Summary #2: He kissed me harshly on the lips. "I will miss you, but I won't want to go back to the way things are now, you're my past, not my future."
I inhaled sharply—and then semi-choked as smoke filled my lungs.
Did he really have to do that here? I glanced over at River Lewis and frowned, he wasn't smoking, but somebody was. Lacey Lewis, Rivers' twin sister was smoking. Great, it clicked in my head suddenly. River didn't smoke like the rest of his family did; he had told me that he wanted to live to see his grandchildren, a very good reason also. Lacey glanced at me before dropping her cigarette to the ground and stomping on it. River leaned against the brick wall, wrapping his arm tightly around me and pressing a kiss to my temple.
He leaned in and brushed my ear. "People are watching," he told me.
People were always watching, it was a given. Everybody wanted to see the perfect couple interact, even Rivers' sister Lacey was fooled by the display that we always gave. Lacey glanced over at us before stuffing her cigarettes in her backpack and waving to us. "Use protection," she told us and grinned before disappearing.
"Bitch," River muttered under his breath.
"I know," I agreed and we parted from each other. He stepped a couple feet away and leaned his head against the brick wall. "Shouldn't we go in, River?"
"Why?" River challenged.
"It's freezing," I muttered childishly and he rolled his perfect blue eyes at me. He grabbed me by the waist, signaling that they were more people watching and kissed me firmly on the mouth before parting. He twirled a piece of hair around his finger before pulling fully away from me. "God, when will they get their own lives?"
He tossed his bangs back and rolled his eyes again. "I don't know," he said softly and I watched as his eyes darted back and forth between the school building and the senior parking lot.
"Let's go in, River." I suggested.
River shook his head. "You can go in, Celeste; I'm going to stay out here." I looked at him and then shook my head before walking towards the school building.
"Hey Celeste, where's your other half?" Kimberly Ann asked me as she walked pat me. 'Bitch' I muttered in my mind, but I just smiled and told her that River was busy doing some extra work in the library and had actually parted from me—gasp! I know. Kimberly Ann smiled and told me that we needed to hang out before disappearing towards the library to see if she could get a look of River.
"Cee, come here." I turned around and smiled slightly as my best friend, Penelope ushered me over to her. I came willingly, seeing as River wasn't there with me. "Hey, girl, where were you last period?"
I shrugged. "With River and Lacey."
"Hopefully you weren't doing drugs," Penelope scolded me. "I know River swore off of drugs and cigarettes, but Lacey is another story. She could be feeding you coke and I would never know it!" I rolled my eyes and sat myself down next to her and glanced at the paper she was working half-heartedly on.
"You would definitely know if that was happening, Penelope," I replied to her accusation, Lacey was not that kind of person.
"Hey, there's River." Penelope pointed with her pencil.
I turned to look and noticed that he smiled as he stopped momentarily at our table, pressing his lips carefully against mine. "I'll be back, Celeste," he told me before walking over to the cheerleader table. Oh god, he was going to see if he could flirt with Riana.
"Why does he always go over to Riana's table, Celeste?" Penelope asked and I shrugged nonchalantly. "Baby, you can tell me."
"Uh,"—this was one thing that I definitely could not tell Penelope—"they've been friends for so long, Penelope, they just like to talk constantly. River knows that I'm not the jealous type and he's assured me so many times that nothing is going on between him and Riana. Riana's actually a really sweet girl, if you get to know her and stuff."
That was such a lie, but I decided not to give that away. If I told her what was really going on between River and I, she would not understand. I didn't think that anybody would understand, it was a complicated situation, one that I could barely comprehend myself. River and I weren't actually together, we weren't actually in love, but still we were the schools perfect couple. We were far from perfect, we only talked when it was necessary, we didn't go out on dates like normal couples—that was probably because we weren't an actual couple. He was using me to get Riana, I was using him to get popularity, something I never had in elementary school or middle school. We had a contract, an unspoken agreement that we would never fall for each other. But I had already broken that. I was falling for him. Every word he said to me, every caress, every kiss, had me falling for him faster.
I turned to Penelope. "Huh? Did you say something?"
"You spaced," Penelope teased and tapped her pencil against the table. "What are you thinking about? Ripping off Riana's head? Because if you are I would totally back you up on that one, Cee."
I laughed. "No, no, nothing like that."
"Then what is it, honey? You can tell me anything, you know that." Penelope said softly and her head snapped to the left, recognizing that River was coming our way. "Later."
River seated himself next to me and wrapped his arm carefully around me, kissing my cheek as I rested my head against his shoulder. "Hey Penelope," he greeted and she half-waved before going back to her work. He pushed his mouth against my ear again. "Riana is falling for me, Celeste; this could all be over tomorrow."
"I know," I muttered softly.
River chuckled. "You sound sad to hear of this,"—he gestured to the small space between him and me—"being over, are you sad, Celeste?"
"No," I lied.
"You don't sound so convincing," he muttered playfully as he pulled back and kissed me harshly on the lips. "I will miss you, but I won't want to go back to the way things are now, you're my past, not my future." His words stung, but I just smiled and nodded my head, trying to make it look like nothing bothered me—nothing.
"I'm sorry." He said, although he definitely wasn't sorry. He sounded annoyed that he finally had to break up with me. He just wanted to stroll out of my life with no confrontation. That was always Rivers' way. "She's finally fallen for me, Celeste, it's amazing and I can't wait to get out of this fake relationship with you."
I stared at him blankly. "Of course." I agreed.
"We've finally gotten what we've wanted all along, Celeste." He breathed and leaned against the lockers. "It took way too long, a year with you is like a year in hell." He laughed bitterly at his own joke. He grinned and brushed his bangs back from his face, looking at me curiously. I did not say anything for awhile. He kept staring at me. "God you actually seem sad to get rid of me, Celeste." He chuckled dryly.
I did not laugh, I did not move. "Right," I repeated this once or twice. "Being with you was like being burned alive." I didn't want to spite the hate between us, but it was worth it now. I was angry.
"That's my girl," he muttered huskily.
"I'm not your girl; I never was your girl." I screamed as the anger flooded through my veins. "I'm glad that I'm finally rid of you, River, life is better without you."
"You don't have to tell me that, Celeste!" He yelled at me. "I've been trying to get rid of you for weeks!"
It was true. I knew it was. I knew ever since he said those words to me in the cafeteria with Penelope sitting so near to us. She had eyed us and not said anything, and I knew that she might know what was going on, although she said no words. She hadn't said anything to me, but maybe she knew, maybe I would tell her. "Get away from me," I said completely disgusted.
"Gladly," he said icily and moved away.
I watched him leave and it wasn't until he was finally all the way down the hallway and around the corner that I finally let myself break down…
"I heard the news, Celeste, I just want to say that I'm really sorry," Penelope said sympathetically and brushed a hand across my forehead, pushing my side swept bangs away from my face before brushing the tears off my cheeks. I didn't even have to fake the tears; they were real, really real. "Why'd he do it?" Penelope asked and I shrugged, dabbing at my raw eyes.
"I don't know," I whispered.
Penelope wrapped her arms around me and pulled me to her. I rested my head against her shoulder and sobbed. "Are you okay, honey? God, this is a horrible thing for River to do, what was he thinking?"
"He loves her," I sobbed openly. "He loves Riana, that's what he was thinking."
"He doesn't love her as much as he loves you, Celeste, you have to believe me," Penelope told me and she shooed some bystanders that were watching us. They had heard about what had happened, they all knew, everybody knew. River was now with Riana, it had only been an hour after our "break-up" and he was already with her. "He loved you wholly, isn't that right?"
"No," I replied coldly. "He didn't."
"He didn't love me, he never loved me, it was always that way Penelope."
"What are you talking about, Celeste?"
"I was nothing to him, Riana is everything to him." I whispered and Penelope shook her head, I silenced her with my thoughts. "I love him, I truly do, but he is in love with her. He will never love me the way he loves her."
Right then, River and Riana passed us, her small build pressed tightly against his broad one. His black hair was windblown and I could tell that they have been making out. My eyes were red, but I didn't care as I watched them pass. His eyes caught mine and he smiled slightly before grasping Riana tightly by the waist and pressing a chaste kiss against her temple. I knew this gesture, something that I had become familiar with… but no longer. I closed my eyes and leaned against Penelope, thinking that I was about to faint. Penelope held me by the waist and patted my back soothingly.
"Don't worry Celeste, it'll all get better soon," Penelope promised.
December melted into January. January disappeared into February and soon Valentine's was around the corner.
I hated every bit of school, despised the days that I had to go to school to see Riana and River making out in the corner. I had gotten my part of the deal out of our fake relationship while he had gotten his. I stilled remained the most popular girl at school although I was no longer with River while River got his girl. I would always cringe whenever I thought that. My eyes traced the outline of Rivers' frame as I watched him walk down the hallway, surrounded by his friends. We hadn't talked since the day he told me that we were no longer. I waned to talk to him, I wanted to tell him that I loved him more than I could ever love anybody else, but I knew he would hate that. He would always hate me, never love me.
"Happy Valentines' day, honey," Penelope said cheerfully and pressed a kiss to my hand before giving me a box of chocolate. "The kiss is from Jeremy,"—Penelope's boyfriend—"and the box of chocolate is from me!"
"Thanks," I said monotone.
I handed her a box of chocolate and she engulfed me in a hug. "Thanks, sweetie, are you okay? You seem really distant," she cooed and I nodded my head. I was not okay, though.
I opened my locker and was surprised when a red rose fell haphazardly out of it. I looked at it and bent down to pick it up. It had no note, and I had no idea who it was from. "Uh… Penelope did you leave this in my locker?" She shook her head and I shrugged, placing it carefully back in my locker. "Maybe I should get some water for it…?"
"Here," Penelope said and handed me a water bottle. "Put it in this for right now."
I placed the single rose delicately in the open water bottle and closed my locker before following Penelope to our class. "So what's new in the world of gossip?" I asked her tentatively, still not completely myself.
Penelope shrugged. "Chester's having a party tonight, Celeste; I think that you should come with me and Jeremy."
"I would be the third wheel." I noted.
Penelope shook her head and seated herself down in the front row. I sat down next to her, knowing that River was in this class and praying I wouldn't do something stupid, something to embarrass myself. "Just come, Celeste, it'll be fun."
"I don't know."
"Let me think about it, Penelope."
"Honey, I think that it'll be good for you to get out of the house. You haven't gotten out of the house since you and River broke up, since River and Riana got together." I watched as he walked casually by us, not even glancing at us. "This will be good for you, Celeste, and I hear that Jake Turner wants you badly. Having a boyfriend might lift your spirits again."
I watched as Riana filed in after River, her lips bruised and her hair slightly mussed up. "Okay," I murmured, "I'll come."
Later that night, I found myself searching my closet for something to wear. I knew that River would be there and Riana would be there as well, but I still wanted to look nice, like nothing had ever happened. I heard the front door open and Jeremy and Penelope's voices from my room. She came upstairs asking if I needed some help and I told her that I did need some help, desperately. She handed me a off the shoulder sweater and a tank top along with a pair of light wash jeans. I pulled on the clothing quickly and then Penelope straightened my hair as I lined my eyes and put on mascara. Finally, thirty minutes later, we were ready.
"God, what took you so long, Cee?" Jeremy asked playfully and I shrugged as I greeted him with a hug.
"Oh, you know me."
Penelope laughed. "Yeah, we know you very well, Cee."
I sat in the back seat and stared absently in front of me, to where Penelope and Jeremy's hands were connected as he drove along the familiar streets to Chester's house. I ignored the aching feeling inside of my chest as Jeremy parked a block away from the house and we all got out together. Jeremy was a best friend of Chester and also a mutual friend of Rivers'. They had gotten along well when I was still with River. We entered the house and Jake Turner was the first one to greet us. He took me by the arm and dragged me to the drinks.
"Mm," Jake muttered, looking me over. "I don't see how River could ever give up somebody like you, Celeste."
I shrugged innocently. "I don't know either."
"Riana Harris has nothing on you," he whispered in my ear, reminding me of all the times that River had whispered like that in my ear. I shivered as Jake took this as a sign to wrap his arm around me. I looked towards Penelope for some help, but she was nowhere to be seen. "You're hot, Celeste."
"I know…?" Jake laughed as he advanced on me. "Please, don't."
"Why?" Jake asked as he stopped, his face looming about a couple of inches away from me, "I know that you want me as bad as I want you, Celeste, I don't think that you should hide it any longer."
I shook my head. "I'm not ready."
"River broke up with you three months ago, Celeste. It's Valentine's day, the day of lovers, you should let me love you…" Jake muttered and he glanced towards his side. I looked the same way as him and noticed that River was standing idly by us. He quirked a brow in my direction and looked down to where Jake had his arm wrapped around me to the small space between us.
Jake took this as a cue to kiss me. He pressed his lips feverishly against my own. They were nothing like Rivers', they were hotand heavy instead of cold and unfeeling. They were screaming: 'I want to do you so badly' instead of 'I hate you' that usually came off of Rivers' lips. I would much rather have Rivers' lips then Jakes'. I whimpered and pushed Jake off of me. "I told you that I'm not ready." I whispered to him.
"You don't always get what you want, Celeste," Jake whispered dangerously.
I shivered at this and pushed him roughly off of me. "I don't want you; I don't want anything to do with you. I'm sorry if you want, you'll never have me though." I moved away from him, searching for Penelope.
I pulled her out of the house with me and sobbed into her. "What happened, baby?" She asked soothingly.
"I can't do this anymore," I muttered and looked at her. Penelope had always been there for me, it was time to give back to her. "I love him, Penelope; I love him so much that it hurts. We weren't together, well really together, we were just pretending. He wanted Riana so bad and he knew that she only went for guys that were off the market so when we met for the first time, he asked me if I would fulfill this deal for him. At that point, I was just trying to raise my popularity, and I knew that River was the most popular guy in school, so of course I agreed to it. After a year, I never thought I would fall for him… but I did, and it sucks." I went on to explain the rest as Penelope listened carefully.
"I'm so sorry, Celeste," she muttered as she hugged me. "I'm so sorry that this happened to you."
"I know," I said, glad that it was finally out of my system.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"River told me that I wasn't allowed to tell anymore, he told me that it was jeopardize everything that we had worked so hard to achieve," I explained and she nodded. "I can't be here anymore; will you tell Jeremy to take me home?"
"Of course, honey." Penelope smiled weakly. "Stay here."
I sat down on the steps as Penelope made her way back to the house as I stared at the starry sky. This would all pass, I told myself, this would all be done and gone when we went to college. But I couldn't help but wonder, would it ever end? Would I ever get over River Lewis? I knew the answer, but I was going to hide from it, I couldn't deal with it now. College was approaching, high school drama would be over… hopefully, all I could do was hope that it would disappear, forever.
I turned to the familiar voice and inhaled sharply as I realized that it was River. I stood up and brushed off my jeans nervously. "What are you doing here?" I asked and noticed that he hadn't come from the main entrance of the house. "Why aren't you inside?"
He looked flustered. "I don't know," he fumed.
"That's not a very good reason, River." I told him flatly. "I mean shouldn't you be in there with Riana or something?"
"God I can't stand to stand here with you, it's like being burned alive, or drowned or something incredibly painful." I told him and I knew that I was lying, but he had hurt me beyond repair. I heard the screen door open, but I did not move.
"Celeste?" Jeremy asked quietly.
I whipped around. "Oh hey, Jer, let's go." I moved forward down the stairs and saw River still lingering by the porch, staring at me, his blue eyes piercing my soul. I knew I was going to cry if I looked at him any longer. I would wait until I got home, I promised myself, and then I could cry my heart out. "I'm just going to go home, have fun, River." I told him sincerely; afraid my voice was going to break.
"Celeste," River said and I turned to meet his eyes. "Stay with me."
"Um… I can't."
"Jeremy, can you wait inside for a bit? I'll come and get you when Celeste wants to leave," I looked towards Jeremy pleadingly, but he didn't seem to take the note. Damn. Jeremy turned to the house and walked back.
"God, what the fuck is your problem, River?" I asked him angrily. "I just want to go home."
He led me to the corner of the house and pressed me against it, taking my breath away. I stared at him, couldn't believe what he was doing as he slammed both of his arms against the house, caging me in. "God, Celeste, you don't know how hard it was to get over the fact that you hated me, to get over all of this and go to Riana who is as dumb as a rock." He didn't say anymore.
"Are you trying to tell me something? Because I don't understand guy code." I told him and he frowned.
He mashed his lips desperately against mine as I melted into a human puddle. I reached up and cupped his neck in my hands as his arms lowered and wrapped happily around my waist, I was secure, and I was safe. He pushed me against the wall, making sure there was no space in between us. He pulled away, resting his forehead against mine. "I'm in love with you Celeste."
"I love you," I muttered as he kissed my lips tenderly. "I love you." He buried his head in the crook of my neck, placing kisses against my skin. "What about Riana, what are you going to do about her? And what about all those times that you said you hated me?"
"I thought you hated me," River admitted, keeping his head buried in my neck. "You always acted like it."
"Because you acted like you hated me!"
River laughed and sent shivers down my spine, his mouth tenderly working on my neck. He lifted his head and pressed his lips lovingly against mine, it didn't send the: 'I hate you' message anymore. It sent the: 'I'm in love with you, love you so much' message. "I broke up with her an hour ago," he muttered against my lips. "You liked the rose I gave you for Valentine's Day?"
"You gave me that rose?" I asked and he nodded, wrapping his arms around my neck. "It was very pretty, thank you. But why'd you do it?"
River shrugged. "I just wanted to give you something that reminded me of you, so that maybe I could get some closure and maybe you could as well. Lacey told me it was a bad idea… that I was making a mistake by giving it to you because it would just mean that I was somehow attached to you or something along those lines." He shrugged and said no more.
"It was beautiful," I repeated. "I'm glad that you're the one who gave it to me and not Jake or something."
River inhaled and pressed a kiss to my forehead. "Be mine, Celeste."
"For real this time?" I teased.
River smiled and kissed me. "For real."