“Marlon,” August called after him – guilt in his voice – but, Marlon didn’t stop another moment to listen to anyone.
He stalked straight out through the door while August stood by watching him leave with nothing left to say. For a moment, August stared at the door after him before he stomped into his room, stony-eyed, slamming the door shut behind him.
For all I knew, we were now caught up in a big, bad situation and in there, Marlon and August’s friendship was at stake. All because of me. Somehow, I had a feeling that August would always do whatever it takes to keep Marlon. He loved him. He told me himself. And realization dawned on me that I was the one being left out to keep Marlon, that I was the one being compromised, that I was one being considered unimportant.
August never told me he loves me. And I didn’t think he did.
I felt my stomach drop in dismay at the realization. To think that I was still not good enough for anyone I ever loved. . . that I was still in the same place, so unlovable and unimportant. I had tried so hard to be strong and to move on but in that instant, I seemed to be crumbling apart. Even more so because after what happened between us during the night, I couldn’t help but feel like. . . I love him. I was in love with August.
My vision blurred with tears. I took a deep breath, forced myself to keep my mind collected and headed for a bathroom. I wept a little inside before I washed my face. I quickly brushed my teeth and got dressed to leave. I had no will to stay another moment in this house near him. I had to get away to calm down and recollect my mind.
August appeared from his room just as I was about to leave. We met in the little space between our doors. He had showered and dressed up too, probably for college.
“You leaving now?” He asked, locking the door after him.
“Have you had breakfast?”
“Yeah,” I lied, knowing he would stop me to eat if he finds out I hadn’t eaten.
“I’ll drop you.”
“No. You don’t have to. . .”
“I’ll drop you,” he stated again and headed for the door without giving me another chance to interject. “Romeo! I’m going out to drop Sophia. Be back in a minute.”
I followed him out the door in a hurry. I’m sure we both had the world’s awkwardest car ride. No one of us spoke a word throughout. I was sort of waiting for him to say something, maybe address where we stand now after. . . after we had sex but, as it appeared, he was never one to start conversations.
“See you in college,” he said at last when he parked in front of my building.
I plucked up my courage at last and turned to him, “Are we really not going to talk about it?”
“About what? Last night?” He turned to me rather coldly.
“Yes. Exactly,” I replied confidently. Being intimidated by his conduct wasn’t going to do me any good. I had to learn to stand for myself.
“We had sex last night, August. What does that mean to you?”
“It means we had sex. What else?” he dropped with the most passive expression on his face.
It amazed me. How he seemed to care about the people around so much all the time and yet here he was, acting like the biggest asshole in the whole universe.
For a while, I fought with my self whether to say the next thing or not before I decided to clear it all lest it gets buried away without another chance.
“I think I love you,” I told him. Then, my mind went blank with anxiety and disbelief and embarrassment.
Did I just say that?! To August? Augustine Urban?
Eyes darkening whether of anger or surprise – I’m not sure – he peered his sharp eyes into mine while my heart hammered away in hypertension.
“You shouldn’t fall in love with me, Sophia,” he finally said as his eyes watched me closely.
“Why not?” I questioned back in a trembling voice.
“Because honestly, I really don’t care.”
“So. . . you don’t. . . what happened last night means nothing to you?”
“Didn’t I tell you before, Sophia? I don’t look for relationships. They mean nothing to me.”
“So last night, you were just fooling around and I was just. . .” I could hardly complete my sentence at what that had made me.
Eyes flashing with anger, he gripped the steering wheel tighter and returned coldly, “Look. I thought you knew what you signed up for. I thought I had already explained to you that I don’t fall in love with people or even believe in those shit and I thought you understood what I said!”
“I understood!” I snapped back. “But just because you think that way doesn’t mean it’s all true. Just because you think so, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong to fall in love or that you will never fall for anyone! You can’t say it!”
“It’s the same thing, Sophia. After all, what you’re saying is only what you think. It doesn’t make any difference. Those are still only your thoughts. It’s not real and I am still the same.”
“You know what, you are just too scared to give people chances and let them be a part of your life. You’re a loser. A lousy person!” I spewed at him with tears in my eyes.
“Well, what did you expect from a guy who fucked his best friend’s crush?” He yelled back and looked away from me furiously.
I dashed away my tears and asserted, “I get it now. There’s nothing between us, right? Nothing at all?"
I noticed the frown on his face get deeper and he hesitated to answer for a moment before he agreed at last, “Yeah. It was just sex. I’m sorry if I’ve led you to think it meant more than that.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t give a shit now,” I retorted angrily and got out of his car, slamming the door behind me.
It was infuriating how he obviously hesitated to answer when I asked him if there was nothing between us and yet, he admitted right on my face that there really wasn’t anything. If he wasn’t going to loosen up and give it a chance, I wasn’t going to keep chasing after him. I would be the last person on Earth to do that. I’ve had enough.
[ Augustine’s POV ]
Grasping the steering wheel firmly to the point it seemed to be crumbling in my grip, I watched her stride inside the building – her long, golden hair swaying behind her. Teeth clenched tight, I kicked and punched the steering wheel. I had officially messed up my friendship with Marlon and then literally fucked up everything with Sophia too in one morning. All because I couldn’t. . . I let her win. I had succumbed to my own feelings and desires.
What the fuck am I going to do now?
When I reached home, Romeo and Ari were both ready for school. I dropped them off before heading to college. I didn’t see Marlon the whole day, neither did he even pick up my calls as expected. I could hardly concentrate in any of my classes so, I spent most of my time in the library aimlessly staring at book pages.
In the evening, Sophia turned up to babysit. I had actually assumed she wouldn’t so I had decided not to go to work too but she did. I looked her over, staggered, as if I’d seen her for the first time. That strong face and the indifference in her eyes, all that warmth that I used to get completely smitten with gone. Now, she looked close to punching the kids out of me.
I stepped aside to make way for her. She went straight into the living room without glancing my way and settled down on a couch when she couldn’t find Ari there.
“Where’s Ari?” She asked with a blank, casual expression like nothing had ever happened between us.
“She’s. . . she’s inside.”
“I guess she went up to her room.”
“Okay.” She nodded and pulled out her phone to fiddle with it as a way of avoiding my gazes.
I watched her for a short moment before I went up the stairs. When I looked down on her, she still had her eyes glued to her phone. She was ignoring me and damn it if it didn’t bother me. I had gotten used to seeing her smile, used to watching her bubbly self wander around in the living room that this sudden change in her behavior made me feel agitated.
When I bought Ari down from her room, Sophia’s face slowly lit up to a smile. But they were not for me. If anything, she kept on avoiding my gazes and it made me feel sour inside. I never wanted this. This distance. This was the first time I had ever felt close to any girl and just when things were starting to grow, I messed it up real bad. But no matter how bad I wanted to fix this, I didn’t think I could. I couldn’t risk losing Marlon. Then again, every time I looked at her, it felt as if I was losing all I ever wanted. I wanted her.
God, I don’t know what to do.
Ari went straight to her the moment I set her down. I went to the kitchen to pour a drink for Sophia. When I came back to her and kept the drink on the table in front of her, she looked up to me briefly.
I nodded and she turned to Ari again, counting their fingers and toes together.
“I think I should go to work since you’re here.”
I changed for work as fast as I could and left after one eye-contact with Sophia and a kiss on Ari’s cheek. Marlon turned up to the gym pretty late. When he did, I had started training on my own. I was running the treadmill with my headphones on when I felt somebody yank them off. When I saw that it was him, I turned off the machine and slowed down.
He glared at me dead in the eyes and said as he climbed up the next machine, “You know, I could punch a hole right through your skull.”
“I’ll be glad if you do.”
He scoffed and started walking. “I was really pissed in the morning, you bastard. I honestly didn’t expect that from you.”
“I know,” I sighed. “I did something I shouldn’t do.”
“Why’d you do it? You knew I like her.”
I stepped down from the machine and took a moment before I answered, “I just got carried away. But don’t worry, we don’t. . . Sophia and I, we know it’s a one-time thing.”
“Really?” He narrowed his eyes at me and hit my face with his towel. “I know you, man. You never even looked at the girls I was interested in. This morning I thought this was it. You had crossed a line. The whole day I thought of kicking your brain out. I mean, what the hell were you doing? You slept with the girl I like and that too, Sophia? Really? After all this time. . . I mean if you wanted to fuck her, you could’ve done it a long time ago. Wait. Have you been fucking her this whole time?”
“No. No. This was our first time.”
“Good. Anyway, so I was thinking why would you do it? You messed up big time and this isn’t even the kind of mess you would make. You know what you’re doing. What’s going on? What’s going on with her?”
“Nothing. It was just one-time. . .”
At that, Marlon’s fist came straight for my face. “Don’t fucking lie to me. You think it doesn’t show on your face?”
“Alright. Alright. I like her a bit,” I grunted out in pain.
“Jesus.” He rolled his eyes in disbelief and stepped down from the machine. “How long have you liked her?”
“The orientation. I saw her there for the first time. . . she kind of got my attention there.”
“The orientation. . . Jesus. So, the whole time you were just. . . trying to hide it.”
I took a deep breath, tucked my tongue against my cheek and shrugged in response, not willing to give any more answers.
“This whole time you were only acting like. . . why the fuck didn’t you tell me?!”
“You told me you like her first! What am I supposed to tell you?!”
Hands on his hips, he clenched his teeth and turned his face down to the ground with no more words.
“I’m sorry.” He looked up after a moment. “I’m sorry I didn’t ask you first.”
I shook my head. “You didn’t have to.”
“But still. You saw her first.”
“Come on. What does that prove?”
“It just isn’t fair to you.”
“Dude, stop being a pussy.”
He chuckled and slapped me on my shoulder. “Alright. But I’m not going after her anymore.”
“Seriously?” He made a face and looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world. “You already fucked her! Besides, I think she likes you too. You should ask her out.”
I scoffed and let out a bitter laugh. “The only thing she probably wants to do with me is chop off my dick.”
“The hell did you do?”
“I told her it was just sex.”
Marlon’s jaw went south as his eyes zeroed in on me incredulously. “To Sophia? You said that to Sophia. You do know she’s not that kind of person. I mean, we can all see that. . . Jesus. You’re a dumb fuck. ” He whacked me on the side of my head.