Chapter 31: Liam
“Truth or dare.”
I stare at Jimmy, no longer giving a crap about what’s happening. My body is loose and relaxed, and my vision may be sloshy, but the view has never been so great. Jimmy, Libby, and I are all on the living room floor, Libby leaning against the foot of my recliner with her feet spread out for me to lie in her arms, and Jimmy holding his legs close to his stomach as he watches the two of us intently.
“Truth,” I respond, too drunk out-of-my-mind to worry about his question.
There’s no way I would be in this condition if Jere were upstairs - or anywhere in this house for that matter, but since he isn’t and is rather staying at Debby and Bentley’s for the weekend, I have given myself permission to be as irresponsible as I pleased.
A lazy smirk makes its home on Jimmy’s lips and I don’t hesitate to roll my eyes. “What’s your favorite color?”
A long groan escapes me as I listen to Jim and Libby laugh. “Ha ha, very funny. I’m not as breakable as you guys think me out to be.”
I faintly feel Libby’s hand run through my hair, and to say that my only reaction to her touch was a shiver would be an understatement. “We just don’t want you to say anything you may regret tomorrow.”
“Hey now, I’m a pretty good drunk!” I try and point out, but their laughing interrupts me. Rude.
“Alright Liam,” Jimmy says with a stupid smile, “when was the last time you were drunk?”
“Is that the question?” I ask, reaching down beside me for my Saint Arnold and taking a long swig. When I set the glass back down, Jimmy’s head briefly becomes two before merging back to normal.
“Do you want it to be?”
“Well it’s certainly better than ‘what’s your favorite color.’” Jimmy nods and I sigh, closing my eyes and trying to think back to the last time I drank like a teenager should. “The night I lost my virginity.”
I can almost hear the fun, careless vibe in the apartment die at my words. I didn’t think about how my answer could affect Libby - how it would make her feel towards me. She never knew I was drunk when I impregnated Rose. I don’t think anyone knew.
Clearing my throat, I turn to look up at Libby who continues to hold me in her arms despite my punch to the gut. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare,” she murmurs, and although she responded, she seems far away. She’s only drinking water.
“Go to the local pool with me.” I’ve had this dare in store for what feels like ages, but has probably only been an hour or two. She looks down at me curiously, now slipped out of her daydream and completely lost in my words. “Trust me.”
“But you’ll drown,” she remarks, glancing at my glass bottle on the floor beside me before returning gaze back to me.
I roll my eyes at her answer. “It’s a five-foot-deep pool, not a bottomless ocean Lib.”
I watch her contemplate, her gaze switching between me, the bottle, Jimmy, and back to me.
“Truth or dare?” she asks.
“Truth,” I reply smoothly. I’m never smooth. I am drunk off my ass.
“What will we be doing at the local pool?”
A sly smirk that Jimmy would be proud of forms my lips. “Skinny-dipping, babe. Get your things- oh, wait. You don’t need anything but me, myself, and I huh? How ’bout that! Let’s go!”
I struggle to get up, but when I finally get into a sitting position Libby’s hands are locked around my arms at once. “Liam, stop.” I let out a small huff and turn around to face Libby. “Maybe some other time. Now is not... right.”
A small laugh bubbles out of me without my permission. “What do you mean? I’ve never felt so alive than now, Libby. Now is exactly the right time.”
Her frown deepens and she only shakes her head, finally letting my arms go from her possession. “I, um... I’m gonna go lay down. I’m tired,” she mumbles, as if flustered for some reason that’s beyond me.
I know my drunken mind can’t be turned off like a light switch, but I can almost swear it does when I watch her stand up from the floor and walk up the creaking stairs.
Jimmy speaks my mind: “You fucked up.”
I sigh, but not as dramatically as I want to. “I know.” I lie back down on the ground, this time without my Libby to hold me. “What do I do?”
“Well....” Jimmy draws out, and I roll my eyes.
“Libby is not one to take drunk sex lightly,” I answer his unsaid suggestion. We may not be brothers, but we have lived in the same apartment for three years.
Jimmy just groans, leaning his head back on the cushions of his couch. “Then I’ve got nothin’, brother.”
I mean, although sex sounds great right now, even I don’t want to be drunk beforehand again. “I should just talk to her.”
He immediately shakes his head no. “Not a good idea - especially in your state.”
“Well I have to do something."
“Just...” and then he snaps his fingers like the world makes sense again. “Make her coffee. And then talk.”
I raise an eyebrow. “How does coffee make a difference?”
Jimmy smiles like a proud dad. “Coffee solves everything, man. Trust me.”
Clearing his throat, he pushes himself off the floor and walks over to the mirror that hangs on the wall behind our tiny T.V..
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna head over to the party down at the university.” As he saunters away from the mirror and pockets his keys formerly lying on the counter, he calls over his shoulder to me, “Don’t make too much noise up there,” and then shuts the door behind him.
After standing and walking into the kitchen to prepare the coffee, I hear footsteps behind me. “What are you doing?”
I jump in my spot, not expecting to have company. “Oh, um... I was making you coffee.” I feel her tug at my sleeve and I turn around, engulfing her in my arms. “I’m sorry.”
She shakes her head and I just know that she’s smiling. “Coffee at midnight, huh?”
“Jimmy’s idea,” I mumble, and she nods in my arms. The coffeemaker’s bell rings, signaling that it’s finished brewing. “Coffee for two?”
I can almost hear him smiling on the other side of the line. “Me.”
“What do you want.” It’s not a question - it’s obvious what he wants.
“And how do you plan on getting her?”
It’s been six hours since I shared coffee with Libby; six hours since she forgave my social hiccup. Now this bullshit woke me up, and with Lib being the hardest sleeper I’ve ever known, of course she didn’t budge when the phone rang. I’ve never been so jealous of someone in my life.
“Easy: by talking to you.” His voice is so smooth and casual, like the snake from Ella Enchanted, where his only intentions were to kill Prince Char. Great.
“Mr. Nottes, please cut the shit out of this conversation,” he says, and I can almost hear the irritation in his voice. A smirk reaches my lips. “I know you want to hear what I have to say.”
“Fine. Talk to me about my parents. Let’s see what you have to tell me that I haven’t already found out.”
“Well, that’s the thing. I’m not telling you anything.”
A laugh bubbles out of me. “Then why the hell am I on the phone with you?”
“Because you haven’t hung up,” he points out, and I can’t blame him and the point he’s made.
“That can be solved quite quickly, Mr. Earnest.”
“Please, call me Cal.”
I roll my eyes. “No thanks.”
“Alright, back to the matter in our hands-”
“In your hands. I have no part of whatever ploy you’ve come up with, sir. I’m just curious, is all. Now please just tell me what your intentions are.”
“Break up with my daughter, and you’ll have all the information you’ve ever wanted about your parents,” he says smoothly, and I... I stand in my kitchen in shock.
“Break up with Libby?” This guy must be calling me from their local loony-bin. “And then what? Ride a griffin to wherever my parents may be? If they’re, y’know, even a-”
“Alive? I knew that was one of your theories ,” he says, the smile clear in his voice. It’s like he’s dancing at the thought of me giving in.
“What does that even mean?” I laugh humorlessly like I find myself doing a lot while talking to this asshole. “You know what? I don’t even care. Now take my advice: Don’t call here again. No one wants to hear your voice anymore - I doubt even your wife does, after all you’ve been putting Libby through.”
“What I am putting Libby through?” he asks incredulously. “Her mother and I have been worried sick! She’s living with two lousy nobodies - one who’s been kicked out of a fraternity, and the other who impregnated a girl at only the age of fourteen whose only job to raise his son with is a full-time job at a record store. How does that sound?”
I listen... and I stop. It’s like everything stops. His words are tightening around my lungs and I can barely breathe. He’s voicing the thoughts I’ve had ever since I got to know Libby: she deserves better. Something better than any life I could ever give her.
“She deserves so much more, Mr. Nottes. Can’t you see that?” Mr. Earnest sighs over the line, and I can almost hear the shaking in his voice. He’s hurting. He’s lost his daughter, after all. To what? A nobody like me. “If you truly love her like you say you do,” he murmurs, his voice to where I can barely hear, “then let her go.”
And then the tone dies... but not because of me this time.