07. The First Steps
It’s amazing what getting a good grade can do to you. It’s been nearly a week since my amazing breakdown and just like before, I haven’t really spoken to anyone. One of my toxic traits is that as soon as I feel like shit, I push away everyone even more.
I haven’t even seen Hope in over a week, even though we have classes together. I have no problem missing classes if it plays into my fucked-up narrative to avoid those who can help me. So, today when I decided to finally turn up to lectures, I knew that she would be there with her innocent self, asking me questions because she was worried about me.
I didn’t completely blank her, I replied to her messages but always with an excuse. You learn early on that if you give people a little bit always then it takes them longer to realise that something is actually wrong. If I had completely ghosted her, she would have been worried the first day and then I wouldn’t have had those extra couple of days to get my head together.
Jules being the angel that he is has also been in touch with me, I hate to admit it but I look forward to his daily messages. I don’t know how he finds the time to text me at all times during the day, and yet I never feel suffocated. Just little, random conversations here and there. Nothing deep that makes me want to run and I’m starting to think that he knows exactly what is going around in my head.
I’m getting a sense of déjà vu as I hear my name being shouted from behind me, seconds before Hope’s body connects with the back of mine. I mean it’s not the most practical way to greet each other when there are dozens of other people trying to get into the same doors as us, but I have to admit that her happiness at seeing me is just what I needed.
“Where have you been?” She asks as we take out seats at the back of the room, it doesn’t really matter where you sit with the microphones and the large screen. I like the thought of hiding, even if that isn’t true because you can see everyone from down there.
“You know me, I just didn’t feel like coming.” I laugh it off but I should have known that such an excuse would never pass with her. Her frown is immediately back on her face as I feel a different kind of lecture coming from her.
“If there is something wrong then you can always come to me Lily, I know that you’ve been avoiding me and school. You might miss a couple of classes here and there but never every single one in a week.” She points out and I curse inside my head, I’m not used to people paying such close attention to me. Why couldn’t she just accept that I couldn’t be bothered with university this past week?
“There’s nothing wrong, you know the drill, you have to miss a couple of lectures to catch with notes.” I lie once again even though I have been catching up with some classes but not the whole time to say that I missed lessons for them. I spent most of my time at the gym and in my room just watching Netflix.
“If you’re sure it’s just that.” She asks once again and I have to school my face because I can see her probing eyes trying to look out for any clue. For the first time in I think ever, I’m a little nervous that she is actually going to be able to see through my façade. It’s been years since anyone has been there and I don’t really know how to feel about that.
“I promise you that there is nothing more to it, I’m fine.” I promise and I think it’s less of a lie than if I were to have said it earlier today. The only other time I have smiled this past week was this morning when I found out my last essay grade, which is what prompted me to go to class today. Now as she gets busy noting down the begging of the lecture on her laptop, I smile to myself a little that even though I am terrified of trusting a friend, I know that I’m a damn lucky bitch to have found Hope.
I would be lying if I said the next hour and half went quickly since lectures never really do, doesn’t matter if you’re in love with the subject. It’s a weird feeling when you finish a lecture, you feel accomplished that you made it and you were there but you also know that realistically you didn’t really learn much since there is too much information in such a short space of time.
“Since you’ve been MIA this past week, I’m taking you out to lunch so we can catch up. Mind you, it’s going to be cheap lunch like McDonalds or something but I think we both deserve it after that fucking bore.” She groans and for once I don’t feel dead after a lecture but like I said I’m still running on the adrenaline of finding out I got a first in one of my essays.
“I’m afraid that I’m going to have to cut in here and steal her away from you.” Jules interrupts, coming out of nowhere to sneak in between Hope and I. It’s a little embarrassing the size of the smile that is now on my face just because I am seeing Jules without planning it.
“I see how it’s going to be, I’m never going to see you again because now you’re going to spend all of your time with Jules!” Hope exaggerates and acts as if someone is shooting her, she might be overdoing it but it is kind of nice to have your friend be rooting for you and a guy.
“You act as if you don’t have three guys to juggle.” I hit back, almost cracking up when I see the look on Jules’s face as he looks between Hope and I to see if he heard me right.
“I guess everyone is right when they say you have to look out for the innocent looking ones.” He laughs a little as Hope’s face lights up like a traffic light. After that it doesn’t take her long to say goodbye as she gets a text from Martin but it’s also a little hard for me to keep up where she is with each of them. It’s hard enough remembering all of your friend’s relationship troubles when they’re with one person but mine is with three.
“How rude of you to steal me away from my best friend!” I joke with Jules as soon as Hope is out of earshot. I also find myself looping my arm through his as we walk through the campus, something I haven’t done with a guy in years but all of these little things feel normal with him.
I lean it’s no leap of intimacy considering I have dirty danced, sucked him off and fucked the guy, but sometimes things happen the wrong way around.
“A guy has to be creative when it comes to you.” He teases back and that’s probably my favourite thing about him, I don’t have to censor my jokes or worry about what I’m going to say. He’s honest and he would let me know if I took something too far.
“Did you have something planned or did you just come onto the university campus to prey on unsuspecting university students?” I flutter my lashes at him and even though it does make him laugh, I cringe at myself. I’m always one to point out when girls aren’t acting naturally around guys, dumbing themselves down and even though it’s just banter between us, I have to remind myself that with Jules I don’t have to be anything other than myself.
“I mean if you are unsuspecting at this point then I don’t know what to say. I would have to write my feeling in the sky for you to get a clue if the situation is that dire.” He laughs as we have reached his car as he opens the door for me. I’m not used to seeing or being on the receiving end of such old-fashioned chivalry but I don’t mind it so much.
“You do know that if you were to ever get your feelings written in the sky, you will have to chase me to the airport because I would be catching the first flight out of here.” I joke but we both know that such a grand gesture would scare the crab out of me. That little thought just once again reminding me how broken I am, the thought of this amazing guy professing his feelings for me in such a grand manner should not send me running for the hills.
“I think you’re also greatly overestimating my bank account and intelligence; grand gestures of romance are a sure way to send you running away from. I think I’m going to stick with the slow and stealthy approach of winning you over, that way you won’t realise when I’ve executed my plan.” He wiggles his eyebrows and does a very bad impression of an evil laugh. In fact, it’s so bad that I can’t help but laugh crazily alongside him, with some of the noises coming out of my mouth not being human.
For once I think I’m going to leave this up to him. He is the one who came to me to pick me up, he is the one who apparently has something in store for us, but most importantly, he is the one driving and knows where we’re going. I’m going to try and enjoy this nice little surprise with him, I think I deserve a little treat after the week I’ve had and a small reward for my grade.
“You should also know that I’m a first-class student and I cannot be related to someone with subpar intelligence.” I joke while trying to keep a straight face. I know for a fact that Jules is incredibly smart, he just chose to go down a different path that isn’t university. I mean the comment was also to brag a little about my grade, I just never thought those kinds of grades would be in my future.
I also know that Jules is such a kind soul that he is going to be extremely happy for me, for what I have achieved and right now I need something to be happy for me and with me.
“I know you got a first on your essay babe, you sent me a text at three am this morning.” He says with a little smile on his face. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember sending that text?” He asks after I’m quiet for a couple of seconds and the confusion must have shown on my face.
I then take out my phone and sure enough the last message I sent to him was in the middle of the night after I had checked my grade and had then promptly fallen asleep before receiving his reply. I know it’s stupid and silly but as I’m now reading his reply on my screen, I can almost feel the pride and joy he felt when he heard my news. It doesn’t help that he is sitting right next to me and can read every single emotion changing on my face.
“I guess I’m one of those few people that send late night texts when I’m sober rather than drunk, to then not remember them the next morning.” I joke because humour is the only way I’m allowing myself to express emotions. I don’t think I’m fooling either of us with that little distraction since he seems to be able to read me like a book.
Just like now, he knows not to push me.
“When are you going to let me take you out on a proper date?” he asks after a couple of minutes of us just joking around singing to songs in his car. I don’t know whether to put him out of his misery since I’ve secretly been counting our random meet ups as dates or is it too early for me to let him in?
“Well you haven’t asked me.” I reply, knowing full well that everything we have been doing together has been leading up to him asking me out. It might seem to some that I am leading him on, and I guess in some ways I did at certain points just because I wasn’t willing to dive head first into our relationship. But, who said I had to dive straight in?
I think it’s safe to say that he has somehow managed to chip away at the walls I have built around myself. So much so that unlike before when I would run even at the word ‘date’, I find myself even giddy at the thought of him asking me out again and me being able to say yes, this time.
“Is that your way of saying that you’re not going to keep turning me down anymore?” He asks while throwing me a side eye. I can see why he might think I am setting some sort of trap for him as he’s asked me out more than once and the things he has done for me are only those of a guy who is really into you.
I know that even now I’m afraid to admit how much Jules really means to me, but I think I’ve known for a while now that he is a guy that I can take a chance on. Because at the end of the day if Jules isn’t being genuine with me then I have absolutely no hope in meeting someone who is better than him. Our kind of instant connection doesn’t just happen every day.
“I guess you’re going to have to ask me and find out.” I shrug, hoping that I come across as cool and collected, when on the inside I am dying to hear him say the words. For the first time, maybe ever, I am dying to have a guy open up to me because I’m sure of my answer. The experience of being cheated on, oppressed and controlled have at least shown me and made me appreciate even more the kind of man that Jules is.
“Do you want to go on a date with me?” He asks with a little smile on his face and I can tell he is nervous. I hate that I have been so closed off that even such a simple question would make him this nervous. It’s also a weird feeling, seeing how well he can read me and how well I feel like I know him when we haven’t been out on a single proper date.
“I would love to.” comes my simple answer and our beginning has been anything but simple. Here we are 2 months after meeting each other, having spent a lot of time together but it is now that we are going to have our first date. We know each other better than some couples who have been together years, we have slept together and we have fucked. I have laughed more with him than any other man in my life but the feeling of making things official is something else.
Taking these first couple of steps with him feel right in such a way that I struggle to believe that this is all happening to me and that this isn’t all a dream.