Stand By Me

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Chapter 2

Lex sighed, as she took another drag off her cigarette. She hadn’t seen Jason in over an hour, and she was growing concerned. He usually acted weird after anything happened between them. She always assumed from guilt, although it made no sense what he felt guilty for. But, this time seemed different. He was obviously avoiding her.

“Hey.” Someone greeted from behind her. She looked over her shoulder to see Adam.

“Oh, hello.” She greeted with a lack of enthusiasm. He nodded.

“I was just wondering if you had a minute.” He mumbled. She turned to face him, and smiled.

“For you, always.”

“Can we talk somewhere, private?” He asked softly. She sighed, running her smoke along the wall. She blew the last puff of smoke up into the air. Then, she followed him as he headed through the gym. They went down the hallway towards the change rooms.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, leaning against the wall. He shifted his weight to his other foot.

“This is going to sound, bizarre.” He started. She raised her eyebrow.

“Really, bizarre.” He added.

“Alright, what is it?” She asked, almost irritated. Adam had a habit of dragging things out.

“I was wondering, I know it’s not something you want to talk about, and trust me, I don’t want to ask, but, did you, know the name of the guy?” He questioned, looking down at the ground. She half laughed, shaking her head.

“The Jennifer thing? I thought you didn’t believe me, Adam.” She accused.

“She’s been acting, weird.” He muttered. Lex laughed out loud.

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“What was his name?” Adam repeated. Lex shook her head,

“I don’t know.” She admitted. She knew more than his name. She knew exactly who he was. But she wanted Adam to suffer. He should have believed her before.

“Last night, I heard her on the phone with someone, Russell, I think.” He looked sad, which made her feel bad. She sighed. It had been more than six months since she told Adam that Jennifer was cheating on him. She never told Adam that the person she caught Jennifer with was her then-boyfriend, Russell. Long ago, Jennifer had been her best friend. Jennifer was the one who took Lex to the hospital the night she over drank. They got into a fight when Jennifer found out she had cheated on Adam. Lex left town, and shortly after, so did Jennifer. But, Jennifer had moved back around a year ago, and started pursuing Adam. It was only a couple months later that Lex caught her with Russell. She had told Jennifer she was going to tell Adam. Jennifer threatened to tell everyone the reason she left. It was a stalemate. She was torn about what to do for weeks. Then she decided to do the right thing, and tell Adam. Of course, he didn’t believe her anyways, so Jennifer never knew Lex told him. She shook her head thinking of it. Adam was still standing in front of her, just staring at the floor. She sighed.

“Like I said, I don’t know, Adam.” She repeated. He nodded.

“I’m sorry for bringing it up.”

“Let’s just enjoy our evening.” She dismissed, heading back towards the gym. She noticed Lela had just come in. She had recently dyed bright red streaks in her long black hair. It looked good with her brown eyes and very pale skin. She was wearing a black skin tight t-shirt with a little pocket in the chest. It had a small vending machine key chain hanging out of it. She had on a very short red and black plaid mini skirt. She had black spiked wrist bands all up both of her arms, fighting for attention with her assorted tattoos. She complimented the look with black combat boots. Lex watched her approach Eddie. Both her and Adam watched them disappear into the hallway.

“I wonder what that’s about.” He commented. She shrugged. Lela and Eddie had only been together for a couple months. Neither of them seemed into the relationship. Lex laughed, shaking her head.

“Who knows with those two.”

“Come on. It’s not like you care about me, or anyone else for that matter. You only care about yourself. You’ve only ever cared about yourself. You’re a selfish piece of shit, you know that?” Lela yelled, turning her back to Eddie.

“You’re one to talk. When was the last time you wanted to fuck me? I have needs too you know.” He argued. Lela threw her hands up in the air.

“I can’t believe you’re going there.” She barked in response. He crossed his arms over his chest.

“What?” He questioned.

“Seriously Eddie? Is that all you ever think about?” She asked. She quickly shook her head.

“It’s not all I...” He started to argue. She put her finger in the air, silencing him.

“Fine, if you want to go there. We’ll go there.” She started.

“I didn’t mean to Lela.” He tried to detour. She shook her head.

“No, you want the truth? Fine. I want you, I really do, but, I can’t bring myself to take you seriously. I mean, how am I supposed to want to be with you, when I don’t even know where you are half the time.” She tried to gentle the situation down.

“What do you mean where I am? Home.” He argued, missing the point. She laughed.

“I mean, how do you expect me to want to fuck you when I don’t know who else you’re fucking.” She blurted. She could tell by the expression on his face that she had hit a nerve. She sighed.

“I didn’t mean for that to come out the way it did.” She apologized. He was quiet.

“I just, I mean, do you even think about me?” She challenged.

“I think about you all the time...” He mumbled. Lela shook her head.

“I meant, never mind.” She dismissed. He went to put his hand on her shoulder, and she pulled away.

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore. I have more self-esteem than this.” She stopped herself, and sighed.

“What happened to you, Eddie?” She finished.

“I’m the same way I’ve always been. You’re the one who’s changing.” He stated as though he knew everything. She shook her head.

“No. The man I knew, the man I fell in love with, wanted something for himself. He had hopes, and dreams, and he wanted to be somebody. Now, look at you.” She continued. He shook his head.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He barked. She sighed again.

“You’ve completely fallen apart, and worse than that, you don’t even care enough about yourself to try and fix it. You could be anything you wanted to be, all you have to do is try. I mean that, but, you don’t, you won’t. You won’t do it for me, and you won’t do it for yourself.” She kept lecturing. She could tell it was going in one ear and out the other. That’s the way Eddie was. He only heard what he wanted to.

“I just need more. I need more than you, pretending to care.” She finished.

“I care. I do. I care about you, and us.” He insisted, almost in tears. She shook her head.

“How? How can you care about me when you don’t even care about yourself?” She challenged.

“Please don’t do this.” He moaned. She looked up at the ceiling. She was fighting back her tears.

“I’m sorry, Eddie. I am. But, I don’t think we have a future together. I want someone who’s committed. Committed to me, but more importantly, to themselves. I want someone who’s biggest daily accomplishment isn’t just getting out of bed.” She mumbled.

“It’s not.” He tried arguing. She looked over at him, and half-smiled. It was nice to know he at least cared enough to plea for her to change her mind. Or, he was that scared of being alone. She sighed.

“I can’t keep doing this, Eddie. I tried. I really did. I gave it my best shot. I love you, and I always will, but, enough is enough.”

“So that’s it? You’re breaking up with me?” He asked, pouting. She shook her head.

“Call me when you’ve pulled yourself together.”

Lex tapped her foot on the ground. She was so frustrated by Adam. She couldn’t believe he had the nerve to ask her about his cheating girlfriend after everything he had said to her. Nicole tapped her on the shoulder, which made her jump. Lex turned to face her.

“Something on your mind, darling?” She asked, in a country-western accent. Lex laughed, shrugging.

“What isn’t?” She joked. Nicole nodded.

“Care to unload?” Lex sighed.

“It’s just a combination. Last night must have been a disaster, but I don’t remember a thing. Something’s come up with Jason, and I need to talk to him, but, that’s a complicated, and very delicate situation. Adam’s being, Adam, and it’s really pissing me off. I apparently spent the night at Trav’s, which is just fucking with me. Oh, and that’s right, I’m supposed to have a speech written for the fundraiser, which is of course the hardest thing, and the only thing that Jesse and Ares even left for me to do. Like I said, it’s just a combination, and I’m snapping.” She ranted. Nicole laughed.

“Well, Ruben is absolutely fantastic with writing speeches, and he thrives under tight deadlines and immense pressure.” She joked. Lex looked at her and smiled.

“It’s a sweet offer, but, I don’t think he would know the right things to say. This has to be perfect, after all.” She argued. Nicole was quiet for a minute.

“We could always write the speech with Jesse and Ares. They’ll know what to say.” She announced, clapping her hands together. Lex thought about it.

“That’s a good idea. All I’ll have to do is read it!” She commented, faking enthusiasm. Nicole laughed.

“Or, I can read the speech for you. Then, all you’ll have to do, is chill out.” She offered, smiling. Seconds later, her eyes lit up.

“I could even sing it! Wouldn’t that be something?” She exclaimed. Lex couldn’t help but laugh. Nicole was older than her, and she was acting six. She was jumping up and down in place. Lex thought about it. Nicole was a professional musician. She had platinum albums and everything. But she had been out of the business for the last couple years. She wanted to have a normal life and a family, and it was actually the reason her and Ruben were moving to town. She had yet to tell Eddie that Nicole would be staying though. He was under the impression she was just visiting.

“I’ll have to think about it. The host is supposed to read the speech.” Lex replied, taking her weight off the wall. She sighed, rolling her eyes as she noticed Eddie and Jesse walking over to them. Nicole turned around, and laughed at her displeasure.

“To what do I owe this delight?” Lex asked sarcastically.

“Eddie would like to know...” Jesse started in an average volume.

“I want to play tonight!” Eddie yelled loudly. He sounded like he was on an adrenaline high. Nicole laughed, raising her eyebrow.

“Play with what? Yourself?” She teased. Eddie stared at her blankly, before looking over at Lex.

“I want to play.” He repeated as he started jumping up and down. Now he was acting six. Lex shook her head. Eddie was referring to the band he had once been the guitarist of. They had been disbanded for nine years, but she knew he kept in touch with the other members. Still, he had never shown any interest in getting back into the music industry.

“How exactly are you going to accomplish that?” She asked, crossing her arms. Eddie shook his head.

“We weren’t going to tell anyone yet, but we’ve actually been thinking about the band again. We’ve done some basement rehearsals, and we still sound the same.” He announced. She laughed.

“I see.” She sighed. Jesse laughed.

“Yeah, that was my answer.” He added. Lex shook her head.

“This isn’t going to end well, and, I know I’m going to regret this, but, hey, life’s about taking chances. If you think you can pull off a show, go for it. It can be an official, unofficial, reunion show.” She agreed, throwing her hands in the air. Eddie clapped.

“Are you fucking serious?” Nicole barked, putting one of her hands on her hip. Lex shook her head.

“We’re tight on performances. I mean, he wants to do it. That’s more enthusiasm than even Frankie showed. If the band agrees, there’s not much else I can say.” She muttered.

“I’m going to call the band.” Eddie yelled, darting back into the gym. Nicole shook her head.

“What is wrong with that boy?” She asked. Lex and Jesse both laughed.

“We’ve all been asking that for a long time.” He joked. Lex nodded.

“I wonder where this sudden need for attention came from.” Lex asked out loud. Jesse shook his head.

“I don’t know how to feel.” He mumbled. Nicole started laughing.

“Be afraid. Very, very, afraid.” She answered. Jesse and Lex joined her laughter.

“How is my pretty lady?” Dorien asked, smiling menacingly. Lex laughed, shaking her head. The event wasn’t starting for a couple more hours, but her friends were starting to show up. Dorien was more like a brother to her. She had known him all her life. He was 6′3”, and weighed barely anything. He was a little more thin than healthy. He had milk white skin, due to a pigmentation problem. He wore thick black eye shadow, black eye liner, and black nail polish. He had black, shoulder length dreadlocks. The look really brought out his ice blue eyes. He was dressed in a loose fitting “Slipknot” t-shirt, and baggy black pants, with buckles and straps. His husband, Jake, was his dainty counterpart. He always had manicured nails. He had very short blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. He was only 5′6”, but height didn’t seem to bother him. He was wearing a navy dress shirt, covered with a green argyle sweater vest. She hugged them both.

“I’ve been better.” She replied casually.

“Aww. What’s wrong?” He asked with a concerned look on his face. She shook her head.

“It’s nothing. I don’t want to bother anyone with my shit.” She moaned. He laughed, looking around.

“Well, I’m here if you... Is that... Nicole?” He asked excitedly, trailing off. Dorien was a photographer. He owned his own photography company, which was also an alternative style modeling agency. He designed his own clothing to accompany the models. Lex had worked for him, back when he was starting his portfolio. She had even done a photo shoot with Jason a couple years prior. They set up in the basement of some abandoned building. The shoot was dark, involving a lot of leather and a whip and chains. It was aimed only for adults, but, it was all in good fun. Later that night, Jack Daniels was involved, and her and Jason got carried away with her web cam.

“Yes, yes it is.” She replied. Dorien looked from Lex to Nicole. Lex motioned for him to go. He darted in her direction. Jake laughed, and ran after him.

“So, where were we before this wonderful interruption?” She spun around to see James standing behind her with his hand on his hip. She shook her head.

“You were minding your own business.” She reminded him. He laughed and shook his head.

“Come on, what are you trying to hide?” He teased, leaning on her shoulder. She shrugged him off.

“I’m not an armrest.” She scolded.

“Do you love him?” He pried. She stared at him blankly.

“Of course. He’s my best friend.” James laughed.

“Oh, come on. I saw the way you were looking at him. That’s just not the way friends look at each other. Plus, I’ve caught the two of you making out twice in the last 24 hours. That’s something more serious than friendship.” He added with a chuckle. She raised her eyebrow.

“Twice?” She questioned. James nodded.

“Last night, you went MIA, and I went looking for you. I found you and Jason in the VIP lounge, lip-locked like there was no tomorrow. How can you deny that?” She hesitated in answering. She still didn’t remember anything from the night before, but it sounded like her. She always used any excuse to get close to Jason, especially if alcohol was involved and could be blamed.

“If I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen?” She answered, biting her lip.

“What about the dream? Earlier in the car?” He sounded more annoyed as he asked.

“I don’t know.” She whined. James put his arm around her shoulders, and pulled her to his chest.

“Personally, I think you are just a little bit of a lot of in love with him. But, hey, I’ve been wrong before.” He offered. She pulled back abruptly.

“Absolutely not! In love with Jason... No. He’s just a friend. Don’t be silly.” She stumbled. She wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince James, or herself. She knew she just didn’t want anyone to question it. She wasn’t ready to tell him yet.

“Why did you go home with Travis?” He asked quietly. Her eyes went wide.

“You knew?” He nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me this morning?” She asked sounding offended. He shrugged.

“I decided to let you exaggerate the situation in your head.” He answered. She shook her head.

“Why?” She barked. He shrugged.

“If you didn’t drink so much, you’d remember more of your life. Come on, you know me.” He lectured. She sighed as he stuck his tongue out.

“You’re a jerk.” She mumbled, rolling her eyes. She bit her lip, trying to recall her evening. She vaguely remembered going with Jason to the lounge. That was typical of nights at the bar. They both enjoyed the loud bass, but, there was no way of talking over it. They both enjoyed the conversation more. In fact, she had no idea why they ever went out, except to appease the masses they called friends. All of who practically lived at the bar. It didn’t help that she worked four nights a week either. So they always went to the lounge because even though it over looked the dance floor, it was high enough that the sound was muffled. She guessed she might have wanted to tell him how she felt. But it was all a blank in her mind after they got upstairs.

“Fuck.” She muttered. James patted her on the shoulder, smiling.

“Exactly.”

“What do I do?” She asked. There was a sadness in her eyes that almost made him feel bad. He sighed.

“Tell him how you feel.” He suggested. She shook her head again.

“But, Megan.” She argued. James sighed.

“I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, but...” He trailed off, looking at the entrance. He turned her to see what he was looking at. Megan had just walked in on the arm of Andrew. Lex recognized him from high school. He was around 5′10”. He had just past shoulder length blonde hair worn underneath a black beanie. He was wearing a blue and white striped t-shirt, underneath a blue unbuttoned dress shirt. His jeans were baggy, and had rips in both knees. He looked like he was trying to be the next Kurt Cobain, but lacked the sensitive artist thing. Lex stared in shock, as Gerry came up beside them. He was almost 5′8”, and had a bigger than average build. He wasn’t overweight, and he had a nice definition to his body. But he was naturally bigger. His recently dyed red hair was a mess on his head. Ironically, it was the same color Lela had just put in her hair. Gerry was wearing a loose fitted black t-shirt and ripped black denim jeans. He had on a pair of black and white unbranded sneakers.

“What’s going on?” Lex questioned. Gerry went to say something, but James shook his head. Lex started walking forward, slowly approaching Megan.

“I’ll catch up with you in a second, alright babe?” Megan commented. Andrew nodded, and gave her a quick peck, heading into the gym. Lex stared in disbelief. She felt like she was staring at a stranger.

“Yes?” She asked casually, referring to the look.

“What the hell is going on?” Lex asked, pointing in Andrew’s direction. Megan laughed.

“Right, I was going to tell you before this. But everything has just been crazy. I’m dating Andrew now.” She stated. Lex raised her eyebrow again.

“What about Jason?” Lex questioned, putting her hand on her hip. Megan laughed, nodding.

“Yeah, that’s complicated.” She dismissed.

“Cut the bullshit, Megan.” She barked. Megan smiled, and shook her head.

“I think you’d better ask him.”

Lex leaned against the wall, lighting a smoke. It was starting to make sense why Jason drank so much. It’s hard to be collected when your girlfriends on the arm of another guy. It also made sense why he had been so edgy, and didn’t want to talk about it. She was starting to be glad she didn’t remember what happened. Eddie tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey, could you do me a big favor?” He asked excitedly. She nodded.

“I have to grab my guitar, and I just let Adam take my car to go get that whore he calls his girlfriend. Could you give me a ride? Please?” He begged. She laughed. She wasn’t alone in her dislike of Jennifer. No one in their group liked her.

“Sure. Just give me five minutes, alright?” He nodded, walking back into the gym. She put her smoke out on the wall, and headed back into the gym. Jason had joined Nicole and Ares by the stage.

“Hey guys!” Lex greeted the small group.

“Did you miss me already?” Nicole cooed. Jason looked down at the ground, and avoided looking at her. He shifted his position, subtly moving further away. Lex laughed.

“Of course!” She rolled her eyes, before continuing.

“Anyways, how do you feel about co-hosting the event, and, performing your speech?” She asked smiling. Nicole’s eyes lit up and she started jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

“Awesome! I’m going to get started on that right now!” Nicole hollered loudly. She darted over to where Jesse was sitting, so fast she almost tripped. Then she threw herself down at the table with him, and the whole thing tipped as she dropped down. Ares laughed, following slowly.

“Hey, can you keep an eye out for Alison? I have her sitting with us at the table.” Lex called to Ares. She briefly turned around and nodded. Alison wasn’t really part of the group, she was just friends with Lela. But, Lex tried to make her feel welcome all the same. Frankie was usually just too busy to hang.

“Do you have a second?” She asked, trying to get Jason to look at her. He nodded, but didn’t look up.

“You’re really going to make this awkward, huh?” She half-laughed. He raised his eyebrow, briefly looking up. Lex noticed Eddie was waving her down from the entrance. She sighed.

“I’ve got to take Eddie to grab his precious guitar because for some reason he can’t use Frankie’s.” She announced in a mocking tone of voice. Jason laughed.

“Frankie doesn’t let anyone touch his guitars.” He reminded her. She sighed.

“Yeah, that too. But the larger point is that Eddie wants his good luck charm.” She added, still mocking him. He was frantically waving her down. She shook her head, looking back at Jason.

“But when I get back, Jason, we need to talk about this. Seriously.” She demanded. He nodded, seeming nervous. She shook her head, and ran towards Eddie.

“Ready?” He asked, as she got closer.

“As ready as I’m going to be.” She answered, heading towards the parking lot. Eddie followed closely. He slid over the hood, and jumped into the passengers side. She laughed, and got into the car. Eddie started playing a drum beat on the dashboard, which was soon followed by an off-key singing. Lex laughed and shook her head.

“You’re going to need to practice if you want to perform tonight.” She instructed. Eddie shook his head.

“Nah, I never need to practice.” He continued singing. He missed many notes, then sighed.

“I think you might need the refresher. I mean, at least, in playing with the band. It has been a while since you performed in front of people, right?” She reworded. Eddie sighed, then laughed.

“Yeah. You’re right. I’ll talk to Jesse when we get back.”

“Where did Lex get to? I need her opinion about something.” Nicole asked, looking up from her paper. Her eyes scanned the room, then settled on Jason.

“She left with Eddie a few minutes ago.” He replied, leaning back in his chair.

“Alone?” She asked. Jason nodded.

“Oh. Well, that seems safe.” She commented sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Jason laughed.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He asked, leaning forward. Nicole raised her eyebrow.

“Come on, Jason. Eddie has a thing with women. For some reason, they can’t resist him.” She pointed out. He was quiet for a minute, then shook his head.

“No. There’s no way. She’s better than that.” He insisted. She laughed, shaking her head.

“It’s adorable that you hold her to such a high standard, really. But, I’m telling you a fact here.” Nicole explained. Jason kept shaking his head.

“I don’t see the appeal. I mean, the ego, I’m better than everyone attitude, really doesn’t do it for me.” Ares joked, laughing. Jason nodded, raising his hand.

“My thoughts exactly. I mean, I never understood it. So many people fall for him, and he’s just a self-loathing basket case with serious emotional dependency issues.” He ranted. Nicole laughed, falling out of her seat. Holding her side, she slowly climbed back into her seat.

“How can you be so mean to someone you call a friend?” She questioned. Jason shook his head.

“I’ve earned the right for putting up with him.” He defended. Nicole laughed, nodding.

“I can’t blame you for hating what you see. There’s no doubt he’s, well,” She stopped.

“An asshole.” Jason finished. Nicole laughed, nodding.

“Yes, but, you’ve got to trust me on this one. He is irresistible to the female race. For some reason, every woman is crazy about a guy who has so much self confidence that you can tell from a mile away that it’s fake. He has a charm, and it’s impossible to be alone with him. I know.” She stated bluntly. Jason raised his eyebrow, then shook his head furiously.

“Great, now I’m picturing it.” He barked, putting his hands over his eyes. Nicole laughed loudly, holding her side again. She slowly shook her head, then went back to writing.

“So, now I’m curious.” Ruben started, finally getting involved in the conversation. Nicole stopped laughing and turned to face him, biting the side of her lip. He had his arms crossed over his chest and a look of discontent over his face.

“Yes, Ruben?” She asked innocently.

“That weekend, the one you spent with Eddie, March Break?” He questioned.

“Yeah. About that weekend. There’s something I never told you.” Nicole started, half smiling. Ruben laughed, shaking his head. He went to say something, but stopped himself.

“I should have known. Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked. Nicole shrugged. She did her best not to acknowledge Eddie. She always said a man with that big of an ego doesn’t need anyone stroking it. She said even though it was all a sham, she intended to break him. She even vowed to it. It was clear to everyone but her that she was in love.

“To be honest, I just wanted to forget it ever happened. It was nothing like I had imagined it. Completely dissatisfying. I didn’t want to mess our relationship up because of a mistake I never wanted to remember.” She rambled. Ares laughed, quickly covering her mouth. She tried to stay out of most conversations, especially personal ones.

“Seriously? Even you’ve fucked Eddie?” Jason questioned, loudly. Nicole put her finger over her lip.

“Be quiet. I don’t want the whole world knowing.” She joked. He shook his head.

“No offense, but I don’t think Lex is that weak.” He continued to argue. Nicole slowly shook her head.

“Oh Jason, you’re naivety is adorable.”

Lex pulled her hair into a loose bun on the top of her head. She pulled a few strands down, positioning them on her face. As she did, Eddie slid his arms around her waist.

“You look fantastic.” He commented. She turned to face him. She had on her tallest heels, so she went just up to his chest. It was a nice change from craning her neck to make eye contact. She was wearing a skin-tight, strapless dress that went just above her knees. It was a dark plum color, with hints of red. There were scattered little sparkles clinging to the nylon fabric.

“Thank you. I borrowed this dress from Nicole.” She immediately regret the sentence.

“Speaking of Nicole.” He started, smiling. She shook her head.

“Eddie, you can’t.” She argued in a scolding tone.

“I could tell everyone what just happened, between us.” He teased.

“You’re going to hold this over me for a long time, aren’t you?” She asked.

“I’d rather hold something else over you.” He moaned. She pushed him away.

“Down, boy.” She instructed. He laughed.

“I can’t help it. You’re just so, irresistible.” He cooed. He put his arms back around her waist, and pulled her against him. He slowly kissed her, running his hands up her back. She shook her head again.

“Yeah, sure. Get off me. I don’t need to smell like I’m drowning in a bottle of cologne. Like you.” She muttered, puling away from him. He laughed.

“You love every minute of it.” He insisted, running his lips over her cheek. She shook him off again.

“Yeah, that’s the problem.” She muttered. He looked hurt, which made her smile.

“Okay, go get your guitar. That’s what we’re here for, remember?” She instructed. He dragged himself back down the stairs. She quickly did her make up, and headed down the stairs. Eddie was sprawled on the loveseat, with his guitar rested against the arm. She tapped her foot.

“Move it.” She instructed. He jumped up, and grabbed his guitar.

“Lex, I really, really, want Nicole.” He insisted.

“Fuck off, Eddie.” She muttered, rolling her eyes. He started laughing.

“You’re so sexy when you’re angry.” He commented, putting one of his arms around her waist. She punched him in the shoulder, and he fell into the door. She put her hand on her hip.

“Get out of my way.” She barked. He raised his arms and looked at her wide eyed.

“You put me here.” He argued. She grabbed his shoulder and pushed him behind her.

“Now, I put you there.” She corrected, faking a smile. He laughed.

“Well I do love being behind you.” He assured. She turned around, and sharply eyed him down. He kept laughing as he followed her towards the car.

“I don’t know why you think this is so funny Eddie. I’m serious.” She continued.

“About what?” He asked, putting his guitar into the back seat. Lex shook her head, starting the ignition. As Eddie closed the door, she started to back out of the driveway. She slammed on the breaks, and smiled. He rolled his eyes and got into the passengers side.

“I don’t want you to use Nicole, like you use everyone else. She deserves to be more than just a notch in your bedpost. She’s worth more than that, don’t you think?” She continued. He looked offended.

“I don’t use every girl.” He defended.

“Name one girl, just one, that you didn’t use for something.” She challenged, staring him down. He hesitated in answering. He knew there was one girl he would do anything for. She nodded.

“Exactly.” She dismissed. He shook his head.

“What is it with you women today? Do I have a sign on my forehead that says worlds biggest jack ass?” He asked under his breath. She looked over at him briefly.

“What?” She asked. He shook his head.

“Nothing.” He dismissed, sinking into his seat.

“I need to talk to you, if you have a second.” Lela insisted as Lex entered the gym. She laughed, and nodded. She put her arms in the air.

“We’re just going to have to see.” Lex commented laughing. Lela led her into the hallway. She leaned against the wall, and took a deep breath. Lex hadn’t seen Lela so, discontent, in the entire time they knew each other. Which, was a long time ago since they met in their first year of high school. They both had unique looks, and it bonded them. They were close even when they went through periods of not talking to one another. They both moved around frequently, so those times were more often than not. Lela had moved back last summer, and, started dating Eddie.

“I broke up with Eddie earlier.” She blurted. Lex raised her eyebrow.

“Really?” She asked, trying to act surprised. She knew it didn’t work.

“You knew?” Lela asked. Lex shook her head.

“It was bound to happen sooner or later, that’s all.” She dismissed. Lela nodded absentmindedly.

“But that’s not what’s on your mind.” Lex guessed. Lela shook her head.

“No.” She agreed. They were both quiet for almost five minutes.

“The thing is, there’s someone else.” She announced. Lex raised her eyebrow.

“Did I miss a memo somewhere? Everyone seems to be finding ‘someone else’. I mean, have I really been this self-involved?” She asked, more to herself.

“Sorry?” Lela asked, confused.

“Me too, I guess. I just can’t believe Megan is dating Andrew.” She whined. Lela raised her eyebrow.

“Andrew?” She repeated.

“Yeah, do you remember him? He was in our grade 12 shop class. Tall, nerdy...” She described. Lela paused, then nodded. Then she shook her head.

“Wait what? Megan’s dating him now? What happened with Jason?” Lela asked. Lex clapped.

“Finally, someone else who has no idea what’s going on! I don’t understand. Any of it. I have no idea what’s going on. No one’s telling me anything either.“ She rambled. Lela nodded.

“So, what’s up with this new interest of yours?” Lex asked, quickly changing the subject.

“It’s going to seem weird, since there’s history. But even if he doesn’t feel the same, I need to tell him how I feel.” Lela rambled. Lex raised her eyebrow.

“Weird?” Lex asked. Lela nodded.

“I’m in love with Gerry.” She continued. Lex smiled, but more to herself. Lex and Gerry had been together on and off for years. But when he met Lela, he said he knew she was the one. He even used that phrase. He was so in love with her, but, he knew how hectic her life was. So, he started working at the record store she managed to try and get close to her. Slowly. The way nice guys in the movies always do. And like the nice guys, he was overshadowed when Eddie asked her out. But, she had spent many nights listening to Gerry talk about his feelings. He’d go into detail that he even loved the way she tucked her hair behind her ear. He paid attention to all the little, subtle things. He was the opposite of Eddie. And, he was exactly what Lela needed.

“Just talk to him.” She encouraged. Lela laughed.

“I should have known that was what you were going to say. You’re always so straight-forward.” She complimented. Lex nodded.

“I try, I do. But, I wish I could be more straight-forward in my own life. Maybe I’d be with Jason, and I wouldn’t be walking all over his feelings the way Megan is.” She trailed off. Lela raised her eyebrow.

“What?” She questioned. Lex shook her head.

“Sorry, that keeps happening.” She dismissed. Lela laughed, raising her eyebrow.

“I’m going to guess someone’s on your mind.” She observed. Lex laughed, shaking her head.

“Yeah. It’s complicated.” She dismissed. Lela nodded.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She offered. Lex laughed, shaking her head.

“Like I said, it’s complicated. I just want to get through the night.” She dismissed. Lela nodded.

“Let it be tomorrows problem.” She offered. Lex nodded.

“Something like that, yeah.”

“Jason, go find Lex.” Nicole demanded, pushing his shoulder. He laughed.

“I told you, she’s gone.” He argued.

“No, she got back a couple minutes ago. She’s in the hall talking to Lela.” Jason raised his eyebrow, and looked to the entrance. Nicole was right, Lex and Lela were in the hallway talking. He sighed.

“Why do I have to do it?” He whined. Nicole raised her eyebrow.

“Alright. I wasn’t going to ask, but, you’ve given me no choice.” She started. Jason looked up.

“Seriously, what’s going on with the two of you?” Nicole asked, crossing her arms.

“What do you mean?” He shifted, looking at the ceiling.

“Dude, you’ve been avoiding her since I got here.” She clarified. Jason shook his head and stood up.

“I’ll go get her.” He dismissed. Nicole laughed as he left the table. He could hear her muttering something, but ignored what she was saying.

“Lex?” He greeted as he approached the two. She turned to face him, and he looked down at the ground. She rolled her eyes, looking back over at Lela. She nodded.

“I see what you mean.” She agreed. Jason looked up, but only at Lela. She faked a smile.

“I’ve got to get going. Nice talking though.” She said in Lex’s direction. Lex nodded as Lela left.

“What can I do for you, Jason?” She greeted, smiling. He stared at her for a minute.

“Is everything alright?“ She asked. He shook his head.

“Yeah, sorry. The speech is finished, and Nicole asked me to come and find you.” He explained. She nodded, and followed him back to the table. Nicole was sitting in the middle, with Ruben and Ares on opposite sides. Jesse was sitting on the other side of Ares. Lex pushed Nicole out of her seat.

“Thanks for keeping my seat warm.” She commented, sliding into the seat. Nicole laughed, hitting her on the shoulder. She pulled another chair over, and squeezed it in between Lex and Ruben. Ares handed Lex the finished piece. She was quiet, reading it over.

“I actually don’t think I could have written that better myself.” She commented.

“Thank you, thank you.” Ruben nodded, pretending to bow. Lex laughed, shaking her head.

“I appreciate this, I really do.” She placed the piece of paper on the table in front of Ares.

“Oh, I have to talk to Jesse. Does anyone know where he is?” She asked. Jason sat across from Ruben.

“I think he went to get a case of water.” Ruben commented.

“He can’t drink tap?” Lex asked. Nicole shook her head.

“Of course not. He’s more of a diva than James.” Nicole joked as James walked up behind them.

“I resent that remark.” He chimed. When James started coming around, many people thought he was homosexual. He carried himself, and spoke, in a feminine manner. But, as he grew more comfortable with the group, he toned down. It happened around the same time Lex and him were dating.

“Oh, James! I didn’t see you there!” Nicole lied casually. He laughed, sitting in the seat across from her.

“Sure. So what’s going on?” He asked.

“I’m no longer needed, for like, anything.” Lex answered, throwing her hands on the table.

“It’s for the best.” He commented. She smacked him on the shoulder.

“Thanks.” She muttered, rolling her eyes.

“Well, now you have more time to spend with, ahem.” James commented, looking at the ceiling.

“James, shut up. Now.” She barked. He laughed.

“Alright, but I really think you should tell Jason, about, you know.” He started. She shot him a dirty look, and he stopped talking. She shook her head.

“Anyways.” She dismissed. James started laughing.

“Tell me what?” Jason asked, crossing his arms. Lex stared at him for a minute, then laughed.

“Hey, I’ll talk when you do, kid.”

Nicole clapped loudly, hollering. Lex shook her head and hit her on the shoulder.

“Can you be quiet?” She asked under her breath.

“Nooooooooo.” Nicole screamed in response, still cheering. She turned the “o’s” into “oo’s” to continue cheering. Lex kept shaking her head. Nicole was clearly enjoying Eddie’s rehearsal, and a little too much. The band had already played through a handful of their best songs. They still seemed to have the same connection they had back when they first started performing. And Eddie really seemed to be enjoying himself. James and Gerry were now sitting at the table with them, but hooked on the stage. Both of them adored the band. The idea of a reunion was exciting. Jason was a fan too, but his eyes were glued in another direction. Megan and Andrew were sitting on the bleachers at the other end of the gym. She was all over him, and it looked like she was intentionally trying to upset Jason. It was working, and everyone could tell. Lex laughed, which made him look over at her. She shook her head, pretending to be looking at her phone. And she was, but for the time.

“What’s with you?” Jason asked, being nosy. Lex shook her head.

“Someone just posted a funny status update on Facebook. That’s all.” She dismissed. Jason raised his eyebrow. He knew she didn’t have a Facebook account.

“Hey, speaking of Facebook, has anyone seen Alison?” Lex asked, looking around the gym. Nicole repeated her cheerleader ‘no’. Jason shook his head.

“She may have to work tonight. I think someone said something about it.” He offered. Lex nodded.

“I told her to book it off.” She mumbled. Jason shrugged, finally looking away from Megan. His eyes fixated on the entrance, and he whined. Lex laughed, following his direction. Jennifer was coming into the gym. She sighed, and rolled her eyes. It turned out she wasn’t home when Adam showed up. He was moody when he got back to the school, but, everyone was happy to ignore his feelings. After all, he was usually moody. It was hard to keep track of.

“Jennifer I’m guessing?” Nicole asked. Lex nodded. She had spent many nights on the phone with Nicole telling her about Jennifer, and how bad she was for Adam. Nicole knew it was mainly jealousy, but she had never met Jennifer.

“She’s something to look at, huh?” Nicole joked as Jennifer approached. Lex laughed, and stared at the ground. Jennifer was around 5′7” and had rounded features. She was Italian, so she had a big figure, and large features. She was covered in tattoos, including one across her chest. She accented it by wearing a black, zip-up corset. The front was a satin material, the rest was transparent mesh. She had on a black short skirt with frills around the bottom. She wore black wedge sandals that were open toed, showing off her black toe nail polish. She had short black hair presently with a clip on each side. She was wearing a light pink lip gloss that looked awful on her pale skin, and a smokey gray eye shadow that drew attention to her dark brown eyes. She also had a septum piercing. She seemed like the kind of person Lex would have gotten along with, if it weren’t for the jealousy thing.

“Hello.” She greeted, sitting at the table across from Lex. Nicole held out her hand.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever met. I’m Nicole.” She greeted. Jennifer loosely shook her hand.

“I’m Jennifer.” She replied.

“It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much!” Nicole instigated in a mocking tone.

“Nicole, don’t.” Lex demanded. Jennifer shot her a dirty look, so Lex looked back to the stage.

“I’m sorry, I haven’t heard much about you. I know you’re a great lay, according to Eddie.” Jennifer replied casually. Nicole smirked, nodding.

“Wouldn’t you like to find out?” She asked. Jennifer stared at her, clearly unimpressed.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” She barked. Nicole laughed, nodding.

“I could rock your world, baby.” Nicole joked. Lex turned back, slapping Nicole on the shoulder.

“I said don’t.” She repeated. Nicole shrugged.

“I can’t help myself. It’s so much fun.” She defended. Lex shook her head. Adam ran towards the table, dropping down beside Jennifer.

“What’s going on?” He asked in a suspicious tone of voice. Lex laughed again.

“Nothing.” She replied, looking at the ceiling innocently. He looked over at Jennifer.

“Lex is being a bitch, as per usual.” She replied coyly. Lex dropped her jaw dramatically.

“I didn’t even say anything!” She argued. Nicole laughed, and leaned back in her chair. Lex glared at her, and tipped the chair over, causing Nicole to fall on the floor. Nicole stopped laughing, and pulled her chair back up. She looked over at Lex and crossed her arms.

“Oh, I’m sorry, did you want your little lover boy to think you were playing nice?” Nicole teased. Adam looked from Nicole, to Jennifer. She wasn’t phased, and clearly tuned Nicole out. He was relieved.

“Hey, don’t start this shit.” He instructed, to no one in particular. Lex jumped out of her seat.

“Well, that is my cue to leave!”

Lex dropped down on the stage beside Jason. He sat up from his previously slouched position and faked a smile. She faked one in return.

“Hello.” She greeted. She looked over at Megan, who was now leaving the gym with Andrew. Jason sighed, so she pat him on the shoulder. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t reassure him, but she wanted to. Instead, she followed Lela with her eyes. Gerry had just gone outside for a smoke, and from where she was sitting, Lex could see Lela approaching him.

“What’s that about?” Jason asked, motioning towards the two of them. She shrugged.

“Lela’s got a crush.” She blurted in a childish tone.

“What? When did this happen? Is she aware he’s gay?” Jason asked, confused. Lex laughed.

“Oh Jason, the things you don’t know could fill a book.” She teased.

“That was mean.” He muttered in response. He shifted his eyes, meeting hers.

“There are so many things I want to say to you, and I don’t know where to start.” He whispered.

“I want to know what happened with you and Megan.” She commanded. He sighed again, looking at the ground. She put her hand on his knee.

“I’m sorry, but, I want to know.” She added, softly.

“It’s alright. She didn’t say much. But, she didn’t have to. She just mentioned wanting to see other people for a while. She said she hoped it would bring us closer together. Before long, she met Andrew, and, she left me.” He mumbled. She sighed.

“When did it happen?” She asked.

“She called the break about two months ago.” He paused.

“And?” She asked.

“She dumped me last night, at the party, in front of everyone. She didn’t tell me either. She just, showed up with Andrew. When I questioned her, she just said ‘I thought you knew’, and went on with her evening.” Jason ranted still staring at the floor.

“But, that wasn’t even the worst part...” He continued. Lex sighed.

“How does it get worse?” She asked, half laughing. Jason looked up at her with glossed-over eyes.

“She brought him on stage, and gave him a lap dance to ‘La La’ by Ashlee Simpson.” Lex sighed.

“Ouch.” She didn’t know what else to say. She was a little surprised that Jason had never told her about the break. She was also a little hurt. She thought the two of them shared everything with each other.

“Yeah.” He muttered.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked, pushing his shoulder with hers. He looked up and half smiled.

“I couldn’t. I hoped it would work out.” He admitted, looking back at the floor.

“I’m sorry Jason.” She whined. He raised his eyebrow, looking back at her.

“What are you sorry about? It’s not your fault.” He questioned. She sighed. Andrew had been working at Nirvana as the doorman for a couple months prior. Megan also worked at Nirvana as a waitress. She had noticed Megan was getting too close to him, so she had him dismissed. Apparently, it was too late. Eddie interrupted her train of thoughts.

“Have you seen Gerry?” He asked sounding excited. Jason nodded, and thoughtlessly pointed outside.

“Thanks.” Eddie headed out the door. Lex’s eyes went wide, and bolted after Eddie. Jason hit himself in the forehead, quickly following after Lex.

“What have I done?”

“Lela?” Eddie’s voice was shaky. He made it outside just in time to see Lela and Gerry kissing.

“Eddie... I....” Gerry stuttered, turning around. Eddie shook his head, and headed back into the gym. Gerry grabbed his shoulder to stop him, and as he did Eddie turned around. He grabbed Gerry’s arm and twisted it behind his back. Gerry stumbled backwards, and Eddie stormed off. Lex followed. He headed into the wash room, locking the door behind him. She tapped loudly.

“Eddie, can I come in?” She asked softly.

“I just want to be left alone.” He barked in return. She waited a minute, and knocked again.

“Eddie, please let me in.” She begged. There was silence, followed by a small click. She turned the handle and closed the door behind her. He was sitting on a closed toilet seat. She knelt in front of him.

“I know you feel betrayed, but, he didn’t do it to hurt you.” She assured softly.

“First Angela, now Lela. Why does every girl I care about leave me for someone else?” He muttered. Lex sighed. Angela had been his first real girlfriend. He had bought her a ring, and was going to propose. One day, he went to her house, and he found her in bed with another guy. He never really got over it, and had trust issues ever since. Not many people knew about Angela.

“Eddie, try and relax. You’ve got to pull yourself together before the show.” She encouraged.

“Why does everyone think I’m a fucking mess?” He barked. She raised her eyebrow.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” He dismissed. She nodded.

“I just meant, that, this was your idea.” She mumbled. He nodded.

“I just, need a bit. And, I don’t want to see either of them right now.” He whined.

“I understand. I’ll, I don’t know. I’ll talk to them I guess.” She offered. He nodded.

“Thank you.” He muttered. She nodded. She stood up to leave, but he grabbed her hand.

“Lex, there’s something I wanted to say, about what happened earlier.” He stuttered. She put her finger in the air, turning to face him.

“I don’t want to talk about this.” She answered, opening the door. He pushed it closed.

“I need to say this, now.” He insisted. She crossed her arms.

“Look Eddie, I will have this talk, another time. I can’t right now.” She asserted. He sighed, and nodded. Looking down, he opened the door, and she left. She headed across the now-crowded gym. Gerry ran over, meeting her half-way.

“How is he?” He asked. She could tell he was genuinely concerned. There wasn’t a malicious bone in Gerry’s body. Eddie was the whole reason Gerry never told Lela how he felt. They weren’t even that good of friends, but, Gerry had a loyalty. And, Eddie was his brothers best friend. It might have been more that he didn’t want to put James in the awkward position. She sighed.

“He doesn’t want to see you. Either of you. He’s really pissed Gerry.” He looked at the ground.

“What can I even say? Should I, like, leave?” He asked, shuffling his feet. She laughed.

“Hell no. This night is really important to me, to us, and to the community. Eddie can suck up his emotional fucking damage for one night, and be a man. It’s not a lot to ask. After all, the world doesn’t revolve around him. Even if he thinks it does.” She barked. Gerry raised his eyebrow.

“I know Eddie gets on a lot of nerves, but, is something up?” He asked. She nodded.

“How’s your shoulder?” She asked softly. He shook his head.

“I’m fine. But, what’s up with you?” He asked. She just nodded, but didn’t answer.

“Just, keep a low profile for a bit. I’ll talk to him when he calms down, but in the meantime, don’t let him see you with Lela.” She suggested. He nodded.

“Alright, I’ll just, hang with James.” He agreed. She shook her head almost suddenly.

“No. Look, do whatever you want. I don’t care.” She retracted. Gerry kept his eyebrow raised.

“Listen, if you need to talk.” He started. She shook her head.

“No. I don’t want or need to talk. I just need tonight to be over.”

“I just can’t believe it. I mean, it’s not that I can’t believe it. I just, I don’t know.” Nicole shook her head. She had been rambling for almost 20 minutes. Ares shrugged.

“They’ve been on and off for a long time. He cheated on her a lot.” She explained in a quiet tone.

“Honestly, I can understand why she’d want something better for herself. Someone like Eddie is...” Ruben trailed off. He had figured out that Nicole was in love with Eddie, and he didn’t want to say anything that might offend her. He also didn’t want to face the confrontation of being right.

“Never mind. I’m going outside for a smoke.” He finished, walking away from the table. Nicole raised her eyebrow. In all the time she knew Ruben, he had never lit a cigarette. Nor anything else.

“I can’t understand why Eddie was even with her in the first place. He could do so much better. Look at him.” Jennifer commented. Nicole laughed.

“I always wondered that about you and Adam.” She confessed. Jennifer shook her head.

“I don’t care what you think about me, alright?”

“Good, because it’s not very highly.” Nicole informed her. Jennifer was quiet for a minute.

“You don’t know anything about me.” She argued. Nicole nodded.

“No, maybe not. But, I know how you treat Adam, and even though I don’t like him, no one deserves to be treated that way. No one.” She explained. Jennifer raised her eyebrow.

“Despite what Lex may have told you, I care about Adam.” She barked.

“That’s not what I’m talking about.” Nicole dismissed, half laughing. Her eyes were locked on to the entrance. Ares followed her glance. There was someone coming into the gym, and Ares knew right away who it was. She debated leaving the table, but she thought the confrontation would be humorous. As long as she wasn’t brought into it, and could quietly watch.

“Fuck off, I’d never do anything to hurt Adam. I love him. With everything I am.” Jennifer argued, crossing her arms over her chest. Nicole started laughing.

“I don’t think the neighbors heard you.” She teased. Ares looked down as the man approached.

“I don’t need to prove myself to you. I know how I feel, and Adam knows how I feel. His opinion is the only one that matters.” She argued, starting to raise her voice. Nicole laughed harder, soon joined by Ares, though behind her hand. Jennifer heard a coughing coming from behind her. She stood up and turned around to see Russell standing behind her.

“What are you doing here?” She choked out. She had never told Russell much about her personal life. Since he was ten years older than them, she assumed the two had completely different circles. Russell crossed his arms over his chest. He was wearing a tan colored shirt, which looked horrible with his tanned complexion, and acid wash jeans. As he started tapping his foot, his jeans lifted, showing the black Adidas sandals he was wearing. He was an intimidating man, standing at 6′2”. He had a very muscular build, and he kept himself in shape. His dark brown hair was spiked up, with his black sunglasses hanging off the v in his shirt. Jennifer looked down at the ground. There was something in his powerful brown eyes, a look of rage she had never seen before. Nicole started laughing even harder, as she stood up. Russell crossed his arms over his chest.

“So, Jennifer, who’s Adam?”

“How long has this been going on?” Russell asked, motioning to Adam. He had just approached the pair outside. Jennifer shook her head.

“Do you want the truth?” She asked. He nodded.

“I’ve been with Adam longer than I’ve been with you.” She answered softly. Russell’s jaw shifted.

“Why would you do that, to either of us?” Adam asked.

“It’s not like that.” She whined, looking back at Adam.

“Oh, please explain.” Russell demanded, crossing his arms. She put her hand towards him.

“I’ll deal with you after.” She barked. Adam looked at the ground, shaking his head.

“I can’t believe it.” He muttered. Jennifer sighed.

”I love you Adam. I never meant for this. Russell was, well, I just felt bad for him.” Jennifer explained.

“Lex was right. All this time, she was right.” He muttered, Jennifer shook her head.

“No, it’s not like that.” She repeated. He shook his head.

“I can’t believe I didn’t listen to her. I should have trusted her. But no, I ignored her, and I trusted you. I’m an idiot.” He continued.

“How could you ever trust her after what she did to you?” Jennifer asked, shaking her head.

“Hey, I’ve forgiven her for what happened. She had her reasons.” He corrected. She shook her head.

“What reason could she have to fuck your best friend?” She barked. Adam raised his eyebrow.

“Best friend?” He questioned. She motioned inside.

“Jason?” She questioned in return. Adam kept his eyebrow raised.

“What?” He questioned, putting his hand on his hip. Her eyes went wide.

“Oh my God, she really didn’t tell you what happened that night, did she?” She realized out loud.

“What are you talking about?” He asked again. Jennifer put her hand over her mouth.

“I’m so sorry Adam. I didn’t mean...” He cut her off.

“What happened?” He asked sharply. She shook her head.

“I didn’t want to be the one to tell you. I thought after all this time, she would have said something. I never thought that bitch would do this to you.” She muttered, shaking her head.

“Don’t talk about her like that. She would never do anything to deserve those words.” Adam assured, shaking his head. He couldn’t believe after everything he said to her, she was telling the truth. He felt like defending her now was redundant, but, it was the least he could do.

“Adam, she’s the one who was cheating on you.” Jennifer muttered.

“Fuck off.” He dismissed.

“I’m sorry. I promised Lex I wouldn’t tell you.” She whined. He looked over at her, shaking his head. There was something in her eyes that made him sick to his stomach. A sincerity he hoped would be absent with those words. She was telling the truth. But, maybe she was wrong. Misinformed. He didn’t know if Lex could, or would, ever do that to him. He knew she had cheated on him, and he was starting to see that he deserved it. At the same time, he refused to believe it was with Jason.

“No. She would never do something to drive a wedge like that.” He argued. She nodded.

“Jason wouldn’t do that to me.” He dismissed.

“I’m sorry Adam.” She repeated.

“Well this is starting to be almost humorous.” Russell joked, half-smiling. Jennifer turned around.

“Shut up. You’re not helping.” She barked. He shrugged.

“I don’t see why I would. This is your mess.” Russell answered. Jennifer turned back around.

“Adam, I’m sorry, about all of this. If there’s anything I can do to make it up to you, anything...” She started rambling. She was quickly cut off.

“How long has she been seeing Jason?” He asked, completely dismissing her apology.

“I don’t know. I mean, I knew years ago, but.” She started. He raised his hand.

“Why would that be a threat to me?” He barked, starting to feel frustrated. She sighed.

“I mean, I’m guessing by the way they’ve been acting they’re still together. Probably have been this whole time.” She continued. Adam shook his head. He didn’t think he was that self centered, but could he have missed something going on right in front of his eyes?

“This whole time.” He repeated, starting to shake his head. She nodded again.

“I’m sorry. Again. I promise I’ll make this up to you.” She plead. He laughed.

“Give me a break. I never really cared about you, Jennifer.”

“I thought you loved me.” She whined. He nodded.

“You were supposed to.” He stated, crossing his arms over his chest. She put her hands over her face.

“Well if that ain’t karma.” Russell commented, moving towards them.

“I’m sorry kid. I didn’t know the tramp was two-timing.” He said in Adam’s direction. Adam nodded.

“I should have.” He sighed. Jennifer moved her hands from her face to see Lex coming outside.

“What’s going on here?” She asked, coming up beside Adam.

“You did this, didn’t you?” Jennifer asked, genuinely upset. Lex shook her head.

“I can’t take the credit, or blame, depending which way you look at it.” She rambled, shaking her head. She really hoped she would never see Russell again. Now, she was face to face with him.

“I can.” Nicole corrected as she approached. Jennifer looked confused.

“What? Why?” She stuttered.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m sick of watching you walk all over Adam. Like I said, no one deserves to be treated that way.” Nicole answered, looking over at Adam. He sighed.

“You knew too?” He asked, almost under his breath. Nicole smiled.

“Yes, sweetie. We all did. You just couldn’t see it.” She assured. Adam turned around and headed back inside. Nicole laughed, then looked over at Russell.

“Hello again, Russell.” She greeted, smiling widely. He raised his eyebrow, shifting his position.

“Have we met?” He questioned. Nicole lightly smacked herself in the forehead.

“Oh, that’s right. We’ve never actually met in person. But, I do trust you’ve been keeping out of trouble. Did Jesse give you that message from me?” She rambled. A devious smile spread across her face as Russell’s jaw dropped. He stepped forward.

“What? How did, that was you? Do you have any idea what that ass hole did to me?” He screamed. Nicole shrugged, crossing her arms over her chest.

“No, sadly. He wouldn’t tell me. But I would have paid to see it. After all, I paid to have it done.” She assured. Russell shook his head, almost violently.

“Why? I’ve done nothing to you.” He barked. She laughed, shaking her head.

“Oh, but that doesn’t make you innocent, now does it?” She whined, pretending to pout. Russell looked over at Lex. She shook her head, raising her hands up.

“I had nothing to do with this.” She assured. He nodded.

“Right. You just so happen to be standing here. Wrong place, wrong time, right? Isn’t that always your story?” He questioned, stepping towards her. Lex shook her head, stepping back. She had always been scared of Russell. When they were dating, he was abusive. She ignored it, for the most part. But one night, he got out of control. She spent a couple nights in the hospital, under observation. She told everyone it was a bar fight. Nicole begged until Lex told her the truth. When Lex got out of the hospital, Russell had disappeared. The next time she saw him, he acted like they were meeting for the first time. She found out later on that Jesse had beat Russell so bad he ended up in intensive care.

“Oh, when will you learn, silly boy.” Nicole giggled. Russell looked back over at her.

“You won’t be laughing for long, bitch.” He barked, moving closer. Someone grabbed his arm, twisting it behind his back. Then pushed him down onto the ground.

“I don’t think so.” Jesse dismissed. Russell looked up, wide-eyed.

“Jesse?” He stuttered. He had been rightfully scared of Jesse since the very one-sided fight.

“You were just leaving. I know.” Jesse finished, letting go of his arm. Russell stood back up, dusting his pants off. He looked over at Lex.

“This isn’t over.” He barked.

“Actually, it is.” Jesse corrected him. Russell shook his head, muttering something as he walked away.

“Thank you.” Nicole said in Jesse’s direction. He bowed.

“He’ll learn, eventually. Maybe after another beating or two.” He laughed, heading into the gym.

“What the hell is going on?” Jennifer asked, throwing her hands in the air. Nicole laughed.

“Well this is proving to be an exciting night, isn’t it?” She asked, in no particular direction. Jennifer looked over Nicole, crossing her arms over her chest.

“I hope you’re happy. Whatever you thought you knew, was wrong. I actually love Adam. I didn’t want him to find out this way.” Jennifer whined. Nicole and Lex exchanged a look, before laughing.

“I don’t feel bad about that, Lex?” Nicole replied.

“Not even a little bit.” Lex replied. Nicole headed back into the gym. Jennifer sighed.

“I wouldn’t have made it a public spectacle like this, but don’t you think it was time he knew the truth?” Lex asked, faking a smile. Jennifer nodded.

“I could ask you the same thing.” She hinted. Lex shook her head.

“You wouldn’t.” She argued. Jennifer nodded.

“But I already did.” She assured. Lex sighed.

“Of course.” She muttered, looking over at Adam. Nicole had gone to talk to him, but, Lex knew it was no use. Adam was an emotional robot. That was why they had such bad communication. Jennifer tapped Lex’s shoulder, and she turned to face her. She was smiling like she had lost her mind.

“What?” Lex barked. Jennifer motioned inside, where Jason was sitting.

“And that secret of yours is next.”

“How are you holding up there Champ?” Nicole asked, hopping up beside Adam on the edge of the stage. He shrugged, briefly looking over at her.

“I don’t even know anymore.” He confessed. She nodded.

“I know, it’s hard, but, you’re going to pull through. You’re a fighter.” She encouraged, patting him on the shoulder. He laughed, shaking his head.

“I just can’t believe it. I should have listened to Lex. She warned me, this whole time, and I ignored her. The things I said...” He moaned. Nicole nodded.

“I’m sorry it had to be like this, but, I knew you had to see it to believe it.” She assured. He nodded.

“I know. It’s just, depressing. I feel so...” He trailed.

“Used?” She offered. He nodded again.

“It gets worse before it gets better. Trust me on that. But, you were collected when you were dealing with her. You did a good job.” She commented.

“Yeah? Doesn’t feel that way.” He muttered, briefly looking up. Nicole laughed.

“The best thing you can do is act like it doesn’t phase you. Even if it’s tearing you up inside. Laugh now, cry later.” She assured. Adam half-laughed.

“I didn’t think it would. I mean, I really liked her, but, I don’t know.” He ranted.

“It’s going to be fine, Adam. Don’t sweat it.” She added smiling.

“Thanks. You know, you’re pretty okay.” He complimented. She laughed.

“Thank you. You’re not too bad yourself underneath that ego.” She answered, tapping his leg with her hand. He stared at the ground for a minute.

“Hey, this is going to sound weird. But I’ve got to ask.” He announced. Nicole raised her eyebrow.

“Alright?” She questioned.

“Do you know if Lex was ever, you know, with, Jason?” His voice was shaky. He had the feeling he didn’t want to know. Nicole shifted her position.

“I actually don’t know, sorry.” She answered. She knew Jason and Lex had been together at least once. She also knew it wasn’t while her and Adam were dating, and wasn’t his business.

“Do you think Lex could have done it? I mean...” He questioned. She shrugged.

“I don’t know Adam. Why are you asking?”

“Before you both came outside, Jennifer told me that Lex was cheating on me, with Jason.” He stuttered. Nicole sighed, shaking her head.

“Maybe she was lying?” She questioned. Adam nodded.

“I want to believe that. More than I’ve ever wanted to believe anything. But, I don’t know. I mean, she’s a liar, but, there was something about the way she said it.” He clarified.

“I don’t know if they ever slept together, Adam.” Nicole lied.

“I figured it was worth asking.” He mumbled. She nodded.

“I wish I could be more help.” She added. He shrugged. They were both quiet for a minute.

“There’s something else I was wondering.” He started, looking up at her. She nodded.

“Okay?” She questioned. He was quiet again, looking down at the ground.

“How did Lex know that Jennifer was cheating on me?” He asked, still looking at the ground. Nicole raised her eyebrow. She had never given any thought to it. She honestly didn’t know the answer.

“Sometimes you know everything about your friends, and sometimes, you don’t know a thing.”

Lex paced back and fourth. She needed to get away from everything, and took a short walk. She was at the park a block away. It had been dark for about an hour, but she could see the lights from the gym. She dropped down on the bench over looking the play structure. She had tried so hard to keep her past a secret, and little by little, it was all coming out. It didn’t matter if Adam believed Jennifer or not, she wasn’t lying. Jason and Lex had slept together more times than either could recall. A few of those times, she had been dating Adam. She didn’t really care if Adam found out about it though. The only concern in her head was Jason finding out that secret. She had done everything she could to make sure he never found out. Somehow, she felt like it was too late. She took a long haul off her cigarette, and tossed what was left into the sand. She stood up, and as she did, someone grabbed her from behind, covering her mouth. She struggled to get away, but she could tell there was no use. The attacker pulled her across the park, and behind the building adjoining it. She felt blood start dripping from her forehead as it met the side of the brick wall. She couldn’t help but moan in pain. The attacker shoved her onto the ground, kicking her down. She pulled herself up, and rolled over on the gravel.

“Russell?” She mumbled in disbelief. He knelt down in front of her, and wrapped his hand around her throat. She moved both her hands to his wrist, and tried to push him off of her. When she couldn’t, she kicked him as hard as she could in the stomach.

“What are you doing?” She barked, trying to stand up. He laughed, slowly moving towards her.

“I’ve waited eight years, eight fucking years to get back at that ass hole. I didn’t think he cared about anything. I should have known there was a girl. There’s always a fucking girl. And it wasn’t that tramp. All this time, here you were.” He rambled. She stood up, holding her neck.

“What are you talking about? Who are you talking about?” She stumbled, leaning against the wall. He laughed, shaking his head. He slowly started walking towards her.

“Oh, come on. Don’t play stupid with me. It’s not cute anymore.” He insisted. She shook her head.

“Please. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She whined, backing up. He grabbed her arms, and pulled her towards him. He hovered his face just above hers.

“Oh, right. How silly of me. Just like you had no idea about Jesse. Just wrong place, wrong time. Right?” He whispered. She shook her head, looking away.

“I swear I had nothing to do with that. I wasn’t going to do anything. I wasn’t even going to say anything. Nicole forced me to tell her, and I had no idea what she was going to do.” She whined.

“I’m going to make you regret that.” He whispered, throwing her down on the ground. She tried to stand up quickly, but he dropped himself on top of her. He straddled her, pressing his arm across her shoulders. She tried to push him off, but there was no use. She knew he was stronger than her. She knew he would win. He always did.

“Don’t fight this, you’ll only make it worse.” He whispered. She shook her head, starting to cry. He moved his legs between hers, spreading them open with his knees. He undid his belt, letting his jeans fall. She attempted to pull away again.

“Come on, you should be used to this by now.” He whispered, leaning down. She turned away as he went to kiss her. He grabbed her face, holding her still, and pressed his lips to hers.

“Don’t struggle.” He instructed, running his other hand down her chest.

“Please don’t do this.” She begged. He laughed, sliding his hand between her legs.

“Oh, but I have to.” He whispered, ripping her underwear off. He moved his arm from her chest, pulling both her arms above her head. He pressed the same arm against hers, holding her down. She whimpered, turning away from him.

“I fucking love that sound.” He moaned, breathing heavily against her neck.

“Why are you doing this, Russell?” She cried. He leaned back down, pressing his lips to her cheek.

“Because, when you go home tonight and you will, I want you to tell Jason everything I’m going to do to you. I want you to tell him in vivid fucking detail how I made you beg, cry, whimper. I want him to come for me, and this time, I’ll be ready.”

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