Better Than Me

Chapter 1

Jordan was beyond tired as she dumped her purse of what felt like ten pounds on the table next to her best friend Chloe. She rumpled through her bag and pulled out a ten dollar bill, before finally looking up at the blonde hair beauty sitting in front of her.

"I'm sorry I'm late", she said as she smoothed her own plain brown mousy hair from her face. "I had to turn in an assignment and I lost track of time."

Cloe, her best friend from before grade school waved away her words with a smile on her thick pink lips. "I know you; I wasn't worried you'd forgotten about me silly girl."

"Did you order already, I can go get you a muffin or something", Jordan said with a smile playing on her own thin lips. "I know how much you like them."

"Yeah, I want a muffin and an apple smoothie", she said reaching in her pocket and producing a ten dollar bill herself. Jordan reached inside her bag and pulled out another five before walking away from the table, leaving her friend still holding the ten.

Jordan's heart pounded heavily on her chest as she approached the front of the shop where he sat. Even from this distance she could see the light freckles decorating his face. As if feeling her gaze his eyes rose from the book he was reading and met hers. She felt the air in her lungs escape her as he stared at her and erased all thoughts from her mind.

Calm down, she told her erratic heart. It had been years since she saw him, and even after all these years he still had the same effect on her.

He smiled at her, exposing the small and almost unnoticeable gap between his teeth. His thick brown hair stood in every direction from the many times he ran his calloused hands through it. Jordan tried to smile, but it felt like more of a grimace. She turned away before she could embarrass herself anymore.

"How may I help you?" The young cocoa brown girl in front of her asked.

Jordan smiled at her as she took a deep breath. "Um, can I get one iced coffee, an apple smoothie and two blueberry muffins?"

The girl took her money and walked away to turn on the blender. Jordan watched as the young girl scuffled around, her mind on different days and different nights. She felt the stir of excitement as she remembered the smell of his skin as he pressed against her in the crowded drunken room of college students. She thought of the heavy bass pounding in her chest and the stars that danced in her eyes as he whispered sweet nothings in her ears.

"Here's your coffee, have a nice day", the girl said as she placed the coffee, smoothie and muffins down in front of her and basically shooed her away for another customer. Jordan scooped up the drinks and muffins in her thin arms and began the treed back to her seat.

Don't look at him, don't look at him, she told herself as she pressed her chin to her chest. Melodies of sweet lies and promises swam in her mind as she sat the coffee down in front of Chloe and handed over one of the muffins.

"Thanks", Chloe said as she took a pinch off of her muffin. She stuffed the tiny speck in her mouth with a smile and closed her eyes as the blueberry flooded her senses. "I saw you a second ago."

"Of course you did", Jordan said with a laugh as she sat down and stuffed her straw in her coffee.

"No, I mean I saw you looking at Taylor", Chloe said as she pinched off another sliver of the muffin. Jordan smiled at her friends' weird eating habits, completing ignoring the weird fluttering feeling she got in her chest at the mention of his name.

"Am I not allowed to look at him?" Jordan asked with a laugh. "I mean I couldn't help it anyway, he was sitting right in the front."

"I don't understand you", Chloe said with a shake of her head, making her blond locks smack her shoulders. "I mean, he's not even cute."

That's because you could get any guy you wanted, Jordan wanted to say. Instead she stuck her straw in her mouth and entangled herself in the strong brew of the coffee. She bit into her muffin and smiled as the two flavors mingled in her mouth.

"I think the best thing about him is you have to appreciate his beauty", Jordan said around a mouthful of blueberry. "He isn't drop dead gorgeous, but he has a soft gentle beauty to him that you have to look for to understand."

"You know you just basically called him ugly right?" Chloe said with a laugh. Jordan looked up at the ceiling and thought about it before she began to laugh as well.

"I guess I kind of did", she said, using her hand to cover her mouth. She didn't mean to, but her eyes traveled across the room until they landed on his deep blue ones. She shuddered as his icy glare shot a warm sensation through her body, up her spine. He waved for her, he beckoned with his hand for her to come. She looked away before she could give into temptation.

"Hello, earth to Jordan!" Chloe said irately as she waved her perfectly manicured hands in Jordan's face. Jordan blinked to clear her thoughts and smiled apolitically.

"I'm sorry; I've been up since four this morning. I'm slightly out of it." she said with a gentle smile.

"Whatever", Chloe said with a sigh. She looked at her phone and let out a tiny groan before stuffing it and her muffin in her bag. "Damn it!"

"What's wrong?" Jordan asked worriedly. Chloe never swore unless it was something extremely serious. "Did something happen?"

"Ma left Terry home alone and she's texting me because she's scared and doesn't want to be alone." Chloe stood up and pressed a kiss to Jordan's forehead. "I'm going to pick her up and take her to chuck e cheese or something, want to come?"

Jordan stood and hugged Chloe because she knew she needed it. "I'm really tired; I think I'm going to head home. Call me after everything cools down and tell me what happens."

"Will do Jordy", Chloe said with a smile as she turned and walked out of the shop. Jordan watched as she slide into her tiny black Honda and speed off down the street.

Jordan sat down with a huff and pulled out her own phone. The screen blinked back at her: no new messages. She stuck it back in her purse unsurprised, she hadn't expected anything different. She played with the crumbs of her muffin that had fallen on the table with a sigh, wondering what she could do to pass the rest of the afternoon.

She looked up as the chair across from her scrapped the ground and someone sat down. Jordan didn't have to look up to know it was him: she could smell him from her seat. He was a mix of cinnamon and something manly, though she wasn't sure what it was. She wanted to lean forward and press her nose into him until his smell was forever imprinted in her mind.

"Hi Jordan", he said, his rich chocolate voice caressing her name on his tongue. "I feel like you've been avoiding me." He says with a laugh.

Jordan looked up, a small fire blazing in her chest. It was rage, it was anger and denial and betrayal and hurt. But he was ice, the ice that settled that fire and left her with a longing that had her looking up and meeting his deep blue eyes.

"I'm not, I've just been very busy. You probably didn't know but I moved back to Tulsa", she says with a smile. She watches as he leans over the table and pushes a loose strand of her unruly hair behind her ear and out of the way. His hand lingers on her skin and burns her. It leaves an icy burn behind as he removes his hand and smiles at her in a way that holds secrets and love if possible.

"I missed hanging out with you, of course I noticed. Plus Matt was pissed that Kourtney didn't sat bye to him before she left/", he says, so fast she almost doesn't understand. "I haven't been sleeping well."

Her heart yearns for him too much, even after he brought up Matt.

She feels a frown form on her face at his words. "Why haven't you?"

Long nights of his head lying on her lap as she combed through his tangled brown hair and wiped sweat from his nightmares away, kisses not forgotten of tears and pain shared from him to her, come to her mind and send pain to her throbbing and yearning heart.

"I was so use to you there beside me that it isn't the same" he says, his eyes glancing down at his lap.

"I wasn't in your life long enough to change anything", she says with a smile to help him. Because even though he knows he's weak, he doesn't want her to know this. Of course he doesn't know she's just as weak as he is. Here she is, reaching for his hand even though he broke her heart.

"I'm a god damn man", he says yanking his hand away from her. "I shouldn't need you to comfort me all the damn time!"

Jordan looks down at her hand, but the sting of rejection isn't coming from it: it's coming from her heart. "I guess I understand." She says as she stands up and slowly pushes her seat under the table. "It was nice talking to you again." She smiles, though inside she feels like crying. "I'm moving back to Tulsa next week, I just came here to check on my mom. She's sick with lung cancer."

"No, wait", he says frantically, scrambling to grab her hand before she can walk away from him again. "I'm sorry; I don't know what's wrong with me." He slaps himself in the head, hard, and it sends pain into her own forehead. In that tiny shop she reaches for him and brings his hand away from his face with the gentle smile of an angel.

"It's okay", she says, "don't worry about it."

"I just", he says, he stutters. "I just don't want you to leave me again."

"Taylor", she says softly as tears threaten to pour from her sad and suddenly tired eyes. "I've never had you and you never me."

Jordan watched a range of emotions flash over his face before he settled upon one she was so familiar with: annoyance. Jordan tried not to let it bother her that said emotion was directed towards her. Instead she picked up her cup with shaking hands and brought it to her icy lips.

"I'll see you around", he said as she scrapped his chair across the ground and left. Jordan watched him leave with a feeling of finality in their departure.