Chapter Forty Four
“I should get going. I still have one more thing I have to do before the sun rises.” I yawned, really tired. Ty yawned after me, and stretched his arms out, collapsing on his bed.
“Good, because I’m really sleepy right now, and rejection is exhausting.” He said bluntly. I frowned, and made a move to apologize again but Ty chuckled, stopping me. “I was kidding Vivo, relax.”
“Ty, I really want you to know that I’m really sorry-”
“Seriously Vivo, I’m going to be okay. Now go find Orton and tell him you choose him. He can’t stay mad at you long, that guy is crazy for you.” He waved me off, “I’ll be fine, I swear.” he nodded. I stood up and hesitated at the door.
“Yeah, Vivo.” he answered.
“When did you know? When did you know you loved me?” I asked, curiously. I knew I wanted to end this night without any what if’s. This was one of them.
Ty stared at me, the way every girl wanted to be stared at. With gentleness, wonder, and awe. Then I remembered that was the same look he had given me in the diner during thanksgiving break. Only now, I realized that I didn’t want him to look at me like that, because he was going to find a girl who would stare at him with gentleness, wonder, and awe too. It’s just, that girl wouldn’t be me.
“I think it was when you asked me to keep your secret, and you asked if I could ever be separated from Sophia. That’s when it became real.” He answered honestly.
“You’ll find a girl…” I smiled, then I cheekily added, “or boy, you know I don’t discriminate.”
Ty laughed and threw his pillow at me, “Worst friend ever!”
“Or perhaps the best?” I winked at him, tossing his pillow back.
“Definitely my best.”
Sophia had stolen shotgun from me, and I was stuck in the back of the car like a kid. I would have been fine with her tagging along, if she and Sawyer stopped with all the puppy talk.
“This is so romantic.” Sophia sighed, dreamily. “You’re the best big brother in the world for helping out Vi, like this.”
Sawyer smiled broadly, and puffed out his chest, very much full of himself. I groaned and molded into the backseat, crossing my arms in front of my chest, irritated. “I try.” Sawyer shrugged.
“For fuck sakes.” I grumbled.
“So what’s the plan guys?” Sophia asked excitedly, turning in her seat to include me in on the conversation. I shrugged, completely stumped.
“I dunno, but I know I’m not climbing any ladders anymore.” I shuttered, I hate ladders. I’m done with them. Never again.
“Wait, you’re saying that you don’t have anything planned? Are you crazy Vi? This isn’t how the rom-coms work.” Sophia chastised me, like a disappointed parent. My mouth hung open, Soph was really emotionally involved wasn’t she? “Vi, if you don’t have a romantic gesture he won’t respond. Guys don’t like to admit it, but they like all that emotional ’love you long time’ bull.”
“We do not-” Sawyer scoffed, Sophia turned to him and stared at him flatly.
“Oh really?” She raised her eyebrow. “Do you want to tell your sister how you spent the last half hour trying to recite a poem you stole from Lang Leav?”
Sawyer let out an airy scoff and said nothing else. Sophia smirked at me triumphantly, proving her point. But the truth was, I had no big romantic gesture. All I had was my truth and my choice. I may have picked Blake over Ty, but did he choose me?
I mauled over what I had to say over and over again in my head. I could go the ’It’s you-it’s always been you‘ line. But I saw how overused that cliché was. There was always the ’I didn’t want to hurt you-” starter but I knew that wouldn’t help. Something told me that Blake wasn’t here for any of the overused lines we see and hear in the movies and books.
So I had to be original and just speak from where it counts.
“We’re here.” Sawyer announced stopping in front of an old house. It was a small one story house, with crumbling bricks. The house looked quite shabby but it looked just like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood.
“I’ve never been on this side of town.” I mumbled, “Is this really where Blake lives?”
“Yeah, for a few years now.” Soph nodded, with a sad smile. I made a move to get out of the car to get Blake’s attention somehow, but Sawyer locked the doors before I could. Soph and I turned to him confused.
“I’ll go with you,” He said to me, then he turned to Sophia and gave her a stern look, “You stay in the car and lock the doors. I don’t trust this neighborhood.”
“I most certainly will not!” Sophia retorted, “I shipped Blivian and I have a right as a fangirl to go see this through.”
“Fine, but if things go south, I’m willing to leave you both behind.” He warned us, in what I assume was supposed to be his stern voice. Sophia and I glanced at each other and smirked.
“No he won’t.” We chorused with a small chuckle.
Sophia and I clambered out of the car and walked up the small driveway, with Sawyer close behind. I think about knocking on the front door, but then I remember that no one would be stupid enough to answer the door in the middle of the night.
“Which one do you think is Blake’s room?” I asked, glancing at the windows. All the curtains looked like they were drawn, so seeing anything through them was impossible.
“Beats me.” Sawyer shrugged, “We could knock on all of them.”
“Or we could call him?” Sophia suggested the obvious choice. You know, if obvious (Blake) wasn’t ignoring my calls.
“The walking disaster is being ignored, and so am I because I’m guilty by association.” Sawyer told Sophia, she turned to me and I frowned. Sophia sighed and pulled out her phone and scrolled through her contacts.
She called Blake but he never answered. Then she texted him, only to come up empty. “I guess I’m guilty by association too?” she grumbled, pocketing her phone. “Now what?” she asked.
I stared at the house and noticed they had an opening. “I have an idea, but it won’t be legal.” I smiled cheekily. Sophia and Sawyer both stared at me in confusion.
“I change my mind, I don’t think this is great idea Vi.” Sawyer hissed, crawling on the floor next to me. “We should just go before someone wakes up.”
“Saw, you didn’t have come in with me.” I retorted, knocking his shoulder with my foot. Sawyer gave me an unimpressed glare.
“Oh yeah, and let you die if you’re caught.” He scoffed, “We came into this world together, and we’re leaving together.”
“Aww.” Sophia cooed, all dreamy eyed. “I told you boys liked all that mushy stuff.”
“If you two are scared of getting caught, then I suggest you guys go back to the car.” I said ignoring them both and crawling forward. Sawyer grumbled something muffled and I felt his presence crawling behind me.
My plan wasn’t flawless, and it wasn’t exactly safe, but it was like three in the morning and my lack of sleep had caused my madness. Am I complaining? No, there’s worse plans and at least this one got us into the house, without being seen. I had found an outside vent that led to the house and it was big enough for us to crawl through and see which room Blake had. Sawyer didn’t like the idea, but it was the only one I could come up with.
After glancing into a living room, a poorly lit hallway, and two bedrooms that didn’t have Blake, we finally stumbled across his. To my surprise, his small room was shared with three other boys. I noticed that the three younger boys shared one bed, while Blake only had a small cot in the corner.
I frowned, as I had realized this was probably Blake’s living arrangement his whole life. Small, shared spaces, in bad neighborhoods. This wasn’t a temporary thing for Blake, this had been his whole life. The only way of living he knew.
The whole time I knew Blake, he never once complained. He never once asked for help or even batted an eye when I spent night after night complaining about my own over privileged life. He never let me see what his life really entailed, and maybe it was because his life was another world to me.
The kind you hear in the news and you have a single ounce of sympathy. But when they’re done talking about the other side of poverty, you never bother to make a difference. You just carry on with your perfectly unflawed world, where the worst tragedy is fighting with your parents.
For a moment I hesitated and contemplated turning back. Because a person like me, would never be good enough for a person like Blake. However, my heart was a selfish one and I loved Blake too much to give up now. Maybe love was like that. It made you selfish, and it made you want to fight for someone, even if it was blatantly obvious you didn’t deserve them.
“What’s the hold up, I’m tired of seeing your ass!” Sawyer hissed, nudging my foot. From behind us I heard Sophia let out a soft chuckle.
“My view isn’t that bad.” She giggled like a school girl. I grimaced and if I had a spray bottle, I’d gladly use it to restrain her.
“Remind me to buy you holy water for Christmas.” I shuttered. Sophia and my brother bumping uglies was the last image I wanted my pure mind to see.
“Have you found his room? I know you have because this house is small and there isn’t much left of it.” Sawyer gripped, shoving my foot again. Frustrated, I nudged his face…with my foot….a couple times.
Then we started going back and forth. We didn’t have much room, but for us we didn’t need it. Sawyer and I shoved and kicked each other. He had no idea that I was a drag queen mud wrestling champion. We were still fighting in the vents when we felt a creak beneath us.
My eyes widened in alarm, but before I could tell Sophia and Sawyer to retreat, the vent gave out. It was like a really bad comedy scene.
You know how in the movies, the main character and their wacky sidekicks fall from the ceiling and everyone shares a good laugh. And you know that part where the main character gets up and dusts themselves off because it was no big deal.
Yeah, shit’s not like that in real life and movies have once again failed me.
You see, because I didn’t fall with my sidekicks. I fell on my own, landing about a foot away from Blake’s cot, and right on his gym bag. But that’s not even the worst part. No one laughed like they did in the comedies. There was crying-mostly from me-and there was a lot of screaming-mostly from the boys sleeping in the room.
“Fuck me softly with a chainsaw.” I hissed in pain, and I landed in the exact position as I had in Sophia’s room. From above me, Sophia and Sawyer’s eyes widened in paralyzed shock.
Blake was out of bed as quick as lightning. He hastily shushed the boys and they listened to him on command. One boy, the youngest one I assumed, peered over his bed at me. His round brown eyes watched me as if I would attack at any second.
I let out a groan when I tried to get on my feet, but I was sure a big bruise was forming. I was too sore to stand up straight. “Hey, how ya doin everybody?” I waved at them awkwardly.
“Vivian, what the he-“He paused and rephrased himself for the sake of the boys, “What the heck are you doing here?” he glared at me.
I glanced at the three boys. They all looked between Blake and I curiously. I spared them a smile that took most of my strength. “You see…”I trailed off at a loss for words. I glanced around their room to try to find any way out of this unscathed. I found my story in the form of Santa riding in a reindeer sleigh, sticker plastered on their window. “I’m here to ask you if….there was anything you wanted for Christmas.”
“For Christmas?” He raised his eyebrow. I felt my cheeks flush but I shrugged.
“I’m Santa’s helper you know, I’m trying to work my way off the naughty list for lying.” I fiddled with the hem of my coat nervously. When Blake didn’t say anything, I looked up and met his icy blue eyes.
Blake stared at me with an indescribable look. I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed, or actually amused with my cover story. But before I could say more, the door of his bedroom was pounded on.
“What the hell is all that noise!” A female’s voice yelled, pounding on the door. Blake’s eyes widened in alarm. My heart pounded loudly and I automatically looked to the hole in the ceiling. I caught Sawyer and Sophia backing out towards the exit frantically.
Blake grabbed me by the arm and shoved me into his closet. I tried to say something but Blake shook his head, “Stay in there and keep quiet!” he hissed before he closed the door on me. From the small panels on the door, I found Blake warning the rest of the boys. “No one say anything when she comes in here. The vent fell down and that’s our story okay?” he commanded them softly.
Each of the boys nodded and when Blake was sure they wouldn’t say anything about the psycho in the closet, he opened the door. An older woman who looked like Miss.Trunchbull from Matilda, stormed into the room. She shoved past Blake and stopped short when she saw the damage in the ceiling.
“Who did this?” She demanded in an eerily calm voice. It sent shivers down my spine and I found myself slowly molding into the clothes hanging. “Huh? Someone answer me!” she snapped, grabbing a toy from a shelf and throwing it against a wall, to show her superiority. I flinched, but the boys didn’t bat an eye.
It frightened me that they had became immuned to this kind of anger. And all at such young ages.
“It’s an old ceiling Gretchen.” Blake said cutting the silence. “We were all asleep when it gave out. It’s no one’s fault.” he said calmly. The woman with greying streaks in her thin bun, turned and glared coldly at Blake.
“Do you expect me to believe you boy?” she sneered. Blake didn’t seem phased by her and only let out a small scoff.
“No Gretchen, I don’t.” He shook his head, “I don’t expect you to believe that an old and crumbling house is coming down. I also don’t expect you to know that the heater has been broken all winter long, so we all have to double up on blankets at night. But most of all, I don’t expect to stay here much longer.” He narrowed his eyes, unaffected by the scary old woman.
She didn’t seem bothered by Blake either. “That’s fine by me, you’re paychecks won’t last long anyway.”
“The boys and I didn’t break that vent, the house is old.” Blake grounded out, through clenched teeth. “Now can we all go to bed?” he asked in a mocking tone.
Gretchen turned to the rest of the boys and narrowed her eyes at them. I was sure one of them was going to crack and reveal I was in the closet, but none did. I had found that they were all loyal to Blake. “Alright, go to bed all of you’s!” She snapped, storming out of the room, and slamming the door behind her so hard that the floorboards rattled.
When we all heard a second door slam shut, Blake moved over and yanked the closet door open. “You have a lot of explaining to do.” he sighed tiredly.
I gave him my best smile. Sophia said to win him over with a huge romantic gesture. What’s more romantic than sneaking into his room and almost dying from a fall, only to be almost caught by a batty old woman, and have Blake swoop in and save me? If that’s not romance, then I don’t know what is.