CHAPTER 74 - TELL ME EVERYTHING
A WHILE AGO
“Are you sure you’re ready to drive this thing?” I asked, wiggling my brows. “Your bones have barely had the time to heal ...”
Jake laughed, one of his sarcastic yet sexy laughs that always have my insides churn, because yeah, I’m so cliché, I cannot keep my hands off of my boyfriend. “I think I showed you ...” he claimed, sexily biting his lips as he looked me up and down, “that I’ve healed all too well ...”
I rolled my eyes. There he goes, with that mouth of his. “I’m only worried about you.” I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest. “This thing already nearly killed you once.” I hinted at his stupid motorcycle.
Jake placed the helmet onto the seat, and came to me, to cup my cheeks, and kiss me deep. I thought he was gonna say something mushy, as usual, because these days we’re seriously the epitome of sappy lovesick couple, instead ... he left his forehead against mine, and claimed: “I love you, baby, but Loki isn’t a thing. It’s my child.”
I pushed him off, but he laughed. “Loki. Seriously?” I scoffed.
He shrugged, grabbing his helmet. “Thor’s too much of a good boy for me. Besides, poor Loki is misunderstood.”
I arched an eyebrow at him. “What is it with you and always rooting for the villain?”
“They’re more real. Nobody’s that good, bad guys are realistic.” He claimed. “Also, if some sanctimonious dude had ruined your life, you would be pissed, too.” Jake grinned, doing that cute thing with his nose that reminds me he’s human. I mean, his looks may be beyond Heaven, his life may have been beyond Hell, but there are things that make him ... normal-no, ordinary. Like the fact that he lets out those light snores when he actually sleeps - those 5 minutes he rests without problems, that is -, the fact that when he wrinkles his nose he looks like a cute little boy, or the fact that there’s that smile of his, that ... happy, fully happy smile of his that I’d never known before confessing I loved him. Those little things, you know, those little things only a lovesick heart like mine sees. Of course, I could give you a long, long list of his flaws, but in the end, Jake is what he is, and I wouldn’t want to change him.
Jesus, even my own inner self is disgusted by all this mushiness.
“Here, hop on.” Jake said, handing me another helmet.
More than anything, I was surprised to see it was customized for me. It didn’t only bear my initials, but also that drawing, a bird set free from a cage. Instinctively, I brought a hand to my necklace, the one he gave me long ago, the one I’ve never once taken off, not even to take a shower. Well, ok, I do take it off when I shower, but only because otherwise it would be ruined by water. “Where are we going?” I asked absentmindedly.
“To have sex on the beach.” Jake laughed, ignoring my dirty look. “Ok, seriously speaking. I want to take you somewhere.”
“Can’t we use a car? Like normal human beings?” I argued, waking up from my reverie. That necklace, I had it tattooed on the left side of my back, at level with my heart. Jake hasn’t even seen it yet. I did it the other day, for him actually. I hate tattoos. Well, all except his.
“Two wheels came before four wheels. Just hop on. It’s safe, I promise.” Jake claimed, but I wasn’t convinced. So he played the dirty card: “Don’t you trust me?”
Sneaky little bastard. I sighed, dejectedly taking the helmet. “Fine.” I grumbled. “But if we crash somewhere, you better die on spot, or I kill you.”
He laughed, hopping on the Kawasaki-sorry, Loki. “Such a violent girlfriend I have ...”
I’d have argued, but that exact moment I had taken his hand to hop onto the motorcycle, so I was ... too focused on the cramps my stomach gave me. I’ve realized one thing, the happier I am, the more my stomach revolts. So for instance, when I meet my boyfriend’s gaze, and I lose myself in his hazel-green eyes that are smiling double because the helmet covers the smile on his lips, my stomach reenacts its very own Battle of Hogwarts.
“So?” Jake urged.
I blinked my eyes to wake from my trance. “Yeah, I ...” I cleared my throat, putting on the helmet to hide the fact that, for the first time in years, my cheeks actually flushed. I was blushing.
Blushing not at oh, how gorgeous my boyfriend is or whatever. I was blushing at the thoughts that spun in my head. Like ... Jake and I sharing a home other than me sleeping at his place. Like Jake and I sharing our lives, until the very last moment of our existences. Like me watching those gorgeous features start showing the signs of time. Like me waking up to his smile every morning for the rest of life. Those kinds of thoughts. Those thoughts that never seemed so real with Ryan, those thoughts that made my stomach cramp like a 9 grade earthquake.
I silently hopped onto the motorcycle, trying to be rational. Maybe I felt a spark when he grabbed my hand. Maybe I feel a spark lighting up every corner of my being every time he touches me. But that doesn’t mean I gotta be a mushy mess every time. Or maybe it’s exactly because of that spark, because of those thoughts, that I am allowed to be stupid. I wrapped my arms around his torso, and left my head against his back when he started the engine.
I feel safe. I feel free. I feel everything I ceased feeling long ago. I feel happy. Maybe forever is real, and Jake is mine.
I remained there interdicted for a long, long minute, confused as to what just happened. I ... I barely had an idea of where was I. It was absurd. He’d left my hand instantly, but my skin still felt blistered, as if he’d literally scorched it just by touching it. My heart was beating fast, and I had no idea what to say. I felt something pushing at the back of my mind, like ... memories wanting to reemerge, but they weren’t strong enough.
I was jolted awake from my trance when I heard the engine being started. When I looked back, I saw Jake about to leave. “Wait!” I exclaimed instinctively, grabbing his arm. I felt like I could barely breathe. “Can we ... talk?”
“No.” He murmured harshly, shrugging my hand off his arm. “Bye.”
No, no, he can’t just leave like that. Not when ... “Jake, wait! Please!” I think I begged, but who cares. Last time I begged someone, he didn’t even listen, hopefully I would be luckier this time, but I preferred not to risk it. So at the same moment as I said those words, I went to stand before the motorcycle, and gripped the handlebars. “Don’t leave again.” Like that time at the hospital.
His hazel green eyes gave away the shock that washed over him as realization hit him. He could deny it with words, but his gaze, once again, told the whole story.
“I know it’s you.” I claimed, my heart beating fast. “You ... you walked out on me. I won’t let you do that again. Not until you tell me everything.” This is not a coincidence, this is no random situation. This is fate, this is life pulling us together for some reason, and I’ll never rest one single day more if I don’t find out why.
One. Two. Three. Four. Four minutes went by in silence. The longest four minutes ever. We sat in front of each other at a café called Fran’s. I think I’ve been here before.
I played with my cup of tea, staring at it as if it would give me all the answers I needed. I could feel Jake’s gaze on my hands. It felt as if he stared at them not to look at my face, yet it also felt as if he were keeping himself from reaching out to touch them. I don’t know why I felt that, I just did. It’s everything so confusing with him. First he comes see me at the hospital right when I can’t actually see him. Then he claims we’ve never met, but Tess urges me to stay away from him, which compels me to think there’s something way bigger than what they both say hiding behind the shadows. I wish my memories weren’t all so blurry.
“I’ve been warned to stay away from you.” I murmured in the end, tired of silence, and eager to get everything out in the open.
“Wise advice.” Jake murmured back.
My gaze snapped to him. “Are you that dangerous as they say?”
“Probably more.” He didn’t seem in the least bit scathed by the topic, but he did seem uneasy. At my presence. My sole presence seemed to make him uncomfortable for some reason, yet he remained detached and as cold as ice.
“Why ... did you say I didn’t know you?”
“Because you don’t.”
I rolled my eyes. “You came to see me, at the hospital. I know you did. I know it was you. Don’t lie.”
“You’re probably mistaking me for someone else. It’s a common mistake, I look like half of the American male population.” He shrugged, sitting back, I bet to pretend he was relaxing, while in truth he was still as tense as a violin chord.
My attention focused on his features for a moment, though, and I realized something. “You dyed your hair.” I pointed out. “Last time I saw you, your hair was black, now it’s ... dirty blonde.” He didn’t reply. “Which one is your natural color?” No answer. I sighed, taking a sip of my tea. “We’re gonna stay here all day if you don’t answer even the simplest questions.”
“I’m naturally blonde. Can I go now?” Jake scoffed, about to stand.
I grabbed his hand before he could, and there it went, that spark again, enflaming my loins more than just my heart, while my stomach felt like Normandy in 1944. Jake swiftly let go of my hand, and sat back down. “You’re hiding something.” I stated.
“It’s called boredom.” He scoffed. “You dragged me to this place to talk about nonsense, I’m bored.”
“Ugh, for the love of all things holy, drop the mask!” I snapped, tired of his games. “First you walk out on me, then you pretend there’s nothing, now you act like I’ve kidnapped you. Stop it. Just ... stop it.” I spat. “I need-no, demand, I demand answers, and you’ll give them. Now.”
I don’t even know where did that boldness come from. It’s like ... I had it in me, tucked deep down somewhere, and now it emerged. Amnesia really works in weird ways, I guess. Silence was all I got in response, though. 7 excruciating minutes of silence spent stubbornly staring at Jake. I knew he’d take advantage of any sign of weakness to leave me with nothing again, so I stubbornly stood my ground. I felt like, from his answers, depended a huge part of the memories I can’t retrieve.
“You don’t want to remember me.” He said in the end. When his hazel-green eyes fixed on my hazels, I felt once again my insides churning. I was basically melting under his gaze, yet I loved every single instant of it. “If there is one silver lining in everything that happened to you, it’s that now you’re free of me.”
“Jeremy.” I breathed out, finally putting two and two together.
“She ... Tess called him-you Jeremy. She lied. To protect me, I bet.”
“To keep you away from me. Which is the same, yes.”
I furrowed my eyebrows together, as confused as ever. “Did you ...” such a tough question to ask, but everything seemed so smooth between us, and besides, I had no idea how else to phrase it, “... did you do what ... she said you did?”
“Depends on what she said. But it can never be as bad as reality.”
“She said you abused me.” I laid it out thick and thin, but he had no reaction. As if he knew she’d say that, because it was true. But was it? I seriously don’t know who to believe anymore. My instinct says one thing, my friend says another, yet his silences speak way more than he’d imagine.
“In a way I did.”
“In what way?” I bravely asked.
“You don’t wanna know.”
“I’m here precisely because I wanna know.” I scoffed. “Or did you think I dragged you to this place only because I feel attracted to you?”
Jake let himself smile the slightest, but it was a bitter smile, something closer to regret other than amusement. “You’re carefree.”
“What?” Why did he change subject now?
“You look and sound carefree.” Jake claimed. “You’re ... free. In every sense.”
“Wasn’t I before?”
“Not like this.”
“What ... held me captive?” I bit my lips not to say what I thought, but the words came out nevertheless: “Was it ... you?”
Jake closed his eyes, and took a deep breath I realized was shaky only when his voice came out that way: “Our relationship was ... toxic. I was toxic for you. I am toxic.”
“I don’t believe you.” I blurted out. But at least he did admit we were in a relationship, so he’s my notorious ex, that’s for sure now.
“You should. Because it’s true. It’s the one reason why I walked out.”
“No.” I stubbornly bit back. “You walked out because you were afraid I would remember you.”
“I walked out because I knew you’d remember me.”
Oh. “And you didn’t want me to. Why?”
Jake grabbed his cup of coffee with both hands, and brought it to his lips, taking a sip from it before answering: “I’m your doom.”
A WHILE AGO
“You wouldn’t marry me, then.”
I rolled my eyes at his pout. “I don’t believe in marriage.”
“You don’t believe in committing to me for the rest of your life, you mean.” Jake scoffed.
I groaned, frustrated. “God, you’re so annoying when you do that.” I let go of his hand, and leaned against the balustrade. We chose an odd place to take a walk, but the chilly wind felt refreshing on my skin. “You twist my words, just so you can use them to accuse yourself, while I said nothing of what you mean.”
“How can you be sure you didn’t?” He argued, leaning his elbows on the balustrade, to gape into the horizon. To think that the last time we came here I had to comfort him after he’d found out that his sister and his best friend were had been dating behind his back.
Crossing my arms, I sent him a dirty look. “After all that’s happened between us, you still doubt me. It’s offensive.”
“I don’t doubt you, baby.” He reached out to gently caress my arm. “I’m just ... testing waters.”
“To see if I’m true to my word?”
“To see if there’s anything I can do to make you reason.”
He stood straight, and grabbed my hand, to pull me into his arms. He caged me against the balustrade, and stroked my cheek before pecking my lips, enough to make me crave for more, but not enough to make me forget I was mad at him. “I’ve never cared to dream.” Jake claimed softly, cupping both my cheeks. “A life like mine, dreams are a fool’s tool. I ... never hoped for a better day to come. I knew I was doomed, and I had come to terms with it.”
“I know, but-”
“But then you came.” He said. “A ray of sunshine piercing through the darkest clouds.” He chuckled. “As corny as that sounds.” Jake pecked my lips. “You came, and you gave me a reason to live. Not survive, but live. You actually made me hope and dream of a better future.”
I smiled, my body relaxing. “It was the same for me, I-”
“At what cost, though?”
And there it goes, the smile leaves. “Jake ... I see where are you getting at, but-”
“I’m your doom.”
“I asked you not to let me be it, but I’ve become it. I’m your doom. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. So the question is, why are you still here?”
I took a deep breath, and closed my eyes. His forehead against mine made me feel warmer. “Because I keep telling you, I was doomed from the start. What you did was relieve my grief.” I pecked his lips, cupping his cheeks, to pull him closer. “You’re not my doom. You’re the sole anchor I have to sanity. You’re my bridge to a better life, and I am yours. So stop trying to send me away.” I kissed him deeper, yet sweeter. “I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Jake reciprocated my kiss for a moment, but when he pulled back, he murmured: “You will. One day. With any hopes you’ll go as far as you can from me. And it’ll rip that chord beneath my ribs, but it will also serve to break your chains. Because, whether you believe it or not, I am your doom, and hopefully you’ll realize it someday.”
“My what?” I asked, bewildered. He can’t be serious.
“I’m your doom.” Jake restated. Shit, he really is serious. “I’m the one person you should steer clear of, Tess is right, yet here you are, seeking me ... you don’t even remember who I am, what we’ve had, yet you’re here, looking for me. There must be something really wrong with you.”
Excuse me? “Yeah, there must be, since you think I’m so stupid.”
“You’re exactly where you shouldn’t be, so-”
“Oh, please, stop it.” I spat. “You’re not getting out of this, not that easily. You’re gonna sit here and answer my every question. Don’t you even try to insult me into leaving, because it doesn’t freaking work.” If there’s one thing I hate, is people taking me for a stupid. The nerve this guy has. But I’m not giving up. He’s the one bridge to my memories, and like hell I’ll let it go.
Jake sighed, playing with his cup of coffee. “What use would it be to know the answers? Aren’t you happier like this? You have no thoughts, no drama, no troubles. Why go back?”
“Uh ... no drama?” I scoffed. “I wake up every morning not knowing who the hell I am, what’s been my life up until now. I see people every day, and I don’t recognize most of them. I can’t even reciprocate my loved ones’ tenderness, because I don’t even know how to feel it. My head is a huge maze of thoughts and memories I can’t unravel, names keep swimming in my mind but I can’t give faces to them, I see episodes but I don’t know what happened when and why. I can’t even begin to say how it is to live in a world you know yet don’t remember. How’s that for drama free?” I blurted out in one breath, well, more like snapped. He was seriously getting on my nerves with all his stupid reasons not to remember him.
“You’ve been part of my life, and as such, I want to remember you. Furthermore, you have been such a huge part of my life, that I didn’t even need any solicitation, I just had ... a feeling, that you were important. Goddamit, the memory of you is the one memory that basically harassed me into being recollected. How’s that not important? If you’ve been that essential to my life, it’s not just a matter of want, I must remember you. And you must let me. There’s no choosing.” I spat, finally able to let out all I thought. God, even the fact that he makes me so mad sounds familiar, as if in my past life I’ve had to often fight with him, and probably on the same subject, amnesia aside.
Jake stared at me for the longest time, his mouth slightly parted. He may have looked confused and disappointed, but in his eyes, I saw it there, in those hazel-green eyes ... hope.
All his talk about how I’m better off without him, how he’s oh, so dangerous for me, how I should steer clear of him ... all these talks, yet in the end, there it was, hope. He secretly hoped I did remember him, he secretly hoped I would even fight to remember him, to remember us. Even more so I am convinced I need to harp on this.
“Just because I was important, doesn’t mean I have to be again.” Jake claimed, chilly, and I felt this dire need to slap him. Just how stubborn can one single man be?
“Ok. You don’t want to be important for me again? Alright, don’t.” I scoffed. “But you will not leave me in the lurch again.” I accused, staring straight into his eyes. “You don’t want me to feel whatever I felt for you before. Fine. But don’t you dare leave me here with no memories. You owe me that at least.” To be honest, I didn’t even know where did I get all this boldness, it felt as if it were reemerging from somewhere, as if ... it were slipping out of my brain’s control, and leaking out of that secret box where it’d tucked all my memories to protect me. If that makes any sense.
Jake sighed, lowering his head, I bet unable to hold my gaze anymore. “What am I supposed to do?”
Oh, finally! I took out my notebook, the one I use to track my memories, and a pen. “Simple. Start talking.”
“Every single detail of us, every single thing pertaining me and you. And don’t you even try to leave out anything. I may have amnesia, but I’m not stupid, I can put two and two together. So, shoot.”