Miseries of the Heart
(A/N: Read and enjoy guys! :))
It was only later that I realized how much of an idiot I must have looked like. I nearly ran out the door, stumbling out an excuse that I couldn't even remember before dashing out of the house, careful not to meet his gaze again. Red hadn't said a word, thank God, but I had felt the weight of his grey eyes on my back even as I shut and locked the door to my house.
Of all the things to happen to me that night, that was the one thing I never even considered.
I couldn't sleep that night, thinking about the way I bumbled like an idiot in front of him. Embarrassment trickled through my thoughts, making me sigh. I didn't think he still had such an effect on me. After two years of not seeing him, I'd thought that I could forget. I snorted.
So much for that.
I looked up from my shoes and stared at the other students milling about the campus, sighing. Thinking about it wasn't doing me any good. I was just getting more agitated.
"Just avoid him like you always do," I grumbled to myself, hoisting my bag onto my shoulder. I was about to stand when a pair of hands grabbed by boobs from the back. "What the fu-"
A tall blonde sidled next to me, smiling brightly. "Heya beeyotch."
"Oh. It's you," I rolled my eyes and settled back onto the bench. She moved to sit beside me, throwing her pale hair over one shoulder. "Dumbshit bimbo."
"I love you too, fucktard."
I just snorted. For a girl who looked like she could be a princess out of a fairytale, she had the foulest mouth I knew. Lira Borca had the icy looks of a near-perfect Aryan - pale blonde hair, large blue eyes, and skin the color of fresh cream. She was taller than me, but had a petite, almost delicate build, but I knew better than to think she was fragile. Lira had a black belt in Taekwondo, and was currently learning Aikido and Capoeira - she could probably knock me on my ass before I could squeak.
She turned to glance at me, fingers playing with a lock of her hair. "Did you hear?"
"I've heard a lot of things today. For example. Some stoner in my English class said you'll take 15 bucks to go down on a guy behind the-"
"Oh shut up, bitch. I meant about the party the Dollhouse is hosting later."
The Dollhouse was the biggest sorority on campus, made up of all the most popular girls in Bluebirch University, Lira included. The requirement to be a member? You had to be rich, pretty, and 'high class'. As stupid as it sounded, they actually did exist, especially in a small town like ours that practically had zero exposure to the outside world besides what was seen on the Internet. Lira thought it was funny as hell and joined on a whim. Sometimes I had to wonder why we were such good friends. We ran in such different social circles, but we still got along for some reason. I'd only known her for about two years - we became friends in our senior year in high school - and she was probably the closest thing to a best friend that I'd ever had.
"Who hasn't?" I said, then gave her a pointed look. "I am not going to that party."
"Yes you are."
"No, I'm not, Lira. You know I don't like-"
"Liar. I remember how much of a wild child you used to be," Lira interrupted, giving me a wicked smile. "You know, I think I still have pictures from the after party of our Senior Prom-"
"Okay! Okay, I get it, now shut your trap." I growled, willing her to melt into a puddle of goo and disappear. It didn't work. Damn it. "You do remember that I'm trying to stay away from alcohol, trying being the operative word here?"
Lira just rolled her eyes. "We both know how much you'll need to get wasted. With Red back and all."
I shot her a suspicious look. She saw it and laughed. "What, have you forgotten that people here make it their business to know what's happening with Red Cormick? Everyone knows he's home for Sascha's wedding."
You see, that was another thing I hated about small towns. Word got around like wildfire, and everyone liked meddle in each other's businesses. It wasn't like everyone had anything better to do, so gossiping was a favorite past time. I scowled at her.
"Don't give me that look. But you know, I still don't get why you're so affected by him. I mean, you guys never talked in high school, and you avoided him like the plague." she said. "Oh my god, were you guys secret fuck buddies or something?"
"Go screw yourself." I made a disgusted noise. "It's... it's just hard to explain."
No one who knew Red as Bluebirch's golden boy would understand. He was too "perfect" for anyone to think otherwise. You know how, in the cheesy romance novels girls like to read, there's always that guy who was just too good to be true? Yeah, that was Red. In high school, he was the student council president, the captain of the school's fencing team, a straight A student and the boyfriend to the prettiest girl in school, Penny Stavros. His family, his friends, hell, even his teachers loved him. They all thought was charming, sweet and kind - something that endeared him even to the mean old man that lived down our street, who notoriously hated all living creatures that weren't dogs.
I wanted to laugh in all their faces. God, if only they knew.
Lira looked at me for a moment. "Whatever you say, Eve. So anyway. The party's gonna be at the House, at around 9 tonight. I can pick you up. You're going, yes?" she asked, glancing at her manicured nails. She always knew whenever I didn't want to talk about something, and she never forced the issue, and I was forever grateful to her for that.
"Yes, yes, now shoo. If people see me with you, they might think I'm with the slut brigade, too."
I waved her away, and she flipped me the bird. I laughed when she walked away, sashaying her hips provocatively. Lira grinned at me over her shoulder. God, how I loved that girl.
Parties never used to appeal to me. I thought they were loud, crowded, stupid and altogether a complete waste of time, which was why I avoided them like the plague. I mean, who wanted to go to a place with sweaty teenagers dancing, making fools out of themselves and puking all over the place?
Then I discovered the wonder that was booze.
My ex was the one who introduced alcohol to me. Now, don't get me wrong. I know how to regulate my drinking; Thad made sure of that. He showed me how, mostly out of concern that I'd get into trouble by drinking to much. He was a sweetie that way, and I'd never stopped thanking him for it, even if we weren't together anymore. And contrary to what Lira thinks, I'd never gotten wasted. I'd had to puke it out a couple of times, but that was about it. So, of course, I assumed that this party wasn't going to be any different.
Well. I didn't know how wrong I was at the time.
All of the major parties in Bluebirch are held in the 11th, an old warehouse by the bay area that's far enough from the town that the 'rents don't realize that their kids are going wild and getting drunk. I hitched a ride with Lira, who parked her black Honda Civic in the shadows of a nearby tree - Lira's regular make-out spot. It looked like I was going to have to look for another ride home. I smirked at Lira, which she replied to with a sugary smile.
"Just because you're not getting any action tonight, doesn't mean I'm not."
I shook my head. "Whatever you say." Unlike Lira, my use for parties is exclusively for booze. If I was gonna get a guy, then I was going to do it the traditional way. It might be a little old-fashioned of me, but I didn't want myself doing otherwise.
"And that is why you Thad is your first and last," Lira sighed dramatically. "God. I don't know how you could let a guy like that go."
I only smiled at her. "It doesn't matter. Let's go in, shall we?"
By the time we got inside, the 11th was full and people were drunk enough to start grinding and singing off-key to the music. We were making our way through the throng of people, towards the bar, when Lira stopped short, grabbing my arm. I raised my eyebrow at her.
She moved her cerulean eyes to me. "Whatever you see, you're not leaving, okay?"
"Just promise me."
"Hell no," I growled and turned to look at whatever it was she was looking at. "What could possibly - oh, fuck me."
Honestly, I should have expected it. It was Red, after all. Even when we barely see each other, he still manages to worm his way into my life. Red stood a few feet away, his side to us, laughing at something one of his companions had said. Even if his entire outfit seemed black, there was just no way you could miss him, not with his shock of russet hair and the fact that he towered over almost everyone in the room.
"Huh. Is it just me or did Red Cormick get even sexier?" Lira stared at Red, a rather shocked look on her face. It took a lot for someone like Lira to get surprised. I restrained the urge to roll my eyes.
"You're drooling, Lira," I muttered dryly. "And don't worry. I'm not leaving because of him. He can go screw himself for all I care. Damn it. I just want - no, I need my booze." As soon as the words left my mouth, he turned towards us, as if he'd heard me talking about him, and our gazes met. I jerked away sharply the moment his lips turned up in recognition, dragging Lira with me. I weaved through the crowd, stopping right at the bar.
"The hell, Eve? Your hands are freezing!" Lira snatched her arm back, rubbing the part I'd grabbed.
"Shut up." I asked for two shots of vodka and handed one to Lira. "Hurry up and drink with me."
"What happened to you trying to stay away from alcohol?" she teased, an eyebrow raised. I just narrowed my eyes at her, which made her laugh.
We downed the shot, and ended up taking one more. Before I knew it, the warmth that had gathered under my skin spread into a low-burning flame, taking the chill from my fingers. It was just as well, because I refused to explain to Lira that it was his smile that scared me, evoking a long-forgotten sensation that hadn't resurfaced until now.
Yes. I admit it. I was fucking terrified of Red Cormick. I thought I'd gotten over my fear of him - apparently not, I thought wryly to myself. Thank god there was alcohol. I wasn't sure I could get through that stupid party without tucking tail and running every time I saw him without the wonderful intoxication brought about by the vodka shots.
After a few more drinks, I was starting to get light-headed, and by that time Lira had disappeared. Probably to grope some poor, unsuspecting chap. I always did have an unusually high tolerance for alcohol, so a few glasses weren't going to conk me out. Not yet anyway.
A realization struck me just as I took my fifth - or was it sixth? - glass. It had been about six years since my last bout of Red Cormick-ophobia. Since then, he'd been on his best behavior, and it was getting quite clear to me that my fear was more than just a little illogical. There was just no reason for me to still be scared of him. Let bygones be bygones, yeah? Thus, it was about time I stood up to my irrationality. It was in that moment that I decided that I wouldn't try so hard to avoid him. Hell, maybe I could even start a conversation.
The thought made me snort the moment it registered. I didn't think I was ready to go that far just yet. Baby steps, darlin', baby steps...
I choked at the sound of his voice over the din of the music. I couldn't help it. If that wasn't divine intervention, then I didn't know what it was. I sure as hell didn't believe in coincidences, no matter how much I wanted to at the moment.
Well. So much for taking baby steps. I think I was just chucked off the building. My traitorous heart began a triathlon in my chest even before I looking at him. Glancing at him made it even worse; he looked even better than usual up close. I was secretly hoping that it was the alcohol warping my view.
Ha-ha. Who the hell was I kidding?
"Ah... Um, hi, Red." I managed to blurt out, my gaze skittering away before flickering back to him, probably looking like an agitated cat trying to scamper away. Shit. He was standing too close. Our shoulders were barely touching, but still touching. Shit. "Uh. What brings you all the way over here?"
His grey eyes glittered like hematite, though that may have been because of all the neon lighting in the warehouse. "You." He smiled, taking my glass before he placed those cupid-bow lips of his on the rim and tipped it back, his gaze never leave mine.
I was wrong. Someone didn't chuck me off the building. They'd thrown me into the very pits of Gehenna itself, where the devil's spawn came in a nicely wrapped package of stormy eyes, ginger hair and a probable, very yummy six-pack.
"Oh, hell," I grumbled, grabbing another drink from the bar and draining it in one fell swoop. Amusement hint of surprise crossed through his expression. No way was I going to survive this sober. To hell with my inhibitions.
I forced myself to give him the most dazzling smile I could muster, as ready as I could ever be with Red. Which was about as ready as a pig about to arrive at the butcher's. "Fine. I think it's about time we talked, anyway."
His smile widened.