A/N: I'm back! Not much to say about this chapter but we've officially caught up to where we were in the unedited version and I have some new chapters. So expect a NEVER BEFORE SEEN chapter next week.
Chapter 12: Walk All Over Me
I busied myself while Nate was gone by forcing myself to ingest a bowlful of instant soup – my stomach was still upset with me (and for good reason) – trying to study nuclear physics, calling Melinda to confirm that I had a rugby game the next day – the conversation was kind of one sided after she said that "Duh, just because you got totally trashed doesn't mean the rugby schedule changed" and she began to lecture/tease/embarrass me about what I did the night before while completely drunk – and by taking a very non-restful nap.
"Fuck," I swore when I decided that there was no sleep to be had. My mind was trying to process WAY too much crap involving my roommate and his date. "This should not bug me so much."
And it shouldn't. Obviously Nate was a wealthy, good-looking guy who probably thought he was some kind of player (hahahahahahaha) and there was no way he was going to tie himself to a twenty-one-year-old university student (who had the experience of a twelve year old – I might add) when he could sleep around with the entire Saskatchewan Roughriders cheerleading squad if he wanted to.
My day officially ruined (what else was new), I glanced at the clock and thankfully saw that it was five in the afternoon. Late enough for me to begin supper.
Despite not having eaten much all day, I still was not in the mood for copious amounts of heavy food and thought that a salad might be a good option. Making up my mind, I got up off the couch and made my way to the fridge, rifling around until I found the necessary ingredients.
It was unfortunate that ripping lettuce and adding spinach took relatively no brainpower and my mind was free to return to Nate.
Shut up shut up shut up, I told myself firmly. I was acting like some stupid kid tied up on a goddamn celebrity. Nate didn't deserve that much admiration.
Taking out a pan, I opened a bag of pre-sliced almonds (how the hell would I have sliced them myself?) and put them on the stove to roast. This took a little more concentration (for me, not for the normal, everyday person who cooks) to avoid burning myself and it gave me a temporary reprieve from overthinking.
When the almonds were sufficiently filling the room with a delicious aroma, I took them off the heat and dropped them into the salad bowl with some dried cranberries. Tossing it, adding some raspberry dressing and sprinkling goat cheese on top, I placed Nate's helping in the fridge and went and sat on the couch, turning on the television and flipping until I found some boxing. It wasn't as though I followed the sport enough to give a damn who won or lost but sweaty men trying to beat the brains out of each other was enough to distract me while I shoveled lettuce into my mouth.
I had finished the salad and had already placed the plate on the coffee table when the door to the apartment opened.
"How was your gala," I asked airily, already knowing who it was. He made his way over to where I was sitting. Thankfully he was alone as I was unsure whether I would have been able to hide my…well, whatever I was feeling, if he'd brought Alana back to the house.
"Ugh," Nate replied as he removed his suit jacket and tossed it over the side of the couch. "That formal event crap always tires me out. The only reason I went was because of Alana." Wow. He must really like her if he was willing to go through something he obviously didn't enjoy simply because his date/girlfriend/whatever wanted to go. The notion made my heart sink.
"Oh," I said, trying to sound happy as I kept my eyes on the TV. "Well, maybe next time then." I was referring to his next date with Alana and the idea that maybe he would have more fun then.
"Hey," Nate started softly. "Are you okay? You've kind of had this weird look on your face since after your shower…did the fact that I kissed you and said all those things really weird you out?" I had been expecting him to ask if his going out with Alana made me upset – which it shouldn't – in which case my answer would have been much less convincing (because it would have been a lie and lying is not something I excel at).
"Oh. No! Of course it doesn't," I replied with a hint of relief in my voice that he probably didn't catch – hopefully. "Well, it totally does…actually," I conceded, realizing that it was still a lie. "But I'm totally fine," I continued with a wave of my hand. Damn, why did my voice, no matter how much I tried to control it, take on this weird pitch whenever I was nervously trying to lie my way out of something?
"No you're not," he insisted a little more adamantly. Oooookay, it was time to change the subject.
"Well, I already ate," I gestured to my plate "but I left your portion of the salad I had in the fridge. Just add whatever dressing you would like and sprinkle some goat cheese on it." I ignored his last statement as I slowly stood and started backing up towards the stairs. "I have some homework I need to work on!"
And then, like the coward I was, I turned and very nearly sprinted up the stairs.
"Kennedy?" I heard his voice call after me as I made my way around the top floor and into my room. Closing my door, I slumped against it with a sigh of relief.
Stupid Nate, I thought with a distinct bitter edge to my thoughts. I still couldn't get over how upset I was. Suck it up, I told myself this time. Watch some boxing.
Thankful, not for the first time, that I had a TV in my room I grabbed the remote, hopped into bed and flipped through the channels.
It was less than a half-hour later when my door opened and Nate stuck his head in the door. I kept my eyes on the current program I was watching.
"Nice studying," he said dryly, motioning his head towards the TV which was now playing basketball highlights.
I took enough time to turn my head slowly to look at him, giving him a glare from under a single raised brow (oh yeah, very suave) before turning my head back to look at the television. The look plainly said that he was not welcome in my room and I didn't give a flying-pig's ass about him (at least, I think that was what it conveyed). It was good practice for me if I was going to be as glacial as a…glacier towards him. And I was determined to do so seeing as he didn't really seem to have the decency to respect my feelings.
"You left your textbook on the coffee table," he continued, entering the room – my obvious must not have been so obvious – and perching on the corner of my bed. I was still studiously ignoring him.
He tossed the fat book on the pillow beside me – I was leaning back on the headboard – and I could feel his eyes boring into me. It was really difficult not to turn and evaluate what kinds of emotions were in his eyes but I managed to keep my eyes glued unseeingly on the basketball players and highlights of their various dunks and jump shots. I heard him sigh.
"Look," he started. "It's obvious that all the stuff I said about you really made things awkward between us. Apparently you have problems with this, which is…expected." It was odd but he seemed to be weighing every word before he said it. That was unlike Nate whose insults and explanations always seemed to flow so easily. "If you want me to stop," he continued, "just tell me seriously. I kissed you yesterday because you never said anything to stop me so I assumed it was alright with you…apparently that was my mistake." He ran a hand through his slightly-too-long hair, making it stick up a little strangely at the back.
Did I want to stop this? Did I never want to kiss him again? Deep down I knew the answer but my head was screaming at me to take this opportunity. There was no way I was in love with Nate – I was experienced enough to know that physical attraction was NOT love – and it would not be wise to get caught up with my roommate. It would just make things so awkward when the inevitable breakup reared its head.
For the first time I took my eyes off the TV long enough to really look at him. His eyes were glued to my face, as if trying to read my answer in my expression before I actually gave it – stupid psychic attempt. And the look in them was…weird. Kind of unreadable but, at the same time I knew what he wanted my answer to be.
But Nate was usually better at composing himself right? And why would he care so much when he evidently had Alana? If he really cared about me he would want to be exclusive…right? Perhaps that was my naivety talking. Was it normal, then, for older men to just date multiple women – even if he cared a lot about one – until they figured out whether or not to be exclusive? It sounded exhausting to me.
"Gah!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands up in the air and letting them fall with a flop on the comforter. Nate looked at me a little strangely. "Why?" I nearly shouted the question at him even though it didn't make a lot of sense. For some reason it was much less obvious to him that I was emotionally undecided as to whether I should shut him out or take a chance (most likely because he can't read my mind). Why couldn't he just make the decision for me like the time he kissed me?
You're only feeling this way because he's the first guy to kiss you, I reasoned with myself.
Well…don't most girls take a chance on the first guy they kiss?
In high school. Oh good I was having an argument with myself.
Well…do I have any other offers from people to go out with? If I remember that he has no desire to be exclusive and I don't get too emotionally involved, it shouldn't be a problem.
But you know you can't not get emotionally involved. You think with your emotions.
Okay, time to stop referring to myself in second person, I stuffed the little voice towards the back of my head.
"'Why' what?" He asked, confused.
…Well, I couldn't very well tell him that I was trying to figure this all out.
"Look," I said, staring down at the covers. "It isn't the fact you kissed me – why did you do that by the way? I barely know you – or said you wanted to sleep with me – which is so creepy – that is causing any difference in my actions, if differences even exist."
"What do you mean you barely know me? I tutored you through English! Just because you were too late a bloomer to realize that I was quite a good-looking guy didn't mean that I was unobservant enough to not see what a gooder you were."
I froze and didn't seem to remember how to move…or think…or speak.
"You…you developed…feelings for me while I was in high school?" I very nearly squeaked. Here I was thinking that this guy was the strangest, most quick-deciding guy I'd ever met.
"Sort of," he admitted as if it was the most obvious thing in the world (it wasn't). "You didn't think I'd gotten all attracted to you in a manner of a few days." He looked at me oddly.
"Well I hardly expected pedophilia!" I exclaimed.
"Pedophilia? Seriously, Kennedy? Give me a break! You were eighteen. And I was twenty-four. It wasn't like you were some twelve-year-old kid and I was a fifty-year-old stalker! And I never made advances towards you then!" He looked a little hurt. Maybe I'd hit a nerve. Perhaps he had considered the fact that he liked a high school student as weird as I did at that moment. But, logic stated that it wasn't SUPER odd…I mean the age difference was obvious but a seven-year (basically six seeing as I was born at the beginning of the year and Nate's birthday was in November) age gap wasn't unheard of by any means.
Or was I just making excuses for him?
"And besides, this is off topic," he interrupted my thoughts. "Obviously something is bugging you because you're avoiding me."
"Says who?" I asked defensively (because avoiding him was exactly what I was doing).
"Hmmm let's see," he said mock- pensively. "You say you're going to be studying as soon as I walk through the front door, you are obviously uncomfortable with being in the same room as me and then it turns out you aren't studying at all. It never used to be like this."
"Used to be like this? I've been living with you for days! Not even a week!"
"Well fine, but we got along just fine those few days you were here," he conceded.
"Well, don't worry," I said flippantly. "It isn't because you kissed me." At least, it wasn't the main reason.
"How can I not worry?" he looked at me like I'd grown two heads. "Just because you are acting weird for a different reason than I thought doesn't make it any less disturbing."
Okay, what was this? The Spanish Inquisition?
"I'm acting weird?!" I snapped. "I am acting like a perfectly normal human-being would, considering the circumstances."
"But you said –"
"Not those circumstances, idiot," I rolled my eyes. And they called me naïve. Did he really think it was so normal to be dating someone else after the things he said to me? "They're the ones you're obviously too stupid to see!"
"Well then tell me!" He cried out, leaning towards me on the bed. He reached out and grabbed my shoulders giving me a little shake. "Tell me what the hell is turning you into a psycho so I can fix whatever it is I am doing!"
"I am not the psycho here!" How was this turning into my fault? "And if you can't figure it out yourself, then I have no interest talking to you. I thought it was pretty obvious!"
The genuine confusion on his face – or at least, it seemed genuine – made me realize he didn't get it. And it hurt a little that he could walk all over my feelings and not even see it. Did I really want to be in a relationship with someone like that?
"You know I didn't mean it like that," he sighed as if dealing with a child. That sent me over the edge. Spitting out a sound of exasperation, I swatted his hands away and threw the covers off my body. I couldn't very well order him out of the room in an apartment I wasn't paying to live in so I would just have to get away from him.
In a few long strides I was across the hall and in front of the bathroom door. Wrenching it open, I threw myself through the doorway, ignoring Nate's shouts of "Kennedy! Why the hell are you running away?" in sincere tones of confusion. Closing the door I locked it and sat on the closed toilet seat, head in my hands.
What kind of guy was Nate if he seemed to have no problem walking all over me?
A/N: Hope you enjoyed! Please review.