Distractions Ch. 11byHotSprings22©
"Are you ever gonna tell him?"
My brother had been standing in the door of my room with his arms folded across his chest for the last twenty minutes glaring at me. I was choosing to ignore him.
"Tell who what?" I was exasperated, sick of playing this game with Brenden. He'd been following me around all week glaring at me and making tisking noises.
"You know what I'm talking about!"
"Don't yell at me, and no, I can't think of anyone else besides you that should know." So, I was being a baby. Sue me.
"So you're not going to tell Gavin? At all?"
"Nope, and you better not say a word." I shot my brother a look. The point was to have a clean break from Gavin, and as far as I was concerned, I was going to get one. If he wanted to dick around with that whore, Cassie, then that's his business, and there was no reason for me to be involved.
"Well, that's stupid."
I threw another shirt into my suitcase. "The point of me wanting to go to California is to start over and get away from all the bullshit."
"So, you're just gonna leave?" I couldn't believe my brother was being this obtuse. "How do you think that's gonna make him feel, Red?"
I scoffed and snatched up another pair of flip-flops from the floor. "That's not my concern."
"So, you are going to walk away from him…twice?"
I'm not sure what the first time was, but I shrugged my shoulders. "I'm not walking anywhere, I'm getting on a plane and going to med school." I faced my brother and met his astounded look.
"So, I'm guessing you two aren't going to the Mayor's Birthday Party together, then." I stood staring at Brenden. I figured that was enough of an answer. "I'm also going to take a stab in the dark here and assume you didn't invite him to your little going away shindig?"
"I don't even know why you felt the need to throw me a party, Bren." I was just trying to further avoid his line of questioning because it always ended in an argument.
"My little sister is going to Cali, I can't throw her a party?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "Are you gonna stand there all afternoon or are you gonna help me pack?"
Brenden shook his head at me – again. "Talk about fucking up a friendship."
"I told him it was gonna happen," I said as I turned back to my suitcase. I stood staring at my bed trying to think if I forgot anything.
"That's all you have to say about this situation?" Brenden was furious as he rushed into my room, spun me around and got in my face. "Those four words to the one guy who'd give his left nut to make you happy? The one guy who beat the shit out of Wilson, repeatedly? The one guy who helped me beat down the entire baseball team in high school because they were talking about you?"
"Are you done?" My brother was so upset because Gavin and I had effectively pried apart The Three Stooges that have been together since the beginning of time.
I turned back to my suitcase intent on letting Bren throw his little tantrum without me watching and smacked me on the back of the head.
"The one guy," he said in a quieter tone, "who truly cares about you. The one guy who lov-"
"Don't you dare say those words!" I turned back to him fire in my eyes. Bren had been treading on thin ice, and he just broke it. He could say whatever he wanted, but he wasn't going to tell me Gavin loved me – that Gavin was in love with me, when Gavin never felt the need to say it to me himself - or show me. I'd been trying to fight off the despair threatening to take over, and I didn't need my brother poking holes at my defenses trying to stir it up. My brave face worked this far, and it was going to continue to work. "You are not gonna say it for him."
"You never gave him the chance to."
I turned my back to Bren. I didn't want to hear anything else he had to say, let alone see that look in his eye. He was looking at me like I was making a colossal mistake.
But I wasn't making a mistake; self-preservation just wouldn't let me fall for what Gavin was trying to sell me. Gavin and I have been best friends forever, which means I know that he's pulled this routine with other girls before. And I know what happens in the end, the girl gets hurt, and Gavin escapes unscathed. I wasn't going to be one of the masses that had fallen for his bullshit and cried about it.
"Whatever," Brenden said as he took a step back. I was ashamed for showing that I still had some emotion towards Gavin, but fuck him. Fuck this place, I'm going to California. "I'm out." Brenden stomped from my room and out the front door.
My relief was short lived when I felt the nausea hit. I rushed to the bathroom hoping to make it before it was too late.
Yep, I'm doing the right thing.
Brenden was sick of this shit. All of it. He knew this was going to happen, but does anybody listen to him? Nope. Nobody pays Brenden any attention, and now he was reduced to being the go between. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't be caught dead doing something like this, but the bullshit between Red and Gavin was starting to affect him. He couldn't hang out with his two best friends because they had their heads so far up their asses.
He shook his head as he jogged up the stairs to Gavin's apartment. He just hoped Gavin was in there – he hadn't seen him in days. His car and bike were parked outside, but that didn't mean much.
Brenden slipped his key into Gavin's lock and twisted. He pushed the door open and stepped into the dingy living room. Someone's been moping. It took a minute for his eyes to adjust to the darkness in the room despite the intensity of the sunlight shining outside.
As his eyes roved over the room, he caught the outline of his best friend sitting in the recliner in front of his flat screen.
"You've got to be kidding me," Brenden said as he sat down on the couch across from his pal; at least what used to look like his pal. This guy had day's worth of growth on his face and looked like he hadn't bathed in weeks.
"What?" Gavin never took his eyes off the TV. He was watching the Discovery Channel.
This is serious. "Fucking pitiful."
"You can leave."
"Are you gonna stay in here moping forever?"
"I'm not moping." Bren rolled his eyes.
"You can leave. No one's forcing you to be here."
Bren flipped Gavin the finger. "You and I are going to be spending a lot more time together."
"Why, finally admitted to your homosexual fantasies about me?" Gavin asked with a smile. Well, that's a start.
"Fuck you. We are going to be spending more time together because Red is leaving." Brenden watched Gavin closely and noticed the slight tension enter his limbs. There's hope yet.
"That's good for her," came Gavin's response after a pause. "She got into med school?"
"Yep. In Cali."
Gavin's eyes grew to the size of saucers as he faced Bren for the first time. "She applied for Crownan here in town, but apparently there were no more spots in that program, so they told her if she wanted, she could go to California. She's home packing right now."
Gavin turned back to the television as Brenden spoke. He kept his eyes fixed straight ahead, as he nodded his head.
"I don't know how she's gonna make it," Brenden said pressing on. "She's been sick lately and very emotional." Brenden wasn't sure what was wrong with his little sister, but based on the way Gavin was grinding and clenching his teeth, he knew he could be on the right track.
"Yea, I don't know man," Bren continued trying to feign innocence. "She's all loopy and shit. She'd kill me if she knew I told you she cried loud enough for me to know. I don't always hear her, but I can see it in her face in the morning."
Good, Gavin thought to himself. She needed to feel as bad as he did. Then he immediately scolded himself for thinking that. Then something dawned on him, but he pushed the thought from his mind. No, there was no way she could be. If she was, or thought she was then she would have told him, right?
Brenden could see the emotions playing across Gavin's face, and he felt very pleased with himself. "You still going to the Mayor's Birthday Party?"
"Dunno," Gavin answered distracted.
"Well, Red's still going. She bought a real pretty dress." Brenden waited for Gavin to respond, but when he didn't, he kept talking. He just had one more thing to say. "A bunch of us are getting together the Friday after the Mayor's Ball as a going away for Red."
"So?" Gavin asked irritated, but Brenden knew better. It was much easier for Gavin to act pissed than concerned. "When does her semester start?"
"I have no idea. I'm guessing in a couple weeks. But who knows, she doesn't tell me anything anymore."
"Then why are you telling me this?" Gavin looked at Brenden with hurt in his eyes. Brenden almost felt bad for the guy, but they both did this to themselves.
Brenden stood and straightened out his jacket. "Riley's bar at eight thirty, then she's gone."
Brenden left the way he came without so much as a backward glance.
I sat on my bed staring at the business card Ben had given me that night in his office. It felt like a lifetime ago, but only a couple days had passed. I'd been taking turns staring between the card and the ridiculously priced dress I'd bought for the Mayor's Birthday Party.
I felt the pang of despair as I remembered how happy I'd been when I bought the dress hoping to see excitement in Gavin's eyes when he saw me in it. I took a deep breath and pushed that thought from my mind. I needed a date, and I'd be damned if I was going to show up at that party alone.
I called Jeremy, but he blew me off. He kept apologizing, but he wouldn't budge. He said there was no way he'd go to the party with me. Apparently, he was still bitter out me telling him we were just friends but whatever, I still needed a date.
So, here I sit staring at the business card trying to convince myself there are a billion reasons why I shouldn't call him. Ben's a doctor, if he's going to the party, I'm sure he already has a date. And he's hot; he probably has three dates.
I flopped back on my bed with my phone in my hand. What's the worst that can happen? He says no, and I still don't have a date. Its not like I'm unused to rejection. That seems to be my theme lately.
That thought sobered me up, and I dialed the number before my mind realized my fingers were pressing down the buttons. When the phone started to ring and I was afraid I was going to hyperventilate, but the old me was back I pushed those feelings down. I didn't give a shit if some hot doctor didn't want to go out with me. Worst-case scenario, I'd show up at the stupid party alone and have a great fucking time.
My pep talk was winding down when someone picked up the other line.
"Hi, I'm looking for Ben." I cringed. I wasn't sure what the proper etiquette was when calling a doctor on the phone when calling for a date, but it was too late now.
"Yes," he said in a guarded tone.
"Its Isabelle." I wasn't sure how to continue. I was certain he'd forgotten me by now. "I had the pleasure of trying to run you over in the hall last week in my haste to make it to the Admissions Office before they closed."
He chuckled, and it immediately relaxed me. "Of course. Hey, Isabelle," he said sounding more comfortable. I could hear the smile in his voice. "I was beginning to think you forgot about me." Now it was my turn to laugh. "But I'm glad you didn't. What can I do for you?"
I didn't think it would be polite to just jump in and ask him to be my plan B for the party, so I asked him if he wanted to get some coffee, or whatever it is Dean's of Admissions do for fun. He laughed again and told me he would prefer my company at dinner, but coffee would do for now. I found myself smiling into the phone in a way I hadn't done since I was a teenager.
He asked me if I would like to meet him later and I said sure. Its not like I had anything to do. We talked for a few more minutes than disconnected. I had a foolish smile on my face when I pulled my front door open. I might get to wear my fancy dress after all. I had some time to kill before I met up with Ben, and I figured it would be wise to spend that time looking for a purse to go with my dress.
I was walking out the door when I stopped myself just in time. I almost slammed face first into Gavin's chest. "What do you want?" His face hard as stone as he glared at me. The smile dropped off my face, and I returned his glare in kind.
"Where are you off to?"
"Does it matter? What do you want?"
Gavin pushed past me into the apartment then grabbed my arm and dragged me behind him when he realized I had no intention of following.
"I want to know why you did it." He said through gritted teeth, his fingers biting into the flesh of my upper arm.
"Did what?" Gavin's glare intensified. "I didn't do anything with Wilson." I said through clenched teeth. Leave it to Gavin to ruin a perfectly happy mood.
"I watched him kiss you. I watched him put his hands all over you. What's he got?"
"Possibly the same thing Cassie's got. I watched her leaving your apartment. I hope you plan on getting yourself tested."
"Don't change the subject. Wait, what?"
"I saw her leaving your apartment Friday," I said as I wrestled my arm from his grasp. "I went to explain to you that nothing happened between Wilson and I. He cornered me and must have known you were in the parking lot."
"She wasn't in my apartment," his brows knitted in confusion as I sighed heavily.
I glared at him, trying to remind my body that I was mad at him. Seeing him was causing my hear to pound painfully in my chest, and I wanted nothing more than to press my body to his, but control was the word of the day.
I took a step back convinced space would help my resolve when Gavin burst into laughter. "Wow, she's persistent," he said to himself running a hand through his hair. "You know her new squeeze lives on the fifth floor, right? Unbelievable," he said again as he shook his head in disbelief. "Don't tell your brother, but we are really fucking stupid."
"So, Cassie wasn't in your apartment?"
"No." For some reason, I felt like the bigger ass in all this.
I sighed not sure how I was supposed to feel about this revelation. I knew what I wanted to feel, but I didn't know how I needed to feel. Apart of me wanted to jump for joy, but the other more protective part wanted to run from these feelings. I had to try hard to force down the spark of hope Gavin ignited. So what Cassie and Wilson lied? That doesn't change the fact that Gavin and I should never have crossed that line. Never. Now what?
"Yea," I said quietly. "We are dumb." Life was easier when I thought my best friend was fucking Cassie. Now what are we supposed to do?
"So, you were gonna leave without telling me?"
"I didn't think you cared." Hurt flashed in his eyes before he could disguise it.
"Its one thing to be mad and not talk to each other. Its another thing to leave the state, Red."
"Yea well, like I said, I really didn't think it mattered to you…"
Gavin took a step closer. "I'm sorry I made you angry enough with me to think I didn't care. I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions. I'm sorry I left you there." Call me a coward, but it was easier to let Gavin be the brave one and apologize.
Oh no, my self-preservation can't handle this…Gavin the Great never apologized.
"I'm so sorry, Red. Please forgive me." Here he was begging for forgiveness and I was as much to blame. My insides clenched as I took a step back. It wasn't fair. If Gavin weren't Gavin, it would be easier to hate him but if he weren't Gavin, I wouldn't love him.
My mind was frantic as I tried to think of something to say to get us back to normal. I'm sure you noticed by now that I'm not fond of change, even if it's a change that I've wanted nearly my entire life. I was smart the first time I didn't want things to change between Gavin and I. I was right, because look where we ended up. We'd both crossed a line that we should have stayed away from, and now we were barely talking to each other.
No, no change was bad. Why fix something that wasn't broken? I wasn't going to loose Gavin as a friend even if that meant the possibility of him being more. Call me crazy, or call me stubborn, but I loved him too much. And yes, that was the second time I admitted that to myself, which is exactly why I couldn't allow him to talk me back over that line.
I loved Gavin probably more than he would ever know, but I couldn't chance something stupid like this happening again. If I was ever going to get things back to the way they were, I had to stop this now.
"Listen, maybe we should just think about this." My mind was going a mile a minute as I backed away from Gavin thinking the physical distance would help adhere my thoughts. Gavin's brow creased as he watched me move away from him. The pain in his eyes was cracking at my resolve, but I had to. He took another tentative step towards me and I stepped away. I couldn't let him touch me.
"Just because we know they lied, I mean, maybe it's a sign, you know? Maybe we are better friends, and that's all we should be." My words stopped Gavin and I could see his thoughts racing through his head as he tried to make my words make sense. I was babbling, but I couldn't stop. "I mean that makes sense, right? I don't even know if you love me, love me, or if you just love me like your best friend. Just because I love you, doesn't mean everything will –."
"What did you say?"
"What did you just say?"
I took a deep breath trying to settle my nerves. "That maybe it would be better if we just stayed best friends. Bren would probably like that too," I said with a nervous chuckle. I felt like I was going to puke.
"That's not what I was talking about."
Now it was my turn to be confused and judging by the grin threatening to tug at the corners of Gavin's mouth, the confusion was etched across my face.
"You said you loved me."
Oh Christ. "I did not." I took another step back as Gavin stepped towards me. Just what he needed another reason to think I was pathetic. Shit.
"Yes you did."
He backed me into the kitchen counter and before I could blindly work my way around it, he pressed his body to mine. I tried to think of a way out of this, but my brain wasn't working fast enough. The feel of his breath mixing with mine was making my head spin. "You said you loved me." I was still trying to figure out how to get around the table when his lips pressed sweetly to mine.
"Did you mean it?"
I was slowly loosing the rational battle with my mind as I felt his fingers tangle in my hair. I knew I lost the battle when he snaked his tongue in my mouth and his name escaped my lips. I was doomed.
"Isabelle," he breathed across my lips. "Did you mean it?"
I couldn't lie. Not with his lips dancing over mine like they were. "Yes." The word was barely audible as I felt its weight settle around us. There it was, out in the open. He knew it now, and there was nothing I could do about it. My eyes lowered as I waited for the inevitable.
He cupped the sides of my face as I met his gaze. I was going to meet his reaction like a woman. I steeled myself for what he was going to say he pressed his lips to mine. It wasn't a sisterly kiss, or one you'd give a best friend. This was a real kiss, like he was trying to tell me something words couldn't describe.
"Gavin?" His name escaped my lips as a question, but what I really wanted was to hear him say something, anything that would ease the hysterics inside me. But he said nothing as he pressed his lips harder to mine this time. The sound of his name breathlessly passing my lips was like a trigger. I gave in, because something in me said it didn't matter what he said. I wanted this. I would worry later, right now, this felt right.