I'm Here to Fix You

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Chapter 9

SILVIA

“Seriously? You’ve never come here?” Ryan asked for the third time.

I laughed as I sat down at the corner booth. “No, really. I’m not much of an ice cream person.”

He frowned as he sat in front of me. “Yeah, but I mean, this is not just ice cream. This is the best ice cream ever!” He’s cute when he’s excited about something. A lovely, cute, innocent boy.

Cue my internal laugh. Yeah, as if such a specimen could exist. Nobody is innocent. Not even a child. Any child has been one time or another up to something he shouldn’t have, hence, he’s not innocent. Human beings are corrupted per se, aren’t they?

Yet, when I spend the weekend laughing and chatting with this particular boy, I feel like, well, maybe humans are not all rotten. There’s some hope deep down somewhere. But I suppose I’m biased. One, because I like Ryan. He’s sweet and kind and ... not complicated at all. Two, because, well, he’s Violet’s favorite grandson, and believe me, there’s no better character witness than Violet O’Neill.

“Yeah, well, I’m here to taste it, aren’t I?” I chuckled.

Ryan rolled his eyes, but flagged down the waitress. He’s insisted so much on taking me to this ice cream parlor, who was I to refuse? After all, he’s gifted me with the most carefree weekend I’ve ever had in a long, long, long time, I owed him at least this, don’t you think?

He ordered his ice cream, then turned to me expectantly. Watching his handsome face, I shrugged with a smile. “Choose for me.”

He grinned like a Cheshire cat and ordered a couple of flavors that had me grimace, but he assured me they’d taste like Heaven. I suppose I can trust him at least with ice cream, can’t I? I’ve trusted him enough to ride in his car and be alone with him at his grandma’s, I can trust him with ice cream flavors.

“What time’s the flight?” I asked while Ryan checked his messages. I think I can be mostly sure he’s never once touched his phone in my presence, which, in such an era like hours, can be counted as gentleman gesture. Not that this here is a date, of course. I simply spent a carefree weekend with a friend, and I can’t deny I’m sad that he must leave in a few hours.

Ryan grimaced, putting down the phone. “In three hours.” He groaned. “Ugh, I wish I could stay longer.”

I chuckled. “Well, your boss wouldn’t like it.”

“Mmh. It’s a bummer, though.”

“I know.”

He offered me a sweet smile of his, that ... lopsided smile that somehow manages to convince me he’s a good guy. I wonder how does he pull it off. “Will you miss me?” He wondered, hopeful.

“Hardly.” I chuckled when he pouted. “I mean, you text me every two hours, Rye, I can hardly miss you because hardly you make me feel your absence.”

He grinned like a child caught red-handed stealing his grandma’s cookies, which little Ryan did, by the way. “Well, that’s the plan. I get you used to my presence, that way you won’t be able to do without me anymore.”

“Oh, really? And what tells you that’ll work?”

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“So?”

“So ... you spent your weekend with me. You didn’t have to.”

“You came here for me, I was kinda bound to entertain you.”

He chuckled. Gosh, that sound’s so sweet, I can’t deny it. “Emotional blackmail, huh?”

“That you pulled off, sir, yes.” Why does it feel so easy to be playful with him?

He shrugged. “Well, I made it. That’s what counts.”

“Oh, really?”

“Sometimes the goal counts more than the means.”

“That sounds like something a murderer would say.”

Ryan laughed, and I with him. “Is it? I suppose now you think I’ve lured you in for a reason?”

“You wouldn’t hurt a mosquito, Ryan. I’m pretty sure of that.” Who knows why. I tend to think every single human being is bound to be a bastard one time or the other, yet look at me, smiling like a fool, convinced this rare case here is one of the good ones.

“That’s actually literally true, you know. I’ve never killed an insect, always left it up to ... uh ...” he cleared his throat, and there you go, that fake happy smile reappeared.

It’s happened now and then this weekend. Even too much for my liking. I’m the sulky soul, not him. Only I can sulk, he’s bound to be always smiling, and I hate that now and then his countenance clouds over with sadness, also because I really don’t know what I can do to help. A broken heart is a fragile thing to handle, and I’ve never been able to learn how to.

Alicia. That’s her name. His long time girlfriend. They broke up, well, he broke up with her over four months ago, after he caught her in bed with his best friend. Classic, isn’t it? There’s him, there’s her, and there’s the best friend. For a heart of gold like Ryan, it was a huge blow.

He says he’s tried to move on, maybe see other girls, but every time he gets stuck at the first talk, unable to go any further. It’s textbook, really. He got scorched once, now he’s damn afraid of being hurt again. He’s still licking his wounds, and the fact that his ex won’t let him be doesn’t really help.

“So, are we sure this ice cream’s good? I’ll hold you responsible if my tummy gets upset.” I mused, trying to avert his thoughts from her. They’ve been together for five years. That’s not child’s play. Hell, they lived together. It was as serious as it can get. Yet she went and cheated on him. Fool, fool woman.

Ryan chuckled, showing me his good mood again. “It’s really good, I promise.” He glanced at his watch. “We’ve got three hours, how about we drop by the dock? We’re still in time to get a glimpse of the fair.”

“Don’t you have to pack or something?”

He shrugged. “I never unpacked, I just took what I needed time after time.”

I chuckled. “Your grandma wouldn’t agree.”

“Yeah, well, she’s not there to scold me, is she?” We both thanked the waitress when our ice creams came, and he took a bite of his. “So, what do you say?”

“Is it even gonna be open at this hour?”

“It’s for kids, of course it’s open at this hour.”

“Mmh ...” I eyed my ice cream. “Alright, then.” I took a bite of my flavor, and was surprised to realize that really it was like nothing I’ve ever tried. I suppose it’s a metaphor for this sort of ... friendship we have. He pushes me into trying new things, like ... believing in a human being for once. Odd feeling, really, but pleasant.

As I gazed at Ryan as he tried to get ice cream off his nose, I smiled. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a close friendship like ours, is there? I mean, I’ve never encountered a guy that would make me lower my defenses so easily. There’s just ... something about Ryan Evans that screams trust, and I have no idea why. It could be the second time ever, after Tess, that I really feel like making a real effort to keep someone in my life. Odd, huh?



JAKE

“Pebbles, if you do that again, I’ll throw you into the river, I swear.” I threatened, but of course, when does she ever take me seriously? She merely laughed, taking a few more of my French fries. One of the things I hate the most is people eating from my plate, but what’s a big brother to do when his pestering little sis drives him nuts?

I just love her to bits. I won’t deny it, I’m a sucker for her big bright smile. As cliché as that sound, if there’s one person in my life that I love unconditionally, if there’s one human being that can claim my corrupted heart all to herself, that’s Serene Annabelle Watson.

“Pebbles ...” I threatened for the fourth time, sending her a dirty look.

“Oh, come on, you know I love French fries!”

“Then why the hell didn’t you order them for yourself?”

She grinned mischievously. “Because I know it annoys the heck out of you when I do this.”

I groaned, giving up my longed plate. “Ugh, I hate you.”

“No, you love me.” She stuck out her tongue to me, and it’s impossible, but I smiled. Ah, the things a little sister does to her brother’s heart, huh? It’s a good thing I don’t have enemies, because otherwise I’d be too easy to blackmail ... Serene is most definitely my weakest spot. Hell, I went to prison for her, and I’d do it thousands times more.

“So what do you wanna do next?” I asked distractedly, checking my messages. “We’ve seen pretty much everything of this fair, how about we go somewhere else?”

“Nah, I like it here.” She munched on my French fries.

“But we’ve seen it all ...”

“So? We’ll see it again.”

I groaned, leaning back against my chair. I knew I should have brought Fitz. He’s way more patient than I with these things. “Okay, fine. But not all things, alright?” I took a look at my watch. “Two hours. Two hours and we’re out of here, alright?” I’ve seen even too many smiles and laughs today, and there’s only as much sickly cheerfulness my stomach can take.

Serene rolled her eyes, but agreed. I know she’s gonna blackmail me into staying longer, she always does. Emotional blackmail is the worst, believe me. I just can’t say no to her, and she knows it.


Needless to say she dragged me to see again each and every single stand, try each and every single carousel. She was exactly like this as a child, and apparently she hasn’t changed in this sense. Thankfully. Otherwise all my efforts at keeping her pure soul intact would have been useless.

“Alright, Ferris wheel and that’s it.” I stated firmly. My sister merely grinned, nodding, then gripped my hand and dragged me to the wheel itself. It was quite crowded, this being the last day of the fair. Halfway through, I spotted a familiar cascade of hazel hair a couple of rows in front of me.

It’ll be stupid, but I actually smiled, knowing that was Silvia. I opened my mouth to call her, but I cut myself off when my gaze fell on the person beside her. Huh. Definitely not Tess. Neither a girl, for that matter. I’m guessing that’s the mystery guy she’s been texting.

As the queue proceeded, I stuck my head out, trying to get a clearer view of the man. Kinda tall, but less than I, dark hair, broad shoulders ... the type of guy that’s pretty fit, but doesn’t spend too much time in the gym.

To be honest, judging by what I could see, I should laugh, because he’s basically a dark-haired version of me. So not me but someone that looks mostly like me? Is it subconscious or pure coincidence?

As the line proceeded, Serene huddled against me, feeling cold, so I enveloped her in my arms. I caught Silvia’s gaze the exact moment hers fell on us. She looked dumbfounded, but also somewhat annoyed. Good sign, I suppose.

Truth be told, it’s not that bad of a thing if she sees somebody else. There’s no hope for the two of us, is there? Unless it’s merely physical, we’re doomed from the start.


SILVIA

“What is it?” Ryan asked, confused.

“Huh?” I turned to him, breaking eye contact with Jake.

“You seem distracted. What is it?” Ryan asked as the wheel started moving.

“Uh ... nothing.” I half smiled, turning to him. “Nothing. I just ... saw something odd.” Rather, someone. Why do I keep seeing my employer every-freaking-where I go? Whenever I spend carefree time, I find him there. It’s getting really annoying. And a bit awkward too now, given the “date” I skipped the other night.

It’s odd, you know. Think about how different would have my weekend been, had I chosen not to answer my phone that exact moment.

I’d have gone ahead and lost my virginity to a guy with whom I’ve shared so little. A man that’s supposed to be my superior yet we’re sort of friends. A man that incarnates everything I don’t like in the male universe. A man that’s probably seen more vaginas than I books. Just how wrong would it have been? Thankfully Ryan saved me from such an awful choice.

Smiling more truthfully, I sneaked just a little closer, and leaned my head on his shoulder. He was surprised, but didn’t say anything, just wrapped an arm around me and pulled me in, smiling. We both did, we both smiled as we admired the beautiful panorama around us, and I felt ... I don’t know, normal for one.

I suppose that’s one thing that lures me into this. With Ryan I can feel ... normal. Like a regular 24 years old girl, no more no less. I’m just some girl that’s hanging out with her new friend, nothing out of the ordinary. No dramas, no games, no risks. I rather like it. I like who I am around Ryan.

He placed a small kiss on my temple, taking me off guard as he murmured: “I missed you.”

“What?” I raised my head.

He offered me a small, flustered smile. “I came over here this weekend because I missed you real bad, Sil.”

“We’ve barely seen each other these weeks. Mostly texted and talked on the phone.”

“Yeah, but ... those few days we spent together in the beginning, they remained stuck in my mind, and I kept thinking of you ... I needed to see you.”

I smiled. “Is that why you’ve often skyped me?”

He laughed. “Yeah, I guess ...”

I sat up properly. “Rye ...”

“Oh, come on, don’t get all awkward now ... we’re friends.”

“Yeah, but ...”

Ryan half smiled, pulling me back into him. “You know what’s my situation. Anything I say or do these days, it’s merely driven by the fact that I’ve grown fond of you, Sil. That’s all.”

“That’s all?” Like, there’s no chance we’ll ever be more? Am I eternally friendzoned?

He kissed my temple, and I unconsciously snuggled into him. I’m not sure why, but I really feel ... at ease with him. “Maybe someday.”

“Someday what?”

Ryan grinned, placing a wet kiss on my cheek, taking the chance to whisper in my ear. “Maybe someday I’ll kiss more than your cheek.”

Sneaky little ... I like him. Gosh, I really like him. What am I supposed to do? I’ve never found myself in such a situation. Crushing on a friend is already awkward, but add that said friend is still hung up on his ex, and that the other side of me is crushing on a guy with whom, let’s face it, I have no future ... the situation’s pretty fucked up.

Yet as I looked into Ryan’s blue eyes, I found the answer. Maybe I’ll have to wait more than a while, but who says it’s not worth it?


“I’m starting to worry.” Tess claimed, eyeing me suspiciously.

“What? Why?” I tore my gaze off my phone for a moment.

“You’re smiling. I’ve never seen you smile that much.”

“So? Is it a bad thing?”

“No, but it’s ... creepy. Where’s my grumpy babe?” she inched closer to me, trying to peek my phone, but I hid it in time.

“Still here.” I grinned. “She’s only having a few blissful weeks. Is it bad?”

“It’s that Chicago guy, isn’t it? You’ve been all smiley ever since you started seeing him.”

I rolled my eyes, pocketing my phone. “I’m not ‘seeing him’” I quoted the last two words. “We’re friends.”

“Friends with benefits?” Tess arched an eyebrow at me.

“No ... just friends.”

“But you want more, don’t you?”

I bit my lip, playing with my salad. “Maybe.” I sighed, dropping the fork. “Tess, what do I do? I mean, I like him ... like, really like him.” Like...a real crush. A crush like I’ve never had. It’s so weird.

I mean, yeah, I was starting to crush on Jake, enough to be jealous, but this one feels...different. I feel like never hanging up whenever Ryan and I speak on the phone, I’m not one to usually text first, yet with him I do, because I really wanna hear from him. We spend weekends together, yet I always miss him. Gosh, it’s so weird. I’ve never felt like this, so...normal.

“But ...?”

“But ... he’s still hung up on his ex. Or rather, he’s better now, but I don’t think he’s ready to start something new. I don’t wanna be a rebound.”

She grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Awww my Sissy is in love!”

I frowned. “What? No!” I bit my lip. “It’s just a crush ...”

“Who’s got a crush?” there goes the easy lunch with my best friend.

I groaned, though making space for him. “Why are you always showing up wherever we go?”

Jake laughed. “I’m a good stalker, baby.” He winked, sitting beside me. “So, who’s got a crush on whom?” He asked as he flagged down the waitress.

“Sissy.” Tess answered promptly, a mischievous grin on her face. She obviously ignored my dirty look. “She’s been hearing from this Chicago guy ... it’s getting pretty serious.”

“Is it?” Jake wondered laconically, only to then order his lunch, with a good side of winking and flirting with the waitress.

“Yeah ... seems she really likes him.” I knew what Tess was doing. She’s convinced Jake has a crush on me, so she was ... testing waters in her own weird way, trying to see whether he gets jealous or not.

Predictably, he shrugged. “Hurry up, then. You don’t want him to find someone else to play with, do you?”

“He’s not you.” I grumbled under my breath.

“Not me?” Jake laughed. “Meaning?”

“Not a player, not a womanizer, not a fling guy.”

“Ha! You’d love that, wouldn’t you? What makes you think he’s not in Chicago jumping from one bed to another?”

I rolled my eyes. Same arguments as Tess. “He isn’t.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I trust him.” I what? Uh oh. I really do. I ... I trust Ryan. Like ... for real. And I think I’m ... oh, shit. “Excuse me.” I stood, feeling dizzy, yet I grabbed my phone and got out, needing to make one specific phone call.


JAKE

“Yeah, don’t tell me, I know.” I grumbled as I watched Silvia get out of the deli, phone in hand. “I’ve lost her.”

“Should have made your move when you could.” Tess argued.

“Didn’t I?”

“Oh, really? Let me pop your cherry? Does that sound like a date request to you?”

“Well, it’s romantic in its own way.”

Tess rolled her eyes. “You’re a jerk.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“No, seriously, you’re a jerk. You had the upper hand, yet you let it slip ... now look, she’s all lovey-dovey with that Ryan guy. You’re an idiot, Jake.”

I rolled my eyes. “Please, don’t restart.”

“You gave away your chance.”

“I never had a chance. Not at a relationship anyways.”

“And you’re fine with that?”

I shrugged. “Yeah, perfectly fine.” Well, perfectly maybe not, but somewhat fine, yeah. I mean, tough luck. What’s a man gotta do?

Perking up my ears, I could hear Silvia laughing at something the guy said. My sentence was signed at her next words, though: “Yeah, a date ... you and I. What do you think? ... no, a real one. [laughs] Yeah, like ... uh huh. No, I’m not ... it’s been three months, I’m pretty sure of what I’m saying. ... Yeah ... well, yeah, I like you, Ryan. [laughs] Yeah, I like, like you, silly.”

When a girl like that, that cold, that impassive, that reserved, so openly goes and laughs and declares her crush, you can bet your head any other suitor has lost. I have. No big deal. I never considered chasing her in that sense, did I?

Ugh. Then why do I feel this sense of failure? Why is there this tight knot in my stomach? Why ... why am I jealous?

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