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As expected, Georgia didn’t join me at school the next day. Her dad picked her up early the next morning and took her home to recover.
I attended school, feeling better now that I knew what was troubling Georgia. I briefly told Ellie what happened the night before. She too was curious about why Georgia went to Matt’s house. We wondered how she would react when she next saw him.
Lazarus shared a quick glance with me as I passed him to my seat in homeroom. Hope blossomed in my stomach at this. Was he ready to talk to me about what happened?
The answer was no. When I approached him after homeroom, he sent me a small, awkward smile and rushed off. There was an emotion in his eyes I could finally decipher—guilt. He felt guilty about something. Was he feeling guilty about what happened on Tuesday?
For the first time in over a week, Jamie smiled at me though. We had barely spoken since our talk. But I was extremely glad he acknowledged me. I didn’t want to lose him. He was a good friend who I valued.
Sighing to myself, I walked with slouched shoulders to my first lesson. I had English with Lazarus later and I couldn’t help but feel nervous yet excited.
During my second period, I had a break. Matt spotted me in the library, hunched over a textbook. He approached me with an anxious expression on his face.
I looked up at the sound of his arrival and sent him a tight-lipped smile. Awkwardness passed between us, both of us not knowing what to say.
“How was Georgia this morning?” He eventually asked, cautiously.
I loosened a breath and flickered my gaze to him. “She was…alright, I guess. Just hungover.”
He nodded his head and then rubbed the back of his neck. His reddish-brown hair was quite messy today. It looked like he had been running his hands through it too many times. He had to be worrying about Georgia.
“Matt, did Georgia say why she went to your house last night?” I already knew the answer, even if neither of them did but I wanted to hear it from him. I wanted to know if drunk Georgia could admit she had feelings for Matt. Out of everybody, she turned to him. She trusted him.
He avoided eye contact with me and coughed nervously. “Uh—yeah, she did.”
“And?” I pried, nosily.
“And…she said she wanted to see me because she missed me. She was also going to say something else, but she cut herself off before she could.”
I held my breath in anticipation. I had a feeling I knew what that was.
“What do you think she was going to say?”
Matt looked uncomfortable. He had never talked about his feelings for Georgia. At least, not in front of me.
“Matt, was she going to say she loved you?” I asked, leaning in closer to him.
Matt snapped his head up in my direction and widened his brown eyes. Judging by his reaction, I was right. Georgia was going to say she loved him.
“How did you know?” He whispered as if it wasn’t obvious.
I was tempted to roll my eyes. But it wasn’t appropriate. They did hide their feelings for each other fairly well. Most people wouldn’t see it.
“I know you two. I know you love each other.” I replied, honestly.
He jolted in his seat at the last bit. I had hit a nerve. But he knew I was right; he couldn’t deny it.
“I—,” He stopped himself, keeping his eyes downcast.
Realizing I was never going to get him to admit it, to my at least, I let it go.
“Can I ask you a question, Matt?”
He slowly and hesitantly brought his eyes up to me. He thought I was going to ask him a question about Georgia.
“Has Jamie said anything about me recently?” Any thoughts of Jamie were banished from my mind for a while. I couldn’t face the guilt. I had led him on for a short period of time. We all knew it. Our interactions since our talk were minimal. He did smile at me earlier but that was it.
I hoped that as time progressed, things would slip back into normal.
Matt swallowed and sloppily dragged a hand through his hair. I bet he regretted coming over to me now. I was interrogating him about things he didn’t want to talk about.
If anybody knew anything about Jamie, it would be Matt. Jamie wasn’t as close to his cousin.
“Uh…I’m not really sure.” He lied, avoiding eye contact with me.
“Matt…” I dragged out a breath. “You can tell me, whatever it is. I just need to know how he is.”
He cursed under his breath. “He’s trying to forget everything. He’s drinking a lot more and is messing around with girls.”
And there it was.
I felt no twinge of jealousy. Nothing. Zilch. My feelings for Jamie changed so quickly. I no longer saw him as somebody I could be with romantically. He would always be a friend.
Matt cleared his throat, drawing my attention back to him. “You know, he really did like you. Actually, I think he loved you. Maybe he still does. He won’t talk to me anymore. He just wants to be alone.”
I pinched my lips together, taking everything in.
“God, I feel like such an a*shole,” I muttered, angry at myself.
“Don’t say that, Celeste,” Matt said. “Jamie will get over it…eventually. He cares about you too much to lose you.”
I inhaled, immensely grateful for his words. I never thought Matt would be the one to help me. We have known each other for so many years but we were never super close.
“Thanks, Matt. I really appreciate it,” I told him, honestly.
He returned it with a stiff smile. He had a distant look in his eyes again—his thoughts had gone back to Georgia.
I couldn’t really study after that. My thoughts bounced around different topics. I had gotten some reassurance about Jamie but the problem with Lazarus was still prominent. He wouldn’t talk to me about what happened.
Why did he feel guilty?
A part of me believed it wasn’t because he was ignoring me. It was something else—something more personal. I was going to lose hair from the stress.
At lunch, I headed towards the music room, hoping to find Lazarus.
He wasn’t there. Of course.
Instead of walking away, I decided to practice playing All Of Me. I stared at the keys for a full minute, trying to recall how to play it.
It all came to me at once. I could remember playing the song with Lazarus sat beside me. He was so close I could feel the electricity between us. I wanted him to be beside me again so badly. I wanted the rush. The excitement.
I was so out of it I didn’t realize I played the song accurately. I was beyond proud of myself.
Clapping, coming from behind me, caused me to jolt in my seat. Spinning around in the chair, I faced Dexter. He looked impressed.
“Damn girl, that was amazing,” He complimented, moving closer to me. I blushed and tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
I smiled shyly.
Dexter came over to me and sat on the bench beside me. I turn to face him, wondering why he was here. Dexter hadn’t spoken to me that much over the past few days.
“Celeste, can I ask you to do something for me?”
My eyebrows draw together in confusion. What did he need me to do? How could I help him?
“Uh…sure,” I replied, uncertainly.
“It’s about Lazarus,” He announced, gauging my reaction. I tried to keep my face neutral—I didn’t want Lazarus’ best friend to see me so distraught. We weren’t anything. Not officially.
I tilted my head to the side, perplexed. Was he here to talk about what happened between us? Did Lazarus send him because he was too scared to face me himself? That hurt more than I could ever imagine.
“There’s something going on between you, right?” He said, straight to the point. I was glad he wasn’t beating around the bush. “You feel a connection to him, don’t you?”
I opened my mouth and then closed it again. I didn’t know what to say. Dexter was right but how was that possible? What did Lazarus tell him? Could he see something between us? So many questions filtered into my mind, making my head hurt.
Dexter exhaled loudly and scratched the back of his head. “Sorry, that was too abrupt.” He grimaced. “I just…I don’t know how to help him. He’s…”
I leaned in closer, hungry for more information. I was like a starved lion, craving more food.
“He’s what?” I pried.
“Scared,” He admitted, to my surprise.
I blinked. “Wait—what?”
Dexter smiled awkwardly. “Lazarus has issues. He has a few demons and he’s afraid of messing things up.”
“What is he afraid of messing up?”
I wasn’t following. Dexter was talking cryptically.
Dexter snapped his eyes away. He was making any sense. He said he needed me to help him with Lazarus but then he started telling me about Lazarus and how he feared messing something up. Deep down, I wanted it to be about me. Dexter did talk about my feelings for Lazarus so it could be true? Or maybe Dexter wanted me to help Lazarus with something else?
Dexter moved closer as if he was telling me a secret. Even though there wasn’t anyone in the room, he was scared of someone overhearing it.
“I shouldn’t say this, so you have to promise not to say anything to Lazarus,” He whispered, finally meeting my eyes again, intensely. I nodded my head, interested. “Lazarus is scared of missing his chance with you.”
My heart stopped.
“His past has changed him—made him cautious. He doubts so many things, including what to do about you. I’m asking you to stick with him—to promise not to leave him. He will crumble if you leave. You might not know everything yet but trust me, you are so important.” He explained, his voice laced with honesty.
My mind was reeling. It should feel strange hearing this from Dexter, a man I barely knew. He was talking about somebody else who I barely knew as if we had known each other for years. It was like he was declaring Lazarus’ love for me.
Processing it was difficult. I didn’t know what to make of it.
“Dexter, Lazarus barely knows me. I can’t be that important to him,” I countered. There was no malice in my voice, just confusion.
He released a sigh and ran a hand down his face. It was then I saw how stressed he looked. Out of the trio, Dexter was the most relaxed. He had such a carefree spirit. Seeing him like this was odd. Something was causing him discomfort.
“You don’t have to know people for very long to feel things for them,” Dexter told me.
I closed my mouth, realizing he was right. I reciprocated those feelings.
“Just please…you mean so much to him. One day, you will know everything. But for now, don’t let go of him. Don’t let him disappear.” He pleaded, a desperate look in his eyes. Then, quieter, he added, “You’ll regret it if you do.”
Dexter left after that. He left me with all of these thoughts and feelings.
I slumped my shoulders, defeated.
What were they hiding? Would I find out eventually?
I had English last. Lazarus was already in the room, sat in a different seat. Instead of sitting with Ellie, I decided to sit next to Lazarus. I didn’t care that the person who usually sat there wouldn’t be happy. Dexter’s words rang in my head; I couldn’t escape them. I didn’t promise anything to him, but I cared about Lazarus.
He would tell me about whatever was bothering him when he was ready.
I could sit next to him and be supportive. Because no matter what, I would not give up.
I could wait.
Wait for him.
Hi! I hope you all had a great weekend! I posted a new chapter of Leon's Queen so please go and check it out. My next update will either be this Friday or Saturday.