Loving James Ch. 05byzolia_lily©
"Hey. Who's that with Blake?" James asked me, passing me the last of the popcorn.
"Don't care." I pointed out.
"No, seriously. I mean with Tim Blake."
What? I turned around and looked around for Tim. He was sucking face with some kid in the corner.
"I think I know him." James sounded uncertain.
"No, you don't." I told him. Neither of us was having anything to do with the prick or the nervous kid he was with.
"Yeah, we do." James was still looking at them. I glared at him and then took another look. "He was in school with us. What, the year level younger?"
"Oh." I looked at him. I recognised him vaguely. He'd been one of those really sheltered kids. He and Blake were talking now. And he was grinning. "He got rid of those glasses. Which is a good thing. He was never going to get a boyfriend otherwise."
James gave a half laugh. "You have glasses." He pointed out.
"Well, I don't wear them in public!"
"What the hell is he doing with Blake?" James mused.
"James! Who cares? We're supposed to be-" I glanced over and stopped midsentence. The kid had a look on his face I recognised. He looked half in love and half terrified. Blake was going to eat him alive. "Ah, shit."
James gave me a look.
"This was supposed to be our evening." I told him crossly.
"And it totally will be." James looked around, feeling in his pockets. "I'll go and see if I can talk to Henry. Harry? Harry. I'll just signal him or whatever, alright? Dammit, where's my phone? Ugh, just wait here and I'll be back. Alright? You don't even need to speak to either one of them."
"Henry." I told him. James just grinned. Now he knew I remembered more than I'd said I did. "Fine." I growled.
"No worries, back in a tick." James told me, and kissed my lips briefly, then moved off in amongst the crowd of movie goers, still patting his pockets.
I sighed and moved near the doors so he'd see me when he came back.
When I looked around I couldn't see Henry or Tim anymore. "Fuck." I muttered. I wanted us to go for ice cream like we'd planned, and then I wanted us home in bed. And instead James had to run off and look after someone else.
"Hey there, Lexie boy." A voice suddenly came past my shoulder. Blake had that fucking smirk on his face. He leant against the wall next to me. I did not want to talk to him!
"Cut the crap, Tim. What the hell are you doing with that boy?" I crossed my arms over my chest.
"With Henry? Why? He's cute."
"He's not even your type!"
"What? Not like you, you mean?" Tim laughed and moved closer to me.
I hated him. Hated hated hated him. I was not going to back away.
"He's cute." Tim repeated slowly. "And what's more- he's going to be just as easy as you were."
"Do you get off on being a prick or were you just born one? "
"You're totally jealous. New boyfriend not keeping you happy?"
"Shut up!" Shit, I was blushing again. Not good! Truth was that James and I still hadn't got around to... well. To that.
Tim laughed again. "Well, Henry will be gone for a few minutes. We could duck into the toilets and fix that for you. Although... that might be a problem. I don't seem to recall you coming very often..."
"Shut up! As if I had anything-" I glared at him and shut my mouth with a snap. "That wasn't because of me!" I finally settled on saying.
"What are you going to do? Tell him I fucked you over? You're just jealous, Lexie boy."
"Maybe I will. Maybe I'll tell everyone what a shit you are."
"Nah. Don't think you will. You'd be too embarrassed for that. You'd go all red and then you'd cry. Then again, you're cute when you blush. Why don't you tell his parents instead? He'll listen to them, you know. In fact, there's his dad come to pick him up right now."
I looked around the foyer and saw a man who looked like a taller version of Henry, wearing glasses as well. He was looking around as if trying to see someone.
"Well, go on." Tim said, smiling his trademark smirk. "He already doesn't like me. I had dinner at their place the other night so right about now he's probably wondering if I haven't got Henry cornered in the bathroom or something. You should go put us all out of our misery. You know. If you're not totally too chicken."
The man suddenly looked at us and caught us looking at him.
"Fine." I said to Tim. He thought I wouldn't do it? I'd fucking do it. He thought I couldn't convince Henry's dad what a prick he was? I fucking could and I was going to.
"Hi." I said, marching right up to him. My palms were damp and I felt sick. Absolutely sick. "My name's Alex. I went to high school with Henry."
"Oh. Right. Hi." He shook my hand, giving me a slightly perplexed look.
"I know we've never met. I don't even know Henry that well. I just think you need to know about the guy over there I was talking to."
He looked around and I looked over too. Timothy gave us a little wave and a grin.
"Thing is, he's trouble. He's not good for Henry." Henry's dad was starting to look disbelieving. "I used to date him too, see? And I'm afraid he'll do to Henry what he did to me. And-"
"Excuse me?" Henry's dad interrupted. He was looking at me with a stunned expression. "My son? Is dating ... that boy? My son... is...? He's...?"
Shit shit shit!
"Uh..." Brush it off as a joke! I thought desperately- but how? I stared at his dad and his dad stared back at me.
"Uh..." I repeated. "I didn't- I mean, I'm going to-"
I turned away and saw Tim grinning, Henry walking over, smiling, totally unsuspecting.
Where the fuck was James?
Fingers closed on my shoulder.
"You're not going anywhere."
"Looking for Lexie?"
"What do you want?" I asked Tim. This guy was like a bad smell. He just kept on hanging around. He laughed.
"You're not going to find him."
I frowned at him, but he seemed to know something. I could argue with him, but then he'd probably never tell me what he knew.
"So? Where is he?" I tried not to sound interested. Not like Tim wouldn't be able to tell, anyway...
"Oh, Henry's dad's probably dropped him home by now."
"Why would Henry's dad drive him home?"
"Hmm. Let's see. It might have been after Alex outed him and Henry flipped out... I think he said he wanted to speak to Alex's parents."
I stared at Tim with a hole opening up inside my chest.
Tim just laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.
"He's a total bitch, that boy. Why do you think I like him so much?"
I drove to Alex's without thinking.
"Hi Sal." I said.
"Hi James." She said. Neither of us smiled or did the small talk thing. I was too shocked. Too furious.
"Alex home?" I asked instead. My voice sounded strange.
"Now's not a good time."
"Right." I sounded obnoxious. No wonder she was giving me that look. I thought I heard voices from inside.
"Tomorrow." Sal told me shortly.
I wanted to argue, but there was pretty much nothing I could say that would make her let me in and I certainly wasn't going to force my way in.
"Ok." I said. "Fine."
I didn't feel like I had much choice but to go home.
It had been just about the worst evening of my life. Worse than when Tim had actually dumped me. God, the look on Henry's face. He'd been trying so hard not to cry. And I'd completely frozen up- like I couldn't even apologise to him, or tell him what had happened. I'd just sat in the back seat of the car while his dad had driven in silence and Henry had kept staring ahead but not looking like he was seeing anything at all.
Henry's dad had taken him home first. He'd walked him up to the door with a hand tight on Henry's shoulder and had spoken to a woman I guessed was Henry's mum at the door. She'd pulled him inside and then his dad - god, I still didn't even know his name - had come back to the car.
I'd told him where I lived and he'd driven me home.
I hadn't stuck around. I'd run to my room and locked myself in. None of what they said reached my ears, but I could hear his voice and mum's and Sal's- and it went on for ages.
I buried my head under my pillow and held my breath. Not trying to suffocate myself. Just trying not to cry.
What the hell had I done?
Alex had early classes the next day, and I'd lost my fucking phone, so I didn't go around to his house. I was going to have to wait until I saw him at Uni.
I got there late and ended up skipping classes anyway. I sat on the lawns, waiting for the rest of the crowd to show up... hoping Alex would show up.
Fuck, if I just knew which class he was in... I'd actually go in and pull him the hell out of there. I needed to talk to him.
How in hell had people survived before mobile phones? I seriously needed mine back. Now.
Andrew was the first to arrive.
"Bludger." He told me darkly and flopped onto his back. "Fuck, I hate essays. Why am I doing an arts degree again?" He asked me.
"Don't know." I answered. I sounded off. Which is probably why he looked at me again.
"Ok?" he asked.
"Lost my phone." I answered shortly.
"Huh." He said, and covered his eyes like he was going to sleep. His face was nearly back to normal. Hadn't been nearly as bad as he'd thought.
Elspeth turned up next. With, to my surprise, Henry's arm linked through her own.
"Don't tell me he's not here yet?" Elspeth said. I hadn't been able to shut my mouth yet.
"What? Who, Alex?"
"Yeah." She nodded. Henry shot me a faint smile. He looked ok. Why wasn't he red eyed and looking like he hadn't slept? Had fucking Tim lied to me?
"Not yet, no." Andrew muttered, from under the arms he had thrown over his face. "I'll know when he is though. No one disturbs the peace like that boy."
"Are you ok?" I blurted to Henry. "I thought- Tim said- Tim said..."
Henry went pink. Elspeth looked between us. "I thought you wanted to see Alex," she said to Henry.
"Yeah," he answered awkwardly. She kept looking between us, obviously expecting more. He didn't elaborate.
"Well, what happened?" She finally demanded, looking at me.
"I don't know. I only heard from Tim. But I'm not sure if the fucker was lying or not."
Henry went pinker. Dammit. I hadn't mean to insult the guy in front of him...
"Alex... kind of outed me to my dad." He finally said, words tumbling over themselves.
"He what?" Andrew yelped, sitting up suddenly. Elspeth's mouth dropped open.
"Hey guys," Sian said brightly as she arrived.
"Hey," Andrew said perfunctorily. "He fucking did what now?" he shot at Henry again. Sian stared at us all.
Henry was pretty deep red by now. "It's ok," He said, but he'd kind of hunched a bit and closed in on himself a bit.
"No, it's fucking not!" Andrew wasn't yelling now, but he was still pretty close. I just felt sick. "What the fuck did he do that for? Absolute fucking rubbish!" he swore. "What a bloody-"
Henry looked really uncomfortable.
"Andrew- do us a favour and shut up." I told him, then took Henry's arm and led him a few paces away. "Sorry about him." I said, then drew a breath. "Are you ok?"
"Actually... yeah." He gave me a small smile. "He- my dad took me home, and then drove Alex home. To speak to his parents. He was ... upset, I think. So I think he was going to take it out on Alex and possibly yell at his parents or something. But he didn't come home for ages. And then when he did, he and mum were talking in the kitchen... and then they came upstairs. And it's ok. It's- it's way better than I ever thought it would be. His parents must be awesome." Henry lowered his voice to add the last part and it made me grin.
"He lives with his mum and his aunt. His aunt's the miracle worker, I think."
"Oh. So anyway... I kind of wanted to see him... I don't really know him, so I don't like have his number or anything... but I wanted to tell him that's it's actually ok. That it's... it's not so bad."
I felt so relieved I felt like I had to sit down. "I'm really glad." I said sincerely. Henry smiled. "Can I ask? About Tim? What's...?"
"Oh." Henry sighed. "Well. It's not like I ever really thought... I mean, I guess I knew it wasn't like a big thing for him. But, you know, it was ... it was nice." He looked glum and shrugged. "Anyway. You said he told you something, so I'm guessing..." I hesitated.
"Yeah. Well, we do generally suspect the worst when it comes to Tim Blake." I told him. "He... he really hurt Alex once."
"My dad told me." He nodded, looking away shyly. "You- you're his- boyfriend, right?" Henry stumbled over the word a little. I might have thought it was cute, but I was too worried.
"Yeah." I agreed, looking back at the group. Andrew looked like he was still mouthing off, but he was muttering now, while Sian fluttered next to him, probably trying to calm him down.
Where was Alex when I wanted him?
James was avoiding me.
I mean, I couldn't say that I hadn't expected it, but really... to not even call? Not even text? Didn't he want to yell at me or something?
And when I'd finally, finally, finally been brave enough (well, actually, pissed off enough) to call him... he hadn't even answered. Hadn't even called back.
Apparently he thought he could just pretend that we'd never been dating in the first place. And I was not going to fucking take it.
I was late for lunch, but that way I was sure James would be there when I marched out to tear him a new one. Fucker.
Except I'd nearly marched right up to them when I realised I was too late. Henry had got there first. He and James were talking, standing really close...
Idiot. I was an idiot. I should never have gone there. What had I been thinking? As if I would have solved anything going to see him! As if it would have changed anything. I'd fucked up and this was it. Too big, too bad. Too late. It was over.
James was touching Henry's arm. I was going to be sick.
I turned around and started walking away. What the fuck was I supposed to do now?
"Alex!" James' voice called after me. "Al, wait."
I didn't turn around, only walked faster, until his hand landed on my arm.
"Just fuck off!" I spat at him, shoving his arm away.
"Go on- go date another one of Tim fucking Blake's ruined ex's! Don't even bother calling! I don't fucking care! Go away!"
"Alex!" James sounded annoyed. Of course he did. And I knew I wasn't exactly helping my own cause- I just couldn't stop myself from lashing out.
"Don't touch me!" I yelled. This was totally going to draw the crowds.
"Alex," James was giving me a look. It was hard and fierce and I just knew this was the end. "Alex, just listen to me!" He said loudly, grabbing my shoulders. I waited for him to yell and shake me. I waited for him to dump my ass in the middle of the whole fucking lawn. He moved his mouth like he was trying to talk and had nothing to say.
I was going to tell him not to bother, that it didn't matter anyway, that no one had ever expected this to work anyway.
Except then he kissed me.
Like, he held the sides of my head and didn't let me pull away, just kissed me. Or really, mashed his lips against mine, and pulled me closer against him, didn't give me any way to get away from him.
But I didn't want to.
He wasn't yelling at me. He was kissing me. He wasn't taking Henry's side. He was here... with me.
He was kissing me. In public.
I was getting all teary and I hated that- I did not want to get like this in front of everyone. But there was no way I could stop.
So... I kinda fucking bawled.
And it was embarrassing. Like, curl up in a ball and die sort of embarrassing. But James just pulled me to him and let me ruin his shirt. And somehow we were sitting on the grass, which was much less awkward, but still. I didn't fucking want to cry. Not here.
"I didn't mean to," I wailed against him. Like a fucking four year old.
"It's ok." James told me. His mouth was right by my ear.
"You didn't call! I didn't think- I thought-" The lump in my throat choked me and I had to stop. My whole chest hurt. James pressed a soft kiss to my temple.
"I lost my phone. I think in the movies. I don't know. I came by, but Sal wouldn't let me in. Henry's dad must have been there." James' hands stroked up my back and then one of his hands slid through my hair.
"God, fuck... James..." I could hardly breathe, let alone talk.
"It's ok. Henry's ok. Everything's ok." How could it be ok? I wiped my eyes with my sleeve.
"My mum. Sal. They're going to kill me." I'd got out of the house without seeing them this morning, thank god... but I'd have to face them at some point...
"It's ok," He murmured again. He was rubbing my shoulders. And it was really really good. But I'd never tell him that. "Henry's ok, see? He came here to tell you. Sal's amazing, you know that. So things are fine for him. And Tim's a shit, we always knew that. It's ok, babe..."
James was kissing my face... and even though I was still kind of crying a bit... I felt light all of a sudden.
I actually believed him.
Not just that everything was ok. I mean, that was kind of a good thing too...
But I finally actually believed he wanted to be with me.
Something inside me finally relaxed.
Once I finished crying out my storm of emotion, James held me for a few minutes, then smiled at me.
"You ok?" he asked.
No. Maybe. I managed a nod.
"Come on," he said, and then helped me up. Well, actually he kind of hauled me to my feet, but I'm not really picky about how it happened.
Holding my hand, he took me back over to the group. I didn't really want to go... but hell, I'd already cried. How much worse could it get?
James sat down and pulled me gently. I think I was supposed to sit next to him, but what-the-fuck-ever. I sat in his lap and pulled his arms around me. He laughed softly and kissed the back of my neck.
And it felt damn good, so shut up.
Then I looked up.
Sian and Elspeth were looking like they were doing their best to talk about anything besides, and include Henry at the same time. Andrew was looking at me with narrowed eyes.
"What?" I shot at him. And yeah, I was being a bitch, but I didn't care. And I didn't think James did either.
"You skinny angry redhead. I didn't think you knew how to cry." He said pointedly.
"Shut up." I told him. Andrew just grinned and flopped onto his stomach.
"I hate essays." He said. Sian poked him and they started arguing about Arts Degrees. Again.
Henry shuffled over a little.
"Hi." He said, so it wasn't like I could avoid talking to him.
I took a breath. James squeezed me a little. "Hey. I'm- I'm really sorry about yesterday. I just- I didn't realise..."
"It's ok." Henry said with a smile and a shrug. "Like, at the time I was a bit... you know." A bit? Try massively... "But dad spoke to your mum. And your aunt. And... it's ok. At home, I mean. It's actually... it's actually really good."
James kissed the side of my face. I get that he was pleased, but he was making Henry uncomfortable, so I poked him.
"Well, you know. I do selfless things to help those around me." I said. I couldn't quite muster the right tone, but James poked me back and kissed my neck again and Henry grinned, so it was ok.
I still couldn't believe it.
How the fuck could everything seriously be ok?
People started drifting back off to class, but I didn't care. I was pretty sure both of us has different places to be, but with Alex sitting in my lap, resting the side of his face against my chest, I really, really, really didn't care.
Eventually he sighed and looked up at me.