I’d barely closed my eyes, knocked out by a bottle too many of whisky, that I felt an annoying buzz beneath my stomach. With a mild headache, I rolled over and grabbed the phone, blindly unlocking it to take the call.
“Jake! You gotta come! Right now! Please, move!” Tess’ shrill desperate voice burst my eardrums.
“Wha ...?” I drunkenly questioned. Is it me of is the ceiling spinning?
“Come here! Move, move, move! Please! It’s life or death!!”
I frowned, covering my eyes to protect them from light. “Tess, what you ... talk ... what?” Okay, maybe I’m really, really, drunk this time.
“It’s Silvia! Please, you gotta come!”
“What the fuck?!” I leaped to my feet the moment I heard that, without even bothering the fact that the room around me was spinning. Well, maybe I wasn’t that drunk. Or maybe love gives superpowers. “What’s going on?” Tess was even too alarmed for my liking.
“Please, come! I’m at her place, I don’t know what to do!!” She seemed to be ... crying? Impossible.
“Tess, what ...?”
“Just come, you idiot! She needs your help!!”
I wanna say I rationally valued every possibility and did what a reasoning adult would, but ... I’d lie. I nearly got out in boxers, to be honest. No, not nearly. I did.
Judging by the lustful and odd looks I received, I was the last one to realize I was wearing only jeans, which hung off my hips kinda loosely anyways. Okay, maybe I remembered to wear pants and shoes but not the rest. In my defense, June is kinda warm. And screw it, it was a good reason.
I didn’t want to waste precious time taking out my car, so I took the Kawasaki, with which I broke a few laws, I think. I was at Silvia’s in 4 minutes. A record. Barely giving myself time to park, helmet still over my head, which I struggled to take off when the doorman seemed to reach for the security button, I ran into the building and up the stairs, forgetting somebody invented elevators in 1850. By the time I got to the apartment I was a mess, but who the hell cared.
I didn’t even knock, I just barged in, kinda unhinging the door, scared shitless, thinking I don’t know, she’d been drugged or somebody robbed her, or anything ... I froze when I met the sight of Tess’ grin.
She clicked on the chronometer in her hand. “5 minutes. Wow. You really are whipped.” She bit her lips as she eyed my attire, or rather, my non-attire, considering I was half naked. “Say, how many chicks have you made pass out going out like that? Do we have to expect little Jakeys in a few months?”
I frowned at her, ignoring her stupid jokes, my drunkenness all gone, my heartbeat at rates it never reached. “You just ... you’re sick, woman. I nearly got a heart attack.” My coronaries were dancing like a drunk stripper, damnit. “Where is she?” Fuck. I nearly died at the thought. I think I aged of ten years in one minute. She had me think Silvia was hurt, injured, in danger, anything ...
I know, it’s cliché. Knight in shining armor runs to her the exact moment his damsel in distress needs him. If only I actually were a knight in shining armor, things would be a whole hell of a lot different and easier.
Then again, Silvia’s no damsel in distress either. Now that I think of it, if she saw me barging in her place like that, even if she was actually in danger, she’d probably laugh in my face, telling me how arrogant I am for thinking she’d need my help. I’ll have to fix the door before she sees it, or she’ll kill me.
Hell, that woman is so stubborn and proud, she wouldn’t ask for my help even if she were struggling to free herself from the grip of a murderer. She could be drowning yet she’d never accept to be saved. Not by me anyways.
Tess’ grin vanished as she hinted behind her. “Bedroom.”
“She’s asleep?” Of course she is, it’s 2 am, you idiot.
“She just fell asleep ... after she took a pill.”
I blinked my eyes, confused. “A pill? Why? Tess, what the fuck is going on here?” Oh, finally you ask the right question, moron.
Damnit, brain, shut up, give me a break. Not the right moment to be a smartass.
Tess sighed, leaning against the back of the sofa. “She broke up with Ryan.”
No, I’m not partying inside. I’m not. Screw it, I am. I did my best not to grin, though. “Really? Uh ... why?”
“Don’t pretend you’re not happy about it.”
“I’ll never be happy if she suffers, Tess.” Very diplomatic answer. Now maybe quit mentally doing a happy dance, will you?
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, sure ... anyways, they broke up.”
She shrugged. “She didn’t tell.”
I snorted. “I bet he cheated.” My jaw clenched. “Saint Ryan my ass.” If I’d ever seen his face, I’d pay him a visit, but I don’t have time to go knock on every Ryan’s door in Chicago.
Tess rolled her eyes, though. “As much as I’d like to say yes, I doubt it.” She sighed. “He seemed really taken ...”
I scoffed. “Please, they all seem innocent. I bet all this time he’s had a side girl.”
“You only talk like that because you’re jealous.”
“Maybe. But I’m right.” Sighing, I rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Anyways, why did you call me?”
“Well, you said in case things didn’t go well she’d have your shoulder to cry on ...” Tess hinted at the corridor beyond the living room, where Silvia’s room was. “There’s your chance. Comfort her. Make her forget about Ryan. You know the script.”
I rolled my eyes. Of course she’d say that. “Let me get this straight, you gave me a heart attack, had me lose ten years in five seconds ... only to drag me here and do what? Give her my shoulder to cry on?” Unbelievable. “Tess, you know how odds are between us lately ... chances are, she’s gonna kick me out the moment she sees me.”
“Maybe. But it’s worth a shot.”
“Tess ...” I sighed. Why do people never understand?
She crossed her arms, and my eye inevitably fell on her busty chest, but I shrugged it off immediately. I may be in love with her best friend and care about her herself as only a friend, but I’m still a man, and damnit, Tess is freaking gorgeous and sexy.
“Do you love her?” She questioned right off the bat.
“Tess ...” She knows, Fitz knows, Serene knows, Paul and Trey might have sensed it ... shit, is Silvia the only one that can’t see it?
“No, don’t Tess me, Jake. Do you or do you not love Silvia?”
“Ugh ... yes, but ...”
“But nothing. You love her, then go get her, you moron.”
“Tess, it’s not that easy. It’s ... there are things to consider, and ...” How do I explain without explaining? How do I tell her my reasons without telling her my life story?
“Bullshit.” She scoffed. “You’re a coward, Jake.”
“All that bad boy shit, and look at you, you’re just the umpteenth insecure boy that doesn’t know what he really wants.”
I clenched my jaw. “Easy there. Don’t say things you’ll regret.”
“Why? Should I be afraid of you?” She snorted. “Serene’s right, you’re always hiding behind that tough guy mask, keeping the world five feet away, in fear you’ll get hurt.”
“Tess ...” I hissed as calmly as I could. Where the hell does all this come from?
“Spare me the threats, Jake. We both know you’d never hurt me and you can’t fire me.”
I frowned. “Hurt you? Why ... ugh ...” I groaned. “Why the fuck do people always think I’m a violent ass?”
“I don’t know, maybe it’s the jail tale.”
“What?” I blinked my eyes. How does she know about that?
“Oh, please, Jake, you think we don’t know? The whole office knows about your little adventure in New York.”
“Why do you think some are so scared while some women lust over you like that?”
“What? I ... ugh ... whatever. That’s not the point here.” I rubbed the bridge of my nose. I feel a migraine coming right up. Love might give superpowers, but there’s nothing that stops a hangover.
“Right.” Tess spat, standing straight. “The point here is ...” She walked up to me. “You’re a goddamn coward, Jake Watson.” She pointed behind her. “There’s the woman you love right there, you idiot. She needs you. She needs as much comfort as you can give her, yet you’re here blabbing about how there are things to consider. Well, pardon me, but it’s all bullshit, if you ask me.”
“You don’t understand, Tess. I ...”
“Yeah, you’re scared. So? Has that ever stopped you from doing what you want? Grow some fucking balls, for God’s sakes, and go get your woman, you moron.”
Oh, well. Sure as hell I didn’t see that one coming.
I didn’t hear it right. I can’t have heard it right. Did she ... she can’t have just dumped me. Like that even ... ugh, I’ve always known she was a really cold type, but damn!
“Hey, what’s up?” My cousin asked as he saw me pacing the living room when he came in, but I ignored him.
There’s got to be an answer to this. I mean ... she can’t just dump me like that. I’ve been trying to call her and text her for hours, but her goddamn phone is off. Of course she’d turn it off, what else should I expect from one like Silvia?
I’ve never met a more stubborn and proud woman, that’s for sure. And maybe I should stay away, maybe I should listen to her and just give up, but how can I? There’s something between us. I know it, she knows it. She’s just scared ... I know she is.
You think I didn’t heard her lapse earlier? My face barely showed it, but my heart was exploding. I didn’t say anything about it simply because I know her enough to be sure she’d have fled ... like in the end she has.
“Ryan? You alright?” Riley* asked, blocking me to grip my shoulders.
I sighed, raking a hand over my face. “Yeah, I just ... never mind.” I slipped out of his grip. The kid’s nice, he’s spent the past week with me due to a wedding we both had to go to, but I doubt he’d understand my troubles, after all, he’s only 18.
“Is this about Alicia again?” Riley wondered, blinking his green eyes. It’s weird, but he’s son to my father’s brother, yet there’s nothing that would say we’re blood related. I mean, he’s blonde, I’m dark-haired, his eyes are green, mine are blue ... maybe we have a bit of the same character, but that’s it.
I frowned at his question. “What? No. Alicia and I are over. For good.” No matter what she says. She can come crying all she wants, she can show up unannounced, text me, call me, beg me ... I’m not buying it. And I know it’s kinda pathetic, given that she just dumped me so ruthlessly, but I think it’s because of Silvia that I got over Alicia way sooner than I’d ever imagined.
When we broke up, it felt irreparable. I felt like my heart would never heal, yet ... yet when I go see my granny in Boston I meet this Italian girl that makes me rethink everything.
We’re a lot, lot different, Silvia and I, but there are things in common, and I love being with her. Hell I ... nah, too soon to say it.
Ugh, screw it, I love her. I ... I’m in love with Silvia, I think. And it hurts that she’d dump me so easily, without hesitation.
“Then what is it?” Riley asked, confused.
“Ex ... she just dumped me through Skype.”
“Uh. Rough.” He gasped.
I sighed. “Yeah, tell me about it ...” I slumped on the couch, ready to start wallowing in my pity party.
Serves me right. After all the times I’ve been burned I keep trying to touch the fire. I wonder when will I ever learn. After the failure with Christie in high school, I stubbornly pursued the relationship with Alicia, and you know how horribly it ended, now Silvia ...
I really thought it would work, damnit. I just ... aside from the long distance, everything was fine. Hell, I’ve never cared so little about sex, I swear. I mean, we all know how important sex is in a relationship, right? With Silvia I just ... I’ve never cared. Not that she doesn’t make me feel anything ... huh, total opposite, I’ve taken quite a few chilly showers while I was over at her place. It’s just that ... it’s not a priority.
Simply I’ve always loved spending time with her, and the fact that it never ended in sex might have uncomfortable physically speaking, but it was perfectly fine, if not even more than perfect, on an emotional level. It allowed us to better explore our relationship, take the most out of it without pressure.
I’ve been unjust with her, I know I have ... I just wasn’t sure what to say when she told me about the “moment” she had with her friend Jake. This guy seems to be popping up every now and then and it’s frustrating because, clearly, she cares a lot about him. I know I can trust her, but ... I don’t think I can trust him, can I?
It seems to be he’s always lurking around, waiting for me to screw up, so that he’ll have his chance. Well, good for him, I did screw up in the end.
Ignoring Riley as he left to take a phone call from this Emily he hears from so often that it’s a little suspicious, I lay on the couch, covering my face with a pillow. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a sensitive idiot. It wouldn’t hurt like this. I wouldn’t jump into things so easily, and I wouldn’t get so badly scorched every single time.
“Wait, you can’t leave. What am I supposed to do? I’m not good with this.”
Tess huffed, slamming the door behind her. Great, now I’m stuck here half naked, waiting for Silvia to wake up and throw me out. That’s if she’ll even talk to me.
2 am more or less. I should have a few hours, but sleeping would be a terrible, terrible idea. I can’t sleep anywhere that isn’t my place, not if I’m not alone anyways. Last thing I want is to wake her up in the middle of the night with my ... well, never mind, you know I have nightmares, I don’t need to tell you the whole thing.
Sighing, I headed to her room, unsure. Should I peek in? Just to see if she’s alright? Ugh, Tess couldn’t have put me in a worst predicament, really. I could just leave, but she played the guilty card, saying I need to stay because someone must watch over her, and guess what, it couldn’t be the best friend, no ... it has to be the moron that is desperately and foolishly in love with her. So romantic, huh?
I opened the door ajar, but didn’t dare to peek in. I don’t know, it feels so intimate. I mean, she’s sleeping, wouldn’t it be creepy if I just watched her do that?
Okay, maybe I have to. The whole watching over thing, right? I gotta make sure she’s alright. And maybe put on something before she sees me half naked in her bedroom and starts screaming rape.
Slowly opening the door, I entered. She didn’t even move, obviously, the sleeping pill must have completely knocked her out. When I knocked my pinky against her desk I had to wrap a hand around my mouth not to scream, but no biggie.
I’d have wanted to take a look at her bedroom, but it was pitch dark, as you might have guessed. I could barely make out silhouettes of things, bed included. Good, I guess, I could avoid feeling like a huge pervert for being in her room while she was profoundly asleep.
Once I finally caught sight of the bed, I made my blind way to it, and sat at the edge. Now, what am I supposed to do? Sit here until dawn?
Ugh. Not much of a choice, I guess, so uh ... goodnight.
“What the hell are you doing here?!” A loud and definitely very much pissed voice screamed.
I opened one eye, unsure whether she’d castrated me already or not.
“Jake!” Silvia called.
“Uh ... Tess sent me?” True, isn’t it?
“Why the fuck are you half naked in my bed?!”
I’m what? Blinking my eyes, I finally realized. Shit, I must have unconsciously slipped underneath the blankets during the night. In my defense, June is warm only during the day, and none of her shirts fitted me. “Uh ... I ... slept?” I’m not even sure actually. I can’t have fallen asleep, otherwise I’d have been woken by a nightmare ...
“Why would you sleep in my bed?!” Silvia hissed, punching my arm as I sat up.
“Ow ... is that how you thank me for keeping an eye on you?”
She glared at me. scratch that, She incinerated me with her eyes. “Get. The fuck. Out of my bedroom!” She punched me again.
“Okay, okay ... no need to get rough ...” I rolled out of bed, sighing. “Jeez, woman, I thought you joked when you said you’re murderous in the morning.” I brushed my poor injured skin. I knew she was strong, but damn.
Because she seemed ready to threaten my and little Bond down there for the third time, I scuttled out of the bedroom, trying to wake up once and for all. Really I wonder if I slept. Even only 5 minutes. Usually it’s no more than one or two hours per night, but who knows. I remember closing my eyes a few times.
With a sigh, still hearing Silvia mutter curses against me under her breath, I headed to the kitchen. Unless I want her to really stab me with a kitchen knife, I better have her find coffee ready. She must be one hell of a scary wife to be waking up to.
Uh ... wait ... why did I say wife?
Shit, I’m really whipped.
Speaking of whipped, hopefully she has pancakes ready, because I’m hungry but I couldn’t cook to save my life.
I searched for the coffee machine everywhere, but couldn’t find it. There was no sign whatsoever of the one thing that might save my life this morning, damnit.
When I heard her slam the door of the bedroom and after that, one more, plus the shower, I breathed a sigh of relief. Okay, maybe I can work out something. Taking out my phone, I decided to order breakfast. Thank God for food apps. I ordered a triple dose of Espresso, hoping that would work ... but knowing her, she’ll probably spill it over my head. She said only Italians know how to make great coffee.
When 20 minutes later someone knocked on the door, I smiled. Finally I’m safe. Hearing Silvia finally turn off the shower, I went to open. In front of me I found a tall guy somewhat younger than I, a couple of years, I think. Broad shoulders, dark hair. I’d have wondered why the delivery boy didn’t bring our breakfast, but ... judging by the way his jaw clenched and he shot daggers at me, this wasn’t him.
Leaning against the door, I barely retained a laugh. “Let me guess ... Ryan?” Well, this should be fun.