Alanna was awake long before Damon and lay in bed listening to his quiet snores and marvelling at the fact that she felt so comfortable being in such a vulnerable state with him. She also couldn’t believe that the most sought after guy on campus had wanted her and had readily agreed to an abstinent relationship. Alanna knew she wasn’t hideous but she also firmly believed that she paled in comparison to girls like Maria. Lana cursed herself silently for sounding like the kind of girl she and Lexie always made fun of. The girls that asked their boyfriends to list the reasons they loved them constantly and demanded they say ‘I love you’ at every possible opportunity. She resolved not to ask Damon about the former and she dreaded the latter. She’d just have to trust that he did really care about her and wouldn’t run off the first chance he got.
She tried to wiggle out from under his arm to go brush her teeth quickly before he woke up. But just when she thought she was all clear, he grabbed her hand and pulled her backwards onto the bed and immediately kissed her. When he finally pulled away, Alanna covered her hand with her mouth and said, “Good morning to you, too!”
“Ammm, why are you covering your mouth?”
“To hide my morning breath,” Alanna said turning bright red.
“Because that would immediately kill all my feelings for you and I’d head for the hills and never look back?” Damon teased.
“Maybe?” Alanna shrugged.
Damon laughed and pulled her hand away from her mouth and kissed her again.
“I promise to like you even when you have morning breath, a bad hair day, if you blow up to triple my size, if you wear a poncho and acid wash jeans or go bald.”
Alanna laughed, gave him a quick peck on the lips and ran off to washroom. Damon lay back on the pillows and thought about the fact that he had almost said, “I promise to love you…”. But he knew it was a big step for Alanna to date him and didn’t want to overwhelm or rush her before she was ready. Something told him that bad things would happen if he revealed how much he cared about her too soon.
His new girlfriend came bounding back into the room a few minutes later and sat on the bed with her back against the wall and her legs draped across his stomach, as he played with her toes and teased her.
“You know if you keep looking so hot in your nightclothes, I may have some trouble keeping my abstinence promise.”
“Very funny! You know, I look like crap in this ratty old nightshirt.”
Damon had been serious, however. Even with her hair a mess and an oversized night shirt full of little tears and holes that stopped just below her buttocks, Alanna looked beautiful to him. Not a lace undie in sight, and he was more attracted to her right then than he had ever been to any girl he’d dated before. Her body wasn’t perfect, she had a bit of cellulite and a few scars and she didn’t have a perfectly flat stomach but Damon didn’t even notice those, because they didn’t mar her attractiveness or make her less appealing. They were part of what made Alanna, Alanna. He would make it his mission to make sure that she felt as beautiful as he thought she was every day.
“I meant what I said, Lana. This is the prettiest you’ve ever looked.”
He didn’t say it in that sultry, seductive voice he used when he was trying to get a free dessert from the cashier in the cafeteria or get an extension on a paper. He was looking, guilelessly, straight at her and spoke in a quiet but clear, steady voice. And it seemed as though Lana believed him, as she blushed and looked down. Alanna would have blushed even deeper if she knew that at that exact moment, Damon was thinking how lucky he was to have her in his life.
Terry’s phone buzzed incessantly under his pillow but he refused to pick it up. He knew it would be Damon and, since he’d passed Damon’s room earlier and found it empty, he knew that his best friend was probably with Alanna at that exact moment. Terry was still trying to sort through his feelings about the previous night’s events. He was relieved that he no longer had to keep up the charade of being Maria’s devoted and loving boyfriend. But he had hoped that the relationship would have just fizzled out and ended with an amicable parting.
Instead, Maria had confessed that she’d overheard his conversation with his mother and burst into tears as she asked him why he had led her on like that. There was no good answer for that question. How could he tell her that he hoped that he might fall for her someday and he was using her to distract himself from the girl he really cared about? He could try to pretend that it was just about sex. Would it hurt her less if Maria thought he was just a regular player and this had nothing to do with her or Alanna personally? Probably not. He had sat on the edge of her bed, completely silent, as Maria pulled herself together with some effort and then ordered him out of her life. For good.
He couldn’t blame her and it wasn’t Maria with whom he was angry. While Terry was generally a rational creature, part of him couldn’t help but blame Damon for some of his troubles. Stupid charismatic Damon, who couldn’t let him have the girl just this once. He pictured himself in an old sitcom with a demonic Terry on his left shoulder and an angelic version of himself on his right.
“Yea, that Damon really is a bastard. You’re supposed to be his best friend and he stole Alanna from you,” said Devil-Terry.
“Ummmm, excuse me?” said Angel-Terry, tapping him gently on his temple. “But, you never told Damon how you felt about Alanna. So, amm, isn’t it kinda your fault?”
Terry turned a searing glare on his white-robed mini-me, who had the decency to look ashamed and apologetic for daring to suggest that his current state of misery was of his own making.
“You know, he’s been stealing your girls for years. Remember that fine ass Puerto Rican girl? Eva? She was clearly flirting with you until Mr. My-Aren’t-I-Hot-With-My-Slightly-British-Accent swooped in.”
Terrence took a second to ponder why his dark side sounded so much like a whiny teenage girl. If he was gonna bitch about the situation and make wiseacre comments about Damon, he was gonna have to butch it up a bit in order to preserve some semblance of self-respect. But before he could chastise Devil-Terry who was winking at the little green fairy above the television set- okay, that had better be the absinthe he’d had just before bed manifesting itself in his waking dream or else his subconscious might be trying to tell him that he was secretly the black version of Jack from Will & Grace- the Terry cherub yanked his earlobe.
“Yessss?” Terry hissed as he tried to massage the sting away.
“Well…amm… it’s just that… ammm… you kinda never told him you liked her either…”
“Hey! Hey, pretty boy!” Devil-Terry yelled as he shoulder-hopped and brought himself face to face with Angel-Terry. “You do realise you and he are the same person, right? How about a little sympathy here? Your heart got broken when his did, didn’t it? Didn’t Damon and Alanna take advantage of your compassionate nature too? Hell, I’m his devilish half and I’m all broken-hearted too.”
“Well, I suppose you’re right.”
“Damn right, I’m right! He’s despicable! She’s a tramp…”
“Whoa! Whoa!” Terry tried to interrupt the tirade, feeling guilty about the ‘tramp’ comment. “Let’s dial it back, guys.”
“No. No. Devil-Us is right. They’re the reason we’re depressed. They’re responsible for Maria’s broken heart. If only Damon had stayed out of our way and Alanna could see past his pretty shell!”
Angel-Terry was angrily pacing Terrence’s shoulder and Terry watched as his robes slowly turned red and he morphed into Devil-Terry’s doppelganger. Terrence tried to interrupt them as they continued to disparage the love of his life and vilify his best friend; but eventually he gave up and just tuned them out as he thought things over. He came to the conclusion that it was mostly his fault for not having a backbone and making his feelings known to both Alanna and Damon earlier. If he had just done that then maybe…
The front door slammed and Terrence was brought abruptly back to reality. Damon’s head peeked around his bedroom door, and try as Terry might, the Devil-Terrys’ words kept reverberating in his head. He wasn’t ready to don his everyday mask again – the one that told the world he was perfectly fine with Alanna dating Damon- so he pretended to be asleep. He heard Damon sigh as he closed the door and Terry couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for punishing his friend for a misdeed he didn’t even know he had committed.