Skin of the Night

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Chapter 45: What's Wrong With You?

The first thing I heard when I walked through the front door was Olivia’s laughter, and it threw me off. That was the last thing I’d expected to hear. Kicking off my shoes at record speed, I scurried into the living area to find her in Jason’s company with a bottle of red wine in her lap. From a quick look at the telly, I saw that they were watching Live at the Apollo, Jason’s favourite comedy show. His all-time-favourite comedian was Jimmy Carr, which didn’t surprise me, taking his taste for vulgarity into account. Vaguely, I wondered if William shared his feelings. He must.

“Hey, you,” I cooed when Olivia turned her warm brown eyes toward me. Tears welled in them immediately.

“I told him to go do one,” Jason said before she could utter as much as a word. From his demeanour, I could tell he was fuming. “He called again, just a few minutes ago. I answered. I don’t think he’ll be calling her again anytime soon. If he’s wise, he never will.”

Relief flooded me. Jason Night. A walking saint. Nobody messed with our Livy, and especially not under his watch. He’d always been remarkably protective, a trait he shared with his elder brother. It might be the only trait they had in common, aside from their vulgar tongues.

“He said he broke up with Jessica because he missed me, that he made a mistake when he dumped me for her,” Olivia said.

“Olivia!” I moaned, using her given name, which I only did on occasions when I was being utterly serious. “Please don’t tell me you’re considering rekindling with him!”

“No!” she yelled back. “I told him to fuck off!” she continued proudly. “But it just reopened the wound, Cara! He’s so manipulative. He wouldn’t stop calling, and speaking to him made me remember all the terrible things he’s done to me.”

“That’s right, Livy,” Jason cheered her on. “He never deserved you. He’s a total bellend.”

“I know. I’m so over him. Honestly, it feels great that the tables have turned. I fancy him grovelling. I’m only... upset. And I’m angry with him for thinking I’d take him back! How weak does he think I am?” Flustered, she raised her bottle to her mouth and chugged a worrisome amount. I looked to Jason for answers, and he mouthed back ‘half’. She’d had half a bottle already? Christ.

“So there’s nothing that really needs to be done. You’re just here to cry and be angry?” I questioned and directed my eyes to Olivia again.

“Yes. I need moral support,” she confirmed with another nod of her head. Sighing, I approached the sofa to grab a seat beside Jason. In silence, he offered me a bottle of beer, and I eagerly took it.

Olivia turned toward me. “Have you heard from Robby since-”

“No.”

She nodded and looked away from me. “Do you reckon you will?”

I stared blankly at her. “I’m not ready to talk about him, Livy. I’ve hardly had time to process any of my feelings. Will’s been demanding my entire attention ever since it happened.”

“Did the date go well?” she queried and dared to look at me again.

Though I tried to hide it, a coy expression covered my face upon the reminder of our first date. He’d been so sweet to me. No man had ever treated me so well. And during the span of it, he’d convinced me that we were eerily compatible. He understood me, so easily.

Reminiscing made me regret our earlier argument. He’d been right. Things might be moving fast, but there was very little we could do about it. If things were right, that was just it. So why was I making it out to be wrong? It was silly, and it was immature.

But part of me was struggling to come to grips with how much I already liked him. I hardly knew him. And the more I got to know him, the more obsessed I became. That was what scared me. My feelings were running miles ahead of my mind, and I was struggling to catch up to them. Like he’d done since day one, he divided me. My mind had been completely severed from my heart, and now I was trying to weave them back together into a harmonious alliance again. But that was proving mighty difficult when they weren’t speaking in the same language anymore.

I found myself lost in translation.

I sighed to myself. “Yeah. Too well.”

Puzzled, Jason studied me. “How does a date go ‘too well’?”

“She’s besotted,” Olivia explained. “Totally smitten and falling in love by the second. Can’t you tell, Jason? You’re not blind, are you? It’s written all across her face. Look at her!”

“Livy!” I admonished. Innocently, she blinked back at me, until she pointed to her bottle of wine for explanation.

Jason smirked beside me. “Good for him. And good for you, too, Cara. Apart from the times you’ll want to strangle him, Will’s going to make you very happy.”

I didn’t answer. For the next half hour, Olivia giggled in front of us as she watched the show, resembling a child in her drunken frenzy. Meanwhile, Jason and I cuddled up on the sofa. Weird as it was, I’d missed him. Tremendously. By contrast, his brother was a vigorous man, and I’d spent the past twenty-four hours with him, give or take. Any sane person would miss the comfort of Jason’s tranquil character after that.

As the show ended, Olivia browsed through the channels for something else to watch. It was evident that she was looking to be distracted from her thoughts of Colin. My chest ached with compassion for her. Seeing her like this wasn’t remotely pleasant. It only reminded me of how terribly he had treated her. She looked so broken and fragile where she sat, with her heart of glass.

I wondered what her thoughts were. She’d told me she was only angry, but part of me worried she wasn’t being entirely honest with herself. I’d need to keep a strict eye on her in the near future. Damage control.

“Guys,” Olivia groaned and tilted her pretty head back to watch us from upside down. “I’m starving. Can we order in some food?”

“Sure,” Jason replied and sent her an unfairly gorgeous grin. Since I was so used to seeing him every day, I sometimes forgot how attractive my flatmate was. But when I saw Olivia’s reaction to his smile, I was reminded. She batted her long lashes at him, visibly dazed, and then blushed bright pink.

My eyes widened when the sight inspired a thought in me. Was Olivia weak for Jason? I hadn’t thought of that before, but now that I did, it seemed very likely. She was always eager to hang out with him, and she did comment on his attractive appearance a lot, while stating how she envied my living arrangement with him. Wow. I would definitely confront her about this later.

My phone started ringing in my pocket. While withdrawing it, I told them to order some food for me as well. When I looked to my screen, I saw that an unknown number was calling. It had to be William, so I picked up.

“Hello?” I answered, curious.

“What’s wrong with you?” he barked back at me. I pulled the device away from my ear, startled by his greeting. I faced Jason, and his expression mirrored mine. He must have heard his brother.

“Sorry?” I replied and slowly guided it back to my ear.

“You don’t just leave after we’ve had an argument! Without informing me, and while I’m asleep? How old are you? We’re supposed to talk through our problems, Cara, like adults!”

“Calm your tits, Will. You’re going to send yourself to an early grave at the hands of a heart-attack.”

“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he growled.

What. The. Fuck.

“You’re overreacting. Livy called and she needed me. I didn’t want to wake you since you looked in dire need of some rest. I gathered you’d call when you woke up, and I couldn’t send you a text because I haven’t had your number until now.”

He surely had a remarkable temper. But from the sound of his breathing, I could tell he was stowing his anger away and calming down. Thank goodness.

“You could have asked Jason to give you my number, you inconsiderate twat,” he muttered.

Right. I hadn’t thought of that. Ironic that he was accusing me of being inconsiderate when I had tried to be the opposite of that by letting him sleep undisturbed. Mentally, I noted it down for future reference.

“Well, when I arrived, Livy was bawling her eyes out, so it didn’t strike my mind. I’m sorry. I am.”

“What was the problem?”

“Her ex wanted her back.”

He groaned, and I could tell from the sound that he was not impressed. He found the drama silly and pathetic. “Right. Sounds like fun.”

I didn’t reply, because I didn’t know what to say. Silence drifted between us for a few seconds until I heard him sigh.

“So you’re not coming back, then?” he asked, and he sounded dismayed.

“Sorry, no. Livy needs, and I quote, ‘moral support’.”

“But she’s got Jason,” he argued.

“She needs us both.”

He was quiet for another while. “I don’t want to wait till the morning before I can see you again – not after how we left things.”

I groaned and dropped my head against the back of the sofa. With my eyes fixed on the ceiling, I sensed where he was going. He was fishing for an invitation.

“Will, you should catch some more sleep. You’ve had a very rough day already. You need to be rested for tomorrow.”

“That’s rubbish, Cara. I’m a grown man. I make my own decisions, thank you very much. If you want to reject me, then you do it. Either way, I can tell you’re trying to push me away, and I don’t approve of it one bit.”

He was such a thorn in the side. Whipping my head forward again, I tapped Olivia’s shoulder in front of me. Curious, she turned toward me.

“Would you mind if Will came over?” I asked.

Her eyes brightened with excitement. “Not at all!”

“Will’s coming over?” Jason questioned beside me. “Ask if he’s had dinner.”

“He hasn’t, and yes,” I dryly replied. When I returned to the line, I muttered, “Yes, you may come over, Will. We’ll order food for you.”

“Thanks, sweetheart.” He hung up before I could respond.

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