Prevailing Love

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11. Seeing Double

Raine Kahn

Ever since our failed “love” outing two weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding Shane. Everything leading up to and everything that occurred that day was too much. I can’t face him because he’s gonna seek answers from me that I just can’t give. I can’t explain why I was acting weird that day, I can’t explain why I flinched away from him, and I sure as hell can’t confront the emotions I felt coming face to face with yet another girl he’s slept with.

Instead, I’ve been distracting myself with my schoolwork. I finally took up Jackson’s offer for help in chemistry. He was telling the truth when he said he was good at it, and he somehow made all of the equations and formulas make sense. We’ve been studying at the library together a few days a week, and I usually take him up on his offer for a coffee or food run afterwards. Jackson is really sweet, and honestly Shane’s polar opposite. Whereas Jackson is endearing in a sweet, boyish way, Shane is charming in a demanding, sexy, and rough around the edges kind of way. Jackson is nice to everyone and cares what people think. Shane couldn’t care less about his image though. He’s callous and blunt about his opinion, and refuses to placate people. The two couldn’t be more different.

“See? I knew you’d get it!” Jackson exclaims, smiling at me with pride. I finally solved a chemical equation correctly after struggling for the past fifteen minutes.

“I need a break! My brain is fried!” I complain, laughing along with Jackson at my dramatics. Closing my chemistry book, I look up to find Jackson staring at me intently. Quirking an eyebrow, I give him a shy smile.

“Is there something on my face?” I joke, but he only cracks a soft smile in return.

“Nope, nothing but beauty.” Rolling my eyes at him I laugh, trying to ignore his blatant flirting. I know Jackson likes me, but I’m not sure I want to go there with him. He’s becoming a good friend, and with all the crap of my past still haunting me it’s just not a good idea. And the fact that Shane hasn’t left my mind at all in two weeks is also concerning.

“Want to get some coffee? I could use a caffeine fix,” I say, looking for a way to avoid chemistry and Jackson’s feelings for me.

“We should go out to eat.”

“Cool! I think there’s a taco bar in one of the dining halls today,” I say, going to pack up my belongings before Jackson stops me.

“Wait Raine. I guess I should be more straightforward,” He says, fumbling his hands around nervously. He looks up at me earnestly, and I think I can guess where this is going.

“I was wondering if you wanted to go out on a date. With me,” He clarifies.

“I don't know what to say Jackson. Don't get me wrong, I think you're wonderful but I really appreciate you as my friend and my last relationship didn't end so well-“

“Come on Raine. There’s this nice Italian place right off campus. Go to dinner with me, and if you absolutely hate it I won’t ask you out again. You might as well say yes because I’m not taking no as an answer.” He says, smiling so charmingly at me I don't have the heart to reject him. I mean, how awful could one date be? And he basically told me that after this date nothing more has to happen. But I do have one condition.

“I’ll go on a date with you but I have one request.”

“Name it and it's yours,” He says, smiling from ear to ear. He won't be smiling long when he hears what I want. This is too good an opportunity for me to pass up, though.

“Let's make it a double date. You, me, Shane Rikers, and whatever girl I can convince to go out with him.”

Convincing both Shane and Jackson to agree to this double date was a struggle. Convincing another friend of mine to go out with Shane after what happened on his blind date with Jamie was even harder. By the time I gave up on this mission of mine with Shane I’m not going to have any friends left besides him.

Smoothing down my rose gold dress, I twirl around in my full length mirror one more time to make sure I look alright. The bodice is sequined and clings tightly to my chest, the sweetheart neckline plunging down slightly. It’s sleeveless with a pale peach colored skirt that flares out towards my feet.

My makeup is done simply, with light eyeshadow and mascara complimented by my favorite gloss coating my lips. Hearing the unmistakable ping indicating I’ve gotten a text message, a noise I’ve heard probably twenty times in the past half hour, I dive for my phone. Praying my friends from back home can reassure me that yesterday’s note was just Mimi’s idea of a sick joke and not one of Miles’ very real, very scary, mind games, I open our group chat.

No, Miles hasn’t been acting strange lately. I haven’t noticed him with anyone else either. Why? Are you trying to get back with him or something? I thought you both agreed long distance wouldn’t work.

Reading Quinton’s response makes me sigh deeply. She, along with all my old friends, didn’t know the truth behind my breakup with Marcus and the reason I had to transfer. I fed everyone some bullshit about wanting to get closer to my estranged aunt and uncle and that Ball State offered me some unique, one of a kind research opportunity. The best lie my family and I could come up with about my relationship with Miles was that he and I thought long distance wouldn’t work.

No, I’m not trying to get back with him. I just got something the other day and thought it might’ve been from him. But I think I just made a mistake. Thanks anyways guys. Love y’all.

As much as I wanted to tell them the truth about the real reason I left everything in Kentucky behind, I couldn’t. The truth is still too terrifying to admit. And I know for a fact that if Miles ever found out about me telling people who he really is, I wouldn’t be safe anywhere.

I get another text message, but it's just Jackson this time, telling me he’s waiting in his car for me. Making sure I have my keys and everything I lock up the room, making my way downstairs and outside. When Jackson sees me walking up he’s quick to hop out of the car and open the passenger door for me.

“Hey! You look beautiful,” He says, shutting the door when I was comfortable in the seat. After I thanked him, the rest of the car ride was silent on the way to the restaurant. When we finally arrived and was seated, it wasn’t long before Shane and his date, a girl named Ally who was in one of my classes, arrived.

“Hey guys, I’m glad you both could make it!” I exclaim.

“I bet you are” Shane grumbles under his breath, rolling his eyes when he catches my death stare. When he just stares at me dumbfoundedly I clear my throat loudly, trying to gesture discreetly towards Ally’s chair. Rolling his eyes again, Shane finally catches on and pulls her chair out for her. Shyly thanking him, she sits down and beams towards him, going on about how much of a gentleman he is. I’m starting to suspect that I didn’t have to try as hard as I did to get her to go out with him. She keeps talking about and staring at him like he hung the moon in the sky. I might just barf.

“So, how did you two meet?” Jackson asks politely. Knowing how much he despises Shane, I know it took a lot of effort for him to be polite and make conversation. And I appreciated that.

“Raine actually set us up. She and I are in the same communications class and she convinced me to go on this date with Shane.” Ally boasts, sipping daintily on her water. Jackson’s eyebrows raise at her response, and he glances confusedly at me. I just shrug. He wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain my goals for Shane with him. I barely understood it sometimes.

Speaking of Shane, he looked damn good tonight. I hadn’t seen him in what felt like ages, and being face to face with him again was making me breathless. I know I should be paying attention to Jackson, considering he was the one I was out on a date with, but I couldn’t help myself. Everytime Jackson spoke to me, my eyes or thoughts inadvertently went to Shane. His devilishly good looks, pouty pinks lips, intense silver eyes. He was addicting to look at.

“You still there?” Jackson asks, snapping me back to reality. Embarrassed, I start to apologize, and as soon as I’m about to ask him what he was saying, Shane opens his mouth.

“Can’t you see you’re boring the girl to death? It’s almost unbearable to watch.” Blanching at his words, I go to rip Shane a new one but Jackson beats me to the punch.

“Excuse me? Sorry I’m not like you and feel the need to skip conversation and get girls straight into my bed.”

“That’s fucking comical coming from you. Like any girl would let you touch her with a ten foot fucking pole.”

“Guys, you’re both causing a scene-” I warn, but am once again spoken over.

“Dude, that’s why Raine had to find you a date tonight. She basically begged me to let you go on a date with us she felt so bad for you. How pathetic do you have to be that a girl has to set you up on a blind date?”

“I’ll show you pathetic,” Shane growls, slamming his hands down on the table while he goes to stand up.

“That’s enough!” I shout angrily, daring either boy to say or do anything else. Standing abruptly I go towards Shane and snatch his arm in a death grip, batting away my stupid hormonal; thoughts at how fit his arm feels. Now is definitely not the time for that. “You are coming with me. We’ll be right back guys.”

“Raine wait. I’m sorry, I can explain-”

“Enough Jackson! I’ll be back in a minute. Now c'mon Shane,” Reluctantly Shane follows me out of the restaurant, staying close on my heels. As soon as the doors shut firmly behind us and were a few paces from the entrance I whirl on him.

“What the hell were you thinking Shane? Going off on Jackson like that. What is wrong with you?!” I screech, feeling red hot anger pulsing through my veins.

“Oh so I’m the fucking issue now? You heard the way his punk ass was talking to me Raine! Was I just supposed to sit there?” He growls out.

“You’re the one who started it! It’s like you are physically incapable of starting a fight,” I hiss. He scoffs.

“I was doing you a fucking favor lip gloss. It looked like you would rather watch paint dry than listen to that loser.”

“You Shane, don’t get to make decisions on my behalf. What’s it to you whether or not I’m into whoever I’m on a date with. Newsflash: it doesn’t concern you. So you are going in there and apologizing.”

“Bullshit. I won’t.” He sneers. I can literally feel my pulse jump at his words, a dull throbbing starting at the base of my skull. This man has the capacity to make me absolutely livid.

“Shane I don’t care if I have to drag your ass back in there and make you apologize because you will do it. I swear on that.”

“I’m not going back in there and apologizing to that fucking square Raine. And I won’t spend another minute watching you pretend to have even a shred of interest in that guy.”

“You have no business or freaking clue on who I like or who I’m attracted to! Jackson is a nice guy who I am on a date with so you better show him some freaking respe-” It happened in milliseconds, but in one breath I’m shouting at Shane like my life depends on it and in the next one I’m gasping as his lips meet mine. He steals my words, my anger, my resolve, every last piece of my sanity. His lips are rough, his kisses bruising my mouth in the most torturously delectable way. Whatever I had just been saying, doing, thinking about all vanishes into thin air. All I could focus on was Shane and how good it felt to finally have his lips on mine.

My heart thundering in my chest, no coherent thoughts left to stop me, I kiss him back, clutching desperately at the front of his shirt as I pull him even closer to me. I can’t get enough of him. I gasp against his lips as his hands move down to grip tightly at my hips, dragging us impossibly close. His kisses are mind numbing, making me forget my anger, the dates we left inside, both of our pasts, the fact that I should be running thousands of miles in the opposite direction. All I could focus on was the sensation. The way his hands felt on me, even through the fabric of my dress, was electrifying. The butterflies in my stomach were on a rampage, every nerve in my body on high alert and achingly alive with passion. I almost let out a whimper when he pulls away, wanting nothing more than to demand he kiss me again even as I gasp for some much needed air. I’m almost too afraid to look at him. Too scared to confront the feelings and emotions running rampant inside me. One look in his obsidian eyes and I’m a goner. He’s got me. I look up.

But he doesn’t meet my eyes. His face is expressionless, not a single flicker of emotion maring it's stone cold surface. It was like a sucker punch to the gut. I knew exactly what that face meant. He regrets this. Regrets kissing me.

“You should probably get back inside.” He says simply, leaving thousands of words unsaid. Leaving all of the emotions just under the surface of my skin from escaping. So I do what I should’ve done from the very beginning.

I walk away from him.

After apologizing to Jackson for Shane and feeding him the excuse that I didn’t feel good, he drove me back to campus. It wasn’t a complete lie though. I felt absolutely sick to my stomach, thoughts of Shane and that damn kiss driving me insane the whole ride back. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thinking about him. I knew better than to let him do that. To let him kiss me and completely ruin me. Because now I’m forced to confront the feelings I knew deep down were there all along. Feelings I shouldn’t have, especially for someone like Shane.

Shane, who thrives on hookups and one night stands. Shane, who has commitment issues from his ex girlfriend. An ex who he’s still not over. Shane, who is so attractive it's infuriating. Shane, who has a unexpectedly sweet side. Shane, who just will not leave my brain. Despite every warning sign, despite my swearing off of guys, despite every freaking thing, it's undeniable.

I have feelings for Shane Rikers.

Once Jackson drops me off I apologize again and make go to my dorm. Unlocking the door, I fling my purse across the room and tear my sandals off my feet. Needing an immediate distraction, I bluetooth my phone to the room’s speaker and turn the volume way up. Dancing around aimlessly as I begin to take off my makeup, I go to plug my phone into the charger by my bedside table. I bend down to pick the white cord up from where it fell on the floor and hook it up to my phone. As I set the phone down on the table, a plain white envelope stops me short. I feel a terrible dread overcome me and bile rise up my throat. My hands start shaking so bad that every attempt of mine to pick up the envelope fails before I end up just knocking it onto the floor, causing something shiny and silver to roll out of it. My breath hitches at the sight. Bending down, I pick it up cautiously.

Rolling it around in my fingers, the tears collecting in my eyes can’t blur my vision enough to ignore what’s in my hands. It’s a ring, the diamonds encrusted in it winking maliciously at me, transporting me back to the first time I ever saw it. When it was given to me all of those months ago.

I chuck the ring away from me and let out a heart wrenching scream that turned into uncontrollable sobs. The sound of my cries drowning out the thump of my engagement ring banging against the far wall.

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