I could feel the back of my eyes burning hot tears slip from my eyes down to my cheeks. I quickly wipe them away with the back of my hand, but more keep coming. This is crazy. I never cry. Ever.
I didn’t cry when my nanny died. I didn’t cry when my grandma died. I didn’t cry when I got punched in the throat by some bully kid in second grade. Crying is overreacting and I cannot have distanced myself more from that.
So why now?
I watch as they drive away, her eyes still on me. I know she can see the drops that ran down my face. This is completely irrational. I’ve barely met her a week ago. Seeing her with Damon only made sense. He’s a smart guy and probably knows what a great girl she is. She probably sees in him the well rounded guy I never learned how to be.
“So, you doing alright in school, champ?” My father keeps his eyes on the road, but I can hear the slight threat in his tone.
“It’s fine, Dad,” I mutter, making sure they can’t hear any signs that I’ve been crying.
“Now, son. You don’t lie to me about this kind of thing. Dylan never did. You’re failing Physics and you know it.” He’s always done this. Everything I’ve ever done was to please the both of them and it’s never enough. I can’t be Dylan.
I used to want to be like Dylan. Entering high school was a whole new experience for me and he made everything feel so easy. High school just flew by when I was around him, but that was probably because I was drunk out of my mind. It wasn’t until recently, until Lane, that I found myself questioning what this all means, what I’ve been missing out on while I was high or drunk or making out with some girl to prove a point. I’ve been disgusting. But I can’t stop.
Tonight, my parents came back home for a short dinner and then they’re off again on some business trip. Or is it for pleasure? I can’t tell anymore; they’re just always gone. The guys set up for a party to happen some time tonight and my presence is mandatory.
“So, your Father and I ran into the Watsons last week on our trip. Patty and Gerald looked terrific, didn’t they, Honey?” She reaches over and squeezes his arm.
“Right, yes, we did. They mentioned that they haven’t heard Pamela speak of you in a while. You should try and give her a call.” He sounds unconvinced, but my mom turns back and sends a meaningful wink my way.
Patty and Gerald Watson have been friends with my parents for the longest time because they all grew up in the same social class and all have a shared but unspoken belief that their children should remain the same way. They had two daughters, Gemma and Pamela, who coincidentally matched in age with me and Dylan.
Dylan had always been very good at keeping in contact with Gemma, mainly because Gemma was the best female bro anyone can ask for. Without her family knowing, she had confessed to me and my brother that she had no interest in dating or sex, that whatever happens, happens. If her parents, or even her own sister knew that she was asexual, they would freak out.
The problem was Pamela, who seems to have been born to marry future me. The thought of it made me uncomfortable; I barely knew her and from what I’ve seen, I don’t want to know more. A queen of high maintenance and owner of a shrill voice, she could annoy an army into combat.
When I was a little younger, I thought she looked incredibly pretty, with bright red hair that warmed the sun rays and freckles on her little button nose that embellished her soft pale skin. With eyes of a muted green that can only resemble the waters that reach the shores of the tropics, she dazzled me with her intelligence and wit. Little did I know, all she did was speak louder than everyone and interrupt conversations to introduce herself in some manner she must have seen her mother do. It’s been years since I’ve spoken to her, and frankly, I’m afraid of what she’s turned into.
When they drop me off at home, several of the boys were still setting up for the party. All my furniture has already been moved to the side and covered with plastic sheets. Actually, they’d covered all the floors as well. The entire place looks like a Dexter murder scene, but I brush it off, knowing they’re only following what Dylan had instructed every time we set up a party. They all respected him, but now that he’s gone, I wonder if I’ll get the same treatment.
“Hey, Silas, I heard your homecoming date got busted. Too bad, she was hot,” Adam says, with an unapologetic smile. Hmm… douche.
“Yeah,” I say with an uncomfortable chuckle.
“Hey I heard someone wanted your attention. That chick Catherine? Think you can take that kitty?” Tyler claws at the air while mouthing meow.
“Maybe.” I switch on the tv and stare blankly at it, thinking of what Damon and Lane could have been doing out earlier, or maybe even right now.
“Looks like a Cravens brother has fallen too soon!” Ben yells from the kitchen, where all the beer was being stacked and ready for unloading.
They continue poking at the issue and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, not catering to their expectations. I was Silas Cravens, playboy and partygoer of the year. Why am I denying what I am?
Because maybe that’s not who I am.
I think of all the times I’ve spent with Tammy, every thought and every action. I’ve proven to myself that I care about more than my status in this school or my record in shot-taking. When I’m with her, my mind is cleared and she’s all there is to see.
But in this moment, all I can see is my Lane sitting next to the guy she deserves, laughing her breath away. That’s just the thing, though. She isn’t my Lane. She’s his princess and she deserves to be a princess. Who needs a superhero when they’re already steps away from happy ever after?
Before I knew it, people were rushing around the house, getting drunk on cheap beer and dancing like no one was watching. I just sit there, looking at everyone else as I chug my millionth beer. Occasionally, one of the guys would walk by with a few shots that they would pour into my mouth after yelling for me to tilt my head back. Pretty soon, every person was a blob and every vision became an abstract painting. Colors started to blend and I couldn’t tell what was happening around me.
I close my eyes and tilt my head back, resting it on the pillow behind me on the couch. There is a weight shift in the sofa and I could feel someone pull my arm around her. I turn to look at her and for a moment, a miracle happened and I saw that it was Lane smiling at me. But then I was hit by the awful fragrant of vanilla cupcakes that overwhelms my senses. Not Lane.
I blink a couple of times before seeing the face of Catherine Li, scooting closer to me while holding my arm in place around her shoulders.
I feel a tap on my other shoulder and I turn to see Tyler try to whisper into my face, “Way to go, buddy. Pet that kitty till she screams.”
I feel a tug on my other side and I turn back to Catherine, who attacks my mouth like there’s no tomorrow. My eyes grow wide and from my peripherals, I catch some of the guys glancing and giving thumbs up. So I fall into the kiss. My hands find her waist and the other grabs her arm, pulling her closer. I move from her waist to her ass, which is barely covered by a leather mini skirt that sits a little too snug on her. I feel her hands on me, grabbing the fabric that clung to my chest, then doing the same to that on my back, and finally up to the locks of hair at the back of my head.
Then, in a moment of heavy breathing before we head back into the kiss, I glance up to see Tammy, staring at me with red eyes, glistening from emerging tears. I freeze, but Catherine was at it again, this time moving down to my neck. I push her off, muttering sorry as I attempt to get up, but I fall back down on the couch due to my own dizziness. I see her run outside. I try again, and this time I make it to the front door, only to see her in Damon’s arms, kissing him passionately.
My shoulders drop.
This is it. This is the moment I lost her.
Or maybe she was never mine in the first place.
When Damon drops me off at home, Vinh and Scarlett were already standing at my front door, talking about something funny enough for them to throw their heads back in laughter.
“About time! Where were you?” Vinh asks as he locks his fingers with Scar’s and they both smile at each other.
“I was with Damon…” I’m not sure I want to finish that sentence.
“Oooh! On a date?” He and Scar share excited looks and then turn to me expectantly.
“No!” I unlock the door to reveal a dark living room.
“Okay, then what did you do?” Vinh continues as he sits on my couch and pats the seat next to him for Scar to sit.
I drop my bag on the floor next to the sofa chair and slump down on it. I purse my lips, considering whether or not to tell him. “He took me to the beach and then into this garden with twinkly lights.”
“Oh, sweetheart, that’s a date,” Scar says with a smirk. I’m glad to see she’s a bit happier today. The two are great together.
“And then what happened? Why did he take you there?” Vinh is on the edge of his seat. There’s literally only one square inch of ass on my couch that belongs to him right now.
“Well, he said he wanted to make it up to me for missing out on homecoming and-”
“Damn right he should make it up to you. Although, I’m kind of glad he didn’t make it.” He turns over to Scar, who was already smiling at him.
“He lead me to this gazebo in the garden and we danced to some Adele and then we kissed. Okay! Let’s figure out how to get rid of Jeff…” I rush past the details and aim for a change of subject, but Vinh was quick to catch my tactics.
“Wait a minute, you kissed! So you choose Damon?”
“Why does she have to choose,” Scar asks, clueless of the weird situation I’ve got going on.
“Because Silas Cravens probably likes her just as much as Damon does.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I object.
“Yes, he does, Tammy,” Scar began, “No guy looks at a girl like that unless he likes her. He looks like he really cares for you.”
I blush, thinking of how much I’ve shared with him in such a short time, especially what I shared with him last night. I’ve never felt so at ease talking to anyone like I do when I’m with him.
“It looks like, even with Damon’s smooch, you still haven’t decided.”
“Vinh, this is not some dramatic tv show. It’s not like the moment I sway a certain way, I would end up kissing my soulmate and forever happy in one fell swoop.”
“Alright, alright. A guy can only dream of witnessing. Okay, Silas said that we’ll have to catch him up on the plans later because he’s hosting another party at his place.” Vinh scratches the back of his head and looks over to Scar with shy eyes. Catching his hint, I speak up.
“So Scar, would you like to come to the party with us tonight? I know for a fact that Jeff never comes to house parties because they tend to be a bit too jocky for him.” Vinh raises an eyebrow at me and I continue, “I overheard him once, and also, if this party is at Silas’s than I’m sure Jeff won’t show up. Plus, this one,” I gesture at Vinh, “will probably be stuck by your side all night. So if you want, I can bring some bug spray in case he gets annoying…”
She laughs with her mouth wide open and I feel a sense of accomplishment as she agrees to come with us.
“Okay, so back to planning Mission: Take Down Jeff…”
Later, we arrive at the party with everything thought through about Scarlett’s issue. I had to tell my mom that I wanted to spend some time over at Vinh’s to finish a school project. She went to sleep, trusting in Vinh to take me home later. I chose to wore what I had worn with Damon earlier, but I’m starting to regret it in the night’s harsh cold breeze.
We approach the front porch to a few couples giving hickeys and moaning like grumpy old neighbors didn’t exist. I take my first step in and freeze at the sight before me.
Silas was madly kissing Catherine Li, who didn’t care enough to wear underwear under her black leather mini skirt, which now was giving everyone a show, except for the part where Silas’s hand covered and caressed. Her hair is shoulder length, midnight black, and tangled around his fingers. Finally, as he pulls away for air, he catches my eyes.
I don’t know what I expected. This is what I should have foreseen. Maybe he really did just mean for us to be friends. Maybe he’s just naturally flirty and unknowingly making my heart flutter to no end. Or maybe I felt more for him than he did for me.
Whatever it was, it hurts me now, and as I drown out all the sound in my surroundings, I hear someone call Damon in the distance. My head snaps around to see Vinh and Scar give me a concerned look, but more importantly I see Damon approaching the front porch. He sees me and waves, but I’m already running out the door to him.
I jump up onto him, wrapping my legs around his waist as I kiss him with burning passion. I have to crouch down to have his lips reach mine, and I could feel his hands support my back. He reaches one up to hold my face to his, occasionally running it through my hair. My fingers find their way to the wavy blond hairs on his head, gripping tightly. Loose locks of my straight brown hair start to curtain the sides of our faces.
We continue as we hear people around us cheering us on, whooping, and yelling out crude comments. It doesn’t matter, because in this moment, being with him helped drown it all out, until all that’s left is his scent all around me.
I finally pull my lips away from his.
“Tammy, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I say, biting my lower lip.
“Are you sure?” His eyebrows meet in the middle.
“Yeah. I feel safest with you,” I respond, knowing he’d recognize what I’d said.
“Well, I feel happiest with you,” he says, pulling me in for another kiss.