Okay, so sorry, sorry, sorry it took so long for me to update again, but I was in the hospital for a week, and then it was suddenly finals. I've technically had this done for about two weeks now. :P
But you should all be happy! It's 19 pages long! Count 'em 19! Haha. And this chapter was immensely joyful to write, so I hope you enjoy reading it. Now off with you!
Hear You Me
Chapter Fourteen: The Lead That Led to a Misunderstanding
I'm going to die by the end of the night, I thought as I locked eyes with my livid roommate.
"Please tell me you did not sleep with HIM!"
"I—We went to a bar! It's not what you think!"
"Did I just hear you say you went to a bar? Mom's not going to be too happy about that."
"Hey Em, how about that date?"
"Oh my God. YOU FUCKED HIM?!"
My skin, which was pale, turned pasty white. My hands shook uncontrollably, and I could feel myself losing the ability to obtain air. How was I supposed to get out of this situation? More importantly, how did I end up in this situation?
Six hours earlier
I can't believe it!
After all the (painstakingly infuriating) hours I spent trying to pry every last bit of information Matt had on the staff and students here last weekend, I later come to find he's been withholding vital information about Laney?! How could he?!
I crossed the lawn, spotting Paige getting out of her super-expensive convertible, helping collect some suitcases from the backseat. The passenger seat was occupied by a girl wearing a sunhat, so I couldn't see her face, not that I cared to, nor did I stop to take the time to find out who her mystery friend was as I barged into the boy's dorm and up the stairs.
I glared at the carpet as I marched down the crowded hallway, ignoring the odd looks I was getting from the guys on this level. I needed to talk to somebody, and there was only one person I had in mind. I just hoped he was around.
I headed straight to 217, the path memorized from the last time I took it.
"Rodney! Open up!" I called, banging on his door continuously. "Rodney!"
The door flew open and I jumped back in surprise, bumping shoulders with passerby. Two guys laughed crudely as they walked away. One winked at Rodney while the other tapped my butt. I gasped and flattened my skirt with a blush. Rodney glared at their backs as they left and headed to their room, receiving several congratulatory high-fives along the way. The moment their door shut with a 'click' he turned to me, eyes looking even more murderous if possible.
I swallowed and bit my lip. "H-Hey…"
"Get in here." He grabbed my arm, yanked me into his room, and slammed the door shut, effectively cutting off the wolf-whistles and cheers mid-chant.
"What are you doing here?" he snapped. I opened my mouth, but he barged on. "Are you stupid? You don't come running through a building full of horny, sex-deprived men! You're a girl for Christ's sake! One girl! You've gotta be stupid! Fucking stupid!"
I glared at him and clawed his fingers away from my arm.
"What's got your panties in a twist?" I huffed. My anger was festering again.
My weak attempt to defend my honor seemed to loosen him up a bit and he cracked a smile at my comment. He sighed and rubbed little circles over his temples and eyelids. "I'm sorry. I haven't been feeling well. In case you didn't notice, I wasn't in class today."
"Oh." I hadn't noticed.
"Yeah." He scratched the back of his neck.
Now we stood in an awkward silence, staring, each of us waiting for the other to say something. Finally, he cleared his throat.
"So what are you doing here?" he asked, shuffling over to the empty couch and lifting a small cup of hot cocoa, cooling it off with a gentle breath of air before taking a sip.
I sighed and took a seat beside him. "I dunno. My feet pretty much just led me here. One second, my day seemed to be looking up, and the next, it took a nosedive." I tucked my hair behind my ears. "I mean, I just found out that Matt's been keeping vital information from me."
"And what information would that be?"
"He had the gall to suddenly tell me that Laney was just using Micah," I huffed.
"Don't let that get to you," he said. "That's been a pretty long-running rumor."
"So it's not true?"
He shrugged. "If her goal was to make me jealous and wanna sleep with her by fooling around with Micah's feelings, then yeah, it's not true. I only have eyes for Tomy, pain-in-my-ass that she's been lately. She won't even look me in the eye anymore!"
"Well she was a little rattled by your confrontation last week."
"She told you about that?" I nodded. He sighed. "Great. She hates me."
I relaxed, with a wry smile. "On the contrary, she rather likes you a lot." He raised a brow.
"What's that?" he asked, veering off subject, nodding at the small black notebook I was clutching. I gazed down at it in confusion, having forgotten how I'd even obtained it, but then Matt's energetic proclamation from earlier flashed through my mind, my memory returned, and I answered him.
"…News," I said casually, bending back the cover binding to read the two narrow words of scribbled handwriting at the top of the page.
Rodney gave me a weary glance, but I could see that the little black book now had his full interest. "What kind of news?"
"Good. Bad." I shrugged. "I'm not really sure what to make of it."
He held his hand out for the notebook, which I tossed to him.
"Mark," he read slowly. "Phantom…"
I fussed with my one hearing aid anxiously. "Do you know him?"
He shook his head. "No. But the last part has me curious."
"Phantom," he said. "If I had to venture a guess, I'd say it's not his name, but the name of a place instead. Where to find him, you know? And if that's the case, then I think we might have ourselves a lead."
He smiled and started to nod, like the idea was becoming more realistic the more he thought about it. "The Phantom."
"Oh. And where's that exactly?"
He chuckled and ran a hand through the hair on his neck. "The place where this whole mess began." My eyes widened.
"You mean the p-party?" He nodded. I shot up to my feet. "We should find this guy Mark!"
His eyebrows touched his hairline at my proclamation. "E.T., there's gotta be over a hundred Marks in this town, let alone in that one rum house. The odds—"
"I really don't want to hear it, Rodney," I said, moving to stand as tall and as intimidating as I could in front of him. I held back the snide comment I was thinking: that I could just pull off my last hearing aid and wouldn't have to hear it at all, and said instead, "The least you can do is try! What good's a lead if you don't do anything with it?" He sighed and hung his head back in defeat.
"Great, so then pick me up from the hospital tonight, okay?"
"What? You mean you want to go tonight?"
"Of course! You don't have the luxury of waiting any longer! We need to get this whole thing resolved so that you two can kiss and make up already. It's been two years coming."
I took his hand and pulled him up from the couch. He pulled away. "Hold on a second!"
"What is it?"
"I just… I need a minute. Everything's happening so fast…"
"Well, yeah. You're on the verge of a breakthrough!"
"And what happens if it doesn't work out? If we search and find nothing?" he said, casting his eyes away and down at the carpet. "What then?"
My response was quicker than I would have surmised. "Then you find another way."
He turned away from me and folded his hands behind his head, inhaling deeply. I studied him curiously. "You're scared," I said at last, "but you shouldn't be." I gave him a firm shove in the back, making him stumble, and he craned his neck to look back at me wanly. He opened his mouth, but I clamped my hand over it, keeping it there as I spoke to him straight-forward and sternly. "Be upfront with me, Rod. What is Tomy to you? Because you've gotta be willing to fight for her here. And fighting takes failure and you can't be edging away or indecisive about it. Freakin' go for it!"
I removed my hand from his mouth, feeling elated and silly at my little speech, but undefeatable none-the-less. I even smacked him in the back of his head for good measure.
"Okay, not only did my headache just grow," He cocked his head to the side, "but… Did you just call me Rod?"
I glared at him, awe-inspired moment broken. "After all that, that's what you have to say in response?"
He held his hands up. "It's not like that! I mean you're speech was…well that was a surprise all on it's own—a good one—but one that's thrown me a little off my game. I guess I'm not used to it. I… Oh fuck it. You surprised me."
I grinned. "I've been known to do that from time to time."
"I love her," he said after a short pause. "That's the answer you wanted to know, right?"
I smiled. "Well, she loves you too. So don't give up just yet." He nodded.
"You, uh… You shouldn't give up on Micah either," he said. "You be the judge. Not the world."
"Funny coming from the guy who put's the world's weight on his shoulders." I turned towards the door, but stopped. I glanced back at him over my shoulder with a sheepish smile. "Do you think you could give me a lift?"
He sighed in a fashion that clearly read: you're hopeless. "Let me grab my jacket."
I'd been dreading coming back to the hospital. The last time I was here, I didn't exactly have the best experience. I'd even considered gluing my hearing aid to the side of my head (just in case) but figured that'd probably be worse. That was the only idea I could come up with, so I figured I'd just have to deal with it. I put my best foot forward and strolled into the hospital on time with my chin held high. Hopefully no one will notice I'm missing one, if I look like I've got it all together.
Who knows, maybe I wouldn't even have to see the little devils today.
"Go help out at the daycare," Paxy instructed me without delay, rushing off to tend to something more important.
Or not… Fabulous.
I took my time walking down the hallway, feeling as though the walls were closing in on me. Come on Emmy, I said to myself, get it together. You're freaking out for no reason.
I reached the room and looked through the small door-window. Sure enough. There were about six or so kids running around inside, and playing among them was the demon-child that broke my hearing aid. It was his fault I actually had to rely on Mr. Hoyer to interpret my lectures during my classes. He seemed quite proud of that fact today when he realized I was watching him for a change.
With a deep, calming breath, I opened the door.
"LUCAS! Put that back! Betty, don't pick your nose. Carter, it's not polite to push people down!" I watched as a tired looking teenaged girl ran around after the kids, scolding them for doing bad things and smiling gratefully when they did as she asked. "Eddy, leave that alone!" she called, running over to the little boy I recognized as my tormentor. He was trying to open the window. He laughed and ran away from her when he saw her coming.
It took her a full five minutes to catch him and calm him down, and once he was, he kicked her hard in the shin and took off again. Ha.
"Ow, ow, ow!" She limped over to the desk, giving the kid a 'you win' look. It was only then that she noticed me.
"Can I help you?"
"Uh yeah. Actually, I'm here to help you."
It warmed my heart to see her reaction. It must have been the best news she'd gotten all day, because she lifted her eyes to the ceiling and lipped, "Thank you Lord, thank you."
"I'm so glad you're here. I do have a job for you, if you don't mind." Here I told her I'd help her already, with anything, and she was still asking me if it was okay. "Today was Celebrate-Your-Father's-Day. The kids drew pictures. I'd like to hang them up, but they're not giving me the time of day!"
"I'll do it," I said, reading her lips carefully as she told me where the drawings were being kept.
I pulled them out of the desk drawer and looked down at the first one on impulse. It was a portrait. A very large face with beady blue eyes and the biggest smile I'd ever seen someone draw. They'd also drawn little hearts all over the sides. Awe. I clipped it up on the wall and looked down at the next one.
Someone was watching me.
I twisted my head around to look. It was Eddy. He was staring at me with narrowed eyes.
"Um. Hi," I said calmly.
"You're the terrorist."
I'm the terrorist?! I resisted the urge to glare at him. He was just a kid, and this poor girl had probably been preaching "no violence" all day.
"No," I told him. "I'm not a terrorist. I'm Emily."
He just gave me a mean look and didn't say anything. After several minutes of him just standing there watching me, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. "Look," I said. "You're probably not going to understand this because you're a kid, but I'm deaf, okay? I can't hear well. That's what these are for." I slipped it off and bent down, hoping he wouldn't run away. He didn't. He stood his ground and even puffed out his chest a little. I pressed the hearing aid against his ear. "Is my voice louder?" He winced, and pushed me back. I fell on my butt with a gasp.
"You're trying to brainwash me," he accused, pointing. "SHE'S TRYING TO BRAINWASH ME!"
I looked over at the girl, who was looking over at us with a look that read: not again.
"Shh," I told him. "I'm not trying to…oh forget it."
"You're an alien!"
First I'm a terrorist. Now I'm an alien. I'm not really sure which is better. I tried to picture myself as a kid. What would he want to hear? I figured I might as well just go with it.
"But I'm a good alien," I said.
He stopped wailing. I sighed in relief and stuck my hearing aid back on, being sure to stand up so it was out of reach again. I collected the pictures from the floor and that's when an idea came to me. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. He was standing there, glaring at me again. I flipped through the pictures until I found the one with his name on it.
It was a picture of two boy stick figures. One was small with blondish-brown hair. The other tall with dark brown. They both had carefully drawn green-ish blue eyes. The color I knew wasn't a perfect match to Eddy's jade. And Micah's, I thought before shaking him out of my mind. I was supposed to be mad at him. He ditched me. Twice.
"Is this your daddy?" I asked him.
"No, it's not my daddy, stupid," he said. I frowned. He just called me stupid. Nobody's ever called me stupid before. "It's my big brother."
"You're brother? …Mickey?" I recalled. The monster-guitarist with the amazing voice…
He seemed surprised at my remembering, and nodded. "Daddy doesn't come see me, and my mommy only calls me on the phone. Mickey plays with me when I want him to."
My jaw fell slack. His parents don't come to visit him? How long has he been here? I was afraid to ask. My gut flipped. Why did I hate him again? I bit my lip apologetically. I felt sorry for the kid.
"I hate you. Go back to your home planet."
Well, that lasted about a second.
"Eddy. Hate's a very strong word," I said nicely. "You shouldn't say you hate people."
"I hate my daddy. And I hate you."
I pursed my lips. "What about her?" I asked, pointing to the other girl. "Do you like her?"
"No. I hate her too."
"And the kids."
He shrugged, "They're okay."
"Is there anybody you like?"
Well that's reassuring, I thought sarcastically with a heavy sigh of exasperation. I set the papers aside, convinced this kid could like me if he at least tried to get to know me. I couldn't name a single person that hated me. Maybe intensely disliked (eh-hem, Paige), but hate was too strong of a word to classify with someone.
"Tell you what? Why don't you help me hang up these pictures, and I'll let you tell me all about Mickey."
He seemed to think about it for a long time, but he might have just been pretending to prolong the moment.
"No," he said finally and, with a harsh kick to my shin, bolted.
Rodney looked amused as I limped over to his BMW. His eyes trailed down me and he raised a brow as he asked, "What happened to you this time?"
"I broke my shin."
"That sucks. At least you can still hear me."
I hopped in the car as he walked around to the driver's side. "Do you know where you're going?" I asked.
"There's no way in hell I could forget."
Right. That was stupid of me to presume.
The ride to the Phantom was faster than I would have thought. The bar, upon entering, had a pirate theme with a broken ship in the far corner set up to look like a counter, the mugs the kind Johnny Depp drank out of in Tortuga. I guess it made sense. Rodney did say it was a rum bar.
We strolled up to the counter. The lady at the bar gave us a wane look.
"If you want alcohol, I don't serve minors."
Rodney spoke up. "Actually we're looking for someone. We think he works here."
"What's the name?"
Please let there only be one Mark that works here, I thought. The lady turned her back to us to fill up a drink. She slid it across the grain to a greasy fellow sitting in the corner.
"Sorry, kid. There's only one Mark I knew of that worked here, and he was fired a year ago." My hope deflated.
"Does he ever visit?" Rodney asked. My hope rose again.
She cracked a grin. "Visit? I suppose he could try. But he'd find himself in jail if I ever caught him in my bar again."
"Little shit tried to smuggle drugs in and peddle 'em to my customers. Called the police and banned him from entering my premises," she explained. I groaned. This was turning out to be an epic failure.
"Do you know where we might be able to find him?" Rodney must watch a lot of crime shows. I never would have had the semblance to ask these questions.
"Nope. Now if you're not going to buy anything, get out of my bar. You're wasting my seats."
We moped out of the bar at an utter loss. "Phooey, I really hoped we'd get something there," I grumbled, kicking at a stone.
"Hey, you two!" a gruff voice called from the shadows.
I shrieked and ducked behind Rodney. A creepy-thin fellow was standing in the shadows, watching us. I didn't want to get mugged! This was turning out to be the worst day of my life. I couldn't even run away, my leg was killing me!
Rodney narrowed his eyes and called out, "Who are you? Show yourself."
The guy stepped out into the overhang light. I relaxed. He didn't look so tough. Sure, his jeans were tattered and his leather jacket had the insignia of some local gang I'm sure, but his face was boyish in a way that I really couldn't be frightened of. Rodney could probably take him anyway. Micah said he knew how to box.
He pulled the joint from between his lips and blew out a dark cloud of smoke. I scrunched my nose in disgust at the smell. I'd never smelled pot before. It was stinky.
"I hear you're looking for Skulls."
Rodney glanced down at me before looking up at him skeptically. "We're looking for Mark."
The guy chuckled. "Right. Mark. How much are you willing to pay for information on his whereabouts?" I lipread.
"What a junkie. Resorting to blackmail in order to pay for his drugs. That's sick," I whispered aloud.
"Shh," Rodney hissed, "let me handle this." He cleared his throat. "You know him?"
The guy shrugged casually. "We're acquaintances." I think he meant he worked the same circuit.
Rodney pulled out his wallet, extracting a few twenties and holding them up for the guy to see. He raised an eyebrow and stepped forward, glancing around (probably out of habit) before taking the bills, counting them and stuffing them in his back pocket. He smiled down at me and I curled my lip in disgust, giving him a nasty glare. Pervert.
"You can find him at 'Beat'."
"Thanks," Rodney said, pushing me backwards before taking my hand and hurrying me away. "Pathetic," he said with a grunt to himself. I smiled wryly at the jab. "I'll admit I don't know where this place is."
"So let's get lost finding it."
And lost we got. We drove around for at least thirty minutes, stopping three times to ask along the street, before we found it semi-hidden in a back alley, it's line extending onto the street.
"It's certainly hoppin'." I grinned in an effort to lighten the mood. It worked.
Rodney laughed. "God, don't try to be ghansta. It doesn't work for you."
"Do you think we can jump to the front?"
"You're not hot enough," he said. I gaped at him in offense. He flushed and quickly jumped to correct himself. "No-no! Sorry, I didn't mean… I just…shit. I mean you're not dressed up enough to get admission like that, I…nothing's coming out right."
"Just shut up." His rambling was giving me a headache, and now that it was getting dark, I was having a hard time keeping up with his words.
We approached the bouncer, a black man standing at about two heads taller than myself.
"Holy crap, he's a giant," I breathed.
He held out his hand, palm facing us in a 'stop' sign. "Back of the line."
Rodney magically produced another hundred-dollar bill. How does he have this kind of pocket change?
The bouncer took the cash with a crooked grin. "I.D."
Rodney pulled his out of his wallet and handed it to the bouncer smoothly. I gaped at them until I realized they were both waiting on me.
"I don't have mine on me," I said, turning out my pockets lamely.
"Figures," Rodney said, ruffling my hair. He turned back to the bouncer. "Can you just stamp her?"
"No," he deadpanned.
"She won't drink."
I nodded my head vigorously. "I won't! I Promise!"
The bouncer scowled. "No. You're girlfriend waits outside. I've got a whole line of people waiting to get in, so money's just not gonna cut it." He seemed disappointed to have to give it back.
"Oh he's not—ow!" Rodney growled in aggravation and pulled me aside.
"Forget it," he said, stuffing his hands in his pockets and looking back at the bar balefully.
"What? No! Absolutely not. We didn't just come all the way here to be turned away. Now, you're going to walk into that bar, find this guy, figure out what happened, and then report back to me," I ordered, poking him in the chest after each individual instruction.
"This is a full bar, Em. It could take me an hour just to scout the place. I'm not leaving you alone outside. Micah would pummel me," he muttered at the end, which I lipread. Why would he do that?
I waved away his concern. "I have Hulk here." The bouncer glared at me as I patted his arm.
"I'm not a babysitter. Don't expect me to look out for you, kid." I vaguely wondered if he knew Rodney was underage after all. He was catching on quick and based on his dwindling patience, I guessed he'd turn us away soon.
"My friend's just being a hermit. He's shy," I told the bouncer, draping my arm around Rodney's shoulders. "Just take a peek," I hissed in his ear. "Hurry up."
"One peek. No harm done. Fifteen minutes tops. If we can't find the guy we'll come back another day. When I have that I.D. of mine," I grinned stupidly at the bouncer who wasn't looking too convinced by our charade. They were both giving me odd looks now. "Ten minutes…five!"
"Two," Rodney blurted. He looked over at the bar uneasily then back at me. "Two minutes."
He nodded, turned, and strutted into the bar, but not before grumbling a weak word-of-the-wise. "Stay close." And then he was gone.
"Kids," the bouncer growled. I laughed along in spite, in a vain attempt to ease the poor oafs mood, which he didn't much appreciate, and we ended up falling into a comfortable silence in which I sat and watched him work from the curb, waiting for the time to pass.
I discovered the bouncer's name was Bill (haha, Bill the bouncer). He'd been working at the bar long enough to know quite a few regulars, and it was nice to see him grace some people with a smile. He even held up the line to chat with a couple he was neighbors with. They'll leave their son a note to mow Bill's lawn tomorrow morning. Lucky kid.
But if there was one crew he openly knew and openly didn't like, it was the young group of college students that ambled up to him next. The rowdy girls were showing off far too much cleavage for my liking, and hanging off the arm of a young man with far too many tattoos. Seriously they were on his arms, neck, hands, fingers…and probably other areas not in plain sight as well.
Normally, I'd treat them like any other group that'd gone by and not spared them a second glance, but something silver on the young man—probably in his late twenties' belt caught my eye. A metal skull. In fact, looking back at all the tattoos, they were all...
They young man unglued his eyes from the tramp drooling on his forearm long enough to look down at me. His face almost made me scream. So many piercings. And here I thought Rodney was overdoing it. Snakebites on his lips, at least three studs in his eyebrows, a nose ring, and rings all up both his ears. He had more metal on his face than there was skin! Well that may have been a bit of an over-exaggeration, but still…
He smiled at me with pointy teeth. "Who's asking?"
I opened my mouth, closed it, and then opened it again. "Laney."
"Laney. What can I do for you?"
I jumped to my feet. "Word on the street is you got kicked out of The Phantom." Keep it cool, Emmy, I told myself. Think CSI. Law & Order. "That's pretty…um…hard core."
He looked down at my school uniform and snickered. "You're a goody-two-shoes, aren't you?" I swallowed. He examined his fingernails and gave the neglected girl beside him a kiss on the neck. She giggled and swatted him away. "It happens to the best of us. Why not come join me. I can teach you how to let loose."
Over my mom's dead body.
"She isn't allowed in," Bill the Hulk said forcefully, glaring at the guy, then at me, "and you'd be wise to steer clear of this bookie."
"Bummer," Skulls said. "I don't do business on the street."
My eyes widened. It really was Mark. What were the chances?! It had to be fate. "Wait!" I grabbed his arm, feeling dirty right away. "I'm not looking to buy personally. I just have a question."
"Don't expect to get anything from me. A...businessman never tells his secrets." I lost a bit of his voice as my ear throbbed painfully.
"You're dealing while on probation, what—?" I stopped myself. "Look. I just wanna know if you've ever been paid to slip something in someone's drink at a party—"
He growled. "If you're looking for some scoop to put in a lousy story for your school paper, then you…forget…I don't have…time…this…"
My head was aching. I needed to concentrate. "Come again?"
"Enough. Get out…face now." He shoved me roughly, making my squeak in shock and terror. He was scaring me, and I was really getting in too deep now, but I couldn't lose track of him. He was my only lead, and if he ended the bar that'd be it.
"It's just that my friend has strong reason to believe he was drugged two years ago, and you've got the supplies. I'm not accusing you or anything, I just wanna—"
He slapped me, hard. I stumbled back and clutched my cheek. My vision went black for a few seconds. He just hit me...
"Hey!" Hulk shouted, pulling me aside and stepping between me and Mark.
"Hey asshole! What the fuck's you're problem!" another voice shouted. I spun around and gasped in relief at the sight of Rodney, shoving people aside to reach me. He pulled me to him, and I let a few tears escape and soak into his shirt. "She's a girl!"
The most unbelievable thing happened. Instead of the pissy attitude I predicted, Mark burst out laughing. What a mental case.
"Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" he shouted jovially.
Rodney blinked at the guy. He looked at me with a look that read: what the hell did you get yourself into here? Then he looked back up at Mark.
"Do I know you?"
"You probably don't remember me, man, but I'll never forget you. Hot Rod, isn't it? Made quite the name for yourself that night."
Rodney's eyebrows knitted together in concentration, probably trying to recall where and when they could have possibly met.
"Was this the friend you were yapping about?" he asked me, pointing at Rodney.
I nodded dubiously, still holding my cheek.
"Well, shit! Great to see you again! Leaving the party already? Now that I'm here things might finally pick up and with you here I know it would be entertaining!" He said this as if Rodney would actually agree to stick around. After he slapped me!
"What are you talking about, man?" Rodney spat.
"With my magic, you downed a keg in one minute flat, bar danced, drank beer off the belly of five sexy-single women, and even had a three-some!" He waggled his eyebrows. "Ballsy, but major badass!"
"Magic?" I said. "So you did slip him something." I rubbed my tender cheek. His eyes flickered to the sore spot and he offered me an apologetic look. That was all.
"Yeah. I slipped you something, bud. For the nerves, ya know? He wouldn't shut up about a girl all night. But I bet you banged her by the end of it. What with your luck at all." He laughed. Rodney looked appalled. "Tell you what. Ever want a second go, call me. It's on the house. Name's Mark. Most people, like your girlfriend Laney here, call me Skulls though." He handed me his card when Rodney didn't accept it. "THIS GUY'S THE MAN!" he hollered to the crowd before heading into the club.
"Wow," I said slowly.
"We're leaving," Rodney said. "Now."
He dragged me all the way back to his car. We drove back to school in silence. It was uncomfortable and tense. Did I do something wrong?
"Why did you tell him your name was Laney?" he said suddenly.
I looked at him in surprise. "I guess I figured it would be a good time to use a false identity?"
"And you had to choose her name? What's wrong with you? We go to the bar that I lost my virginity in, and meet the guy that made it all happen, and then you go and tell him we're dating and that you're name's Laney, of all people to choose, who I can't even stand the sight of anymore? Fucking hell Emily!"
"I'm sorry okay? It was a spur of the moment thing. Her name was the only one I could come up with!"
I didn't like that he was yelling at me. My head already was splitting open. My ears were throbbing, and my cheek stung.
For the first time in years, I swiped my hearing aid off to intentionally stop hearing. His voice faded instantly, and I slumped back in my seat, pulling my knees up to my chest. If he was still ranting, I wasn't paying attention, nor would I know. It was dead silent. I couldn't even hear the wind whip by my window. I used to be afraid of the silence. It scared me, because if I closed my eyes it would feel as if I was in a room that was pitch black with only one door, that I wouldn't be able to locate because I wouldn't be able to hear the directions. But then there were times when I welcomed the silence. They were rare, but they were also needed.
I didn't put the hearing aid back in until we'd arrived. He turned off the car and gave me an apologetic look.
"Sorry. It's just… As if I don't already feel like a dipshit! I go found out I had a fucking three-some!"
"Please. That's not true… I think you'd remember that. You can't honesty believe that guy."
"Not only do I have to live with the notion that I slept with one girl who wasn't Tomy, now I've got some other mystery fling on my hands as well."
"Rodney, you didn't—" I took a deep breath. "That guy was probably as high as a kite, and had about as much of an idea of what happened as you do. Besides with the little knowledge I know of Laney, she doesn't seem like the 'sharing' type," I said breezily.
"She was pretty infatuated with me. Desperate people do desperate things."
I shook my head, angry that after all that progress, he ended up taking at least three steps back. He sighed, "So what now?"
"We continue on. At least we know you were drugged. I'll break the news to Tomy if you want…"
"No. I should be the one to tell her." I wanted to say she might not listen to you, but he didn't need any pessimism.
"We still don't even know what happened fully." We were missing information. What actually happened according to our friends.
"There's a gap," he agreed.
I nodded, remembering the small piece of information Tomy gave me during our 'girl talk'. "And I know just who has the details." I needed to find out the truth about Laney. The whole truth, and I had two options: Paige—whom I'd rather avoid at all costs—or Micah.
It had started to rain a little, so Rodney offered to walk me back to my room, which I accepted. He took my hand and we made a mad dash for the doors, laughing as we both tried to squeeze through at the same time. He walked by my side in a comfortable silence down the hallway, but we never quite made it to my door.
I spotted Tomy first.
She was pacing back in forth in front of the door, fingers combing through her hair. Even so late at night, with PJs on, her hair frazzled, she looked like a model.
I noticed Micah second.
He was sitting on the floor, leaning his head back against the wall, looking bedraggled, eyes shut tight.
Rodney and I came to a halt. We shared a look: what was going on?
"Maybe I should just go," he mouthed.
"That'd probably be wise," I whispered back.
But as he turned to leave, Tomy looked up and spotted us. "Emily!" Like a dart, she was down the hallway in a flash, stopping only a half-foot away from Rodney. His whole body sized up, and I could tell he was holding his breath. I looked down at our interlocked fingers and flushed in embarrassment, dropping it quickly and taking a large step away.
"Look, Tomy, we were just—"
"Please tell me you did not sleep with HIM!" she said, eyes burning as she pointed an accusing finger at Rodney.
Whatever I had planned to say was thrown out the window with that comment. My jaw dropped and my eyes grew wide with open shock. "W-What? Where did you—" I stumbled over my words.
"Rumors are running all over campus that you two hooked up and then disappeared off campus all night," she snapped, not taking her eyes off Rodney once.
My eyes strayed to Micah. He was still sitting on the floor, now glaring heatedly at the wall across from him, elbows propped up on his knees. I could only imagine what was running through his head.
"We went to a bar. But it's a long story, and not what you think, and definitely one I should tell you in private, so…"
"Did I just hear you say you went to a bar? Mom's not going to be too happy about that," another, all-too familiar voice echoed down the hallway.
"Hannah?! W-What are you doing here?" It wasn't possible. She couldn't be here. Why would she be here?
She crossed her arms over her chest and ventured closer.
"You know, I never thought I'd be bothered by your rather abrupt end to our little chat the other day, but then again, the moment I heard that phone's dial tone echo through my ear, I couldn't stop picturing myself clubbing you over the head with it," she said through gritted teeth. "However, I still have an underlying amount of concern despite all that. Our topic so-to-say was one that can't go ignored. So I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you a chance to explain yourself. And your explanation better as hell be a good one, because if what I just overheard is true, I will conk you over the head with something." She was talking about our phone conversation the other day. It was the day Matt showed up and scared the daylights out of me. I broke the phone. No wonder she was here.
To make matters worse, Matt himself chose that exact moment to make his presence known, stepping out of Tomy and I's room with a loud, attention-grabbing yawn.
He looped an arm around his sister's neck, and when his twinkling eyes landed on me, he curled his lips in a conniving grin and signed, "So Em, how about that date?"
Tomy, Hannah, and I gaped at him. The two of them rounded on me. "WHAT DATE?"
"Who is this kid, Emmy?" Hannah asked, her tone cross. God, she sounded so much like my mom at that moment.
"We're fucked," Rodney concluded, running a hand over his face in defeat.
Not the wisest thing to say, because Tomy cleared misheard it.
"Oh my God, YOU FUCKED HIM?!" Tomy cried out. My skin, which was pale, turned pasty white. My hands shook uncontrollably, and I could feel myself losing the ability to obtain air. How was I supposed to get out of this situation? I'm going to die by the end of tonight, I thought grimly as I locked eyes with my livid roommate.
"NO!" Rodney yelled. "That's not what I said! I didn't mean—"
"I can't believe this. How could you do this…" Tomy was bawling now. "I confided in you!"
I shook my head rigorously. "I didn't—"
"Tomy..." Rodney stepped forward, pulling her into a tight hug. She fought him off, even slapped him several times until his left cheek turned a deep red color, but Rodney didn't let go of her.
"I HATE YOU!" she screamed, choking on her tears. "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
Her knees buckled and she dropped to the floor. Rodney fell with her and cradled her against his chest, muffling her sobs. She tucked her head into the crook of his neck, digging her fingers into his shirt, as he pressed his cheek into her hair.
"Please don't say that," I read his lips as he muttered soothing words to her, his voice husky with emotion. "Don't ever say that to me…ever…"
The rest of us just stood by and watched in bewilderment. What. Just. Happened?
Having heard the commotion, some of the girls that lived on our level stepped out of their rooms to observe. Whispers broke out. There was pointing; even some stifled laughter. What was wrong with the people at this school?
Ignoring the audience, Rodney lifted Tomy into his arms with ease and carried her into our shared dorm room. I stepped forward. "Uh, should I wait—?"
Micah jumped up from the ground and moved in front of me in the blink of an eye. He looked murderous. I jumped back. "Micah…" He ignored me, took my wrist, and then proceeded to drag me down the hallway down the stairs and back out into the rain.
My sister was calling my name, and I'm guessing Matt was probably holding her back, because she didn't pursue us. I looked over at Micah in apprehension. He wasn't looking at me, his attention focused ahead at the building up ahead I'd never been to. It started to downpour before we reached the doors, and I ducked my head to avoid the drops, idiotically thinking I could block them with the palm of my hand.
Upon entering the building, I realized it was an ice rink. Off to the right were the locker rooms and rows-upon-rows of bleachers. To the left was practically a full-blown family restaurant. Micah let go of my hand and walked ahead of me, brushing his hands through his rain-flattened hair until it stuck up oddly in several directions. I'd be laughing if he didn't look like he was about to kill me.
"Is it true?" he quipped, spinning around to glare at me. He stepped up so that our faces were only inches away. I could feel his heavy breathing against my face.
If we were any closer, the tips of our noses would touch. My lips could brush against his…
Water ran into my eyes.
He relaxed, but only a little. "Why were you even with him?"
It was then that I remembered he ditched me earlier. My anger at him returned. What right did he have to yell at me? "You were supposed to meet me at the library, and didn't show. I waited for an hour."
"I was…I had somewhere I needed to be. But-"
"Yeah. I know. You ditched me in class too. That's why you told me to meet you later, and you didn't."
"I couldn't get away."
I snuffed him and looked away. "You seem to get held up a lot." Magically, like whenever I need him to tell me something he doesn't want to, I added as a bitter after-thought.
"You're right. I'm sorry. I keep fucking up."
I slowly looked back up at him with an 'oh yeah?' look. He let out a pathetic laugh and shook his head, reaching down to wipe at his shirt. Not that it did any good. His shirt was soaked through, sticking to him like glue, and I could feel my throat constrict and my stomach churn as I spotted his defined muscles. He had abs…nice abs.
"You only get so many chances to apologize to me, Micah."
Weren't we fighting yesterday too? Hadn't he just apologized to me this morning? I'm too lenient on him. He was treading water in the deep end of the swimming pool. He couldn't afford to add more feet.
"I know, I know. It's just, I got to the library and you were gone. I sneak into the girls dormitory and hear from Paige and her cronies that you slept with Rodney—of all people—" Why'd he have to say it like that? Of all the boys here, why not Rodney. And wait a minute…he snuck into the girl's dorm? "—I was angry and felt betray—I just needed to find out the truth. So I've been waiting outside your room and I—"
"You've been sitting outside my room?"
"For the past six hours?"
Okay, I forgive him. I tugged on my wet shirt and shivered. He noticed and bit his lip. "I have something you can wear in my locker. Wait here." He left. I moved closer to the rink. It was huge, and the ice looked smooth, sleek, and perfect. I wonder…
"Here," he said, jogging out of the locker room, brandishing one of his jerseys.
I took it gratefully and looked down at my soaked uniform. "I should probably change…"
He spun around and covered his eyes. "I won't look." I smiled and pulled off my blazer and shirt, glad it wasn't a dress, and pulled his jersey over my head. It dropped down to about mid-thigh, the bottom of my old pleated skirt just barely sticking out.
He turned back around and looked me up and down. "It looks good on you," he said softly, half to himself, and then blushed. I bit my lip, feeling the butterflies again.
He doesn't really like you, Emmy, I told myself. He's dating your arch enemy, remember? And is in love with a girl you can never hope to compete with.
I tucked a wet strand of hair behind my ear. "I know how you can make it up to me. For ditching me, I mean." He nodded for me to go ahead, but I could see the wave of apprehension pass through his jade eyes (so much like Eddy's).
"Teach me to ice-skate."
His lips slowly stretched into a grin. He held out his hand. "Sure."
Learning about Laney would have to wait. I wanted to ice dance with my secret crush while I had the chance. While we were both happy and not fighting…
He squeezed my hand as he led me out into the rink. My wet sneakers made the ice extra slippery and I grasped onto his arm tightly. He laughed, twining our fingers together in both hands, he turned so that we were standing face-to-face.
…Then he moved, pulling me with him.
"Don't go so fast, I'll fall."
"No you won't. Don't be a baby," he said. "I can't believe you've never ice-skated before."
I slipped and he righted me. "Well, I didn't exactly have the average childhood. And my parents are pretty overprotective. You won't believe how long it took me to convince them to allow me to come here. They said it was too far away."
"Well I'm glad you came. Things were too boring anyway."
"And now life's a mess."
"Life's not meant to be easy." He pulled me in a little closer as we circled around the center of the rink. I heard a clap of thunder through the ceiling.
"I guess we're gonna be stuck here for a while," I hummed, not that I minded. I hoped he didn't either.
"Are you and Matt going on a date?"
I groaned. "You heard that, did you?" With a sigh, I explained, "No. Matt and I aren't dating."
He sucked in his lower lip before asking, "Do you like him?"
"No. He's a pain in the butt. But he's helping me with something. Why do you ask?"
"No reason," he said smoothly with a laid-back shrug.
I sent him a funny look but let my skepticism drop. "So you play hockey. You must be amazing on the ice. Wanna show me some moves?"
"I don't have my gear, and while I could skate circles around you, I don't think you can stand on your own just yet," he smirked.
He was right. Every time he let go, I wobbled. I stuck my tongue out at him and made the mistake of giving him a slight push. He swayed and almost fell over, which wouldn't have been pretty. I helped steady him. "Don't fall!" I shouted.
"Well, I'd be you're fault if I did. Never shove your instructor! I'm the one holding you up!"
As he regained his balance, we'd unintentionally scooted closer to each other until we bumped shoulders. I looked up at him. He looked down at me. The smile disappeared from his face as his jade eyes connected with my brown ones. There was something in them that I couldn't quite place. His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed and I saw his eyes flicker down to look at my lips. Was he thinking what I was thinking? I licked my lips a bit and saw his eyes follow the path of my tongue.
Immediately I broke out into a sweat. He's thinking about kissing me!
His dipped down, closing the last remaining space between us slowly. He's going to kiss me! What do I do? My first kiss was completely unexpected. It came and I didn't have to worry about which way to tilt my head to match his. Or if I should meet him halfway, or pucker. In truth, I didn't even feel like that last kiss existed.
So I waited. With bated breath as he drew closer. My eyes fluttered shut…
...And with a loud clap of thunder, the lights went out. I jolted, bumped heads with Micah, and fell to the ice in a heap, Micah crushing me. Not very ideal.
Why-oh-why did it have to be now of all times to have a power-outage?
Okay, so the suspense is killing me, and I'm the writing. And you probably want to kill me for leaving you with this, haha. But hopefully it won't be too long. Plenty of Micah and Emily up next. Along w/ the inevitable Laney...
Also, BIG NEWS! I just convinced a really close friend of mine to post one of her stories on fp. You should all go check it out. It's called: My Guardian Angel pen name: .word
Posted below is the summary:
Kelsi Phillips is devastated, feeling isolated and alone after the sudden, unexpected deaths of her boyfriend, Sam, and best friend, Carmondy. Under the belief that their deaths were her fault, she decides to spend the remainder of her senior year with her newlywed aunt and uncle. Her mission attend her new school and complete the semester unnoticed so that she can graduate and start fresh. But there's a boy at school who refuses to pretend she doesn't exist. He has a dark past too, one that connects him to her in a way neither of them could have ever thought possible, and it scares her. She's afraid of falling in love again. Is she really able to give away her heart again? Is it hers to give? And is it his to get?
You can also find the story until my favorites.
Thanks again for all the reviews! I love you guys!
P.S. I'm thinking about changing my pen name. It's my own fault for naming it after a boyfriend. But I guess I thought it was true love...until he dumped me. Send me some ideas!