Chapter 23: The Event of Jealousy
After my sudden outburst, I marched my way back to the cabin feeling completely betrayed and outraged at Lachlan's omission. I opened the door, ready to storm inside and cocoon myself, but was haltered when I saw Derek sitting by the side of his bed, crouched over and looking down at his feet. I didn't feel like dealing with anymore conflict so without a word, I walked straight past him towards my bed and tried hard to fall asleep.
But I couldn't.
All I could think of was that I was bi, not gay. Well, not entirely. I just couldn't help myself thinking – even though I knew how awful it was – that I was half normal. That the past me, the one who was in love with Chloe, the one that slept with all those girls, the one who was quite fond of female curves – he was real. He wasn't a fake. He wasn't just doing all those things because society said it was the right thing for men to do. It wasn't all an act to bury my real self. He was still there inside of me. I wasn't in denial all this time. I just liked guys on top of that. For the past five years, I hadn't entirely lied to my friends about my sexuality. And this thought calmed me down. That I was also normal. I'm not a total outcast. I conformed. I wasn't a complete faggot like Alice and other people called me.
Then I thought of how unfair it was that Lachlan had withheld this information from me. Sure I could have tried to figure things out myself but seeing as I had gone to him for help – couldn't he have suggested the idea that I was bi? What did he mean that he was afraid I would only think of liking him as a phase? I've been wanting and trying so hard to phase out my feelings for him for such a long time, but Lachlan just fought his way through all of those obstacles I put up and built himself a solid brick house in my heart. Fuck – he's so annoying.
I scoffed. I was annoying too. I revisited the memory of me stomping off and cringed. I must have looked like a penguin having a tantrum. But identifying myself as bi – it was like a breath of relief. It made me feel like I had just a little bit more control – more wiggle room with who I really am. That I didn't have to identify myself as either straight or gay – because I was neither. And that made me feel a lot less claustrophobic.
I jerked hard. I had forgotten that Derek was still sitting there at his bed.
"I bet you couldn't get it up. That's why you ran off, wasn't it?"
I didn't reply to that. I hadn't realised that he was awake when Kylie visited before. But then, it wasn't like we were being particularly quiet.
"Coz you're so used to taking it up the ass. Your dick's just an appendix to you."
Fuck. Did this guy do a major in how to piss people off? Coz if he didn't, he sure deserves a scholarship for it. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fist to stop myself from blowing my top.
"Prove to me that you're straight? – Ha. That's the funniest thing I've heard all year. You were probably trying to hide your gaping asshole from her."
I heard him shuffle around on his bed. I was facing the other way so I couldn't tell what he was doing. I know I shouldn't respond to his provoking, but he was reaching a level that was very close to me blowing a nuclear fuse. Does this guy ever shut the hell up? Did he take lessons from Hilary on how to flap his yap nonstop? If only I could squeeze my ears shut to block out the idiotic noises he was making.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, yanking me so I'd land on my back. He pinned me down with such strength that my entire upper body was paralysed. I looked up and saw Derek glaring down at me – his dark evil as shit eyes looking extremely heated. I held my breath and squinted my eyes slightly, waiting for that hate-filled punch to land on my face. Was he upset that Kylie chose me over him? That a gay pretty boy like me got more girls than a big buffalo looking homophobe?
But after a while of heavy silence, the expectancy of being hit lowered. I breathed out very slowly and timidly, widening my eyes to study the strange situation I was in.
His jaw was clenched and his biceps trembled – as if he was trying his very best to get a hold of himself. Like he was doing some intense internal therapy to calm himself down. His face wore a mixture of emotions. It wasn't something I had ever seen before – and it stunned me. Did Derek actually have some depth to his personality? The hate in his eyes – they weren't all directed at me. He looked enraged and wretched at the same time. The stammer in his breathing made it sound like he was trying so hard not to cry. It was scary. I was at the brunt of Derek's complete unveiling of his emotions and it terrified me. He finally spoke again in his raspy voice.
"You sick fuck."
He let go of my shoulder and went straight into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
I continued to lie there – wondering what the fuck just had happened. From being verbally abused to being shaken to the core by the raw look on his face. I had no idea that Derek was working through things and that his temperament towards me may just be a cover for something more serious. I slowly pushed myself up and sat in bed silently. No thoughts had entered my mind. The drama of this morning had pushed me to my limit and my brain had finally given up on me. It handed in its resignation letter and told me to deal with my own bloody problems. Out of all the torture Derek has ever casted on me, this one was by far the worst. I definitely need some therapy after this.
Suddenly, an overcast came over me, shielding me from the hot sun. I blinked and remembered that I was sitting on the grass with my back against a skinny little tree, holding onto a sheet of paper on a clipboard. I was supposed to write a prose about my high school life as one of the retreat's activity for the day. It was hard to when all I could think of was me being bisexual and Derek mind-fucking me. I looked up and saw Lachlan standing in front of me.
"Where did you disappear to?" he asked with a small timid smile. His blue eyes looked so warm and familiar – and it calmed me down. I smiled back at him. His presence alone soothed me, and I welcomed it. Lachlan wasn't messed up like Derek and I and I craved that normalcy.
"What are you talking about?" I asked. "Why aren't you with your group?"
Lachlan lowered himself down onto the grass next to me. "They've all gone on their lunch break. Your group left as well," he pointed out.
I looked around the grassy area and realised that was true. I arched and eyebrow. Did my group really ditch me? Couldn't they have asked if I wanted lunch as well? Wasn't that a bit irresponsible of the supervisor, whoever it was? They even left their clipboard with me – what was I supposed to do with it now? Carry it around with me all day?
"You were lost in your own little world," Lachlan chuckled. "I was in front of you for a really long time and you didn't even know."
I looked at Lachlan straight in the eyes – not saying a word. With him in front of me, I felt a calm swept over me. Lachlan told me he would accept me for who I was. He would always be by my side – even when I acted like a sulking whining pussy. I didn't want to ever become as damaged as Derek, to have that internal turmoil that for some reason he couldn't express. But I wasn't like him. He doesn't have the support that I have in Lachlan, who loves me to the point that he was willing to put up with the mess of a person I was. And at that moment, I hated that I couldn't let him hold me – to take away the anxiety that I was going through.
"Look Jay – "
"Sorry," I said quickly. Lachlan's forehead retreated with surprise. "I overreacted this morning."
"No, you didn't. I should have – "
"No," I cut him off again. "I was the one who should have realised. I should have researched it a bit more."
"Yeah – I should have read more into it. I thought it was only one or the other – no in between. And that messed me up. Coz I have no interest in fucking guys in general. Those guys in our grade – I don't care for them like I do with you. I still find girls incredibly sexy, but… You, pushed my boundaries wide open."
My hand went out and reached for his fingertips to validate my feelings. Even with the smallest touch made current run through my chest. I wanted to hold him and kiss him. I wanted to press my body against him but still feel the ache of wanting to be closer. To feel the intensity of intimacy that I have never felt with anyone else. I wanted to make him happy so that I could see his cheeky grin all the time. I wanted to run my fingers into his hair and reveal his clear blue eyes that melted into a warm pool. And despite my good looks – I knew Lachlan was way out of my league. Something that had started to haunt me was that Lachlan will leave me for some other good looking guy with a better personality and who wasn't messed up as me. Someone who had already accepted and discovered who they really were and make things so much easier for him. Lachlan had no idea how much that scared me, how desperately I wanted to be a better person just for him. And here he was – scared of girls stealing me away, of me following stronger guys for protection. I smiled. What a dumbass.
"You're it for me," I whispered.
"Fuck," Lachlan breathed out softly. I looked up, surprised that he swore – it wasn't something you hear coming out of his mouth every day. His hand was covering his eyes but I could tell from his expression that he was crying.
"I'm so fucking happy right now," he said. "I was so scared that maybe, you wanted to try having a relationship with girls again. That you might want to break up with me." He turned his head away from me as he lowered his hand from his face. He looked into the distance and took a deep breath to compose himself. "I'm so relieved."
He pulled his fingers away from my hold and grabbed my hand, squeezing it tight. I curled my fingers around his and tightened my hold as well.
"I thought, for sure that you'll leave me. Coz you discovered an escape route from ever being outed at all. I was so sure." He turned his head slightly and smiled at me through his tears. "But you chose me anyway. I really am just the damn luckiest."
That night, Lachlan pulled me away from the crowd of people that were all leaving the hall to go back to their cabins. We had just finished up for the day by watching those typical life inspiring movies. I couldn't keep my eyes open throughout the movie – having been woken up by Kylie so damn early, I was all ready to crash on my bed – or anywhere soft. My head used Val's lap as a pillow for the first half of the movie, until she began to complain that my heavy head was giving her a bruise. So I shifted my head over to Lachlan's lap instead and continued my nap. Tried to, anyway. All night he had been jumpy – as if he was impatient for something. His leg kept shaking, and despite my complaints – it wouldn't stop.
He waited for the teachers to usher the rest through the front door, he dragged me through the back door of the hall during the hustle. When we got outside, the fresh night air slapped me across the face – waking me up slightly. There wasn't any lights turned on but I noticed that the woods were right next to us. I thought maybe he wanted to revisit our activities from the night before and just when I was about to tell him that normally I'd be keen, but I really just wanted to go to sleep, he raised his finger to his lips to quieten me. I could almost see the mischievous glint in his eyes.
I frowned. Why was he acting so suspicious? What was he planning? What was going on? Then suddenly, someone from behind me stuffed a sock in my mouth and tied a rope around my face to keep me gagged. Instinct made me grab for Lachlan but he quickly disappeared when a bag was thrown over my head. Panic set in and I started to push and shove at the hands that were surrounding me. I tried to take the bag off my head so I could see but eventually my hands were tied down and I was hoisted into the air by at least three people. I tried to kick, squirm, yell but I ended up as a grunting worm. I couldn't move my hands or legs. I was trapped.
I began to hyperventilate. Where the hell was Lachlan? Was he knocked out? Who kidnapped me? Water polo guys? Were they taking me into the woods to never be seen again? I tried to squirm again, this time thrusting my body as hard as I possibly can just to get away from the hands that were encasing my body. I aimed my sharp bony elbow right at one of them and jut that motherfucker right in the gut. I was definitely not going down without a fight.
"Oy, shut up! They'll hear us."
"It's not my fault! This asshole elbowed me!"
I lied still.
That was Mark and James' voice. I was sure of it. What the hell were they doing kidnapping me like this? Was this some sort of prank? Where was Lachlan? He definitely didn't get knocked out if it was Mark and James, but he will be when I get my hands on him.
Finally I was let down by the trio. My shoes rustled some leaves on the ground and the air was thick with pollen and eucalyptus leaves. They had taken me deep into the woods.
"What the flying fuck –" I yelled until the bag was lifted from my head.
And there it was. The answer to all the mysteriousness. Why everyone was being so secretive before the retreat. Why Lachlan didn't let me into his room. And the stupid ass reason why they kidnapped me from behind the hall.
The woods were lit up with outdoor solar lights and littered with streamers and balloons. A handmade sign of my name was stretched out between two trees. Nobody said a word. Everyone was standing in their pyjamas, each holding a party popper. They all surrounded Chloe – who was holding a birthday cake with seventeen lit candles. She was smiling widely as she looked at the shock plastered over my face.
"No way," I said with disbelief.
Mark wrapped his arm around my shoulders and gave me a hug. "Happy birthday, bro."
I ran a hand through my hair and started to laugh. I was really played a fool. I honestly thought I was going to be carried off to be raped and killed, well until I figured out that it was Mark and James who kidnapped me. Then I thought I was at the brunt of some stupid prank – which I kind of was. With all that has been going on, I completely forgotten that it was my birthday. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Lachlan standing behind me, beaming down at me.
"You bunch of dicks," I laughed. "I really thought I was going to die."
"We scare because we care," Chloe teased, bringing the cake up to me. "Make a wish."
I looked at everyone in the room – each and every one of them had gathered and planned this for me. Money and time was spent all for me. To make me happy on my day. The flickering lights on the cake illuminated my name in icing. They had turned the retreat party into my party. It was so hard not to feel special. And I couldn't help but wonder – what had I done to deserve this? Why did they love me so much that they would work so hard to make me happy? Because I was beautiful? That I was nice to look at? I looked at Chloe, who was still smiling happily at me. I forced a smile and closed my eyes, made my wish and blew.
People started to cheer and come up to pat me on the back, wishing me happy birthday. I gave the cake over to the girls for them to cut and distribute. Mark led me over to their little makeshift bar – which was really just bag full of alcohol and soft drink and a side table to mix the drinks. Howard was manning the bar, wearing only a smirk and pyjama bottoms. I raised an eyebrow at him. He shrugged.
"I work on tips," he grinned – taking on his role a little too seriously. "Are you ready for my special birthday concoction?"
He pulled out a plastic cup. Mark and I watched him mix together a shot of every single type of liquor he had on hand. We looked at the cup with disgust.
"That shit is gonna wipe out every single germ in your body," Mark commented.
"No fucking way," I said. "I want to at least die with dignity – not with puke all over my face."
"C'mon – it's your birthday," Howard tried to egg.
"If you make an ass of yourself – at least it'll just be here in the woods with no evidence. No chance of being grounded," Mark reasoned.
That was true. No one here had their phone or camera on them so even if I go batshit crazy, it wasn't going to make it onto Facebook. But I just didn't trust myself with alcohol – especially when I had a major secret I wanted to keep quiet about, at least until after I graduated. Alcohol was just a fuel for havoc.
"Just drink it, you wimp." Howard shoved the drink in my hand and started to chant. And sooner or later everyone stopped what they were doing and started to join in.
"Drink! Drink! Drink!"
I glared at him. Fucking Howard and his peer pressure. I grimaced at the cup and steadied myself. Fuck it. I squeezed my eyes shut and expected the worst. I threw his special birthday concoction into my mouth, hoping that holding my breath would reduce the horrid taste. It did not. And damn did it burn.
I forced it down and squashed the plastic cup in my hand before chucking it straight at Howard's face.
"Fuck yeah!" I yelled triumphantly, high fiving James when he walked over to cheer with me. Music started to play and everyone went back to whatever they were doing. I so wanted to sit down and wait for the taste of alcohol to leave my mouth – but I kept being pulled by different people to do 'birthday shots'. I must have had about at least five – not including that solo one I did by myself. Within an hour, I could barely stand straight. I felt a small tug on my hand and that was all that was needed to get me down on the ground next to them. My hand clutched at the grass to steady myself and stop my head from whirling.
My head ended up collapsing onto their shoulder – not caring who it was. My head was suddenly too heavy for my neck.
"I heard you got a surprise visit from Kylie this morning,"
I forced my head upright. I blinked and realised it was Chloe who had pulled me down to the ground.
"She told you?"
"Yeah," Chloe grinned sheepishly. "She actually told me last night, after you left for the toilet. She said she wanted to be your birthday present."
I rolled my eyes. "Of course she did."
"Not stopping her. I didn't know what to say. It's not like I could create a fake girlfriend for you. I feel bad for Lachlan."
I nodded. "Yeah, I'm done with faking it."
"Are things better with him?"
I looked around to search for him and found him standing in the corner, in a deep conversation with Valerie and Gaby as he nursed his beer. I watched him as he lifted the bottle to his soft pink lips. The beer left a small residue on his lips – making them glisten just a little. He laughed at something Valerie said, but his face quickly fell sullen when Kylie stepped in to join their conversation. And without another word, he walked away – his mood completely ruined.
I chuckled at his childish anger and the fact that Kylie will have no idea why Lachlan now hates her.
"Yeh, things are going really well."
My arm snaked around Chloe's waist and I snuggled up closer to her. She felt so soft and smelt so good. I really wanted to just close my eyes and sleep. Chloe's hand patted my cheek and her head went to rest on top of mine.
After a while, I felt someone sit next to me and in a few seconds, my face was pushed off Chloe's shoulder and onto the ground. In my blurry haze, I saw Mark sitting on the other side of Chloe, his arm wrapped around the shoulder that I was sleeping on. I frowned, not appreciating at all that I was woken up. Was that how you would treat a birthday boy? Where was the special treatment that I deserved for being born?
But then it kind of makes sense for him to act like that. I was literally all over his girlfriend and with a face like mine, who wouldn't consider me as a threat? My beauty can sometimes be such a curse.
James walked over to me and sat down, holding a bottle of vodka. "You okay, Jay?"
"Yeh, I'm okay," I replied, trying to straighten myself up, then gagged when I saw him take a swig of vodka, straight. His face grimaced – most likely from the taste.
"Are you okay?" I asked back. "You look like you just found out the tooth fairy isn't real."
"I'm alright," he said with a blank face. "Kind of. Maybe. Probably not."
My head whirled a bit, wondering if I was missing out on some words that he might have said. "What?"
"Diane broke up with me."
"Oh. Shit." No. Not shit. Good riddance to that slut. James could do so much better than a girl that hits on every guy she knows. I couldn't even count how many times Diane has tried to get it on with me.
"Yeh, she was a slut – but still, I really liked her. She was nice. And hot."
I looked at him, wondering why he made that comment. Did I say my thoughts out loud?
"Yeh, you did."
Great. I have no filter.
"Yeh bro, you're drunk off your ass. You probably don't even know half the shit you're saying."
I groaned. "Fucking Howard."
"You mean Lachlan."
Lachlan? I stopped breathing. Did I imagine him saying that? Or did I miss half the sentence again? I widened my eyes and stared at James.
James tilted the bottle towards their direction. "She's all over him and it hasn't even been ten minutes since we broke up."
Oh. He meant Diane. I laughed – partly in relief and the fact that there was absolutely no way that Diane could ever get it on with Lachlan. Unless she has the ability to swap her boobs for a penis, she's got no chance. I wanted to tell James this so his worries could be settled down, but I didn't when I followed James' line of sight and saw Lachlan leaning against a tree, still holding onto that beer he had before. Diane was pressing her entire body right up next to Lachlan, who was trying his best to push her off him. But every time he did, she would lunge right back in. I've never seen Lachlan look more uncomfortable. I stopped laughing and stood up, feeling so pissed off and unsteady from standing up too fast. There was a reason why James was so forgiving of Diane. She was fucking hot. Long legs, big boobs and hair that was comparable to mine. And I did not want all of that rubbing up and down Lachlan's body.
"Jay? Where are you going?"
"Avenging us, bro. Don't worry, I got this."
I staggered my way over to Diane, ready to drag her away from Lachlan. But I was stopped in my tracks when Diane lunged in to kiss him, terrified that I was going to witness someone else locking lips with my Lachlan.
"No, you gotta stop, Diane! Please!" Lachlan exclaimed, shoving her away before she got too close.
"Oh Lachlan," she said sultrily, as if he was a little virgin boy. "When a girl that looks the way I do tries to kiss you, you mustn't give up that chance."
"I'm not interested," Lachlan said, trying to move away from her again.
"Oh please, stop being so shy." She traced her finger down his chest to his stomach. Her hand flattened to feel his hard abdomen. My nose flared.
"PISS OFF DIANE!"
I rushed over and grabbed her by the arm and dragged her away from Lachlan. Her wide eyes looked at me and I noticed that everything was eerily quiet, but I didn't let that stop me. I had a fucking load I needed to get off my chest. It was driving me wild that I had to endure watching people hit on Lachlan all the damn fucking time and not being able to do a goddamn thing about it. From Kylie to Wesley and now Diane, I was fucking tired of this shit. I wanted to be like Mark, being able to push people away from Chloe and not have to apologise. I wanted that power to be a force shield between Lachlan and all those horny pubescent hounds.
"You don't get to touch him! Nobody gets to!"
"Jay, shit. Stop – "
I turned to face Lachlan and roughly grabbed his cheek. I didn't care that I was at the centre of all these people. My hand tingled with need – wanting so badly to touch his skin and show to everybody that this boy was mine. So everyone – Diane, Wesley and anyone else knows that Lachlan was not up for grabs. He was mine. He's taken. And they need to fuck the hell off. In an instant, my lips were intertwined with his. I grabbed the back of his neck to pull myself closer to him and deepen the kiss. I sensed Lachlan's hesitancy for a couple of seconds before he too, held my waist to return the kiss – his tongue parting my lips to get a better taste of me. I groaned in the back of my throat with pleasure – finally delving into the boy that was mine alone.