So that’s it. That’s my story. Well, my family’s story. Only three people on Earth know all those details: me, Fitz, and uncle Keith. So consider yourself privileged, but don’t you dare pity me.
I let you read the story just so you would understand, but that’s that. Don’t pity me, don’t think of me differently, don’t see me in a different light. I’m not a poor pitiable cause, I’m an awful, corrupted being that’s done and seen horrendous things, and for that, I deserve to burn in the flames of Hell for the rest of eternity. Believe me, when the time comes, I’m sure Lucifer himself will welcome me with open arms.
Staring at the ceiling of my room, I felt restless. It was one of those nights. One of those nights where everything goes south and I can’t dare close one eye. One of those nights where darkness seems to be suffocating me at each breath. One of those nights when what my father did seems somewhat reasonable.
And I could, you know? I kept his gun, put it somewhere Fitz could never find it, so I could, really. After all it doesn’t take much, does it? You just pull the trigger and that’s it. You’re free.
If I told you how many times I’ve played Russian roulette on my own, you’d be scared.
And what about that time, when I was 18, right a few months before what happened with my mom. It was a hellish night, exactly like this one, a night where dawn seemed far, far away, a night made of the darkest hours. I got up in a rush, my head still in a turmoil due to the umpteenth nightmare, and I headed straight to the kitchen.
A knife was all I needed to end it once and for all. With the right amount of pressure I wouldn’t have even suffered that much. I grabbed the huge knife Mariana used to slice meat, and placed it right beneath my throat. Just one slash. Only one, and I’d have been free.
But Serene woke up at the wrong moment. She came to the kitchen looking for a glass of water, yet she found her brother, the vile coward, ready to abandon her just like our parents.
I know it’s not easy to hear, I know the word is harsh and cursed, but it is what it is: suicide. In the end, my whole family committed suicide, whatever the means they chose, so I suppose it just runs in the family. If suicide is a selfish and vile act, then we all are.
I think about it more often than you’d want to know. I think about taking my own life a number of times that is definitely too high for an average human being, but definitely not that much for one like me. I’d have done it so many times, believe me, and every time I put myself in the worst danger, it might have been unconscious, yet I wouldn’t have cared if things went badly.
But in the end, there’s just that one reason that keeps me from it. It’s not hope for a better future or crap like that, no. I’m doomed, I know I am, no use in hoping. No, it’s ... quite simply, Serene.
I know Fitz would take good care of her, I know for a fact that without a brother like me she would be better off, but ... not entirely. Maybe my father and mother were selfish enough to put me through all this, but I’m not. I would never do such a thing to my little Pebbles. I love her just too much to even only think of abandoning her, which is funny because I did abandon her when she needed me the most.
She was 9 when I left. Our mother had just ... I had just killed our mom, so I needed time to cope. I left for Europe, like I said, came back now and then, but in the end, for the past ten years I haven’t been much present in my sister’s life. Not physically anyways. I mean I left that I was 18 and came back that I was 20, to start college, I graduated in three years, then left again, and this time I came back that I was 26.
It was the one time I was determined to stay, really. I’d even found a good place for me and my sister. We would live together, I would take care of her, I would be a good brother for once ... I would have. Hadn’t odds turned out to be so completely fucked up.
I don’t regret what I did. I never will. He deserved it, and if he crossed my road right about now, I would do the same I did over 2 years ago, no regrets. Only maybe this time I would indeed finish the job.
Staring at the ceiling, I relived the awful moment when I found out what had happened. One more cross on my shoulders, I would have accepted it, what I couldn’t and never would accept was that my sister’s pure soul would be tarnished. I know she isn’t all innocent and whatever, but to me she is the purest soul, and if I had to sacrifice myself to protect her, I would, in the blink of an eye.
I know you might have guessed what I’m talking about, so I don’t really need to say it, do I? Or is this a night for confessions? You’ve heard the story of my cursed family, are you sure you’re ready for the rest?
“His birthday is in two days!” Tess grinned, excited.
I looked at her blankly, not sure why would this be such huge news for me. “So?”
“So ... we need to do something!”
I blinked my eyes. “Like what?”
“Uh ... throw a party, perhaps?”
I rolled my eyes, yawning. I really shouldn’t stay up all night talking on the phone, but ... in the end it doesn’t make much of a difference, does it? It’s either spend the night talking to my boyfriend or wait for nightmares to kick in. I’d rather the first one, if you don’t mind.
And yes, much to your displeasure, things between Ryan and I are going incredibly well. We’re celebrating our first month together next week. I know it’s cheesy, but we see each other so little, we come up with the silliest excuses to do something special. Long distance relationships are really hard when you actually care about the other person, sigh.
“Tess, if Jake wants to celebrate his birthday, he will. What tells you he doesn’t have plans already?” I argued, fishing my phone out of my pocket when it buzzed. Silly, I know, but I smiled knowing it was Ryan.
My friend groaned, snatching my phone away before I could even unlock it. “I talked to his sister, and she says he’s refused to celebrate.”
“Well, then why should we contradict him?” I extended my hand to get back my phone, but she ignored me.
“Because ... it’s not right that he’ll spend his 29th birthday all alone, possibly drinking his ass off.”
“It’s none of our business, Tess.” I mean, I care about Jake, yeah, but I understand the will one has not to be disturbed, so why should we barge in uninvited?
“He’s our friend.” She pointed out, sending me a dirty look, definitely not keen on giving me my phone back.
“Yes, and he’s decided to spend the day on his own. Nothing wrong with that.” I know the feeling. Sometimes you just can’t bear to be social. If Jake wants to be on his own, I don’t understand why should we ruin his plans.
Tess huffed, still gripping my phone. She hates that I text Ryan so often, scratch that, she hates that I’m dating Ryan. Says I’m a blind fool because the guy for me is way closer than I care to admit, aka Jake. How do I convince her Jake and I are only friends while I ... have real feelings for Ryan?
I mean, okay, maybe I’ve felt and I feel attracted to Jake Watson. Maybe I’ve had a teeny-weeny crush on him, but what woman doesn’t? What I feel for Ryan is more ... important. It’s a grownup thing, it’s emotional, not hormonal. There’s just that difference between lust and ...uh...never mind.
Not that I don’t feel attracted to Ryan, eh. Hmmm ... I feel more attracted than he’ll ever know, believe me. I’m just waiting for the right moment, otherwise I’d have already jumped his sexy bones. I want it to be special, not because it’s my first time, but because it’s with a guy I really, really, really like.
He doesn’t even know I’m a virgin, I could have just slept with him on day one and I doubt he’d have minded, I just ... want this to be a special thing between us. You know, the cliché romantic setting, lights, wine, maybe a fireplace, a delicious dinner ... all that.
I want it to feel natural, though, so that’s why I haven’t decided when will that happen yet. Ryan seems totally okay with waiting, which normally would surprise me in any other man, but ... well, Ryan is Ryan. Okay, maybe I’m biased, but I’m right. He’s an amazing guy, and I find myself being more and more fond of him every day, no matter what nonsense about him not being the one Tess claims.
“We can’t leave him on his own.” She huffed as she went through my messages. I let her only because she’s my best friend, any other person would have been dead already.
“If that’s what he wants, then we should.” I countered. “I really don’t see why the fuss, Tess. If Jake prefers to spend his birthday on his own, then let him. He’s a grown man, he can decide for himself, can’t he?” Knowing him, he’ll have a good reason not to want to celebrate. I hate to admit it, but we’re somewhat similar in this, sometimes we just need to ... turn off the world and be on our own. The trouble is, not many people understand that.
Tess snorted, eyes on my phone. Judging by the disgusted look on her face, she was going through Ryan and I’s conversations. They can be a little mushy sometimes, yeah. “I don’t care if he wants to be secluded in a castle. We’re throwing a surprise party for him, and you’re coming.” She stated, finally giving me my phone back, well, more like throwing it at me, annoyed at what she read, I bet.
I rolled my eyes, though happy I could finally talk to Ryan. “Why would I?”
“Because I said so.” She huffed. “And gah, quit smiling like that, it’s disgusting.”
I grinned as I texted back my boyfriend. “What? I’m just-”
“Texting Ryan, I know.” She put a finger in her mouth, pretending to be about to throw up.
I rolled my eyes, though smiling. “I thought you’d be glad I’m in a healthy and happy relationship.”
“It’s with the wrong guy so no.”
I sighed. Not this again ... it was fun in the beginning, now it’s getting annoying. “Tess ...”
“You know I’m right. You’re just too goddamn stubborn to realize it.”
Sigh. There’s no way out. She’s rooted in her beliefs, and I can’t change her mind, so I may as well give up. In the end, I’m happy with Ryan, and that’s what matters.
“Why am I dressing up for this?” I whined for the umpteenth time, but she didn’t listen.
“Because it’s his birthday party.”
“It’s your gift to him.”
I arched an eyebrow at her. “Excuse me?” I don’t even know why did I let her doll me up. I hate doing this, but I was tired of her rambling, so in the end we tossed a coin and she won, hence ... well, here I am, dressing up for Jake’s surprise birthday party.
Tess rolled her eyes as she fixed my hair. “It’s his birthday, and you’re the woman of his dreams, so ... you’re dressing up to be mind-boggling for him.”
“Come on, just give the guy a little eye candy. It can’t hurt, can it?”
I sighed. “May I remind you I’m in a committed relationship?” Funny, normally the word committed would make me run for the hills, yet now it feels ... right. I’m committed to Ryan Evans. I really am. I actually see this getting somewhere ... wow. We’re talking long term here, yet it’s been only a month. How crazy is that? Yet it feels normal and natural to us.
We actually plan our weekends in advance, and gosh, we’re planning summer together. Crazy. Totally crazy. And so damn amazing.
She snorted, predictably. “So? I’m not telling you to hook up with him, just ... cheer him up.” She smirked. “Although ... if you do wanna hook up with Jake, you won’t hear a word against it from me ...”
Of course. “Thanks, but I’m content with my boyfriend.”
“With whom you haven’t had sex yet ...”
“Not for the reasons you’d like to believe.”
“No? So it’s not because the thought of him naked makes you barf?”
I chuckled. “Tess, you’ve met Ryan ... would any woman hate the sight of him naked?” God, you have no idea how arousing it is to be in his arms, to snuggle up to him and think he’s mine. He may not show it, but he’s really, really well defined in his muscles. Maybe not as ripped as Jake, Ryan’s is a ... quarterback kind of muscled. After all he loves football and also plays it. Okay, okay, maybe it’s shallow, but my boyfriend’s hot, hard not to admit it.
My best friend snorted. “I’d pick Jake over Ryan hundreds of times, and so should you.”
“If you like Jake that much, why don’t you date him yourself?”
She bit her lip, letting slip the slightest smirk. “I wouldn’t date Jake, Sissy. I would do him. Anywhere, anytime, in any way he wants.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ugh, now you make me barf.”
She laughed as she finished my hair, which for some reason she decided to style into a loose braid. “Now, onto the dress.”
I stood grudgingly, following her. “Remind me, why am I wearing this?” I hate dresses. If it were up to me I’d wear pants all the time, but I lost the battle, so Tess gets to decide every single detail of my outfit for the night. I suppose I should consider myself lucky, if her intent is to have Jake black out when he sees me, as she says, it’s surprising that she didn’t pick a way bolder dress. A backless navy blue lace dress that barely reaches my mid-thighs seems a fair price to pay.
[the dress]“Told you, it’s his birthday, give the guy some eye candy.” Tess claimed as she tossed the dress in my direction.
“Okay, but still ... it doesn’t feel right that I dress up all sexy for him and not my boyfriend.” I argued. Ryan’s never seen me in a dress yet Jake gets this privilege ... mmh, not really fair.
My friend rolled her eyes as she put on her own dress, a golden lace one that underlined every single curve of hers. It was made to put on display every single bit of her gorgeous sexy frame. Now that’s a sight a guy would black out for. It’s the kind of dress a woman on a mission would wear. If it’s up to Tess, Jake will most definitely get lucky tonight.
“The sole fact that you’ve never dressed up for Ryan should tell you something ...” Tess hinted.
I rolled my eyes as I put on the dress. “Don’t restart, Tess.”
“Just tell me, who makes you hornier? Jake or Ryan?
“Ugh, I’m not gonna have this conversation with you again.”
“Because you know I’m right.” She chanted, finally ready.
“No ... because you’re annoying.”
“Yeah, yeah ... we’ll see who’s right.” She came to button my dress and my fix my hair. A good half hour later, also the makeup had been done. It almost seemed I was going to get married, I swear. I mean, I’ve never put this much care in dressing up, definitely Tess took the term dolling up a little too literally.
Once she was done, she put me before the full mirror, and grinned at her own work. “Man, he’s gonna forget even his own name ...”
“I thought I told you to leave me alone.” I grumbled when, upon opening the door, I found my pestering sister. In response she grinned, and jumped in my arms. Normally I would welcome her gladly, but I wasn’t really in the mood to be human. “What are you doing here, Serene?” I questioned when she finally let go.
“It’s your birthday.”
I rolled my eyes to the back of my head. I swear, I’ve heard that very same sentence so many times this week, I’m sick of it. “For the last time, I don’t wanna celebrate.” I grumbled.
“That’s too bad, because we’re all here.” I heard Tess say.
Frowning, I turned back to the door, and sure as hell there they all were, wearing annoyingly big grins, bottles and food of every sort in their hands. I really have an awful taste for friends if I can’t surround myself with people that understand my need to be alone.
Raking a hand over my face, I sighed. “Guys, wasn’t I clear? I’m not celebrating.”
“Too late.” Trey shrugged, though he got my attention when he winked, hinting at the bottle of vodka in his hand, disguised as distillated water. My savior. If Fitz sees that it’s gonna go straight to the dustbin.
Trey, Paul and Tess made their way in while Serene informed me Fitz would arrive a little late but he would never miss this party. I was more focused on my assistant slash friend, though.
Tess wore a stunning golden dress that ... wow, made me revaluate this whole friendzone thing we have going on. Trey couldn’t take her eyes off her and she seemed to be playing cat and mouse with him, though, so I’m betting he’s gonna be the lucky one. I wouldn’t anyways, don’t worry. I’m not stupid. She’s hot as hell, but even only one night with her would make things too complicated, I’m really not in the right state of mind for that.
With a sigh, once everybody was in, I closed the door. I guess I’ll have to suck it up, because none of them seemed any keen on leaving.
“Wait!” The source of part of my current torments called before I could entirely close the door.
I smiled unconsciously at the mere sound of her voice, damn me, and turned around. “How come we always meet like-FUCK!”
Tess laughed from the other side of the room, but Silvia barely bit back a proud grin. And why wouldn’t she be proud? I mean ... fuck! I mean ... ugh, what was I saying, again? Jesus Fucking Christ, that is so ... so ... damn evil. I mean, you can’t just drop her off like that. “You wanna give me a heart attack? I’m not even 30 yet.”
Silvia laughed, entering and closing the door behind her. “Tess’ idea.” She bit her lip, eyeing me. “She did say you’d have this reaction ...”
That’s nothing. I felt a whole amount of things for which I would, one, go straight to Hell, two, would definitely, definitely deserve to be punched by her boyfriend, three, would have her slap me. But I’m pretty sure she had a fair idea of what was on my mind as I stared at her wordlessly, and she didn’t seem to really mind.
“Come on, Jake, it’s just a dress.” Silvia chuckled, concealing her curves behind her arms just a tad bit enough to tell me she wasn’t playing false modest, she really did feel somewhat self conscious.
“You’re ...” I started, not sure what was the word to use. “I mean ... damn!”
“Need to buy a vowel, Jake?” Tess teased from the living room.
“More like, an oxygen bottle.” I admitted without thinking, causing them all too laugh except Silvia, who mildly blushed. “I mean ... you’re ... fuck, you’re gorgeous!”
“Uh ... thanks ...”
“No, no, no thanks here ... you’re really ... wow!” Okay, maybe my mind was in a haze. I was probably literally drooling.
“Okay, okay, I get it. Now quit drooling.” She laughed. “It’s not really sexy.”
Before she could bypass me, I grabbed her arm and pulled her into me, wetting my lips as I bit them, eyeing hers. “You sure you’re loyal to Chicago guy?”
Okay, okay, stupid move, I know. In my defense, my brain was dead at the moment.
Silvia rolled her eyes, disentangling herself from my grip. “Very loyal.” She then turned and flickered my forehead. “Don’t let the dress deceive you, I’m still me, I can kick your ass even dressed up like this.”
I smirked. “Oh, baby, you know I like it rough ...”
“Are they all gone?” she asked as she reached me on the balcony.
“Tess and Trey are in the guestroom, which thankfully is soundproof.”
Silvia chuckled, hugging herself. “So she’s really doing it, huh? I thought Trey wasn’t her type.”
I shrugged. “A fling won’t hurt.”
“That must be your life motto.”
I rolled my eyes. “You make me sound much shallower than I am.”
“You’re Jake Watson, the Fling King. If that’s not shallow, I don’t know what is.” Silvia teased, standing beside me, inching her jacket closer against her skin.
April’s nights are still somewhat cold. I’d have taken off my jacket for her if I’d been wearing one, but either way, she’d have thrown it back in my face, not accepting such clichés, I’m pretty sure. She says chivalry is graceful only as long as it doesn’t interfere with empowerment. Whatever does that mean, I have no idea, but she says it every time I try to be a gentleman.
“Just because I sleep around, doesn’t mean I’m not a serious man.” I pointed out, kinda feeling that’s one reason why she’s always refused to be with me.
Yet she rolled her eyes. “I know you’re a serious man. Actually, you’re a great guy.” She chuckled. I think she was probably a little tipsy. They all drank their asses off except me, Serene and Fitz. Well, okay, maybe I stole a sip or two of that vodka, but nothing much. “A jerk for crying out loud, yeah, but a really great guy too.” Silvia went on. “And you’re entitled to have all the flings you like, but that won’t stop me from thinking you’re not one to commit.”
I turned to her, biting my lip. “Maybe I’m just waiting. I’ll commit when I meet the one.”
“I know you will.” She smiled. “And she’ll be a very lucky woman.”
Either she missed it or she ignored it. Do I make it clearer? “I’m not sure she would be lucky, but I would definitely be.” I inched slightly closer to her, seeing to brush her fingers that werre lying there on the balustrade. “I mean, to spend my life with a strong, badass clever sexy girl ... I would be a really lucky bastard.”
“Then what stops you from looking for her?” She definitely missed it.
“Maybe I’ve already found her, but she’s taken.”
Silvia bit her lips, clear sign she got the hint. “If she was the one, she would leave everything for you.”
“Nah, I’m not sure it works like that.”
“Doesn’t it?” She turned to me, somewhat serious. “I mean, there are 7 billion people on this planet, what makes you think she’s the one?”
I slid closer to her, enough to wrap my arm around her and stop her from shivering now and then because of the cold. “I see light in her eyes. That’s why I know she’s the one.”
She gulped, oh, yeah, she did, yet she didn’t move. “Does she see light in yours?” She wondered in a feeble voice. I bit my lip when she unconsciously leaned against me, as if abandoning herself in my shoulders, not sure if to fend cold or out of tiredness or friendship or whatever.
“Hardly she could.”
Silvia looked up, and I realized just how much I love her eyes when my heart skipped a few beats. A sexy dress may be enough to black me out and have my hormones do the lap dance, but ... her eyes are enough to stir my every heartstring, and when a heart like mine trembles, there’s no mistaking it ... I’m screwed, so very screwed.
“You should give yourself more credit.” Silvia claimed.
I cracked a small smile. “I thought you said my ego is even too huge ...”
“You know what I mean, Jake.” She turned around in my arms, and my goddamn heart quivered when she caressed my cheek. “You like to play jerk, but I know that deep, deep, deep down that sarcastic, sassy ass there’s a hidden gem. And one day someone will realize it too. But when she comes, don’t shut her out, don’t lock yourself up in your frozen castle, let her heal you, because that’s all you need.”
I closed my eyes, rejoicing of her touch for a moment, but then, unable to resist, I slid my arm around her waist and pulled her against me, gluing our bodies together. I leaned in, and our lips nearly grazed. “Maybe you’re right, but what do I do when she’s my one yet I’m not hers?”
She swallowed, her gaze falling on my lips just for a tiny moment. “You prove her wrong.”