19: "Darling, don't freak."
The months passed and I didn't hear anything from him. I saw him occasionally, and we would avert our eyes and look away. At first it hurt, but after a month or so of just acknowledging each other politely we stopped speaking at all.
Which made it easier.
I'd finally met the blonde that I'd seen him with in the cafe- Alicia Randall, who was now Alicia Brewster. She was super nice, and her husband was hotter than the sun. Like, really. He burned your eyes.
I felt so much better for being single, as it had given me time to reflect on what had been such a difficult time in my life. Jones was virtually joined at the hip with Axel, and couldn't understand why I was choosing to be single. We were sat round hers, eating Chinese food and watching some Avengers film she had insisted we watched. I forked the egg fried rice into my mouth, groaning with delight.
"If you're getting so worked up over Chinese food you definitely need a man," she declared, before dipping a chicken ball into the sticky sweet and sour sauce.
"Don't start again," I warned, sighing with exasperation.
"What? I'm just saying. What about Greg? He's a good looking guy."
"It's not a case of the way he looks. He's funny, intelligent, caring-"
"Right, and your problem is?"
"I just don't see him like that," I shrugged, as she sighed.
"Couldn't you just..you know...sleep with him? Girls have needs."
I stared at her in disbelief as I shook my head. Just sleep with him? It was hardly fair- even if I was going to entertain the idea of casual sex- because I knew he had a soft spot for me. It wouldn't be just sex with him.
Oh how the roles were reversed.
"Please. Don't make me have this conversation."
"Fine," she huffed, before turning to her phone, a stupid smile on her face. "Are you ok with Axel coming over? He is at a bar not far from here..." she looked at me guiltily as I sighed inwardly. Great, so in addition to be being single I now had to listen to Jones fucking her man all night. "He's drank too much to drive..."
I waved my hand dismissively as I watched the Incredible Hulk smash New York up. I felt for him the most out of all of The Avengers, having anger issues and not being able to be yourself for a majority of time just be enough to make anyone feisty.
"So Greg is seeing someone. I know he is, even though he says he isn't," she scoffed, crossing her legs as she crunched into a prawn cracker.
"I think it's Sierra Gill. You know, from our Humanities class?"
I couldn't think of who she was talking about, which made Jones grab her phone in exasperation.
I peered at the photo before sighing.
"Yeah, she's nice."
"Nice? Hmph. You could easily steal him away. Let's ring him! He can come over and-"
"No. Absolutely not. What time will Romeo be here as I don't want to be here when-"
She bit her lip as she made a face.
"In about ten minutes? I've told him theres food-"
"Jones...!" I groaned with annoyance, shoving as much food in my yap as possible. I didn't share food, especially not with a man of that size.
"He will be drunk, and probs just go to bed..." her voice trailed off as her phone lit up.
"Oh," she frowned, the colour draining from her face as she glanced at me quickly.
"What?" I snapped, irritable now.
"Uh, nothing. Well. Just a little something..." she buzzed the door, whilst I stared at her impatiently. "He has someone with him."
"Great! I'll go to the spare room. Try not to keep me awake all night-" I sighed, reaching down to grab my phone and my almost empty plate.
"Darling, don't freak. It's Drake."
I froze halfway to the kitchen, a cold sweat breaking out over my back as I tried not to react. I began to scrape my food into the bin, realising my hands were shaking. I dropped the plate into the sink, turning on the hot water as I filled the bowl with suds.
But hey, we were cool now, right?
"Vic, you ok?" Jones asked quizzically, a worried expression on her face. I nodded, scrubbing my plate before turning to her with a smile.
"I don't believe you-"
We were interrupted by the sound of knocking on the door, my stomach doing a thousand backflips as I cleared my throat.
"If you want me to ask him to leave-" Jones began, as I rolled my eyes.
"Stop being dramatic. It's fine. We are all adults."
I was grateful my voice didn't deceive me, and I rinsed the plate before putting it on the side. Fuck it, I'll dry it. I always cleaned when I was nervous.
Maybe he was with someone.
Axel walked in first, sweeping Jones into his arms as she squealed. I tried not to look as Drake walked in, his eyes dancing with amusement.
"Yeah he's still able to stand, just about. But I'd probably make him drink some water," he chuckled, as Axel turned to me.
"Oh, hey Victoria. Nice jammies," he chuckled, as I felt myself colour.
"Well, we weren't expecting company," I explained, my eyes falling on Drake who was now staring at me in shock.
"Victoria," he murmured, his eyes moving away from me quickly. I felt a pang of disappointment that he didn't try to speak to me further, so instead I smiled back.
I moved back to the sink, wiping it down until it shone. I then began to put the dried pots away, desperate for something to occupy my mind.
"God Vic, stop doing the damn dishes, come out here and sit with us," called Jones as Axel joined in.
I walked out slowly, before sitting on the opposite sofa to the one that Drake sat on alone. Axel and Jones were talking about something private, stopping every now and then to kiss.
It was fucking awkward.
I stole a glance at Drake, who was staring at his phone. The conversation had soon dried up between the love birds, as I began watching the film idly.
"So how are you?" I asked, gazing at the tv screen as though my life depended on it.
"Yeah, I'm good."
I waited for him to ask me how I was, but he didn't. Fine. I had offered the olive branch, and here he was ignoring it.
"Axel, I'm probably gonna go," he announced, as my eyes flew to him in surprise. He stood up as I noticed Axel and Jones exchange a worried look.
"Why? Stay and watch the rest of the film with Victoria, because we are going to bed."
"Guys, let him go if he wants to. I'll go to bed." I shrugged, as Axel glared at Drske meaningfully, nodding in my direction. I yawned to enforce my point, stretching my arms as I did. I opened my eyes to see Axel and Drake watching me.
Drake averted his eyes as he peered at the tv screen, his body looking like it had been poured into the clothes he wore. His hair had grown slightly, as had the shadow on his cheeks.
"I'll watch some. Then I'm going."
I didn't show the smile I felt inside, but suddenly I was aware that Axel and Jones had stood up.
We both replied back with a cursory 'night,' but neither of us would look at the other.
Was I really in a room with Drake Anderson again?!