Chapter 1: Frustration
Since meeting Collin, Melody Tasher had given up a lot of things.
She had given up her old friends and stopped partying every night; she had cut her alcohol uptake down by more than half and she'd completely given up drugs, which was the hardest thing she's ever done. Sometimes she still thought about doing it, but then she remembered Collin and the look of utter hurt and disappointment on his face and realized she just couldn't do that to him.
But smoking was not one of the things she had given up. She couldn't do it, she just needed something.
She knew many of the people here viewed her and her mother as Res trash, being the living stereotype of what everyone thinks a modern Native American is: drunk, dumb, and party goers. Like father like daughter, some of them said. Her father had killed someone driving drunk when Melody was seven, and they said she was heading down on the same path based on that DUI she got last year.
Her mother wasn't much better. She was man dependent, as some liked to call it. She always had to be with some guy, and whenever she didn't have one to sleep the night with a look of utter despair filled her face. The woman didn't much care for her daughter, allowing Melody to do whatever she pleased as long as the woman knew Melody was alive. Embry Call knocking on Melody's door three years ago changed her life. Melody knew then that she had to change, because it wasn't just her life anymore. It was Collin's too. Sometimes she got angry for it and took it out on him, but she knew this was for the better even if she didn't always want to accept it.
"I really wish you'd stop smoking," Collin complained, a look of unhappiness sliding onto face. Melody took another exaggerated drag, pulling it deep into her lungs to pull the edge off.
"I've given up everything else. Why can't I keep this?" She cocked an eye brow at him, leaning back against the wall where she was doing her balancing act of sitting on the porch rail. It was her spot of choice when outside.
"Then why are you going to a party tonight with Sarah?"
Melody sighed at how he said Sarah's name. Sarah was her only friend now, everyone else having ditched her, or she ditched them. Sarah had always been there for Melody, and she could trust Sarah with anything. Even if Collin didn't believe that.
"I can't go out every now and then? What's wrong with that? I'm twenty years old Collin. It's not like I never stop partying. I have a job now, and you," she added as an afterthought. "So that's not really an option," she said with a laugh, rolling her eyes.
Collin never said it with so many words, but he really didn't like Sarah. He felt like Sarah was a bad influence on Melody, and the reason why she still occasionally partied and smoked.
"I just want you to be careful," he finally said, giving her a worried glance. "People can hurt you, take advantage of you. I don't want that to happen."
"I've been taking care of myself fine for years Collin. A party isn't going to change anything," she brushed off, sticking the butt back into her mouth.
But Collin understood that a party always led to another one, and usually when Melody was finished partying she was so drunk that she couldn't even walk. Collin held his tongue though, because he knew saying this would only annoy her further.
Collin knew that Melody Tasher viewed him as a kid, some little brother that she had to take care of and pull her act together for. He hated it, because that's not the way he viewed her. He viewed her as beautiful, a free spirit that drifted in the direction she knew pleasure sat at. Whether that just be the words of a kind stranger, a friendship, or something more; Melody didn't care. She lived for all the pleasures in life. Collin had once heard Emily call Melody a hedonist, making the word sound like some type of dirty swear. But when he looked it up it only meant a person who seeks out pleasure.
He sat there staring at her blow puffs of smoke into the air, trying to figure out how to make her finally view him as a man and someone worthy of her companionship. He'd tried everything. When they were at the beach he always made sure to take his shirt off, letting the water drip off of him in a way he hoped came off attractively. Her brows had raised when she first saw it, but then it was like she did a mental shrug and went on to the next visually stimulating thing. He'd tried being manly, emulating the type of man he was sure every girl liked. He made his voice gruffer, something his pack mates found so entertaining that they burst into laughter whenever he did it. He did things that showed off his muscles, chopping some of the firewood for Melody so that she could have it during winter. She had given him a smile, happy in nature, along with a hug. Not even a drawn out hug either, more of a friend zoned hug. The hug hurt him more than anything because it solidified his position in her life.
What made him so different from the guys Melody liked? She had left guys alone for the most part since the first incident almost three years back. But sometimes she got really drunk and ended up sleeping with someone anyway, which still hurt. It hurts a lot.
She always apologized afterward, and made it all about him for the next day or two. He could tell that she really meant she was sorry, although she liked to complain to her best friend Sarah about how sexually deprived she was. Sarah would just say go get laid, and Melody would give a look of longing before scrunching her face and disagreeing. Collin could tell Sarah didn't understand Melody's sudden wish of abstinence two years back, she just went along with it, guessing it was some kind of stage Melody was going through.
Collin had only seen two of the guys Melody had slept with. One they had run into at Seattle. The guy had given her a winning smile, whispering in her ear if she ever wanted another no strings relationship to come to him. That guy had been blonde, an inch or two taller than Melody's 5'5" frame. He was of a medium build and there didn't seem to be any distinguishable facial feature that made him stand out from any other old average Joe. The next one he had ran into at her house. Melody never had sex at her house, but this time she had. Collin had knocked on the door expecting Melody's mother to let him in. He had planned to wait on her bed. But the guy opened the door with a grin, looking him up and down with a leer before jumping in his car, the car Collin had somehow not noticed in his distracted state. This one was a jock with good looks. Collin comforted himself with the fact that he had a better body, but what Collin really wanted to do was kill the guy. Hurt him good enough so that the message was clear that Melody was his and the guy would never come back again.
Collin had excellent control.
"Melody," he whispered. "When will I be enough for you?"
Melody visibly flinched, turning away from him to look down the empty road. "Collin, don't think like that. You're good enough, you always have been."
"Then why won't you give me a chance?"
"Because you're just a kid, a sweet kid, but a kid none-the-less." Collin looked away in frustration, blinking his eyes almost violently.
"When will I no longer be a kid?" he asked desolately, staring down at his clasped hands.
She exhaled loudly, staring down at the porch floor. "I don't know Collin."
Sometimes Melody worried if she'd ever feel any type of romantic emotion with Collin. Collin of all people deserved his happy ending. But she was a screw up, and she hated that she was the reason his life felt incomplete. Sometimes she wondered if she should pretend for him, but Collin always saw through her. He knew every time she bluffed, lied, or tried to hide something from him. She'd stopped lying to him long ago.
"I'm going to be seventeen in a month," he whispered. "I'm almost an adult now."
"I know Collin, I love you."
"Yeah," he said bitterly. "Just not the way I want you to."
Sometimes Collin got frustrated at Melody too.