Breaking Benjamin- I Will Not Bow
"So you and Joshua Wood are just friends?" Max shoots me a raised eyebrow look from his sprawled position on my bed.
"Yes Maximilian we are friends. We have found some common ground. Hung out a couple times. Believe it or not Josh is a really cool guy." I am digging through my dresser drawers for the grey and pink swimsuit I was planning on wearing to The Moon's fourth of July employee party. I can feel Max's eyes burning a hole in the back of my head.
"What?" I say walking towards him to check under my loft for my missing swimwear.
"Well a couple weeks ago you let slip about the kissing and groping incident and I could have swore that by now you would be trading in your friend card for the girlfriend card." I roll my eyes, of course he would think that, because I confessed to him Josh and I's indiscretion in confidence after he caught me watching Grounded instead of waiting tables at work.
"Yes, well, we are better as friends. I mean Josh is right we are super different. Plus we live together, if we got together and broke up that would be even more awkward..."
"Than walking around mooning after him like a love sick puppy? Oh wait that is already happening." Max's head appears next to mine over the edge of the bed.
" You aren't fooling anyone with this friends thing Ray, not me, or Charlie and Sammie. Josh though, he has his head so deep in the fucking sand. You have him fooled, or maybe he is just fooling himself. He stares you almost as much as you do him." Finally finding my swimsuit under the stuff I cleaned out of my gym bag I rise from under the bed.
"Just drop it okay. After everything that happened that night after Josh found out about Mark. I needed a friend and he has been cool. And unlike you my sweet adoring sidekick, he doesn't have a boyfriend that occupies much of his free time." Max gasps and clutches his chest like I have physically stabbed him in the heart. "You know I love you, and Tom, but seriously. When I come home from work and I am hungry or my feet are freaking killing me and I am sick of drunks spilling drinks on me. Josh is there to sit and eat popcorn with, or listen to music. He's like you and Stace used to be, just there for me ya know." I start changing into my swimsuit.
"Well now I just feel like a shit friend. "He mumbles. I throw my shirt at his face.
"I didn't mean it like that and you know it." Swimsuit finally in place I secure my pale pink wrap dress around myself and grab my beach bag from the corner by the door. "Now get your butt in gear before you make us late.
Down in the kitchen Charlie is packing up a cooler with beer and snacks. While Sammie mixes up one of those Gatorade thermoses full of what looks like rum punch.
"Hey guys anything else we need to grab before heading out?" I ask while grabbing my water bottle over Charlie's head in the freezer. Charlie smiles up at me and looks over to Sammie.
"Nope we are ready to head out. Pile in the truck kids." He grunts a little while trying to lift the cooler, and motions for Max to get the other side. We are taking Josh's truck down to the beach, although I haven't seen him all morning. I worked till late last night closing down the bar with Max.
Sammie takes shotgun while Max and I have to snuggle close together to fit in the half backseat. Charlie has the radio blaring some rock music that I have never heard before and all the windows are down. I feel like for the first time since "The Incident" I can finally take a deep breath and relax. Today is going to be so much fun. My co-workers from The Moon and the guys from Grounded no worries just lots of alcohol and fun in the sun. I smile to myself and stick my hand out the window catching the breeze.
"Dude what the hell is taking so long?" I sigh into the phone I dropped Brando off at the liquor store twenty minutes ago, I drove the band's van to go get gas and stopped and got some fireworks at a roadside stand and he is still not ready.
"They are putting the kegs on dolly's for me right now pull the van around to the back and we will be set." I don't think we ordered any kegs. I knew we shouldn't have put the hardest partyer of the six of us in charge of the booze for today. I pull around to the back of the little bottle shop Brando insists is the best in the city and see Brando standing there with a huge smile on his face and three different kegs waiting to be loaded.
"What the hell man? Did you spent all of Lude's money on beer or did you get something for us non pussy's to drink too?"
"I bought a full bar man. I also got a sweet deal on two of these kegs because some asshole ordered them and then never picked them up. It pays to know people." The kid running the dolly to the van rolls his eyes, I am sure he sees more of Brando then he could possibly want.
"Oh we have to pick up Raina and Jess on the way." He mumbles, while shifting the third keg into the back of the van.
"I told Jess yesterday to find a ride or Uber it I am not hauling her ass anywhere anymore." I am starting to realize Jess is not only a bitch but she is very spiteful of Ray. If I am not at her beck and call she does nothing but talk shit about Ray to the guys and Sammie. I for one am sick of her shit. I put up with her shit when I was fucking her but there is no need to bite that bullet anymore.
"Well just because you are on the outs with Jess does not mean I am not obligated to pick up Raina. Since they live together what are you going to do? Pull away when she tries to get in the van?" He gives me a look over the top of the box he is carrying.
"I guess not. Shit we are going to be so fucking late to this thing."
We have unloaded the truck and most of Grounded is here along with a pretty good showing of my co-workers. Max, I and two of the other waitresses, Maggie and Gina have started setting up a volleyball net Lude brought. Charlie, Sammie and Jordan are erecting a "bar" of coolers on the far side of the private beach we have for the day. I feel someone's eyes on me, I look around and see Karl coming my way. Great. I smile and wave trying to cover up the creepy crawly feeling I get when he looks me up and down. Dude I am not a piece of meat! Max notices my hesitation and follows my eyes to Josh's little brother.
"That must be another Wood, that gene pool is like liquefied sexy." Maggie whispers from next to me. I turn to her to answer but Max is already answering for me.
"Yea that is the Uncle Scar..." Max says then starts humming Scar's song from the Lion King.
"He's not that bad." I reply, but I don't sound very convincing. The man himself walks up just has Gina starts to ask me a question.
"Ray," Smarmy smile in place, he gives me a nod.
Max cuts in handing me a glass of the rum punch Sammie made at our house. "You ready to kick some butt in volleyball Ray?"
"Ready as ever!" I smile and wave goodbye to Karl, glad to have avoided a conversation with him in favor of drinking and playing games with my friends.
We are two hours late to my uncle's fourth of July party, with all the liquor we were supposed to deliver still in the back of the van. I have six text messages from Charlie and four from Lude, which considering he still has a flip phone is saying a lot. I can't even look at Brando right now I am so pissed. We drove across town to pick up Raina and Jess, neither of whom were ready. After waiting on them for 45 minutes I threatened to leave them all behind before they walked out the door. Then Jess claimed she "absolutely needed" a new bottle of sun tan lotion. When I told her I had some in my bag she scoffed and said she couldn't use my brand. High maintenance bitch.
Now we are pulling up to the private beach we rent every year for this event. Lude is generous with his employees and the guys from Grounded, giving the night off for the whole bar every 4th and hosting this party for the last three years or so. Even though we are late with the majority of the booze it is still only mid afternoon and the party is in full swing. Charlie has got my truck backed up and there is a stereo playing classic rock in the bed. People in all shades of beachwear are swimming and playing games. My eyes immediately search for Ray. I spot her sitting in a low chair right where the waves can hit her long legs. I get sucked into the sight of her, she has a towel thrown over the back of her chair and she is smiling and laughing at the person sitting next to her... son of a bitch... my brother. Before I lose my cool and kick Karl's ass I walk up to Lude to explain why I am so freaking late getting here.
"I thought maybe you and Brando took my money and hit the town." Lude says while taking a box of bottles from the van and setting it up in the "bar area".
"Yea, sorry it turns out we had to make a few more stops than I had planned for." Jess walks past us still in a huff from the ass chewing I gave her after our half hour stop at the pharmacy so she could get sun lotion. If Raina hadn't gotten out of the car with her I would have left her ass there. "How long has Karl been here?"
"Oh he called me this morning and asked if he could come help set up, so he got here about the same time as Charlie. Why?"
Lude doesn't know half of the trouble I have had with my little brother and that's probably for the best. If he knew his youngest nephew was dealing drugs I think his head might explode. I check on Ray again, she is still talking to Karl but Max is over there keeping an eye on her so I won't worry about it right now.
The sun is finally starting to go down and three quarters of the people here are tanked. I have been working hard avoiding Jess like the plague. I have had a hard time keeping an eye on Ray all day. I know she is drinking but Max and Sammie have been by her side every time I have seen her. I am keeping my distance from her, not really avoiding but more of giving her space. We have built this tentative friendship, I would like more from her but I don't think either of us is ready for that right now. For the last couple weeks we have been spending time together, platonicly, and it's working out fine. I jerk off everyday like six times a day... but I don't want to push her.
I light a bonfire on the beach and everyone gathers around but I have lost track of Ray. I casually walk over to Sammie who is now seated on Charlie's lap, both drunk enough they are getting handsy in front of everyone.
"Sam where's Ray?"
"She went to change into pants in the truck." She slurs a little then gives me a dopey smile. "Why? you going to sneak off with her now that it's dark?? Hmm?"
I chuckle a little at her antics as I turn away and head towards my truck. I can see the dome light is on and the door facing away from the fire is open. I don't tread softly as I approach so I don't scare her. I call out as I round the corner of the bed.
"Ray are you alright over here?"
"She's fine bro but could you come help me out here."
Karl is standing by the door facing away as he holds Ray's hair. She is puking forcefully onto the ground. I can see my little brother's face is pale and he looks like he might start hurling any second now too. You would think with all the drugs he has done and the rat infested hovels he hangs out in a little puke wouldn't phase him.
"Man I didn't know what a light weight she is...Could you come help her so I don't lose my shit." He drops the makeshift pony he has made of her hair into my hand and practically runs back to the bonfire. I gently rub Rays back as she wretches again. She sounds empty but you never know.
"I'm done now you can just go." She croaks. She is standing more upright now but still looks like warmed over death.
"How much did you drink?"
"I had a glass of punch that never really got empty, I guess I didn't notice either Sammie or Karl kept filling it. Ugh I feel horrible." Of course my shit head brother was filling her drink all day. His little plan backfired on him and now he has left her to deal with the repercussions herself.
She has taken a towel and pants out of her bag. I turn away as she takes off her dress. I know she has a suit on underneath but I feel like a creep watching her change. She isn't able to get her pants on, she keeps stopping to dry heave and hold onto the truck door.
"Why don't I take you home?
"No, I don't want you to miss the fireworks because of me. I'll just lay down in the back seat and sleep it off a little. I bet in an hour I will be right as rain." She smiles up at me but her eyes are glazed over and she is pale. I pull a strand of hair out of her face and rest my hand on her cheek. I figure she won't remember this at all in the morning.
"I won't miss anything. I will take you home and we can watch the fireworks together. How does that sound?" She smiles, conceding. My dick twitches a little, dammit even drunk and sick she is the most beautiful girl I have ever met. I can already tell taking her home is a bad idea.
"Why don't you get in the truck and make yourself comfortable I will let Charlie and Max know we are taking the truck home. I walk away from her and back to the bonfire. Going to Charlie first I kneel down beside his chair and whisper to him.
"Ray is sick, too much rum punch. I am bringing her home. Do you need me to come back and get you guys?"
Sammie over hears and jumps right in.
"Oh man I knew Karl was filling her glass too, she was way too far gone. I only gave her two glasses I swear." She looks a little distressed.
"It's okay she just puked up most of it on the side of my truck and Karl bailed." Charlie shakes his head.
"We'll be okay. Sammie's house is closer to here so we will just take cab or walk at the end of the night. Are you alright to drive?"
"Yeah I had planned on driving everyone back to our place tonight so I only had a couple beers with dinner." I look around the bonfire for Max but don't see him. "Have you seen Max I was going to tell him I am taking Ray home." Sammie giggles a little into Charlie's neck. He full on turns to me.
"You didn't see him make his grand exit?" I just shake my head, obviously it was a good one. "His boyfriend showed up and Jess hit on him. Max threw a royal hissy fit slapped her and lead Tom off to the parking lot. I can only assume they went home or are still occupying the backseat of Tom's car over there." I have to laugh and shake my head. Max is the least feminine gay man I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with, if he slapped Jess I am sure she was laying it on thick. Bitch definitely deserved it.
"Alright I have to get Pukey home. Catch you two later."
When I get to the truck Ray has the front seat leaned all the way back and the window wide open.
"Charlie is staying with Sammie tonight and Max and Tom..."
"I caught that they left, I was witness to the bitch slap heard around the world."
"So I guess it's just you and me." She lets out a big sigh. Oh man it's just her and me...alone. Fuck.