Make Believe

Chapter 19: Here's To New Beginnings

Here I was again tonight forcing laughter, faking smiles
Same old tired, lonely place, walls of insincerity
Shifting eyes and vacancy vanished when I saw your face
All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you

Please don't be in love with someone else
Please don't have somebody waiting on you

Enchanted by: Taylor Swift

Thank you: 1Trinity6, (),., ominous sparkles, DarkWings04, freebird1490, crypticxdreamer, Among-the-hidden, twilightjunkie99, and everyone else who reads, reviews, subscribes, and favorites. And thank you, crypticxdreamer, for your pointers. They are very helpful and insightful and I will definitely keep them in mind when I edit this … unorganized hot mess. (Oh, and sorry for the wait, guys. I love you too.)

Hayden spent an unnecessary amount of time staring at her reflection. She stared at herself for a moment, watching how her mascara-clad lashes fluttered, making her eyes appear larger, the red lip gloss causing her lips to look fuller, how the sparkle of her eye shadow brought out the brown of her eyes, how the blush caused her pale complexion to look healthy. She wasn't ugly, she thought, but the realization caused nothing to stir in her. She was trying too hard. With a grim set to her jaw, she began wiping her lip gloss and the rest of her make up away. With nimble fingers, she took her eyebrow piercing out with nothing but a slight pucker of her brows against the slight discomfort.

"Honey," Her mom knocked gently on the door before slowly peeking in. "You're still in here?"

Hayden watched as her mom came closer through the mirror. Brenda's short blonde hair wasn't in the immaculate condition like Hayden was accustomed to. Actually, thanks to the unforgiving fluorescent bulbs, she could see gray hair and wrinkles. Her mom's lips tightened before a gentle smile spread across her features. She reached over to Hayden and lifted her chin up higher; her touch was light - hovering over her skin. Her mom stared at her for a moment, the same silken smile perched on her lips until Hayden bit her lip and shifted her stance.

"You're beautiful, Hayden, you know that right?"

Hayden gaped at her mother for a moment and saw how sincere she was being. She smiled tentatively, she hadn't in so long.

"I think I'm done with this whole piercing deal."

Brenda stilled. "Are you sure, honey?"

Hayden knew how much her mom abhorred her eyebrow ring and she respected her for her hesitancy.

"Yeah." She turned back to the mirror. "I'll keep the highlights though. Even though they're beginning to grow back in."

Brenda passed a hand through Hayden's hair. "I've always loved your hair. It's so wavy."

"You look nice," Clark said, back resting against the doorframe. Hayden didn't know how long he had been standing there.

"Thanks," She ran her restless fingers down her jeans.

"Hot date with David?" He asked, eyebrows raised.

Brenda cast him a warning look, but Hayden shook her head.

"I am meeting up with him though. We've got some things to settle."

Clark laid a warm hand on her shoulder. "I'm proud of you, Hayden."

And then her parents shuffled out of the cramped bathroom. Hayden picked up her silver eyebrow ring and twirled it between her fingers –trying to ignore the guilt that was resonating through her. Carefully, she placed the ring on the counter -the silver clashed with the whiteness of its surface - and sighed. Here's to new beginnings.

Hayden opened the door of one of the local café's, grateful for the elderly couple ambling out. It gave her an extra moment of preparation. She smiled at the old woman's sincere thank you and wished them a good morning. She had arrived fifteen minutes before the appointed time, but David was already there.

He was sitting at one of the booths in the corner, stirring his coffee with an uncharacteristic blank look as he watched cars drive by. For the first time, she wondered what he was thinking. What he was feeling.

With fluid movements she slid into the seat across from him.

"How long were you waiting? I'm so sorry. I thought we agreed at ten, but, I mean, I have a really bad memory."

Hayden wrung her hands over her purse's straps. She had taken Amelia's advice of ditching her Coach one and replaced it with a green one she'd found with her at the mall the weekend before.

"No, it was supposed to be at ten," David said, his green eyes stared past her. "I just got here early. You're always fifteen minutes early to everything." A soft, nostalgic smile flickered across his features.


In the moment of silence that followed, she watched his tanned fingers continue to stir his coffee. He always fidgeted with things when he was uneasy. She looked at her own strained, tense fingers curled into fists and slowly straightened them.

"Do you want to order anything?"

Hayden glanced up, startled. "Oh, no. Not right now."

"Oh, all right. Cool."

Hayden sighed and jerked her head up, meeting his gaze.

"I want to apologize, formally and genuinely, for what happened at the mall. I wanted to meet up with you earlier but I guess your phone was having problems… or something."

David glanced away, swallowing.

"Or something."

"Right, well. I really, truly am sorry." She cleared her throat and sighed again. "I'm a terrible person and you didn't deserve to have been treated like that. If I could redo things, it would have ended much differently."

"I'm curious," Said David, "Would you have picked him? You know… if you could redo it."

Hayden tried to keep his level stare, but she couldn't. The reminder of Jess was painful, like a splinter lodged in a heel. She hadn't talked to him in about a month. She had tried, but for the first time, it was he who was doing the avoiding. To say it stung would be an understatement, but Hayden understood him –if only slightly- and knew that he was ashamed of his feelings for her and the potential threat that would destroy his and Amelia's relationship. But still, she wished to talk to him, to get all the details straightened out so she wouldn't have to wake up each morning and swallow past the bitter taste of her guilt and remorse.

It had taken around four weeks to finally snare David. Although he never responded to her calls or texts, at school he did send her brief smiles and greetings. She was beginning to think it was a lost hope (what with two guys successfully avoiding her) but he called her and asked for her to meet him at their café. She agreed without hesitation.

"David… I don't know. I mean, life isn't meant to give you second chances. You're not supposed to always make the right decisions or the wrong ones. Things just happen. "

She wanted to answer him frankly and honestly, but she also didn't want to cause him more heartache. There was so much more to the equation than just she and him, there was Amelia and Jess, their pride and stubbornness, unseen forces and demons that plagued each one of them… It was a precarious bridge, a relationship.

"I don't think you planned for any of these things to happen, Hayden." David took a sip of his drink. "You're not like that. And, from what I know of Jess, he wouldn't either. Don't get me wrong though, I was so pissed… At you and him and just … everything. I should've paid more attention, you know? I look back now and see all the signs, but I was so in love with you." He laughed and shook his head. "And, to be honest, I still am. But that's not the point. It just… sucks. I wish I could've been enough for you."

His eyes slammed shut for a moment and he cringed. He hadn't meant to say anything too emotional.

Hayden peered up at him sadly, (even sitting he was several inches taller than her) and shook her head with wide eyes.

"No, David, it wasn't you, I promise. It just… I just… got caught up in the moment. Jess and I … we're not good for one another. We don't match. We're too similar and yet too different to ever have a compatible relationship together. And there's Amelia who… he would never betray."

David sighed.

"You do realize that he did betray her when he was with you?"

She nodded and briefly watched as a truck drove by.

"But he would never give her up for you. That's what you're saying?"

"I don't know the specifics, I'm just going off from what I've observed and picked up on. Jess never intended our relationship to escalate to what it did. It just… happened. I haven't talked to him since the whole mall incident. I don't know if he told Amelia everything or not. I assume not since she's…"

"Still your friend?" He laughed and reached over to pat her cramped hand. "I've seen you guys together; I don't think she would let a guy get between you two, even if it was someone as eccentric and interesting as Jess."

"But Zack is… He knows. About everything. And I don't think he could live with himself if he didn't tell Amelia the truth."

"Zack is… one of the dudes that sits with us at lunch every now and then? The quiet one or the talkative one?"

Hayden grinned. "He's the silent, sullen, intimidating one. Or so he attempts to be. Nathan is the loquacious one with the glasses. He has a huge crush on Morgan for whatever reason."

He chuckled into his Styrofoam cup. "Poor guy. Morgan can't stand him."

"Yeah, I know. I've tried to tell him, but he's smitten. Don't worry, next week he'll find some other ill-fated girl he'll try to woo."

David's polite smile transformed to a familiar genuine one. Hayden knew through his stare what he was thinking. He had missed her. Missed her strange vernacular.

"You're really something, you know that?"

Hayden's smile tightened and she dropped his gaze.

"Everyone is, David."

"So, what are you going to do?"

Hayden didn't feign ignorance like she would've just three months prior, but she didn't make any indication that she heard him either. Her eyes stared at the brown ring-stain on the table, keeping her expression hidden from his keen observation. Then, David reached across the table and, with gentle fingers, tipped her chin up so she would meet his green eyes. Once he noticed what he did, he stammered, flushed a deep maroon color, and ripped his hand away, apologizing.

"I'm sorry," He said a few moments later. "I forget, sometimes. You looked so sad and I just-"

"It's fine." She smiled. Or attempted to.

"I was serious about my question though."

"I don't know…" She huffed.

David sighed and moved his coffee to the side so he could place both his elbows on the table. He leaned in closer, his wide eyes hard in their concentration.

"You're seriously not going to do anything? Jess obviously likes you."

"What can I do, David? I've tried to talk to him, but he just gives me the cold shoulder. He avoids me all the time. Hardly shows up to art class. Doesn't associate me with any of our other ones and rejects all my phone calls. There's nothing else I can do." Her voice was taut with irascibility.

"I don't know, Hayden. I just want you to be happy. In order to do that though, it seems like you have to get everything straightened out first."

David sighed again, his shoulders drooped and he averted his eyes.

"I'm a better man, you know."

Hayden bit her lip.

"Sometimes I wonder if there's anything I could've done. To make you stay. To forget about him. But there isn't anything I could've done, because you always had your mind made up about which one of us you liked better. And it obviously wasn't me." He stood up abruptly. "Look, don't get me wrong, Hayden, I'm not trying to act so immaturely. And I want to still be friends and everything, but I can't do this. Not right now. Just call him and be done with this. I hate seeing you so unhappy all the time. And I hate you for dragging me along in your little affair. Things just seem so complicated right now. I just need some space. Even more than a month. I'm sorry."

He was walking towards the door, but paused and glanced at her over his shoulder.

"You look nice, by the way. And your shirt. Nirvana is my favorite band."

Hayden stayed seated in the booth for a couple minutes after David had left. Their meeting went better than she had anticipated, but it still hurt. Seeing the pain and betrayal and accusation that he looked at her with sometimes. To see his cringe when she had mentioned Jess's name. His harsh words. She deserved them. And, honestly, she deserved to be treated with much more malice than the slight irritation he spoke to her with. He was right; he should've been the guy. She should've ignored her attraction to Jess, especially when she realized her feelings for him, but she didn't. Even though she saw all her errors now her mind would fleet back to those moments when Jess's lips were on hers and the feel of his hair tucked around her fingers and hear the low timbre of his voice and the silver of his eyes, and she would know that she couldn't always choose what was right and wrong. Because even though it was wrong, she felt right whenever she was with him.

She walked to the cashier and ordered a frappuccino. As she walked out of the café, she scrolled through her contacts list. When he answered groggily, she took a sip of her coffee, and smirked despite herself.

"Hello, Jess. We really need to talk."