The coast is officially clear. Turns out I didn't even have to come up with an excuse to get out of dinner. Bruce did perfectly fine on his own, mumbling an excuse to my mother as he shrugged on a jacket before he even reached the dinner table! Of course, mom was disappointed, cooing and clucking over him like nobody's business. Hearing her pacifying him, you'd have thought she didn't have two grown-up(ish in Jase's case) children of her own.
Dinner was an uncomfortable experience. Dad was working late again, and mom seemed totally oblibious as she poured herself a cup of herbal tea. The whole source of discomfort instead came in the image of my six-feet-two brother, glaring at me with those hazel eyes, so uncannily like my own. I offered him a bleak smile, but when he didn't pull a face, I knew he was still fuming about Bruce going off.
What? So Bruce didn't stay for one dinner? Oh no, the world's coming to a standstill--rolls eyes--
Since it seemed that chewing my risotto and pretending everything was fine wasn't going to cut it with my brother, I decided to "retire" early from dinner.
Thankfully, he didn't follow me.
One and a Half hours ago--
Bruce was still leaning over me, by the time I'd come to the realisation that Bruce was gay. But yet, I wasn't satisfied-- a stubborn part of me refusing to accept Bruce's sexual orientation. I wanted to hear him say it. Out loud. To hear from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
I cocked my head to side, and gazed at his hands still "adjusting" the straps of my shoes. He didn't look up at my sudden scrutiny, and instead traced a letter on my ankle bone. With a jolt, I realised it was the letter B and I rid myself of the shivering thought, that Bruce was invisibly marking me as his ownership.
"How did you know it was Jimmy Choo?" I asked, boring my eyes through his brown locks of hair covering his scalp. Without even touching it, I knew there was a slight scar behind his earlobe from that time I accidentally whacked him with a hockey stick eleven years ago.
Bruce glanced up at me, and I realised with a giddy feeling that his intense expression had morphed into one of teasing and happiness. He nudged the shoebox, with one toe as he made to stand up and glanced down at me with jaded eyes. "It says so on the shoe-box."
"Because I'm really surprised you knew what designer these shoes were-"
WHAT?! Whoa, let's back-track a mo, and rewind to the bit where Bruce said--- It says so on the shoe-box-- Huh, THAT'S how he knew?!
"You mean, you're not gay?!" I incredulously asked before clapping a hand over my mouth. Bruce looked confused, running a hand agitatedly through his hair at this unexpected development.
"No..." he slowly said, as if he didn't want me to trick him to say anything he shouldn't. "What's that got to do with anything?"
Way to kill the mood, I silently berated myself, although of course, there was no mood in the beginning to speak off. But I couldn't have been wrong! All the arrows had been pointing in my gaydar at Bruce's direction after the whole "Bruce getting mad over Justin flirting with girls," situation. I realised a second too late, that I'd waited too long to burst into peals of laughter and pretend it was a joke.
This was it. Sink or swim.
"You know, the whole situation in the canteen-" I reminded him, "When- you know, you- er, stormed off- after seeing Justin performing the Heimlich manoeuvre-" (Translation: When you saw Justin putting his arms around me?!)
Then I shut up, clearly seeing Bruce frowning more and more as each word slipped out of my mouth. Clearly he was disagreeing with everything I was saying, so who was I, to wander into the Dragon's den?
And then Bruce muttered something which I considered highly offensive- I mean "You stupid girl?"-- How dare he refer to me as "You!" --I have a name, god-dammit.
"You've got this wrong." he laughed hollowly. "And naive. And narrow-minded. Perhaps it was you, that I was concerned after, lord knows why, and I didn't want to see you getting hurt!"
Me? Did Bruce Solomon just say he was concerned over ME?!?! I felt dazed, as this new possibility hit me and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. And then the answer came, quick and simple. Throughout the whole years I've known him, since the time Mrs Solomon dropped off Baby Bruce to play with his new "buddy"- there was never a single time where Bruce acted like he cared. Oh sure, he may have defended my virtue once or twice but that was cancelled out by the fact that, even if Bruce didn't like to see anyone else torturing me, he didn't mind doing it himself.
The pillock. And this argument just illustrated the fact.
"You pillock!" I hotly replied, "Justin was just being nice. N-I-C-E. He was saving my life and you're telling me you just stormed off because you thought I was falling for Justin's charms?!" My laughter was just as cold as Bruce's. "Wait, the next thing you're gonna tell me is that you're in lurrrvvvveee with me. Awwww, Ickle Brucie-Kins, are you in love with little ol' Kaitey? How CUTE!!!"
Strangely enough, by the end of my yelling I was on the verge of tears. I sniffed, as I glimpsed an emotion that almost looked like pain flash across his face, but when I did a double-take, his mouth had twisted into a cold smile that chilled my very bones. Did I hallucinate him looking hurt? Knowing him, Bruce would never get hurt over what a girl said to him--
I shrieked as Bruce grabbed hold of my arms, and shook me slightly. My chin bounced off my chest, as my teeth rattled deep in my skull. "The world doesn't revolve around you, Kaitey." He said harshly. "You think just because I wanted you to not come crying to my shoulder when Justin broke your heart, that I love you? Don't flatter yourself, Kaitey. You may be easy on the eyes, but it doesn't mean you're that good."
And with that vent of frustration, Bruce abruptly released me, as if he was disgusted to even touch me. He stepped away, and we glared at each other. Him looking ruffled, and me trying desperately to not let any tears slip.
So this is what Bruce thought of me. All this time, and he'd never said.
And now I know.
The living room door banged open then, and Jase stumbled in, barely seeing over the tray heaped with popcorn, nachos, salsa dip and two cans of lager. But he must have sensed the stormy atmosphere in the room, because he deposited the tray on the table and glanced between the pair of us, standing a hand-breadth's apart with looks of forlorn and anger.
"Should I be worried here, Solomon?" Jase joked, placing hands on his hips in a mock-impression of mom. "You're not trying anything with our Kaitey here, are you?"
Only Jase could make a simple joke sound menacing.
Bruce snorted, as if he found the idea a ridiculous concept, which twisted my heart even more and stepped back. "Wanna play Ninja Turtles with me?" he threw back-handedly at Jase, as he turned back to the couch, suddenly dispelling the angry climate hovering over the room.
It was a good tactic. Jase immediately launched himself to the second control pad, and started pressing away jovially. In a rare display of sibling love (hmmph! as if! he just wanted to whoop my ass--) he asked, " Wanna join us, Kat? You can have the Ninja with the pink bandanna!"
I opened my mouth to decline, but Bruce beat me to it, eyes fixed intensely--almost robotically--on the screen.
And then he drove the knife home, by murmuring-
"She was just leaving anyway."
Thanks to : Amarantis-- Stahlut-- factbasedfiction-- volleyballplayer30-- FunkyObsessed. I read all of your reviews twice and savored them plenty! (:
Q: Your chapters are pretty short. Ever gonna write longer ones?
A: For sure. This chapter is 500 words longer than any other already! I'm not promising ginormous ones, but if it adds to the story, I won't be afraid to add more pages (: But for now, I'm happy with the length....
If thou review, you shall grace my christmas card list (: