Making a Wish
The rest of the week passed by without any more fights, but the drama was far from over.
I had lied to my parents about my busted lip, telling them I had slipped and fell in the school’s staircase. If they heard about David doing this to me again, all hell would break lose, and I’ve had more than enough of drama in my life this week.
They didn’t believe me at first, but I claimed no one would be ‘that big of an idiot’ to give such a pathetic excuse to cover anything up, so it obviously had to be true. I was known to be an utter klutz, an accident like that wasn’t that farfetched to happen.
I also tried to avoid arguing with Vincent about his stubborn insistence to continue with his plan, and I tried to move on with my life as I said I would. Vincent, on the other hand, was far from moving on. Every time he was around me, he would try to slip in some intimate touches and moves at every chance he had. He was still pretending to like me, in an attempt to upset Matt, who quietly hovered around us, sulking in resigned silence, because I had asked him not to engage in any more fights with Vincent, for the sake of my peace of mind, and only after much pleading from me, he had reluctantly agreed.
I tried to keep the peace between them during the entire week, and treated Vincent as if he was a friend and nothing more. Matt still couldn’t stand the sight of Vincent’s face. Every time Vincent arrived to talk to me about something, Matt would make up an excuse to go somewhere else. It was a difficult task to make those two share the same space for more than two minutes together.
The growing tension during the entire week from their cold war began to take a toll on me and by Friday, I was a pile of jittery nerves. Jesse noticed how stressed I was and suggested that we had lunch outside, just the two of us, in the grassed slope close to the football field. We could enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and some peace and quiet away from any discord there.
But Matt just before lunch break, Matt left football practice and he saw us by the top of the slope and joined join us there. The usual flurry of butterflies that I used to feel whenever Matt was near me had been replaced now by an uncomfortable burning sensation at the pit of my stomach, a heavy sense of dread that I couldn’t shake off of me. I worried about another fight breaking loose again and I didn’t want to be responsible for damaging our friendship even more than it already had been.
Everything was going relatively well, the three of us eating our sandwiches and making small talk when Vincent also found us at the top of the slope. The precarious tranquility we had been in vanished as soon as he sat down on the grass next to me.
“Wow, I didn’t know rich folk could sit on the grass! I thought it wasn’t allowed for aristocracy to commune with nature like that.” Jesse provoked, reacting to Vincent’s presence changing the mood in the group.
“Oh, is this what this is? Grass? I wasn’t sure, since I’ve never seen it before in such close proximity.” Vincent quipped with all the sarcasm he could muster up. “I’m only used to grass made of gold. This shabby green thing here is really the strangest thing.”
She laughed heartedly, which made me glance at her in surprise. “What? It was funny.” She justified with a shrug. “His sense of humor kind of grows on you with time.”
“Told you, I’m an acquired taste.” Vincent mumbled in mid chew, after taking a bite off my sandwich.
“And I thought rich people could pay for their own damn lunch…” Matt muttered jealously while he watched him chew on my sandwich. A tiny smirk showed at the corner of Vince’s lips, telling me that this was exactly the reaction he had planned to get out of Matt.
“I do have money to buy whatever I want,” Vincent provoked, his words carrying plenty of double meaning. “But stolen bites taste better, you know what I mean?” He mused, turning to Matt with a wicked grin on his face. “The same goes for stolen kisses. Since Taylor doesn’t seem to mind those either, I’m taking them any chance I have.”
After becoming a shade paler, Matt muttered an excuse to leave and Vincent waved him a dismissive goodbye before he turned to me to ask a question. “Hey, Taylor, is it true that that David Peterson prick was bothering you again at the locker room today? I had someone slipping this information to me just now.” He inquired loudly and Matt sat back down, his interest suddenly caught by the topic. Vincent’s small smirk slipped back on his lips.
“No, he wasn’t, Vincent.” I replied. “We bumped on each other before gym class, that’s all. We didn’t even talk, he walked away as soon as he saw that everyone was watching us. He knows you have eyes on his back now. But he is allowed to be in this school, the same as you and me, you know.” I told him with a frown. “You can’t ban him from every place I go around here.”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I can. A quick talk with the principal and I’m sure a transfer to some other school can be quickly arranged.” he mused, rubbing at his chin.
“Just leave him alone, Vincent,” I grumbled. “Your digs at him will only force him to take a dig back. Forget about him and he’ll forget about us too.”
“I’m only trying to make sure you’re safe from that creep.” Vincent retorted and turned to Matt for reinforcement. “Do you think I should leave Peterson alone?”
Matt glanced between Vincent and me, looking clearly displeased for having to engage in conversation with the enemy. “If Taylor thinks it’s best to leave it alone, then leave it alone.” He uttered grumpily.
“Good to know your prejudice against me tops over Taylor’s safety, man,” Vince said, shaking his head. “You’d rather say he’s right, just so you won’t have to agree with me. That’s what I call messed up priorities. You’re still thinking about what’s best for you, and not for him, as usual, I see.”
“No, I’m not. My priorities are just fine.” Matt snapped, sounding irked. “And so is Taylor’s safety. I just don’t think it’s right to snap your fingers and get people out of school like you’re thinking about doing. You’re acting just like David, one big bully willing to do anything and walk over anyone to get your way.”
“I’m nothing like David.” Vincent denied, looking extremely irritated.
“It looks like the same to me.” Matt countered, snippily. “The only difference is that he uses violence to intimidate people, and you use your money.”
“At least I’m doing something useful with my money and trying to keep Taylor safe, unlike you, who’s doing jack shit. Oh, wait, no, I stand corrected, you’re very good at playing safe and being a coward, besides doing jack shit.” Vince sneered.
I could see all the warning signs I needed when Matt’s jaw ticked, both hands bawling into fists as he started to shift on his spot, preparing to have a go at Vincent, but I interrupted before it could escalate into an actual fistfight. “Hey, cut it out, the both of you!” I snapped, loud enough for the two hear. “No one is a coward here, all right? And I don’t need anyone protecting me. I’m not a damn damsel in distress, you two can stop treating me like one.”
“Come on, guys, let’s not do this right now?” Jesse intervened for my sake, when she saw me clutching at my upset stomach. “You’re making Taylor really upset with all this fighting and it’s the day before his birthday! Let’s not stress him out more than he already is, please?”
“It’s your birthday tomorrow?” Vincent asked, sounding surprised.
“Yeah. I forgot, with all this things going on…” I mumbled, rubbing over my churning stomach.
“What do you want to do? Tell me, anything you want, is on me.” Vincent promptly offered.
“Hm… how about no more fighting, please?” I said, pointedly glaring at him and Matt. “I was going to ask for world peace, but I thought it was too easy, so I’m trying something harder and more impossible to get, like peace between you two buttheads.”
Vincent waved a dismissive hand at me. “I’m serious, Taylor. What do you want to do? Is there a place you want to go? Just name it, I can get you pretty much anywhere in the world.” He boasted and Matt rolled his eyes in annoyance by my side.
“Oh, I know!” Jesse exclaimed, jumping up and down on her spot on the grass. “What about Granite, Taylor? You’ve been dying to go there! Vincent can get us inside for sure.”
Vincent turned to me, frowning. “Granite? As in the night club? The adult gay night club downtown?”
I blushed and mumbled embarrassedly. “I haven’t been ‘dying’ to go there. I was just curious, that’s all. I wanted to see what it was like, you know?”
“What a gay club was like?” he asked curiously, but there was a hint of teasing lacing his voice.
“Not the place, per say, but… what it’s like for a guy to be able to go up to another guy and flirt and kiss and hook up, and do all these things that I always see my straight friends doing when they’re in clubs… like it’s the most normal thing in the world and nobody gives you dirty glances or stare at you like you’re a freak of nature or a degenerate, you know?” I finished lamely, fumbling with the hem of my shirt, when I felt a hand resting gently over my thigh.
I glanced up and Vincent was smiling softly at me as he said, “I’m taking you to Granite tomorrow. Be ready at eight.”
“Are we there yet?” Jesse asked at the back seat of Vincent’s car.
It was Saturday night and Vincent was driving Jesse, Matt and me to Granite, as promised. I turned around on the passenger’s seat and glared at her. “We’re getting there. Gosh, woman, take a chill pill!”
“I still can’t believe we’re going to Granite!” She exclaimed, wringing excitedly on her seat. “This is the best birthday present ever, right, Taylor? Thanks for inviting us to come with you guys, Worthington. You’re not so bad after all.”
“It’s my pleasure,” he replied smoothly while he parked the car. “I couldn’t let Taylor’s friends out of the celebration.”
“I don’t know why you’re so excited, Jesse. You are aware that you’re going to a night club full of men with absolute zero interest in women, right?” Matt grumbled beside her in the backseat, with his arms crossed and a slight sulk on his face. He hated going to night clubs of any sort but had made an exception tonight because it was my birthday.
“So?” She chirped with a bemused shrug. “This club has the best dance floor in town and the best music selection of all time, plus, I can dance there without having to worry about being harassed by some sleazy guy trying to hump me every five seconds. It’ll be fabulous! And even if there wasn’t any of that, we’re here to celebrate Taylor’s birthday, so try to cheer up, will ya? Tonight is about supporting our best friend.” she said, patting me on the back.
“We’re here. Let’s go.” Vincent announced, parking the car and stepping outside. We slid out of the car and after locking the doors, Vincent reached out and held my hand. “Vince, what are you doing?” I asked, glancing down.
“Holding my date’s hand.” He replied calmly.
“What date?” I hissed, tugging my hand away when I realized he only wanted to make Matt jealous, but he held onto my hand tighter and didn’t let go.
“I am taking you out tonight, Holmes. In my book, this classifies as a date, and I hold hands with my dates. Don’t be rude now.” He chided with a provocative grin.
I sighed and gave up protesting, letting him drag me helplessly towards the night club. While we headed to the front doors, I took a sly peek Matt’s way. He was wearing jeans with a light blue buttoned up shirt, the same color as sky blue eyes. He looked like an angel in those clothes. The exact opposite of Vincent with his dark, brooding looks, in expensive black jeans and a snug black shirt.
I caught Matt glancing at me but Vincent stepped between us, blocking our view. “It’s not polite to stare at another guy while you’re on a date with me, Holmes.” He reprimanded me with a teasing smirk.
I rolled my eyes. “Vincent, could you not do this-” I tried to protest but he leaned over, shutting me up with a kiss.
Jesus, that boy could kiss like the devil!
By the time he broke away the kiss, I was flustered and blushing in a mix of embarrassment and excitement. “Stolen kiss are indeed the best kind.” He hummed, smiling mischievously down at me while I blushed even more.
Then he walked up to the door and talked briefly to the bouncer, who eyed him suspiciously but gave a short nod before darting inside to fetch something. Soon, an old man in a dark suit hurried outside, all pleased smiles and welcoming hugs. He shook Vincent’s hands eagerly and cleared for us to come inside without even asking for names or IDs. I was truly in awe at Vincent’s power display.
“There you go.” Vincent motioned for us to enter. “You’ll have an open tab inside. Tonight is on me, you can ask for whatever you want, my treat. Anything for Taylor and his friends.” he said, giving me a quick wink.
I raised both eyebrows, genuinely impressed, while Matt muttered something darkly under his breath. That was a killer move. Vincent was really committed to his plan to make Matt jealous. If I didn’t know it was all fake, I would have been swooning over him here for sure.
When we were inside, the music vibrated and pulsed through my body, making me shake in excitement. The place was packed, mostly with men. Older, bigger, intimidating men. We headed for the bar first, to get some drinks as the last new pop sensation song started to blast through the speakers, making Jesse squeal beside me in joy. “I told you they had the best song selection!” she shouted over the music.
We decided to stick near the bar for a while, to get acquainted with the place before we hit the dance floor. Matt leaned against the counter, holding his drink and trying to pretend he wasn’t felling as uncomfortable as he looked, while Jesse engaged in lively conversation with a girl next to her.
A few men began to inch closer, eyeing us as if we were a bag full of candies ready for the picking, and then one guy straight up approached and started to chat me up. We’d been talking for only a minute when Matt tapped the guy on the shoulder, intruding in our conversation.
“Hi there. He’s seventeen. Better go find someone who isn’t jail bait, if you know what I mean,” he said and the guy excused himself so quickly that it looked like he was literally about to get arrested.
“Thanks a lot, Matt.” I scowled, crossing my arms over my chest with a pout.
“What? The guy was three times your age, Holmes. I know you enjoy any kind of attention, but that dude was just plain creepy. I was doing you a favor. You’re very welcome.” He shot me a cheeky grin.
“There isn’t anyone around our age in here, just you and Vincent. I can’t talk to anyone if I can’t talk to older guys.” I argued.
“Hey, I didn’t make the laws, okay? But they exist for a reason.” He remarked with a shrug.
I rolled my eyes in annoyance and asked for another drink at the counter because the one I had was finished already. When the bar tender asked for some ID and money, Vincent slid next to me and showed the guy a golden card stuck between his fingers, motioning all of us to indicate that our orders were on him. “How’s your adult clubbing experience going so far? Enjoying yourself?” He asked, watching me down my drink in one go.
“I would be, if it wasn’t for certain people trying to kill all the fun and chase everyone away from me.” I said purposefully loud so Matt would hear me.
“I am only trying to watch out for you, Taylor.” Matt replied, eyeing everyone around us with deep distrust.
“Well, how about we go dance? Just you and me?” Vincent proposed, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and turning me to face him. “I’m not an old creepy guy, so Matthew doesn’t need to keep watch over you, since you’re completely safe with me. Come on.”
I tried to tell Jesse that I was heading for the dance floor, but she was too engrossed in conversation with her new friend at the counter to notice me waving as Vincent pulled me away, leaving a distraught Matt behind, who didn’t know if he stuck around to protect Jesse or follow ahead to protect me.
“Taylor, have I told you how good you look tonight?” Vincent said close to my ear while he directed me to the middle of the dance floor.
“Vince, I know what you’re trying to do here,” I turned around to face him as we stood at the center of the moving stream of bouncing people. “You don’t really want to dance, do you? You’re still playing your game. You have to stop this.”
He stood still, watching me with darkening green eyes. Then he pulled me closer, wrapping his arms around my waist as he leaned his forehead against mine. A cryptic smile played on his lips and we began to slow dance, despite the upbeat music playing around us.
“Look, if you really just want to dance, then fine, but if this is about your plan, I’m really not doing this.” I told him. “I know you don’t understand, but there’s too much to lose. I do want to be with Matt, I want him so much, it feels like it’s hard to breathe sometimes, but it’s nothing compared to what it’s going to feel like if this goes wrong and I lose him. This is not his choice anymore, Vince, I’m the one who doesn’t want it anymore. I need to start seeing him as just my friend. I’m ready to let go of this dream I have to be with him. I’m trying to move on here. Please, can you help me move on, Vince? Maybe it’s time for me to have another dream. Maybe happiness is right in front of me and I couldn’t see it because I’ve been looking at the past.”
I peeked shyly up to him and gave him a tentative smile, inching closer to his face until we were kissing. It was a gently kiss, slow and cautious, but full of strange emotions I couldn’t discern.
He broke the kiss and brushed his fingers gently over the side of my face, watching me intently. “You’re giving up on him because you’re afraid. I know you’re scared of losing him, Taylor, but is it worth, though? To give up this kind of love you two have because you don’t want to risk anything? I wish I had a love like this, so true and strong and real. People go through all their lives looking for a love like this and you two have it, within your grasp. If only you’d be brave enough to take it. Yeah, things can go wrong after, but you’d know what it will feel like, to have that kind of love, for once in your life, instead of going on living with safe what-ifs and what-could-have-beens…”
He brushed a tear off my face that I didn’t even notice had fallen. “You belong together, Taylor. You need him, not me.” he told me quietly and I recoiled in shame, rejection leaving a stinging bite on me.
Someone tapped on my shoulder and I whipped around, stumbling and disoriented by the loud music and the prickle of tears filling my eyes.
“Tay, I need to talk to you. It’s really important.” Matt asked with his hand still on my shoulder, blue eyes glinting and full of concern under the flashing lights of the dance floor. I turned to Vincent, feeling torn inside.
“Go. Talk to him,” he said. “Tell him how you really feel. Be honest.”
He sounded calm, but his eyes seemed to be in a turmoil of emotions.
Matt linked his hand with mine and pulled me slowly away from the dancing floor. I followed him in a daze. Inside my heart was ripping in two, torn between the boy of my dreams and the boy watching me leave with resigned eyes full of sadness.