“I was just talking to her about maybe tutoring me in Physics. My parents are on my case about my failing in that class. All Mr. Gregory does in that class is fall asleep or mumble at the board. I’m getting nothing,” Silas shrugs. I narrow my eyes at him.
What a good liar.
“So you heard about her awesome tutoring skills, too?” Damon chuckles as he wraps his arm around my shoulder. Silas clenches his jaw, but there’s still a smile on his face. I squirm, and Damon catches a look of uneasiness in my eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I lie, and apparently not well enough, because he pushes further.
“No, tell me. What’s wrong?” Damon turns to look at Silas, suspicious.
“There was something that happened,” Silas begins, and I could feel my legs go numb and my heart pumping at inhuman speed, “It happened at homecoming, with Vinh’s ex-girlfriend, Scarlett.”
I look up to him with wide eyes, like a kitten would after being pulled out of high waters.
He glances at me, “I think we should tell him.” I nod, knowing it was my turn to speak the truth to cover up a lie.
“At homecoming, Silas and I saved Scarlett from getting raped by Jeff,” I sound shaky, but on this subject, it was admissible.
“Jeff Bradley?” Damon asks in disbelief. I nod slightly.
“She confessed to us that this has been an ongoing situation. He grew obsessed with her and even has a schedule for him to… do what he does to her. He threatened to hurt Vinh and her family if she spoke up. Everyone knows he’s big and tall and knows big and tough people.” Speaking now, I feel myself growing angry, but it could be the irritating heat that attacks my senses. I feel a drop of sweat make its way down to the crease between my breasts. I look up to see both Damon and Silas staring at it.
Ugh. Brainless men.
“I can’t believe Jeff is that kind of guy,” Damon says, thinking.
“A lot of guys are that kind of guy.” I could hear the coldness in my own tone and as I turn to see Silas, he carries a worried expression. He knows. Every detail from my tragic past has been revealed to him. He was the one person who knew the one thing I couldn’t tell a single person. But I’m not with him, and the fact that I shared it with him before sharing it with the person I ultimately chose, seems ridiculous. Why do things have to be this difficult? Why can’t we just kiss and live forever happy?
Those kisses we only shared moments ago still burned my lips as I recall every touch, every thought, every confession. I bite my lower lip, staring at the floor. When I finally look up, Damon was still thinking about something, and Silas was looking at me like he did before. He’s looking at me like when he was about to kiss me. His eyes are hungry and his lips tremble, possibly from the memory of touching mine.
“Can I help?” Both Silas and I break from our shared trance to turn and look at Damon. “I know a lot of cops. It might help.”
Together, Silas and I explain our plan to him, then work to fit in how Damon can help. By the end of it, the uneasiness in Silas’s eyes dissolve, probably from seeing what a great guy Damon is.
“I should get going,” Silas grabs his phone and keys off the coffee table. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
I want to see him sooner.
He avoids my eyes as he walks out, then glances back only to smile at Damon before climbing in his car.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you and Scarlett at homecoming.”
I snap my head to turn back at him, “What do you mean me and Scarlett? Nothing happened to me.” I sound defensive.
“No, it’s just that this topic tends to be a tender spot for most girls. I’m just sorry I wasn’t there to help out.”
Hearing him respond to my irrational lashing out, I realize that having Damon know about my past is the last thing I want. It was something I was ashamed of. It makes me feel weak, useless, and pathetic. If I tell people, I can already imagine them asking, “Why didn’t you speak up?” or “Why didn’t you just avoid that kind of thing?” or “What were you wearing?”
I was ten! Why would it have mattered what I wore?! And why would it matter what anyone wears? What lies on the skin shouldn’t indicate some sort of invitation.
So why did I tell Silas? What about it exactly, made it possible to strip from my shield of armor to allow him to see me at my most vulnerable? Where did all that trust come from?
“So are you going to help him with Physics? I guess that makes sense, since I don’t really need help with school anymore thanks to your genius brain.” He grins at me as he sits down on the couch and pats the seat next to his.
“Yeah I guess,” I answer, sitting down, and after a thought, I ask, “Why do you know a lot of cops?”
He looks at me with his strikingly green eyes in amusement and release a sad sigh as he explains, “When I was younger, my sister was kidnapped. She’s still missing, but ever since then, my dad has kept it real tight with the cops in town.”
“He never stopped searching,” I state as a fact.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time. He moved on with life, but those cops are always on the lookout for him, so we just happened to make a lot of cop friends.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t imagine losing a family member that way. You must have so many questions.” I reach for his hand to hold. He lifts it up to his lips to kiss the back of my hand. I blush.
“It’s okay. I was pretty young. Anyway,” he says, standing up, “I just wanted to swing by and say hi, but it looks like I need to visit a cop friend.” He grabs his phone and kisses me on the head before heading out.
That evening, I lay flat on my back staring at the ceiling, thinking about how unreal the events of today were. Just as Secret Love Song by Little Mix comes on, I grab my pillow, which was at arm’s length, and throw it on my face, hoping I could just pass out from lack of oxygen. I don’t want to think of who to choose, because I’ve already chosen. I don’t want to think of the large cloud of doubt that storms around my head, but with such an applicable song playing into my ears, how do I stop the what-ifs and the why-nots? I groan in extreme frustration.
“Sao vạy?” I hear my mom asking me “what happened” as she walks into my room.
“Không, con chỉ mệt thôi,” I respond. “No, I’m just tired.”
She sits down beside me and strokes my hair. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a moment of peace together and I can tell she misses spending time with me. She used to be the first person I’d run to and tell everything to, but times have changed and I’ve grown far too much for her to keep up with.
Here’s something about Asian parents. They either want to hear everything you have to say about your dating life or they want to pretend it doesn’t exist. You might think the first is better, but in reality, it just means they know every detail of your dating life and if that’s not creepy, I don’t know what is. My mom opted for the latter, knowing that if I ever needed her, I’d ask. But this situation that I’ve found myself in… It’s not what she would want to hear. She hasn’t been in this kind of situation.
Perhaps in a scenario where I need advice on pushing off advances for sex, she would be an expert. One time, she told me that as a young lady back in Vietnam, men would ask her to elope with them, although they never mentioned the paperwork, just the consummation. She wasn’t dumb, but she sure liked to play dumb. She would always excitedly grab their arm and pull them toward her house in the country, exclaiming that she want’s to ask her mother’s permission to do it. Imagine the guy’s fear in his eyes as he is being tugged into a death trap where a girl asks her mother for permission to have sex with him. It always made her laugh.
She looks beautiful tonight. She always clips her hair up for work, but seeing her now, relaxed with her shoulder length locks loosely spread on her shoulders, I think of how tired she must be, taking care of me.
She smiles at me as I reach up to stroke her hair, too. She tells me that tomorrow, I will have to get up early to walk to school because she has to go to a family friend’s funeral church mass, early in the morning. I nod and she continues, saying she’ll be taking a half day off work to help out with the wake, but she’d have to work after that. I nod again. Overall translation: I’ll be gone all day tomorrow.
“Tối rồi. Đi ngũ đi.” She gets up and walks out the door, turning off the lights on her way. “It’s late. Go to sleep.”
I nod, but don’t move. I suppose I shouldn’t expect a visit through my window tonight. With a heavy sigh, I doze off.
The loud tap on my window wakes me with a jolt. Within seconds, I manage to quietly open the window and let Silas in.
“I don’t know what to say” was the first thing out of his mouth. I try not to look at it to keep myself sane.
“Then why are you here?” I am genuinely curious. I had put on a loose hoodie with a print of a rubber ducky on the front and a duck butt on the back of it. I also slipped on pajama pants that had tiny rubber duckies on them. I was prepared to be the opposite of sexy.
“I just wanted to talk, to somehow clear the air, and maybe convince you to actually help me with Physics because seriously, dude, I’m drowning.”
I laugh silently and he smiles at my laugh, then looking down at my outfit, he laughs as well.
He points at my pants and whispers between muted laughter, “You’re such a kid!”
“Don’t judge my outfit.” I answer his laughter with low lids.
There was a long silence as we just stare at each other. I study the curvature of his lips, the shape of his nose, the arch of his eyebrows, and the chocolate in his eyes.
“Hey, Lane? Can I keep coming to your window? I promise, I’ll try my best to keep it platonic.”
I study his expression. He looks sad and a little nervous. Like a kindergartener learning to make friends. My heart melts for his soft brown eyes. “Of course. But I need you to respect that I’m kind of with Damon now.”
His eyes sadden a bit, but he seems glad to know I’d keep him around.
I lay down and remember that the lights were still off. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes for a bit… Wow, I must be really tired from getting turned on by him earlier today. Making out is draining...
There was a short silence, followed by a shallow sigh. “Because you don’t just make me feel like Superman. You make me feel like me.”
And that is all I hear as I slip into slumber.