Chapter 16: Fear and Jealousy (Part 2)
One simple word should not hold the amount of weight this one has over the past couple of days. It truly should have been harder to avoid the girl next door than it was leaving me to the conclusion that she’d been avoiding me too. It really made sense and I deserved it. I lost my composure and made a fool of myself and then did the stupidest things afterwards. I knew I had to cut off my interactions with Clarissa, but every time I got the courage too, I’d find a reason to keep it going. Now with school starting back up, I knew it was inevitable that I would just end up messing everything up.
It didn’t help that now that I’d acknowledged these feelings, it was getting harder for me to ignore them. They wouldn’t go away and no matter how much I pleaded I couldn’t bury them anymore.
I loved her and was quickly falling deeply in love with her and there was nothing I could do about it.
Avoidance was one thing, but admittance was another.
Catching glimpses of her and the way she’d begun to fill out made my heart sing. She was even more beautiful and I didn’t even know that was possible, but what made me truly melt at the core? It was the day she’d forgotten to let her window down and I’d heard her soft melodious voice breezed through my room saying one word, Dave. just knowing she was thinking about me gave me hope that she didn’t hate me. The way she’d said it gave me hope that we could pass the mistake made. I wanted to spill my guts about everything quickly, sneaking in one last kiss before she hated me forever. I didn’t want her to hate me, but it seemed like the most obvious thing to do to keep myself from hurting her anymore than I’d already had.
First, I had to get the courage to go over and talk to her dad. He’s been more helpful to me over the past year than my own father, but I think that’s because my own father didn’t know how not to be biased. By that I mean, he still holds my one mistake against me. Granted it was a huge one, but I had both learned and grown from the incident with Persephone. I just wished he could see that. Today was the day though. I’d waited until the time I knew she worked out before I headed over there. I had just enough time for two questions and based on past conversations with Mr. Anise, that would be more than enough. I waited a few more minutes trying to get up the courage and just when I was about to bail the door swung open.
“You can come in son, she’s in the basement.” he grinned. It was the one he and my parents shared and it never failed to creep me out how much they wanted us to be together. As twisted as her mom was, she even wanted us together also. So much so she wouldn’t let me pay her the money back. I’d saved all of it and then some. Let’s just say gramps was a little more than generous these past couple holidays and birthdays. It was almost like he was rewarding me for not having another incident. It was that money I used to spend on Maria. Somehow it just felt right to do so.
“Actually Mr.Anise, I came to talk to you.”
“I know.” was all he said and for some reason that terrified me.
“Y-you k-know?” I stuttered feeling my heartbeat pick up.
“Relax Dave, I don’t know whatever it is. I just know my daughter and I know when she’s avoiding something. I’m assuming that’s what you want to talk to me about.” I nodded. “Well I’m listening.”
“You have to promise not to tell. This has to stay between us.” I forced out urgently.
“You want me to keep this hot gossip away from your parents? Dave.” he drawled out torturing me. “Don’t you know all we do is talk about you two kids getting together.”
“Mr. Anise,” I paused for effect. “You’re scaring me.” he only laughed as he raised his hands in a surrendering manner.
“I promise just us.” A breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding finally escaped me with that confirmation. It made coming to him that much easier.
“So, I know I did something stuipid...well I’ve been doing this stupid thing since I moved her, and I know how stupid it’s going to sound, but it only started because of your daughter.” I sighed. “I know it’s stupid.”
“Son if you call yourself stupid one more time I’ll be forced to slap you. Now slow down and tell me what happened. Please stop thinking of me as Maria’s father. Right now I am impartial.” Well that helped. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself down.
“Well, you see sir, I went through a rough patch before coming here and it led to the biggest mistake of my life. I’m still not too comfortable talking about it, but that mistake has me questioning what kind of guy I am everyday since it happened and the last thing I want to do is hurt someone else.”
“What was the mistake Dave?” I knew I had to tell him. For the sake of his trust alone.
“Well sir, my best-friend was murdered right in front of me and everyone blamed me even though the guilty party had been arrested. I didn’t take it too well. I went from most popular to most hated in no time at all. I started drinking and smoking marijauna heavily. It was bad. I was missing her, but I didn’t know how to say it and no one believed me when I showed it. Well this new girl came to town and it was like she wanted to be the one who saved me. It backfired on her though. Eventually the rumors got to her and felt the need to come confront me on my best-friend’s birthday. I was out of my mind with grief and being intoxicated didn’t help. She threw the rumors and accusations in my face calling me names and I just snapped. I hurt her and her brother badly in the end. My guilt got to the point where I was begging her father to put a bullet in my head on the front lawn. When my parents talked their way out of that I decided to take matters into my own hands. However, my mother found me before it could really work. Then we came here and almost instantaneously something about your daughter intrigued me. I tried to keep my distance, but then I overheard an interaction between her and a girl named Clarissa.”
“Oh I know Clarissa. That child is no one’s friend.” he frowned. I was honestly shocked that was all he commented on so far.
“Well I’m assuming you know more about their falling out than I do.” he nodded. “Well this is when the mistakes started back up. I allowed myself to turn back into the popular guy that ignored when my best-friend needed my help. I wanted to help Maria any way I could. However something backfired. I could hear Maria in her room crying and it reminded me a lot of my past. That amount of grief, guilt and overall pain was too much. I felt I needed a distraction. So I texted Clarissa and she invited me to a party. I barely drank anything, but apparently I was hammered enough to have sex with Clarissa and not remember a damn thing. It didn’t make sense, but I brushed it off to it simply hitting me harder since I hadn’t done it in a way and my tolerance was probably low. However, it didn’t stop there. In my quest to prove Maria innocent, and no I have no clue what she’s innocent about, I have had to keep up the image. The problem is I think I’m starting to fall for her and that scares me. That night you paid for our pizza, I kissed her. I told her I liked her and then practically took it back. Right after I went and had sex with Clarissa again and I honestly can’t even tell you why. I just don’t know anymore.”
“Son, it’s simple. You’re scared to love. Which is understandable considering your pass. Clarissa is everything to you that you wish you were like, but you aren’t. Look, I know the pass can be hard to get over and trust me I have done my fair share. Part of the reason I think Mrs.Anise is so hard on Maria is because of me. I was young and dumb and she was perfect and knew it. I felt like I wasn’t enough for her and I cheated. I broke her and in her own twisted way she wants to make sure our daughter never has to go through that. The first step in admittance and the last is acceptance. From what I’m hearing you’ve done both and all that’s in between. So why are you forcing yourself to hurt more. Talk to her Dave, I promise you, you might get an answer you like.” I opened my mouth to explain how I didn’t see any of this working out in my favor, but then her voice floated down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“Dad! Hello, Dad! Daddy, where are you?!” she yelled as I went wide-eyed. I shook my head furiously while rooted in my seat from the sound of her voice. I had no idea what to do. Did I say or go?
“In the kitchen pumpkin.” he laughed. What was he doing? After everything I just told me, after proving how much of a monster I was, he still wanted me around her? I could feel her getting closer. It was like I couldn’t breathe. At any moment I was going to see her fully for the first time in nearly a week. Smell her sweet perfume. Hear her lovely voice. Just be in her presence. It was too much after the weight of my confession had been lifted momentarily. It would all come crashing back down in five, four, three, two…
“Do you mind if I take the truck for-” one. I froze in my seat stupidly thinking she wouldn’t be able to see me if I sat really still, but like always I was wrong. I could feel her eyes on me. Proof my activities still were evident on my neck. I didn’t want her to get the wrong idea. It was only that once, but I didn’t know how to explain an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked. “Um...s-sorry. Dad, can I borrow the truck? I’m craving tacos.” The moment the question left her lips I knew what he was going to do and my stomach twisted itself into a tight knot.
“I’m sorry Princess, I just got called in for work and mom already took the other car.” he grinned, turning his attention to me. Damn he was good and he worked fast. Some celestial being was definitely on his side. “I’m sure Dave wouldn’t mind taking you though.” I was holding my breath again. I’ve never been forced to do something that terrified me before and I honestly didn’t know how to react.
“Well if I had my own car no one would have to take me and I wouldn’t need to borrow yours.” she snapped. Okay, so she didn’t want to be around me just yet and she was making it painstakingly obvious to both of us.
I felt dejected.
“Pay for half. That’s the deal.” was all he said before kissing her on the head and walking away as his booming laugh echoed behind him. He really was good and I guess now I had to suck it. Maybe it would be easier if I just said something to her first.