Heaven On Earth Ch. 08bybyIL85©
Chapter 8: Potty Mouth
Erica pushed her way into Brian's apartment. Brian and I stood back in amazement.
"What do you mean we're still in danger?" I asked.
"Stop and think for a moment. Evan, you are religious about turning your alarm on. Was that night any different?"
"Of course not. I always turn it on, no matter what."
Then Erica said just what I was thinking. "So why didn't it go off when Laura broke in?"
"Shit," muttered Brian.
The way that my alarm worked was that it would go off silently for ten seconds after the door is opened. That gives me time to disarm the alarm before the noise comes on, and it's more startling for intruders to hear it after they've already come in. "Dammit, I was so stressed and worried that I didn't even think about that."
"Who knows the code?" asked Erica.
"Only my mother, my uncle, Jane, and me. I haven't even remembered to tell Brian."
"Well, I think we all know how Laura got the code to the alarm," Brian said.
"It doesn't make sense. Why would Jane tell Laura the code? There would be no reason for her to know it."
"Unless Jane knew what Laura was going to do," Erica said in a matter-of-fact tone. That made all of the color drain from my face. Erica didn't look too good either. She was swaying a little as she spoke. Brian walked over and helped her steady herself.
"Erica, are you alright?" he asked.
"I'm fine, I just have a little fever, so I stayed home from work."
"No offense, but you look terrible. Let me get you some water."
"Fuck the water. Can we focus on what's important here? Jane must have been involved in this whole thing! She's probably still after you!"
"Erica, we can't jump to conclusions on this. We don't know the whole story," I said. "That's not something Jane would do."
"As far as I'm concerned, she's the same as her twin, same genes and everything!" "Come on, Erica, let's sit down. You're bordering on delirious." Brian took her over to the kitchen table and sat her down. I fixed a glass of ice water and handed it to her.
"I'm not that sick," she insisted after taking a long drink. "This is really serious. Laura may be locked up, but Jane could still get into your apartment."
"No, she can't. The police confiscated the key that Laura used," Brian said.
"Don't be silly. Who's to say that she didn't make copies?"
Neither of us responded. We both knew it was true. And even though I didn't think that Jane was capable of such cruelty, the circumstances intensified my doubt.
"You should probably get the locks changed, just as a precaution," Brian suggested.
I nodded in agreement. Brian massaged my shoulders, trying to soothe and calm me. I didn't respond to his touch. What Erica had said shook me to the core. Could Jane be partially responsible for what Laura did? I was beginning to feel ill. If Jane was in on Laura's plan, we were in serious danger. I excused myself and went into the bathroom where I promptly threw up.
Brian heard me and knocked on the door. He came in and knelt down beside me. I slowly turned towards him.
"I love you," he said. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you." My life was in danger. Laura wasn't interested in killing me, but she said that she would kill Brian. Brian was quickly becoming my life. I couldn't let anyone take him away from me. I wiped my mouth with toilet paper and wordlessly rose to my feet. Brian stood up as well, and I looked up into his blue eyes. God, I loved those eyes. He kissed my scar and put his arms around me. "I love you, too." There was nothing else I could say. I refused to let anyone take him away from me, but how on Earth was I supposed to prevent that from happening? He seemed to know what I was thinking and squeezed me tighter.
"Too many of our close moments happen in the bathroom," I said.
Brian laughed. "Maybe we should try out the public bathrooms. I'd say we've finished with Private Bathroom Loving 101."
I grinned, but at the same time, I realized that my breath was bad enough to make anyone want to kill me. "Do you have an extra toothbrush? Throwing up is never a good smell."
"Sure do." He fished one out of the bathroom drawer and handed it to me. As he turned to leave, I quickly pinched his ass. He gave me a surprised and devilish look, but I innocently turned back to brushing my teeth.
As I went back into the living room, Brian was covering Erica with a blanket as she tried to sleep stretched out on the couch. I walked up behind him and slipped both of my arms around his waist. I leaned in and scraped my teeth on the side of his neck. The soft moan that was my reward only encouraged me further. I untucked his shirt and moved my hands up his chest. Brian swatted my arms and pulled free from my hold. He turned around and put one finger to his lips, motioning for us to be quiet while Erica was resting. He took my hand and led me towards the bedroom. Once we had shut the door, I seized his mouth with mine, craving the true intimacy with Brian instead of the "tough love" from Laura. Something told me that Brian felt the same way. He growled as I alternated between kissing him and unbuttoning his shirt.
This was, of course, the perfect time for someone to knock on the door.
"Forget about it," I said in a harsh whisper. I moved down and started licking his left nipple.
"No, oh shit, that's great. No, wait. I can't." His breathing rate increased. "No one ever comes by here, I have to see who it is."
Brian tore himself away from me and went to answer the door with his open shirt and somewhat bulging pants. I collapsed back on the bed with a frustrated groan. Perhaps I was trying too hard to compensate for the pain I was feeling, but I couldn't see that at the time. My only concern was being happy. Being happy with Brian.
I lifted myself off the bed after a few minutes and went to see what was keeping Brian. He was standing by the door, but he was talking to a small, blond haired man who looked like he had the beginnings of tears in his eyes. The look on Brian's face was stony and almost angry. When he saw me, his face lightened a little but not enough to convince me that everything was alright.
After putting his thoughts together, Brian made the introduction. "This is my boyfriend, Evan Alexander. He's starting medical school at Columbia next month. Evan, this is Noah Meyers."
Now I knew how Brian felt when we sat around with Jane. No, scratch that, I knew how Brian felt, only ten times worse. Brian had said earlier that he hadn't dealt with Noah since his drug addiction, and Erica made no secret of her dislike for him. It was agonizingly awkward to say the very least. What was worse was the seating arrangement. Erica sat up and moved to one side of the couch. I sat down on the opposite end, so there was room between us for Brian to sit down after he got everyone something to drink. From that first encounter, I knew I was going to have to keep my eye on Noah. He was a sneaky one. Rather than try to sit with Brian, he sat in the empty spot, effectively keeping me away from Brian but subtly laying his claim to his ex-boyfriend. Some would say that I was being paranoid, but one look at the way Noah acted around Brian clearly explained that he felt like the relationship ended too abruptly.
There were other things, too. Other things that just IRRITATED me. Noah talked a lot about being in rehab and re-assimilating himself into regular society, but the tone that he used was driving me mad. It was as if he was trying to show off or prove something to Brian, to prove that he had changed. At first, Brian seemed cold and cautious towards Noah, but as time went on, I could tell that he was warming up to him. He talked about all the success he had achieved in working his way back from being a poor drug user to working substitute teaching jobs around Queens. But it was also in the way that he turned his body towards Brian or laughed at his jokes or went for the prolonged skin to skin contact when he handed Brian his glass for a refill. After he hugged Brian and left, I felt so relieved that he was gone. Erica whispered in my ear as Noah and Brian went to the door.
"Don't worry, you have nothin' to be jealous of."
I nodded, but it was hard to stand for that. Nobody wants an ex to try to take back his old boyfriend when that boyfriend is now yours. Brian closed the door and turned around with an exhausted look on his face.
"Wow. That was completely unexpected."
Erica snorted. "Tell me about it."
"He's really different. I'm really surprised at how much better he's gotten."
Erica stood up and started for the bathroom. Before she went in, she whirled around on one foot and said, "Bri, never forget that the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Leave it to Erica not to hold back anything. I rose from the couch and went over to Brian. He put his arms around me and rested his forehead against mine. "That was... interesting," he said after a minute or so.
"Yea, try uncomfortable."
"Why was that uncomfortable?"
"Having your ex-boyfriend and ex-drug user sit down and have casual conversation with us as though nothing had happened since the two of you broke up? I'd call that uncomfortable."
He pulled his head back and glared at me. "No more uncomfortable than when Jane would hang around us."
"That's a completely different situation."
He let his arms fall, and then he put them on his hips and cocked his head at me. "Why is this different? Because Noah used to use drugs?"
"That's one reason," I said. "There are other reasons such as the fact that Jane and I never had a relationship like you two did, or the fact that I have no interest in women whereas you still are interested in guys, or—"
He cut me off. "Are you saying that you think I want to get back with Noah?"
"I don't know what you feel, Brian, but I think it's pretty obvious that he wants you back."
"What do you mean you don't know how I feel? I say I love you and I mean it."
"I know you do," I could tell he was starting to get really upset.
"Then what the fuck are you questioning me for!?"
"Brian, I'm not questioning you; I just don't trust his intentions."
"It doesn't matter what he wants. Don't you trust me enough to not let shit like that bother you?"
"You know I do."
"Well, if this is the kind of suspicion and jealousy that's going to come up whenever another guy shows interest in me, then I want you to leave." He opened the door and stood next to it.
"What? Brian, don't you think you're taking this a little far?"
"Get out," he said. I had never heard him sound so cold.
I stayed where I was, not so much in defiance of what he wanted, but I was absolutely stunned. This was the last thing I expected to happen, and I didn't understand why Brian was being so rash and angry.
"GET THE FUCK OUT!" he screamed.
I hid my face from him as I walked out, and I choked back tears when he slammed the door on my back. What the hell was going on. I did not understand why Brian was reacting like that. Our relationship was strong, but it was new. I hoped that this wouldn't break us down.
I went up to my apartment. It had been a while since I had worked out, and quite frankly, I needed that something to make me feel good. I started on the treadmill. Although I had planned to do a light workout of 3 miles, I was out of shape and exhausted after finishing two. I was a long distance track runner, I should have been able to handle more. I toweled off and started to go for my second shower of the day, but there was a knock at the door. Instantly thinking, "Brian!," I practically ran to the door and opened it. It was Erica, not Brian.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey, come on in." She followed me inside. I grabbed some Gatorade from the refrigerator and gulped about half of it down. "I'm guessing you heard everything that Brian and I said."
"Yup, I heard most of it. For what it's worth, you were acting pretty suspicious and I think Brian was justified in feeling a little upset, but he overreacted. There was no reason for him to treat you that way. I tore him a new asshole after you left."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing really. He just looked at me for a minute or so and then went to the phone and started calling someone named Kennedy."
I sighed deeply. "Well, it's not as if I can do anything now. He kicked me out, so it's really up to him to make the first move."
"Y'all just hit a bump in the road. It's no big deal. You'll see."
"Thanks, Erica," I said without much emotion. "I suppose the first time you see someone get really angry is shocking."
She nodded. "Yea, Brian usually keeps his cool. Noah is just a soft spot for him. He would defend anything that Noah did."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he didn't really want to let Noah go, but he felt like he had to. Dealing with an addict was simply not what he wanted to do. And to be completely honest, I think that in the back of his mind, I think he always regretted doing it until he met you."
I swallowed the other half of the Gatorade. "That's kind of cold comfort now. But thanks."
"This isn't over, Evan." She stopped for a minute. "Oh shit, with everything that happened today, I forgot to tell you and Brian about my art show this Sunday. Another artist pulled out of the show and a friend of mine got a spot for three of my paintings!"
"That's great, Erica. What time does it start?"
"2pm sharp. It's semi-formal."
"Where is it?"
"It's about seven blocks over at this gallery. How about you come with me and we can get lunch or somethin' before."
"That works for me."
"Great. I need to go rest up so that I can actually enjoy it. I'll see ya later."
Something in me hoped that Brian would be at the door when Erica left or that he would knock the instant I locked it, but he didn't. I showered and settled down on the couch with the remote control and a beer. Dammit, why hadn't Brian called or anything? I ordered out for a pizza, which was rather counter productive to my afternoon workout, but it made me feel better. I had gone through four beers by the time the pizza boy got there. I had lost a lot of my shame by that point and I almost hit on him, but I managed to restrain myself. I polished off half of the pizza and the other two beers. Due to my low tolerance, I was absolutely trashed. Sleep almost claimed me as I slouched on the couch, but the knocking on the door brought me back to a full state of alertness. Well, as alert as one could be while drunk. Brian was on the other side of the door.
"Hey," he said, standing there rather sheepishly.
I giggled at him, but I had to brace myself on the wall.
"Shit, you're drunk," he said. He turned around and started to leave.
"Wait, heh heh, Brian where are you going?" I followed him out into the hall.
"Evan, I came up here to apologize to you, but I'm not going to do that if you're barely aware of what I'm saying to you."
"I was feeling down so I had a few beers. What's the big deal?"
"The big deal is that I can't put up with you if you run off and get drunk every time we have an argument. You criticize Noah for using drugs, but you're not much better when you drink yourself silly like this!" He mashed the elevator button and left, leaving me watching as the doors closed. "FUCK!" I screamed. I went back into my apartment and slammed the door.
I stayed in the apartment for the majority of the next day. Brian didn't call, and I didn't either. I had called a locksmith to come and change the lock on the door. They said they could come and do it on Monday morning. I pulled out the pamphlet that came with the alarm system and changed the code to 062003, the day I met Brian. I still wasn't sure if Jane was involved with Laura's plan or not, and I was too afraid to find out. Laura was in jail, awaiting her trial, and that's what was important.
There's not much to do while you're alone when you've been spending every moment possible with your boyfriend. Still, I pretended as though it was a day when Brian had class. Usually, I was able to see him by the evening, but I was depressingly lonely by midnight or so. I decided that a change of scenery was what I needed, even though I knew there was something I needed more than that. I dressed myself up in a pair of leather pants that I bought on a whim and a black top with a white button down shirt to go over it. I was going to check out a club or two. Once outside, I waved down a taxi and headed for Times Square. We stopped at a light, and I happened to look over at a pizzeria. Coincidences are terrible. I absolutely despise coincidences. Brian and Noah were coming out of the doors. Noah was wolfing down a piece of pizza, and Brian had his arm around his shoulder. The light changed and we drove ahead. I didn't want to see anymore anyway. The cab dropped me off at a club called Show, but I didn't want to go in. I stood in line for a few minutes but quickly lost interest. I walked around for a little while, caught another cab, and went home. I was broken when I got home. I went straight to the guest bedroom and fell into a fitful sleep.
Thankfully, I woke up on time on Sunday to go to lunch with Erica. We headed down to Joelle's for some great burgers and fries. True, we were overdressed to be eating at Joelle's, but nobody seemed to notice or care. It was New York. Erica was so excited and nervous about her art that I didn't want to bring her down by telling her about Brian and Noah. I had never seen Erica like this. She was always so calm, collected, and in control. Now, as she sat across from me, a chattering ball of nerves, I watched that façade melt away. She truly was imperfect, with the same apprehension that anyone would feel at a time like this. It made me love her that much more.
The art show was particularly interesting. There was some artwork from some veterans, whose names I don't know anyway, and there was also a lot of new stuff from budding artists like Erica. We chatted in a corner, sipping on wine and watching people's reactions to her artwork. The friend that set her up for the show, who Erica introduced to me as Samantha, pulled her aside for a moment. I continued around the gallery and looked at other artists' work. I thought about buying a couple of pieces, but most of them were far beyond my price range. Even with Uncle James paying for the apartment, I only had so much of a savings account to use for my other purchases while I wasn't working. Erica came back over to me and practically started bouncing up and down.
"Someone just bought one of my paintings for $650!" she exclaimed.
"Erica, that's fantastic! Which painting?"
"Emotions" was my favorite painting that she had at the show. It was a dark-haired woman standing in a forest clearing and smelling a flower. I felt as though it expressed a lot about solitude and understanding the importance and pain of being alone. We walked over to it as I kept congratulating her. Then I looked over and noticed Brian and Noah in another part of the gallery. At that moment, Noah happened to catch my eye and he smiled at me. I hesitantly waved at him. His smile broadened and he turned back to Brian and looped his arm through Brian's. Brian didn't do anything to stop him or pull away. What was this!? Some sort of soap opera? Erica saw it, too. She said that she was going to go tell Brian about her sale. I excused myself to go to the restroom. I didn't actually have to go, but it seemed like the best place to go and sulk. I went into one of the stalls and sat there with my head in my hands. I heard someone come in and what was unmistakably Brian's cough. I pulled my feet up and crouched on the toilet seat. The last thing I wanted with him was some awkward confrontation. I listened as he used a urinal and washed his hands.