A Slap In The Face
Chat song: ‘Stone Cold’ by Demi Lovato.
“God knows I try to feel happy for you. Know that I am, even if I can’t understand. I’ll take the pain, give me the truth. Me and my heart, we’ll make it through. If happy is her, I’m happy for you.”
Josh-(Getting dressed to leave for Lexie’s when he receives a text.)
O: Hey, it’s Orion.
J: I have two ‘Orions’ saved on my phone, which one are you?
O: The one on your football team dude, lol
J: Oh, hey.
O: Won’t lie, your one slick guy.
O: I was wondering if you could give me some tips.
J: Tips on what?
O: How-to pick-up girls. I mean, Lexie Simone is one of the toughest targets at school, and the fact that you fucked her is beyond me. You’re cool. My role model. But I am super stunned, I didn’t take her as the easy type at all.
J: Dude. Stop texting me if you know what’s good for you.
J: Can you not read? I said stop texting my fucking phone.
O: Woah, why the aggression?
J: I’ll beat your face in if you say that about my best friend again, take her name off your lips you piece of shit.
O: Ah, relax dude. I was just kidding.
J: And we didn’t fuck. Lose my damn number.
(Josh blocks Orion.)
(You just received a message from Ian)
I: Jay, how she holding up?
J: She’s not responding to my messages. I’m getting ready to head to her place right now.
I: Okay, good. Poor Lexie, she’s too nice for this to happen to her.
J: I feel like shit.
I: You two didn’t have sex though, right?
J: No. We didn’t sleep together. We just kissed...and fooled around a little. Nothing more.
I: I hate teens these days. They just run with any shit they hear.
(You just received a message from Selene)
J: Can’t talk to you right now.
(Josh exits her chat and returns to Ian’s.)
J: Heading out now, I’ll text you later.
I: Okay, keep me posted.
Lexie is lying on her bed in a disheveled heap, grief pouring out in a flood of heartbroken tears. Gut-wrenching sobs wrack her body, and it’s as if she can still see the tantalizing messages from the chatroom.
She sounds like a choking cat.
...if I’m fucking a girl and she moans like that, imma think she’s morphing into a werecat or something.
Occupied with crying a river, she doesn’t hear when her window slides up as Josh pushes his torso through the ledge. Positioning his palms on her grey carpet, he whips his hair from his eyes as he drags the rest of his body through. He has done this so often that it’s not a struggle for him anymore.
He stands up with a tired breath, his eyes softening when he sights her small weeping body; curled up in a ball against her pillows.
He drove like a madman to get here, knowing that this was exactly how she’d be right now. Lexie is fragile and thin-skinned. She is not audacious like the girls at Westlake High who sleeps with guys then advertise it the next day. Lexie is pure and innocent, and this is all too much for her.
His forehead creases as he gently touches her shoulder. “Lexie.”
She shrugs the hand away, refusing to lift her head as she sobs harder.
“Lexie, look at me.” He grasps her arm, forcing her upright but she snatches away from his grip, whimpering in her pillow as she writhes away.
Sighing, he sits on her bed to push her hair back. Her face is smeared with tears, and his brows knit together in sympathy. He uses a bit more strength to gently pull her up, sliding closer to gather her in his arms. She cries against his black T-shirt as he kisses her forehead.
“I’m so sorry, Lex. I’m going to find whoever did this, okay?” He whispers, placing a kiss to her cheek.
Joshua has a signature scent, a smell of fresh laundry mix with mild citrus. Lexie can easily identify it from a mile away. She opens heavy eyes, looking up to meet Josh’s caring ones. He stares at her silently as her pedestal fan hums in the background, filling the stillness. She squints away the blinding glow of her ceiling lights as Josh pries wet hair from her face.
“I’m sorry, okay?”
Her senses kick in, and she roughly pushes at his chest. “Don’t touch me, Joshua.” He shuts his eyes as she wriggles out of his hold, standing to her feet as she wipes her eyes. He gets up behind her, gently grasping her arm.
“Just please, leave me alone!” She whirls around furiously, her eyes gathering fresh moisture as she glares at him. “Leave me alone, Josh. I am so tired of this.”
Confusion flashes across his face. “Tired of what?”
“All of this...I am tired of you doing these weird things. Things that keep hurting me...” She drops her gaze and Josh tilts his head to the side, his lips setting in a grim line.
“Lex...I am not the one who recorded that audio. I would never do that to you. I don’t know how they got that, but it really wasn’t me.”
“I don’t care.” Her tone is soft and weary as she slumps her shoulders in defeat. “I really don’t care. I am just tired. Just go.”
Joshua’s expression dulls as he stares at her with those pleading eyes.
Those beautiful pleading eyes that she hates so much.
She quickly turns away from him. She can’t look at him right now, he’s swaying her heart and she has had enough.
“Lexie.” A hand suddenly wraps around her stomach as Josh pulls her small body against his toned chest. Lexie’s hands fall to her sides as she sucks a breath in. Oh, God, please don’t hold me like this.
He puts his lips to her neck as his other arm comes around to embrace her. She can feel the flawless outline of his pecs, and his breath wafts her skin as he speaks.
“It wasn’t me...I love you, Lexie. I wouldn’t hurt you like that,” His cool mouth moves against her, causing her to melt. She shuts her eyes as he kisses the area between her cheek and neck, gently nipping into her skin. “You know I wouldn’t hurt you. You know that...”
Her legs are becoming jelly, her heart rate increasing as she swallows hard. He feels so warm against her.
Josh’s serpentine tactics never cease to have their effect on her. But she can’t allow him to have his way this time.
She squirms out of his grip and turns to him, stepping backward. His brows shirr at the loss of contact.
“But when you do things like that, you’re hurting me more than you’ll ever know.”
“Things like what?” He shifts his weight, locking their gazes. “You mean, holding you?”
“Yeah...and kissing me and touching me...” She grips the hem of her skirt. “It hurts when you do things like that.”
She shuts her eyes. She’s saying too much. There is a brief silence before Josh speaks again.
“You don’t like it when I kiss you?” His voice is uncertain and puzzled.
Lexie shakes her head, keeping her eyes on the carpet. “I do. But it’s hard for me.”
Josh’s eyes narrow as he runs a hand through his hair. He is genuinely confused. “Why?” Lexie bites her lip as he watches her, waiting for her response. “Why is it hard for you, Lex?”
“It’s not easy to say...” She breathes out, as she passes him to sit on her bed. “It’s really hard.”
Josh turns to her. “We share everything with each other, you can tell me.” He strides over and flumps next to her, splaying a thigh on her bed while placing his elbow on his knee. “Tell me.”
She sits there in silence, chewing on the inside of her cheek as she stares at the ground. Joshua gets impatient, taking her cheek in his hand and turning her face to him. “Tell me, Lexie.”
Her eyes moisten again as he searches them, causing her to quietly gulp. If she tells him how she feels right now, it’ll probably ruin their friendship. But she is tired of keeping it inside. The feelings are slowly eating away at her heart and it’s enormously painful.
She needs to tell him. Tonight.
“It’s because...” She shuts her eyes. Just say it. “I—”
“You what, Lex?”
“It’s because I like you, Joshua.”
A thick silence falls upon them, the spinning fan filling the void yet again. Lexie opens her eyes to find Josh staring at her with a confused expression. His forehead puckers as his brows pull together thoughtfully.
“I...I like you too,” he says.
He’s not getting it.
“We’re best friends...of course we’ll like each other...” He continues and Lexie shakes her head and looks away from him.
“No, not in that way. That’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean then?”
Is he pretending not to know? Lexie sighs. She hates having to spell it out; it is already hard admitting it as is. “I mean...I love you...more than a friend.”
Josh stills, the news striking him hard as his eyes slightly widen. He blinks rapidly. Oh.
She glances at him, and her heart lurches at the bewildered look on his face. He’s shocked out of his wits. “I know you don’t feel the same...” She adds quickly. “You don’t have to say anything, please don’t say anything.”
“Shit.” He breathes, burying his face in his hands. “Lexie...”
A tear slips down her face because she knows what that sigh meant. She wishes he could stop talking. Please don’t say any more.
“Lex, I do feel something around you too, but...”
She knows what’s coming next.
“But I have a girlfriend, Lex.”
She shuts her eyes. Fuck, that hurts.
“We can’t...we can’t feel this way about each other.” Josh runs a hand over his face, a line forming between his brows “We really can’t. I’m sorry.”
She turns away from him, pulling her knees up to her chest. She wishes she could just throw herself off a cliff. What demon had possessed her to confess her feelings? What did she hope to achieve out of all of this? Josh leaving his girlfriend of three years to be with her? It was all wishful thinking, false hope, and unrealistic expectations.
Her stomach tightens and she can feel the salty waters coming on.
“Can you please go?”
He touches her shoulder. “Lexie...I’m sorry.”
“Just please...leave me alone, Joshua.” Her voice cracks, but she prays she can keep it together until he leaves. She needs him to go. Right now.
“The thing is...I love you, Lex. But Sabrina—”
“Joshua just please go.” She finally breaks, pressing her head against her knees as she cries. “Please. I want to be alone.”
His eyes burn as he watches her back shudders, her sobs muffled by her knees. Josh tries to hug her from behind, but she shrugs his hands off, twisting around to shove him in the chest.
“Just leave! I want to be alone.”
He sighs, and his eyes glisten with tears as he gets up and moves toward the window. He stops and looks back at her weeping figure, then releases a disconsolate breath before he finally leaves.
Lexie lays down and lets the tears flow freely; her wails unyielding inside the four walls of her room.
“Maybe if don’t cry, I won’t feel anymore.” —Demi Lovato.