It was good to see Emery laugh. It's been too long. I wanted to kill them for doing that to her, but I knew I had to keep my head. I can see that my being here is causing them distress. Good. I would never see Emery in that way, but if they thought it was a possibility that we were anything more, I hope it's eating them up inside and they feel like she did all summer. They were pathetic little boys, silently begging for her attention that they lost because of their stupidity. She just has to give me the word and I'd have them hospitalized in two minutes.
Eli, on the other hand, grabbed my attention immediately. She stands out in a crowd. I wonder if she knew that I used to be a major playboy like Lewis would she still find me attractive. I guess we'll see.
Damion's voice cut through the building tension. "Anybody want to get something to eat?"
"We would, but Emery and I have some catching up to do. You guys can go," Eli's cheery voice rang through the living room as she dragged Emery out of there and down a hall.
I shrugged my shoulders and looked to Damion. "I'll drive."
"Cool." We headed towards the door. "You guys are coming."
"I think I'll hang back," Roman responded quickly, staring down the hall Emery disappeared into.
"Me too," Lewis said.
"It wasn't a question. Give her some space." Damion shook his head at their impatience. They followed behind, Damion in the passenger seat, the other two in the back. Ten minutes later, we were sitting in a local, popular pizza place. It was packed. Every few minutes I'd catch girls staring in our direction with heavy eyes and flirty looks. We sat at a table in the corner. I sat next to Damion because I didn't trust myself to hold back from killing them if I get too close. They looked like they would have taken that chance rather than sit next to each other.
"So, Ryan," Damion started, "What made you come here?"
Roman and Lewis quickly diverted their hateful glares at each other to me. I chuckled and took a sip of my sprite. "Well, Damion, as you probably already know I do tattoos. I saved enough money to open up shop so I decided to do it here so I can be close to Emery."
"What the fuck do you mean 'close to Emery'?" Lewis snapped.
I was pretty good at hiding my emotions, but I was burning up on the inside. "Stop. Okay. You guys fucked up. Don't fuck up more by insulting the person she ran to after you guys fucked her over."
"You don't know shit," Roman said, leaning back with his arms folded, putting on a chill look. He reminded me of myself when I was younger.
I scoffed. "You don't get it, do you? She's hurting. She not out fucking randoms or fucking anybody for that matter. You're too busy trying to figure out what we are that you're not realizing what she must be feeling right now. Having to look at the man who cheated on her in the eyes." Lewis dropped his head in shame. Pitiful.
"Okay. So what are you to her? If she's been staying with you all this time, you're not just her friend."
"So the asshole who performed oral on a girl who was on heavy meds speaks? You ruined her relationship, Bro."
"I didn't know! I wouldn't have-"
"It doesn't matter now does it. Do you want to know how we met? Emery and I?" They didn't answer but looked on with interest. Even Damion, who had been extremely quiet, leaned in. "I was at school one day, not for class, for business. I basically dropped out. I just went to promote my tattoo business. Anyway, that morning I saw a girl walking to the backwoods of the school. I never noticed her in school before. It was pretty weird seeing as nobody went back there alone. It was a well-known hookup spot. Something told me to go see what was up."
I looked down at my hands and rubbed them together, remembering how cold it was that day. "I heard her crying when I reached the woods. I walked until I saw her curled up by a tree with a razor at her wrist. That was the first time I ever knew someone who wanted to kill themself."
I walked beside the tree, looking at the leaves falls from the trees in front of me. "What's got you down kid?"
She gasped then scurried away from me, dropping the blade in the process. She just stared at me with wide, careful eyes and that made me feel unsettled. I squatted down and picked up the blade, tossing it as far as I could into the woods. I slowly reached for her wrist when I spotted a dot of blood. She flinched and that made me angry.
Why was this girl so scared? What was she afraid of? Was she scared that I caught her or was she afraid of whoever-whatever she was trying to get away from?
"Where did those scars come from?" They were bad. They covered her forearms like healed rope burns. She looked at me with so much fear in her eyes. I didn't know what to do. I've never been in this situation before.
I looked out into the woods again so she wouldn't feel like my eyes were judging her. I lowered myself to the ground, staring off. I did the one thing I never did with anyone so she could trust me enough: I opened up.
I placed my forearms on my knees and fumbled with my hands. "You know, my old man is a drunk. Ever since my mom left us, he gets sloppy drunk and finds reasons to slap me around. He was never one to show emotions but to find anger at the bottom of a bottle..." I trailed off so as not to get emotional in front of her. She was still a stranger. I focused my attention on a squirrel running up a tree. I heard, dried autumn leaves crunch beside me, but I didn't move. Her small, freezing hand covered mine. I watched her thin fingers wrap around my considerably large ones.
"I'm sorry," was the first words she spoke to me since I approached. Her voice was so soft with underlining pain causing her voice to shake with just those two words.
"And that is the day that she saved me. I thought I was saving her. She helped me get emancipated from my father and helped me expand my tattoo business so I can keep a steady income. So you understand boys, I would do anything for her and I believe she deserves so much better than you two. After everything she's been through, you pricks add to it. I can't fathom why she still feels anything towards you but she does, yet you two are just concerned about your own fucking feelings you self-centered assholes." I shrugged my shoulders. "You fucked up."