8. Blind Love
“You dragged me out to the club tonight as an apology for your shitty behavior and even shitier friendship, only to ditch me? You’re an expert at getting people to forgive you Shane,” Marcus grumbles as he glares at me, obviously unimpressed. Rolling my eyes, I grumble something illegible under my breath before snatching the drink from his hands and downing it in one gulp. Wiping my mouth, I all but fall into the stool beside him and ignore the look he's giving me. I can already tell what his face must look like. Wow Shane what a jerk you are. You don't deserve my friendship. Why did I ever agree to let you fix things? You're incapable of change.
“I think you've had enough to drink, if last weekend was any indication. So do you want to explain to me why you completely botched this night? You may be an asshole, but you're still my friend. For whatever reason. Now tell me, what's going on?” Feeling immense relief, I find myself just staring at Marcus, wondering how the hell I found a friend like him. Not many people were able, or willing, to deal with my shit. Yet here he was.
“Can you stop looking at me like that please? I feel like you're about to makeout with me or something, and no offense man, but you are not my type.” My fist is quick to connect with his arm as we both laugh, the previous tension between us quickly dissipating. Allowing Marcus to remove the shots of alcohol from me, I begin to unwind about everything that happened last weekend, and the nights current turn of events. I'm not sure if it was the small amount of alcohol in my system or the immense weight on my shoulders, but I unload about Jasmine and the way my chest constricts at the thought of her being with someone who isn't me, and agreeing to marry someone else. As crazy as it may seem, a year ago I thought that one day that would be me proposing. That it would be us. Yet here I am tonight, miles away from the girl who once held a large piece of my heart, and I danced with someone new who won't leave my mind, and all the while Jasmine’s engaged to someone else. It's crazy how things turn out.
“Shit Shane. No wonder you were such a mess last weekend. I guess I'm the poor excuse for a friend… I should of seen that something was going on,” Marcus says remorsefully, but I just pat his shoulder in reassurance.
“Don't worry about it. I always get drunk and do stupid shit, no one would blame you for assuming it was just another reckless night for me. You were right anyways, I'm not a great friend. But I know I can be, and I will make it up to you man.”
“Enough of this sappy bullshit or were gonna become the live version of that crying in the club meme.”
“You say the stupidest shit sometimes Marcus.” I shake my head while bursting into laughter, the moment we were having before broken as we decide to just ditch the club altogether. I didn't need the alcohol or the girls tonight, and this seems to be one of the wisest decisions I've made thus far since school started.
Heading to Marcus’ parents place, we just chill in his basement, order pizza, and play video games all night. It's refreshing to be aware of what I'm doing and not have my memories overshadowed by the heavy stench and slurring effects of alcohol or the headiness of weed. It's an experience that makes me think that maybe I don't need mind numbing substances in order to have a good time, because I am genuinely enjoying just sitting here and hanging out with Marcus. I'm also still thinking about Raine, and how I owe her an apology for how I behaved at the club. In my mind I know there's certain shit I shouldn't say or do, but when I get so heated and blisteringly angry, I just explode and everyone and anything around me becomes a target. I don't know why I do it, but if I feel threatened in any way I'm inclined to react.
But I know it's wrong, and she was just genuinely wondering why I'm so screwed up. She didn't deserve to be on the receiving end of my outburst, and it's strange for me to feel remorseful for the fucked up things I do to people. But I've decided that I'm going to find her tomorrow and apologize, since apparently that's what I do now. Apologize when I know I'm wrong. What a concept. But since I already convinced myself that it's the right thing to do, there’s no turning back. I don’t roll like that. If I commit myself to something, I see it through. Always.
Sighing deeply, I reach out a hesitant fist and knock lightly on the wooden door of lipgloss’ room. Leaning back on my heels, I wait impatiently for the door to swing open and to be greeted by her face. The same face I’ve been imagining as I thought up appropriate ways to apologize and hopefully be forgiven. Saying sorry wasn't something I did often, so I was a bit rusty and needed a bit of practice. I wasn't nervous or anything, I just didn’t want to make this situation worse. I had a knack for screwing things up and screwing myself over in the process. When the door swings open, I look up, waiting to see the face of pure angelicness with honey brown eyes and sweet caramel skin, but instead a nappy mop of blue hair first catches my peripheral vision before my eyes register Mirriam’s sultry smirk. Fuck.Fuck.Fuck. What the hell is she doing here?
“Missed me huh big boy? You even took the time to find out what room I’m in. I’m touched.”
“You’re dorm room? Hilarious. I’m here to see lipg- I mean Raine.” As soon as I said that, lipgloss can be heard from inside the room asking who’s at the door. “I didn't even know you were her roommate.” Which had me feeling quite stupid since I should have figured it out when I was here last, but I was too consumed with raging emotions over a certain, ahem, engagement.
“You’re seriously here to see Raine?” Mirriam scowls, throwing the door open and storming back inside. Feeling cautious and somewhat unsure, I step inside and let my eyes roam around before seeing the person I intended to talk with. She was clad in gray sweatpants and a large sweatshirt that she was basically swamped in, her wild curls up in a frizzy bun as she raised her eyebrows at me.
“Well this is surprising.”
“Yeah,” I reply lamely. What the fuck is wrong with me?
“Yeah,” She says back. Awkward silence ensues.
“Look,” I say forcefully, cutting through the bullshit. “I came here to apologize.”
“Apologize… for what exactly?” I want to smash something because this is not going how I planned at all.
“For… for last night. And any other night you’ve been around me. I’m not a nice guy. I know that. I’m rude, I do stupid shit, and I blow up on people even when they don’t deserve it. I’m not apologizing for who I am, but for the way I treat people at times. The way I treated you. You didn’t deserve that. So, I’m sorry.” I spill out, the word vomit now floating around in the air between us. Before Raine can say anything, however, Mirriam decides to open her big fat mouth.
“Did you really just apologize to her?” Mirriam asked in disbelief, dumbstruck. As if I had just plucked the moon from the sky and presented it right before her. Why the fuck is she here anyways? When I practiced this shit in my head she was nowhere near me when I faced lipgloss. I found myself disappointed at the fact that her plump lips weren’t sparkling with the clear liquid smeared across them.
“I don’t believe I was talking to you.” I say curtly, intending to sound as rude as possible. Raine gasps.
“Shane! That was rude and uncalled for!” She exclaims in disbelief. I roll my eyes. If only she knew how called for it actually was.
“Mimi? Do me a favor and leave for a minute so I can have a conversation with Raine privately.” Mirriam, being her usual insufferable self, went to argue with me but I shot her a look of death that ceased all protests on her lips. Grumbling, she grabs her purse and stalks out of the room, allowing the door to slam behind her. Finally.
“You didn’t have to kick her out. We could’ve left to go and talk somewhere.”
“Yeah, we could’ve. But after the stunt she pulled on me last week, she definitely owed me one. So don’t worry about it. Anyways, do you forgive me? I can’t charm your pants off if you’re still pissed at me.” I say while grinning mischievously as her cheeks flush a bright pink.
“Real smooth Shane. And I wasn’t really mad to begin with, I know pushed you too hard last night and you snapped. Besides, you were right anyway; your love life is none of my business. So I’m sorry for prying. And I do accept your apology.”
“Good. Let's just agree that everything from last night is forgiven and forgotten okay? All this apologizing business is exhausting.” I’m instantly pleased when a brilliant, light little laugh escaped her and she smiled widely at me. Fuck. Just fuck man. There’s something about her smile that has the capability to make me act a damn fool. A breathless, clueless idiot who's acting like a pussy because she friggin smiled at me.
“Can we call a truce of sorts? Like, you don’t have to give me dirty looks when we pass each other, you could even go as far as to tell people we’re cool. Like, your friends with me, Shane Rikers. People will be impressed. And all the other girls jealous and shit.” I watch as she tries her hardest to not laugh at how ridiculous I sound, her pretty pink lips, that lack any sort of shimmer, twitching as she attempts to clamp them forcibly. I smirk when she finally loses her constraint and loud bursts of laughter tumble from her lips, illuminating the space around us in the warmth of her. She just has this way about her, this aura that sucks you in and it's like tunnel vision. I’m already in far too deep.
“Despite how awfully arrogant and stupidly ridiculous that was, I’m glad you said it. Well, part of it at least; your little ego boost could’ve gone unsaid. But, since we are now formally declared friends, I have a proposition for you.” It's almost embarrassing how quickly my thoughts turn at her words, a flash-shot of provocative images scurrying around my brain. The word proposition is heavy with so much baggage that has me thinking shit i shouldn’t about a girl who literally just agreed to tolerate my presence and friendship.
“Oh yeah? What would that be?” My voice is husky, my pants constricting in a certain place at the most inappropriate of times. I groan out loud when she licks her lips.
“I want to help you.” She blurts out, and even more images enter my mind, way dirtier than the ones before and I want to moan in complete frustration. If only she knew what she’s doing to me…
“I want to set you up on a blind date.” My dick immediately falls limp at her words, all steamy thoughts leaving my brain so fast I’d might as well be a fucking celibate priest.
“What?!” I ask in disbelief, wanting to look inside her brain and find out how she comes up with shit while simultaneously also wanting to still be inside somewhere else.
“I’m serious.You’ll never get over whoever it is who broke your heart if you don’t go out on a serious date.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“No, I’m not.” I shake my head at her. This is ridiculous.
“Let me help you Shane. We’re friends now right? Please give it a try. You drank yourself numb last week because of your heartbreak. At this rate, you’ll never get over her. Let me help. Please.”
“I told you that you can’t fucing fix me. What don’t you understand? I can’t love someone else. I don’t want to.”
“Why not, especially if it means you can finally move on? Let go of whoever still has such a strong hold over you?”
“Because being in love means being weak and vulnerable once more. It means giving power to someone to choose whether they love you back or not. It’s a fucking disaster I’m not being a willing participant in ever again.”
“Shane,” she says quietly, “that’s where you’ve got things all wrong. You can’t choose when to be in love, or who to be in love with. Life will never be that simple. Can’t you see the reason you haven’t moved on is because you haven’t opened yourself up again? Refusing to be vulnerable makes you an impenetrable wall of heartache that no one can bust through. You will lose yourself behind that wall.” I want to yell at her. Scream. React. She’s saying all the shit I don’t want to hear, all of the things I should hear because it's true. Everything she’s saying is true even if I hate to admit it.
“What if I’m not ready?” I ask bravely, feeling my heart thump hard in my chest and a huge lump blocking my throat- blocking my airway. Making it damn near impossible to breathe.
“You won’t know if you don’t try.” I groan. She’s impossible.
“A friendship with you is already so complicated.”
“You shouldn’t of expected anything less.”
“Well, if I agree to this blind date you have to give me something in return.” She scoffs while shaking her head indignantly. It’s not the first time someone has looked at me that way.
“I want to know something personal about you. Something no one else knows. It’s only fair.”
“What do you mean it’s ‘fair’? I don’t think I know anything personal about you besides the fact that your sex life is talked about so much it may as well be splashed across a tabloid front.”
“Hilarious. I know you didn’t easily forget about my drunken confessions to you over the weekend. What I said… is as personal as it gets when it comes to me. I want to know something about you. Something that matters. Not some bullshit like your favorite color or flavor of ice cream. Something real.”
“Honestly Shane all I truly know is what I’ve guessed since that night. My thoughts about it are so scattered it's ridiculous. All I’ve done is assume things.”
“Tell me what you’re thinking and I’ll let you know how much of it is the truth.” She sighs deeply, looking at me with her mocha brown eyes as if she’s trying to see through me. Here I am wanting her to share something about herself with me yet I am so reluctant to do the same. There’s nothing about me worth knowing and I’m afraid she’ll realize that sooner than I can anticipate. Whatever we’re doing right now, this whole friendship thing, is dangerous. It has the potential to end terribly yet I’m still willing to dive in headfirst.
“Someone you care about a lot, probably an ex, is… is getting married.” She says simply, her voice quiet and unwavering. All I feel is numb about her words, their undercurrents chilling my skin. I don’t let them cut me open, I don’t scream, and I don’t shout; my resolve never breaks. I’ve let the thoughts and implications of those words and their meaning deflect off of me. I don’t let them break me. I won’t let them hurt. Because I am so goddamn tired of being hurt.
“You’ve basically got the whole picture then,” I mutter. She shakes her head.
“Not really Shane. None of it explains why you were so tore up about it. Did you love her? Do you still love her?” I tell myself to not get choked up about her questions. They weren’t a big deal. If I expected her to be honest with me, I had to open up a little bit yeah? Well, try telling that to the pounding bass of my heart and the sick feeling crawling up my throat.
“Uh yeah.” I cough out, damn near choking on air. Fuck fuck fuck. “She was my first girlfriend, the first serious relationship I was ever in. I loved her so fucking much… some days I think I still might. It’s been a year since she ended things right? And now she’s marrying that fucker and I should’ve saw it coming but honestly? It still took me by surprise. It hurt, and when shit hurts me I drink. Or smoke. Whatever it takes to make me feel numb.” Raine and I are silent for a while after that. I’m surprised by how good it felt to tell her that. I thought I’d instantly regret the words once they came out of my mouth but that wasn’t the case at all. There’s something comforting in her silent resilience.
“I just recently got out of an abusive relationship. That night when you thought I was your ex, and you said something about not wanting me to get married, it terrified me. Not long before I left him, he proposed to me and I was terrified that somehow you knew about it. That’s insane right? There was no way anyone here even knew about him at all. Just goes to show how paranoid he still makes me. Pretty fucking pathetic right?” She laughs, but it's a hollow sound and her eyes are so sad that it takes me back.
“Shit Raine. You didn’t have to tell me that. Fuck, I’m really bad at this whole friendship thing.” I mutter, wrapping my arms around her in an awkward/forced hug. She laughs again, and this time it’s a lot livelier.
“I think you’re doing just fine so far Shane. Now, about that blind date…” I groan out loud and pull back, awaiting my fate for whatever lip gloss has planned for the night.