Chapter 31: Quarrel
1. an argument or disagreement about a topic that is considered trivial.
*Asher’s Point of View*
I stood in the middle of the busy school hallway, listening as lockers slammed and loud student voices rose, but despite the distractions surrounding me, my eyes were hyper-locked on Dolphin down the hall, relaxing with her back against her locker. Unfortunately, Hayden was standing in front of her, leaning in, his body language “I want you” obvious.
Dol seemed to be thoroughly enjoying whatever they were talking about, giggling at something he’d shared as a smile rested on his lips. With narrowed eyes, I silently stood down the hall, glaring at them and their shared happiness.
While logically I understood that I should be masking my emotions better than I was, or at least making more of an effort to, I couldn’t help the way my expression had molded itself. I was pissed at their encounter but simultaneously, for the first time in my life, I could admit that I was jealous. One-hundred-percent pure jealously. Towards Hayden Fucking Larkin.
And alongside jealous of him and pissed at life, I was unbelievably upset with my own existence. The pain I was feeling, the anger, the loss, who could I blame for it but myself? I’d asked for this. It was all my fault.
Though Dol wasn’t exactly helping me feel any better either. She went from straddling me on my couch to striking up flirty conversations with Hayden in less than ten hours.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the night before. How tight she felt around my fingers. The way she looked when she had nearly come apart under my touch. Hayden would never make her feel the way I had last night.
The unavoidable mental image of him doing to Dol what I had the night prior almost had me storming down the hall and crushing him against a locker. Thankfully, a tap on my shoulder had drawn my attention and I turned toward a girl I didn’t recognize. Her inky black hair was poker straight, a shade that sent a compliment to her olive skin.
She was attractive, and I took a moment to let my eyes fall over her as she shared, “I wanted to ask if there was a reason you’re staring at that girl and her boyfriend?” She chuckled, and as I silently admired her Australian accent, she added, “You look a little stalker-ish.”
She spoke with a broad smile, but there was no way she was kidding about how crazy I probably looked. I wanted to correct her and tell her that he was not Dolphin’s boyfriend, but I didn’t. As hard as it was, I turned away from Dol and Hayden and faced the girl next to me. I let my grin widen in her direction.
“Not a stalker.” I laughed, nodding in the direction of the two lovebirds. “More of a... concerned citizen,” I decided.
An entertained, but equally malignant grin etched her lips. “If you’re so concerned, I should probably inform you that those two...” She pointed at them again, but I forced myself not to look. “-are talking about their date tonight. I heard them when I passed by.”
The idea of Dol going on a date with him felt like a kick to the gut and I was sure my smile had faltered. But I had no right to judge. I had brought this on myself. That was kind of what I got for saying I didn’t want a relationship twelve hours after I slept with her. I did want a relationship. I didn’t want to hurt her. And if the past three days had truly proven anything, it was that I was not ready to be responsible for someone else’s feelings.
Making sure my smile was back in place, I chuckled. “Who’s the stalker now?”
“You caught me.” The girl in front of me was without a doubt very charming and, two months ago, she would have appealed to me much more than she did right now. “I’m Jessie.”
“Asher,” I responded.
“Since the girl you’re stalking is busy, would you like to hang out with me tonight?” She smiled.
I knew going out with someone new wouldn’t make me feel any better. I knew it wouldn’t solve any problems and I knew it would probably make everything even worse, but I glanced once more at Dol and her bright smile, her eyes delighted as they watched Hayden, and turned back to Jessie with a grin. “I’d love to.”
Towards the end of the day, I was in need of Andy and his wallet, seeing he owed me about sixty dollars after I’d lent him the money a few days prior to buy Jamie an extremely over-the-top bouquet for their one-month anniversary. Dating seemed expensive to me if nothing else.
I went out to the front of the school to search for him, turning back toward the building when I didn’t spot him immediately. Unfortunately, my plan to make it back into the school was interrupted when I came nearly nose to nose with Olivia, who was giving me a snake’s smile.
I audibly sighed. “What do you want?”
I looked to her left, then to her right, trying to locate the two girls that usually surrounded her, and was shocked to find she was all alone.
“I didn’t come to bother you. I had a question.” She grinned genuinely as I frowned all the same. Olivia — the feminine reincarnation of Satan himself — appeared much less angry and downright cynical, and it was throwing me for a loop.
“Uh, what can I do for you?” I asked as my eyes darted across the schoolyard to check and secure any witnesses. I didn’t see a single one.
If I died, I died, I thought.
Her brow dipped. “Do you have my scarf? The pink one.”
“Your scarf?” A smirk replaced my frown. “Why? Are you going to hang me with it?”
Laughter flurried past her lips as her head shook in denial. “I left it in your car a few months ago when you drove me home.” Pausing, mischief hurried across her features. “And no, this isn’t a ploy to get you into the back seat of your car again, promise.”
I wondered why the over-privileged, irritable girl had flipped on a switch, acting like she hadn’t spent the last few months on my last nerve.
Conceding with a smile, I nodded towards my car. “Shockingly enough, I think it’s in my trunk.”
I turned to walk over to the car and Olivia followed by my side. “I’m surprised you didn’t throw it out.” She giggled.
I opened my trunk to hand Olivia her scarf and she grinned the moment it was back in her grasp. “Thank you. I’ve missed this thing.”
I nodded as a silent welcome, then eyed my car carefully as I hastily debated whether I should finish off the remainder of the school day or take the rest of the day off to cope with my labored breathing and aching heart, both of which had been bothering me since that morning.
Decision made, I yanked open my car door. Olivia nodded at the open door with bunched brows. “Where are you going? I thought you were hanging out with Jessie today.”
In my mindless state, I didn’t question the right information. Instead of asking her why she knew what my plans were, or why she cared in the first place, I raised another, less important inquiry. “How do you know Jessie?”
“She’s in my Econ. I overheard her talking about your date,” Olivia shared quickly with an innocent grin. If I hadn’t been so eager to get home, I probably would have been more doubtful of her questions, but I’d never been more anxious to get off-campus and as far away from Chloe and Hayden as possible.
“Oh,” I sounded, already having forgotten what she’d said. “I’m going home first. I’m glad you got your scarf back.”
Giving her a small half-smile, I watched her expression shift to grateful before turning to leave. I exhaled in both relief and sorrow that the one distraction I had from Dol was gone.
Jessie and I had agreed on dinner, which meant I had hours before I needed to get ready, but I couldn’t spend another ninety minutes on campus. I pulled from the parking lot and sped from the school as fast as the speed limit would allow. Making it to my room, I collapsed onto the bed and slept any jealousy, irritation, and pain away — my favorite distraction of them all.
*Chloe’s Point of View*
After searching for him for many more minutes than I wanted to, my gaze had finally settled on Asher walking out the front entrance of the school and I took off after him. Since the moment first period began, he had been avoiding me and I’d been curious as to why. It might have had something to do with hooking up on his couch the previous night, but who knew anymore.
Peeling open the door, I observed Asher as he almost bumped directly into Olivia. Whatever they had been talking about was indistinct because of the distance between them and me, but I could clearly read the looks on their faces.
Asher appeared surprised at first, irritation following close behind that. But after the first few words Olivia spoke, he smiled at her. I’d never seen him show any positive reaction to seeing her before, and it made me itch uncomfortably.
Olivia laughed, a full-bodied giggle, as Asher nodded towards his car, motioning her to follow behind. I blinked hard, trying to clear my vision as if I had seen the situation incorrectly. Unsure of what they were going to do at that car, I continued to intrude on the pair’s personal conversation, and not caring a single bit.
Handing her some bright piece of clothing from his trunk, they exchanged a few more words and smiles before Olivia spun away from him and he got into his car.
Gaining the confidence and lacking the self-discipline, I stood in the middle of the doorway, watching Olivia stomp her way back up to the school. She froze in her tracks as she noticed me observing her, a smug grin melting onto her lips when she realized what I had seen.
“What were you and Asher talking about?” I parroted, not sure whether or not I wanted the answer.
She shouldered her way past me, turning swiftly as she responded to my question. “Not that it’s any of your business, but he was asking me what restaurant I wanted to go to tonight.” There was a pause as she shifted away from me to leave, but she threw, “I told him anything as long as he was the dessert,” over her shoulder.
I clenched my teeth at her words, the thoughts inside my head instantly bouncing between the reassurance of Asher would never and the anxiety of Why wouldn't he?
My muscles tensed as the blood in my veins fought to take a breath of fresh air and I wanted nothing more than to take a bat to my own head. The pain had an unpleasant bite to it, eating away at my self-control.
“What?” I spat.
I momentarily felt like a hypocrite; I had a date with someone else and here I was, withering away at the thought of Asher going out. The hypocrisy was wiped clean quickly. I wasn't the one who decided not to take our relationship further. I wasn't the one who wanted one thing and one thing only. I wasn't the one who ran to the only person who had always been willing: Olivia.
She faced me with an eye roll. “Don’t worry. I’m sure Asher will give you the details when he comes home from our date tonight.” She paused, then smiled. “Or tomorrow morning.” She flipped then, waving me goodbye with a self-satisfied grin.
The nasty pain in my stomach multiplied and I stomped my way back down the hallway, hoping I could make it the rest of the day without planning someone’s funeral. Not Asher’s, his stupid dates, or my own.
*Asher’s Point of View*
A while after I woke from my five-hour-long distraction nap, I stood with my elbows resting on my kitchen counter as I tried to think of the countless ways I could cancel my date. It was a little late for that. She’d be expecting me to pick her up any minute now.
And suddenly, like the asshole I was, I couldn’t remember the girl’s name. I cut myself some slack; we’d just met earlier today.
Janine? Janice? Jessica? Dammit, what was it?
Jessie! It was Jessie.
Jesus. I really was an asshole.
When I heard Dol’s heels at the top of the stairs, I removed my face from my palms and looked upwards at her. The black skirt, equally as plain as the white top she was wearing, began swaying as she marched down the steps, and I couldn’t help but notice she looked more like she was going to a parent-teacher conference rather than on a date.
In any case, she still looked more beautiful than all the stars combined and my chest throbbed to hold her close to me.
Sadly, she didn’t even glance my way as she moved into the kitchen. I wondered what I could have possibly done to upset her this time seeing I hadn’t even talked to her since this morning. I hoped her silence meant she was guilty about her date because I was certainly beginning to feel guilty about mine.
Her eyes danced around the kitchen floor as if she was counting the number of tiles we had glued down, but when they landed on my feet, they dragged to my pants, then to my chest and face.
Her curiosity taking over her avoidance, she tilted her head to one side, asking, “What are you all dressed up for?”
I shrugged at her inquiry. The question was simple, but my body reacted to it as if I was on trial for a murder I had most definitely committed. “I’m going out.”
“With the guys?” she egged on.
I was going to admit it was a date, but I suddenly couldn’t remember the girl’s name again. Jennifer? Jasmine? Jordan? I was truly the worst.
Still unable to form a sentence, I found my head shaking. “Uh, no. Not tonight.”
*Chloe’s Point of View*
Regardless of the guilt I was feeling about my date, seeing it was the first time I’d be going out with Hayden after... the night with Asher, it didn’t downplay any of the disgust I felt towards him for planning a date with the one girl I couldn’t stand. Olivia had had it out for me since the moment she met me it seemed, and knowing she’d be spending her night in Asher’s company made my guilt appear nonexistent.
Whatever earlier excitement I’d once had for my own date had extinguished and I couldn’t get the mental play-by-play of Asher’s potential night to stop repeating in my brain. I pictured them together, replicating the notorious moment between Asher and me on his couch, except Olivia was the one crying out his name, and there would be no restless sister tonight to interrupt the pair.
I inhaled deeply through my nose as I watched the clock on my nightstand hit seven, feeling my eyes begin to burn as I headed into the kitchen. I made sure not to look at Asher as I poured myself a glass of water to drown out any of the negative feelings inside me. I gave new meaning to the word hesitance.
Eventually, I couldn’t avoid the elephant in the room any longer and I forced myself to ask him about his date. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t leave without hearing him confirm the supposed night with the she-devil. I wanted to know if she had been telling the truth. Despite how devastating it could potentially be, I needed the painful assurance from Asher himself.
His vague answers fueled my neverending interest and, instead of pressing the answer out of him, I lifted my brow in his direction, hoping he’d get the hint that I was casually asking.
When he finally did, he let his shoulders drop, the tenseness in them still present. “I’m going on a date.”
Whatever causality that was sewn into the conversation had left and my mouth went dry. It was true. Olivia had been telling the truth. The guilt I had been feeling came to a screeching stop and was replaced with disgust. I didn’t exactly have much room left on the decency scale, but I could feel the fury burning in my throat. “With who?”
“A girl.” He said the words matter-a-factly like it was apparent, but it was clear he didn’t want to announce her name. It had to be Olivia.
*Asher’s Point of View*
Jessie! Her name was Jessie. What is wrong with me?
The look on Dol’s face was pure rage as she glowered at me. Her sudden anger only added propane to my own. Why was she angry? If I assumed correctly, her own date would be picking her up any minute now.
“I can’t believe you!” she screamed.
The air was suddenly rent by the sound of broken glass, her cup slipping out of her hand and onto the tile. The glass split in all different directions, scattering along the kitchen floor. I cringed over the sound; Dol seemed too far gone even to notice it.
She took a step towards me, ignoring the glass crushing beneath her foot. “How could you! Who do you think you are going on a date w-”
“You’re angry with me for going out?” I gestured down at her outfit, cutting her off. “What are you all dressed up for, Dol?” I asked condescendingly.
Seemingly remembering the date she had planned, she paused, but only for a moment. In the seconds following the hesitation, she shot me a scathing glare, looking as if she was ready to commit homicide.
She stumbled for an excuse. “It’s- I’m- that’s different!”
“Different? Different how?” A sense of slight disloyalty burned in my chest as I seethed at her. “You’re allowed to see other people, but I’m not?”
Her expression was pure bewilderment. “Having sex with everything that breathes isn’t seeing other people, Asher!”
“You’re with Hayden! Why are you so concerned over what I do?” I exploded, each thought in my head bouncing around recklessly.
That was the breaking point in her patience. She was blinded by a five-course serving of anger that was all, as expected, directed at me. “Because you’re about to go screw the person I hate!”
Whatever the hell she was talking about didn’t matter to me. All I could think about was her self-righteous words and I swung my head with impatience.
“Awfully hypocritical of you. I’m sure it won’t take much to get you into Hayden’s bed. It certainly didn’t take much convincing to get you into mine,” I snapped, regretting it immediately.
Her comeback was quick, responding with a comment that she knew would hurt me as much as mine had hurt her. “You’re probably right, although this time I’ll be sure to clarify he wants a relationship first,” she snarked.
My patience was instantly lost, stripping all reservations with it, not that I had begun the conversation with much anyway.
I laughed bitterly at her answer, lightly shaking with rage. “You are-” Cutting myself off, I took a deep breath, not wanting to say anything I’d regret... again.
Her eyes blazing, she scowled. “What’s the problem? You’ve realized we can’t have meaningless sex because you have feelings for me and now you have to find someone else to satisfy your casual-sex quota?”
My tone clotted with anger, I spat out, “I’m sorry, is the girl who begged me to fuck her seriously going to preach to me about self-restraint?”
Overwhelmed with the feeling of pure and complete misery, my eyes narrowed. Dol responded with the same fiery look.
I thought for a moment she might pick up one of the broken pieces of glass on the ground and use it on me, but instead, she turned on her heel to exit the kitchen, the glass beneath her foot gliding and crushing together to create an ear-aching sound. The noise split the air again when I stepped forward and snagged her elbow to stop her.
She whipped around, the motion snatching her arm out of my grasp as she pointed an outraged finger at me. “It’s Chloe.”
I let the air flood through my nose, my eyes shut in the attempt to calm myself down enough to continue the conversation. Or the argument, more so. “Are you fuckin’ serious, Dol?”
She pushed her pointed finger into my chest a bit farther, sending me back a step. “As serious as a heart attack, Asher. Don’t call me that stupid name.”
She spun around and made it into the entrance room, looking around for her purse. Her eyes landed on it on the couch and, as she went to grab it, I tore it from her grasp. She stepped back to avoid me and I tossed her purse on the floor nearby, taking a step closer.
Her tensed body dropped as she relaxed, her breathing hitching as a tear rolled down her cheek. I moved forward to cup the sides of her face with my hands, using a thumb to wipe away the tear from her closed eye.
I silently rubbed my hand over her cheek, along her jawline as she exhaled slowly, and, looking over her damp eyes and shaky breaths, I wished I could take back anything I'd ever said or done to hurt her.
We were silent for a few moments, but when they passed, Dol’s damaged feelings returned and she frowned, taking a step back to yank herself out of my grasp.
“No.” She shook her head, trying her best to take a few deeps breaths as she moved away from me slowly. “You made your decision to not be with me. You don’t get to be angry with me about moving on from it.”
Using the tips of her fingers to wipe her under eyes, she began taking several steps back to get farther away from me.
“Give me a second. Or a minute. Or a day. Or a whole fucking lifetime. Just... please, leave me alone.” Ignoring her statement, I moved towards her again. Spinning to face me suddenly, her lips a scowl, she narrowed her eyes. “At least Hayden can offer me something more than excuses on why he can’t be with me and apologies that will never mean enough.”
I could have crumbled from her confession. She’d finally come to the same realization as everyone else. I had nothing to offer her.
Her body flipped around, prying open the front door and coming face to face with, the one and only, Hayden, his hand up in an attempt to knock and make his presence known. Dol went taut at the sight of him but softened instantly and threw on an appealing smile.
Hayden muttered something that I wasn’t paying any attention to. Dol didn’t seem to be paying much attention either as she cut him off mid-sentence, pushing him against the door jamb and slamming her mouth to his roughly. I swallowed hard at the exchange, every muscle in my body going slack from watching.
Hayden eagerly returned the kiss, grasping onto her hips and pulling her closer to him. When Dol’s hands swept through his hair, I pulled my gaze away and turned to the stairs. Determined not to embarrass myself in front of either of them, I sprinted up and around the corner into my room, the door slamming behind me.