Chapter Three: Living It Down

There was something about the way the stranger at the club was looking at me that just made my skin curl. I wish I'd asked Carson to come, but he had a date with Krista. But what other way was I supposed to spend my Friday night?

This morning had been a complete blur for me. Between helping Giselle out with some shopping and working in the bakery, I was in a bad mood. And just for the measure, I didn't even want to bake my favorite nutella cupcakes. That has definitely got to mean something.

I felt the way the stranger walked from the other side of the club to me; he walked slowly, as if meaning that I wasn't exactly worth his time. He had dark hair and dark eyes, completely different from my favorite dirty blonde blue-eyed boy. He laid his eyes on me with a smirk and I shivered once again.

"Hey lovely, what's your name?" His voice was dark and hard but in the same way it made the hairs on my arm stand.

I didn't want to answer. Saying your name to some random stranger you just met at a night club didn't seem logical to me. There was no need to answer, I knew that. But a part of me felt like I had to. "Malena."

"Malena... care to dance with me?"

"Y-yeah, su-sure." He grabbed my hand rather roughly and suddenly my mind conjured up the best thing to say. "But… I have a boyfriend."

He didn't even turn around to look at me when I said it just nodded me off and I'm pretty sure he didn't even give it a second thought.

The club was hot and the smell of sweat was getting heavy. It was a small but popular club, seeing as the person that passed next to you brushed their cheek against yours. I didn't really feel like dancing and the man in front of me gave me a weird sense of repulsion.

I suddenly pushed him away and covered my face with my hands. What am I doing? I started shivering from I don't know what. Goosebumps filled my skin so much that they even hurt.

"Here," The stranger said and covered me with his sweater. It smelled strangely of some weird cologne.

"Thanks." I barely even managed to say. I didn't cry. Why the hell would I even cry? I can't stand myself. Man, what was the problem with me?

I sucked in a deep breath of the musty air and turned to look at the man. "Do you want me to give you a ride home?" He asked me.

"Umm… no. No thanks. My apartment is really close. I'll walk." I told him and he nodded and left. Damn him.

Damn him for leaving his sweater with me. Because in the end that meant one thing, I'd have to be seeing him again.

When I arrived ten minutes later I found Carson watching T.V.

"Hey," I walked in feeling extremely tired and, in a way, ashamed because of the scene at the club. Taking off my 18 cm. heels at the entrance of the living room, I saw as Carson turned around and gave me a perfect smile which in two seconds vanished.

Carson's eyes zoomed in on my body, I didn't know why he was staring at me the way he was but after my eventful night I just sat down on the couch. Heaving a sigh, my eyelids slowly started to droop and I still felt Carson's eyes on me. Let him stare all he wants, he was the one who left me alone tonight.

"Mallie." I hear Carson say in a 'we-need-to-talk' kind of voice. I didn't want to. Talk, that is. Why the hell would he even want to talk to me? We didn't need to talk about absolutely anything! "Why. The. Fuck. Are. You. Wearing. A. Man's. Jacket?" Oh, about that.

"I met someone at the club." I answered in a matter-of-fact kind of way which just sort of left me to pissing him off. I didn't bother reminding him that he was the one who left me alone for the rest of the night. By now, I was mad. Who did he think he was to go bedding girls every night when I can't even flirt with a guy? Ugh, men. I felt the strange feeling to start a fight and, trust me; I never was one to start a fight. Never in my life had I had that feeling with Carson, Sure, a few or more times we've had bickering but it was the normal kind of 'discussing' that best friends have. "How'd it go with Christie?"

"Her name's Krista."

"I don't care. In fact, I've never cared!" To this, I stood up just to prove my point and tugged of Bruce's jacket. I found out his name was Bruce after finding one of his, I assumed, business cards in the pocket of his jacket on the way home. "I don't even care if I gave you my permission to go out with her! My opinion of every girl you've ever even dated doesn't matter! You don't need my opinion Carson! And I don't need yours! As far as I know, I could have had a one night stand with Mr. Stranger tonight and I wouldn't have even cared what you'd have had to say!"

I immediately realized what I had just said and the tears started pouring out of my eyes. Oh God, why did I have to cry? I watched as his face twitched up in a hurt way and I felt the guilt so hard in the pit of my stomach that I couldn't hold it anymore. His gorgeous face twisted in what I saw was regret for something I didn't know. Why did I even say that? I'm such an ugly person. "Wow. I never thought you'd even think that, Malena. Just comes to show how much I don't know you."

He was merely less than two feet away from me and the tears started streaming down my cheeks freely. "No! I'm sorry, Carson, I'm sorry! I don't know what I was thinking!" I ran into him and crashed into his arms and started sobbing like a baby. "Oh God, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."

He was stiff. He didn't even put his arms around me. I cried harder into his shoulder and wrapped my arms hard around his neck. "Mallie… I know you didn't mean it. I just… wow, I'm really surprised." Silence followed this and he slowly, but steadily, wrapped his arms around my frame and cuddled me into his chest where I've never ever felt as safe as being in his arms.

I looked into his eyes and he looked into mine. I've never really been a sucker for love stories. Never was a true fan, really. Of course I had my chick moments and watched chick flicks; I guess that it all comes down to the fact that I've never had a romantic chick flick moment like in the typical blockbuster Hollywood movie. But, right now, I knew it was one of those moments and a little part of my brain suddenly wished he would kiss me. My brain imagined his lips against mine and the fantasies I'd had for a few times, I have to accept.

I leaned in just a little closer so he could sense what I was about to do. His eyes lit up with a notion of common sense and his blue eyes bore into mine.

And in just a mere second my complete world had crashed around me and I noticed my surroundings with such a full consent that I barely even had time to register what had just happened.

For you see, my best friend, the only person in the entire world that I had ever trusted my swollen heart, had just turned down my kiss with just a quick movement of his head.

I started feeling this strange emotion take over my body and I couldn't hold it anymore. I couldn't even bear the idea of Carson managing to do what he just did. What did he even possess in him to turn me down and shut me out? His back faced my tear-covered face and it was a sort of relief to know he couldn't even face me. Because that meant, that in a way he was sorry for what he just did.

My mind wasn't thinking clearly and more tears started brimming in my eyes. I knew I was a mess. With my make-up all smeared and my black mini dress all rugged up, and to top it all off, I had the sudden urge to go pee.

I grabbed my cell phone and dialed the only person I knew who to call in a moment like this one. I didn't want to stay here tonight and wake up in the morning to say goodbye to Carson as he left for work and I didn't feel the need to even know if he'd be talking to me for the next few days. I'd be heartbroken. As people say, ignorance is bliss. But wasn't I always? Heartbroken, that is. In every little thing he did, it ripped my heart. Maybe that was one of the small details of falling in love, which you'd always have to suffer for the other person until they were in love, too.

This was the exact moment, in which I decided I didn't want to put myself through this anymore. As I left the small apartment, all I could think was: This wasn't worth my heart. I'd fallen for someone who couldn't return the feelings. I figured that out after he turned away when I was about to kiss him.

When he was ready, he would call me. We'd never have to pass through this again and everything could return to the way it was.

But for that to happen, I had to close my feelings up and forget I ever loved him. He wasn't able to return the feelings and I wasn't able to pass through this embarrassment again.

And for all of this to be forgotten, I knew that I had to close myself up and never let Carson see me break down or attempt to kiss him again.

I just needed time. Time away from everything. From my life, from my friends, my sister and the drama that wasn't even worth it.

Time away from Carson, especially. And I knew the exact place to forget about this, about him. I still loved him. I'd always love him. Of that, I was sure. I just needed to fall out of love.

Darlie picked me up and we headed toward her home. I was quiet the whole ride pondering on my thoughts. She didn't ask any questions. She knew me enough to wait for me to tell her everything.

I needed to get out of my life. I needed my own space for a while. Even a month could do me good. But I knew, I couldn't leave. My sister wanted and needed my help. She'd crash down into depression once again. I didn't want for that to happen. She was the only thing tying me down to this small town. Carson would have to wait. The bakery would have to wait.

I had to forget about all this.

Tonight, I was sure I wouldn't sleep. I would be dying in Darlie's guest room with all of my incoherent thoughts.

Tomorrow was another day. Another day to think and to observe. Just like I've always done my entire life. It mustn't be hard.

Getting through the day was what I'd managed for all of these 18 years.

My thoughts were leading me to the place I'd never wanted to return again. To my suffering corner.

I tried not to think about these types of things often and how much space I seemed to need. But, when moments like these happened, I couldn't hold myself nor my brain and I suffered a lot more than I should.

Just forgive and forget, Carson has always told me. I knew I had to pretend it never happened and face him tomorrow, but right now, tonight, I wanted to think about everything and imagine what could've happened if I had kissed him.

Darlie sat me down on her couch and a wave of loneliness hit me and I seemed to pour the story out. Since the moment Carson told me about Krista up on 'till right now. It wasn't such a drama and I knew I was one to exaggerate things. But in my right mind, it did seem to make sense.

Darlie offered words of comfort to me and gave me plenty of hugs and kissed my forehead. A small part of me wished it was Carson doing everything to console me right now but I was thankful Darlie was here for me.

"Don't worry about anything, Mals. Everything's going to be alright. But, I believe, you have no reason to leave anything right now. Hey, it was just a kiss turned down. And I might have to tell you myself that I've been turned down two times also." She said and it made my heart soar with compassion and love and my thoughts turned all optimistic.

"You think so?" I smiled under all my tears.

Until she added, "I know so. In fact, I'm taking you right back to your apartment right now."

And boom! My thoughts went all scurries here and there with worry.

A/N: I'm so sorry I took so long! I was on vacation for two weeks and I didn't have my computer with me so there was no way I could type everything down! Besides that, I've had a little bit of writer's block :s but I am really truly sorry! I'm leaving tomorrow on vacation again so I won't be able to update until the begining of august so please forgive me! I promise to give you guys a one big chappie number four when I return! I'm not entirely satisfied with how this chapter turned out but I had to post something up... I don't want you guys to think that Malena is some weak little girl but she's had some really tense events and man, she should get ready for the next ones... and I don't want you to hate Carson, he'll be a big asshole in these next chapters but he'll eventually get over himself because he does really have a temper...

Anywho, I promise to update when I get back but don't forget to review! :) SORRY FOR THE AWFULLY LONG AUTHOR'S NOTE, by the way, I hope you like the cover I posted for this story.