Talking to your cat must be the first sign of insanity. Not that I expected her to talk back to me, but still, I was becoming worried at how many conversations my cat Nico and I had been having of late.
The problem was I hated being alone. The silence bothered the hell out of me. It was in that quiet that my conscience tended to kick in.
I cleared my throat. "It's not as if I have anything to feel bad about," I stated, turning to face the mirror. I stared at my reflection. "I don't. I mean, I knew him first. Technically, she stole him from me anyway. Besides, it's not as if I'm the only one he's sleeping with. When he's on tour, you know that he has to get around." I closed my eyes, wrinkling my nose. "I don't have anything to feel guilty about!" I stated loudly.
I turned back around, glaring at the black cat staring at me. "Nico, stop making me feel bad!" She tilted her head to the side, before sauntering towards the kitchen. I sighed, falling down on my messy bed. "I've never felt bad about this whole thing once in two years. Why now?" I groaned, sitting up as I angrily threw up my long brown hair into a messy ponytail. "It doesn't bother me!"
I made my way to my kitchen to find Nico lying like a queen on the counter. While straightening my apartment, I refused to let myself think about anything but the task at hand. I never thought that I would be upset that there was no schoolwork to be done on my winter break.
"It doesn't bother me," I mumbled to myself as I angrily vacuumed the living room area of my apartment. My phone rang and I stared at it, as I turned off the vacuum cleaner. Catching myself being afraid of whom it might be, I rolled my eyes, hurrying to the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey Cassie. What's up?"
I sat down on my couch. It was only Abby. She probably didn't even know that they were home yet or about the party. "Not much. What's new with you?"
She chuckled. "Nothing at all, though a certain Preston walked into the bookstore today. He said he already saw you. Surprise there!"
I blushed, glad she wasn't here to see my beat red face in person. "Be quiet. I never should have told you." Telling Abby about our complicated little story was the biggest mistake of my life, something I would never live down.
"Did you two," she said before pausing. "Well, talk?"
"Geez Abby!" I said, knowing exactly what she meant. "He just got home two days ago."
"Okay, so you did hit the sheets."
I groaned. "I really never should have told you."
She laughed. "What? Not tell me that you are having this strange relationship with your best friend from childhood? Not tell me that you are having the greatest sex of your life with him? How could you not tell me, your best friend? Besides, we were all so close in high school."
"I'm not having a strange relationship with him. We're just friends."
"Who sometimes sleep with each other even though he has a girlfriend."
That guilt filled me once again. I stood up, angry that I was feeling that way again. It didn't bother me. I barely even knew her! "Let's not mention Candy, or whatever her name is. It's not as if any emotions are involved. It's just a way to deal with some tension, that's it."
"I think her name is Cindy. But I hope you aren't setting yourself up for a broken heart." She softened her tone. "He's going to ask her to marry him someday."
I stared at the picture I had wandered over to. "I know. Trust me, he's just this good friend. We hang out without getting passionate you know. He's always been my best friend."
"I just wanted to make sure. I better go. I'm at work right now. I wanted to make sure you are going to this little reunion thing that Pres is planning. He told me to invite Mitchell."
"Really?" I asked, my heart plummeting. Not that I liked Preston as anything more than a friend, but I really didn't want to hang out at some party with him and his girlfriend.
"He wants everyone to get to know the people we are close to now. I don't know. You're going, right? I'm not going to go unless you go."
"Of course I am. I want to see everyone. It's been almost a year since we were all together." I stared at the picture of our little group. The eight of us were sitting cramped in the biggest booth at the Suburban Diner. "I can't believe it's been three and a half years since we graduated. We all used to hang out so much."
Abby sighed. "It's depressing, isn't it? As much as I never want to go back to high school, we all used to have such a good time. But I really have to get to work. I'm getting the evil eye. I'll call you later."
"Okay, bye." I hung up the phone. I didn't feel guilty. I didn't feel bad for Candy or Cindy or whatever her stupid name was. I didn't even really like him. I stared at the picture, before grabbing it and throwing it across the room. The glass broke into what seemed like a million different pieces. I put a hand on my forehead. What was I doing? I knew something was bothering me but I was too afraid of figuring out what it was.
I hurried to my liquor cabinet. I took out a bottle of wine. Nothing like alcohol to help ease a troubled soul, that's what I always said. The liquid felt cool as it slid down my throat. I felt calmer as I finally stopped gulping the wine. I put down the bottle, feeling slightly better.
"It's Friday night, Nico. What are we going to do? We could stay in and listen to records. That sounds like fun. Though we can't invite Mel over. She's off with Reed for a while. I'm happy for her that the two of them are still together after all these years. It is terrible with this touring schedule of theirs. Who would have thought that 'The Moon Tower' would become a hit band?"
I glanced at the various magazines on my counter. The album of theirs was in the top ten of most of these magazines. I still couldn't believe the album that they produced. Preston, Reed, Nick, and Cale had been a part of our little group in high school. Now they, along with their friend Peter, were their own little group as an awesome rock band. They had the style and look of the Velvet Underground meets thrift store attire.
I looked around my empty apartment, feeling lonely. It seemed all my close friends had someone special in their lives. Melanie had Reed. Abby had Mitchell. And even Preston had a serious girlfriend. I walked over to the broken picture frame. Why was I so upset today? This entire semester had gone smoothly. I was less than a year away from graduating, though then who knew if my degree in journalism would actually go anywhere. I didn't have anyone special in my life, but a man right now would probably just complicate things too much. I had gone on a couple of dates with Ryan, a classmate of mine from theater class. He was nice but there wasn't anything special there.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. I walked over to it, looking out through the peephole to see whom it could be. All I could see was dark messy hair. I opened the door, causing the tall man to fall into my apartment. He stumbled inside, grabbing my waist as he laughed happily. "Hey there, Cassie."
I closed the door behind Preston, shaking my head at him as the smile on my face grew. "What are you doing here, Pres?" I asked him as he caressed my cheek, pulling me closer to him.
"I missed you," he mumbled before kissing me intensely.
I pulled away from him breathlessly. "You're drunk," I replied, wrapping my arms around his waist. "Isn't it early to be this trashed?"
"I'm a rock star, remember?" he said, kissing me again. This time I didn't pull away. I reached behind me, making sure the door was locked before letting him lead me to my bedroom.
An hour later we lay on my bed. I rested my head on his shoulder as he smoked his cigarette. I wrinkled my nose. "I could never date someone who smokes," I stated.
He chuckled, taking another drag of his cigarette. "So you've always said. That's why we never dated."
"Exactly. What are you doing here anyway? I thought you told me this morning that you had plans to go to some big important dinner?"
He put out the cigarette in the ashtray next to my bed. "I went to it," he said, smiling sexily at me. "But after some beers, I thought of something better I could be doing."
I laughed. "You're just lucky that I wasn't out myself. I was just thinking about calling Ryan to see what he was doing."
"Ryan?" he asked with a slight edge in his voice.
"He's just this guy who I've gone on a couple of dates with." Wasn't I just telling myself how there wasn't anything really there with Ryan? Why was I even bringing him up with Preston? God, I wasn't really trying to make him jealous, was I?
"Oh, I hope he's not like that jerk Steven you were seeing."
I sighed. "I know I have bad taste in men. I can't help it."
Preston rolled on top of me, smirking down at me. "Well not all men," he said, kissing me softly before moving off top of me. He then reached for his pants, putting them on.
I shook my head, staring at him as he put on his clothes. "You're the exception. You're my childhood friend."
He grinned. "I forgot about that. That makes me different, right?"
I nodded. "See? You're not boyfriend material, you're my friend."
"You're coming to the party, right? It's going to be weird to have us all in the same room together again."
I sat up, hugging the blanket to my body. "It is weird already. You are living in this unbelievable world right now. I'm surprised you're not too good for your old friends."
He rolled his eyes. "Oh Cass, don't you start acting like that. That's all I get anymore from everyone."
The frown on his face told me that his mood had already drastically changed. Preston was one moody man when he drank. I quickly tried to ease him. "Yes, you're right. I know that you are still the same old Pres that you always have been. Well, except for the fact that you seem to be a lot hornier," I said with a smirk.
He grabbed a pillow throwing it at me with a big laugh. "You certainly don't seem to mind." He looked at the clock, groaning. "Oh shit, I didn't realize it was so late. I told Cindy I would meet her at midnight. Man, I'm going to be late."
I looked away, playing with the blanket. I nodded. "You better get moving then."
I pulled on my robe, turning my back on him. I did not feel guilty about this whole thing. I was the one who had been good friends with Preston since elementary school. She was the reason we stopped talking as much.
"Hey, you're okay with this, right?" He put his hands on my shoulders, turning me slowly around so I was facing him. "I mean, is this weird with Cindy and I dating?"
I shook my head, looking down at the floor. "I'm fine with the whole thing. Really. I'm just tired right now." I raised an eyebrow at him. "You wore me out."
He laughed, kissing my forehead. "What would I do without you? You're the one who keeps me grounded, you know that?"
I nodded. "I know." I kissed him lightly on the lips. "You better get on out of here."
He sighed. "You're right. I'm going to be hearing it, that's for sure. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
"Sure." I walked him to my front door.
He paused, petting Nico as she rubbed against his leg affectionately. "Hey there Nico. Did you miss me?" She purred.
"I swear that you are the only male that she likes."
He scratched her head. "She knows who us good ones are."
I laughed. "I'm sure that's it."
He grinned. "She doesn't like your new guy Ryan?"
I smirked. "Nope. She just hissed at him when he came in and then went sulking into the bedroom."
Preston stared at Nico, his smile growing. "What a good cat."
I rolled my eyes. "You would say that."
He gave me a kiss on the cheek. "I'm going to go now. You keep that Ryan kid away from my Cassie's bedroom, okay Nico?" I rolled my eyes once again, shaking my head as he opened the door. "Oh, Cale might stop over later. He was having girl problems so I told him that even though you aren't a girl, you might be able to help him out."
"Very nice," I replied dryly. "I'll remember that the next time you show up here drunk."
He squeezed my hand. "See you later sweet Cassandra."
I smiled softly at him. Whenever he called me by my full name, I couldn't help but soften. "Good night, Preston."
I closed the door, leaning against it with a sigh. What was I doing? Sooner or later this relationship was going to have to end. I kept telling myself that I was just having a good time, but it had been two years since we stumbled into this strange realm of a relationship. I wondered if we could just end this now without anyone getting hurt. We both said that no feelings were involved. I had a suspicion that I was lying to myself, but I wasn't ready to face it just yet. I grabbed my bottle of wine and headed back to bed.