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DESIGN
chapter 5: EATER'S REMORSE

For close to two years I’ve been on a strict Ashley diet. Stricter than strict. I’ve been so good; maintaining those high calorie hug intakes, and sticking to healthy hand holding portion control. It’s almost amazing how well I’ve done. Until now. Until the past couple of months came along, and I’ve slipped. I’ve been binging and midnight snacking, letting those lingering looks linger a beat too long. Letting those soft fingertips brush over my skin one too many times.

I can feel myself responding to the change. My body’s filling with Ashley's love and touch. It’s not good. I’m getting too used to it. I’m loving it too much. And soon, I know I’m just going to gain all the weight back, punting me all the way back to those months when I first met her. When all I could do was think of her in ways I absolutely couldn’t. But the sad thing is, those were the months I absolutely could think of her that way. Those were the months I could have done something. Yup, those were the months I was thinner than I’ve ever been, completely capable and more than ready for her to fill me up inside. More than ready for her to wrap around my bones, and saturate my heart. Those were the months of indulgence. Those were the months of whipped cream and second helpings. Those were the months I never needed to diet, but those were the months I stupidly believed I needed to more than anything.

And today, tonight, I’m entering the overwhelming stages of eater’s remorse; of Ashley remorse. Looking back on all the cakes and kisses I could have had, that I never tried out of fear. Out of insecurity.

Out of stupidity.

Yeah, those early months are my lost chance and I’ve been paying for it ever since. Except for recently. Recently where I’ve started to forget rules and morals. Counting calories and grams of fat. I’ve thrown it all out the window and am now unfairly taking what I’ve already so regretfully given up. And somewhere between Madisons Audi and Ashley’s front door, I’ve realized it. I’ve realized it all too clearly.

I have to stop.

Because that smile is now gone, and the pit is back. But it’s back as a boulder and it’s weighing me down, so far down, that if I don’t get rid of it soon, I’ll never breathe again.

So as I stand before the door to their mansion [I guess Glens glorious Cavalier bench warming position does pay off I take the last tied down breath I have in me. I hold it in so tight, and push through that heavy wooden door, breathing it all out. I breathe it all out hoping to relieve the tension. But as I walk through their beautiful and empty house [feeling like its own breathing metaphor I only feel more afraid. More afraid than I can ever remember, solely because I’m not really sure what I’m more afraid of. With all these thoughts running through my mind, I don’t know what scares me more; seeing Ashley, or never seeing her again. And for some reason, that ridiculous outlandish latter possibility feels more than that.

That frightening latter possibility feels more like an impending reality.

And that’s what has me shaking as I make my way through this eerily quiet house, alone [Madison so far behind me in the car, fighting with Jack. I step through the echoing kitchen, hearing all the muffled laughter, music, and shouting coming from behind the clear sliding glass door before me. I stop and stare outside it, looking through the sea of familiar and unfamiliar faces; knowing that no matter how bad I feel or what I’m going through, there’s always going to be that one all too familiar face I’m always going to want to see.

“There you are..”

And then I see it. I see her, leaning against the counter in this dimly lit kitchen, casually sipping a cool cocktail in her hand. It may be dark in here, but I can see her eyes, and in them I see something I haven’t seen in a long time. I see intent. I see purpose. And I as try saying “hi” back, it merely comes out as a choked whisper. My voice lost somewhere deep in my throat, because I know her directions destination. I know her intent, her purpose, her goal.

I know her sights are set on me. I just don’t know what her sights entail anymore. I’m so lost, I don’t know what either of our intentions are anymore.

Movements so slow and drawn out, she strolls towards me; the air crackling and sparking with a tension I haven’t felt in so long. And as she nears me, with lidded eyes, and a lazy smile, I know she’s been drinking. I know she’s been drinking a lot.

Her lips tug in a warm smile, before she wraps her arms around my neck, holding my ever stiffening body close to hers. So close. So teasingly, deliciously close. My heart thumps wildly inside my tight chest, and I hope to God she doesn’t feel it.

“Where’ve you been?” It’s the sweetest, softest whisper against my neck, and when she breathes “I’ve missed you.” further across my skin, easily singing it, I have to pull away. I have to step back, and look down, feeling more guilty than I ever have before. Feeling so full of indulgence, I might vomit.

“Yeah, sorry, Madison was fighting with Jack.”

“Oh well what else is new, right?” She giggles a giggle sprinkled in sadness, because she sees right through me. Cause she sees my lies as clear as glass.

Cause she sees me pulling away, once again, and I know it’s starting to more than get to her.

The air becomes so quiet with my lack of a response. Quieter than it’s ever been between us. I can’t keep my head up, because this is not how this night was supposed to start, and it’s all my fault.

But it’s just getting too hard. All of this, her, me, everything between us. Everything not between us. Everything that’s festering inside me and having to keep it there.

And right now, with her so close, I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

“Hey you.” Her hands gently, carefully, cup my face, slowly pulling my eyes back to hers. She gives me a weak smile, and it only makes this all the more heartbreaking because it only makes it all the more real. Because I can’t even muster a smile back. “...hey, Jelly, what’s wrong?”

Jelly. One half of our synonymous Peanut Butter and Jelly nicknames. The names we use when we’re serious. When she’s serious. And this is one of those times. This is her comforting voice. This is her concerned voice. And the one thing I know, is I can’t hear it tonight. Cause that voice always draws the worry out of me. That voice, that name, always unravels me, unwinds me, stringing out the truths I bury so well, so deep. And those can’t be unburied. Not here and not tonight. So, I have to pull it together. I have to put on a smile. And I don’t even worry if I can, because I know I can do this. I know I can because I have to.

Because, sadly, I have no other choice, and it’s time I realized it.

“Nothing...” She’s about to protest, but I shake my head, and as if it were a light switch turning her off, she stops, letting me continue, “...I’m fine, really I swear, I just need to get a drink.”

She’s about to open her mouth again, but I stop her “Please, Ash...” I’m actually pleading now, hardly able to meet her eyes “...please, just believe me, ok? Believe me and come with me to get a drink?”

She looks at me for what seems an eternity, before she solemnly smiles, nodding with a quiet “Ok.”

Either too drunk, or too afraid, she lets it go. But I know she hasn’t thrown it away. She’s holding onto it, all of it so far inside her. Like the fullest hoarder, she holds all my mistakes. And I’m only starting to glimpse at the burden she wears because of it.

But I can’t keep thinking about that. Not now. Not tonight. For now, I have to move on. For now, I’m ok. For now, I resisted temptation. I resisted dessert, and I feel light again. I feel safe and I breathe a fat sigh of relief because of it. I let that boulder disintegrate deep in my stomach as we start walking towards outside.

But as we push past those sliding doors, I feel so cold again. I feel so lonely with her right beside me, never farther away. Once again I’m tempted, and when she tentatively takes my hand in hers, I don’t hesitate in slowly divulging myself. I don’t hesitate in reassuringly grabbing her hand.

Tightly lacing my fingers with hers.

Two hours later, this party’s moved inside, and I’ve kept myself right here on this couch. For the past hour, I’ve reserved myself on this right side cushion. Relaxing. Hiding. Drinking.

Completely miserable.

Madison never showed up, and while I don’t know where she is, I’m sure she’s over at Jack’s. Either way she’s not here. I haven’t seen waste-case Aiden in forever, but judging from the last time I saw his droopy eyes, it’s questionable if he’s even still alive. But I don’t really care about that either.

No I’m miserable because of her. Because she hasn’t talked to me since the kitchen. Because she hasn’t even tried.

I’ve tried meeting eyes with her, I’ve tried maintaining our silent conversation, because I can’t help myself. But she’s shut me out. She won’t even meet my eyes, making my attempts at explaining things with them fruitless. Nope, she’s shut me out so tight, with not even a crack or window to peek through.

And now I know how she feels. Now I know what my own medicine tastes like, and boy is it bitter.

She’s across the room from me, talking to some guy like she’s never had a more thrilling conversation in her life. But I know the truth, I know the thrill’s in having me watch her not watching me. She’s getting off on getting me down, and it’s making me even more sad.

Suddenly, the couch dips, a sloppy Aiden practically falling on top of me, resting his heavy head on my shoulder. And I’m so lonely, I practically jump with excitement because of it.

“How ya feelin’ birthday boy?”

“Spencer.” He pauses as if he’s about to let me in on some huge revelation, before he loudly whispers in a voice ten octaves higher than his own, “...I ammmm taaaaanked.”

The familiarity and affection of Aiden, makes the Grand Canyon void inside me fill up just the tiniest bit. A appreciative smile forming on my heavy lips, I pat his head in a motherly way.

“That you are, that you are.”

“Yup.”

I can’t help but chuckle at his childlike ways, as he shifts a little more, clearly getting comfortable. I look out past the crowd, not even realizing I’m doing it, until I find Ashley. And it strikes me, because this time she IS watching, and something tells me she’s more upset than she was before.

I try to give her a little wave and a hopeful smile, but she turns away before I even get the chance.

“Spence?”

His voice is small, maybe even adorable, but I’m so caught up in that familiar face that now feels so unfamiliar, I’m barely listening as I vaguely ask, “Yeah, buddy?”

Realizing it’s creepy, and probably more infuriating, if I keep staring, I let Ashley’s avoiding attention go. Finally giving it to the-five-seconds-from-a-passed-out Aiden.

“I know I’ve been saying this since high school, but...” he takes a moment to breathe, clearly it’s at that point in the night where both speaking and breathing at the same time is a challenge.

“What’s that Aid?”

“Your brother...your brother is such an ass.” He finishes with a snort, that falls somewhere between amusement and disgust. I’m not sure where here’s going with this, but I decide to take the funny high road.

“You’re right, you have been saying that since high school.”

I laugh, pleased with my own wit, but he doesn’t laugh. Nope, he’s about to get into this, I can already tell.

“No, but I’m serious...” He pushes his body off mine, shaking the couch in an attempt to sit upright, “...I’m serious, Spencer, he’s like... a real ass, like not even a likable one.”

“Yeah.”

I’m not really quite sure what to say, because he is my brother. Because he’s my brother, but beyond that, Aiden’s right. He is my brother, and he is a real ass.

“I meeeean...” Aiden draws out the word [clearly trying to gain more time to figure out just what exactly he means “...I mean, look at all this, Spencer...” Aiden’s hands clumsily shoot to either side, one grazing my boob, but somehow he doesn’t even notice, he’s so worked up, “...I mean, look at her, Spencer.” Now he’s pointing both hands straight at Ashley, and I’m not sure I want to look there. I’m not sure I can anymore.

But Aiden has other intentions, as his hand whacks my arm/boob again, I realize he needs me to look. So I do, this time with no hesitation, and I find her by herself, leaning against the wall on one slumped shoulder; looking like the loneliest girl in the world.

“Ok, Aid...” I continue, softly “...I’m looking.”

“Good. Now listen to me.” And I’m going to, no matter how slurred and slow Aidens words are, he’s got my attention.

“...Your brother, that asshole, he’s got the world, you know, he’s got everything a person could want, and I don’t just mean the money stuff. I mean he has what some people can’t buy. But he doesn’t deserve it, and what’s worse, he doesn’t even want it. Because if he did... if he did, he’d be here. He’d be here with her. He’s such an ass, man, he’s just...” He shakes his head, losing himself in his own thoughts.

He’s quiet for a moment, until he turns his eyes from me to Ashley, and suddenly I’m right with him. Suddenly every slurred word he’s said is crystal clear. Every incoherent thought he’s expressed is more coherent than anything he’s ever said.

“Look at that gorgeous girl, Spence, I mean really look at her. Look at her so you’re really seeing her. She’s freakin' amazing...” one deep, defeated breath “...and she’s miserable. She’s so miserable.”

The word makes me search for her again. The word shoots through my heart. Because as I find her, talking to no one, slowly sipping her drink, I know it’s completely accurate. I know it’s painfully accurate. I know every one of Aiden’s words were right. Glen is an asshole. Ashley isn’t happy. And all I feel is more guilt, because suddenly it all feels so much like my fault.

We both sit there, mulling over his words, until his head flops down into my lap, smiling eyes closing as he let’s out a breezy laugh. I guess we’re over the heavy conversation, because he keeps laughing more and more. And I’m actually thankful, I’m actually laughing with him, because where ever we were just heading, I shouldn't be going. Not tonight, not on this already overwhelming night. So I let it go.

But I don't throw it away.

“This was a great birthday, Spencer. Thank you.”

I warmly, and somewhat pitifully, smile down on him.

“Hey now, it’s not over yet.”

“Oh yeah, it’s not over till you and me are watching the sun rise together, right?”

Oh brother, are we really about to go down memory lane?

“Remember those days, Spence?”

I roll my eyes, but it’s sincere, because I do remember those days, and they’ll always mean something special to me.

“Of course I do.”

“Good.” He punctuates his satisfaction with a nod, before he abruptly [and clumsily sits up from my lap. Facing me with eyes that are trying so hard to open wide, but can only manage half mast, he exclaims “...now let’s do a shot!”

Laughter spills from me, as I tap his nose. “You, my friend, are a mess.”

Lips drawing into a goofy grin, he practically slurs, “A messy mess.”

“The messiest messy mess.”

We both seem content with the title, as it becomes silent, and I know we’re about to have a moment.

“I love ya, Spence.”

I sigh in faux-indignance, before I warmly smile right back at him.

“Yeah. I guess I love you too...even if you can be the world’s biggest perv.’

“You know you love it.”

We both laugh and look at each other a moment longer. Just enjoying each others company, just enjoying our history and our present. Loving how easily everything still comes.

And then I’m not there anymore. I’m not on that couch. I’ve been ripped from it, and I’m being pulled through groups and groups of people. A tight, angry hand holding mine, but even inside its blatant fury, all I feel is her soft comforting touch.

We barrel up the stairs, two at a time, running right inside her bedroom’s bathroom. I’m practically pushed into the middle of the room, as the door closes behind me. I slowly turn, terrified, as I find a very pissed off Ashley leaning back against the door. Hand holding the handle, as if she’s afraid I’ll try to leave.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“What?” I’m so caught off guard I try to not sound indignant, but that’s exactly how I sound as I ask. And she notices, she notices and it only makes her more mad.

“Seriously, what’s going on? Are you...” She swallows hard, twice, and for a moment I think she might vomit “...are you back together with Aiden, is that what’s going on?”

Oh. God. And now I feel like I’m going to vomit. It’s such a ridiculous notion, that I can’t suppress the laughter spilling from my lips.

“Do you think this is funny?”

She is not amused, she’s so hurt, that I don’t waste any time in reassuring her, “No, Ash, not at all, but seriously Aiden? Where would you ever get that idea?”

“Oh, I don’t know, let me see here...” her eyes roll to the ceiling, as if she were about to count off reasons “...you ignore me and avoid me all night. No, for weeks now. You can barely stand to touch me. And then tonight, just now, I see you two all over each other, laughing and talking and joking. I mean what else should I believe?”

“That we’re friends?” I ask in a way that’s not a question, it’s a fact I’m telling her in a rude way, because I can’t believe she’s angry over this. That she could possibly think I’m back together with Aiden.

“Like we used to be.”

She whispers it so defeated, and it knocks the air out of me.

“Used to be?” I croak.

“Well am I wrong? You keep pushing me away, Spencer. You keep pushing, that I’m afraid one day you’ll never find me.”

“What?”

I’m feeling lost again, lost inside our conversation. Inside this fight. Inside her anger.

“I mean, what the fuck is going on Spencer? And, seriously save whatever lies you’re going to use. Please don’t insult me anymore with those ‘nothing’s wrong I’m just tired’ excuses ok?” She’s so angry, she’s so freaking angry, but suddenly, all at once it disappears. Her fury is gone, and she’s only sad. She’s so sad as she quietly asks, “...please, Spencer, just tell me what’s going on. Please.”

It breaks my heart, and takes all the left over pieces with it. She’s bypassing all that Aiden bullshit, and opening the real issue here. She’s finally getting down to everything I’ve been hiding. And I don’t know what to say. I have nothing to say, because all she’s asking for is the truth, and that is something I can never give her.

So instead I look at her with wet eyes. Silent, screaming, wet eyes.

“Please.”

She whispers, sounding as heartbroken as I feel, and I just stand there. Frozen.

With one nod, she eviscerates me. “Ok, then.”

The angers back inside her now, but it’s not shouting anymore, it’s seething, and it's so much worse than before. It hits so much harder. Because this time it seems so much more final.

And as she turns, walking through that door, slamming it shut behind her. It doesn’t just seem final.

It feels it.

3.1.08 12:27


chapter 4: ASHLEY DAVIES 101

"Wait, you were a photographer for PIC magazine?"

Ashley nearly drops her fork, and as I nod yes, I can't help feeling proud of my old job.

"Bitch."

"Hey."

I try looking offended, but I can't,not with her smirking at me in that way. No, I could never look anything but thrilled when she looks at me that way, so instead I break into laughter, not able to hold it in anymore. She starts laughing too, and something tells me it's because she hears me doing the same. Because she likes how we sound laughing together.

It's been a week since Ashley met up with us at O'Neills [aka the most torturous night ever Glen and Ashley were cordial, sharing laughs and innocent touches [always initiated by Glen. Even that was hard for me to stomach, and I probably would've called it an early night, leaving them to fall in love without me having to watch, but something prevented me from leaving. Something in the form of Ashleys eyes and subtle touches with me.

She may have gone to meet Glen, but she stayed to hang out with me. I may be clueless sometimes, but I'm not dense, and that is a fact I'm sure of. I mean, why else would she jump at the chance to be alone with me whenever the possibility arose? Why did she follow me to the bathroom every time I went, lamely [but adorably saying it's because we were "Loo Buds"?

And why did her eyes remain on me whenever she told a story? A table full of eyes, and she kept hers right with mine the whole time. Telling [ime[/i a separate story from what she told the table.

I'm not really sure whether they [Glen and Ashley hit it off or not, but I am sure that we [me and Ashley really did. Which is why we're here now, having dinner together inside her small, but perfect apartment.

"So what's your beef with PIC, hmm?"

I smile cheekily, realizing that when it's just me and her, I'm different. We both are. It's like we're finally ourselves, or something. I've never felt that way with someone, and if I weren't having so much fun, I'd probably freak out.

But the truth is, it's only a matter of time before I freak out. Because I know there's something developing here. Something that scares me in a way I can't put my finger on.

"Oh well my old band, The Drumsticks, tried to get you guys to cover a story on us for like ever. But we were always stupidly turned down."

I nearly cough on my beer, "The Drumsticks?"

"Yup. Why you remember us?" She has her own cheeky grin, and I wish I could say I do remember, but I don't.

With a teasing scoff, I lean back in my chair, arms crossing, "Well, Ash, with a [ilaaaaame[/i name like The Drumsticks, is it really any surprise we turned you down?"

Her mouth opens in a surprised gasp, the first time I've ever really teased her, her first glimps at my sarcasm, before she smiles.

"Wow, low blow Spence..." holding a hand to her heart, she laughs, "...low blow."

She smirks around her drink, and I feel something flutter inside my stomach for the 2,387th time tonight. I'm in trouble. I'm in so much trouble, because I know I'm getting myself into something I'm not ready for.

No, I'm not just getting into this, I'm already very much inside [ithis[/i...whatever it is..and, yeah, I'm definitely not ready.

I've finally gotten to know Ashley Davies, tonight. Through the smidgiest bits of information she's divulged, I feel like I know her. Born and raised in downtown Cleveland [the bad parts, she grew up fast, living with only her mother. Money was always tight, her mother literally saved their lives by working three jobs, and that's all she shared about her childhood [so different from my own. But that was ok with me, that was fine by me, because I felt special just to hear it. For hearing something that sounded like no one else had ever heard.

No one but me.

She loves music, and loves it in a [her words, not mine "crazy, obsessed way." With no boundaries, or segregation. Seriously, she is the Rosa Parks of music, leaving no artist behind to ride the back of the bus. Glancing over her CD collection proves this; Led Zeppelin, Laura Nyro, Destroyer, Bananrama, Pearl Jam, Temptations, Spice Girls, My Morning Jacket. The list could go on forever, cause the CDs certainly do. [and really, who still buys those things?

Well Ashley does. Yes, she's a rare kind these days; a rare bird that pays for every bit of music she owns. I like it.

While she's an honest and law abiding citizen [in the ways of music, that is, she's also talented. Yup, she can play the drums, guitar, piano, violin, and she can sing. She studied music at a community college [that she's still paying for, and aspires to pursue a career there, inside music, in whatever way she can.

Which has me curious as to what she's doing here, but when I asked, she merely shrugged, giving me a simple answer, "Just felt time, you know, time for a change in scenery."

That was it. My 101 crash course in Ashley Davies, and I have to say, I'm happy I signed up. No, I'm positively thrilled I was even accepted.

We finished the delicious meal she cooked a little while ago, and neither one of us have made any signs of moving anytime soon. No, we both seem so content to just sit right here all night, drinking our drinks, and telling our tales.

But something in the air just changed. Something just shifted.

"So your brother called today."

And there it is. That's why things are different, because suddenly, she's different. She seems strange, now. Almost like she's putting it out there just to see how it's received. Like she's winding up and pitching me a ball just to see if I'll actually hit it.

Just to see if I even can.

"Oh?"

I try sounding nonchalant, cause lord knows I'm beyond interested [and, weirdly, definitely not interested at the same time

"Yup."

Those dark eyes stare straight through mine, and I have to look away, I have to peel at my beer bottle label. I have to laugh and turn on the sarcasm; my tension reliever since 1980.

"Wow, finally, we were starting to think he'd never learn how to use that damn thing. But I guess Glen can make phone calls all on his own now, so, yay, good for him!"

She smiles, but it's in a very "I'm serious" kind of way, and I waste no time in following her silent command.

"Ok, so he called. What did he want?"

But I already know very well what he wants.

"Weeeell..." she's tentative, she's ready to throw that curve ball that I can't handle [and something tells me, she knows it "...he wants to go out again this weekend..." a deep breath "...with just me."

"Oh." I can't hide the defeat [for a reason I'm still so unsure of in my voice this time, but I quickly recover, "...that's cool."

"Is it?" She seems disbelieving, and I'm feeling more and more uncomfortable.

What's going on here? Why is she looking at me like that, and why do I feel like I'm on fire?

"I mean, that's what you wanted, right?"

Please say no. Wait...why? Why do I need her to say no? I mean really, why does her dating Glen, hell anyone, why is it bothering me? No, why is it eating at me?

"I don't know..." I see something in her I've never seen before;

hesitant fear. And I know she's about to get honest with me, I know she's about to slowly start stripping herself, "...it feels kind of weird. Like, I'm wrong or something. Like it's wrong to do to you. That I have to talk to you about it, you know, run it by you first."

Oh, so that's whats going on here: Pity. And if there's anything I hate more than Ryan Seacrest, it's a pity party.

My wounded pride shows, as I reply in a somewhat offended tone. "That’s stupid, Ash, you should do what you want, don't worry about me."

"Oh no no..." Her words are leaving her lips fast, so fast, that it makes me even more nervous "...I'm not worried about you. No, that's not what I meant. I just..." There's that fear again, there's that deep breath, and this time it feels like she's gonna strip away everything, leaving her completely bare before me "...I just don't know if he's what I want. I don't know if that's what I want. Don't get me wrong, aside from being a jackass, your brothers nice..."

She smiles, and even though I feel like I'm going to explode from a bomb made of fear and confusion, I smile too. I can't help it; not when she's looking at me like that.

"...But I think..." now her eyes are nowhere but on mine, searching, reaffirming. There's no fear in those eyes and there's only relief as she practically whispers "...no, I know, I could have something better, something more real, with someone else."

Oh God. That internal bomb just blew up and it's shattered me. I'm terrified. I'm sweating. I'm drinking gulp after gulp of what little beer I have left, and I'm jumping from the table; quickly retrieving another one.

Is she talking about me? Does she want...something...with me?

"Spence?"

Sitting back down, looking at her through the bottle sitting between my lips, I widen my eyes. "Yeah?"

But it's lost in my swallows, and she looks sad. So sad.

"You ok?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." I've always been good at lying, and this time is no exception, except this time, someone reads through them. This time, she sees everything I hide, and it scares me shitless.

Yes, I am scared shitless, cause I'm starting to see where this is going. I'm starting to understand what's had me lost, flustered, excited, confused, and frightened.

"Spencer, come on, you're not fine, you're practically eating your bottles over there, and you won't even look at me." She pauses, reaching across the table to hold my trembling hand, and I know she feels just how shaky it is, cause she actually stills it between hers, "Hey, look I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. I mean, is that what's wrong? Was it something I said?"

"No..." I say, quietly, truthfully, feeling like I have to because she's holding me, "...no it wasn't anything you said."

It's the truth, but it's still a lie, cause it’s exactly what she’s said that has me acting like this. However she doesn't seem to realize it as she softly smiles. "Ok, then what is it?"

Her thumb strokes over my skin, so softly, so so softly, and that's it. That's what it is.

She's what's wrong. This is what's wrong. This is not an innocent crush. This is something I still can't, and don't want to, put my finger on.

Because if I do, then that means...that might mean I'm gay.

And I can NOT get into that. I just can't. That means everything I've thought about my life, everything I've thought about me, isn't true. Nothing is as it was. And I can't break that. Because, as I've said, I'm the girl who doesn't break routine. I'm the girl who sets her desired path, and sticks to it, no matter what other forks tempt her

along the way.

And this fork, this girl before me, she is so tempting. Too tempting. And I'm not ready for it. I'm not ready for her road.

"Spence?" I break from my thoughts, realizing at some point I removed my hand from hers, leaving me colder than I was before. She looks so insecure. She looks so out of her element, and it hurts me, cause I know I've thrown her inside that unsure place, "...What's wrong?"

She's staring right inside me from across her small kitchen table. She's looking straight through me, and we've never been closer. In this moment, we see everything. We see everything we want. We read every word we're not saying.

I can't let her see that far inside me, anymore. I can't let her see what I hide. I can't let her see me being...gay. I can't let her see that word, the one I hide so well. The one word I don't want to spell. Cause that word changes my whole freaking life.

I'm just not ready for that, and what's even sadder; I don't think I'll ever be ready.

And that's why I muster up the saddest smile in sad history as I look into her open and honest eyes. That's why I have to speak in the smallest voice I have, hoping with the tiniest sliver of hope that she'll still see the truth inside these lies I'm about to tell.

"I think...I think you should call my brother."

"Spence..." She's not ready to let me take this road. She's still trying to give me strength. She's still reaching her hand across the table to keep me warm, and I'm still shutting her out. I'm shutting her right out, leaving us both with nothing but the freezing cold.

"No, really, you should. I mean, you'll never know what could be real if you don't try, right?"

I say these hypocritical words, genuinely. These words that I should listen to. My own advice I should be taking. But I'm not. Because I'm too much of a coward. Because I don't have the balls.

Because she should have had pity earlier. She so should have.

I can feel the disappointment dripping from her, leaking all over this table, and filling every empty space inside me, as she just looks. She looks for a beat longer, one more beat, as if she were waiting. Waiting for me to change my mind. Waiting for me to say something else. For me to say the real words. The words she sees inside of me.

The words she wished I would have said.

But I'm not, and that one more beat is up. That one last hopeful breath has been breathed. And she sighs. She sighs in a way like she's giving up. And I'm colder than I've ever been.

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

Through the smallness of her voice, through the sadness of her eyes, she still manages to wear a tiny Ashley smile, telling me it's ok. Telling me we're still ok.

And I'd believe her, I mean I should believe her. But it's her eyes that mislead me, cause those eyes are once again telling me a separate story.

Because it's one only I can read.

"So..." one heavy sigh, and a deep swig of a vodka tonic, "...I guess I'm going out with your brother again."

"Yeah..." one regretful sigh, and a half-a-bottle swallow of beer "...Guess so."

With the excitement held for her yearly physical, she breathes out "Awesome."

And as I sadly glance down on the dinner she's made us, I look like I'm in the middle of one.

"Yeah. Awesome."

3.1.08 12:24


chapter 3: THAT MORON IS ME

One last tank top tossed from my closet, and I fall to my knees, blowing a million strands of hair from my face at the same time.

“Are you seriously still looking for something to wear?”

Madison’s voice barrels from the hallway straight to my frustrated ears inside the closet. [definitely not the only frustrated thing inside this “closet”.

“Yes!” I exasperate.

I hear her pad her way over my clothes covered floor, “Are we or are we not just going to Aiden’s birthday party, I mean there isn’t some Fergie-Glamor-iscious stop along the way, right?”

She finally makes her way to my pouting grounds [the closet, naturally, and spreads her arms to either side of the open doorway, a healthy mixture of annoyance, humor, and pity written across her face.

“No. No, we’re going straight to Ashley’s.”

I hang my head low, sighing in defeat over my serious melodramatic misfortune. I feel her eyes looking down on me with some amusement, before she sighs to herself.

“You are so high maintenance, I mean I thought I was pretty bad, but you...” I finally look up to her chuckling face, finding one stern finger pointed straight at me, “...You, Spencer Carlin, take the maintenance cake.”

“Ha. Maintenance cake. Good one, Duarte. So witty, you are.” I tilt my head all the way back, eyes shutting with the biggest, fakest smile ever.

She laughs lightly as I feel her reach above me.

“Here...” a black off the shoulder long sleeved shirt drops onto my pitiful lap. “This paired with those jeans and we just might get you laid tonight.”

She winks and I blush, immediately thinking of the one person I want to lay more than any bag of chips.

“Look at you, you’re so thinking of someone right now! Tell me, Carlin, who’s got you all flustered and taking five hours to get ready?”

Oh. Crap. Sarcastic deflection tactics here we come!

“Aiden, obviously, I’m thinking tonight’s the night. After ten years, it’s high time I gave that ride another wirl, I mean this girl’s learned some new tricks in her old age, he won’t even know what hit ‘em!”

I quickly stand and turn away from her, hiding my on-fire-face while throwing on her selected garment.

“Bull. Shit.” She gives me her best Matthew Mcconaughey impression, while I fiddle around with my shirt “...your sarcasm deflections don’t work with me, Missy, now do as I say, and spill.”

She’s right. If there’s anyone who reads me better than Ashley, it’s Madison. But that’s not all that surprising. I suppose being best friends with someone since basically birth does that to a relationship.

Yeah, we practically share a brain.

“I’m waiting.” She orders from behind me, and I know she’s wearing a shit-eating grin on her face for being right.

Deep breath. You can do this Spencer. All you have to do is lie to your best friend and build Rome in a day.

“Mads, there’s no one...” I stop fidgeting, turning my head to the side, giving her my profile “...really, absolutely no one, and I’d totally tell you if there were.”

She’s silent for a moment.

“Uh huh. Sure. Whatever you say.”

Finally fully turning around, I begrudgingly leave the safe haven of my closet and make my way towards her.

“You are such a nudge, you know that?”

“Yup, damn proud of it, and some day soon I will nudge it out of you.”

“That’s gonna be pretty impossible, considering the little fact that there’s NO one to nudge out of me.”

“You’re so hopeless. Hot and adorable, but hopeless none-the-less. Now if you just tell me who, we can give you hope and make it happen. So, come on, fill me in girl!”

I shake my head at her, before a smile creeps over my lips, an idea popping into my head. Slowly, I saunter her way, knowing she’ll never give up unless I give her reason to.

“Actually...there is someone.”

“Yeah?” Her eyes light up like a Christmas tree.

”Yeah. I’ve been doing some thinking, and I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, but I just can’t keep it in any longer...”

“Oh Spence, it’s gonna be ok, we’ll figure it out.”

Her weird, but genuine, concern doesn't strike anything in me but a sliver of guilt for what I’m about to do, but then again, I need this conversation to end, so really...I don’t feel all that bad.

“Ok...” I sigh, seriously “...Madison, I think it’s time that we, you and me, well I think it’s time we took our friendship to the next level.”

She’s nodding her head in such disappointment, but is still biting her lip to keep from laughing.

I twirl my foot to the side with an innocent, shy, smile, “So what do you say?”

She stands, scoffing through her laughter, “You are unbelievable.”

“Oh baby, you have no idea.”

“Shut up, ass, and just get ready. We’re leaving in twenty minutes, not a minute later. And believe me Spence...I’m going to remember this. When you come to me, asking and pleading for help, I’m going to remember this time when you so RUDELY rejected it.”

She’s only half serious as she leaves the room, and I feel a pit land in the bottom of my stomach. Thinking over her words, thinking over their meaning and intention, I'm feeling slightly queasy.

Wait a minute...does she...does she know? Was that her way of giving me an out? Was she really just trying to actually help me?

The pit only grows, and as I stand in the middle of my disheveled room, I can only remember the last time I felt a similar pit.

--------------

O’Neill’s is packed and dim with a smoky cloud hanging above every tipsy head [even though smoking isn’t even allowed inside this place. Glen swaggers his way back to our corner booth, drinks overflowing from his hands. He smiles in that little big brother way, that’ll never grow old no matter how old he grows.

Guinness for my baby Sis, touche by the way, I’m impressed.”

Yeah, well, because someone was in such a girlish rush, I now have to drink my dinner tonight.”

I take a long sip, glaring at his smirk, while he hands out the rest of the drinks to our group; Clay, Chelsea, Aiden, Madison, and Jack [Madison’s boyfriend.

So when’s this broad gonna show up, huh?”

Glen drops down in his seat, throwing his arm around both the back of the booth and Madison [who totally just rolled her eyes, giving me reason #3829734 why I love her so freakin’ much.

She does have a name, you know?” I ask, somewhat annoyed, and not just because of his blatant rudeness. No, I’m definitely not thrilled with having to introduce Ashley to Glen. However, I was the one who made this concrete bed, so I guess I’m just going to have to carve me a place to sleep in it.

Yeah, Ashley, does have a hot name to go along with her hot body.”

Aiden is such a perv, why did I invite him again? Actually, why do I even keep him around in the first place?

So you better respect, Man.”

Ahh yes, that’s why, cause even through his perviness, he can still be a gentlemen...well kind of. He, at least, tries...well, sometimes. Oh, whatever, there is a reason, and I will remember it some day.

Yeah, yeah. Why aren’t you going for her then?” Glen throws back, and I just drink more. Oh please, let’s not go where this is heading.

Because I’m...Actually, I’m not really sure.”

Aiden’s starting to think about it, like really think about, and knowing how rare an occurance this is, I need to stop it.

You know something, I’m so over boys fighting over girls, really it’s so high school, and I don’t care to go back there, so let’s move on.” Madison effortlessly squashes that conversation, and turning towards Aiden, asks with the enthusiasm of a log, “ How’s the team doing this year?”

Mentally hugging Madison, and not really caring enough to hear about Shaker Highs Basketball team, I slide out from the table. Making my way for the bar, not even sure why, but knowing I need a break from that oppressive table...full of my family and closest friends.

Sliding my frosty glass on the dark oak of the bar, I lean over it, with the weight of the world on my elbows.

Yup. Tonight is gonna suck.

Hey you.”

A soft voice somehow flutters inside me, and before I know it I feel Ashley pressed against me. With it being a Friday night and O’Neill’s being a hot spot, she naturally has to squeeze impossibly close to me, to get a spot at the bar. I nervously glance towards her, seeing enough of her to know she’s barely wearing anything, and feeling enough of me drool inside to know I appreciate it.

Hey.”

She warmly smiles at me, a soft hand moving to silently sit on the small of my back, as she quickly glimpses at the bartender [not even five seconds at this packed bar, and she already has his attention

Kettle on the rocks.”

Taking a line from my brother, I nod her way, “Impressive.”

Well...” She looks me straight in the eye “...maybe I’m trying to impress tonight.”

Gulp.

Um...”

You look great, by the way.”

She shyly smiles, looking down at the non existent space between us, and I have no words. No, really, I have none, and the smirk she’s wearing suggests that maybe she knows it. Suggests that maybe she’s enjoying it.

So...tonight’s gonna be fun, yeah?”

Her lips show a different smile from the smirk. This one’s innocent and somewhat vulnerable, and it finally allows me to find words again.

Yeah. It is.”

Her drink has been delivered to the bar, but she doesn’t move to take it. The bartender shouts her total while walking away, but she doesn’t move to pay it. No, neither of us are moving to do anything.

Both of us are perfectly content. Perfectly happy remaining right where we are. Tightly pressed together. Smiling goofy smiles meant for one another.

So that’s the big NBA star, eh?”

Huh?

She nods behind me, “Your brother?”

Oh, right.

Oh...” my smile fades, as I glance over my shoulder, watching Glen tell some lame-ass story to a table of rolling eyes “...yeah, that’s him.”

Sigh, yup, sucky night here we come.

Guess we should join them, huh?”

Yeah, I guess-“

Or, we could just chug our drinks and make a mad dash for the door, you know, leave before anyone notices.”

Now, THAT has my attention, as I snap my smiling face forward again. She seems giddy, and I know I seem it too [because I am, and suddenly all I can do is giggle like I’ve never been higher [and in a way, I never have

Oh see now I think that idea has ‘good time’ written all over –“

Baby Sis! Stop hogging the hottie and get over here!”

Dammit, Glen.

Wow, Spence, you didn’t tell me your brother was so chivalrous.”

She smirks, and I cringe.

Oh yeah, he’s a big time gentlemen.”

We remain where we are, for a brief moment, before she sighs. “Guess it’s too late to act on Plan B, huh?”

Yeah...too late” I practically whisper.

I’m sad. No, I’m pretty much sulking, and I don’t even care if she notices. Because part of me believes she is too.

Well...” She pushes off the bar, which only pushes her further into me, and suddenly I can’t breathe cause she’s leaning and whispering so softly right inside my ear “...we’ll just have to pick up on it some other time, then.”

Pulling away, with one big questionable smile, she walks away, leaving the gulping mess I’ve become behind. Slowly, I turn around, watching her stride towards our table, confidence and ease oozing off her every step.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that Glen’s very happy with who I’ve set him up with. And it doesn’t take a genius to see I’m so not happy about who I’ve set him up with.

No, it doesn’t take a genius to know that only a moron would set up this whole ordeal. And through a bitter laugh, I have to chug my cake of a beer, swiftly ordering a shot of Patron once I’m done.

Because, I’m smart enough to know that moron is me.

--------------

“Spencer! If you’re not out of that room in .25 seconds, I’m coming in there, and I promise you, it won’t be pretty.”

Blinking rapidly, I find myself back in the middle of my messy room, right back in the middle of “now.” Grunting, I roll my eyes towards no one, and huff-n-puff my way out into the hallway; finding a cross-armed, foot tapping, Madison.

“Jesus H Christ Maddy! How much Maintenance Cake did you eat tonight?”

Even I want to snort at my own wittiness, but something tells me it’d be inappropriate.

She’s holding her unamused face further away from her body, the words “excuse me” written everywhere, while her eyes squint daggers into me, and I feel the guilt over my rude attitude. I mean it’s not her fault my own foolish memories have gotten me so riled up.

She’s been silent for way too long, and yeah, it’s time I did some apologizing.

“I’m sorry, Mads, I don’t know why I’m being so grumpy.”

This seems to have done the trick, cause her face cracks into the hugest smile.

“Oh I know why; you need to get laid.”

Before I can say a single thing, she’s already turned around, walking to our front door like she owns it [which she does, but just go with it

“And if you’d just tell me who you want to get it by already, we could take care of it.”

I can practically hear her know-it-all smirk as she opens and walks out the door, leaving me behind. Leaving me to sigh and whisper to no one but my lonely self.

“If only it were that easy.”

Before I can self deprecate any longer, Madison hollers for me to “hurry the hell up.” With one last sigh, I waste no time in following her out the door, bracing myself for one long evening with all I love and all I can’t have.

But, somehow, I manage a small smile, because I finally remember that tonight I get Ashley all to myself. And, really, isn't that what I've always wanted in the first place?

Yeah, it is.

And suddenly, just like that, the pit at the bottom of my stomach dissolves away. The smile on my face taking it's place, only growing bigger with every step I make, bringing me closer and closer to the girl of my dreams.

Also known as my brothers wife.

3.1.08 12:16


SILVESTER 07/08

als erstes muss ich dazu sagen, dass ich bei meinen besten freund dustin gefeiert habe.
mit dabei waren marcel, enis, steding und dustins freundin kristina.
wir haben schon um 18 uhr mit dem ersten bier angefangen. danach gab es zwei flaschen palmero und danach ne flasche wodka blutorange. soweit mich meine erinnerung nicht trügt bin ich danach ins wohnzimmer zu dustins mutter und ihren freunden gewandert und habe dort was wunderbares erfahren woraufhin ich der mutter eine oder zwei flaschen sekt geschenkt habe. als dank für den sekt wurde ich gleich auf ein glas eingeladen und diese einladung nahm ich auch dankend an, obwohl sekt nicht so mein freund ist.
ich habe mich mit dustins mutter eine gefühlte stunde auf dem balkon unterhalten. dann wie durch ein wunder setz mein erinnerungs vermögen aus und das nächste wo ich mich dran erinnern kann das ich wieder in dustins zimmer sitze nd mich mit bianka (eine freundin von dustins mutter) unterhalte. mir wurde ein glas saurer wodka  angeboten wo ich ja nicht nein sagen konnte und somit habe ich davon auch noch was getrunken.
iwann waren wir unten an der straße und haben wie es sich gehört raketen und böller losgelassen. nun fängt wieder ein blackout von mir an . ich kann mich nur daran erinner das ich kurz mit meinen bruder nils telefoniert habe.
um ehrlich zuein hab ich keine ahnung ob ich mich mit bianka nach mitternacht unterhalten habe oder davor.
sobald ich mich versuche an den abend zu erinnern tauch das lied "das rote pferd" immer wieder auf und ich seh wie dustin, marcel und enis in der bude dazu rumhüpfen.
kurz vorm schlafen gehen waren wir nochmal draußen an der frischen luft, die ich unbedingt gebraucht habe, und haben noch ein paar raketen steigen lassen und marcel machte uns darauf aufmerksam das wir schon seit über 12 stunden am trinken waren. im anschluss daran gabs noch nen bisschen suppe und knoblauch baguette und dann gings auch schon ins bettchen. der dringend gebrauchte schlaf wurde zwei mal durchs nervige klingeln dustins handy unterbrochen.

anmerkung: ich kann mich an die meisten ereignisse des abends nicht erinnern falls irgendwem der dort anwesenden  was einfällt, lasst es mich wissen und ich füge es hier hinzu oder ändere es der wahrheit entsprechend.

dicke grüße von sandra
PS: ich hoffe ihr habt den rutsch besser als ich überstanden 

2.1.08 18:03


chapter 2: FROM THERE TO HERE

Glen and Ashley have been married for three months, but Ashley and I still meet at our favorite coffee house every day for lunch.

Glen and Ashley have been together for almost two years, but Ashley and I still read each other. Read each other too well, some might think, and for the most part, I never do. I love being able to look into her eyes, and know every story inside them. And I love the same goes for me with her.

Except for today.

Except for right now, sitting inside our favorite coffee house. I'm not loving that she can read me so well. I'm avoiding those eyes. Because they spell worried and confused words, and I know it’s only a matter of time before she asks about last night.

"So what was that last night?"

Man, I'm good and If it were anyone else, I'd say we spend too much time together, but that could never be the case with her. Even when she asks dreaded questions like the one she just asked.

I’m in a mild predicament here, mainly because I forgot to conjure up an excuse for last night's bitter behavior. So instead, I’m running right down Avoidance Lane, blowing over my coffee with such concentration, you'd think it were her naked body spread across my bed.

Mmm, naked.

"Hmm?"

"Come on Spence, don't bullshit a bullshitter..." she gently tugs my hand, removing me from that fascinating coffee mug "...what was with the cold shoulder?"

I shrug, hoping indifference will show honesty. "There was no cold shoulder, I was just tired."

"Oh please, I know you, I know you better than you know yourself, and that was not you being 'just tired' because that usually results in your drool on my shoulder..." she giggles quietly before focusing on my shifty eyes once more "...seriously, Spence, what's up?"

She's in complete concern mode, practically hovering over me on our shared couch, and while all I want to do is follow her lead and lean right back towards her... I don't. I stay straight where I am. I think she notices.

And it's definitely not helping my "I'm ok" case.

"Nothing's up, Ash, really, everything's cool."

She's so not looking convinced, and we so need to move on "...Really, I'm fine. Honest."

She’s still not budging, except for her body sliding even closer to mine. The air is thickening, the space between us is burning up, and yeah...we definitely need to move on. I think sarcasm is the best and fastest solution.

"Yeah, you’re right, I’m lying. I’m not fine..." I heavily sigh, before a sneaky sarcastic smile forms over my lips "...I’m actually better than fine. Amazing, even. No...” I widen my eyes, as hers simply roll, “...no that’s still a lie, because I'm fantastic!" My arms begin to flail more and more with every dramatic exhalation, "Superb. Fabulous. Wait...you know what I really am?" Giving her a smirk, leaving her no time to answer, I loudly exhale "Un-fucking-believable."

She has no idea how unbelievable. Or maybe she does, judging from the pink forming on her cheeks.

"Ok, I get it, I get it!” Through somewhat unsure, but bashful, laughter, her hands pull mine down, not wanting my little scene to go any further. “Man, you forgot to add drama queen in that little diatribe."

"Wow that's rich, coming from you. Tell me again..." my finger taps my chin, deep in mock thought "...why did you call me in the middle of the night last week, shrieking into the phone?"

"Spencer, that's so not fair, you know how terrified of spiders I am."

"Oh, believe me, beeeelieve me, I know...but it wasn't a spider, now was it? No, it was a feather, Ash, a feather that happened to brush against your arm in the dark." My hands cover my gasping mouth, eyes pointing in sarcastic fear. "Feathers! Oh.The.Horror!"

"I hate you."

"You love me."

"Too much."

"Too little."

"Too late?"

She pauses, both our eyes seriously fixed on each other, before we break into a sloppy rendition of the cheesy Jojo ditty "Too Little, Too Late". Clearly Ashley's masterfully carrying the same tune I'm so easily butchering. She seriously has the most amazing voice, and I normally would stop singing now just to admire it, but I much prefer her making music with me rather than without me.

Ba-dum-bum-tisch.

Eventually, our singing dies down along with our laughter, both exhaling deep sighs.

"Man, Jojo..." I breathe out, absentmindedly.

"...Such a talent." She finishes my thought, like she always does. We both nod in serious agreement, content with the silence between us. That is until I feel her warm, soft, unbelievable hand hold onto mine.

"Really, though, you're ok right? I mean..." she looks somewhat flustered at whatever she's about to say, moving her other hand to point between us "...we're ok, right?"

I gulp.

"Yeah...couldn't be better."

Lies. Lies. Lies.

"Good."

She's still holding onto my hand, her thumb starts brushing over my skin, and my cheeks are lighting on fire. I have to stop this, no matter how much I’m enjoying it, I have to. So I let go of her and go right back for my mug, ending whatever moment we were having. I think I feel her disappointment.

"Now since I have to go back to work in like fifteen minutes, how bout we talk about something that actually matters?"

I smile at my sarcastic jab, while she merely squints her eyes at me, pretending to be offended, before she dramatically exhales.

"Well I thought we were, but since you're all knowing in things that matter, please take the floor, it's all yours."

Eyes rolling with a few exasperated sighs, she's in complete faux-bitch mode [aka hot mode and I'm probably blushing, but that's ok. We're not talking about me or cold shoulders anymore, and that's all that matters.

"Well, now that you've finally accepted my highly respected title..." I scoff, holding a hand to my heart, as she bows towards me in a very "your highness" way, making me snort lightly with laughter.

"...Anyway..." I give her an eye roll, for really no reason at all, making her giggle softly as I continue on with conversation, "...I offer the topic of Aiden's upcoming birthday party to the table...namely, what are we going to do for it?"

Aiden was my first boyfriend in high school, and the sad [well depending on who you ask part is he's probably the last serious one I've ever had. That's almost 10 years. Whatever, I have my fun, I just don't stick around for when it becomes unfun. I've always been a picky perfectionist. I never settle. I take what I want, use what I need, and leave it all behind when I’m done.

Are you laughing at my excuses too? Good. Cause you should. It's all bullshit. Truth is, I want her. No one else. And I guess that means I'm going to be alone forever. Somehow, though, with her looking at me with those brown brown eyes, I could care less. Who really needs to grow old with someone? Not me.

I know, you’re still laughing at my pitiful lies, aren’t you?

Anyway, Aiden and I had our big two year relationship. Love. Kisses. First times. Homecomings. All that nonsense. We broke up when we left for separate colleges, both realizing it was a blessing, as we worked much better as friends. Best friends. And that's what we've always been.

He and Ashley hit it off right away when they first met, much to my displeasure I hate to admit. While they’re great friends now [much to my pleasure, I’m very happy and proud to admit it wasn’t always that way. In fact, if I were to play the blame game [and I do love to play that game Aiden is partly responsible for that whole setting "the love of my life" up with my brother.

It’s not something I particularly like to relive, but you’re all curious aren’t you? Well I don’t blame you, it still baffles me how we all got from there to here. Here, where Ashley is married to Glen, and I’m just pining pining pining away.

But you already know about “here”, I guess it’s time for me to show you “there”.

Spence, that girl is so hot.” Aidens eyes do a not so covert crawl up her body “...Damn.”

You are so sleazy, stop.”

But he doesn’t, he keeps checking out Ashley’s perfect, but now hidden behind the counter, body. I lean across my chair, girlishly swatting his muscle-y arm.

Aiden! Come on. You’re embarrassing me!”

Not to mention making me insanely jealous. The weird thing, it’s not jealousy over him, and the scary [or maybe sad thing is, I can't even bring myself to figure out why.

Aww Spence! Are you jealous? Want to have another go, cause well...” he lets his eyes look over my body, something I’ve seen him do a thousand times, however, this time there’s no trace of that attraction like there was in the past “...I wouldn’t be opposed.”

He winks, and I shake my head, laughing wholeheartedly at his cheesiness. With a hand covering my eyes, I quietly wonder how we ever dated for two years. Or even how we’re somehow best friends today.

Hey Spencer!”

I’d know that raspy voice anywhere, and as I slowly peer above the hand covering my eyes, I know I’m right.

Hi Ashley.”

Thought you might like a refill?” She holds out a coffee pot in my direction.

Oh...” I glance down at my rather full mug and then hold it out to her with a shrug “..why not, thanks.”

She fills me up, and I find myself briefly thinking of her filling me up in other ways.

Wait...what?

Did I really just think that?

Yes, I did and I have been for awhile. Ashley Davies, coffee pourer and pastry maker, is, as Aiden puts it, “hot”. And maybe I have a little innocent crush on her. You know, in the same way that straight girls love Angelina Jolie [well except for this straight girl.

It means nothing. I’m just bored and alone. The last guy I dated, Keith, lasted about three weeks, and happily ended when I realized I’d rather date a sack of potatoes than him.

I need stimulation, both mentally and physically, and I’m not finding it. So of course I’d grow fond of Ashley, head employee of the town’s main Coffee place. She’s smart, witty, interesting, and friendly [most the time. Plus she’s easy on the eyes. Who wouldn’t want to be around that?

Well, I know I did and still do. Still very much do. It was by chance that we met, really. I had just moved back home from Cleveland, where I had been living for awhile after graduating from college. I was tired of the city life, I missed my family, and my job as a photographer for Clevelands underground music mag, “Pic”, was not what it used to be. So just like that, I moved back to my hometown, earning a job as a photographer at the local newspaper. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but I’m happy.

During my first week back in Shaker Heights, I stumbled into what I thought was The Coffee Pot, my favorite place to get a latte, however this was not The Pot. No, this place was jazzed up with funky drawings on the walls and splattered paint on the floor. I quickly realized that the rather large "The Bean" sign hanging before my eyes was indication that The Coffee Pot was no longer here. Not one for breaking the routine, I was completely ready to walk out; if it wasn’t what I already knew and trusted, I didn’t care to stay.

But then I heard her.

Leaving so soon?”

Slowly I turned and found this full of energy brunette perched behind the register. Her wild curly strands of hair framing her beautiful face perfectly.

See...I think you should stay, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.”

There was something in her voice, her words, that made me believe her. I knew I’d be missing out if I didn’t hang around.

So I did.

I’ve been coming back here for coffee breaks ever since. A month later, and I’m yet to really know anything about Ashley, except we’re the same age, and that she’s single.

Don’t ask me how I know this. Or more so, why it relieves me.

We share hello’s and happy smiles. She refills my cup, too often sometimes, and it makes me wonder if maybe she wants to start up conversation with me as much as I want to with her. Either way I keep coming back, sitting on the same comfy chair in the back right corner, pretending to read the paper, a book, my slides...while I watch her.

While I read her.

Yeah, I come here for the coffee. Yup. But, truthfully, The Bean’s coffee isn’t as good as the Coffee Pot’s. And honestly, I don’t miss it. Because the service here, with it’s witty comebacks, and hearty smiles, is worth more than any perfect latte.

I can hear Aiden coughing, growing louder with each second, and it breaks me from my thoughts.

What?” I almost spit out, annoyed.

He widens his eyes, nodding towards Ashley, who’s making her way back over here.

Your point is..? Or am I supposed to understand what your grunting and nervous ticks mean?” I chuckle, so he knows I’m joking, as he rolls his eyes “Introduce me to the hottie!”

Right. Of course he wants to be introduced. And weirdly, I do not want that to happen.

So big day at the paper, Spence?”

Ashley perches herself slightly on my arm rest, and suddenly it’s very warm in here.

Oh yeah...for sure.”

For sure? You are such a loser. And there goes Aiden coughing again.

You ok over there? You want something to drink, water or something?”

Ashley asks, with genuine concern and maybe some pity, and it takes everything in me to not burst out laughing. I knew I liked her.

Cheeks flushed and smiling, Aiden laughs, with a bit of embarrassment I’m sure, and stands. “Yeah, water, that's it..." he eyes me, while I just smirk "...I’m gonna go grab one, want anything Spence?”

I smile, shaking my head “no”, and watch him walk away, a slight sulk in his step.

Boyfriend?”

Aiden? No...” I shake my head profusely “...definitely no.”

Ahhh...” She looks down on her skirt covered legs, sitting so close to my overheating body “...he’s cute.”

It’s absentminded, but something tells me she might be interested. “Maybe you should introduce me then.”

She says it sweetly, looking down on her tied hands in her lap, before smirking over towards me.

Oh no. No, absolutely not.

Aiden? No, he’s...” I’m so tempted to say gay, but somehow I know that will only backfire “...he’s not really into relationships.”

Not a complete lie.

Well neither am I, sounds like a match made in heaven to me.”

The smile on her face makes me wonder what her exact intentions are here. Something about that wicked smirk makes me think that maybe, just maybe, she’s not interested in Aiden at all. Maybe, she’s interested in him as way to get closer to me.

Either way she’s not getting closer to Aiden, that I will make sure of.

You should meet my brother.” I practically blurt out, and I’m terribly confused as to where it even came from. Judging from Ashley’s amused face, I’m sure she’s a bit baffled too.

Your brother, huh?”

Her mouth opens crookedly, as if she's actually mulling this outlandish suggestion over. We hardly know each other, and yet, here I am setting her up with my brother.

Which, remind me again, why am I doing this?

Oh right, to keep her away from Aiden. To keep her away from a potential relationship, and lord knows setting her up with Glen prevents both things. My oldest brother, in all his 26 years of age glory, is a mess. A player. And while I love him, we all know he will never settle down.

And I’m safe in the knowledge that, unlike Ashley and Aiden, nothing could ever transpire between Ashley and Glen.

Well...” she lightly places her hand over mine as she stands “...maybe I should.”

She smiles down at me, and it makes me swallow hard. I’ve never seen this smile before. It’s not as vibrant. It’s soft...with the faintest trace of something else. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe sadness?

Either way, as I watch her sway back behind the register, I’m not sad. Because setting Ashley up with Glen to prevent her from dating Aiden is one of the best ideas I’ve ever come up with.

“Helloooo...Earth to Spencer.”

“Wha?” I glance towards her.

“So what do you think?”

She’s smiling widely, in a smart ass way, knowing full well I’ve been spacing.

“About?”

“About a party at my place for Aid’s big night?”

“Oh right, Aiden...” my tone is strange from still being caught up in my memories from before, and as I see her looking at me funny, I change my tune quickly “...that sounds perfect, Ash. Glen won’t mind?”

It takes everything in me to not cringe as I say my brothers name.

“Oh...” she waves her hand, dismissively “...he’s not going to be here, some team publicity thing...” she sighs, almost sadly “...to be honest, I’m not really sure where he's going to be, what event he's going to, they all seem to blend together these days.”

It hurts my heart to see her sad, so I reach my hand for hers. Loosely lacing our fingers, making her smile up at me. I give her a weak smile, not sure what else I have to give.

“It’s ok...you’re gonna be here, my favorite Carlin, and that’s all that matters.”

I quirk an eyebrow.

“Favorite, eh?”

“Well...” She laughs lightly “...I would say Paula, but she’s been kinda creepy about the Club’s new pool these days so...”

“I know!”

“Seriously, Spence, WHO is she sleeping with over there?”

With wide eyes, we smile at each other from our mutual discovery, before we fall into fits of giggles. Hunched over and breathless, we laugh until it’s over nothing. Until we’re laughing because the other one hasn’t stopped yet, and that in itself is reason enough. Suddenly, through her laughter, she tries to tell me something, and even though her voice is lost in her chuckles, I’m not.

No, through those gorgeous and open eyes, I understand every word.

30.12.07 19:26


chapter 1: INTRUDUCTIONS

Stuck inside another Sunday dinner and all I can do is stare at her from across the table. Stare at her like I'm wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses ever created, leaving my line of visual interest hidden. The catch here, however, is I'm not wearing any glasses; my line of vision is certainly not hidden; and the object of my desire knows it. Oh how she knows, but pretends she doesn't. Or maybe I’m the one pretending.

She's wearing one of those short skirts; the ones I know mom disapproves of and the ones I completely approve of. The ones I approve of far more than I should, and not just because we’re both girls.

I do this a lot. Staring. I do it too much. I want her. It took a long time to realize it. And it took even longer to accept it. But two years after first meeting her, I think I’ve managed to do both.

It’s a complicated relationship we have; Ashley and me. Both nearing twenty seven, with plenty in common, she’s become one of my closest friends here in my small hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Population: One. While I could figure out the exact population number, I really don’t care [and I’m sure all of you don’t either. Because all that matters to me [and I’m sure all of you too is she’s a part of that population.

And really, who needs to know more than that?

Yeah, yeah. I know, I should probably include my family, my friends, hell even myself in that number. But I swear, some days, most days, all I care about is her. Some days, most days, all that lives and breathes in this town, is her.

It’s bad. Really bad. But somehow, no one knows. No one suspects. No one but my best friend Madison, and even she hasn’t mentioned anything. Some nights, like tonight, I’m nervous my father might have an idea. Some nights, like tonight, I catch him catching me watching her.

“So work’s going well honey?”

His voice draws me from my peas, a shabby subistitue for Ashley’s adorable nose, but as I said, I knew he was watching.

“Yeah...” a sidelong glance at that gorgeous brunette [I just can’t help myself, whose interest has diverted from my mother to my father and me “...pretty much.”

She holds my attention in the delicate palm of her hand, taking her time in giving me that wicked knee weakening smirk of hers before returning to Paula’s drabble about the “Club”s new pool; leaving me in my own pool of arousal and guilt. It’s moments like these, where I know I’m not the one pretending. Where I’m sure she feels everything between us. Sees everything between us. I know she feels what I feel. Sees what I see. I know she sees everything inside of me.

Shit. I’m staring again.

And fuck. Dad’s watching.

“So..uh...things at the Youth Center?” I stutter, eyes crawling back to his, knowing they’re an exact mirror of my own “...things...uh...going well?”

He takes a moment, smiling at me in such a strange way. Oh God, he knows. He so fucking knows. I’m a short few minutes from going to hell...and something tells me it won’t be in a handbasket.

Breathe, Spence, breathe. Paranoia was never your friend.

“Same as always, which I guess is a good and bad thing.”

He’s normal again, eating his dinner through a smile; he’s always been proud of his culinary skills, and rightfully so. I mean why else would my two brothers and me, off living our own lives, still gather back here at our childhood home every Sunday for one of his kick ass dinners?

It’s the cooking I tell you.

I swear it’s to see my family.

I keep telling myself that, but my disguise is wearing thin, you all see through it, and someday soon I fear they will too. Someday soon they’ll all know my dirty secret. They will, and so will she.

A foot beckons me from my frightful thoughts. Her foot poking mine.

And I’m staring again. But so is she. So it’s ok.

Conversation swirls around us; Clay and Chelsea’s baby girls terrorizing first day of preschool; Glen’s next away game; Mom’s obsession with the “Clubs” new pool...seriously who IS she sleeping with over there?

But I don’t care enough to spend much more time dwelling on that [actually, I don’t care to ever put more thought into that

Ashley and I are having our own words, with our own eyes, with our own smiles, with our own food on our plate that we try to look down on...but can’t. We can’t leave each other. She’s giving me her open mouthed smile. The one that makes me feel like all of this...is alright. I mean, friends can look at each other right? Best friends can have moments like these, that they don’t want to end, can’t they?

It’s perfectly normal to want to sweep the table clean and throw said best friend over it, doing the most amazingly dirty things possible to her?

No? That’s not exactly normal?

Sigh.

And once again, I don’t care, because she’s pulling the silly “cross-eyed” face she loves so much [as do I. A normal occurance at Sunday dinners, and always almost makes me spit out my water. Gets me every time. It’s so innocent, so goofy, so childish...just like her sometimes. And I love it. Just like I love her.

Yikes.

I really said that, didn’t I? Love. The L word. I’m so in trouble, you don’t even know the half of it.

A big, imperfect hand slides into Ashleys tanned and perfect one, pulling her from me.

“Ready, baby?”

Ew.

“Oh...” She tries to look at me once more, I know it, but my fork holds my reserved-for-her-eyes attention “...yeah, I’m ready.”

She sounds quiet and defeated.

But I’m fuming with jealousy. So much so, I won’t look at her as she says her goodbyes to the room. I’ll make up an excuse later. I’ll figure out how to explain my sudden bitterness over “nothing.” But right now, in this moment, it hurts too much to see her with him.

Him being my brother Glen.

That’s the worst part, for so many obvious reasons, but the reason it eats at me isn’t for those obvious reasons. It eats at me, cause I can’t do anything about it. It aches for me to see her with him. It kills me a little more every time they share a routine, unthinking, kiss.

And I have no right to feel this way. I’m actually the opposite of right. I’m so wrong. All of this is so wrong. But the thing is, while it may be wrong, it doesn’t feel that way.

No, everything with Ashley, only feels right. When I’m with Ashley, I finally feel right.

But that doesn’t matter, because she’s not mine, she never will be, and it’s practically my fault.

I met Ashley when I set her up with my brother.

I wanted her by the time he proposed.

And I fell completely in love with her at their wedding.

Yeah...I’m so going to hell.

29.12.07 16:45


ich habe vor ein paar Wochen diese Geschichte im in internet gelesen und sie ist echt gut. sie ist zwar auf Englisch, aber man muss sie meiner Meinung nach gelesen habe.
ich werde jeden tag nen ganzes kapitel posten. hoffe die gefällt euch.

29.12.07 16:39


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