“Netflix and what?” I asked, ever so confused.
Jake laughed, taking a step inside, despite me holding the door half open. “Netflix and chill. Ever heard of that?” He raised his hand to show me the beer cans. “I brought fuel.”
I frowned. “First of all, I’m not you, I don’t drink at every hour of the day. Second, why would I want to spend my Saturday with you?”
“Ouch.” He clutched his heart. “Why do you hurt me like this while I only love you?”
I closed my eyes, mentally face-palming. It’s like he doesn’t have a filter between brain and mouth.
Jake laughed. “Okay, okay, wrong choice of words ... but seriously, why not?”
I snorted, about to close the door. I really want to be alone at least today. “Why yes? Don’t you have things, or rather, don’t you have booty calls to do?”
He shrugged, offering me one of his panty-dropping grins. “Nah. I’d rather just Netflix and chill tonight.”
I see. “And why am I the chosen one, Your Grace?”
Jake grinned. “Because you’re hot and bothered.” He winked.
“Oh, come on, chill, I’m just kidding. You know me.”
Sigh. Why can’t I be left alone for once? Tess already called to ask if I felt like going out tonight. It’s chilly weather, why on earth would I want to go out? “I’d really rather be alone, if you don’t mind.” I tried taking it the kind way.
Jake, however, stepped inside once and for all, forcing my hand to close the door behind him. “That’s exactly the kind of mood that needs my presence, baby.”
“I’ll never quit calling you that, you just better get used to it.” He walked into my living room, placing the beer cans onto the coffee table as he settled on the couch.
Sighing, I gave up. “Fine ... after all there’s no boyfriend that’ll get mad, is there?”
Jake frowned, grabbing the remote to turn the TV on. “What, you and Sir Douche broke up? I think you forgot to tell him.”
I rolled my eyes as I reached him on the couch, though sitting carefully far away from Mr. Temptation Personified. I really don’t need my hormones to get tangled up for the wrong person. It’s already frustrating that I had to once again delay my “unwrapping”, as Tess kindly put it. “Well, he went back to Aspen and hasn’t called nor texted me, so I presume he’s decided for me.” I stole the remote from Jake’s hands before he could choose some stupid movie that’ll want me to carve my eyeballs out of their sockets.
“I’m not a relationship master, you know, but I think one fight doesn’t officially break you guys up. You should talk to him.”
I frowned, turning to him. “And since when you’re Ryan’s advocate?”
Jake shrugged, chuckling. “Oh, well, you know, I guess I’ve come to terms with it ... he’s your beau, I’m your friend ... we should get along, Sir Douche and I.”
I rolled my eyes, turning back to the TV. “Yeah, well, I don’t think you’ll get much along if you keep calling him that.”
“Nah, he doesn’t mind.”
I frowned. “And how do you know? You guys have barely ever been in the same room.”
He bit his lip, which was suspicious, but I’ll admit I was more focused on the sexy sight he made like that. God, this guy could lead even the most devoted nun into temptation. And it’s not good that I feel frustrated in that sense.
Ok, it sucks that Ryan and I should have finally gotten to it, yet we didn’t, alright? It freaking sucks, because more than just mean we’re probably over, it also means I’m back to square freaking horny.
Told you, just because I’m a virgin, doesn’t mean I’m all pure and innocent. When you get to my age, you start to crave for someone that’ll just swipe your card and get it over with. If I gotta be honest, waiting might have been harder on me than on Ryan these months. He seemed to have taken if quite easily.
Sure, he did struggle, I did notice how he difficult it was for him to pull back from too heated moments, how he avoided contact with me sometimes, I bet in fear he couldn’t resist to temptation, but it was hard for me too. Take it this way, you have all the candies you like, you may have all of them, but ... you gotta wait. The candies are at arms’ length, you can touch them, savor them, but you can’t quite enjoy them fully. Isn’t it frustrating?
Don’t be so surprised. I gave Jake a blowjob, you think I wouldn’t do the same for my boyfriend? I did that and more. Hell, we’ve gone beautifully far with foreplay, but ... when it really came to it, Ryan always stepped back, saying it was best if we focused on kindling our relationship. Said he’s tried the only sexual part, he’s also based a relationship off sex, and it didn’t work, so he wanted to tread carefully with me. Because he loved me.
Yeah, I guess love doesn’t really conquer all, does it?
“Please, Sir Douche and I are bros already.” Jake took me off my thoughts, laughing.
“Bros?” I blinked my eyes. “You and Ryan? You can’t even stand him. And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for him.”
He shrugged, taking the remote from my hands. “Whatever. So, I’ve brought fuel, you should think of the rest. I say pizza. Make some, will you?”
I gave him a dirty look. “Sure, just because I’m Italian, I can make pizza.” I scoffed. “What else? Are you gonna ask me about the ‘family’?”
“Well, if you wanna ... tell Don Corleone I’ll be as mute as a fish.” He zipped up his mouth, ignoring my glare.
“Oh, for the love of God, loosen up, Sissy!” He laughed, typing in what I presume was his Netflix password. “I was joking.”
“I know you were, I just-”
“You’re awfully proud of your country for having left it so eagerly.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but no words came out. The truth is, I miss Italy, but memories were suffocating me. I left my village ever so eagerly when I was 18, to go to university, but it wasn’t enough. I went to the far North opposite to my hometown, but it wasn’t nor would it ever be enough. I think not even Boston is enough. Memories will just keep on haunting me. Every hour of every day, until I breathe my last.
“The Boss Baby.” Jake once again broke through my trail of thoughts.
I frowned. “What?” I was beginning to be thankful for his presence. Maybe having someone as annoyingly over-present and chatty as him could be good. It’s been a pretty pathetic start of the year, maybe focusing on how much does Jake make me want to strangle him, or on resisting to the temptation of throwing a shoe at him could be a good enough placebo. After all, if antidepressants don’t work, I’ll have to find another way, right?
“The movie.” He said, hinting at the TV. “How about we watch The Boss Baby?”
I blinked my eyes, confused. “It’s a cartoon.”
“Uh ... it’s for kids?”
He snorted. “You’re never too old for cartoons.” He took off his shoes, and slumped on my couch, laying down, a pillow behind his head. To nothing served my dirty look when he placed his feet on my lap. “Now, be a darling and order pizza, will you? I’m starving.”
I’d have argued, but it’s pretty much impossible to win an argument with this guy, so I just complied. In the end, I was hungry too.
“Do you plan to go home any time soon? I kinda need a shower.” I said, tired of watching cartoons.
He shrugged. “I’m seeing Serene for dinner tonight. I don’t have to leave until eight.”
“And you have nowhere else to go?” As fun as it is to watch cartoons with him sprawled on my couch, relegating me to a corner, by the way, as nice as it is to keep my mind off of dangerous thoughts because it’s constantly hogged by him and his jokes, I really needed some time on my own, to ... recharge. And, to be honest, I need to call Ryan. Jake is right, I do need to settle things. Be it only tell him that it’s over between us.
“No, not really.” Jake claimed, munching on some chips. I swear, I really have no idea how can this guy remain so awfully fit yet eat like a pig.
I sighed, shooing his feet away to make room for my legs as I wrapped my arms around my knees, leaning my head on them. “Jake, why are you really here?”
“I mean, we haven’t been friends for months. And you’ve made it clear you’d rather keep it that way. So why did you show up at my place out of the blue?”
He shrugged, throwing four-five chips at once in his mouth. Is it insane if I say he’s sexy even when he does that? “I just wanted to spend some time with you. No harm in that, is there?”
“No harm, no, but you’ll admit it is suspicious, given ... the odds.”
He chuckled. “Suspicious? That I want to spend some time with the girl I’m in love with? Say, on which planet do you live, Banchi? Because on mine, that is the most normal thing a guy would do.”
I rolled my eyes. “Given the odds, it’s rather suspicious, yes.”
“What odds? That you have a boyfriend? Told you, Sir Douche and I are practically bros now. It’s fine.”
“I meant your decision to keep me away, Jake. Don’t play dumb. We both know you’re many things, but certainly not dumb.”
He grinned. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
I sighed. “Do you ever take anything seriously?”
He rolled his eyes, sitting up. “Why do you people keep asking me that? Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously, Silvia, you of all people should know that.”
Wait, what? “And what would you know about it?”
“You forge who you’re talking to, baby.”
I sighed, closing my eyes. “Is that why you’re here?” I wondered. “To try and convince me to tell you everything? I thought we agreed we wouldn’t talk about ... the closet moment.”
“The closet moment ... you make it sound like we did unspeakable things.” He laughed. “I only wish we did.”
“But I’m not here for that.” He said. “I said the truth. I’m here because I wanted to spend some time with you. Friendly time. That’s all.”
I actually even smiled that. In the end it’s nice. To have someone say such a thing, I mean. That he comes to you merely because he feels like it, that he spends his day off with you merely because he wants to, no other reason. It’s nice to have a friend like that.
Covering up my smile with a scowl, because he doesn’t need to know I actually enjoy this, I shooed him away. “Fine. We have time for a couple more movies. But this time I lay down, and you sit on the floor.”
Jake laughed as he fell off the couch, half due to me shooing him away, half because he lost his own balance while laughing. “What am I, your dog?”
“You’re a dirty dog, so yes.”
“Am I supposed to bark too?”
I laughed, lying down as he sat properly right before me. “Why not? If you’re a good boy I’ll even let you sit back on the couch.”
Jake shot his head back, enough for it to come a couple of inches away from mine. “I’d rather a kiss actually.”
I rolled my eyes, pushing him off. “Keep dreaming, buddy.”
He laughed. “How many times do I have to say it? You’re in my every dream, baby ... and hmmm, the things we do ...” he sexily bit his lips, eyeing mine.
I sighed. “For once in your life, can you not get sexual?”
He laughed. “But I am a very sexual man, it’s my nature. It’s like asking the scorpion not to sting the frog.”
“I’m pretty sure that tale was meant to mean something else, but either way ... you use sex, I’m pretty sure.”
“You do.” I turned on my side, adjusted the pillow at level with my head, and placed another one behind his. “I mean, I’ve always thought you were just an unredeemable player, but ... I’m starting to think it’s just a way for you to avoid thinking.”
He adjusted his head on the pillow, and turned his body to the right, so that he could easily face me. Like that, our heads were pretty close, which made the moment quite intimate, but I didn’t really mind. Despite everything, Jake is my best friend along with Tess. “I thought you despised me for that.” He said.
“I’ve never despised you. I just ... don’t agree with your ways.”
“I understand the need not to think ... God knows how much I do. But ... have you ever considered how do those girls feel? You use them.”
“They use me too.”
“Some maybe, but not all.”
“How would you know?”
I bit my lip, unsure. I don’t think I should say this, given the odds, but oh, well. “You never give yourself enough credit, Jake.” I said. “I mean, sure, you’re so awfully full of yourself that it’s damn annoying, makes me want to strangle you sometimes, and really, you do need a whole other room for your ego ...”
He chuckled, however I wasn’t done. It wasn’t the point.
“... but that’s just part of it. On one side you’re arrogant, on the other ... you don’t give yourself enough credit. You tend to think you’re hard to love. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
He cracked a tiny, bittersweet smile. “Well ...”
“You think you’re good for a hot night, but that’s it. Am I right?”
“It’s the truth. I’m not boyfriend material.”
“And that’s where you’re wrong.” I argued. He’s the most peculiar character I’ve ever known. He can be such a whole mix of different things that it’s maddening yet intriguing at the same time. “You might be complicated, but you’re way easier to love than you’d think. So don’t tell me those women only use you, because you cannot know whether one of them or a few wind up falling.”
“It takes more than one steamy night of sex to fall in love.” He argued, weirdly serious.
I shook my head, hiding my hands beneath my cheek. “It takes really nothing to fall in love, Jake. You of all people should know that.”
He grimaced jokingly. “Ouch ... that’s a low blow.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m trying to be serious here.”
“Why? There’s no need.” His smile barely even reached his lips. “The truth is, you don’t know me enough to be right in your statements.”
“I’ve known you for long.”
“Yes, but you don’t actually know me, Silvia.” Uh oh. Sign number one that he’s really serious. He barely ever speaks my name. Jake neared my face, and I resisted the urge to pull back. It’s not that I didn’t feel comfortable, it’s that I felt even too comfortable with him so close. “You don’t actually know what’s behind. And it’s fine. I don’t even want you to. But that ... ignorance definitely alters your perspective.” He sighed, smiling bitterly. “I’m a way worse person than you’d imagine, baby. And if you actually knew it all, you’d never want to see me again.”
“Is that why you never open up? You’re afraid people will reject you?”
Jake neared my face a little more, this time enough for our noses to graze each other. “I’m afraid you would reject me, baby.” He said. “The truth is, I couldn’t care less what people think. But ... you’re different, for obvious reasons.”
“I don’t want you to pity me nor despise me, Silvia. Is that too much to ask?”
I sighed. How stubborn he is. “I don’t pity you, Jake. Nor will I ever despise you. Whatever you say to me, it’ll never change my opinion of you.”
“It’s impossible. Such things inevitably do. You yourself should know.”
I closed my eyes for a moment. In the end it always comes back to that, huh? He may have not come here purposely, but sure as hell he did hope this ... friendly afternoon would serve to have me open up to him. I don’t even blame him for trying. It was actually a nice gesture, but it definitely wasn’t enough.
“It’s different.” I murmured.
“Because ... it is.” I pressed my eyelids together. “I just ... you don’t know.”
“Neither do you.”
“It’s a different matter, Jake. You ...” I sighed. “You don’t know what I’ve done. What I’m guilty of. You don’t ...” tears inevitably filled my eyes. Once again I’m weak around him. When will this ever end?
Why does he make me so fragile? What is it with him, why is he always able to touch my deepest chords, tug at them, shaking me up? Why does he have such power over me if not even my boyfriend does? Why are we so connected to each other without even wanting to?
When I felt his hand on my cheek, I didn’t flinch, I actually welcomed the warmth of his skin on mine, as much as I welcomed the reassuring sound of his voice as he murmured: “I know what you fear, baby. I know why you won’t talk to me about it. But let me get it out of the way right now, nothing will ever change what I think of you, what I feel for you. You could tell me you’ve dirtied your conscience with the epitome of bad deeds, I wouldn’t care.”
“You don’t know that ...”
“Instead I do. I most certainly do.” He leaned his forehead on mine. “Because I love you. And I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you.”
“Yes, I know, it’s not mutual. But don’t you see, it doesn’t matter whether you love me back or not. I could spend my whole life loving you from afar, baby. That is why I won’t care, no matter what is it that you’re so afraid to tell me.”
Beautiful words, but they’ll never be true, I know that. Sighing, I pressed my cheeks against his palms, seeking comfort as tears began streaming my cheeks. “What if I told you I’m responsible for the death of someone I loved unconditionally?”
I expected him to gasp or in any case hesitate, but he didn’t. Jake didn’t hesitate one moment in answering: “I’d tell you I know exactly how that feels like. I’d tell you to stop hating yourself, because it’s not your fault, it never was. I’d tell you not to listen to those demons deep within you, they’re only trying to drag you down with them. Believe me, I know even too well how that works.” How I wish that were true.
Jake stood, and before I could argue, he sat on the couch, and brought me onto his lap, cuddling me closely, once again letting me vent out on his chest. Needless to say I basked in his musky scent all too gladly, wrapping my arms around his shoulders as tears fell silently. There goes my tough façade, I guess.
“How can you do this?” I murmured amongst these tears. At least this time it wasn’t as hard of a breakdown as last night. “How ... how can you prickle my weakest side like this? It’s like you make me fragile, yet it’s ... it’s not bad, because even though with you I’m fragile, you don’t ... let me break. You hold me together.”
Jake barely choked a sigh, I could feel his chest rising and falling, his heart beating faster. “Like I told you, there’s something between us, a spark, a connection of some sort. And it’s not just sexual.”
“How can it be?”
He half smiled, placing a small kiss on my temple, his voice a mere murmur as he solemnly quoted: “Because,” he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.”
Jake once more pressed his lips on my temple, his voice raucous, as if emotions were taking the best of him as much as of me: “When he went blind, he called her name. She heard it. Did you ever ask yourself why?”
“Because they were soul mates, of course.”
“So why do you keep wondering about us?” Jake claimed. “When it’s so clear.”
“It’s clear to you, but not to me.”
He half smiled, rubbing my back. “We’re tied together, you and I. It may not be a romantic kind of bond, but we are bound to each other nevertheless. Just like Jane and Rochester, your soul will always call out to mine, my soul will always call out to yours. You could tug at that chord with all your might, but it’ll never break. We’re connected, you and I. For life and death. Through pain and sorrow.”
He sighed. “You may not love me like I do, but you love me nevertheless. I know you do. You know you do. It may not be a romantic love, but it is love nevertheless. We’re soul mates, baby. And don’t waste time telling me it’s not possible, because you know better than I, soul mates are not always lovers.” My eyes widened, my heart sinking. How ... “Sometimes they can be two friends ... or two sisters.”
My eyes shot wide open. How ...
Jake rubbed my back, kissing my temple for the third time. “I had a bad dream last night. A pretty peculiar one about two young girls.”
Oh, no ...
“It took me a while to see it, but I realize now ... of course I’d feel her pain on my own skin. It was my soul mate suffering. Of course I would feel her pain. Your pain.”