#12 Stop expecting more
When I wake up, it takes me a moment to remember where I am. A guy has his arm slung over my body, and I tense up, but then Marcus’ familiar scent hits me and I exhale in relief. It’s just my brother. We fell asleep on opposite ends of the queen-size bed in the cheap motel we ended up at, but I guess we ended up huddled in the middle.
A memory hits me from when we were little. I think I was 10, he was 14, and I was upset because Creed broke my favorite doll. I was going to cy myself to sleep when Marcus, all gangly and awkward in his teenage body, crawled into bed with me and spooned me, stroking my hair until I fell asleep. Dshawn is technically my oldest brother, but I didn’t grow up with him. Marcus has always been the one to take care of me, to babysit me when I was little, to hold me when I cried.
I’m 22 now. We should be past this. I should be an adult.
Yesterday night I sure as fuck didn’t act like an adult. I’ve got a hangover, puffy red eyes and a sore pussy to prove it.
“Morning,” Marcus grunts, sitting up and stretching out, looking down me with groggy eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I say right away, not sure how to make this right.
This is all my fault. I slept with Gracie’s boyfriend. I’m the reason we weren’t welcome to sleep at Rose’s mother’s house anymore, because Gracie didn’t want to be around me. I don’t blame her. I don’t want to be around myself either, but I don’t have a choice.
“Yeah, I’m sorry too,” Marcus bites out, getting out bed and pulling on his clothes. “I shouldn’t have brought you. I don’t know what the fuck happened, Nia, but this is not okay.”
I get out as well, battling my splitting headache all the way to the house, where Marcus picks up Khiêm so we can go back home. I stay in the car, since no one will want to see me. Gracie might actually kill me if she sees my face right now. I wouldn’t even stop her.
“Hey,” Khiêm says when he gets into the backseat with me. My purse is between us, and Khiêm opens it without asking, rummaging through it while Marcus starts driving. He hands me my phone and tells me to enter my code, which I do, not even asking him why. He hands me my witelessearbuds while he scrolls through my phone and types in something. I put them in, and they connect to my phone automatically. Almost immediately, Khiêm’s gravelly voice washes over me through the earbuds. It’s the second instalment in the romance series I was listening to on the way here yesterday. I close my eyes, happy for the distraction.
Khiêm’s hand finds mine and he holds it through the entire drive, all three hours, not letting go once.
The next couple of weeks, I party like my life depends on it. Whenever I’m at home, Mom asks me about Randy, or about work, and neither of those topics are any good right now. Randy’s name makes me feel like I’m going to throw up, and work is so draining when you’re hungover all the time… I call in sick a few times, because I just can’t drag myself out of bed after drinking so much.
I make sure not to go home with anyone, though. I told Holly and Ayaan what happened the night after the concert, and they opened a bottle of tequila and drank with me until we passed out. I’ve been out with them every night since, and they make sure I get home and don’t gone home with any other assholes. I’m done with guys and sex. So. Fucking. Done.
Aimee is too busy for me. I see her at work, but she’s completely wrapped up in her romance with pro hockey athlete Justin, and there is no room in her mind for me right now. I know she’d drop everything if she knew what happened, but I don’t want her too. She doesn’t ask, so I don’t tell her. I’ve got Holly and Ayaan to keep me company while I try to forget about what a horrible slut I am.
Marcus asked me point blank what happened once he’d calmed down enough to sit down with me over dinner. It was two days after I slept with Sebastian, and I told Marcus the truth.
“It was all my fault.”
I got drunk, forgot all about Gracie, and let him fuck me. Totally my own fault.
Of course, Marcus is disappointed, and we don’t hang out much anymore. He used to be both a friend and my brother, but now he’s just my brother, and that sucks.
I’m so tired all the time, but I drag my slutty ass out to the club anyway when Holly and Ayaan show up at my parents’ house with a bottle of my favorite wine to drink in the cab. I’m buzzed by the time we get to The Palace, and Dshawn isn’t too happy about that, but he lets me in anyway, because he knows we’ll end up at another club if he tells me to leave, and he prefers to keep an eye on me.
The club is packed, and I spot a few people I know as I’m doing shots with Holly.
Fuck. Jagger is here.
They’re dancing together, and it’s obvious they’re together now. I had no idea they actually got together, and it stings more than I thought it would. Next to them are Tommy and Yoah, also looking like a happy couple. Khiêm is there too, dancing with a girl I’ve never seen before, who is laughing at something he is saying into her ear. Marcus is kissing Bee in a corner, and… ah fuck.
Lucky for me, Aimee shows up, throwing her arms around me. “Hey bitch,” she yells into my ear, grinning. “Looking hot.”
“You too,” I reply, looking her over and realizing she’s dressed even sluttier than I am, and she’s drunk. Maybe even drunker than me, and I’m pretty far gone already. “What’s wrong?”
“Justin cheated on me,” she says cheerfully, a fake smile plastered on her face. “So I’m here to find someone new to fuck him out of my system.”
“Told you monogamy is for suckers!” Ayaan yells, handing both of us another shot. “Drink up, sluts!”
All four of us down our shots, and I stick with Aimee as she pulls me onto the dancefloor, where we grind against some guy I’ve never met before and who doesn’t do anything for me. At least I’m getting free drinks, right?
When I see Gracie again, I can’t help it, I follow her off the dancefloor to the next floor where the bathrooms are. She turns around when she hears my heels clicking behind her where the music is less loud.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she spits in my face, her blue eyes glaring at me.
“I’m sorry,” I say, needing to get the words out. “I never should have done… what I did. I was drunk, but that’s no excuse. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t care that you’re sorry,” Gracie bites out, turning away from me. “Fuck off, Nia.”
I do as I’m told, returning to the dancefloor. I figured she wouldn’t give a shit, but I still had to try.
Somehow, I end up in the karaoke room, where Khiêm is going on stage with Gracie, Rose and some other girl to sing Sex on the beach. I can’t help but laugh, and I look to the side to smile at Aimee, but she’s got her tongue down someone’s throat, so I sigh and turn my attention back to the stage where Khiêm is getting ready, testing the microphone. I have no idea where Holly and Ayaan are. Probably in someone’s bed already.
When Jagger sees me standing alone, he motions me over with a smile. He doesn’t look mad at me, luckily. I can’t believe how sweet he is after everything that happened.
I squeeze his arm when I get to him. “Sorry about everything at the concert.”
“Shit happens,” he replies with a shrug, like it’s no big deal.
“I appreciate you looking out for me that night,” I add. “You’re a good guy.”
He doesn’t reply, and he doesn’t have to, since Sex on the beach blasts through the room. Rose, Gracie, the girl I don’t know and Khiêm are awful singers. Truly horrific. Especially Rose. Khiêm makes my ears bleed as well, but he looks like he’s having a lot of fun. They all do.
“Oh God.” I nudge Jagger, laughing. “They suck ass.”
“Yeah, they do,” he says. “You gonna…?
I can’t hear the end of his question because of the loud music, so I move closer, but I stumble in my heels and crash into him. He holds me up, and I giggle as I try to find my footing. I must be drunker than I thought. “Sorry.” I try to push myself off him, but I misjudged the distance and end up sort of patting his chest in an awkward way that makes me giggle even harder.
Jagger moves away from me, and right on cue the song ends and Rose runs over, throwing her arms around her boyfriend. Once again, I’m reminded that he’s not mine and he’ll never be.
A few people we don’t know get up on stage, and then Jagger’s name appears, and he gets up there with a guitar, singing a beautiful heartfelt song to Rose. Halfway through, Ayaan shows up at my side, putting her arm around me as we watch Jagger perform.
“Is that the guy you want?” she asks, eyeing him speculatively.
“Yeah, but he’s taken.”
Ayaan laughs and looks to the side at Rose, who has tears in her eyes from being serenaded by Jagger. “That bitch? You know she’s been talking shit about you all night, right? Told everyone you’re riddled with STDs, and that just looking at you is enough to catch something.”
I grunt. To be fair, I could easily have had an STD after Sebastian, since we didn’t use a condom. I got tested, and thank God I was negative, but that was sheer luck. Stings to know people talk about me like that, though. Especially Jagger’s girlfriend.
“I wanna sing!” Aimee says to me and Ayaan, her new boytoy behind her with his arms around her waist. “Who’s with me?”
“Nia is,” Ayaan says, pushing me forward. “Something sexy.” She winks. “Jagger won’t know what hit him. Trust me, nothing lasts forever. You could totally take that bitch he’s with.”
I let Aimee pull me onto the stage, and I laugh when I realize it’s Don’t cha by The Pussycat Dolls. We did this song in high school once, for a talent show, and a teacher turned the music off halfway through and closed the curtains on us because we were dancing inappropriately. Tonight, I don’t think anyone will object to us touching ourselves on stage while singing a suggestive song.
Of course, I’m right. There is something about being watched by so many horny guys that makes me feel powerful. Wanted. Beautiful.
Ayaan catches my eye and points at Jagger, and I comply, focusing on him as I continue the song. “In the back of your mind I know, you should be on with me. Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?”
Of course, Rose looks at me like she wants to murder me, and Jagger tries to keep her calm. It’s not until I get off stage that I realize Marcus saw that whole performance as well, and he pulls me aside.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he asks angrily.
“Singing,” I reply, crossing my arms over my chest.
“You’re better than this, Nia,” he says, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“I’m not,” I bite out. Why does my family expect so fucking much of me? Go to college, find a better job, get a proper boyfriend, stop sleeping around, don’t drink so much, be more like your brothers, don’t dress so slutty, get an education, don’t sleep in until noon, get your head out of your ass… I’m done. Maybe this is who I am. Lately, it sure as hell feels like it, and it’s easier to be like Holly and Ayaan than it is to be the girl my family wants me to be.
I tried to be what Mom wants me to be. What Marcus wants me to be. I tried, with Randy. Which ended with me naked in bed while two guys proposed to go to town on me together, not really caring about anything other than the fact that I have three holes that a penis can fit into.
I’m done trying.
When I turn away, Marcus grabs my wrists, but I jerk away and stomp off – which is hard to do in high heels while you’re drunk, let me tell you that. Aimee and her guy follow me downstairs, where all three of us head straight to the bar for more shots, and then to the dancefloor to blow off some steam.
After a while, I spot Jagger again. Alone.
Well, not alone, he’s with Khiêm and some girl I don’t know, but Rose isn’t anywhere to be seen. Neither is Gracie. I walk straight over.
One last time. I will try one more time, and then I’ll give up. It’s not like I have anything left to lose at this point. Everyone already thinks of me as a nasty slut. Might as well play the part.
“Nia, just go home,” Jagger says, and my drunken mind scrambles the words.
He wants to go home with me?
I grab his hand. “Sure, let’s go.”
“I’m taken,” he says, pushing me off.
Is he playing hard to get?
“Forget Rose,” I purr into his ear, moving my hand over his cock to see if he’ll get hard for me again like he did at the concert. “I will rock your world.”
Just like that night with Sebastian, I’m yanked away by my hair. I cry out in pain, and I pull back my leg to kick whoever is behind me. When she lets me go, I turn around and realize it’s Rose. Before I can decide whether to fight her or not, someone else slams into me from the side.
I grab a handful of her hair as she tries to bite me, and Rose jumps on my back. Nails sink into skin, teeth as well, hair gets pulls – nothing is off limits. I throw myself into the fight like an animal, fueled by alcohol as much as adrenaline, and I yank Gracie’s hair so hard she cries out, and she kicks me straight in the pussy, causing me to double over.
Fuck, that hurts.
“She’s not worth it,” I hear Jagger tell Rose as he pulls her away from the fight, and I know he’s talking about me.
And he’s right.
I’m not worth it.
Still, I keep fighting, unable to stop, even as Marcus restrains me and a bouncer shows up. I cry out and try to get away from him, but his grip is firm. Him, Khiêm and some other guy manage to shove me in a car, and once again, I’m driven away from a mess I caused myself. This time, Aimee is with me, but she’s too drunk to do anything but lean against the guy whose name I can’t remember, in his lap because the car is too small for all of us.
This time, Khiêm doesn’t hold my hand. Marcus won’t even look at me. Beatrice has squirmed into the car as well, and she pats my peg awkwardly as I start to cry, but no one truly comforts me.
I don’t blame them. I’m awful. I deserve whatever I get.
Maybe now everyone will get that they need to stop expecting better things from me.