I'm Here to Fix You

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Chapter 22

SILVIA

“I’ll start.” Tess said gleefully once we’d all sat around the table again, after having cleaned up the mess of plates, leaving only glasses of wine. One hour more to midnight. When her eyes fell on me, I knew I was right: she was up to something.

“Sissy ...” she mentioned with a grin, ignoring my glare as her ex snickered at the nickname. Trey already isn’t my favorite person in this group given his history with my best friend, making fun of me definitely doesn’t help his cause. And he think I’ll help him get back with Tess if he acts like that? Tsk. “Truth or dare?” Tess questioned.

I nonchalantly leaned back against my seat, playing with my glass, and answered with a smile: “Truth.” I know her, she’ll start off with an innocent question, just to warm up the audience and because she knows she’ll never catch me in foul unless she’s tired me out first.

She wasn’t surprised, predictably. “Have you ever had a pet?” Case in point. Harmless questions first.

I barely retained a yawn. “I had a dog when I was 16. His name was Jack-” They all laughed, obvious, while Jake frowned. “I said Jack, not Jake, keep calm.”

He snorted. “Nevertheless, for some reason the fact that you would give my name to a dog doesn’t surprise me.”

I smirked. “Why not? Jake the Mastiff, I definitely like it.” He gave me a dirty look while the others laughed, but I ignored it, turning to Tess. “So, I’ve answered, it’s my turn now, I guess, right?”

She nodded. “Pick any person at the table.”

I bit my lips, eyeing them all, even though my adversary was mainly my fiercest attacker, Miss Tess Terribly Stubborn Doherty. But I swerved, to send her off track. “Trey.” I called.

He blinked his eyes, surprised. Even he knows I don’t really like him. “Yeah?” He sounded a little annoyed. Right, I don’t like him, but given that I keep refusing to help him out with Tess, he doesn’t like me either. Curious how, if it weren’t for Tess, or well, Jake, none of us at this table would be together.

“Truth or dare?” I asked, looking between Trey and his ex, who I bet knew what I was playing at.

He closed one eye pretending to think hard. “Mmh ... dare.” Predictable.

I nodded. “I dare you to ... follow my orders.”

“What?”

“Execute the orders I give you for the next 20 seconds.”

“Seriously?!”

I chuckled. “Hey, you dared me to lick the floor.”

“Yeah, but ...”

“What? A big boy like you is scared?” I mocked, knowing full well his ego wouldn’t resist.

He sent me a dirty look, especially because his ex at the other side snickered. “Fine.” Trey agreed grudgingly, eyeing Tess. “”Rules are rules, I guess.” He scoffed. “If you choose dare, you do the dare. No backing out. Shoot.”

I licked my lips, savoring my imminent victory. Just a teeny-weeny revenge for how much he put my best friend through. “Ok, somebody set a timer, please.”

“Done.” Paul eagerly said, showing us his phone as he laughed.

“Good. Now Trey, stand up.” I ordered. He did. “Close your eyes.” So he did. “Take ... five steps to your left.” Done. “Place a hand over your heart.”

“You kidding?”

“Just do it.” He sighed, but did it. “Now open your eyes, and repeat with me: ’I’m a self centered, immature dick, I doesn’t deserve Tess.”

“What??” His eyes shot open.

“Rules are rules.” I mocked while Paul laughed.

“You-”

“If you choose dare, you do the dare. No backing out.” I quoted him, mimicking his voice, obviously gaining a glare from him, a laugh from Paul, confused looks from the others.

“Fine.” He grumbled, weirdly docile.

“Turn to your right first.” I ordered, knowing I had only three seconds left, so this was my last order.

Trey turned to his right, that way he met his ex’s gaze. He hesitated for a moment as he looked into her eyes, but, surprisingly, he sound really sincere when he recited with a sigh, loud and clear: “I’m a self centered, immature dick. I don’t deserve you, Tessy.”

Oh, wow. I didn’t expect that. She stared at him for a long moment, and I knew from her gaze that she was rethinking it again ... every time he gives her a sad look she takes him back, but this time he really sounded sincere, even to my ears.

The timer going off interrupted our heavy silence, and Trey cleared his throat, shrugging off the tension as he averted his gaze from her. Tess’ eyes still lingered on him, though. That might be trouble. I thought it was nothing big, she made it look like it was nothing big, but ... I’m starting to think she didn’t say it all. Maybe she is falling for him after all ... and it’s worrying, because he’s done nothing but upset her. I don’t want her to suffer again.

You see, a girl like Tess, she’s gorgeous and so very sexy, men fall at her feet, but not always in a good way. She’s had lots of stories, and she’s been often hurt. I was absolutely against her relationship with Trey, because to me he seems the classic type she dates, the Peter Pan that’ll never grow up and will never be ready for a real relationship, in fact I’ve been proven right, but what if feelings actually got involved?

Love changes you. I should know that. It’s been only six months yet I’m not even sure how was it before Ryan. Or rather, I do recall, I just wish not to go back there again.

I know it’s cliché, but ... I feel different with Ryan. Normal. He gives me the regular life I’ve never had. Having a stable job, a stable boyfriend, normal days and nights ... I like it. Ok, maybe I still have nightmares, but ... it’s not as often as it was before. Ever since Ryan moved to Boston it’s been ever better.

I didn’t exactly agree when he told me he’d move here. I mean, sure, I love having him around every day, seeing him every time I feel like, but I didn’t want ours to be one of those unhealthy relationships where the two depend on each other, unable to function on their own. But he convinced me. Said the biggest reason was that he could be with me stably, but it was true that the job offer he received here was quite juicy, being with me was a great, great plus, but he still thought of his career as well. I know that that wouldn’t sound alluring for anyone, but to me yes. Ryan knows I value independence and freedom over anything else, ambition in a man is way more interesting to me than rippled abs.

The point is, love changes you. I know I’m not the same Silvia I was before falling for Ryan. He makes me feel good, normal, tranquil. I trust him, which is something that doesn’t come easily with me. I actually think about the future. Me. I’ve never committed, I can’t commit to a TV show, imagine a man, yet ... Ryan is different. I actually find myself thinking of a cozy house in the suburbs, a back garden for barbecue, a swing where we can be children forever ... it’s cheesy, and I never expected to even consider it, but ... it’s a sweet fantasy, and I can’t quite delete it.

While I was lost in my reverie, I missed Trey’s turn as well as the rest. I could barely catch the end of Tess’ sentence, something about ... lizards? Did I hear it right? She turned back to me, grinning, and I knew I had to get ready now.

“Sissy.” Tess called.

I rolled my eyes. I hate that nickname so much. “Yes?” I answered meekly.

“Truth or dare?”

“Dare.” I said boldly.

Her grin didn’t falter, which was worrying. “I dare you to ... 7 minutes in heaven.”

I frowned, confused. “7 minutes in what?”

They all laughed for some reason, except Jake. “You’ll have to spend 7 minutes in a secluded space with someone of choice.”

I rolled my eyes. I already know who she’ll send with me. “Can I refuse?”

“Rules are rules.” Trey grumbled, sending me a dirty look. Of course that would come back to bite my ass.

I sighed, standing. “Fine. Who’s the poor victim that’ll accompany me?”

Jake squirmed in his seat, I bet well aware Tess would choose him. Hell, everybody seemed to know that, except Elise, who looked confused. My best friend grinned as she eyed us poor guinea pigs. “Come on, Jacky boy, do I even need to say it?” Case in point.

He groaned, standing grudgingly. “Payback is a bitch, Doherty, remember that.” He spat, slipping his phone out of his pocket, his watch off his wrist, putting both onto the table for some reason.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” Tess replied nonchalantly. “Sissy, phone and watch.”

“How am I supposed to keep the count then?” I asked, confused.

“Rules are-”

“Yeah, yeah, rules are rules, Trey, I get it ...” I grumbled. Good thing my phone can’t be unlocked without my permission. Facial recognition. Yes, I’m a tad bit paranoid.

Jake and I reluctantly followed Tess through the corridor. I know her place even too well, it was easy to sense where was she taking us. Her room. Inside her room there’s a small walk-in closet that’s barely big enough for one person, imagine two. We’ll be packed like sardines in there.

Jake preceded me, and Tess pushed me in. The closet was so small that I inevitably wound up squeezed against him. His every breath pushed his hard chest against mine. I backed up as much as I could, but that only granted me a few inches of personal space. Even a janitor’s closet would have been more comfortable.

Tess closed the door with a grin, plunging us into darkness. “Timer set. 7 minutes from now. Please, don’t waste them all talking ... there’s enough space for foreplay, you know. See you later.” I heard the room’s door, closing, clear sign she’d left.

I swallowed, uncomfortable, and eyed my surroundings, even though I couldn’t see anything, my poor partner of misery included. I took two steps to the right, and that gave me the chance to put just a little more distance between us, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t even need to stretch my arm completely to touch him. Hell, the heat oozing off his body was inevitably engulfing me.

Jake was utterly silent, though. He didn’t speak a sole word for two entire minutes. I could count them because I tried to distract myself, trying not to think. His idea was definitely to just let the 7 minutes pass without doing anything. Can’t say I disagreed.

So we stood there, silent, as seconds ticked by. The only interruptions were a small cough from him, a throat being cleared from me. 4 minutes ticked by like that. Three more missing.

When Jake shifted on his feet, he wound up elbowing me in my stomach, to which I yelped, and he apologized. With a sigh, I scooted to my left, so that he would be able to move, but I’m not sure he did. I’d have tons of questions for him, but given that he’s decided to just ignore me even while we’re stuck in such a small cubicle, asking wouldn’t be worth it.

However, by the time I’d counted up to 5 minutes, Jake took me off guard with a terribly direct question: “Why isn’t your boyfriend here?”

“He’s in Aspen with his family.”

“It’s New Year’s Eve.”

“So?”

“I wouldn’t leave my girlfriend alone on New Year’s Eve. It’s the second most important night after Valentine’s.”

“More than Christmas?” I scoffed.

He snorted, but said nothing. I thought he’d caught my unwillingness to talk about it with him, but his silence lasted only 10 seconds. “Is everything alright between you two?”

Oh, seriously? Nothing for six months, and that’s the first thing he asks? “What makes you think it’s any of your business?”

“If there’s anyone that’s a concerned party in this, that’s me.”

“How so?”

Jake shifted again, and I yelped, but this time because he’d pushed me against the wardrobe on my right, his hands on my hips. I felt his breath fan my mouth, which means his lips were real close to mine. Definitely a liberty he shouldn’t have taken. “Unless you have a terribly short memory, you know full well why.”

I scoffed, slipping out of his grip for as much as the little space allowed me to. Who does he think he is, exactly? “You’ve lost every privilege to my private life when you decided we’re no more friends.”

"I decided it?”

"You pushed me away.”

He snorted. “It’s not like you did anything to change the odds.”

I crossed my arms over my chest, glaring, even though I couldn’t see him. “I do not beg people, Jake. If you wanna be my friend, fine, if not, it’s fine nevertheless. You live your life, I live mine.”

“It was a forced choice, and you know that.” He grumbled.

I scoffed. “Oh, please. All that bullshit about saving my heart from you ... nonsense. You just picked the easy way out. Fine with me. But don’t you come whining now. You broke your own heart, Jake. I had no part in this.”

“Aside from being the reason for it, you mean?”

Ugh, the nerve. “You did it all on your own.” I spat. ”You wanted us to part. I merely adjusted to your decision.”

“You keep ignoring why, Silvia.”

I sighed. It’s exasperating. “I didn’t ask you to, alright?” I spat, squeezing myself against the wardrobe not to risk touching him. “I didn’t ask you to fall for me. It’s not my fault if your heart strayed, I did nothing to push it, and you know it. I’m sorry if I unwillingly hurt you, but what did you want me to do, exactly? Pause my life until your heart had healed?”

“I’ve never asked anything of the sort.” He argued. I felt him shift, and when he touched my foot, I noticed he’d leaned against the wall opposite to me. There wasn’t much dividing us, in fact our feet were almost tangled. “I only asked you to understand my predicament. That’s all.”

“Jake, you told me you wanted us to part!” I spat, getting mad. “I’d have never wanted to, but you said our roads needed to separate! What was I supposed to do? Beg you? I don’t pray God, I certainly won’t pray Jake Watson.”

He sighed, and judging by the noise, he pulled off the wall, in fact in a moment I felt his hands back on my hips, so warm that I felt like he was scorching me. Stupid me for choosing such a light fabric. “Maybe you’re not used to it,” he said, his breath hitting my face, “but unrequited love is way more painful than you could possibly imagine, Silvia. Even only seeing you without being able to simply talk to you carves a deeper hole into my heart. Every fucking day.”

“I ... it’s not my fault.” I replied weakly. What can I do? I’m sorry, I really am, but what am I supposed to do about it? I’ve spent these months feeling guilty, every time he switched direction not to see me, every time he turned to the other side, I had Tess remind me why, and I felt terribly guilty, but what am I supposed to do?

The sound he made seemed to be of a smile, but I couldn’t be sure. “Of course it’s not your fault.” He said, leaning in enough for his lips to graze mine. “Like it isn’t mine if I love you. I just do, baby.”

“Jake ...”

“Relax. You’re not cheating.”

“Personal space.” I murmured, well aware that he was too close. “There’s something called personal space, and you’re breaching it.”

He laughed, gripping my hips tighter, his lips coming closer. “There’s not much room for personal space in here, baby.” He grazed my lips as he spoke, just a tad bit lower. “And I’m pretty sure the 7 minutes have passed, but Tess won’t let us out of here until she witnesses at least one kiss.”

You gotta be kidding me ... the laugh from the other side of the door was impossible to mistake as it underlined he was right, but I ignored it, too focused on Jake and his lips. “What makes you think I’ll kiss you?”

“You want to get out of here, don’t you?”

“Yes, but I don’t need to kiss you for that. She’ll have to let us go at some point.” I argued, even though I know my best friend ... she was most certainly right outside the door, listening in, determined to get the reaction she wants from me.

“You sure? You know how she is ...”

I arched an eyebrow at him, even though, again, I couldn’t see him. “You seem to be enjoying this a little too much.”

This time I distinctively heard him half smile, half chuckle. “I get to kiss you, baby. Of course I enjoy it.”

“This is ridiculous ... a moment ago we were fighting, now you want to kiss me. Are you bipolar or something?”

Jake laughed. “Could be. I’m a masochist and a sociopath according to my old therapist, I may as well be bipolar too.”

My eyes opened wide. “What?” How can he just throw such a thing there, like it’s nothing? Ugh. Why am I surprised? This is the guy that so smoothly told me he loves me even though he knew all too well I’d just broken up with my boyfriend.

Jake rubbed my hips, leaning in even too much for my liking. “Just kiss me and let’s get this over with.”

You gotta be kidding me ... before he could actually touch my lips, I slid out of his grip, this time scooting closer to the door. Maybe time ago I’d have had a hard time trying to resist, but things are totally different now. “I’d rather spend the night in here than kiss you.” I spat.

“Ouch.” Jake feigned hurt, I bet clutching his chest. “That’s rough.”

“Jake, can you take something seriously for once?” I complained.

“Aren’t I?” I heard him scoot closer to me, both of us by the door.

“Ok, let me rephrase the question, can you try to focus on something other than kissing me or touching me for once?”

“Hey, don’t make it sound like I’m harassing you. We’re in a space that’s smaller than my bathroom, it’s quite impossible not to touch you.”

“Be. Serious.”

Jake sighed, I bet raking a hand over his hair. He does that when he’s gathering calmness. “Silvia, what do you want me to say? Do you want me to take back my words? I will. Fine, I don’t love you. I can say it even a hundred times, but it’s never gonna be true. And given the odds, it’s impossible for us to be friends.”

“Then stop making me feel guilty about it.” I blurted out without thinking.

“I do? How? I don’t even talk to you.”

“That’s just it!” I snapped to him, turning my full body to face him. “You don’t talk to me, you ignore me, you change direction not to see me. It only underlines what I’m doing to you, and ... I feel guilty for something I cannot have freaking control over!” I finally admitted out loud. “I didn’t ask you to! I didn’t want you to! It’s not my fault if you love me, whoever said you should?!”

JAKE

I sighed, rubbing the bridge of my nose. “It’s not a choice, Silvia.” It’s not like I chose to fall in love with her, hell knows I tried to stop the fall before it happened, but it was futile.

“Yeah, yours no, but mine yes, how come?” She spat. “You can decide to keep me away so that I won’t fall for you, but I cannot decide not to make you fall for me? Why? Shouldn’t it work both ways?”

Sadly no. It’s way more dangerous for her than for me. I’ve taken so many blows in my life, both literally and figuratively, that by now I’m used to anything, but her? “No, it shouldn’t. And it doesn’t.” I took a step closer to her, so that I could face her even though I couldn’t see her in the dark. “Like I told you, loving me would cost you way more than you could possibly give.” I hesitated for a moment, but then reached for her cheek, and caressed it. She flinched, but didn’t move. “I can’t give you the normal life you evidently crave.”

“I-”

“Don’t even bother arguing. You know I’m right.” I sighed. “Ryan gives you the normality you need, all I could give you is chaos.” I stroked her cheek, biting my lips. “He’s way better for you than I could ever be, I told you that.”

“I’m not arguing about that.” She grumbled. “All I’m saying is, I ...” she hesitated, “I ...”

“You what?” I questioned, curious and confused.

Silvia sighed, lowering her face. “Never mind.”

“Silvia ...”

“I miss you, okay?” She blurted out. “I ... miss talking to you. I miss your dark humor, your cocky comebacks, hell, I miss the way you make me laugh ... I just ... miss you.”

My heart clenched, inevitably. I know she didn’t mean it the way I’d want her to, I know she said it genuinely, but she has no idea just how worse this makes it for me. Yet I stupidly leaned in, leaving my forehead against hers. “You have no idea just how much I miss you, baby.”

“I ... I don’t say just it to anyone, Jake, alright? But ... I care about you.” She sighed, her breath hitting my jaw. “I know it’s not what you want. I know it hurts you, but ... I do care about you, Jake, and ... I miss you. I miss my friend.”

I closed my eyes when my heart dropped, a sharp pain erupting through my ribs. I miss my friend, she said. And she meant it, I know she did. The trouble is, she doesn’t realize just how much those four words killed me. But I know her, so I know how difficult it was to even say them. She’s not the type of person that easily talks about her feelings, even only admitting she cares must have been hard.

So I sighed, swallowing the pain that clogged my throat as I took her chin between my fingers. “I’m sorry if my decision hurt you.” I suppose I didn’t consider that parting ways would have hurt her too.

"I should be sorry.” She argued, surprising me by pulling me against her. “I’ve been an insensitive bitch with you.”

“You’re right, though, it’s not your fault if I fell. You couldn’t have possibly controlled it.”

“I could have done more not to hurt you, though ... I was selfish. And I’m sorry.”

“Silvia ...”

“I won’t ask you to be friends, I know how hard it is for you. But ...” she trailed off, sighing.

What did I tell you? Jean Gray vs. Phoenix, every time. The moment she lowers her guard, the moment she drops her sword, she reveals her weaknesses, and I can’t shake off the feeling that she only does that with me. I can’t shake off the feeling that this Silvia, this fragile girl that stumbles upon her own words, only I know her, only I can see her.

I realize I’ve also been selfish. I promised I was here to fix her, yet the moment it started getting tough, I quit.

Heaving a deep breath, I cupped her cheeks, and once more swallowed the hurt clogging my throat. “I’ll always be one call away, baby. I’m here whenever you need me. Just because we don’t talk anymore, doesn’t mean I take back my promise.” I was so close to her lips, so damn close, I could even only peck them, and it would be enough to even only fill the tiniest crack in my heart, but ... it would be wrong. Despite everything, she still has a boyfriend.

If I tried to kiss her before, it was only not to talk. I thought that if we kissed, Tess would get us out of here, and I could escape the heavy talks we were bound to have. But I knew she’d step back.

So I took one more deep breath, closing my eyes, and moved my lips to her cheek instead. “I said it before, I say it now, I’m here to fix you. Whatever it takes.”

She exhaled loudly, her breaths shaky, and I was surprised to feel how she slid her arms around my torso, melting in my arms. I was awestruck, but didn’t dare move. She left her head on my shoulder, but the way she gripped me told me there was something she badly needed to say, but didn’t know how, or didn’t want to.

Uncertain, I brushed her scalp, in an attempt at soothing her. Could it be that in the dark I hadn’t noticed anything? I couldn’t see her face, so I had no idea how she reacted to my words or anything that maybe crossed her mind. All I know is, she was limp in my arms, as if ... she’d completely abandoned herself to me.

I didn’t hear any sound, but the moment I felt my shirt wet, I realized ... Silvia was crying. The question is, why?

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