Chapter 39

My mouth opened and shut a few times. "Jesse." I finally managed to croak out.

"I've been looking everywhere for you," he leaned in to kiss me. I smelled the familiar alcohol on his breath.… he always did drink Smirnoff. Some things never changed.

"Get off me." I pushed him away, disgusted.

"Come on, baby.… I'm not that wasted," he grabbed me again, trying to pull me back to him.

"Yes you are, now get off me." I snapped back, pushing him off again. "We're over, we've broken up long ago, and I'm over you!"

"I'm not over you. I love you, I still love you, I'll always love you," he tried to kiss me again.

"Leave me alone." I gritted my teeth, pushing him back again. I quickly dodged him and hurried into the house.

I caught sight of Andrew in the kitchen, talking to Izzy. "There you are!" I exclaimed probably too loudly, grabbing onto his arm.

He jumped. Definitely too loud. "Hey," he replied. "Sorry, I've been playing keep away with Izzy for the last hour," he said quietly then studied my face. "Are you okay?"

"I'm not drunk." Izzy told me unsteadily, blinking rapidly.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" I heard Jesse shout behind me. I whirled around to see him standing on the coffee table. Everyone suddenly quieted and turned. "Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a round of applause for Ana for going to rehab?" he began clapping overdramatically, smirking at me. The music stopped.

"Who the hell is that?" Andrew demanded.

"Holy shit!" Isabella shouted and then burst into giggles.

I stared him down as he got off the table and then stumbled over. "I told you I still loved you, baby," he told me quietly as everyone stared at me, whispering behind their hands.

"You bastard." I said through clenched teeth, shaking my head and glaring at him angrily.

"You bitch," he shot back, leaning in, and accosting my personal space with his alcohol-reeking breath.

Andrew stepped forward but I pushed him back. "Jesse." I said, voice level. "You've taken a lot of things away from me. You took away my pride, my dignity, and self respect, not to mention the time I spent in rehab."

He snorted as he looked down at me. "You took away the good years of my life," he shot back.

"Those were your good years?" I asked.

That's when he got angry. "You know what, you bitch?" he demanded. "I never loved you."

It didn't hurt anymore. He could never hurt me again. "I loved you." I replied. "But I don't now," and then I pulled back my fist and slammed it into his nose. Pain shot through my arm from my hand. He stumbled back, holding his nose, and then fell to the ground.

Silence filled the room.

I tried to shake out my pain in my hand, pained expression on my face. "Let's go." I said quietly, grabbing my purse.

"Ana-" Andrew began.

"Later." I said sharply, holding onto Izzy and steering her out of the party. She remained surprisingly docile and didn't put up a fight.

"What the hell was that?" Andrew demanded once we were outside.

"That was Jesse." I sighed as I walked Izzy down the street. "He was my boyfriend… the one who got me drinking."

"That was the guy?" he demanded.

"Yeah." I replied quietly.

He was quiet for a long time. "You should have let me hit him," he said gruffly as we reached the car.

"Probably should've." I half smiled as we helped Izzy into the back seat. "You okay?" I asked her quietly, pushing the hair back from her face. "You gonna be sick?" she shook her head silently. "Okay." I shut the door.

"How's your hand?" Andrew asked me.

"It's been better." I replied. We both looked down at it and then I looked up at him. "I couldn't let you hit him." I said quietly.

"Why?" he asked me, confused.

I shrugged. "You have your pride.… I have mine." I said quietly. "Call it my revenge."

He looked down at me and then picked up my hand. We looked at the bruised and bleeding knuckles in the streetlight. "Let's get you home, prize fighter."

"Clever." I smirked back. It was funny, that you could still find humor in situations like this.

We got home and helped Izzy into bed and then went into the kitchen. Andrew sat me down at the table and then wet a paper towel under the faucet. "So that was your ex," he said quietly.

"Yeah." I agreed quietly.

"What happened with you guys?" he asked me, sitting down and taking my hand.

I quietly watched him mop up the blood on my hand before answering, "We began dating in the beginning of junior year.… he was your typical bad boy. I was a naive idiot who told myself I could change him." Andrew looked up at me sharply. "That's why I wanted to take a break from us.… because I didn't want to and couldn't change you." I said quietly. "I learned that lesson long ago." I looked down at my hand.

"I'm changing myself.… you don't have to do anything," he replied, tilting my chin up to meet his eyes.

"I know." I replied quietly. He searched my eyes for a moment, seemed to deem that a good enough answer, and then went back to my hand. I went on with the Jesse story. "Well we started drinking here and there.… he got a fake ID.… we started drinking more.… he was driving and I was riding around when we were both drunk.… he slammed into a tree."

"Shit." Andrew said quietly, looking up again.

"Yeah. The next day, my mom found me in my room with a bottle of vodka, drinking by myself.… and that was when she sent me to rehab." I finished quietly. He got up and got some ice out of the subzero fridge. "Then again, she was drinking by herself across the hall in her own room." I shook my head bitterly.

"Everyone makes mistakes," he sat back down at the table and placed the ice pack on my hand.

"Yeah." I nodded in agreement. "Even me." I said quietly and then looked up at him through half closed eyes.

"Well I know something that isn't a mistake," he said, taking my unhurt hand and looked into my eyes.

"What's that?" I asked though I felt a smile curl at my lips at his expression.

"I know that I love you.… and I'm pretty sure you love me too.…" he smiled back.

"I do love you." I replied with a soft smile.

"Come here, prize fighter," he cupped my chin.

"I'm never going to live this one down, am I?" I asked dryly as he neared.

"Nope," he agreed before kissing me. "I'm trying to change," he told me when he pulled back.

"I know you are.… and that's where you and Jesse are different." I replied quietly, running my hand through his short hair.