And she’s off again. I want to go after her, but H is in the way and with every step I take he flexes his muscles. No matter how hard I’ll try, I won’t get very far before he’ll be on me. Again.
I’m not sure what to say or if I should even speak. I’m pretty sure that if I even look the wrong way my face will be meeting the pavement. H has always had a temper and it doesn’t seem like that has gone away. It’s weirdly comforting to see him like this, the same as he’s always been, the same as the last time I saw him.
I start simple. “Hi.”
H nods, glaring at me.
“Can I…” I move my hands.
“She doesn’t want to see you or speak to you.”
Well, that was pretty obvious from her behavior. But I just want to see her, talk to her, one last time. I have to try.
“Why are you here?” He tightens his muscles.
Not to stalk Lo, no matter what he thinks. “I saw that you had an exposition. I wanted to check it out. It’s your first since we were in the one right before graduation, right?”
H shrugs. “Nothing special. Not sure why you’d come all the way here for that.”
“I miss us working together. We used to make some great installations. Our constructions outshone everyone else’s, quite literally.” Hunter’s specialty is metal and mine is electronics and lights. We used to do magical things with sound, light and movement. We were unbeatable, as friends and as the brains behind our art. We were, past tense.
He shrugs with one shoulder, but I can see he is somewhat relaxed now. Talking about art always did that to him.
“Maybe we can meet up this weekend? I’m here until Monday. You can even take your girlfriend.” I try. I’ve missed my friend, and if everything goes well on Monday, I’ll be in need of friends here, as I’ll be here until summer.
“That’s Lola’s sister.” And he puffs up again, strung tight, ready to battle.
Oh. I search my brain, trying to come up with her name. I’ve maybe seen her from a distance, once or twice, but never actually met her. Lo liked to keep her friends and her family separate. “Lizzy?”
“And she’s not your girlfriend?” They looked pretty cosy though, when I saw them earlier.
I almost let out a laugh, but stop myself. Yeah. That does make things a little more complicated. I’m pretty sure that Lola won’t want me to meet her sister, not now, not ever. Though, that does beg the question. “No Tessa? Do you know what she does these days?”
We used to be inseparable, the four of us, me, Hunter, Lola and Tessa. But after I walked out on Lola, I broke contact with everyone. I didn’t think they’d ever want to see me again, and they’d be right, too. But that’s not for today.
H’s breath catches, he deflates and stumbles as if he’s been hit. A flash of darkness crosses his face before he can pull himself together again. “She’s—She’s dead.”
What? “Dead?” My voice is barely over a whisper. What? How?
“Motor crash. Just over a year ago.” He looks away, the pain in his eyes so raw, so scary.
Wow. Fuck. I don’t have any words. I don’t even know what to say now, too stunned. I open my mouth a few times, before words start to come out. “I’m so sorry.” I reach into my pocket, grabbing a card. “Call me. Let’s meet this weekend.” I stumble away, too stunned to know what else to do. My mind suddenly blank and at the same time filled with such loud static that I can’t think.
How do you deal with this? How do you deal with hearing one of your best friends during high school is no longer alive? I have so many questions, but I’m not sure any of them will ever be answered.
I leave H outside as I make my way back into the building. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing. But I can’t face him right now, not after what he said, the way he looked.
Tessa. Gone. Out of everyone… Though, I guess that I shouldn’t be too surprised, she was always reckless. Made even Hunter like her. Before he met her, he’d been a little hyperactive, but it wasn’t until you combined those two that stuff started going wrong and dangerous. But that was what made them so fun to have around. But now. Now no more.
“Blaze?” Kylie wraps her arm around me. “Have you seen this yet?” She starts pulling, but I shrug her off. “Hey.” She glares at me.
“Just. Not now.” I turn around. Why did I take her with me? Well, she asked, that was kind of enough, and I didn’t want to be alone. I should have guessed that today would be the day that I run into the one girl I can’t have. The one girl I used to have but can’t have, ever again. Because I messed up, big time.
“Blaze.” A woman’s voice makes me look up. Her voice sounds familiar, but I can’t quite place her. She holds out her hand. “Hey, good to see that you came. I’m Tamara.”
“Blaze.” I shake her hand.
“You used to go to school with Hunter right? Work together? What do you think of his art now?” She moves her arm to encompass a couple of the pieces. It was easy to recognize them, but I can also see the influence of other people in it.
The woman starts looking around. “Have you talked to him yet? I can’t see him anymore. He should be here somewhere, I just talked to him.”
“I did. I found him.” If you can call that talking. I want to ask this woman about Tessa, but I’m not sure if she’d even know anything. And what would I ask? How did she die? What happened? There are no questions I can ask.
“Good. It would be nice to know someone in the city if you join the project. Right? Makes making friends a lot easier. Enjoy yourself, I need to mingle.” And she’s off again. She’s a bit odd, but I like how enthusiastic she is, even if that can’t quite reach me right now.
Kylie starts pulling on my arm. “I’ve seen enough, can we go now?”
Since H is gone, I don’t really have a reason to stay here, especially not since I feel so lost. I’m in no state to actually be around people. “Yeah, let’s go.” I pull her along to the exit, and as we’re getting our jackets, I see Lola’s parents come in through the doors.
Her mum’s eyes fall on me, a frown immediately forming. Fuck. I push past them. “Excuse me.” I don’t need another person to glare at me tonight.
“Let’s go out for some food, or clubbing.” Kylie doesn’t seem to realize my bad mood. Then again, I didn’t choose her for her brains, which sounds awful, and it is, especially because it’s the truth. But seeing Lola… I’m not sure I can do this. There is just something about Lola, about Hunter’s words… It turns me back into the boy I used to be, a boy who had no eyes for anyone but one beautiful girl.
“I’m gonna go back to the hotel.” I turn down the road.
“What? Are you serious?” Kylie follows me. “I thought we were here for some fun. Who pissed you off in the two second I didn’t keep my eyes on you?”
“Stop talking.” Why did I take her? Why did I decide this was a good idea? Oh, yeah, because I get bored easily. And when I get bored… Well, I like to do fun stuff.
She makes big eyes at me, but keeps quiet as we walk back to the hotel. I’m so done with today. “You can sleep on the bed. I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”
“What? You’re no fun. I thought the all-mighty-sex-God Blaze was always all over girls. But I knew you’d be a disappointment. I should never have believed the rumors.” She shakes her head. “You sleep in here, I’m finding a better place to sleep. I didn’t want to sleep in this dump anyway.” She takes a look at her phone. “It’s early enough, I’ll call and have someone pick me up. It’s not like I don’t have enough guys who would kill to have me at their side tonight.” She grabs her bags and drags them down the hallway, she turns around one last time. “Fuck you, Blaze!”
Well, that’s one thing she’ll never do. That’s for sure.
I slam the door closed and let myself drop onto the bed. Crap. How did this day go from me being all excited about going to the show to wanting to hide under a rock? What’s up with that? I thought I’d put this all behind me… At least somewhat.
But one moment of seeing Lola… And everything starts messing up.
Everything starts to unravel.
I wait in front of the cafe, not daring to go inside just yet. I’m not convinced that Hunter won’t just punch me right in the face when he sees me. But I also don’t know why he messaged me this morning. It’s not like I could leave this city, no matter how badly I wanted, as I’ve got an appointment with Tamara about transferring to the college here for a semester. But for most of the night, I’ve been considering just canceling that. I know the opportunity to work with Tamara is great, especially if I want to make connections with people in the art world, since she’s known for only working with prodigies, but even then, I’m not sure how much being beaten up by Hunter or having to face Lola’s devastation is worth that.
When I look up, Lola is standing a couple of tables away from me, her eyes big as she slowly starts to move back. My breath catches in my chest and I gasp. Fuck. Not ready. She looks like hell, like she hasn’t slept all night and I don’t blame her one bit. It’s not like I got any sleep myself. And that knowledge rips into my heart, shredding it just a little further.
I try to step towards her, but she shakes her head and steps back again. Okay, so, nothing of that. I want nothing more than to take her in my arms, pull close her familiar body. Hold her against me, where she belongs.
Comparing her to Kylie, comparing her to all the girls I’ve had sex with between that fateful night all those years ago and yesterday… It’s easy to see why I chose those girls, because they look nothing alike. Because it makes forgetting about Lola so much easier, it allows me to not think about the past. It lets me feel like there isn’t anything wrong with my life.
“Lo?” I stay where I am, I don’t move, but everything in me wants to reach out.
“I can’t do this, B. I’m just waiting for my sister.” She walks past me, her beautiful azure eyes clouded.
“I’m sorry.” She doesn’t even know how sorry I am, for messing up all those years ago, for upsetting her now.
“I have no message to that. Please don’t talk.” She steps into the cafe, out of my sight again.
I try to look through the windows, and I watch her sit down in the back, as far away from the door and windows as possible. Her movements are stiff, then she looks my way, and I see her pain. Fuck. I don’t want to hurt her. Just seeing her again, I want her so badly. Last night in that skirt and top, and just now, when she took her jacket off… It’s confusing how I can get turned on and feel so much pain at her sight at the same time.
She doesn’t look away, she keeps my eyes locked to hers, and then, even over this distance I can see her lips form into thin lines and she squeezes her eyes shut, tears sliding down her cheeks. She shakes her head again and I know.
I know this isn’t right. How can we ever overcome our past? I left her, when she needed me most, I was stupid and I left. I hurt her and I won’t be able to make it better. It’s unforgivable and at the same time I don’t want anything but for her to forgive me. And I don’t even deserve it.
“B.” Hunter pulls me from my thoughts and I jump a little, I wasn’t paying attention.
“Okay, I’ll be with Lola inside. See you later.” Lola’s sister, Lizzy, pulls Hunter down a little, gives him a quick kiss and then turns to me, glaring. “Fuck you.” And then she’s off, quickly locating and then joining her sister inside.
“Hi.” I’m not exactly sure what I expected to happen if I ever did get to talk to Hunter.
“Hey.” He looks around. “Let’s go somewhere else.” His eyes fall on the girls inside and I can’t help but look too. Lizzy is sitting with her arms around Lo, holding her tight.
“Yes, let’s.” I follow him down the block and we step into a small cafeteria, both ordering something to drink and then we sit down at the back.
Hunter doesn’t seem to waste any time. “What are you doing here?” Well, tact has never been one of his strong points.
“Looking at your exhibition.”
“Yes. And? You saw it, you’re still here.”
“You want me gone.”
“Yes.” He plays with the can in his hands. “You’re upsetting a lot of people by being here. Especially with a girl at your side.”
Lola. I’m upsetting Lola, which then upsets Lizzy and Hunter. “So what?” I’m not here for Lola, and I’m not going to show how much her pain hurts me too.
“So. God. Do you have no brain at all? You forgot that Lola lives in the same city as me?” Hunter sighs.
Yes, I may have… “She’s always said that she’d move away for college, so why should I have to think about that?”
Hunter looks at me like I’m the worst person in the world, I don’t disagree. “Where is the girl who was with you yesterday?”
“No clue. She left me alone in the hotel last night.”
“Serves you right.”
“Maybe.” I lean back in my chair. “Why are you dating Lola’s sister? Isn’t that like… super weird?”
Hunter shrugs. “When I first met her I had no idea who she was. It took a while before I knew, at that point… It didn’t matter anymore.”
“I thought you liked the more expressive and dangerous type. Not meek ones like her.” Of course, I want to hurt him with my words, hurt someone because I just don’t know what else to do. Maybe he’ll even hit me, that would probably be good.
“Hey. Don’t even go there.”
“What? You’re now the quiet and careful type?” I pointedly look at the motor helmet at his feet. “Are you wound around her little finger? On your knees, promising not to do anything dangerous?”
Hunter’s eyes darken and he breathes carefully, then he closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Fuck you. You have no right to lash out like that. That’s just… pathetic.” He stands up, grabbing his helmet and steps next to me. “But maybe that’s what you are. Pathetic. Like you’ve always been.” Then he walks out of the cafeteria, leaving me behind in shock.
He has no idea. For years I’ve tried to forget everything that happened in high school. Tried to leave it behind me so that I didn’t have to actually deal with all of this. I thought that maybe I could patch things up with Hunter once I got here, maybe not become friends, but at least not enemies.
But from the start, I’ve been doing everything wrong. I’ve been angering people, pissing them off. And it’s all my own fault. My own fault for not paying attention. I squeeze the can in my hand, the sound and the pain of it not making anything any better. Why did I do this? Why did I actually come here? Did I really think things would be easy?
Maybe, maybe not. Maybe taking Kylie with me was just an excuse to not having to think, to show off that I’m not as broken as I actually am. If so, why am I not feeling any better at all? Why are things hurting this badly?
I stand up, also leaving the cafeteria, then I look around, do I want to stay here? Do I want to stay in this city with two people, well, three people by now, who hate my guts?
Next chapter is next week! <3
Please, remember, this is just cleaned up, not fully edited, so some errors may be still in here. They will be fixed before publication!