Fool Me Twice?
Matt had made it his mission to avoid me now, as long as I am with Axel. Over the past few weeks, I feel like something has been going on with Axel. He’s been keeping secrets; I can tell from the way he operates around me. He’s careful of what he says and what he does, of where he takes me too. Maybe that’s because he’s nervous. He wants me to stay with him, and wants everything to be perfect.
Is it bad that I can’t help being suspicious? After tasting the weed on his lips, I’ve been on edge, paranoid of his actions. I promised Matt I wouldn’t let it get as far as before. I promised myself that too. Maybe it is my own guilt of what happened with Kai making me want Axel to be guilty of something.
The cheerleading squad were shaping up well, however me not in good stead with the football team’s captain means it is difficult to coordinate events.
But today is game day, a big day for the senior football players. A scout could notice one and offer them a place at an amazing college to play for them on scholarship. Matt is a shoe-in as is Kai and they both could use scholarships.
Kai doesn’t want to live off his useless parents’ money; he now gets money from the fights so doesn’t take their money. But college fees are different. It is a lot.
Matt, with two absentee parents, could definitely use it too. I hope at least one of them manages to get offers by the end of the year. There are a few more games left but this is the time where they start weeding out the weak from the ones with potential.
“Let’s go girls! Keep it up!” I shout at the cheerleaders doing drills in front of me.
I thank God I’m not them. Circling my way around the rows of girls my eyes fall on the guys jogging out into the field in their football jerseys. I lock eyes with Kai who winks at me and then see Matt blatantly ignore me.
I decide enough is enough; I am going to talk to him. I grab Matt by the arm, pulling him aside and narrow my eyes at him. He stares at me in silence. No moving at all.
“We need to talk about the game,” I begin.
“We sorted out how the game’s gonna go. It’s done,” he replies with a harsh tone.
“Axel is gonna be in the stands and I can’t have you fucking up these games because you don’t like him and it throws you.”
“Why the fuck do you care, Alex?”
“Because, Matt, we don’t have to money to send you to college and it would be good if you got a scholarship rather than getting loans,” I retort, showing the agitation in my voice.
“What if I’m not going to college?” he mutters, avoiding my eyes.
“Matthew Wilde, you are going to college. End of story,” I state in a motherly voice. He is going. I won’t let him stay here, and live a crappy life.
He huffs and decides to trudge back to his team, not even bothering to finish our conversation. Great, just great.
After practice, I finish talking to the girls before heading out into the parking lot. I see Kai and Matt by their cars, Matt completely ignoring my existence and Kai glaring at me.
When I watch Kai’s attention shift from me, I follow his line of sight. Axel steps out of his car with a smirk on his face as he meets my gaze. I stroll down the hill (which the school happened to be built on) to him, falling into his arms at the bottom. With his strength, he lifts me up easily and onto my feet again.
“Careful, baby, how was practice?” he asks.
“Good, but Matt still won’t talk to me.”
“Then forget about him. You don’t need him. He’ll come around eventually, but for now, you have me,” he replies, hugging me tightly. I hug him back but his words begin to sound familiar in my head.
Those words rattle around, trying to find the matching memory, and it does. It reminds me of what he said about my friends: ‘you don’t need them’ and ‘you have me’ and ‘forget about them’. I begin to worry old ways were hard to change. Maybe Axel isn’t so different. But I hold back these thoughts as I am held in his arms. I am picking at things again. Not everything meant that he is unchanged; I’m just being paranoid.
“I’m taking you out to dinner tonight,” he states.
“I’ve got the game tonight, remember?” I reply.
“Oh, right, yeah, okay, we’ll go now, have early dinner and then we’ll drive back here,” he says, making the decision for me as he gets into the car. I follow him and just sigh.
After dropping me home, I dress in a cute little playsuit with floral patterns. Hearing his car beep, I rush out to meet him, quickly driving to the restaurant and making small talk at the table. The waiter comes to take our drinks order, and before I can speak, Axel says, “we’ll have two glasses of red wine, thank you.”
The waiter nods and leaves the table whilst I stare at Axel. He knows I don’t drink, and he shouldn’t either.
Axel notices my annoyed expression and again before I can say anything, he says, “baby, it’s one drink. Isn’t control about learning to self-moderate? You want to beat it fully, be normal again, normal around alcohol is drinking a few glasses, not the whole fucking bar like we used to. It’s fine.”
His words quell my anger a little as I realize he is right. Learning to just have a little and not a lot is important for control.
Our wine is served and I slowly sip, remembering the taste of past alcohol and the memories to go with it. I never really liked it, the taste even. I drank to not feel it all, to not see what I became, to drown it all out.
I’m proud of myself for getting clean, on my own terms, even if others aren’t. I don't think Matt realizes what it took. Addiction isn’t just something you can decide to just stop, that’s why it’s called addiction. It took everything to beat them, all of them. For that, I had to leave Axel, knowing that if I stayed, I wouldn’t have the strength to get better whilst he remained the same. Now he is clean too, and that helps.
“I was thinking that we could go away for a bit, you know, clear our heads,” Axel says, snapping me out of my trance.
“Oh... um,” I reply, a little doubtful. “Maybe a weekend.”
“No, I mean, like a couple of weeks, or a month even.” I furrow my eyebrows, confused at his words.
“I have school, Ax, I’m not going away for a month. We’re not even fully back together,” I reply, a little annoyed he’d even suggest it.
“But we’re doing good. I thought you’d want to go away with me, just us. I know you have school, but it’s sophomore year, you don’t really have to do anything until senior year.” And I remember him having said those very same words before too.
“I’m staying,” I declare curtly.
“Fine,” he responds in a similar tone. “It was just a suggestion anyway. Forget I said it.”
“We should go to the game now,” I say, looking at the time.
“We haven’t even eaten,” he cries when I get up from my seat and start to put my jacket on.
“I can’t be late, Axel,” I say, almost running to the car. Axel follows behind me, after paying, and drives us to school in silence.
“Our captain is here!” Coach announces to the girls in the changing room.
I got changed in the car so I am already ready to lead the girls out. We all skip onto the track next to the field and face the crowd, getting into formation. I spot Axel in the crowd, smiling at me and I am glad to see his mood lifted from before.
At half time, we begin our cheers, whilst we perform the stunts and amazing acrobatics I added to the routines. The crowd goes wild, eyes opened widely in awe and a lot of men with perverted gazes as we move.
When game resumes again, I continue to watch Kai and Matt, hoping they do really well for these talent scouts. They are talented; they just have to show it. We continue to cheer from the sidelines, and every now and then Kai would turn towards me and smirk, his eyes landing on my short skirt and tight crop top.
Damn, it would creep me out if he wasn’t hot and I didn’t know what game he was playing. He wants my attention, and I’m giving it to him. Every time, I would just turn away, focusing on Matt instead, but my gaze couldn’t help but wander over to Kai every so often.
When the game ends, a man approaches Kai, a man holding a clipboard and I am curious to what their conversation is about. I hope it is good.
But Axel grabs my arm to get my attention. He kisses me deeply and I notice it as plain as day this time. He’s been smoking weed, just these past few hours. Why?
We get into his car without me saying anything. I don’t know if I could keep overlooking these signs with a clear conscience. Something is up, it has to be. We stand on the steps of the porch and I take his hands in mine.
“Axel, tell me you haven’t been doing drugs. Tell me you haven’t been drinking all this time. Tell me it wasn’t all for show, for me. Tell me the truth!” I beg him, tears threatening to fall violently, but I keep them in to hold myself together. I have to do this but I’m afraid I won’t like the outcome. I think I know deep down I won’t.
“What the fuck? Why would you say that?” he yells at me, breaking his hands away from mine.
“Because I know you!” I yell back.
“Fine, it’s true. What do you want me to say? I wanted you back and lying to you was the only way. You’re mine. And I’m not pretending I’m okay leaving you here in this dump with your idiot brother and his asshole of a best friend. You should be with me where you belong. You’re coming with me. Get in the car!”
He grabs my wrist hard and tugs, but I stay put. I hear a car pull up, but I ignore it, focusing my attention on Axel.
“No!” I scream. I don’t see the fist flying through the air to connect with my face but I screech when it does.
I fall to the floor, clasping my left cheek in pain, and tears rush freely down my face.