Her body shut down after the long shower, and I walk into the bedroom to find Nicole sound asleep. I know she told me it’s not my fault; she said it times and times again, but even now, as I spot her frowning and grasping the blanket, I can’t help the guilt in me.
My desire and stupidity, my reckless ways came back to haunt me by causing pain to the one I love. Ironic that my past is hunting my future when I never thought I would have one.
Nicole is the strongest woman I’ve met; she doesn’t let anything beat her down, and I know she is pissed; she didn’t react as she wanted when they met. Who can blame her? I don’t think anyone would be able to do anything being caught by surprise like that.
Sarah needs to be stopped; I just wish Justin’s plan works out.
My feet drag across the floor, listening to wood crack beneath them. I will let a few days pass; Nicole needs to heal, and when we both think we are ready, we will give Sarah a bait. Going out in public, Nicole and I will stay alone at the park. Sarah will probably follow us; Justin also said she isn’t crazy enough to do that right now. She was seen, and it’s too risky. So, the crazy woman will stay in the shadows for a while until things cool off.
That’s when we will get her.
I open the fridge door, searching for the bottle I desperately want, only to find it empty. Right, we were supposed to have gone grocery shopping. There’s nothing to eat or alcohol in this house, and right now, I could use one of those two.
Glancing at the bedroom at the end of the hall, I pick up my jacket and keys before walking out of the apartment. It will be quick; I’m only going to the small bar at the street corner, didn’t even bother to change from my sweat pants and a white t-shirt. I did this a lot before meeting the one that now shares my bed every night.
“Please be on alert,” I say to the security when reaching the front door of the building.
The man nods as I step outside. The wind lifts my jacket and makes me regret not wearing more layers. With eager feet, I walk towards the bar and step inside to find it emptier than I would expect to. A couple of people are gathered at tables, the ones in the distance, and I look around before deciding to take a seat at the counter.
The guy behind it stares at me as if we know each other, I haven’t been here for a few months, and I don’t recognize his face. But he seems to know who I am.
“Good night,” he chirps in a slightly pitch tone. “What can I get you?”
“Whisky, scotch, no ice,” I say, pointing behind him, and the man with plump lips nods, smiling.
He hands me the drink, smiling, and as I lift it to my lips, I notice he is still in front of me. It’s not that there is a lot of movement at the bar, but the way he stares at me with an amused gaze makes me a little nervous.
“Is there something wrong?” I ask, unsure, staring at him and drinking the liquid from the cup.
“No, nothing,” he says, still smiling. “I- well, I’m a big fan of your work.”
I freeze with the glass midway to my mouth.
“Also, your girlfriend’s.”
Fuck he used to watch us. I try not to freak out, not to let fear take over me by him mentioning Nicole, but it’s taking every fiber in my body not to say anything in the wrong tone.
“Which user are you?”
Please let him be one of the cool ones; please let it not be one of those I wanted to punch.
“Bestlipsyoullevertaste,” he admits cleaning the bar next to me. “You guys had a good chemistry on camera, too bad that neither of you has done any lives lately.”
“Yeah,” is my reply to the man who seems to be waiting for more.
He doesn’t seem to be able to step away, trying to find any topic he can to make me talk, and it’s making me uneasy. I came here to let the worries out of my head by washing them away with alcohol. Not the best plan, but it’s what I needed. The fact that some guy who watches my girlfriend and me in his lonely nights is trying to make conversation, not giving a shit if I almost don’t reply, is making me uncomfortable.
From what I remember from his user name, he was a bit hardcore with Nicole initially, so that probably isn’t helping the situation as well.
“Is everything ok? I got the feeling by the last video that you two were a couple; I didn’t want to assume but-”
“Oh no, we are a couple,” I let out, stopping him from having ideas. “Is just that the video, well that wasn’t supposed to go online.”
He nods, pouring more whisky into my cup and nodding to another customer before turning his attention to me.
“Don’t let that bring the two of you down. Those things tend to fade away, not disappear,” he says, shaking one finger, “but they do fade away. One day that won’t be the first thing someone thinks when they talk about you.”
One day. It’s not like I’m concerned about the video right now. I’m concerned about the person who put the video on the channel. I’m concerned that Sarah will try to kill Nicole again. I knew she was impulsive, desperate, and weird. Two of those characteristics were something all the women I had sex with back then had in common.
It was easier.
I never knew she was this crazy. Obsessed to the point of trying to kill Nicole. She explained to me once what goes in Sarah’s mind. How she can only focus on her pain, but I don’t care. I don’t get it fully.
My mom told me always to respect women, and I did even when I had meaningless sex with them; I never treated them as a sex toy, never degrading them. They all knew what that was, and they all agree with it. But this is testing me because right now, I don’t care if Sarah is a woman or not.
I want her out of my life, and if I have to drag her out, I will.
The weird barman glances at me again, and before he says anything else, I take my phone out to avoid conversation. I should text Nicole, it’s been a while since I left the house, and if she wakes up, she will get worried.
But before I do that, something catches my attention.
The app for my channel is still on my phone, and I open it to find a very high number of notifications I won’t ever be able to read. So, I scroll to the settings and read what I came here to do.
When it asks if I’m sure, I reply yes and smile proudly at the screen that reads ‘account closed.’
Now she can’t even see me through this. It was a part of my life, it’s what made me meet the woman I love, but I don’t want that anymore. I don’t need it. Nicole and I haven’t even done lives for weeks now, and I know she has been wandering into doing the same.
The idea is tempting.
Before, it would seem like giving up, letting Sarah win for everything she did to us. But right now is just a part of our lives; we need to let go and look ahead. To the bigger picture. One where the two of us exist. I just wish that time comes sooner than later because I need to put this nightmare behind us.
I need to let go of the guilt that seems to linger on me for letting myself be dumb and succumb to a primal pleasure, not caring about the side effects.
The cup starts to get empty, and I swallow the last drop in a rush placing the bill on the counter. The barman nods at me, and I know his eyes follow as I throw my jacket around my shoulders and walk out of the bar. The night breeze swallows me whole, sending shivers down my spine as I start to make my way back to the apartment.
My hope is that Nicole is still asleep so I can crawl next to her in bed and rest after this tiring day. My hope is what makes me rush, and it’s also the reason why it takes me a couple of minutes to realize the footsteps that echo in the dark street behind me.
When I stop, ready to turn around, a small hit on the back of my head makes me wince in pain, and I drop on my knees. It’s then that I’m faced with the set of eyes I tried to forget, the dark pits of soul that seem to be out of hell.