I feel like I'm always apologizing for the delays between chapters. But I'm afraid I'm going to do it again...Sorry about the solid wait for this one. I go through such phases of writing and the time to just sit down and type always seems to be escaping me. I'l try to be better. Hopefully I can polish off a few more before the next hiatus. Thanks to the people who have stuck with this story for the nearly two years I've been working on it. And thanks to the reviewers of the last chapter - Night Innocence, Eleanor Skuse, jayniee, SarcasmIsPoetry, mccorza, kikichaka, funnechick, quotata, asdfghjk, 2madaboutbooks and Fairytale Gurl. You have no idea how much I love getting reviews! They make me so happy and smiley, it's positively disgusting. Also, I have a livejournal account that gets updated about as frequently as this story, but there are character pictures there and sometimes I even post previews of upcoming chapters! Check it out, comment and friend me .com!
She's a lot like you
The dangerous type
She's a lot like you
Come on and hold me tight, tonight
Dangerous Type – Letters to Cleo
Chapter Nine - Punch-Drunk Feelings
The banging on the door hadn't stopped for the past half hour, and Callum faintly wondered whether their knuckles were bleeding yet. Smiling, he hoped so. They hadn't ceased shouting at him through the wood either, insisting that he opened the door right this instant or there would be hell to pay, or they'd kill him, or other empty threats that were failing at scaring him into submission Although, he did like the one about ripping out his teeth one by one and then replacing them with his fingernails and vice versa. That was creative. However, if they couldn't even break down a slight wooden door, how much damage could they really do?
The thought of breaking doors triggered a moderately embarrassing memory and he turned around to face his bed, where a girl slept, exhaling heavily and drooling all over his pillow. "Attractive," he murmured. He could safely say this was the first time there was a girl in his bed who he had no desire to sleep with. Although, it was unsettling to realize that she was likely the first girl in his bed with an IQ over one hundred. And that was counting the head injury.
Callum scrutinized her, as she lay on the bed, analyzing her from the blond, tangled hair to the black stiletto heels on her size six and a half feet. She was, he was guessing, around five feet, five inches – positively a midget next to his six feet, two inch frame – and positively featherweight. Nothing special about her at all. He mentally pictured Delia in the room, with her perfectly coiffed hair, and the skin tight dress he had quickly removed her of two days ago.
No comparison. One belonged on the cover of FHM, and was nearly every man's fantasy. Lene, however, was far from it. But he'd felt a strange sensation holding her this evening. It was as though he hadn't wanted to let go of her. Gripping his head, he shoved the thought out of his mind immediately.
The Delia mirage disappeared and was replaced by an image of a stack of hundred dollar bills, totaling five thousand dollars. The reward money he'd receive from Tuck for winning the bet. Chump change for a guy with a million dollar inheritance, but nonetheless, an attractive prospect. More so, because it meant beating his brother at his own game.
He walked over to his desk and sat in his revolving chair, and crossing one foot underneath him and planting his toes of the other on the ground, he rocked himself gently, allowing the rhythm to help him concentrate. He had some serious business to think about. And that business was now wiping the saliva off of her chin.
Tuck Thorn punched the wall, his already mangled knuckles splitting open on contact, and leaving a splatter of blood against the wood for which he was positive he'd receive a lecture about from the maid tomorrow. Turning his back, he slumped exhaustedly against the wall, defeated. Facing him was one of the girls Lene had come with – the shy one, Jem – who was leaning against the staircase banister and rolling her eyes, at both him and Noah Kemp next to him.
Jem huffed silently, bored of the two boys in front of her hammering at the door. She was sobering up, and was rather quickly deciding that these theatrics were growing old really fast.
Noticing that he was looking at her, Jem glared. "Are you sure you don't want to continue?" She asked acidly, causing Noah to look at her, surprised at the change in her usually soft-spoken demeanor. "I'm sure all the banging and shouting is really helpful for someone with a head injury. We wouldn't want her to recover peacefully and quietly or anything. That would actually be useful, which is the last thing either of you seem determined to be tonight."
"I'm not sure if I like you as a drunk," noted Noah with the slightest bit of shame concerning Jem's accusations. Not enough shame however, to take it nicely. "You're acting like a bitch, Jem."
"I'm not sure if I like you as a person," retaliated Jem, completely inhibited at this point. "You're acting like a douche, Noah. An occupation you've pretty much taken on full time."
Jem folded her arms, feeling mildly victorious, as a tense silence enveloped the three. Noah was glaring daggers at her while Tuck was moping quietly, still thinking about what he'd done to Lene. She felt sorry for him – the perennial joker was wracked with guilt. It made a sad picture. But right now, she was more irritated that the last blow had missed Noah Kemp's pretty little head. In the years that she'd known him, she'd never idolized him as Jules had. His flaws were perfectly clear to her, and she couldn't necessarily ignore or forgive them as Lene did. The affection she had for his sister did not make him exempt from her quiet dislike.
"Well what do you suggest then?" Asked Tuck, still as dejected as ever. "We can't just let her stay in there with Callum."
Jem arched an eyebrow. "And why not? He's the only one I'd trust in there right now, besides myself or Jules. Maybe you remember the evening differently than me, but I recall you two throwing down the proverbial gauntlet and engaging in the stupidest fist fight in the history of mankind!" Taking a breath, Jem put on a syrupy sweet smile and changed her tone. "Now, how about you leave Noah? Go talk to Jules or something. I think she's in the kitchen. And Tuck... just go away. It's your house after all. I'm sure you have a room you can lock yourself in to go and cry already. I, however, really need to piss. When I come back, I expect to see this hallway as empty as... a really empty thing," she concluded dully, having spent the vocabulary she could remember with half a bottle of tequila flowing through her veins.
She turned to her right, figuring that there was a bathroom down the hall. She pressed a hand to the wall, feeling the gorgeous embroidered wallpaper run along her fingertips as she stumbled slightly down the corridor.
Behind her, Noah leaned towards Tuck, his surprise over Jem causing him to momentarily forget that he was about to whisper to his arch nemesis. "I've been waiting for that girl to grow a pair of balls since I was eight."
Jem, standing just outside of a doorway to the right at the far end of the hall, turned to look at Noah with a sardonic smile. "And I've been waiting for yours to drop for the same amount of time."
Jem stumbled into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her, breathing heavily in the darkness before a grin slowly spread over her face. She turned on the harsh lights and looked at her bright eyes and flushed complexion in the mirror, and wondered when the last time she had felt so alive had been.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" a tired voice asked as she blearily blinked and opened her eyes.
"I'm going to go with... anything under ten," Lene answered sardonically. Looking around her, she realized she was in Callum's room. She would've known anyways – she'd been in here so many times in her mind. She noted distractedly, as she rubbed her blurry eyes that he was sitting beside her on the floor. Probably reading her her last rites, she noted bitterly, thinking of the sweet little story he'd regaled her with earlier of putting down Tuck's dog, or however unhappily it had ended. Everything was too unclear at the moment.
"Is that your final answer?" asked Callum rhetorically as he reached over to help her. She looked as though she was still getting used to having the control of all her limbs again.
Lene shrugged off Callum's attempt to help her sit up and pulled herself up off her back to lean back against the headboard of the bed, trying her best to ignore the overwhelming wave of nausea that she felt rising in her. She quickly snuck a peak to her side and noted the garbage bin there with a plastic bag. That might come in handy, she duly noted, swallowing. She felt disgusting. She had a headache that was throbbing and pulsating like a jackhammer drilling into her skull. Ugh. Whether it was from the liquor or blow she took, she wasn't sure. Then there was the dry mouth and the tongue coated with a sticky layer of dried saliva which tasted wretched. Double ugh.
Oh it gets better, Lene realized bitterly, noting the crusty saliva on her chin and hair. She turned away from Callum, under the guise of fixing her pillow, and quickly scrubbed it off her face before turning back to him wearing a planted on smile as though she didn't feel like a used Petri dish.
"How's the head?" Callum asked quietly, as though embarrassed to be showing any amount of concern to her.
She touched her temple, the place Tuck's fist had cracked against. "Fine, fine." She brought her other hand up to touch the other temple, and moved her hands back and forth against her skin, as though shifting her face back to it's original position. "Nothing's broken. Wait. Can you even break your head? Like if you went to the hospital, would they put an enormous cast over your face? I'd be such a head case if that happened." She said laughing before pausing, all within the span of two seconds. "Terrible joke. Wait. Did that even make any sense? Maybe a bit of my brain was knocked out of my ear or nose or some other opening when I was hit? Like the sensical part of my brain just slipped out?"
"I'm beginning to wonder the same thing myself," drawled Callum, cupping his head in his hand as he listened to her ramble.
Realizing that she was coming off as even more unhinged as usual, she stopped talking and turned to look at Callum. "Sorry. I'm trying to organize my thoughts right now. It's proving to be practically impossible."
"Well, I'm pretty sure you have a concussion, so I'll let it slide," he said gently and even allowed for a faint smile to creep onto his face.
"A confirmation that you actually have a sense of humour and the capability to smile, all within the same minute? This might be too much for my weakened state to handle!" she joked nervously, and reached out to slap him playfully on the shoulder. However, the rather disastrous combination of her terrible coordination skills and the fact that Callum was moving away from the bed at the same moment, caused Lene to miss the mark and her arm, carrying all her weight, hit the air and she tipped out of bed. Right onto Callum's lap.
She reached a hand to her temple, both to check that her head was still on – it was – and to try and stop the room from spinning.
"Are you all right?" Callum stammered, and Lene was convinced that he may have been genuinely worried.
He pushed her hand down away from her temple and cupped the side of her face. He slid closer to her, his nose now inches from her own. The closest she'd ever been to kissing him. And, she sighed and rolled her eyes internally, at the rate she was going, the closest she was going to get.
"You're going to have a bruise. I'm afraid you're going to have to carry actual physical evidence that my brother is an idiot," he whispered with false joviality, covering for his concern, as he examined the purple bruise that was beginning to form on her skin. "Well, we all have our cross to bear, I suppose."
Lene wanted to reply with something equally as flippant. Something that could convince her that she didn't care that she could feel his breath on her lips. She tried to remember the scene from earlier on the patio outside when he'd made her feel so little, and angry and sad all at once but she couldn't focus on anything. Lene felt her own hitch at the warmth before slowly sucking in, and letting the feeling of tequila and Marlboro cigarettes envelope her senses. It was intoxicating, despite the fact that it was a pretty gross combination. "I'm sick, I know. I need help badly," she accidently whispered aloud. Fuck, she thought. That was definitely supposed to have stayed in her head.
"What?" Callum asked, puzzled, and mistaking her symptoms of lust for symptoms of pain. "Should we go to the hospital?"
"What I meant to say was I need help badly...getting up. And then out of here. I really feel like I've imposed on you long enough. Probably time for me to head home, you know. Speaking of which, where is everyone?" She struggled to find her footing, and untangled herself from Callum's lap. He touched her elbow to steady her and she finally found herself standing upright. He followed her cue and got to his feet as well, still keeping the proximity they'd had on the floor.
"I don't know," Callum whispered, still holding onto her elbow as though he was scared she would crumple to the floor once more. "Does it matter?"
"I thought I said to beat it, Tuck. I would have thought you'd prefer to wallow in your misery privately. I feel like such a voyeur watching you on the brink of mental collapse," Jem said, without bitterness, attempting to lighten the mood, as she approached him from the other end of the hall. When he didn't reply, she decided to continue. "But I suppose I don't really mind you staying – I actually have a few questions."
"Are you playing the good cop now?" he replied coolly, thinking of her vicious temperament from earlier.
"That depends on how much you cooperate," she smirked, her burgundy lipstick from earlier that night having nearly completely worn off, but she still looked beautiful. "Since we decided to leave the police out off this, someone's got to have the guts to snoop around on their own. I'm too curious to let it go anyways."
Tuck's eyes brightened with understanding, and for the first time since Lene had gotten hurt, Jem saw him look something other than pitiful and sad. He looked malicious. "You want to know the deal with Noah Kemp and me."
"That pretty much sums it up. Two guys smashing up each other's faces and a girl's bound to have a few questions."
"You're not the right girl for the answers though," he sighed, still leaning against Callum's doorway, clearly thinking of Lene inside.
"What makes you think she'd even want to talk to you long enough to find out?" The question was filled with honesty, not malice, and she knew he understood. "Besides, Lene's too forgiving. She'd accept a nicely edited, watered-down version of the account. Me, not so much. I don't particularly like either you or Noah Kemp, and am thus the ideal, impartial observer to wade through the amount of bullshit you're likely to spew. It'd be better for her to hear it from me."
He sighed again, and Jem knew he'd relent. As if reading her mind, he began. "Alright. But let's go somewhere more private. It's not something anyone needs to overhear."
Jem followed Tuck down the long corridor, admiring the oil paintings of the Thorn family as she passed them, when Tuck pulled her into a room near the end. He closed the door shut gently and then motioned for her to sit down. She had a strange feeling that she was among the very few girls who would step both into this room and out of it as a virgin.
"Alright," he said, and tiredly ran his hair through his hair. "It started like this..."
I know...you don't even have to say...It's so short! But in the next one, there should be a bit of focus on some of the other secondary characters - Will, Jules, Daniel - as well as some definite Callum and Lene scenes. The night isn't over yet at the Thorn house, you'll see. Remember to review, you know I love them!