Prevailing Love

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7. Broken Toys

Raine Kahn

"You're boning her?" I swear my heart almost sprinted it's way out of my chest at the sheer scare he gave me. Whipping my head towards the doorway, I’m just quick enough to witness Shane’s plummet to the ground, his long, lean body sprawled along the gray expanse. Staring at him blankly for a few more seconds, it's clear that he has no intention to move.

“Shit,” Derrick mutters, quick to rush to Shane’s side as I stay rooted in my spot, baffled.

“What the hell is he doing here?” I ask, standing up to help Derrick lift Shane’s limp body. We both struggle to drag him across the room and when we finally reach the mattress on the bed on the opposite wall, we allow him to topple on top it it. Turning to face Derrick in bewilderment, he’s still catching his breath from our little strenuous activity of carrying a drunk 190 pound boy. I begin to pity him, because he was very slim and it was obvious his upper body strength was lacking.

“He’s my roommate, unfortunately.”

“What do you think happened to him?” I ask, stepping closer to Shane before a loud gasp escapes my lips. His usually smooth, porcelain skin was littered with bluish black bruises that stained his fair complexion. His crimson bottom lip was split, dried blood dribbled in splatters around the corners of his mouth. His right eye was almost swollen shut, and when I lift his hands I wince at their battered shape.

“He got blackout drunk again, nothing new there,” Derrick rolls his eyes before he starts gathering up our long ago forgotten assignments.

“We’ve got to help him, he’s pretty beat up and I don’t think it’s safe for him to sleep after all the drinking he’s probably done tonight. Do you have a first aid kit?” I couldn’t help but feel bad for Shane because right now he looks as bad as everyone makes him out to be. As irritating as he is, I'm not cold hearted enough to leave him alone in this state. I really hope he didn't drive himself here.

“Yeah, of course, one second,” Derrick mumbles, shuffling through some stuff in the room before handing a kit over to me. Setting it on the comforter beside Shane’s head, I clasp my hand on his shoulder and attempt to shake him awake. He's groaning, his face pinched in obvious discomfort as he keeps shifting away from me.

“Shane, come on. Wake up,” I say gently, cupping his face and raising his head as his beautiful, hazy gray eyes finally fluttered open. Ignoring the blemishes that now painted his skin, there was an innocent sort of vulnerability about him right now as he stared at me without a trace of his cold demeanor in sight. He was woefully confused, eyes flickering over my face rapidly as he attempts to sit up, wincing as he does so. When realization hits me I forcefully shove him on his back.

“Hey, lay down. I'm gonna try and clean up your face.”

“You're rough,” A lazy smirk resides on his lips, obviously impressed at his comment, and I just roll my eyes. Opening the first aid kit, I first grab something to clean and disinfect his wounds. As I'm spraying that against his skin, he doesn't physically react, just silently watching me as I worked on him. Trying my best to ignore his steely stare, I start to dab lightly on his lip, removing the darkened blood. Rummaging through the kit, I find a cream for his bruises and lightly apply it to all the affected areas of his face. Stepping back, I begin to lift his shirt, and that's when he decides to say something.

“Hey now, you should've stripped me the other day. I'm out of commission right now, but swing by tomorrow and I'll be healed up enough to show you a good time.”

“Shut up Shane. I just need to see if you have any bruises here. Gosh you're insufferable even when drunk.”

“You're just upset I interrupted whatever you were doing with that,” He flung an accusatory finger at Derrick who was watching this unfold on his own bed.

“You're ridiculous. Sit up. Here I'll help you,” Helping him sit up, I adjust the pillows behind him so he's more comfortable. Asking him to raise his arms, I lift his shirt above his head and gasp at the sight that greeted me underneath. Shane was undeniably fit, and if I had ever allowed myself to imagine the first time I'd see him shirtless, not that I'd ever admit it if I had, it would not be like this or under these circumstances.

“Jesus, who did you fight? The hulk?” I ask as I begin to apply more medicine to the large bruises that encavas the large expanse of his chest.

“More like the hulk's puny, distant cousin. If you think I look bad you should see the other guy.”

“No thanks,” I mutter. I hated violence, for good reason, and tending to and dressing wounds was a skill I was probably too good at for reasons I'm not ready to discuss. Finishing with all of his visible wounds from his altercation tonight, I turn to Derrick and ask if they have any over the counter pain medicine and something Shane can swallow it with.

“Yeah, I'll get him some Advil and we have a mini fridge filled with water bottles,” Thanking him, I stand and accept the pills and grab a water from the fridge. Shoving the items in Shane’s face, I watch as he swallows the pills and greedily drinks all of the water. When he finally lays back down and closes his eyes, that's when I decide it's time to interrogate him.

“What the hell happened to you tonight? Who did you fight?”

“I wish I knew that myself. All I remember is that there was a looooooot of alcohol,” He slurs, giggling. He actually giggled. Lord help this child.

“Okay, I think that's my cue to go. Make sure you keep an eye on him Derrick, will you? It's late and I didn't intend to stay here that long.” When I go to get my purse I'm stopped by Shane grabbing ahold of my wrist.

“Wait! Wait! Don't go yet,” Eyes widening in surprise, I turn to face him, confused.

“What's your name?” His grip on me tightens, his eyes wide and dilated.

“My name is Raine. You need to rest, and I've got to go,” Sighing, I try to wrestle my wrist out of his hold to no avail. “Come on Shane, seriously. Let go.”

“No,” He says stubbornly. “You can't leave until I fall asleep.”

“Why not?”

“Because I said so. So sit your cute butt down woman,” Stifling a laugh, I decide that staying a bit longer won't hurt anything. It was odd to describe Shane as cute in this moment, because of the fact that he usually looks anything but and his face is a little battered. But with his gray sleepy eyes and the way his brown hair fell carelessly across his forehead, made him appear sweet, innocent even. He gives me a small, closed lip smile when he sees that I've chosen to stay, and it warms my heart. He wasn't only innocent at that moment, but he looked, well, rather sad.

His eyes had a far off, distant look in them, as if even in his deeply inebriated state he still held the weight of the world on his shoulders. I'm well aware that Shane drinks and parties for the hell of it, but something about him tonight just felt different. Watching him fall asleep is a very dangerous task for me, because seeing him in his most peaceful and calm state makes me want to believe in the good in him. How could I look at his face like this, calmly resting, and think of him as someone who could crush me?

Patting his hand and standing to leave, I gasp almost inaudibly when he once again grabs me. Looking down at him, my breath is stolen from my lungs when he stares at me with tear brimmed eyes, his lower lip trembling.

“I don't want you to get married,” Left speechless, I'm physically unable to say anything as he finally closes his eyes. I don't know how long I stood there after that, but it wasn't long before he started snoring lightly. I was gone shortly after.

The next day, during all of my classes and even when I hangout with Georgia, the only thing on my mind is Shane. All of the events from last night, and even the moments from before then are circling my brain, taunting me with strange moments. It wasn’t even my intention to be at their dorm so late last night. Derrick and I had long since stopped working on our project when Shane arrived. Despite the rough edges and awkwardness with our first time hanging with each other outside of class, Derrick and I have formed an unlikely friendship. We started to actually like just being around each other for the hell of it. He was a bit unconventional at times, yes, but he had charming qualities and kept me entertained. I genuinely liked the kid.

Who I didn’t like, however, was Shane, yet he still managed to keep himself well in my thoughts. The last thing he said to me has been ringing in my ears ever since. Was it just drunken rambling or something more? He couldn’t have possibly been talking about me. It’s inconceivable.

I couldn’t help but notice today that every time I caught sight of Shane on campus he wouldn’t meet my eyes and was doing his best to avoid me. It’s pissing me off that he’s so hell bent on staying away from me when he’s all I can think about. How is that even fair? To be so caught up on someone who wants nothing to do with you? Derrick has texted me tons of times apologizing for Shane and everything that happened. He told me that Shane wasn’t even supposed to be at their dorm while I was there, but somewhere along the way alcohol intervened. I’ve reassured him as much as I can that everything is totally fine even though I feel the complete opposite.

Quickly shuffling down the hall to my dorm, I can’t wait to go inside and flop on my bed. I need a much deserved nap after sitting through my classes struggling to pay attention due to a certain someone with steely eyes and a drunken mouth. Smiling at a few people I pass by, we exchange a few short greetings before I finally reach my hallway. Sighing with relief, I start walking a bit faster, my lumpy mattress being my main source of motivation. Never as eager to sleep on the damn thing, I’m almost jumping with joy as I turn the corner, completely unprepared for the sight that’s bestowed upon me. Skidding in my tracks, I stand dumbfounded before the idiot who I took care of last night.

“What are you doing here? Please tell me you’re sober,” I groan, not willing to bother with his inebriated foolishness. I’m exhausted and don’t have time for anything that doesn’t include sleep. Shane was the epitome of restless nights.

“Of course I’m sober. What kind of question is that?” He mutters, staring at me in bewilderment as if I’m the strange one.

“I’ll ask you again: what are you doing here? I don’t want to deal with you today. I just want to go inside and sleep my life away.”

“I just came here to talk to you! Geez, you act as if I’m the biggest pest you’ve ever come across.”

“You kind of are,” I quip.

“That’s not the point. Can we go inside? People have been looking at me strange for the past half hour while I waited for you.” Shoving past him, I unlock the door and stalk inside the room. Tossing my bag and keys on the ground carelessly, I shove my hands into my tightly done bun and let my hair loose, the brown curls bouncing around my face. Sighing in release, I lay down on my bed and relax into the multitudes of fluffy pillows I had recently purchased.

The room is silent for a few quick, restless seconds before Shane can be heard clearing his throat awkwardly, as if to remind me of his presence. Like I could possibly forget about him being merely a few feet from me. Every nerve ending of mine is achingly aware of him and despite having my eyes closed, my heart is droning on to it's own patterning rhythm because of him. My body feels electrified, the hairs on my arms standing on end. I couldn’t ignore him if I’d tried.

“I need to know what all I said to you last night,” Shane demands as I open my eyes to see him towering over me. Flicking up an eyebrow, I begin to sit upright, groaning at the sore tension in my muscles.

“And why’s that? Afraid you’ve drunkenly confessed all of your deepest, darkest secrets to me?” I taunt, squealing in fear and fervor when he’s suddenly hovering over me, eyes abrazen as his warm body presses tightly against mine. His gaze is molten, burning into me as his panting breath caresses my flushed cheeks.

“Just. Tell. Me,” He hisses, his stone cold facade never faltering. Feeling my breath hitch, my immobile body finally springs to action as I shove him off of me in a sudden frenzy of pulsing anger.

“Get the hell off me! What is wrong with you?” I scream, ready to rip him to shreds.

“Jesus, fuck I’m sorry okay? I’ve just had a shitty night. At first I came here to apologize for last night, but when I interrogated Derrick on what exactly happened, and he said you left in a hurry. Like you were freaked out or something,” We’re both silent for a moment.

“So, I need to know what I did or didn’t say. Derrick’s already cleared up what I did once I got there,” Seeing how desperate he clearly is for answers I sigh, sitting up straighter and patting the area beside me in invitation. Trying to ignore the butterflies I feel when he sits close to me, I start wondering how on earth I can possibly bring this up.

“Can I ask you why you were drinking so much?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Then I guess whatever you told me last night is none of your business. You can let yourself out.”

“Are you fuckign kidding me? Sorry if I barely know you and don’t want to tell you something you don’t need to know. We aren’t friends. I don’t even know why I came here.” Pushing himself up, he starts stomping his way to the door before I start panicking.

“Wait! Wait! I’m sorry. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I just don’t understand why this is so important to you.”

“Raine. Please. I just need to know,” The way his lips form my name is so alluring that I’m caught speechless. I’m surprised he remembers me telling him my name last night. So how come he can’t remember what he said to me before I left?

“You were really drunk. And annoying. Y-you said something strange. I don’t even know how to begin telling you about this. You looked so sad and I just-”

“Please just tell me what I said,” He pleads with me to just spit the words out. Sighing, I try to articulate the thoughts in my head.

“You said that, um, you don’t want me to get married, or something like that. It’s honestly crazy and probably just some drunken rambling. I’m sorry I didn’t just tell you beforehand. Wait! Where are you going?” Shane is cursing up a storm as he throws my door open and attempting to stalk down the hall. Calling after him, I stumble behind his shaking frame before clutching onto his shoulder and spinning him to face me.

“Tell me what’s wrong! What do those words mean to you?” He’s steadily avoiding my gaze, his jaw clenched so tightly I can see it twitch. His breaths are shuddering out of him, his whole body tense to the point of fleeing, as if one wrong move could send him running for the hills.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he swallows harshly, his adam’s apple clearly visible. “I can’t talk about it.”

“Shane,” I whisper, “why did you tell me you don’t want me to get married? Who did you think I was?” Turning to face me, I can clearly see him battling with himself, a whole range of emotions running turbulent in his eyes.

“No one,” He whispers harshly. “She’s nothing to me anymore.” I finally let him go, feeling helpless as he walks farther and farther away from me. I can’t fathom why it bothers me so much that he wouldn't tell me what happened, but if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that I’m nothing short of persistent. I’m gonna find out what last night was all about, one way or another whether Shane likes it or not.

The club I’m is extremely loud and crowded. There are people everywhere, guys and girls alike surrounding the bar, people gyrating on the dance floor, almost every single available sitting space occupied. The vibe of the place is strong, and I’m easily distracted by the flashing strobe lights illuminating the people who were moving their bodies inappropriately and as close as possible to the person beside or behind them. Turning forward to face Georgia again, I sigh.

“I can’t believe you dragged me here.”

“Hey! I had help, don’t place all the blame on me. Besides, you needed to get out! You’ve been so distracted lately.” As much as I hate to admit it, she’s right. It’s been days since I’ve talked to Shane last, and it’s finally the weekend again and Georgia decided we should all go to the club. It was eighteen and up, but I was the only one out of the five of us who couldn’t drink. The glowing stamp on my hand was mocking me.

“You’re right. It’s all of your guys’ fault,” I shoot a playful glare at Keira, Jackson, and Tristan. I’m wearing a glittery, silver dress despite knowing I’d freeze my ass off once I’d step outside. Once again it was courtesy of Georgia. Apparently dressing to avoid hypothermia isn’t appropriate clubbing attire.

“Come on. Let loose a little bit! It’s a great night, you look lovely. Enjoy it,” Jackson tells me, grinning as he looks me over. He’s been flirting with me since we got here, and maybe if this was a different time in my life, or if I was a different person, I’d totally be digging it. He’s very attractive with light brown, swooping hair and dark chocolate eyes. He has the smouldering look down to a tee.

“Thanks,” I mumble. Glancing around again, my foot starts to tap along to the beat of the bass blaring from the speakers. Taking notice of my slightly swaying body, Georgia stands up eagerly. “Come on guys! Let’s go dance!”

“You girls go ahead. Jackson and I will catch up with you when we finish off our drinks. Stay in sight will you babe?” Tristan and Georgia share a quick peck before she grabs ahold of mine and Keira’s arms and all but drags us to the dance floor. Laughing at her eagerness, I willingly follow along, determined to just let go of my worries and have a good time. I know it's what I need after everything that’s been going on lately.

I’m hypnotized by the flashing lights and the people moving around me, not a single still soul in sight. Closing my eyes, I give my body to the music, swaying my hips and allowing myself to feel pulsing beat of the club. Smiling and laughing with Georgia and Keira, my wild unbound curls bounce along with me. About ten or fifteen minutes later, feeling extremely hot and thirsty, I grab Georgia and Keira.

“Hey! I’m getting something to drink. Be right back!” I yell over the music, waiting for them to nod their heads before I trickle away, making my way to the bar. Leaning against the front counter, I wave my stamped and and ask for a soda. Leaning against the island, I wait patiently for my drink while watching everyone around me. Feeling the presence of someone beside me, I turn my head and am not shocked by who I find.

“Are you stalking me or something Rikers?” I ask, smiling at the bar tender as he slides over my carbonated drink. Sipping lightly on it, my attention is solely focused on Shane.

“Not in a million years lip gloss,” Ordering a gin and tonic, he takes a seat on the stool beside me, staring up at me as if waiting for me to follow suite. Taking the bait, I sit beside him, watching him throw his drink back.

“You’re twenty one?” I ask in disbelief.

“According to my fake ID yes, yes I am.” Rolling my eyes, I laugh. Of course. I shouldn’t of expected anything less from him. I actually shouldn’t expect anything from him at all.

“So Rikers, who’s your prey tonight? I’m surprised you’re even here drinking after last weekend’s fiasco.” He shrugs at me, his steel eyes almost haunting under the strobe lights.

“One bad weekend can’t make you kick a habit. And I’m not sure if it's smart for me to get tangled up with anyone tonight.”

“Ah. The mystery girl who means nothing to you might have something to do with that, yes?”

“I’m not talking about her.” Finishing off his drink, he turns to face me. “Dance with me,” He demands.

“And why should I do that?” I ask him, already knowing I’ll be on that dance floor with him within minutes. In this setting, with his little smirk and probing eyes, I can’t deny him what he wants. It’s hard to think clearly around him.

“Because we both know you’re one of the only girls in this club who won’t go home with me. We both know where we stand with each other. We aren’t friends, we aren’t anything more or anything inbetween. It’d just be dancing. That’s all I want. For now.” Taking the hand he offers me, I let him lead me back to where I came from. At first, the dancing we do is pretty innocent; we’re both facing each other, close enough without being too close. But before I know it my back is turned to him and he’s whispering to me words I can make out despite the noise surrounding us.

“Why are you so far away? Afraid to get too close?” His breath is fanning my ear causing my breathing to become laboured. Turning my head to glance at him over my shoulder, I find our lips just centimeters away from touching.

“Never,” I reply, pressing my behind to him and rotating my hips, gasping into the humid air when his hands grip onto my waist. Our bodies mold together on the dance floor, pushing and pulling, taking and receiving as our fluidity increases. Shane gently moves my hair to the side, his lips just resting above the skin of my neck as if he might start peppering kisses there. I’m startled by how bad I want him to do just that. I want Shane to turn me around and smash those red lips against mine, just to get a taste of what every girl on campus swoons about. I want a taste of sin.

“Who’s afraid now?” I ask him, speaking just loud enough for him to hear me. Goosebumps are lining my arms, my body aflame by his close proximity. My heart is hammering along with the beat of the current song playing, and I’m glad I’m not facing Shane for fear of what I might do next. Something crazy. Something I can’t take back.

“You’re playing with fire lip gloss. I don’t think you can handle the burn.”

“Try me Rikers.” Hearing him groan, he spins me around to face him, pulling me close to his chest. He’s all up in my personal space yet I still can’t get enough, the urge to get even closer stronger than ever. What is he doing to me?

“You’re driving me crazy,” He lets out, resting his forehead against mine. If only he knew the feeling was too mutual. His intense stare is holding me hostage and my heart thrums louder and louder the closer he gets. His lips are so close to brushing mine before someone calling my name yanks us both back to reality. Shaking his head, Shane stares at me as if he’s seen a ghost before turning around and shoving through people, disappearing into the crowd and leaving me there dumbfounded.

“We’ve all been looking for you! Who was that?” Georgia asks, looking around for someone who is now long gone.

“I’m so sorry, I have to go. I’ll be right back, promise,” I say, ignoring her yells of protest as I go after Shane. Following the path he took, I glance around in confusion once I get off the dance floor. Asking a few people if they saw where he went, I go out a pair of doors with a small, lit up sign that said EXIT in green lettering. Pushing one of the heavy doors open, it doesn’t take me long to spot Shane. He’s leaning against the club building with a cigarette between his lips, puffing out smoke into the evening air. Standing beside him, I shiver as the cold nips harshly at my skin.

"Have you ever been in love?" I ask randomly, watching as the last puff of smoke blew precariously from his pink lips. The cigarette drops to the cold, wet, concrete ground as he stomps it out beneath his foot; it's illuminating light diminishing.

"No. Now fuck off." He growls, dismissing me.

"You're lying Rikers." I smirk, knowing I just caught him in a blatant lie. The look in his eyes when I first met him, their harrowed and haunted appearance told a different story.

"You don't know shit about me lip gloss."

"I know you've had your heart broken before. I can see it in your eyes, your body language, through your erratic behavior. Some girl broke you and now you're an angry excuse of a person. All you do is tear through places leaving a string of broken hearts behind you. Somewhere down the line you fell in love and cared too much and it destroyed you. Now all you can do is destroy others." We’re both silent for awhile.

"You force others to feel your own pain. But I'm telling you now Shane Rikers; you're going to fall in love again, and there will be nothing you can do to stop it."

"That's the thing lip gloss. I can’t love anyone anymore. I'm fucking empty. All I can do is self-destruct. I warn everyone who tries to get close to me that they'll be collateral damage, but it's a new trend trying to fix what's broken huh? Be smarter than the others and stay the hell away from me." He storms away, beauty and brokenness disappearing into the night.

But it was too late. There's no stopping me from helping him find love again. Collateral damage be damned. I realize now that there’s no way I can walk away from him. Not even if I tried. I see something in Shane that's worth taking notice of, something other people don't see. Everyone's a different person when they're heart is in shreds, and I'm determined to find the person he is underneath.

And I have a plan to do just that.

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