Never Again Ch. 02bybellerebelle©
10 Years Ago... ...continued (a few months later)
"No, no, don't worry, I'll take care of it. I know the routine and I'll make sure they eat and stay out of the mud. Have a great trip and call me when you get to the hotel. We'll be fine! Love you!" Gia waved as the black limo pulled out of the driveway and once it was out of sight, she walked back inside with dogs.
Gia's parents were heading to Mexico for their anniversary and her younger brothers were spending the week at the lake with their cousins, so she was relegated to dog-sitting duty. Not that it was too much of a hardship. At 18 years old, being left without chaperones for a week before starting college seemed like the perfect way to end the summer.
She'd been given explicit instructions not to allow too many people into the house, but as far as Gia was concerned, having a party in the backyard was just bending the rules, while still, for the most part, adhering to them.
Gia walked into the kitchen and began sorting through the mail. Zeus plopped down on the cold tile floor next to her feet with a sigh, while Lilah nuzzled her hand, patiently waiting for attention. Zeus and Lilah had been the family dogs since Gia started high school and watching them was second nature.
"Hey, girl. You want to go for a walk? Hmmm, let's get outside before it gets too hot. Maybe we'll walk to the grocery store." She grabbed the leashes and off they went.
The walk to the store wasn't a long one, but Gia was looking forward to stretching her legs and taking her time. As they reached a long stretch of sidewalk that bordered a field, she couldn't help but look at the last house at the far end.
She knew that whether she wanted to or not, he would occupy her thoughts as they walked. Gia had avoided Scott as much as she could since their work trip. She volunteered at out of the way locations, and rarely attended parties for fear that she'd run into him. She hated him, or so she told herself each time her mind settled on him.
But, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't help but look up at the last house, his house, as they passed the field. She let her eyes shift up, only for a second, and looked at his window. As much as it distressed her, she couldn't help but wonder if he was there, or what he might be doing, or if he thought of her.
More than anything, as hard as she tried to push him from her mind, she couldn't help but remember the way his lips felt when they covered her own. Or the way his calloused fingers felt running over her chest and down her stomach. Or how his eyes changed to dark blue, almost grey, when he had looked down at her.
"Oh, crap." Gia's cell phone jarred her from her thoughts. It was her best friend Lori, and Gia was relieved to have had her thoughts interrupted.
"Hey Lor, what's going on?"
"Nada, just talked to my brother, and he said that he'd buy beer for us if we pay him."
Gia rolled her eyes. "Fine. But tell your brother that he's a total sleaze. Only he would want to make a profit off of a liquor run."
"Yea, he's a total tool, but he's 21, so there's not much I can do about it."
"Whatever. When I start buying for my brothers, I'm gonna be a lot nicer about it. Anyway, is he around now? I'm actually walking the dogs and am almost at the store. You think he'd meet me there?"
"I'll ask him, hang on."
Gia patiently waited for a response and continued down the sidewalk, chuckling as she heard Lori nagging her brother on the other end of the phone.
"Okay, he'll do it. We'll meet you in 10. Okay?"
"Great. I've got to tie the dogs up, but I'm basically there. Bye."
As she approached the store, she walked over to a bench and leashed the dogs to it.
"Those are the biggest dogs I've ever seen! Can I pet him?" The voice came from behind her and Gia turned to see a few guys from school that played football.
"Oh, hey guys how are you?"
"Oh my god, are these your dogs? They're bigger than horses! What are they?"
"They're Saint Bernard's, you know, like Beethoven. Yeah, they're mine. This is Zeus and that's Lilah." Gia was turned, introducing the dogs, and didn't notice Lori and her brother walk up behind her.
"Hey, so are you guys coming to Gia's tomorrow? Her parents are out of town, and like, everyone is going." Lori's mouth was off before Gia could stop her.
"Pre-college fiesta? We'll definitely come. Seriously, these dogs are awesome. Guys, we should get going. So, tomorrow at your house, huh, Gia?" Jon, who happened to be one of Scott's best friends, asked.
"Yeah, tomorrow. Um, you should totally come, if you can. I've gotta go in and grab a few things, so I'll see you then, hopefully." Gia grabbed Lori's arm and pulled her into the store.
"Lori, why did you invite those guys?"
"Ummm, cause they're hot, single and our age. And, I just heard that Jon broke up with what's her name, and I wouldn't mind giving him a send off that he'll remember."
Gia tried not to laugh at her friend's over-active libido. "I told you that I was trying to keep this low-key. Plus, you know that they'll invite all those guys from the team, and that means Scott. So, thanks for that," Gia huffed.
"Oh c'mon G, you're gonna have to see him eventually. At least this way, you'll be in a big group and you don't have to talk to him if you don't want to."
"I definitely don't want to- whaddaya mean, "if"?"
"Nothing." Lori paused and looked up at her friend, "Look G, it's okay to be into him. I've known that you've liked him for ages, even if you never said it. He and Kelly broke up after your trip, you know. You should give it a chance."
Gia glared at Lori, but was at a loss for a logical response, so she turned and headed towards the liquor, mumbling the whole way.
"Cheer up, G. It's gonna be sooooo fun- and you love parties. Just wait. Tomorrow night, you'll end up having more fun than anyone."
Lori had a point. Gia loved socializing and she loved a good party.
In truth, there was a part of Gia that was sad in realizing that this would, in all likelihood, be the last party she attended with her classmates.
Everything had gone by so quickly; she couldn't believe that the summer was almost over. That idea alone made her wistful, and then, there was her boyfriend, James, to deal with. They would be heading to completely different parts of the country for school, and he thought that they should stay together. Gia knew that a long distance relationship wasn't practical. James would be leaving for Seattle the day after the party, and Gia had planned on ending things before that, but she just hadn't found the right time to do it.
As Gia, Lori, and the dogs headed back to her house with a trunk full of beer, Gia resolved to talk to James that evening. She had been planning her speech and she knew that she was doing the right thing, but he was a nice guy and she didn't want to hurt him.
She found comfort by telling herself that James knew it was coming. She had been pretty consistent in telling him that she didn't think that they should continue dating once they started college, but every time she tried to broach the subject, James interrupted her by saying that they had a whole summer to figure things out. Well, time was up and they were going to have to have an honest chat.
Hurt or not, Gia knew that she had no more time to waste, so she picked up the phone and asked James to come over.
"Was it horrible?" Lori was dying for details, and as she and Gia poured ice into buckets, she decided that she couldn't wait any longer.
"No, it was actually okay. He was pretty cool about it. I just told him that we'd be too far apart and that if we were meant to be, we'd end up together again. It was oddly easy. He wasn't even mad. I think that he realizes that there are going to be tons of single girls and it'll be more fun for him if he's not tied down. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. Plus, we'll still be friends and we can still talk. Though, he did try to use sex as, like a consolation prize."
"What do you mean?"
"You know James. He's so sweet, but he's still a horny guy, so he was all like, "We should have sex so that we always remember each other and so that our relationship ends on a high note." It was kinda hard not to laugh when he said it."
"I can't believe he said that, that's hilarious! Guys will say anything to get some, they're shameless! Actually, I really can't believe that you're starting college a virgin. You should just do it already," Lori said.
"I know, I know. It's not that I don't want to; it's just that it never really felt right with him. We were always more like friends who kissed sometimes than anything else. With my luck, I'll end up in bed with some drunk frat-boy whose name I can't remember, and then I will totally regret not doing it with James."
"Well, there's always tonight... You can give him a goodbye present he'll never forget." Lori was laughing through her words as she pictured James having sex.
"Give it up, will ya. You just want me to do it so I'll give you all the dirty details, and you know it."
"Oh, G, you do know me so well."
Lori and Gia spent the rest of the day getting music and things together for their party. Gia couldn't stop her mind from drifting to Scott. Would he be there? Would he be with his girlfriend? What would she say? Gia shook her head as though she was trying to shake him all together and headed upstairs to shower and get ready. As she washed her hair, she mentally resolved that no matter who showed up, she was going to have fun.
As he made his way through one group and to the next, he kept his head down, telling himself not to look for her. It had been ages since Scott had even been in Gia's house, and knowing she was there made him anxious. He could feel his stomach flip-flopping as he walked through her backyard.
Scott had resolved to call her dozens of times, but he could never gather the courage to do it. She had been so angry with him on the airplane that he worried he had screwed things up beyond repair. At least as things stood there was still a glimmer of hope- fear had paralyzed him, and he decided that he preferred fantasy to the reality that she may never want to be with him.
Scott had even seen her running past his house one morning, and before he could even think, he threw a pair of pants on and ran out after her. By the time he got to the sidewalk, she was too far away to hear him calling her name. He watched her in the distance and it made his chest ache. Once more she was almost within his reach and again, in a split-second, she was gone.
He hopped up the deck stairs, walked into her house, and ran straight into Zeus, who was taking up the better part of the kitchen floor. Scott bent to greet the big dog, and didn't see a figure entering the kitchen from across the room. When he stood, his throat caught as his eyes rested on Gia for the first time in months.
She looked incredible. A vibrant green halter dress created a deep V in at her chest, while also revealing the long expanse of her back and a warm summer tan. Gia's curls had been ironed out, and she wore her hair in a long ponytail with a few pieces framing her face. The dress ended right above her knee; she wore jade-colored sling-back heels that showed her pedicured toes and made her legs look impossibly long. Every time Scott saw her, it was as though he'd forgotten how beautiful she was and how she made him feel.
Gia was digging through cabinets looking for extra plastic cups and didn't notice Scott's tall figure step into the kitchen. He stood there waiting for her to turn, not knowing what to do or even how to say hello. He was just about walk up to her when a voice interrupted him.
"Scott, man, I haven't seen you, like, all summer. Where have you been?" Scott tried to smile as James walked up to him.
"Hey James, I've been around, you know, just... ...whatever." Scott couldn't bring himself to act like he wanted to be within ten miles of James. He had just heard that they were broken up, but even knowing that James had touched her made Scott crazy.
They both turned to find Gia walking towards them with an armful of cups. Scott and Gia's eyes locked on each other and before either of them could say anything, James stepped directly in front of Gia and wrapped his arms around her.
"Hey gorgeous, you look hot tonight!"
Gia could smell stale alcohol on James' breath and knew that he'd been drinking for a while. James laid his arm around Gia's shoulder and dragged her out the door to the back yard. Scott stood rooted in place as his jaw ticked in anger. He hated seeing them together and was quickly beginning to regret showing up to her house.
Gia was actually grateful that James has pulled her away from Scott. He looked amazing, better than she imagined, and she didn't know if she'd have had the strength to stop from throwing herself into his arms and begging him to take her upstairs. He wore dark jeans that looked slightly distressed, though more from use than desire to make a fashion statement. His hair had grown a bit and hung just below his eyes, and it was lighter than she'd ever seen it. A simple cream-colored t-shirt topped his look, and it highlighted his body in a way that made Gia's pulse race.
Whether or not she'd admit it, Gia knew that she loved Scott with all her heart. He was goofy and charming. He would be sweet when he thought no one was looking. He was smart, actually he was really smart, and that turned her on more than anything. As gorgeous as he was, Scott's looks were the least of what attracted her to him. He could go toe to toe with her in an argument and was never afraid to tell her what he thought. There was honesty in their interaction and even though he could be a pain in the ass, arguing with him was more enjoyable than anything she'd ever done with any other guy. Scott knew her, flaws and all, and he still looked at her as though she was the only person in the room.
Gia was trying not to drink too much because she wanted to make sure that the party didn't get too out of hand, but as the evening wore on, Gia allowed herself to imbibe and was thoroughly enjoying herself. She still hadn't spoken to Scott, but every chance she could, she watched him as he stood among a group of guys chatting and laughing.
Every time Gia imagined walking up to him, talking to him, touching him, she told herself to remember how badly she felt on the airplane, and reminded herself that she would never let him hurt her again.
Gia made sure that she kept her distance, and James had been clinging to her the entire evening, so it wasn't all that hard to avoid Scott. James was definitely starting to get on her nerves, but she figured he'd eventually pass out and she could enjoy the rest of the night without him.
Scott felt his blood boil every time he saw James's fingers run over her bare back or clutch her arm. James was so wrong for her, and given that they were no longer a couple, James had no right to act like he had claim over her. In Scott's mind, she was too good for anyone; maybe she was even too good for him.
She looked so beautiful. Her long hair swung gently when she moved and her gorgeous smile was infectious. He watched the way she walked through the grass, her heels doing their best to hinder her advance. Her long legs crossed as she moved; she wasn't purely graceful; there was youthfulness to the way she bounded from one place to another that made him smile.
He didn't even know what made Gia so intoxicating, and really, it wasn't just one thing. It was the way she laughed and made everyone else around her laugh, too. It was the way she made sure that she talked to everyone and the way her interest in conversation was genuine. It was the way she looked at him, as though she could see all his secrets and they didn't scare her. It was the way she made him feel- like he could do anything and be the best version of himself.
It had been dark for hours, and the crowd had thinned considerably. Lori was doing her best to entice Jon and most everyone else had settled into groups on the grass. Much to Gia's dismay, James was wide-awake and still clinging to her.
In an effort to get some much-needed space, Gia stood, kicked her shoes off and strode past the grass and into her house. She hadn't seen Scott in a while, though she knew that he was still around. She kept telling herself that it would be better if he left, but deep down she wanted him there and was hoping she could just see him once more before he took off.
Scott had barely taken an eye off of her the entire evening, so the second she retreated into the house, he stood to follow her. He didn't know if she would even talk to him, but he told himself that she was worth taking the chance and that he might not get another one. He saw a light go on on the second floor of the house and he knew that she was in her room. Unfortunately, he had failed to notice that James had left the backyard as well.
Scott brushed past both dogs on the way to the second floor. He hadn't ever been in Gia's room, and he was more than a little nervous as he made his way up the stairs. Just as he reached the top step, he looked down the hall and froze in place. There was James, his arms wrapped around Gia's waist and his face pressed against her neck.
The ache that spread through Scott's body was instantaneous; it made him feel furious and helpless all at once. He was rooted where he stood and he closed his eyes in an effort to gain some composure.
Breathing deeply, Scott turned to leave when he heard Gia gasp. The sound nearly knocked the wind from his lungs. That was supposed to be him in her arms, and that he didn't have her was making it difficult for him to breathe.
James was pawing Gia's chest and pulling at the halter on her dress. All the while, his stale breath was covering her neck and Gia became afraid when she realized that she had no control of the situation. She was in an isolated area with a drunk guy that believed she owed him something.
"C'mon G, you made me wait all this time, you know you owe me. I was a good boyfriend, and you know you'll love it." James reached under her dress and yanked at her panties with force, causing her to gasp in fear.
"Wait, James. We talked about this. You're drunk, don't. Don't! Ow, c'mon, this isn't you, ow, you're hurting me. JAMES!"
Before he knew what he was doing Scott bolted down the hallway and turned the corner to her room to find Gia pressed against the wall with James covering her. In the second it took Scott to grab James by the shoulder, Gia reared back and punched James square in the jaw. Her fist connected with him and made a sickening crack. James stumbled back and fell to the floor with a thud.
For a moment, Gia and Scott stood staring at each other, neither knowing what to say.
"What are you doing up here?" Gia was irrational and upset, and Scott seemed like as good a person to yell at as any.
"What am I doing up here? Are you kidding? What are you doing up here with this asshole? I heard you two broke up, so what the hell are you thinking, letting him come up here with you? Do you know how dangerous drunk guys can be?" Scott was seething and yelling back at her.
"Of course I know how guys are. You're all pieces of shit, and this one's no different! Besides, I didn't "let" him come up here. He followed me, which is, I'm assuming, how you ended up here. And by the way, I don't need you to rescue me. I am capable of taking care of myself. You don't need to save me!" Gia was on the brink of tears, and when she finally stopped screaming, she realized how shaken she was.
Scott took a deep breath, and once he realized how freaked out she was, he quietly spoke. " I know that you can take care of yourself. Are you okay? Just the idea of this... ...thing hurting you makes me insane. Gia, are you okay? Answer me." Scott reached out and touched her shoulder, but Gia flinched and stepped back.