and my friendship was closed. I didn't know whether or not she was crying, but I knew I couldn't cry anymore. I tried to look beyond everything and calm down. I got into my car, I started the engine and I was dead. I felt dead. My partner in crime, my best friend, my secret holder and the one who was my shoulder to cry on, was gone. I didn't feel worthwhile at that moment. My hands and feet were moving the pedals on their own and I didn't even know where I was going.
I ended up back at the grocery store. Drawn to Jack, I knew I needed to tell him right away about what had came to pass. I knew I needed to talk to him all about this. I needed him to be my support right now.
I went into Jack's office and thankfully, he was there, sitting in his big chair again. I flopped down in the chair opposite and his eyes followed patiently. He knew before I was going to speak what I was about to say.
"She's never going to be my friend again," I said and with that, the dam broke. I was a flopping, teenage pile of tears. I was a broken woman, and I never felt so alone in the world as I did at that moment. Jack immediately got up and went around to give me a hug. I cuddled into his chest and cried myself into a near sleep. He pulled away and brushed the tears away with his thumb.
"We'll just have to face it as friends, together," he said, "we'll be there for each other through this."
"Thank you," I whispered.
"First thing I need to do is scare the crap out of that little asshole named Josh."
"Do you really need to scare him?" I asked.
"I need him and Cassie to stop doing this and in order for me to do that, I need to scare the shit out of him like there's no tomorrow."
"What're going to do?" I asked, unaware if Jack had a temper or not.
"Nothing illegal, if that's what you're thinking," he said with a grin.
"Break his legs for me?" I asked with a laugh and trying to pat my red eyes down.
"Maybe," he said, "I'll leave it as a surprise."
"Please, be careful," I said, "I don't want you or your family broken apart because of something my stupid, former best friend said."
"That won't be a problem," he said, "my aunt and uncle hate my guts."
"Why?" I asked.
"That's a whole nother story," he said and smiled, "to make a long story short, I broke up with the country club fiancé that my family wanted me to marry and moved to New York."
"You're a black sheep!" I said with a laugh.
"BAAAH," he said and we both cracked up. He leaned in and kissed me. I wrapped my arms around his neck and I kissed him back passionately. I knew he was it. Jack, I'm already falling head over heels for you.