Chapter Twelve | What Are We?
◦◦ Sawyer ◦◦
The next afternoon
Fuck, 1:30 P.M. I hope I’m not too late.
After dropping Kate off at Naples beach for one of her bi-monthly mandatory safety meetings, I hastily drove all the way to the coffee shop chain Erin manages so I could catch her in person before she left for the day.
We needed to talk. STAT; I wasn’t willing to wait any longer.
Erin is slippery when she doesn’t want to be found. Unfortunately for her however, I’m better at this hide and seek shit than she is. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to me having to track her down, but this is the longest we’ve gone without speaking and I’ve had quite enough of what I perceived to be an undeserved silence.
I slid out of my turquoise Porsche 718 Cayman in a hurry, ripping the newish black Oakley sunglasses I’d been wearing away from my face as I jogged up to ‘Fifth Avenue Coffee Company & 6th Street Diner’. An oblivious couple almost knocked right into me, and I sneered at their pathetic apologies.
“Oof! Excuse us! We’re sorry-”
“You should be; For fuck’s sake, pay more attention.” I didn’t focus on their faces for fear of feeling worse off than I already did, so all I caught was a blur of nuetral colors and unintelligible muttering as I huffed past.
NOT in the mood for this shit today; Watch where the hell you’re going or get off the sidewalk. Simple as that.
I discreetly slipped into the front door, undetected. Patrons sipped on their caramel frapps and went on discussing whatever mundane topics people in plain establishments such as this indulged themselves with. Turning my nose upward, I scanned the familiar diner with unmarked scrutiny; The trick was to spot Erin before she saw me. It didn’t take long for my searching eyes to lock on a well known black high ponytail, worn with a striking white bow in the back.
Ah, THERE you are. Cunt.
My heart pounded heavily in my throat as I made a beeline for the elaborate front counter, where Erin had just finished pouring a generous amount of hibiscus tea into it’s rightful container. She looked rushed, but undoubtedly focused. Nothing new for Erin, who graduated at the top of our class as Valedictorian and always put her best foot forward when it came to practically everything.
Except for being a decent friend lately.
Once her heavily made up brown eyes found me glaring back into them, she damn near jumped in place from shock. I wiggled a few fingers sarcastically with a raised brow before crossing my arms, jutting a hip out to ensure she got the full experience of how pissed off I really was.
“Hey! Remember me? Your supposed ‘good friend’ Sawyer? I still exist, in case there was any confusion about that. Why the fuck haven’t you been responding to my texts?” I imagined I’d be poised and cool, facing Erin after so long, but I couldn’t have felt farther from either of those favorable traits as I continued boiling where I stood.
What happened to “I’ll always be there for you.” Was that a lie, Erin?
“Shhhhh!” She glanced all around us to make sure nobody picked up on my hostility before shooting me a malevolent scowl. “We’re not doing this here, Sawyer. Give me five minutes and I’ll clock out.”
I took a step back with a sharp laugh, keeping my arms tightly pressed against my chest for comfort. Suddenly, I felt much chillier than I had only moments ago. “Take your time, just don’t bail on me...again."
Erin’s eyes narrowed into slits, and she pointed at me with a plastic stirring utensil that’d been laying around out of view. “Low blow, Sawyer. You know exactly why I left that night, or should we recap?” The warning tone in her voice coupled with that unnecessary threat made me go from 60 to 100 within a blink of an eye.
You’re in public. Breathe, you can rip her throat out later. Which you’re SO going to enjoy doing.
I scoffed with a shake of my head, mentally coaxing myself out of a full blown meltdown. For now. “You know what, Erin? Your crappy little attitude about what happened isn’t really a becoming look on you-”I stopped mid sentence as soon as I realized we had an audience, gesturing toward the small group behind the counter with a hand impatiently. “You want to handle that?” I drawled.
“Uh yeah...excuse me for a second. I’m glad you’re all on time today for a change.” Erin turned her attention to three high school aged baristas who were gaping at us in silence, quickly briefing them on their tedious responsibilities before disappearing around the corner to exit from the employee’s entrance. “Let’s continue this outside.” She called over her shoulder at me.
I wasted no time leaving the same way I came in, and briskly made my way over to where Erin was lingering beside her cherry red Toyota Kia Rio. She looked like she wanted to skip out on our altercation altogether, but considered my abrasive stance instead and groaned outwardly. Throwing her hands up in exasperation, Erin regarded me with an exhausted expression.
“I don’t know what to say, Sawyer.”
That REALLY irritated me the fuck out of this world. I nodded with a disbelieving smile, casting a brief look off toward the busy street before eyeing Erin again with every intention to evoke any other response out of her.
“Why don’t you lead with ’I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring you?′ That’s probably a great place to start. Need any more suggestions? I’ve got plenty.”
The pretty brunette I’ve known since we were sixteen gawked at my haughty demand, and I couldn’t help but smirk as the telltale signs of an aggravated blush crept along her high cheekbones. Erin took a step forward, crossing her arms as she peered into my icy eyes.
“...Is life just one big game to you? Is it, Sawyer!? I ask because I’ve been looking after you since your parents died, and all you’ve managed to do is almost get yourself killed on more than one occasion, and blow whatever inheritance you have left-”
My skin broke out into goosebumps, and I harshly cut her off. I wasn’t about to let Erin get away with tarnishing my character like this.
“Just hang the fuck on; For starters, you don’t need to concern yourself with my financial well being. Not including whatever cash I have in my possession, which is millions by the way, my parents left me over one hundred elite properties I collect rent on every month. When I’m ready to sell them, they’ll be worth much more than they are now. I’m set for life-”
“Not with the way you spend money.” Erin jabbed with a pointed eye roll like the disrespectful bitch she apparently is. I advanced forward, unable to control my voice as it rose over her quiet chuckling.
“Oh shut up Erin. All that aside, I never asked you to ‘look after me’-”
“If I didn’t YOU’D BE DEAD BY NOW!” She shrieked emotionally, backing away to unlock her car with a muffled sob. I was rendered speechless and couldn’t do much else but watch with widened eyes. “What good is your wealth if you’re not around to enjoy it? Look around you, Sawyer! I’m the only one you have left, because honestly putting up with your bullshit is exhausting. You don’t give a shit who you hurt, and because you have nobody else, it’s always me. I’m sick of it. I just...I’m done.”
Oh, are you now?
“What do you mean ‘you’re done!?’ Done with what exactly?” I challenged, swallowing the hard lump forming in my throat. I knew what she meant, but evidently I needed it spelled out in plain words. Nothing came, so I set my jaw and ventured on. “Me? So that’s it? After ten years, we’re not friends anymore?”
Erin looked regretful as she stayed silent for several seconds. I glanced down so she couldn’t see my eyes well up with tears. I felt so empty at that moment, it was hard to imagine how I’d react if she kept speaking.
Well, this is just great. A real chef’s kiss is due to the man upstairs; He really knew what he was doing when he carved out this fucked up path for me to live.
My sniffling alerted Erin, and she whipped her head back in my direction just as I was turning away.
“...Are you crying, Sauce?” She sounded remorseful, and that pissed me off. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Or don’t say, in this case.
I didn’t want my EX friend’s pity, so I quickly wiped my eyes and picked up the pace without answering her.
Like you care, so what does it matter? That’s right. It doesn’t.
“You’re the one who has to live with yourself, you may as well be honest about how you’re feeling...” I heard Erin call out in despair. She always used to give me shit for shoving my emotions deep down so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.
I would’ve loved nothing more than to pretend like everything was going to work itself out, but I just didn’t have the heart.
I don't think anyone would blame me if they knew everything...but they don't. I started wondering if Kate thought I was exhausting, or difficult...but no sooner had the idea entered my mind did I dismiss it. She was constantly finding parts of me I'd written off as lost forever.
Right then, I decided I didn't want to go home and drink away every last brain cell I had.
I wanted Kate, and my pining for her mere presence started to suffocate me.
❀ Kate ❀
“Think you’re ready for this competition? It’s supposed to be super intense; I was going over our online brochure before bed last night and the events seem pretty challenging. I can’t wait!”
Tristan was gushing with excitement after we wrapped up the formalities of our safety presentation. I took a moment to contemplate my boss’s question and frowned at him.
Was I? Would I ever be fully ready? I’ve only been preparing for this all of my adult life, so I probably should be. Right?
“Just trying to stay on top of my training until then, but otherwise yeah-”
“Do you two ever stop thinking about work!? Get out of here and enjoy the rest of your day off!” A feminine voice heckled good naturedly.
“Yeah,” a deeper one chimed in, “There’s such a thing as being too dedicated to your job, you know?”
Brittany Weiss and Erik Romero, the full time lifeguards working opposite Tristan and I, were shooing us out of the cramped tower we all shared so they could resume their typical duties. I didn’t need to be asked twice; My long legs were cramping like a bitch from sitting cross legged on the unforgiving floor for over an hour.
“We can walk and talk, guys!” Tristan laughed, awkwardly leaning over to fist bump Erik before following me down the steps. I normally would’ve been happy as a clam to engage in conversation with my team, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Sawyer. The more Tristan rambled, the more lost in my own space I became.
At around five in the morning, I was jolted awake by one of her terrifying panic attacks. It began with whimpering in her sleep, and rapidly escalated to uncontrollable screaming as she profusely begged me not to go anywhere. She only calmed down when I carefully wrestled her thrashing form into my arms and rocked us both in place. Sawyer’s white blonde hair was matted to her forehead with sweat, and she was struggling to take deep breaths as I soothed her with comforting words and promises that I wouldn’t leave.
It was her third episode this week alone.
I tried to bring my growing concern up at breakfast, but Sawyer quickly swept the whole ordeal under the table and nonchalantly reminded me of the anxiety disorder she’d been battling for years. As far as I knew, she didn’t take any medication to try and alleviate her symptoms and for some reason that troubled me.
I shouldn’t care as much as I do...we’re not together, not technically...but I’ve learned that I just can’t control myself around Sawyer.
I’m not one who opens up easily, but hell...random words from my past tumbled out seemingly on their own, while the enlightened blonde I was seeing on a regular basis intently listened to each and every one; Day after day, and well into the evenings we spent together. I didn’t expect the tender warmth she shielded me with after I cried over Amanda on that hot air balloon ride last week, making me realize I’d tapped into yet another soft side of hers.
When faced with emotional suffrage, she couldn’t stand watching anyone else go through it.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that Sawyer really wasn’t as arrogant and selfish as she wanted people to think at first glance, and I was determined to break down every front I knew she secretly longed for someone to succeed in doing all this time.
“Kaaaaater tot? You home up there?”
Tristan cut into my thoughts with a few playful knocks to the head, and I brushed him away halfheartedly as we kept walking toward the parking lot. Sawyer should be here any minute now, but I felt bad about not setting aside enough time to catch up with Tristan lately.
"Sorry dude." I began, licking my lips to launch into some excuse as to why I'd been so quiet when a sudden burst of rowdy commotion compelled me to look over to my right.
“You really don’t want to start with me, today. I swear to fuck." I heard Sawyer laugh sardonically, her beautiful blue eyes shifting upwards to gaze at the sky as she addressed what appeared to be Dani with a blatant warning. “Back. The. Hell. Off before I give you a valid reason to be mad, which I get the feeling wouldn't be too difficult-”
Then the shouting ensued. Man, not a day goes by where I'm not putting some sort of fire out. Lucky me.
“...I’lllll just let you go. See you Thursday, kid!” Tristan whisper yelled into my ear before scuttling off. As far as drama is concerned, he prefers to be absolutely no where near it and avoids unnecessary confrontation like the plague. While caught in the moment of what was happening, I didn't even respond aside from nodding my head in agreement.
“I DON'T trust you.” The unmistakable sound of my EX’s Colombian accent rattled me to my core as I rushed over to where she and Sawyer were glaring daggers at one another. “Tell me, what would an entitled rich snob like you want with someone like Kate?” Dani squared her shoulders, balled up fists firmly pressed against her sides. She was about two seconds away from taking a swipe at Sawyer's face.
A fact that not only wasn't lost on the snickering blonde, but deliberately invited.
“Obviously a hell of a lot more than you did. Oooohhh, did I strike a nerve? Go ahead and hit me, bitch. Give me an excuse to knock your puny ass out.” Sawyer gleefully antagonized Dani with a wide grin, straightening to her full height so she could loom over my bristling EX.
"What the fuck!?" I hissed, catching both girls by surprise when I wedged myself in between them. My back to Sawyer, I addressed Danica with ice dripping from my voice. "We're done, Dani. I don't need you screening my...Sawyer. Nobody here gives a shit what you think, you lost that right after you dumped me. Should I break out the ten foot neon sign? Will you get it then?"
"You can't be serious with her...are you!?" Dani's face screwed up as if she were forced to take a bite out of a lemon, completely ignoring my incredulous question. "You, showing commitment to anything other than your precious training sessions? Call me pessimistic, but that seems highly unlikely."
I didn't even have to think about what I said next as I spared Sawyer a longing look before responding to Dani with conviction. "Dead serious. You'd be surprised what a little understanding could do for a relationship, maybe try to have some in your next one? It might just last longer than ours did."
Sawyer's arms looped around my waist as Dani let out a bitter laugh. Thankfully my EX didn't say anything else, and within moments she left me pondering deeply in the strong embrace of the woman I was starting to...love.
"...You wanted to say 'my girlfriend' earlier, didn't you babe?" I felt the teasing caress of Sawyer's breath pleasantly tickle the back of my ear, and my cheeks positively burned at the accurate accusation. When I didn't make a move to explain, she gently nibbled the lobe.
We stayed glued together like that for several minutes, until I finally sighed from the internal confusion eating me alive. "What are we, Soy?"
"What would you like for us to be?" Sawyer muttered back softly. Warm August wind blew my bangs aside as I looked over my shoulder to gaze into her expectant blue eyes with such an overwhelming amount of passion, I felt my heart might burst any second.
"Together." I breathed at last, and my answer was met with a feverish kiss to seal our new status as an item. I drank from Sawyer as if I'd been dying of thirst for years, and had finally found the fountain of everlasting nourishment.
One woman's EX is now another woman's girlfriend, and I couldn't imagine a world where my life hadn't fallen into this exact place.