Before I Met You

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Chapter Six

I’M SEVEN SHOTS deep of whiskey when I decide to stop caring about what time it is. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. The first bar that came up onto my phone was unfortunately a country one. As soon as I walked in there were girls in these little daisy duke shorts dancing on top of the counter to a lousy song. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with country music, I’m just personally not a fan of it.

The bartender has been trying to flirt with me all night. She keeps coming over to check on me every five minutes, and before she walks away she eyes me up and down in this seductive way. I’ll probably end up sleeping with her tonight, but right now I need more liquor.

“Another one.” I call out to her. With as much mind as I have left I bring my phone out of my pocket to look at my text messages. Dion has called ten times, and my mom texted asking why I hung up earlier.

Fuck. The hot bartender brings me my drink and I give her a tiny grin that’s barely noticeable. She sees it though because she gives me a wink before she goes to tend to another customer.

I down the shot and feel the hot sting go through my veins. It feels good to drink again. I like the feeling of not being in control of my emotions for once. Being reckless is a fresh change of pace for me.

Everything I’m thinking is a lie though. As I look into the glass and see the droplets of brown liquid I feel my stomach start to churn in disgust.

Here I am again in the same place I was before I moved here. Well, maybe not that bad, but it’s still pretty fucking bad. I shouldn’t have drank tonight. Everything that I’ve been working towards just went down the drain. I’m a fucking idiot.

That last shot starts to really hit me, and suddenly the entire bar begins to spin. The music fades into a blur, the girls in daisy duke shorts disappear, and all I’m left with is this odd sensation running throughout my body. I clutch onto the barstool with both hands and let out a laugh from how ridiculous this feels. I forgot what it was like to be wasted.

“We both suck, you know that?”

I start to think I’m so drunk that I’m imagining things until I see those familiar brown eyes next to me. She sits down onto the barstool and raises her finger to the bartender to catch her attention.

“Why the fuck are you here?” I scoff. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. The plan was for me to wallow by myself until it was late enough that I could sneak back into the house without anyone noticing.

“Because there’s a national search party for you. Dion is freaking out.”

“And how did you find me?” I ask. I watch her eyes cautiously scan my face.

“It wasn’t that hard.” She finally admits. “We’re not that much different, you know. There’s only two bars that are close to campus, so I just put two and two together.”

“Does Dion know?” I groan. I don’t want him to find out that I failed. I don’t want him to be disappointed in me. He’s probably the only person that I will ever try to impress.

The bartender comes over as Elena orders straight vodka and looks between the both of us. I can tell the bartender is trying to figure out if we’re together or not. I know she’s depending on going home with me tonight. I’m so drunk that I still might fuck her.

“I didn’t tell him.” Elena finally decides to say, which surprises me. “It’s not really my business.”

“Then why even try to find me?”

The drink lands in front of her before she sends me an actual, genuine smile. “To let you know that if you drink anymore then I’m going to drink too.”

I’m swirling my fingertip around the glass as I stare at her. I don’t know what it is about her, but she’s driving me insane. She knows as well as I do that I’m not going to drink anymore now. I wouldn’t do that to her. I wouldn’t do that to anyone.

“Let’s go.” She smirks, standing up from the barstool.

“Go where?”

“Anywhere that’s not a bar.”

“And what makes you think I’d like to go somewhere with you?”

She laughs. “You probably don’t, but what else are you going to do? Stay here and watch these middle-aged women in short shorts parade to Luke Bryan all night?”

Standing up from my barstool, I accidentally laugh even though I don’t want her to know that I think she’s funny and allow her to lead us outside.

I’m thankful that it’s not cold out because I didn’t exactly think of my outfit when I left the house. I’m in my sneakers and jersey shorts still with no shirt on underneath my jacket.

We begin to walk down the street with no destination. I’m stumbling slightly from being drunk, and I almost trip until Elena grips me by the shoulders. “Don’t be a bitch.” She smirks. “Handle your liquor like a man.”

“Oh, just like you did the other night?” I tease. “Sure thing. Let me just find a corner and cry.”

“Low blow.” She says, but she smiles slightly.

I’m not sure if it’s the liquor taking over or if it’s a sudden surge of confidence, but I finally find myself asking, “Why did you walk out on me the other night?”

I let out a huge breath of air once I say it, immediately wanting to take those words back. That question has been on my mind for days though. It keeps me up at night. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when sex is basically the only thing I’m decent at, it gets to me that she walked out. It makes me feel like I’m not as good as all of those girls say I am.

She glances over at me and for the first time of the night she seems vulnerable. We hold the same facade. We can both act like assholes all we want, but the truth is that when we’re alone we’re the saddest people on earth.

“If I tell you that it had nothing to do with you would that be enough?” She finally replies. She wraps her arms around her body and looks down at our feet walking together on the pavement. We’re far away from the bar now, and it’s so quiet that it’s almost too loud. I hate silence.

“Probably not.” I smirk. “I’m not really one to accept half answers.”

We get to a park, which is the last place I expected us to end up, but I follow her over to a bench and sit down beside her. Sitting still makes all of the liquor hit me, and for a second I think I may just throw up.

The silence is overwhelming since we’re the only ones out here. It’s completely dark outside, and the only reason I can see her face is from a single lamp post beside us.

She presses her lips together and looks everywhere but me. “If I tell you, do you promise not to tell a soul?”

“Yeah.” I immediately reply. I’m not a fucking girl. Who would I tell?

“And if I tell you then you have to answer a question of mine.” She says with a proud grin. Even though she’s smiling there’s nothing but complete sadness in her expression.

I roll my eyes but eventually sigh in defeat, leaning back more into the bench for her to spill. This is the last place I expected to be tonight. I thought I’d be somewhere half dead by now. I probably would be if she hadn’t found me.

“I’m a sex addict.” She says quietly.

What?

“What?” I repeat, my mouth hanging open. I close it quickly so that she doesn’t think I’m judging her.

“I’m a sex addict.” She repeats. “I haven’t had sex in eight months.”

“What?” I repeat. I’m still in shock, but suddenly everything seems to make sense. That’s why she started to cry when she kissed me. That’s why she didn’t want to sleep with Cameron again. That’s why she ended up crying with a bottle of liquor...

She sees me piecing together everything in my head and lets out a tiny sigh. “People think that sex addicts are gross. They think we watch porno every second of the day when that’s really not the case. I just get really emotionally attached to people. Well, men. I think of sex as validation or something. I don’t know.”

“So Cameron was...?” I trail off.

“A stupid mistake. He was the last person I slept with. I was just trying to get some, and I knew he’d give it up quickly. It was the worst sex I’ve ever had.”

I stifle a laugh because she’s trying to open up to me. I don’t want to ruin the moment.

“Don’t think I’m weird.” She almost begs. “It’s not an addiction that I’m proud of. I battle with it every day.”

“Why would I think you’re weird?” I ask her. The liquor is starting to wear off, regret seeping into me. I pull out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from the pocket of my leather jacket. “We’ve all got demons.” I shrug.

She watches me light up my cigarette and take a drag from it, the nicotine seeming to calm me down a bit. I understand where she’s coming from now, and I understand why she’s been acting the way she has, but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t somewhat concern me. I barely know her, but yet here I am trying to think of a way to help her. Dion is right. At the end of the day I’ll always want to save someone who needs it.

“Is there a reason why you have an addiction?” I ask her. I see her body tense up immediately before she reaches out for my cigarette. I hand it over and watch her inhale from it. Seeing her full lips blow out that smoke makes me lick my lips in return.

“That’s a whole different story.” She sighs.

“Well, I’ve got all night.”

She shakes her head. “Not tonight.” She repeats, sending me a pleading stare. Our eyes linger on each others for longer than they should, so I break away and stare down at my sneakers.

“I think it’s time for my question.” She shifts on the bench and turns to face me. When she grabs my wrist I intake a sharp breath, unsure of whether or not it’s from the question or the contact. “What’s with the bracelets?”

Her fingertips trace three of the brown leather ones before she glances up for approval. I don’t know why I nod my head. If this were anyone else I’d cuss them the fuck out. But for whatever reason I’m calm when she pushes the bracelets up.

“Oh.” She says suddenly when she sees the scars. I know she was expecting to see scars, but probably not ones this deep. She looks up at me again but I can’t bring myself to look her in the eyes. I’m just sitting here helpless when she touches them, my heart racing and my mouth going dry.

“Why?” She asks. She’s still looking at me, and the connection I’ve been trying to ignore just seems to pull me towards her. I barely know her and yet I’ve shared one of my biggest secrets with her.

“Not tonight.” I finally breathe out. She nods and moves the bracelets back to their position.

“We need something stronger than this.” She analyzes the cigarette and takes another drag from it before I take it back from her. I like that she doesn’t make me feel embarrassed for speaking how I feel. She never makes fun of me or hangs onto the conversation longer than she needs to.

“You can say that again.” I mutter.

“Can I ask another question?”

If I weren’t drunk I wouldn’t continue to let her get to know me. That’s what I keep telling myself anyways as I nod my head again and blow more smoke into the air.

“Are you Asian?”

I let out a laugh once I hear her and arch my eyebrow up. My eyes meet hers finally, completely filled with humor. “Am I Asian?” I repeat. “Are you serious? Why does it matter?”

“I just want to know.” She shrugs. “You don’t look like you’re just one race. You look...” She looks at me and studies my face carefully, and for whatever reason I find myself feeling insecure. I never feel insecure.

“I look... what?” I ask.

“Unique.” She finally says. I’m unsure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

When her cheeks blush I realize that she meant it in a good way. Girls have always said that I’m hot, but for whatever reason her cheeks blushing gives me the biggest high I’ve ever had. My ego just grew that much bigger.

I run my fingertips along my jawline and give her a smirk. “I’m half White and half Korean.” I clarify for her. “My mom is White, my dad is Korean.”

“That’s cool.” She nods and takes the cigarette away from me again. “So, can you speak two languages?”

“Um, no.” I laugh. “My dad was born and raised here in the states. Are you Hispanic?" I mock.

I’ve been wanting to know the answer to this question since I’ve met her, but given that her last name is Garcia I think I already have my answer.

“I’m honestly not sure.” She replies, pursing her lips together quickly. “I think I’m Mexican.”

“Are both of your parents Hispanic?” I ask.

She looks at me again and steals the cigarette to take another drag from it. She’s quiet, too quiet, so I’m pretty sure I must have said something wrong.

“It doesn’t matter what ethnicity I am.” She stands up from the bench and crunches the cigarette out onto the ground. “I’m fine as fuck either way, right?”

I don’t disagree with her because she’s right. I’ve been trying to get with her since the moment I saw her. Although now that I know about her addiction I can’t help but get a little bit confused. Trying to sleep with her would make me seem like an asshole, right? Especially since she’s trying to stay sober. Can sex addicts have sex? How does this whole thing work?

We begin to walk back to the house I’m assuming because she starts to head back towards campus. It’s only when I’m next to her that I’m realizing she’s shivering. I guess it’s not cold to me because I have a jacket on, but since she’s still only wearing that little blue dress it’s hitting her more than it is me.

“If you tell anyone about this I’ll murder you.” I joke and tug off my jacket before I pass it over to her. She holds it into her hands for a couple of seconds before she bites on her bottom lip to keep herself from smiling.

“Wouldn’t want to ruin your ego, right?”

I watch her shrug it over her shoulders and it completely engulfs her, the sleeves covering her hands. I like the way it looks on her though, and that’s odd because nobody has ever worn that jacket of mine. It’s way too important to me.

“You should really stop trying to be the good guy.” She mumbles, scuffing her flats across the pavement.

“Why do you keep saying that to me?” I ask. “If you knew me well enough you’d know that I’m not a good guy. I’m actually quite an asshole. You should at least know that by now.”

“You and I both know that’s an act.” She shakes her head and stuffs her hands into the pocket of my jacket on her. “If you’re anything like me, and after tonight I’m pretty sure we’re more alike than we want to be, then you know that we both get attached whether we want to or not.”

“And? That’s not always a bad thing.”

“In this case it is.” She stops walking on the pavement and bites on her lip. The lip that I’ve been thinking about for days. “I don’t want this to get out of hand. I can’t get attached to you, and you definitely can’t get attached to me. I can’t give you anything that you want.”

“Who says I’m getting attached to you?” I reply, my voice filled with annoyance. I think I’m annoyed because she can see right through this facade that everyone else seems to fall for. I don’t like that she can tell exactly what I’m thinking.

“Girls say nothing but horrible things about you.” She giggles but stops when she sees the look on my face. “You’re the biggest asshole on campus. You fuck and leave every girl you meet. Yet, I walked out on you, and you’re still trying to talk to me? It’s not hard to piece two and two together.”

“Have you ever thought that maybe you’re just a challenge to me?” I question. Her face falls slightly, her eyes diverting to the ground. “I mean, before I knew about the... addiction and stuff.”

“Well now that you know about my addiction does that change your opinion of me?”

“Uh, no. Well, not really. I don’t know. I won’t be trying to get into your pants anymore.”

“Wow,” She gasps and places her hand over her heart. “Xavier Quan hanging around a girl without flirting? Is that even possible?”

We start walking again back to the house, and a part of me just has so many questions for her about this. I can’t help it. “So, do you have to be a newfound virgin now?” I ask. “Does this mean that you can’t have sex ever again?”

“No no no.” She giggles and nudges me gently with her shoulder. “I’ve been going to a support group for months now. It really helps. I just need to learn to be okay by myself first and gain confidence in myself. When I’m in a stable relationship down the road and I’m happy then I can try to re-introduce sex then. It’s just going to take a lot of healing and shit before I get to that point.”

“You seem pretty full of yourself now.” I chuckle, causing her to give me a death glare. She quickly lets her eyes wander over my chest again. “If you want me to stop making moves at you then you need to stop looking at me like that.”

Her eyes widen before her cheeks do that blushing thing again. “Looking at you how? I’m not looking at you.”

“Sure.” I smirk. “I’ll just pretend that you don’t look at this cross tatt that I have every chance you get. The one you kept running your hands all over the other night?”

“Can you blame me?” She asks. I look at her in my jacket and feel the urge to take her right here on the grass. She’s got that seductive look in her eye, but I know I need to ignore it and act like I don’t see it. I can’t push her, I can’t force it on her, I just can’t do it. I need to respect her addiction and leave her alone.

The house is coming into view now, and before I even have to ask she shrugs my jacket off and passes it back over to me. I don’t know whether or not to ask for her number. Do I even want to do that? If I’m a temptation for her, she should just stay away from me. Right? Fuck. I hate this. I hate not being able to flirt with her like I normally would another girl.

“Well, I hope you can put up with me at least for a few more weeks.” She bites the inside of her cheek as she scrolls through her phone. “Amelia is threatening that if I leave her alone with your friend again then she’s going to kill me. She’s kind of shy if you can’t tell.”

“Is that why Dion asked you to come tonight?” I grin. “Because Amelia wanted you to come?”

“Yeah. I have to be her buffer until she can get the fuck over her nerves around him. It’s ridiculous.”

I can’t help but continue to smile as we make our way up the steps to go inside. I don’t know if it’s because I know that at least for a few more weeks I’ll be able to see her more, or if it’s because for the first time after I’ve drank I don’t feel like shit about myself because of her. Whatever the reason is, I don’t want to think about the fact that staying away from her is going to be the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do.

𝙰𝚞𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚛’𝚜 𝙽𝚘𝚝𝚎

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