I'm Here to Fix You

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Chapter 4

SILVIA

Shouldn’t it be an easy decision? Shouldn’t I have a precise idea of what I want to do? Then why, why did I spent the past two hours staring at my phone, wondering what if ...

What if I cancel on Matt and call Jake? What if I act on my hormones instead of be always rational? What if I finally get rid of this goddamn trouble called virginity and just ... go with the flow? What if I spend one night of passion with my employer and then act like nothing?

Would it be cheating? Would it be right or wrong? Matt and I aren’t a couple, are we? And Jake, he talked about teaching me a thing or two, not about dates and stuff. His aim, like I’ve known since the beginning, is to simply give me what I’ve been missing since so long, namely, the physical side of a relationship. In other words, sex. But Matt ...

Basically I need to pick between sex and romance, I suppose. I mean, Matt gives me the cute side of a relationship, we simply hang out, go on dates, without any expectation whatsoever. We have a good time talking and laughing together, yet while we do know it’s a date, a real, official date, we don’t make such a fuss of it. I like it.

I like that he doesn’t ... pressure me into anything. Most guys I’ve gone out with were convinced they’d hit jackpot on the first night, and when they didn’t, either they never called back, or they made up lame excuses for not seeing me again. I never bothered, but now with Matt I see what’s the real thrill in ... you know, spending some time with someone that isn’t exactly a friend.

I’ve only ever had one boyfriend, and he was a complete and utter jerk. Then I focused on my career, and restarted “dating” only once I arrived in Boston, and merely because Tess hooked me up with this or that guy. It’s not even something I bother about, I take for granted it’ll come when it’ll come, no big deal, however ... hormones aren’t exactly easy to control. I can be as rational as I want, but like I said, a girl has needs ... and when a guy like Jake Watson offers to satisfy said needs, not even for one like me is easy to refuse.

I groaned, frustrated, standing up, and threw my phone onto my bed. Ugh, why am I even dithering? He’s a jerk for crying out loud! If I didn’t give it to that asshole that was my ex, why should I just give it up to Jake Watson?

God, all this ... abstinence must be really getting to me if I thought I should just take up the perverted offer of some guy I’ve known for a month. A guy I incidentally can’t stand, by the way. I blame all those women flirting with him, shamelessly fangirling over him, yet here I am, considering giving up my every principle just to get rid of a stupid itch.

I don’t need to get laid. I need something real. I want something real ... or at least I think I do. I’ve never been much of a sentimental type, so I don’t know, I guess I just always assumed it would be best to give it to one guy and stick to him.

Besides, women in my family aren’t exactly lucky when it comes to men, so it’s a wonder I am even willing to be in a relationship. Then again, after Alex, I don’t think I can do worse. Worse than a jackass that’s cheated on me with all of our classmates I don’t think I can do, can I?

Ugh, look at me, even getting worked up about this whole damn situation. What’s to fuss about? It was a perverted offer and I’ll just turn it down, easy breezy. And if he keeps on coming on me, I’ll just report him to HR. What’s there to doubt?

Inhaling deeply, I decided I’d take a walk around the block. Matt’s picking me up in a couple of hours, I need fresh air to get rid of all these stupid ideas I’ve matured in one day. So I quickly changed into something comfortable, grabbed my keys, phone and wallet, and headed out, considering maybe going to buy some groceries.

Usually when I feel in need of fresh air I head to the bookstore a couple of blocks from my place, where I find the first friend I ever made in America, Violet, the owner of the bookstore, but this week she’s in San Francisco to see her daughter, so the place is closed. Pity.

Being mid October, every store reeked of that Halloween aura I hate, but I love Fall, so I guess I can endure this. A close eye on the watch, to go back home in time to get ready for the date with Matt, I dipped my hands into my hoodie’s pockets, and merged with the crowd of Bostonians fussing around to get to their evening appointments. I’ve walked this road so often that I don’t even need to watch, I perfectly where I was going, despite being lost in the music in my ears.

Within ten minutes I got to the grocery store I usually go to, and entered. I’d been wandering around aimlessly, trying to decide whether do I really need junk food or not, when I spotted a familiar face right beside the alcohol compartment. Why am I not surprised to see him loitering around such aisle? Arching an eyebrow, I took a few steps closer. “You stalk me too now?”

Jake laughed, placing bottles of what looked like rum, whisky and scotch in his cart. “I live nearby, and, believe it or not, I buy groceries too.”

Eyeing his cart, filled with mostly alcohol, chips and other types of junk food, I frowned. “Yeah, I can see that ... are you throwing a party or what?”

“No, but we can arrange something just for the two of us, if you like.” He winked.

I rolled my eyes. “Ugh ...”

“Quit flirting. Yeah, yeah, I know.” He laughed. “Come on, Silvia, it’s fun. You know it is.”

“That my boss would so shamelessly hit on me nonstop? Yeah, no fun at all for me. Just terribly annoying.”

He shrugged. “Well, technically speaking, I’m not your boss right now ... I mean, it’s past work time, right? I’m just ... some guy you met at the grocery store.” He winked. “You wanna tell me no guy’s ever picked you up at a grocery store?”

“Some guys aren’t as cheap as you.”

He laughed, predictably. “Oh, believe me, sweetheart, some guys are way cheaper than I ... at least I have some sense of style.”

I’ll never win this argument with him, so I better just give up. Rolling my eyes, I sighed. “Alright, fine, whatever. Well, have a nice ... whatever it is that you’re up to.” I moved to sidestep him and move past him.

“So do I need to keep my bed vacant for you tonight?” He wondered as I walked away.

I didn’t even bother answering nor turning around, I just raised my hand and flipped him the bird. Hopefully he’ll soon learn I’m not one of his bimbos.


JAKE

I bit my lip as I watched her walk away. Well, we know the rear is just as good as the front, don’t we? I know it’s pride to be speaking, but ... man, she gets hotter every day. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s that whole can’t have her shit that makes her all the more enticing, but still.

I think it was mostly that to drive poor Darcy nuts, you know. At first he thought she was just passable, then she becomes his idée fixe because he can’t have her. That’s me with my angel with horns over there.

I was really hoping she’d cave already, but ... oh, well, I’ve got a big fat party waiting for me at home. Mr. Bacardi and Mr. Jack Daniels plus some others. Just a private thing, you know. I’ll admit I’m surprised to find these brands in a grocery store, but hey, lucky me.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re about to say ... no, alcohol, Jake, doctor’s orders. But come on, just one night out of seven, it can’t hurt, can it? Besides, believe it or not, I’m not in the mood to get laid tonight, so either I get wasted or I break someone’s face, what would you prefer?

Ignoring the flirty cashier, I paid for my stuff, and headed out. I could see Silvia still hanging around the chips aisle, and I almost felt like waiting for her, but ... it wouldn’t be a great idea. I’m not in the right state of mind to flirt or play my game. I just need some sweet hours of oblivion that’ll get me through the night. I’ll be on top of myself by the morning, don’t worry.


“Surprise, surprise ... he’s completely wasted.” I heard Paul’s singsong voice ring through my drunken mind.

“What did you expect? He did say he’d spend the night alone, and you know what that means.” Trey butted in.

“If I can recognize your voices, dumbass, then I’m not that drunk.” I drawled out, without opening my eyes. Actually I am kinda drunk, but not enough. Not enough to knock me out unconscious, and certainly not enough to stop the whirlwind in my head.

“Get that ass up, Jake.” My best friend’s familiar voice angrily rang in my ears as he shooed my feet away from the couch, nearly making me fall.

I lazily opened one eye. “What the hell are you guys doing here? Isn’t it Friday?”

“Yeah, and you’re at home wasted.” Fitz grumbled. “Again.” Uh oh, maybe it wasn’t one night out of seven ... maybe it was four. Or five. Maybe seven. Duh, I can’t deal with Math right now.

I rolled my eyes as I lazily sat up. “Why are you so mad at me, sugarplum? Did I forget your birthday again?”

He glared at me, predictably, but I’m pretty used to that. You know that friend you have that basically babies you, putting up with all your crap, following you around with the aid kit to make sure you don’t “accidentally” kill yourself? Yeah, that’s Colin Fitzpatrick for me. Fitz, as he goes by.

“We gave up two super-hot chicks for you, bud. Ballet dancers ... you know how far can those stretch? What do we get in return?” Trey wondered, hopeful.

Eyebrows furrowed, I drunkenly pointed him to the game room. “Get whatever the hell you prefer and don’t bother me.” He’s a grown child, no wonder he’s never committed in his entire life. If you think I’m a manwhore, then you’ve never met one like Trey. At least I don’t stick it into every hole I find.

Paul followed Trey as they decided to play billiards, though it’s obvious that they preferred to hit it off before my babysitter started rambling. Sitting up straight, I reached for a glass of whisky, but predictably Fitz slapped my hand away. “Hey! I paid for that!” I grumbled when he grabbed all the bottles and went to throw them all into the dustbin. See? I don’t need a girlfriend, I’ve got my best friend babying me.

When he came back, Fitz grabbed my arm and, surprisingly with a certain amount of strength, he forced me to stand up. Needless to say I wobbled without taking one single step. “You’ve been working out, huh?” I drawled out with a half grin as he almost effortlessly dragged me to the bathroom. Without a word, he turned on the shower faucet and threw me in. I didn’t even blink. I like chilly water. “Told you, I’m not that drunk.”

“You’re drunk enough to do something stupid.” He argued.

“Yeah? Like what? Falling asleep on the couch?”

Glaring, he took out a silver piece of metal that kinda resembled a gun. Uh. I forgot about that one. “Where did you take this?”

I snorted, sitting in the shower, enjoying the chilly water as it washed away my drunkenness. If only it could as easily cleanse my dark soul. “We’re in America, dumbass, where do you think I got it?”

There goes that pitiful worried look. He’s had that face on for the past 20 years, I think. Disassembling the gun so that it would serve to nothing anymore, Fitz sighed. Being friends with me, he’s even learnt how to make a weapon ineffective, shouldn’t he thank me for that? It might save his life someday. “Jake, this isn’t working. What does Dr. Schroeder say?”

“That I’m out of jail and I don’t need him anymore?” Fitz groaned, exasperated. “Come on, bud, I’m fine, you know I am. I just ...” I made some efforts at standing, but I guess I was drunk enough for alcohol to affect my sense of balance too, because I barely could. “See? I’m still standing.” Fitz turned off the shower, and dragged me out, basically throwing me against the towel rack. “Wow, you’ve really been working out, huh?”

“Your uncle called.” He said, ignoring my joke to force me to sit on the stool beside the bathtub. Yes, that chair serves to support me through these types of moments.

I rubbed my wet hair with the towel. “What this time?”

“Says you haven’t picked up the phone since yesterday. He wants to know how’s it going at the publishing house.”

I snorted. “Fine ... didn’t his spy tell him?” As if I didn’t know my uncle’s tipped off Trevor, my deputy, to spy on me.

“Rumor has it that you’ve been a little too flirty. He wants to know how far have you gone and whether the employee’s gonna press charges against you for sexual harassment.”

I arched an eyebrow, looking up at him. “What?”

Fitz shrugged. “Just telling what he told me.”

I rolled my eyes. That creepy snake. He’s always so subtle I don’t even see him loitering around. Of course he’d know. “It’s fine. She’s not going to do anything.”

“So you admit it.” Fitz spat, seemingly outraged.

“That I shamelessly hit on an employee and that I so very much would like to have sex with her? Yeah, why not? Aren’t I allowed to sleep with anybody I want?”

“Not when she’s an employee, Jake.”

“Oh, please ... my uncle married his secretary and later on cheated on her with the new one, marrying her too. He’s the last person ever that can teach me about appropriateness.” Wow, I’m far less drunk than I thought if my I can form such long sentences. I suppose the cold shower did its magic.

“That doesn’t mean you’re allowed to sexually harass an employee.”

I grunted. “I’m not harassing her ... I’m just flirting.”

“That’s not what Trevor told your uncle.”

I snorted. “Oh, please ... that little spineless piece of crap just wants to take my place. He’s butt-hurt that he didn’t get promoted when the old editor left.”

“Even so.”

“Ugh, for God’s sakes, Fitz, chill. It’s not like I’ve forced myself on her or anything. There’s nothing wrong with flirting.”

“There is when you pin an employee against your desk and make heavy sexual advances. That’s the kind of shit that can throw you back in prison, you moron.”

I should have known Trevor would spy me even in my office. I wonder how much did my uncle pay him. Either I double his tip, or I make him shit his pants. One way or the other, that little snitch gotta change his tune. Sighing, I threw the towel onto the floor. This place is a mess, I really need to hire a maid. “Silvia would never report me.”

“Wouldn’t she? Why not?”

I sent him a dirty look. “She wouldn’t.” Despite her threats. I know she would have already if she really wanted to. Maybe I’m insisting a little too much, maybe it really does annoy her, and I swear I’ll stop now, but she wouldn’t report me. Either because she’s afraid she’d get in trouble or because she wouldn’t want to get me in trouble. I don’t know, I just feel like she’s a little bit like me. In what way, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you when I find out.

“How do you know that?”

“I just do.”

My best friend snorted, crossing his arms. “Either she reports you or blackmails you, there’s no good ending to this. You gotta stop.”

“I’m doing nothing so-”

“Jake.” He hissed, livid. “When a woman says no, it means no.”

I glared at him, standing straight. Now he’s really pissing me off. “Tell that to a rapist.”

“See, there’s really not much of a difference between a rapist and someone that uses his dominant position to have sex with an employee.”

“I’m not ...” I groaned, rubbing my face. “Ugh, for God’s sakes, you can’t seriously think I’d do something like that!”

His green eyes glinted in disappointment, an emotion I’ve learnt to live with so long ago, given how often I cause it in him and my sister. “I’ve seen you do the worst shit, Jake. These days I’m not even sure I know you anymore.”

“Oh, now ... just because I went to jail, I’m not the same Jake you’ve known for over 25 years?” Way to sober me up.

“Jail changes people, it’s a fact.”

“It hasn’t changed me.”

“You’re even worse than when you left, Jake. Admit it.”

“I’m perfectly fine.” I spat, storming out of the bathroom. Good news is, I’m almost fully sober. I headed to the kitchen to make me a sandwich.

Fitz followed me, of course. “You’re not fine, Jake. You’re as far from fine as you’ve ever been. Just fucking admit it and get some fucking help.”

“I. Am. Fine.” I spat, slamming the ham onto the sandwich. “And if you gotta go all fussy wife on me again, then get the fuck out of my place. Last I need is someone to remind me how fucked up I am. I know that already, thank you very much.”

He breathed through his nose, getting mad. “I just want to help.”

“You’ll help me by telling my uncle to keep his nose out of my life. I’m fine.”

“Jake ...”

I groaned, throwing the sandwich and everything off the counter. “Oh, for God’s sakes, I’m fine! Just leave me the fuck alone! Nobody elected you as my conscience.”

“You did. When we were 11 and you first got in trouble. You made me promise to be your guardian angel.”

“I was a kid, didn’t know crap.”

“I’ve spent my life running after you, Jake, cleaning up your messes, getting you out of trouble.”

“No one forced you to.” I quipped. “Who says you gotta babysit me? Just live your goddamn life in New York and be done with me. I’m fine.” I’m not. Hell, I’m not. But I can’t stand when people claim to know what goes on my head. Not even I know, how could they?

Fitz sighed, starting to silently clean up the mess I made on the floor. It’s like a metaphor of our friendship. He’s right, he’s always after me with his magic broom, trying to reduce the damage as much as possible. He’s never gonna give up this stupid habit of his, of trying to save me, and I wonder how can I make him understand that either he quits or he’s gonna go down with me. I don’t need one more victim on the list of souls I’ve tainted and destroyed.

Fitz is like this, though. No matter how many times I tell him off, no matter how many wrongs I do to him, how much I fuck up his life as well as mine, he’s still there. And I just don’t seem to be able to make him stop.

Sighing, I rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Don’t bother that, just ... I’m sorry, alright?” I admitted, grabbing a hold of his arm to make him stand. “I’m sorry for being a shitty friend. I’m sorry for being a fucked up mess you gotta babysit every day. I’m sorry. But this is me, and you shouldn’t come to terms with it. You should just -”

“This is not you, Jake.” He sighed. “This is the you your demons want to convince you to be.” He patted my shoulder. “We’ve been through this before. You can push me away as much as you like, but I’m right here. And I’m not leaving.”

“You should.” I slipped away. “You should live your life, Colin. Or at least just ... leave me to mind my mess. What good comes to you from trying to save me? You can’t. Nobody can.” I am what I am, and there’s nothing that’s gonna save me. I am hell bound, I can’t escape to the monster inside me, so we just ... co-live. That doesn’t mean I gotta force anybody else to do the same.

I’m in an ongoing battle with my past, what I did, what I saw, what I am, anybody that would dare stand in between is bound to be hurt. Just because Fitz is so stubborn as to stay regardless, doesn’t mean anybody else should be forced to. Now tell me again I need a girlfriend.

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