All I wanted to do was sit in front of my tv and gorge on Nutella on toast, but instead I had to get ready for school. I had a habit of over analysing things, and technically since I hadn”t kissed the guy...surely that wasn”t enough to feel guilty was it? So why, whenever I thought of his beautiful face, did I get butterflies in my stomach? Why did I feel like I couldn”t breathe when he stared at me with those insanely intense eyes? Why did I think about him when I fell asleep and as soon as I woke up? I felt awful. Well done Gretchen, you”re a cheat. Well, pretty much. I heard a ping on my phone, notifying me I had a text from Luke.
Love you baby. x
I felt like screaming. How was I going to get through today? I texted back with a simple kiss and then stared at myself in the mirror. Maybe I would wear my hair down today, after all, Cal seemed to prefer it that way.
I ran some curl cream through it and scrunched it up, making the curls wild and sexy. I did my usual lipgloss and mascara, but decided today, I wanted to make more of an effort. I pulled on my thick black tights and a honey coloured jumper dress before heading out to walk to school. I was halfway there when I saw Cal. I felt my chest close up and my steps slow as I watched him. He was smoking, obviously, but he looked incredible. He had a grey beanie hat on with his blond hair escaping out at the sides. He had a white Ramones t-shirt, ripped skinny jeans and trainers. He wore a black leather jacket and was talking to someone, but I just couldn”t see who. I walked slowly and moved to the right so I could see who it was. I saw a red skirt, and her trademark knee high boots.
He was talking to Krystal.
My heart sank and I felt sick with jealousy. She was clearly flirting with him, leaning forward and pulling him towards her using the collar of his jacket. She took the cigarette out of his mouth and kissed him hungrily. I couldn”t watch, I couldn”t bear to. His hands were all over her body, and I felt nausea wash over me. There was literally no other way to walk, so I crossed the street and strode as fast as I could past them. I heard a car pull up beside me and was so relieved to see Sienna and Ethan.
“Need a lift babes?” Sienna called.
I climbed into the back, grateful to be hiding away from the sight of Cal with Krystal.
“Looks like Cal met Krystal.” laughed Ethan nodding behind them.
“So?” I said coolly.
Ethan just shrugged.
“If you like that kinda thing.” he said as we sped away.
“Many boys do.” I pointed out. Ethan held his hands up, nodding in agreement. I climbed out of the car and made my way into school.
I didn”t see Krystal for the rest of the day, but I thought about her constantly. How was it, kissing that face? God his hands were beautiful. I tried to concentrate in my Psychology class but just couldn”t. Maybe I needed therapy myself? The classroom door opened and Cal walked in, looking idly for an empty seat. I stared out of the window and tried not to look where he sat, but I could smell his delicious scent so I knew he was close. I turned back and stared hard at the front, when the teacher, Mr Gane spoke.
“I want you to do this in partners. This project will form a large part of your final mark so put as much into this as you can guys.”
He shuffled his papers then glanced up at us.
“I want to know the effects of talking therapy. I want you to do this in partners, and then present to the class your findings. It is entirely up to you what you talk about but as true psychology students, you must remain confidential. I have chosen your partners for you, as I want this to be a real experience.”
He called out names and eventually got to me.
“You are with Cal Fallon, Gretchen. Good luck.”
I felt my stomach drop and I turned to look for him. He was sat with his head down sleeping. In class. Luke frowned and glared at Mr Gane. Rosie mouthed OMG to me and all the other girls just glared at me like I was the luckiest girl in the world. So why did I feel so scared? I gathered my things as the bell went, and I walked over to Cal”s desk and nudged his foot with mine. He woke with a start and looked at me through his sleepy long lashes.
“What do you want now?” He yawned as I took a deep breath. This was important, this was my grades. Working as a therapist was my absolute dream and I couldn”t afford to mess this up at all.
“You and me are together.” I babbled incoherently as he gazed at me.
“What are you talking about? You are so fucking odd sometimes.”
He yawned again, leaning back in his chair. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, causing his t shirt to ride up and expose the white hairs on his tanned, taut stomach. He caught me staring at him and and smirked, pulling his top up more.
I averted my eyes quickly, as I exhaled.
“Listen, this is serious. You are my partner in this class for this project. It means alot to me. We have to do talking therapy....”
He was listening to me, actually listening to me.
“It”s important to you?” He murmured softly, as my heart did a cartwheel through my chest.
His voice, my God. It sounded like it was requiring serious effort for him to speak, like he was so lazy he couldn”t be bothered.
“Ok sweet. I can”t really flunk class either to be honest, but I reckon you won”t need me to do much will you? You seem a bright girl.”
I blinked in disbelief.
“I need you to do it, asshole. I can”t talk to myself and present alone.”
He laughed and held his hands up as he smirked at me again, his blond hair falling into his eyes as he sighed.
“Come round to mine tonight. We will...talk.” His eyes ran over me slowly as he looked back into my eyes. “Can you bring some pizza and beers?”
He looked at me hopefully.
“What?! I don”t even know where you live.” I scoffed as I scrunched my nose up. “Pizza and beers? Hardly what therapists do is it?”
He held his hand out. “Give me your phone.”
Again it was like a command.
“What for?” I demanded.
He sighed with exasperation as he spoke slowly, as though he was addressing a child.
“Gretchen, can I have your phone so I can put my number in, so I can text you my address, unless you want to type it in to your phone- either way I don”t care. I”ve got stuff to do till seven, can you come after that?”
I handed him my phone and regretted it instantly when he saw my screensaver. My cheeks burned as I realised it was of me and Luke. He lifted his eyebrows as he sighed, typing away. I watched his fingers touch my screen, and for once I was envious of the piece of technology.
“Done.” He muttered with annoyance, as he tossed my phone at me.
I managed to catch it as he lifted himself out of his seat with ease, the muscles on his arms showing through the thin fabric of his t shirt. He caught me staring and chuckled to himself, making me wonder what the hell he found so damn amusing.
“Babe, I thought you were in here....”
Luke had walked back in, his voice trailing off as he saw Cal standing in front of me.
“Sup Cal? I see you got my girl as your partner, make sure you get any secrets out of her won”t you?”
He laughed and laced his fingers through mine. Cal looked at Luke, in mock excitement.
“Ooh I”m sure she is a deep ocean of secrets.”
My face flushed with embarrassment as he rolled his eyes, leaving the room as I inhlaed the last of his scent. He was annoyingly attractive, yet clearly obnoxious. I turned to Luke who was staring after him too, for reasons I didn”t wish to know.
“Sorry you got him. Want me to have a word with Mr Gane? Maybe we can convince him to give you someone semi human.” He muttered as his arms circled me and I breathed in his scent, nothing like Cal but somewhat still safe and comforting.
“Its ok, I think I can handle him.” I murmured as he stroked my hair affectionately.
I had a boyfriend, and this was strictly schoolwork. So why was my stomach in knots?
The time dragged.
Every time I looked at the clock it had barely moved, somehow remaining at ten minutes to seven for about an hour. I looked at myself in the mirror, pleased with my choice of a loose hoody and joggers. I wasn”t making an effort for him, hell no. I checked his address again and couldn”t believe he lived literally one block away from me. How had I never seen him? I kept going back to my inbox, just to see the name “Cal” and the message with his address on. It led to me dreaming up all kinds of messages. Right I was leaving-I would walk slowly. I shouted to my Mom that I was off to do homework with a friend and that I wouldn”t be late. I left the house, and walked slowly to Cals. The house was almost a carbon copy of mine, except it was a corner plot, meaning it was larger. I walked up to the door and took a deep breath before knocking. I recognised his mother Alice as she answered with a warm smile.
“Hey, Gretchen isn”t it? Is Luke with you?” She peered behind me, looking confused.
“Ah hey Mrs Fallon, no, it”s just me. Me and Cal are psychology partners....”
I shuffled uneasily on my feet, aware that my face was beet red.
She nodded and stepped back for me to go in.
“Oh! Well come in, his room is on the top floor. Do you want a drink?”
I declined and made my way up the stairs, looking for the other set of stairs to reach the top floor. My legs were shaking as I made my way up the ladder like stairs to a dark wood door and knocked quietly. It opened and there he was. He wore grey pants and a black vest that hung low over his chest. He studied me for a moment before he allowed the door to open wide enough for me to squeeze in past him. Ok, I was in his room. HIS ROOM!
“Oh you are early. That is cute. Come in.”
I had to stop swooning every time he spoke. He must be so used to this, I was just another girl to him. I decided then and there to stop being such a typical girl, and behave like I actually had a boyfriend, and a brain for that matter.
His bed was a mess, the curtains were closed and there were clothes all over the floor. He sat on the bed and patted the space next to him.
“Why do you look so scared whenever you are near me? We have to work together-you need to relax. I”m not going to try it on with you, I can assure you.”
He laughed and I felt a flash of annoyance as I remembered him with Krystal that morning.
Why? What did I just say to myself?! Here I was, jealous that he had kissed the school slut.
“Yes I know, I saw you with your girl this morning.” I snapped, before I could consider my words.
His eyes widened as he turned to look at me, bemused.
“My girl you say? When did I see you anyway?”
I shrugged. “Krystal. This morning I passed you on the way to school.”
He gazed at me and smiled.
“You should”ve said hey.”
He didn”t deny her being his girl, and this annoyed me more than anything else .
“I didn”t think you had any spare oxygen for conversation Cal.” I retorted. He laughed, that gorgeous sound again.
“Anyway,” I said, reaching for my bag
He stopped me, his hand on mine as I froze, electricity running between us as we touched.
“Are you jealous? Could it be that little Miss Girlfriend is jealous?”
He was so close to me I felt like I couldn”t breathe. I wanted to punch him for being so right. Instead I made a face at him and moved his hand away from me, reaching back into my bag.
“What? Don”t flatter yourself.” I snapped.
I pulled out two notebooks.
“Here you go.” I handed him one and he looked at me.
“So you spill all your darkest fantasies for me and I write them down and tell your horny as fuck boyfriend so that he can finally please you the way you want? Wonderful, happy to help.” He laughed bitterly as he lit a cigarette.
“What?! Why are you so crude? Can you PLEASE open a window, I don”t smoke. Gross.”
My heart hammered against my chest as I thought about my darkest fantasies. God he was such a bastard. He opened a window and sat in front of me against the door on the floor, leaving me on the bed.
“Ok, so talking therapy is when you speak to someone about any negative feelings... so we have to explore that...”
He gazed at me as he inhaled, making my thoughts tumble around in my brain. My words were stuck in my throat as I tried to regain my composure.
“So there are a few different forms of talking therapy, my personal favourite is interpersonal therapy. What about you?”
He leaned forward slightly. “Do I look like I do therapy? I have no idea. Let”s do that personal one you like.”
I went down to his level on the floor and crossed my legs, and stared at him uncomfortably as I sighed.
“I think we need to get to know one another.”
He shifted forward a little, his eyes on me. “Me too. How we going to do that? I prefer your hair down by the way.”
I felt my cheeks blushing deeply and was grateful it wasn”t overly bright in that room.
“Excellent to hear Cal. So, tell me about your life?”
He laughed properly then. “What a shit question. Here”s an idea. I”ll ask you a question, you have to be entirely honest with me, don”t forget, this is strictly confidential. Neither of us can tell anyone anything. Also, I thought interpersonal therapy was used to treat moderate to severe depression, but I will let you lead. So. Ready? Or do you want to go first?”
I looked down at my hands. He was right, it was totally confidential.How did he know what interpersonal therapy was about when he just said he didn”t know what it was? He was so confusing. I looked him in the eyes as I decided to just be honest.
“Why are you so rude to people?”
He shook his head as he stared at me in disbelief. “Thats your question? Why am I rude to people?”
I stared at him indignantly. “Its a simple question.”
He whistled then.
“Ok precious. I don”t have much tolerance for people. I don”t like anyone, its better that way. But I am curious as to who you think I have been rude to?”
“But you like Krystal?”
I shot back, ignoring his question.
“No Gretchen, you don”t get to ask two questions. Its my turn.” He tutted as I folded my arms and started to realise how absolutely horrific this situation was becoming.
“Fine, ask away”. I mumbled.
“Are you happy with Luke?”
Just like that, so direct. I opened my mouth to answer.
“What has that got to do with anything?!”
“Its a perfect valid question. Its your relationship. Are. You. Happy?” His voice was softer now, his eyes seeming to be searching my face.
I nodded confidently. “Yes. Well, I was.....”
What? Was? Where did that come from? Why did I say that? I closed my eyes, hoping he hadn”t noticed that last part.
“Are you going to elaborate? This is confidential.”
No such luck. Argh. I felt myself wanting to talk to him, against all my brain screaming signals in every different direction not to.
“Its personal though Cal. I don”t even know you.” I found myself saying, fiddling with my nails.
“You wouldn”t know a therapist. This is what this is for isn”t it? Why don”t you ask me a question, then we can go back to that.”
He responded quietly. I felt relieved he had given me a get out of jail free card and I thought carefully about my question.
“Have you ever been arrested?”
I was not thinking straight. Why would a therapist ask that? Its not truth or fucking dare Gretchen!!
“Yup. My turn.”
My heart leapt into my mouth, he had been arrested?? He didn”t offer any elaboration and I didn”t dare ask. His hair fell in front of his eyes and he moved it away, placing both hands on his knees. I was intrigued, but I had to wait my turn, that was the deal.
That was all he said. He leaned back. Oh fuck. He wasn”t letting this go. I played with my fingernails whilst I considered what to say; I wanted to be honest with him, but that would be revealing way too much. This was his cousin, how could I trust him to be confidential?
“He is very sweet. We have been together for a little over a year. He treats me so well...”
He continued to stare at me with that intense gaze. He gave nothing else away as he waited patiently.
“I”m just not sure I want to be with him forever, does that make sense? If you don”t want to be with someone forever whats the point in bothering?”
“Is that your question to me?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah it is.”
I was eager for the attention to move away from me and my relationship, that, up until now I had thought was actually swell.
“I think that we have relationships with different people to learn things. Learn how to behave, how to fuck, how to break up, how to be.”
When he said fuck I felt a feeling deep inside me that was totally unfamiliar, yet delightful. I bit my lip and looked at him as he continued.
“You said he makes you happy, and that he is sweet. Is that what you want? Like, what really turns you on? Do you even know?”
He didn”t change his expression at all. I swallowed, feeling ashamed I couldn”t even answer him. What did I want? Him? Could I just say that?
“I don”t know what I want, you are right.”
He raised his eyebrows again quizzically.
“As for what turns me on?”
“I want to kiss someone in the rain. I want someone to push me against a wall, kiss me hard and pull my hair to the point of pain. I want to want someone so much they are all I think about.”
I couldn”t meet his eyes. My breathing was heavy, my chest rising and falling rapidly. He didn”t speak, he just continued to stare at me. This time I couldn”t read his expression at all.
“My turn. Do you like being single?” I asked.
Where had this bravery come from?
He cleared his throat.
“Its not about being single or being in a relationship. It would just be. I imagine I would have to feel things I had never felt before. That would show me that it was different, not just a fuck, or a crush. I have never felt like that before. Are you really making notes? Its confidential!”
I looked up guiltily.
“No I was making key notes. Like, needing a new emotion to experience something new.”
His next question stopped me in my tracks.
“Are you in love with him Gretchen?”
His voice seemed different when he asked that, and I swallowed, replying quickly.
“Of course I love him Cal. He is my boyfriend.”
“That”s not what I asked,” he argued. “I asked if you were IN love with him. Totally different.”
He looked at me triumphantly as our eyes went to war.
“I think I may not be.” I said quietly.
I blinked and realised I had tears in my eyes, what the fuck was going on?
“I have to go. Its getting late.”
I stood up and he stood with me, his hands tilting my face up to his as he looked at me with an expression of concern.
“Are you ok? Come here.”
He wrapped his arms around me and I allowed myself to breathe him in, feeling dizzy from the rapid heartbeat, crazy emotions and that divine smell of his. I felt totally safe and secure, and so far away from the world. I pulled myself away from him and he grinned at me.
“I think I may be a shit therapist. They aren”t meant to hug their clients are they? Come on Raven. Lets walk you home.”
I didn”t have the strength to argue, plus I wanted as much time with him as possible. We walked silently, as I stole the odd glance at him. He seemed to be deep in thought, catching my eye every now and then as I averted my eyes. When we reached my drive I turned to him, grasping at any false confidence I had left.
“Thanks. We will need to meet up again soon and try and pick some points out about whether it works-”
He put his finger on my lips.
“Sssh. Stop thinking. Go and get some rest, I will see you at school.”
He turned and walked away, lighting yet another cigarette. I headed to my bedroom and logged into Facebook on my laptop. There were photos of Sienna & Ethan at the Rink, looking totally loved up. I clicked onto my profile to see the photo of me and Luke after one of his games looking incredibly loved up too. What the fuck happened? I climbed into bed and heard the ping that alerted me to a text. It was from Cal.
Confidential, I won”t tell anyone. Night beautiful.