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You, Me, and Him (working Title)
Author's note: This book isn't fully done, but I love it so far. Let me know if you do!!
His eyes. I couldn't get them out of my head. They were blue, green, and gray all at the same time. They were so new to me, yet, so familiar. Where had I seen them before? Where?! I had to find out where. That's enough, Anna. You have to focus, Anna. You need to hear what Mrs. Morgan is saying.
Too late. She caught me. I sighed. "Yes?"
"Do you mind telling us why Chinese culture is so close to Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese?" My thin teacher crossed her arms, positive I didn't know the answer. Well, she was right.
"Um.." I said, stalling as I pushed my night-black hair out of my dark blue eyes. "They are close because...um..."
"They are close because the Chinese invaded these areas, so it's only natural that Chinese culture can be found there." another voice answered.
I turned to see who just saved me from humiliation and my teacher's wrath. It was the angelic boy with the angelic eyes.
"Thank you, Mr. Anderson, but I don't believe that I asked you. Miss Brown, get your head out of the clouds and pay attention."
I looked down like I was embarrassed, but I was smiling. The boy, whose last name I now know is Anderson, looked at me and winked.
"Thank you!" I mouthed to him.
"Anytime." he mouthed back and smiled, a smile full of white, shiny teeth that seemed to glow against his tan. He was good-looking... Stop it, Anna. He'll only break your heart. Just like Derek did... Okay, Anna. You HAVE to stop torturing yourself like this! I put my fingers to my face. They were wet and black when I looked at them, the tears stained with my eyeliner. Sh**. I started crying in the middle of history. I saw the boy staring at me with concern until the bell rang. When it did, I grabbed my stuff quickly, flung my backpack over my shoulder, and all but ran out the door. I would not let this guy talk to me. I would NOT. I did not look around until I got to my locker. I sighed with relief when I did. I lost him and I could relax now. I started putting my stuff in my locker.
"Hey there." said a male voice behind me.
I Jumped about five feet into the air. Scare the he** out of me, why don't you?
"I'm sorry. I didn't MEAN to scare the he** out of you." says the same person, and I realized that he wasn't going to go away, so I turned around. It was the angel boy.
"Oh. Hi." I said. "Do you always follow girls to their lockers?"
"Nah, just the pretty ones." he smiled, and I couldn't help but laugh at the cheesy compliment.
"I feel so special." I said sarcastically.
"You should. I'm Jack, by the way. Jack Anderson."
"I'm Vivianna Brown, but you can call me Anna."
"Vivianna." he repeated. "That's a very pretty name."
"Thank you, but it's just Anna. Nobody calls me Vivianna but my dad."
Jack laughed. "All right, Anna. I couldn't help but notice..."
I knew where this was going. He was going to ask about the tears. I'll just give him the same lie I give to everyone.
"You thought I was crying in history, right?"
I laughed. "No, I just yawned. I didn't even realize my eyes watered until I touched my face. Thanks for...caring, though." I smiled.
He didn't seem to believe me. "Oh...all right. I'll see you around?" Jack sounded hopeful.
"Probably." I smiled. "See you!"
I shut my locker and happily walked away.
I shut my locker and walked away, looking for my best friend, Noah Daniels. I've known him my whole life. he has curly brown hair and deep chocolate brown eyes you could drown in. He wasn't tan and his teeth weren't as white as Jack's, but he's the best friend anybody could ask for. He's always there for me, from the little things, like taking me to CVS for a Tampax run when my car is in the shop, to the big things, like when my mom died. He is the only person I ever let see me cry over Derek. I walked up to his '78 black Mustang, his baby.
"Hey." I said as i threw my stuff in the back.
"Hi." Noah was sitting on the hood. "Where have you been? You're usually here as soon as the bell rings. Did Derek do something?" he started to sound mad toward the end.
"No, he didn't do anything. I was just talking to a friend, that's all."
"Why do you wanna know?"
"Guy or girl?"
"Okay, you're starting to sound like my dad!"
"That's good. I like Kyle. He's a good guy. Now answer my question."
"A guy. Jack Anderson."
"The new kid?"
"Yeah. Why? Is something wrong with him?"
Noah thought about it for a long time. "No." he finally said. "He seems like a decent guy."
I smiled. "I thought so too. Don't get so jealous, kid, or I might start to think you wanna be more than friends."
Noah laughed but said nothing for a while. When he finally did talk, he told me to get in the car, and I did. I love his car. It was just like Noah, warm and cozy, and it smelled like him too. Like Abercrombie cologne and mint gum. Even the music was like him, soft and quiet. They only thing that wasn't like him was what he named it. Camille, my mother's name and my middle name.
"Anna? Are you okay?" Noah's voice broke my thoughts.
"Hm? Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking." I put a big smile on my face.
He laughed. "You don't have to lie to me, Anna."
"But I was thinking."
"I wasn't talking about that. I can tell when your smile is fake. It doesn't reach your eyes. What were you thinking about? Derek? Your dad?"
He fell silent, probably because he didn't know what to say. He ran out of things to say five years ago, when it happened. He could only say the same thing so many times, and I could hear the same thing only so many times.
"Wanna stay at my house for a while?" I asked him.
"I can't. Jason's got guitar lessons, and since Mom and Dad are at work, I gotta drive him."
"What about Brad or Rob?"
"They're away at school, remember?"
Noah has three brothers, Rob and Brad, who and older, and Jason, the youngest. Rob (Robert) is the oldest and the kindest, nicest, most patient person I have ever met. He never gets mad, not even with Jason. Jason is hilarious. He can make anyone smile and the type of person that can light up a room by walking in it. Brad is a tough guy. He looks like a MMA fighter, and could be one too. There isn't a part of his body that isn't ripped with muscle. It's not surprising that every girl he meets is attracted to him. Even I was attracted to him at one point.
"Bye Anna. See you later." Noah told me as he pulled out of the driveway.
I unlocked the door and and walked inside my house. Just me and my thoughts. Lovely. Before I could think too hard, I ran upstairs and took a shower. After, I threw on some sweats and turned on the TV. i couldn't really focus on it, though. I kept thinking about Jack. i barely knew him, yet something felt so...right about him. I can't explain it. it's like...I've known him forever. Like he gets me, and understands me. Like Noah does. No wait, not Noah. I don't know why he came up. I heard the doorbell ring, so I got up and answered it.
There was Derek, standing in the doorway.
Derek was standing in the doorway, his hands in his jeans pockets. His blond hair was styled to perfection, and his light blue eyes held my darker blue ones.
"Hi Anna." he said, his voice just as sexy as I remember it. "Can we talk?"
Okay, Anna, you have to focus. You need to remember what he did to you. You can't get sucked back in.
"Anna?" Derek asked, his voice full of concern. "Are you all right? You look like you're going to be sick, babe. Let me come in."
"No." I say when I find my voice. "Go away, Derek. I never want to see you again."
"Why not? I just want to talk. I made a mistake, and I was stupid. Please, babe, give me another chance. I want you back. I miss you. I miss us. I miss what we did together..." he was looking into my eyes as if he were staring into my soul. "Don't you?"
I hesitated. I did miss him. I miss how he would play with my long, dark hair was we would lay in a field behind the school together. I miss how we would sit in the back of his truck all night and do nothing but talk. I miss how he held me... I opened my mouth to tell him to come in, but before I could, I saw my dad's Chevy pull up. He saw Derek, got out of the car really, really fast, and strutted up to the porch, where Derek and I were standing.
"You son of a b****! Get off of my property now!" he yelled.
"Dad, nothing-" I started.
"Vivianna Camille Brown, get in the house."
I have never heard my dad sound more angry, so I did as I was told and watched from the window. My dad grabbed Derek's collar and shoved him against the side of the house.
"I TOLD you to NEVER come here again"
"I know, sir, but-"
"THERE ARE NO BUTS. You hurt my daughter. Do you UNDERSTAND how much you hurt her?!"
"I do, sir. I came to apologize. I miss her, sir."
"Like h*** you do! Get off my porch, and if I EVER see you near my house or daughter again, not only will I call the police so they can drag your sorry a** off to jail, I will make sure it will be the LAST thing you ever do." My dad's voice was as threatening and deadly as ever, his brown eyes were burning holes into Derek, and he was breathing heavy. I honestly think he's going to punch him.
Instead, he shoved Derek off the porch. Derek bolted to his truck, started it, and sped off. As soon as he did, my dad came inside and pulled me into his arms.
"Are you all right, baby? Did he hurt you?" his voice was now as soft as a baby's skin, and he was stroking my hair.
"I'm fine, Dad. He didn't touch me." I pushed him off and crossed my arms. This is stupid. I'm fine.
"Why did you open the door?"
"I thought it was someone else. Just drop it, all right? I'm fine, and he's gone now."
He sighed. "All right. Where's Noah? He's usually here."
"He had to take Jason to guitar lessons."
"Really? I thought Noah played guitar. Why doesn't he teach Jason?"
"I don't know. He stopped playing."
"I have no idea."
I really don't. Noah and his guitar were made for each other. I still have the CD he made me three years ago, and I listen to it every day. He had a beautiful voice too, and he could have gone as far as he wanted. Then, one day about a year and a half ago, he just put down the guitar and stopped playing. I didn't get it, but I never asked him about it.
"Are you hungry, Dad?"
"I'm always hungry, Vivianna." My dad laughed.
I winced. I hated being called by my full name, and he knew it. My dad laughed again.
"What's for dinner?"
"Let's see..." I opened the fridge. "We have leftovers or..." I opened the pantry. "I can make mac-n-cheese. We need to go shopping, badly. I'll go after school tomorrow."
"No, I'll go after work."
"No, really, Dad. I got it. So, leftovers or mac-n-cheese?"
"Can we have both?"
I laughed. "Sure, Dad."
I made our dinner, a task I have done for four years, since I was 13. My dad tried to cook for about a year after my mom died, but there was one problem. He's the worse cook ever. I love him and all, but he cannot cook to save his life. So, I took over.
When our dinner was done and after I did the dishes, I heard the front door open and shut.
"Hey, Noah." my dad says from the couch.
"Hey, Mr. Brown."
"We've been over this, Noah. It's Kyle. Don't make me feel any older than I already am."
Noah laughed. "Right, Kyle. Where's Anna?"
"In the kitchen."
He walked in and sat on the counter. "Hey."
"Hey. Are you hungry?"
"No, we just ate. So, were you okay by yourself?"
I was offended by this question. How old did he think I was?
"Yes!" I told him. "I CAN take care of myself."
Noah crossed his muscular arms. "Really, Anna?"
I crossed my much less muscular ones. "Yes. I really was okay."
"Is that why you almost let Derek into your house?"
"I...I didn't know he was coming!"
"That doesn't matter! What matters is you almost let him into your house while you were ALONE! Do you have any idea how STUPID that was?! He could have hurt you! Do you realize that?! He could have HURT you!"
"Calm down, Noah! I'm fine!"
"That's because your dad got in here in time! You were going to LET HIM IN! He KNEW you would fall for his act again! I'll kill him. I'll KILL him!"
"Noah Anthony Daniels! Will you LOOK at me?! I'm fine, see? I'm fine!"
Noah wasn't listening to me. He stormed out of my house, got in his Mustang, and drove away fast. I grabbed my keys quickly and started out the door.
"I'll be right back, Dad!" I called.
I was terrified of what Noah was going to do. He could easily kill Derek, and right now he was mad and not thinking straight. I jumped in my '89 Chevy and drove way fast. I drove all around, until I finally found Noah's car...
It was in front of Derek's house.
I parked in the street and ran over to them. Noah on on top of Derek, punching and kicking him nonstop.
"Don't you EVER go anywhere NEAR her again, you son of a b****! I'll kill you!" he was yelling.
"I'm sorry, man! I'm sorry!"
"SORRY ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH!"
I ran up being them, "Noah, STOP!" I screamed.
He either didn't hear me or wasn't listening. I decided to get closer, but I got too close. As Noah's arm went back for another punch, his elbow his the bone below my eye, and it was hard. I screamed and doubled over, and Noah finally noticed I was there.
"Anna?" he asked, his voice a lot softer now. "Oh, God, what did I do to you?"
I brought my hands down from my face and tried to smile. "It's not a big deal. I got too close. I was trying to stop you."
Noah got off of Derek. He touched the place his elbow hit me lightly. "It's started to bruise." he said quietly. "I'm so sorry."
"It's fine. It will go away. It was my fault."
"Don't you dare say that! You are not making excuses for me."
"Yes, you are! You're saying that it's your fault that I hit you."
Well, it is. It's not an excuse."
"I'm taking you to the hospital. Let's see you bad I..." he took a deep breath. "Let's see how hard I hit your face..."
I looked over to Derek. His nose was bleeding, he had two black eyes, and his whole face was puffed up like a balloon.
"I think Derek needs more help than I do..." I whispered.
Noah looked back at Derek. "I'm NOT sorry about that." he told him. "You deserve that for all the s*** you put her through. But YOU," he turned to me. "You don't deserve that. I messed up your face..."
I laughed, ignoring the sharp pain that came to my eye when I did. "It's just a bruise, Noah. It will go away."
"That's exactly what you said when HE," he glared at Derek. "gave you a black eye. I swore to myself that I would never hurt anyone like that. Now I did..."
"It was an accident."
"Your dad is going to kill me."
"No, he'll probably throw you a party for beating the s*** out of Derek."
"Then he'll see your face and kill me."
"Nah, you know he loves you too much."
"Um..." Derek said. "Hello? A little help here please?"
I pulled out my phone, ready to call an ambulance. Then, I realized something. Derek would tell them it was Noah, and Noah would be sent to jail. I was not going to let that happen.
"Wait." I told him. "Promise me something first."
"Noah didn't do this to you. You're making up some story about how you got jumped, or that you fell down the stairs, I don't care. But you aren't blaming Noah."
"What?" Derek said, obviously thrown off. "No way in h***!"
"Anna-" Noah started.
I cut them both off. "Listen Derek, the only reason you aren't in jail right now is because I refused to press charges. You owe me. So, if you do tell anyone about this, I will throw your a** in jail so fast you won't be able to say 'I didn't do anything!'" I put my face dangerously close to his. "Got that?"
"Good. Now get in my car. I'll drive you there while you put a story together."
"Anna, I don't think..." Noah said.
"I don't care what you think about it. Now go, before someone sees you."
Noah was surprised, I could tell, but did as he was told. He got in his car and drove away. Derek got into mine, and I drove him to the hospital. He got when once we were there and I drove home without saying a word.
The next day at school, I could feel everyone staring at my eye, but no one had the nerve to say anything, until Jack came up to me at lunch.
“Anna?” I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was him. “Could I talk to you for a minute?”
“Yeah, sure.” I smiled and stood up. “Be right back, guys.” I told my friends, and then followed him out to the quad. Jack kept staring at the bruise.
“Does it hurt?” he finally asked.
“Not really. Only when I smile.”
“Such a shame. Your smile is beautiful.”
I laughed. “Thanks. You give out a lot of corny compliments, you know that, right?”
He laughed. “Yeah, I know. So, how did it happen?”
“I fell and hit it on a counter. I’m such a klutz. Always have been.”
“Really? I heard…”
“Whatever you heard, I can tell you it isn’t true.”
“So that Noah kid didn’t hit you?”
So Derek had been telling people. God, he was going to get it. “No! He’s the sweetest person I have ever met.”
“I’m sorry. So, I need to ask you something.”
“I was wondering…if you wanted to, uh…go out? Tonight? With me?” He sounded hopeful, but very nervous. It was so cute.
“I…I would love to.” I smiled.
“Awesome!” he smiled back. “I’ll pick you up around seven?”
“Sounds great. Here’s my address.” I took his phone and punched it in there, along with my number.
“Great. I’ll see you later then?”
“I’ll see you later then.” I smiled and walked back to my other friends, Rosada and Becca. We’ve been friends since before I could remember, just as long as Noah and I have been friends. They’re my lifelines, and I have no idea what I would do without them.
“What did he say?!” Rosada said excitedly, her red hair pulled into a ponytail and her green eyes shining with excitement and anticipation.
“Jack, um…Jack asked me out.”
“He DID?! See, I TOLD you that he liked you!”
“Don’t get too excited.” I laughed. “It’s not like we’re getting married.”
“Not yet! But, when you do, I’ll get to say ‘I knew this day was coming before they even said a word to each other!’”
“I don’t know…” Becca said slowly, pushing her blond hair out of her face so that we could see her brown eyes. “I still say you’re going to end up with Noah, Anna.”
“Noah?” I asked. “We’ve been through this, Becca. Noah and I are just friends.”
“You keep saying that, but do you see the way he looks at you? The sun rises and sets with you, as far as he’s concerned. He’s madly in love with you, Anna. You just won’t admit it to yourself.”
I thought about what my friend said. Noah couldn’t be in love with me. We’ve always been friends.
He used to make me cry by pulling my Barbie’s heads off, and I used to make him mad by hiding his Hot Wheels from him. We fight like an old married couple. It made no sense. No sense at all.
“Before you say it doesn’t make sense, really think about it. Do you know why marriages and relationships work? They all say ‘I’m in love with my best friend.’ You guys fight like a married couple, protect each other like brother and sister, and flirt with each other like first loves. Face it, you’re meant for each other.”
“Oh shut up!” Rosada interrupted. “You read too many Facebook quotes, Becca.”
“But it’s true! Do you not watch them with each other?”
“Guys!” I yelled. “Stop! I think it’s up to me who I end up with, don’t you?”
That shut them up.
“Can’t I dress you, at least?” Rosada asked.
I laughed. “No.”
“Because I need to wear clothes, not a Victoria’s Secret bra and matching thong.”
Becca and Rosada laughed. “I’ll put clothes on you!” Rosada protested.
“Short skirts and deep V-necks don’t count.”
Rosada pouted. “Fine. But, I’m coming over to help you get ready.”
“Me too!” Becca chimed in. “We’ll all go in my car after school.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I smiled as the bell rang.
We all went on with out days. Jack and I smiled at each other occasionally, but we didn’t talk.
“Hey.” Jack popped up at my locker again.
“Hi.” I smiled.
“I can’t wait until tonight.”
He smiled. “What do you want to do?”
“I could show you around our charming little town.”
I laughed. “I’m warning you now, it’s not that fascinating.”
“I bet you could make it interesting.”
“I’ll try my best.”
He smiled again, and I noticed Becca and Rosada waiting for me.
“I should go. My friends are waiting for me.” I told him.
“All right. I’ll you later.”
“Yeah, See you later!” I smiled and walked to them.
“That is one good-looking boy.” Rosada said. “If you weren’t going out with him, Anna, I’d go after him.”
I blushed. “We aren’t going out!”
She laughed. “Yeah, sure. Whatever you say.”
We walked out to the parking lot. As we were walking towards Becca’s car, I saw Noah waiting for me. Shit. I completely forgot to tell him I didn’t need a ride.
“Be right back, guys.” I said and walked over to Noah.
“Hey.” He smiled.
“Hi. I don’t need a ride today. Sorry, I totally forgot to tell you. Rosada and I are going in Becca’s car to my house.”
I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the real reason. I didn’t know why. “We’re having a girl’s night in. We’re watching chick flicks, pigging out, pillow fights, makeovers, the whole 9 yards.” I told him.
“Oh. Well, have fun.” Noah smiled again.
“I will.” I smiled back. “We’re still hanging out tomorrow, right?”
“Of course. See you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow!” I called on my way back to Becca’s Buick.
We climbed in and drove to my house. My friends ushered me upstairs and threw a robe at me.
“Take your clothes off and put this on.” Becca commanded. “Then sit back, relax, and let us do the rest.”
I laughed and did as I was told. Rosada then sat my down at my vanity and started on painting my nails. Becca picked out my clothes (a flowered short-sleeved shirt with a black pencil skirt and pink ballet flats) while Rosada curled my hair. They did my make-up together. When they were finally done, I saw myself in the full-length mirror.
“Wow.” I said as a twirled. “You did an awesome job! Thank you so much!” I smiled at them.
“Anytime.” Rosada smiled. “Jack will barely be able to resist the temptation to kiss you…and rip your clothes off.” She laughed.
Becca laughed too. “It’s no big deal. You and Rosada would have done the same for me, and we would have done it for her.”
“Still, thank you. I look great!” I smiled. “What time is it?”
“6:45.” Rosada answered. “We better get going. He’ll be here in 15 minutes.”
I walked them down and we passed my dad.
“Well, look at you!” he teased and smiled. “Big date?”
“Noah finally asked you out?!” My dad sounded very excited and surprised.
“No…” I answered. “Another boy. Jack Anderson.”
Now he was visibly less excited. “Oh. Have fun. Be home by midnight.”
“As long as you don’t embarrass me.”
My dad laughed. “No promises.”
My friends left, and at seven the doorbell rang. I ran to get it before my dad could.
“Hi.” Jack smiled when he saw me. “Wow, you look…amazing.”
I blushed again. “Thanks.” I smiled. “You don’t look that bad either.”
He didn’t. He wore a tight gray T-shirt with a black leather jacket and jeans. His light brown
hair looked windswept but still styled and sexy. His eyes looked grayer with the T-shirt on, but they somehow still glowed.
He laughed. “Thanks. Ready to go?”
“Yep!” I smiled. “’Bye, Dad!” I called to him. “See you later!”
“’Bye baby girl! I love you so much! Have fun! But not too much fun…”
I quickly closed the door and Jack laughed.
“He seems funny.”
“Oh yeah, so funny.”
He opened the door to his blue Honda Hatchback for me, and I got it. He shut the door and got in the driver’s seat.
“Where to?” He asked.
“There’s a great restaurant on Matspen. We could go there, and then walk around. The park is near there, and the ice cream shop too.”
“Sounds great.” Jack smiled his beautiful, white smile. “I’m starving.”
He started the car and drove to Joey’s. Joey’s is a cute little Italian restaurant, and it was the best in town. It was dark inside, only lit by dim lanterns, but very cozy and inviting. On top of that, the food was great, and everyone in town knew it. It was always busy, but never full.
Jack pulled into the parking lot and we walked inside, him opening the door for me again. The owner, Joey, saw me and smiled.
“Anna!” he called in his thick Italian accent. He ran over to me and kissed both cheeks. “So wonderful to see you again! You look stunning! Absolutely gorgeous!” he stopped talking and looked at Jack. “And who is this? I see my son has some competition, eh?”
Joey is Noah’s dad. He changed his last name when he came to America, because he knew he could not have been able to find a job if he kept it.
I was laughing. “This is Jack. He’s my…date tonight. Jack, this is Joey Daniels, Noah’s dad.” I said as they shook hands.
“I’ll give you the best table! Your usual one, Anna!” Joey said as he led us to our table.
He kept going on and on about how gorgeous I looked and how handsome Jack was. He sat us down at my “usual table”, which was the table Joey called the table Noah and I sat at while he was supposed to be working. He handed us our menus and smiled.
“Take your time ordering, bella.” He said to me and smiled. Then, he walked off.
Jack smiled. “He seems nice.”
“He is.” I smiled. “His whole family is. They’re the best people you could ever meet.”
“So, Noah’s his son, huh? Do I have to watch out for him?” He joked.
I laughed. “According to everyone else, you do. Everyone says he’s in love with me.”
“If he is, he’s going to have competition from now on.”
“Oh yeah?” I laughed.
Jack smiled. “Yeah.”
We ordered our food and drinks, and talked and laughed. I really laughed, laughed so hard my stomach hurt for the first time in a long time. All of a sudden, Jack’s eyes went to the arm that was palm-side up.
“What’s that?” he asked, tracing a thin scar on my wrist.
I quickly yanked my arm back. “It’s nothing. It’s a long, boring story.”
“I like stories.”
“You wouldn’t like this one.”
Tears burned in my eyes. “It’s not very happy.”
“I don’t care.”
“You wouldn’t like me if you heard it.”
“Don’t be stupid. Of course I would.”
“Why? You don’t even know me.”
“That’s exactly why, Anna. I want to get to know you. All of you.”
“It’s not all pretty.”
“I don’t care.”
“It’s actually messed up.”
“So? Are you trying to scare me or something? It’s not going to work.”
“I have…walls. They’re pretty high. And made of stone.”
“But you came here with me.”
“I would have been crazy to say no. And I need to get out. And, I’m not going to lie, you’re pretty damn hot.”
Jack laughed. “Well, thanks. I think you’re pretty damn hot too.”
I laughed and looked down. “Thanks.”
“Why do you always laugh when I compliment you? It’s not like I’m joking.”
“I know. It’s just…been a while since someone has said a compliment with any meaning.”
Jack smiled and took my hand. “It’s true. I mean everything I tell you. And I’m sure the other guys do, too.”
I gazed out the window, thinking of Derek. Oh yeah, I’m sure he meant every damn word he said to me.
“Anna?” Jack asked gently. “Are you okay?”
“You’re crying again.”
I put the hand that he wasn’t holding to my face. It was wet and black again. Shit. I really needed to stop doing this, especially in public.
“You need to tell me what’s going on with you.” Jack said as he was wiping my tears away.
“I can’t.” I couldn’t get the tears to stop flowing. I was willing them to stop, but they wouldn’t.
“Please? I don’t like it when girls cry, and I especially don’t like it when you cry.”
“Then you really don’t want to hear the story. I’ll bawl like a baby.”
“I still want you to tell me. I want you to trust me, Anna.”
“Can I at least tell you outside?”
Jack gave me a warm, understanding smile. “Sure. Just let me pay.”
“I can’t let you-“
“Yes, you can. I’ll be right back.”
Jack paid and then led me outside and sat next to me on a bench. I took a deep breath.
“Ready to hear it?” I asked him.
“Take your time.”
“Okay. I guess it starts…five years ago. My mom…committed suicide. She shot herself. I was the one that found her, and I still have nightmares about it. Anyway, my dad and I didn’t even know she was depressed, let alone suicidal. We were crushed. Especially my dad. He couldn’t handle it, and I just…rebelled. I started drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. I dated guys that were way older than I was. I stopped talking to my friends, let my grades slip, and basically shut everyone out. Then, last year, Noah cornered me. He told me to pull myself together and to stop whatever I was doing, because if I didn’t I would end up on the streets or worse. So, I turned it around. I broke up with my douche bag boyfriend, I got my grades up, I stopped drinking, smoking, and doing drugs, and I met a new guy. He was perfect…or at least I thought he was. His name is Derek, and he’s the captain of the football team. I was shocked when he asked me out. He’s tall, blond, handsome, athletic, funny, and popular, and I’m…me. We went out for a few months and I seriously thought I was in love with the guy. Then, one day, when we were at his house alone, he started kissing me. At first it was just my lips, but then it went to my neck and shoulders. He led me upstairs and started kissing me again, this time trying to pull my shirt off. Then, I realized what he was doing, pushed him off, and told him no. He got so mad that…he slapped me. Then, he made me…he raped me. But, it didn’t stop there. It went on for months and months. I got so depressed, I started cutting myself. That’s where the scars are from.” I held my arms. “I was so isolated again, and everyone was worried. It finally stopped when Noah saw Derek push me down the stairs at my house. He called the ambulance and the police, and I still haven’t seen him as mad as he was then. That was two months ago. And…that’s my story.”
Jack was quiet for a minute, then he pulled me into a hug. He held me in his strong arms.
“I’m so sorry.” He kept repeating. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.”
I didn’t realize how hard I was crying until I stopped talking and was sobbing into his shirt. I have no idea why I told him all of that. I usually can’t talk about it with anyone, not even my dad, or Noah. I just spilled everything to a complete stranger. I told him everything I keep buried inside me, the things I don’t want anyone to know. I felt as if I could trust him, and I have no idea why.
I cried for a while, and then pulled a mirror out of my purse. I looked worse than I thought. My hair, curled to perfection not even an hour and a half ago, was now starting to frizz. My eyes were red and puffy, and I had mascara and eyeliner streaming down my face, leaving tears stains in the foundation. My lips, usually pink and full, looked red and chapped. I shut the mirror quickly and wiped the rest of my tears away.
“I’m sorry.” I sniffled. “I didn’t think it would be that bad saying it out loud.”
“No, no. I’m sorry for pushing you about it. If I had known…”
“You couldn’t have known. It’s okay.”
“Thanks. You’re sweet.”
“Thanks. You are, too. You’re one of the sweetest guys I know.”
“Anytime. Well, I better wash this make-up off. I cried half of it off anyway, and I look disgusting.”
Jack laughed. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Because…” his cheeks were turning pink. “You’re beautiful.”
I looked down. No one has said that (and meant it) in a long time. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Could I, um, try something?”
Jack turned me to face him, and then pushed some hair out of my face. His gray/blue/green eyes looked straight into my dark blue ones. His face was coming towards me, and all of a sudden I felt his lips on mine. They were full and soft, yet firm. They fit together with mine perfectly. I kissed him back, and I felt him smile. We kissed on that bench for a while, and when I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was Noah. He looked completely and utterly heartbroken.
“Hi, Anna.” He didn’t look at me.
“What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk to you.”
I sat down next to him. “Okay.” I said. “Talk to me.”
He looked at me. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy. I could tell he had been crying. He took a deep breath and said, “Why did you lie to me?”
“I…I don’t know, Noah.”
“Don’t tell me more lies! Why did you lie to me?”
“I couldn’t tell you the truth. Something in me told me it would hurt you. I can’t hurt you.”
“You obviously can! It hurt me when you lied, Anna. It made me feel like you don’t trust me.”
“I do trust you! You’re the only person I do trust, Noah. You should know that. You should know how much I love you.”
“The thing is…you don’t. You don’t love me, Anna.”
My eyes filled with tears. “Don’t you dare say that, Noah!”
“If you loved me, you would have told me the truth!”
“I didn’t want to hurt you!”
“You hurt me everyday!”
I looked at him, shocked. “How?”
“You act like you don’t know I’m in love with you. You lead me on, Anna. And I’m not sure how much more I can take.”
I knew where this was going. “No, Noah. Please…” The tears were visibly burning my eyes. They were blurring my vision.
“Anna…I can’t do this. I can’t watch you be with him. I can’t watch you kiss him, or watch him hold you. It would kill me.”
I let a few tears fall. “Please, Noah, I need you.”
Noah stood up. “Please don’t look at me like that. It breaks my heart.”
“You’re breaking mine.”
He looked down. “Don’t say that.”
“You wanted the truth.”
“I would feel better if you hated me.”
“I could never hate you.”
“Yes, really. I love you, Noah.”
“But…you’re not in love with me.”
I looked down. “No, I’m not.”
Noah was quiet. I knew I was being a selfish bitch. I was keeping Noah around me because I needed him there. I hurt him, and I was continuing to hurt him more and more everyday. It was insanely selfish of me.
“Noah…if you have to go, let me apologize first. I’m sorry for hurting you. I’m sorry for leading you on. I’m sorry for being a selfish bitch. I’m sorry for everything I ever did to you. I’m so sorry. You’ll never know how sorry I am, or how grateful I am to you. Or how much I appreciate and love you.” My tears were coming faster and faster now. I meant every word I said to him. I am sorry. So sorry.
Noah pulled me into his arms and started rocking me. “Shh, baby. It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere. Don’t be sad, Anna. Please don’t cry.”
Damn, I was crying a lot today. Noah kept murmuring comforting things into my hair. It felt…nice. The way his arms were wrapped around my waist felt nice too. My tears eventually stopped and I sniffled.
“Are you okay now?” he asked me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think you would get that upset. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“Don’t be sorry.” I said as I laid my head on his chest. That felt nice too. Noah pulled me closer.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He told me. “As long as you want me and need me here, I’ll be here for you. I promise.”
“Thanks, Noah. I’ll be here for you, too. Always. Best friends forever, right?” I looked up at him.
He laughed. “Right.”
Noah smiled down at me. I knew I was blurring the boundary lines. I knew he wanted to get closer, yet I did nothing. I didn’t pull away. I didn’t tell him to back off. I just sat there, listening to his heartbeat. Why? Why didn’t I back away? Why did I let the lines blur?