Isaac is glancing at me. He walks toward me and our eyes meet and lock but I quickly look away, embarrassed enough about the situation. Or still unsure about which lie you're going to tell him? "What are you doing here?" he repeats as if I haven't heard the first time he asked. I have. I just don't want to answer. I've got nothing to say that can justify the fact that I'm here, thirty minutes away from home, getting out of a psychiatric hospital. Well done, now he's going to think you're a freak if he doesn't already think you're a freak. Well, maybe it's for the best after all. He's going to break up with you and you won't have to tell him the truth. See how it's a win-win situation. Everyone wins. You should go along with this. It's your best option. Losing him? That, among the fact that you won't have to tell him what happened years ago. I don't know if losing him is worth keeping the truth hidden. Are you out of your mind? Of course it is! I'm tired of being a secret.
"Jemma, are you all right?" Isaac asks as if he's seen something's very wrong with my attitude. There sure is; I still haven't answered to his question, asking me what I was doing here.
I can only find the strength to nod. This was never supposed to happen. He can't know about me. No one can. He puts his hand on my shoulder and it calms my breath. He takes my chin between his fingers. "Look at me. Something's wrong, I can tell," he insists. He's always known. He wouldn't be the first one to always know so just get over him.
I push back his fingers and take a step back. "It's all right, I'm fine. Just go away."
"I'm not going to go away when you obviously need someone. I'm giving you a ride back home and we can talk."
"No!" I yell, "I don't want you to help me. Just leave me alone! Leave me the fuck alone! I can do it without you! I don't need your help, I don't want it! Just go." I push him back as he tries to reach my hand. Tears are streaming down my face even if I haven't allowed them to. I can see Isaac wincing as I'm trying to get away from him. I can't tell why I'm doing it; I just know that I have to do it.
"Jemma, tell me what's going on! Don't cry, baby, I won't judge, I swear!" he cries back. I hate how the "baby" has come out of his mouth. I won't know why but it bothers me. It bothers me that he calls me like that. Is it really all you can think about right now?
I trip on something and I fall to the ground as I'm trying to escape even if there is definitely absolutely no way out. I can't stop crying as if all the tension I have accumulated from the past week has suddenly decided to come out. I'm like a river of sadness, stress, pain, confusion, loneliness and death. Isaac is right next to me in no time. He lifts me from the ground and keeps me in his arms, so I won't go away. I take a sniff of him. He smells good and maybe that's why I give up fighting against him. I know I want him there anyway. I put my arms around his neck as he's walking. My tears are wetting all his shirt but he doesn't seem to mind. The only thing that's in his eyes right now is concern about me, I'm guessing. I close my eyes and let my head lay on his chest. He tightens his grip on me. I can feel his lips on my head.
"Oh, my baby girl," he whispers, "ever since I saw you, I knew I wanted to be yours." If he only knew who I truly was, he would just drop me on the ground and run even if I might as well catch him.
I don't answer. I hear a car stopping beside us and I open up my eyes when I hear a familiar voice. Gosh, I wish it weren't that familiar. "Emma, is this guy bothering you?"
I shake my head. "You're earlier today. Need a ride home?" The way he winks at me makes me want to throw up. I can feel how tense is Isaac. If I have convinced him I wasn't cheating on him with Thomas, the new guy, I don't know how he feels about this guy, right here, in the car, that's asking if I can use a ride home. Of course I do. I'm just not sure it's a great idea to say "yes."
He gets out of his car and he comes right in front of me, facing Isaac. He's shorter than Isaac, though, but he's way more muscular. He can take my boyfriend down in no time, I can bet on that. Not that I want him to do it, but I know what he's capable of and this is definitely something he can do.
"Why don't you let her walk? She's got feet, you know. She can use them… among other parts of her body," he adds, winking at Isaac.
Shame. I can tell my cheeks are already red. I've already blushed. Not because I'm embarrassed, but because I'm ashamed. Shame, that's a new feeling. You've never felt guilty before…
"What do you mean?" Isaac demands. I don't dare to look at him. I can't do it. If he could just put me on the ground and walk away. If only.
"Well, you know I mean, buddy, I'm sure she tried some of her tricks on you too. She's pretty good, right?"
Isaac puts me back to the ground. He's mad. I don't want to look at him and find out he's walking away. I may definitely lose it if he ever does. But I was wrong. He's only put me back to the ground so he can punch the other guy in the face easily. Even if Jasper―that's his name―is stronger than Isaac, he falls to the ground, surprised. I'm the first one to be shocked about what just happened. Isaac's never been that violent. He's never acted as if he wanted to punch anyone even the guys that sometimes talked to me in a little bit too intimate way. He's never said anything about that matter. The only thing he allowed himself to do in that case was to shoot a look at the guys and that stopped there. But now … He's really punched Jasper in the face. There's a little―oh, a very little―part of me that wants to rush to the ground and see if Jasper's okay. I don't have to, I can see it. He's not hurt, in fact, he's laughing, laughing like a crazy man, laughing like the crazy man he is. Laughing like the crazy man he was.
"You don't get to talk about my girl like that! Yeah, you've heard. My girl. So stay the fuck away from her or I swear, next time I see your face, I'm going to do a lot more than punch you," Isaac threatens. I'm still shocked. Did I do this to him? Did I turn him into some kind of violent freak? Did I change him like that? He's never had anything but sweet words to say to everyone even to his enemies. What happened to him?
Jasper is still on the ground, laughing like it's the funniest thing ever. Isaac grabs my hand―a little more brutally than he usually does―and starts to walk away, but I can't keep my eyes off Jasper. Isaac walks me to his car and helps me settle in and he sits beside me, behind the steering wheel, starting the car and taking off, driving back home. The atmosphere is really tense and awkward. I know he's going to ask me thousands of questions about Jasper, questions that I will probably not be able to answer because I can't. I know he's going to explode. I've played him too much and now he's only realizing how much I have. He's never going to forgive me for doing so. He's never going to look at me the same again. I'm never going to be able to look at him the way I used to. If I had never … Don't start with that, we both know that this is maybe the one thing you would never change.
I don't look at Isaac. I can't look at him. He doesn't talk for the whole ride back home and when he stops the car, I notice I'm in front of my house. He still hasn't unlocked the doors so I know he wants to speak to me. He would be stupid not to. Well, he could just let me go and maybe sleep on it and talk to me tomorrow but I know he won't. He needs answer and he needs them now, not tomorrow, now.
"Look at me, Jemma." His voice isn't angry anymore. It's something else but I can't say what. All I know is that his sweet tone is gone. It's more of a … disappointed one, maybe?
It takes every sip of energy I have left just to raise my head and look at him. I've never seen that expression on his face. He's staring at me with suspicion like he's never glanced at me before. Something's changed. Of course something's changed. You're stupid if you think nothing has changed. I was just hoping. Then you're even more stupid than I thought!
"Okay," I murmur, "say it out loud. Say it. I'm ready to hear all you've got to tell me, don't spare me, I can deal with everything you have to say. Just say it and it'll be over. The faster, the better." I've already given for relationships like that, always trying to please the other. I'm not doing it again.
"Who was that guy? The guy I hit? Who was he?" he asks. I didn't think this would be his first question. I'm surprised; I haven't been ready for that kind of question. I thought he would most likely ask about why I was in a psychiatric hospital. But, Jasper … He's … I can't even tell what he is to me. He's nothing, really. He's just been there when I needed someone and now he just won't drop it. It's not like he doesn't have any hold on you. Yeah, this among other stuff. He and I are not friends anymore. We're not friends, we're … I don't know what we are. We are just two people that share a dark past. I sort of know that I can rely on him for certain things and he sometimes calls me because he says I make him feel better about himself. Yeah, no wonder how …
"That was Jasper. It's … a … a friend of mine." It's easier calling Jasper a friend even if he's everything but that. My voice is shaky. I feel like Isaac isn't buying any crap I'm going to give him. I used to be good with that kind of stuff, manipulating my boyfriend, but I've stopped practicing quite a while ago. It just feels like I'm a damn beginner at the stuff while I'm not. It's in fact quite the opposite. You shall not forget that you've been taught by the master in that matter.
"Do you mean a friend with benefits?" Isaac mocks. But there's nothing nice in his mockery. It's mean. It reminds me of what … of what he used to say. You don't have to think about it anymore. But I do. I think about it all the time.
"No, that's not what I meant." I've gone back to the calm girl I was at some point. Nothing could unhinge her, there was nothing that she hadn't planned and she always knew what to say and when to say it.
"Then, tell me what this whole thing was all about? You remember what he said, don't you? He said you used your tricks on him. Besides, he thought I was bothering you! What the fuck did you do with him? And don't fucking lie to me again, you understand?" Isaac never swears. Another hint that tells me he's really upset about what he found out today. Anyone would. And there is absolutely nothing I can say that's going to make it all better. There is nothing I can do that's going to erase what he's heard today. There is nothing to do, so why bother trying to explain him things he would never ever understand?
"You couldn't understand even if I explained it!"
"Try me, Jemma. I am sick of your lies. You're going to tell me exactly what happened, why you were there, I want to know everything." He sounds more possessive than ever. He sounds so jealous. He's never talked that way, never wanted to know exactly what I was up to, he's never been that kind of guy. He's always trusted me. Maybe he shouldn't have. Maybe he shouldn't have, that's right. He trusted me too much.
I look away. I can't tell him, can I? But he adds, "Or we are done." Done? Don't answer, it's better if you're not with him. I never would have thought he would say something like that. Done? It's a threat or I'm a wolf―which I'm not, sadly, so it has to be one. If he threats me like that, it means he thinks I truly care about him. Do I care about him? The answer would most likely be "yes," but I can't listen to my feelings again. Is it worth picking a fight with him again? He's clearly waiting for answers like he needs them and I can't give him what he wants no matter how hard I truly want to. The best solution is to end it, but there's a little part of me―bigger than I wish―that just can't stand that thought.
"I think you know exactly what happened, where I was and why I was there," I tell him, instead of answering clearly to his question. I've never been good at answering straight and clearly to a question he asks, especially when it's him. He used to believe every word I said, why would I try to be clearer if it didn't make any difference? I didn't see the point in doing so.
"Are you …" he begins to ask. I know what he wants to know. And it sort of disgusts me that he thinks I'm that kind of person.
"Am I a prostitute? If I told you I was, would you leave me alone?" I ask, as if I'm only trying to get rid of him.
Isaac looks at me, dumbfounded. "Do you want me to leave you alone?" It's as if he hasn't heard the first thing I said. As if he's trying to forget that I have clearly said out loud that I may be a prostitute. As if he's suddenly scared that I am one. He's probably already worrying sick about if he caught some disease.
I shake my head. "I'm not a prostitute." Again, I'm not answering to his question but I think he knows enough of me to say that if I want him gone, he would know by now. And he's right. He would be long gone if I really wanted him gone. But there he is, still talking to me, still looking at me right into the eyes and still waiting for answers. For answers he's never going to get. For answers he's not going to be pleased by. For answers he's going to hate me for telling him. For God's sake, why can't he drop it? He should; he doesn't want to find out anything else about me. He doesn't want to know what kind of person I used to be. And still are. I'm not. You know what's the funniest? It's that you truly believe that you've changed. You're still that same person. Still that evil girl. Dark doesn't leave someone just like that. It still hasn't left you. You only haven't noticed yet. I'll prove how wrong you are.
"Then, what was the guy talking about?" I haven't answered to his question and he doesn't seem to have noticed. He's obsessed with Jasper, right now, and what he said. I guess I'd be too if I were him. But what can I possibly say about Jasper?
I sigh. "Jasper … He's …" I have nothing that can justify what Jasper said. Absolutely nothing and I don't feel like lying again. I know I should but … I realize that I don't want to.
"So, you've been cheating. I may have accused you of cheating on me with the wrong guy, but you definitely have been cheating." His voice is cold. He's hurt; it's as obvious as the nose in the middle of the face. And there is nothing I can do about it because I can't take it back. I can't undo everything I've already done.
I can't deny what Isaac has just said. But have I really been cheating? It's not like I wanted to do all the things I've done with Jasper. I could just tell Isaac the truth about the whole Jasper thing. But I really can't say anything because if I do, I will have to tell him the truth about me as well. It's not that it's that bad … Okay, maybe it is, but I just don't want the way he looks at me to change, even if it has probably already changed.
"I'm guessing you're right." It's the only answer I can give him even if it's not what he wanted to hear. I can't tell him what he wants to hear. It's just going to be one more lie.
"So, that's why, every Friday you couldn't go out with me. You were … with this Jasper guy." It's not a question, it's an affirmation, but I know he's waiting for me to confirm it.
"Yeah, I guess you can say it like that." I suddenly turn my head and look straight into Isaac's eyes. I just shut the part of me that wanted him to stay. He can't "stay." We don't have a future, we can never have one. I don't think I can actually have a future with anyone.
"You guess or it's true? You've made a fool out of me for so long, Jemma … How could I have been so stupid? Blinded by your beauty and your words. You're a fucking slut, you know that?" I don't think he meant "slut" as in prostitute. I think he meant "slut" as in bitch, cheater and liar. His words hurt. It's the first time he's so harsh on me. I hold back the tears that threat to stream down my face. I can't let that happen. I need to be strong and show Isaac he's been one guy in thousands and that he will never be more than just one guy I've met and dated.
"Yeah, you're right. I'm just a fucking whore," I repeat, mocking him, in a mean way.
But Isaac's so pissed he doesn't even notice. His face is like reddish due to his anger or maybe his shame of being played. His nostrils are dilated, reminding me of the very few times he's truly been mad and he's furrowed his brow as if he were thinking so deeply that he can't help himself. "Get the hell out of my car."
"Be glad to!" I exclaim as I hit the door in order to get out. I slam the door shut and as soon as it's done, he's gone, his car making noise. I don't cry; I can't. I'm not about to cry over Isaac. It's like the stupidest thought ever. Crying over a guy. Just a guy. I mean, come on. I'm not doing that anymore. Hopefully, I won't, because I can feel my heart screaming its pain. For the first time in months, I actually feel something else than anger.
I get inside my house, slamming the door shut, climbing the stairs as if I were about to die if I didn't get inside my room in less than twenty seconds. I throw myself on the bed, my head on the pillow. I can't believe what happened. When I first came here, they told me everything would be fine. They said I would have the life I always wanted, the life I should have had. And now, look at me, all pathetic, almost crying in my bed. You are pathetic. This isn't how it was supposed to be. This isn't what they had promised. It's the total opposite. Maybe they're going to ship me somewhere else and tell me the same damn lies all over again and I'll believe them because I will want to, because I'll truly believe that this time will be the good one, that I won't have to hide anymore. And the same story will happen once again. I'm getting sick of it and it's almost sad because I'm used to it. I'm used to people turning their back on me, used to people throwing me away like garbage as soon as they're done with me. You've betrayed the one true friend you had. I didn't betray him. Where is he now? He's in big trouble because of you. It's always because of you.
Someone knocks on my door as I'm about to yell to my inner voice to shut the fuck up, that I never wanted what happened to actually happen. "Leave me alone," I groan. I'm not in the mood to speak with anyone right now.
Someone knocks again. I get up, knowing I won't be left alone until I come at the door, and open up the door, ready to bite the first one I see. "Someone's asking for you at the door." It's my foster mom. But she's not really a mom to me. Well, I've been here for a really short period of time, so we aren't really close. In fact, even if she's trying, I keep pushing her away. If I try, she shuts the door on me. We're having issues communicating, I can't deny it but sometimes, it just feels like it works. It just feels like she stops thinking about what I've done and I stop thinking about the fact that I could be gone the next day. And it's just great between us. If she was my biological mother, I'd tell her everything. She's really open-minded and she gets me sometimes but not all the time. No one can get me all the time. Let's just say that we get along pretty well when we both are in the mood to.
I immediately stop wincing. Maybe it's Isaac, maybe he's back and he's going to apologize and take me back. I go down the stairs as fast as I can, like a tornado, without saying anything back to my foster mother who's probably waiting for an answer. Well, she won't get it. She wouldn't be the first one, right?
I get to the door and I freeze when I see who's asking for me. I don't know this face, but all I do know is that it's not Isaac. My hopes fall down and I understand now that it's hopeless. He's never going to come back.
"Hi," the guy says. I've never seen him before, I wonder how he even knows where I live. He's quite tall and pretty muscular I'd say. He's got this gorgeous dark hair and those amazing greenish eyes. My second thought after I see him―because the first one was something like "who the heck are you?"―is actually something like "hey handsome."
"Hey," I say. It's awkward, I've got no clue of why he's standing right in front of my door, looking at me like he actually knows me. I've got to say it kind of feels like I know him. He just reminds me of someone, though I couldn't tell who. Maybe it's just me. Maybe not. What do you mean?
Damn inner voice, I think when I understand that I'm not going to get any answer to the question I've just asked.
"I'm Thomas," he introduces himself. It takes me half a second to get who he is.
"Oh, so you're the one telling everyone we've slept together." I smile inside of me, knowing I'm going to have a little fun before remembering that Isaac broke up with me.
He smiles, embarrassed. "Yeah, I'm here about that."
I roll my eyes. He's got guts to come here to talk about it. His beauty suddenly seems to fade. He sounds arrogant to me and I just can't stand it. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.
"What do you want? You want to see my panties for real?" I mock.
He runs a hand through his hair. "I've seen them. It's not like you're hiding." He points at the house next to me. "I live there. I see you every morning since a week. I've got to say, you've got really sexy stuff." His uneasiness has faded.
"You've been spying on me? That's creepy!" That should remind you to close your blinds.
"You can't call that spying when you're the one that's showing everything," he replicates.
I take a deep breath. "Did you just come here to tell me this? Because I've had enough, you can just go back to your house and leave me alone."
"Woah, someone's in a bad mood," he laughs.
"Yeah, you better go before I bite you," I say, ironically.
"Oh, I wouldn't mind." He winks at me with a smile. I roll my eyes. He's even worse than I thought. And I suppose you think you're any better than him? Right, I'm not. I take a step back and pretend I'm going to close the door on him. He was just the beginning of the end of my story with Isaac. Let go of this loser.
"I've heard enough, now, go."
He takes a step forward; he's almost inside my house. I push him back, but he resists and grabs my hand. He pulls me closer to him and his face is too close to mine. "Don't you want to let me in?" he asks with a smile.
I push him back violently and he laughs as he takes a step back. I can't close the door on him yet because he's holding it. "No, just go. I'm not playing tonight," I grumble.
"Does that mean you'll play tomorrow? I can easily come by tomorrow, I've got no problem with that."
"Wow, you're new here and you're already such an ass."
"And I'm guessing you've always been the sweet lamb?" he replicates with a smile. Gosh, he annoys me so freaking much!
"That's not what I said," I groan.
"Well, we both know that is not true," he says. It feels for a moment that he's talking about something else but that impression vanishes quickly. I'm a little bit paranoid, especially after tonight's scene.
"Okay, just go away and don't come back. You don't get to come here and tell me all that crap."
He nods. "Okay, I'll go. But hear me out before. About that rumor …"
"Rumor you started," I remind him.
"Yeah, I know I did. But it was just a joke! I was drunk and there was a party and when they asked if I had noticed any girl, I said that … lie about us."
Guys and alcohol, it's never a good mix. "And you never thought of just saying it wasn't true the day after?"
He shakes his head. "You don't understand."
"I can't if you don't explain." Not that he's boring, not that he's incredibly arrogant, but he just reminds me of someone I used to like. Someone I can't think about anymore.
"You're just so gorgeous! And they believed I had slept with you, they let me inside their click, I couldn't just say it wasn't true after all, I … You don't get it, you just made me popular and you made my arrival here so much better. People actually appreciate me and they…"
"They're just waiting for the best moment to backstab you," I interrupt. It's not that they did it to me; it's just what I know. People always do that. It's like the human nature, they don't seem to be able to fight against it, they just do it. Take Ariel for example. She may pretend she's my friend, but if she gets any occasion to backstab me in order to be more popular than me or something, I am ready to bet she'd do it. I don't expect people to be loyal. Not the way you used to anyway, right?
"Please don't say anything," he begs me, "I've never had friends like that in my life before. I don't want to be the loser anymore." His supplication sounds like a lie. I couldn't tell why, it just does.
"It almost sounds cute," I mock, "almost. But we're old now, we don't need fake friends. You don't need them, just survive to this year, next year we'll all be gone and you'll find real friends then. Don't take the crap they give you."
"Old? You look like you're a high school kid." He's joking. I can see it in his eyes and even though I don't want to play his little game, I do anyway.
"Me? A high school kid? Are you kidding me? I'm nineteen. I'm probably older than you, anyway." He's teasing me, he's got to be because there's no way in heaven he truly thinks I'm that young. I mean, we go to the same school, isn't it obvious enough that we've got almost the same age?
"Nope, sorry to disappoint you, I'm actually twenty-one." I don't say a word about it. I mean, we're in college and the guy still acts like a freaking douche, wanting friends. Hasn't he understood yet that he's not going to find any of them here?
"Not that I care, but it's nice to know. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got stuff to do," I say and he takes a step back, allowing me to close the door.
"Okay, fine, I'll go if you promise you'll hang out with me tomorrow," he says. That's just incredibly stupid.
"We don't have to pretend we actually slept together. Don't try me or I may tell everyone you were lying. It's not hard to know who they're going to believe. It's like I've already won," I replicate. "You don't have to do this. It's useless, okay? Let's just keep it that way."
He shakes his head, half smiling. "But I want to do it. I could pick you up on Monday and we can go to school together, and tomorrow you hang out with me, how about this?" I don't know why he's being nice to me. I've done nothing to please him, he doesn't really owe me. Actually, he does. He told everyone you guys slept together and it's a lie. You're not starting the lies thing again, are you? Maybe this thought is actually the one that helps me make up my mind.
"Sounds great," I say. I've got nothing to lose. I'm probably going to have to move out in a couple of weeks, months if I'm lucky. Besides, Isaac's gone. Not that I was waiting for him to leave to be "normal," but I had fought against my own self the whole time I was with him. I couldn't make any wrong move because he was such a nice guy and he didn't deserve all my crap. But this guy, Thomas, he's no one. And when I'll be done with him, I'll be gone. Plus, he seems to be the kind of guy that can handle much more than what Isaac could.
You'll find out tomorrow, you little badass.
I don't know if a lot of people are reading this or not, but I will keep posting chapters because I just want to. I don't want to give up on that story. Anyway, for those of you who actually read it and like it, I'm really happy about that and I would never say no to any review! xx