It was difficult to even concentrate beneath the rage. So much time, so much planning had gone into this one evening, this one moment just for her. And he destroyed it. In one quick moment with one quick word.
I poured a glass of red wine. Strong red wine. My fingernails clinked against the goblet, calming me. Maybe all wasn’t lost. Maybe some hope still lay in the depths of the abyss. Maybe somewhere, somehow, he hadn’t completely obliterated what was left of my dignity.
I fought tears. Not that it mattered; the world hardly made sense anymore. If my entire sense of reality could be so simply compromised then certainly my dedication to an emotionless existence was equally vulnerable. And it’s not like anyone was there to see it.
I prepared myself to allow my first tear to fall – the first since the age of 14 – When i heard a knock on the door.
Oh no. I wasn’t going to let this jackass have a second crack at me. I stared stubbornly into the red liquid of life, now making a more deliberate attempt to fill it with a tear. I could feel the moisture gather in the corner of my eye. So close…
Rap, rap, rap.
Goddammit! My eye dried again. But I was a stubborn bitch. If I had decided I was going to cry, I was going to goddamn cry. I started over, this time more committed than ever.
Think of that dickhead, Jake, with his curly brown hair that fell annoyingly over those deep brown eyes that always seemed to scrutinize me, and his ragged goatee that bordered his fat mouth. Jake who, for the last time, would ever be relied upon for anything.
“Average.” That’s the word he had used. After months of planning, weeks without sleeping, and hardly a word from his mouth in support of my hard work – hardly a word at all, in fact. The only sounds that came from those lips were criticisms or complaints. As if what I did for his family and his late sister had no meaning at all. Hours I spent pouring over photo albums and memory books while he stood scowling in the background. I couldn’t even get him to tell me how he felt about her. What she had meant to him. She deserved more than that. After everything she meant to me…
The tear sat just on the edge of my vision. So close to falling, I could smell it.
Rap, rap, rap.
That’s it. This fucker was going to get a piece of my mind.
I shoved my perfectly good – but tearless – glass of wine into the sink, satisfied as it shattered and spilled deep and Crimson down the drain. I stomped to the front door and threw it open.
“What do you want, Jake?” I yelled.
Before the words were even out, he threw me off guard. The cynical face I was used to seeing was replaced with one that wreaked of despair. He looked as close to tears as I had felt all night long.
His mouth gaped at my outburst. Mine gaped at the completely unexpected person on my stoop. I mean, it was Jake, all right. But it wasn’t. I had never seen this Jake before.
“Can I come in?” His neck was sunk into the shoulders of his ski jacket, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans.
No. Definitely not. “Sure.”
I stood back to let him in. “What do you want?” I said it more calmly this time.
He glanced about him and wiped his nose. “I just…I wanted to say I’m sorry.” His eyes wandered up to meet mine. “I’m not very good at this.”
That was Jake. Rarely speaking and, when he did, always in riddles. “Not very good at what?”
He sighed and looked me in the eye, his thick eyebrows seeming to curl over his dark skin. “I loved my sister.”
I crumbled. The tear I had fought so hard to squeeze out just moments before was suddenly more than eager to make an appearance. And suddenly its presence was not wanted. “So did I,” I choked.
He bit his lip and looked away. “I know. That’s why I…” He rubbed his forehead. “You did a great job. I don’t think I ever told you that.”
Those beautiful browns were boring into me again, seeing into my soul, except this time they didn’t seem angry. They seemed…
“No, I think you did the opposite.”
He nodded with a self-depricating laugh. “Yeah, I do that sometimes. Kayla hated it, too.”
“I would think you would know why…”
“No, Jake.” I groaned. “Not why did Kayla hate it – I mean: why do you do that? I know we never spent much time together when Kayla was alive, but I never knew you hated me.”
He raised his eyebrows. “I don’t hate you.”
“Really? Then what’s all this attitude about? Why do you grunt around me like a pissed off iron worker?”
He smiled. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen him smile before. Maybe before Kayla passed away. But I’d never noticed how…charming it was. He stepped closer to me. “You’re a lot like her, you know?”
I snorted. “So I guess you hated her too then?”
He touched my arm. “No.” He took a deep breath. “I told you; I loved her.”
My eyes met his. Time seemed to stop for a moment. I searched him for confirmation of what he seemed to be saying. But I didn’t trust my instincts. Not with him.
I turned away. “You still haven’t told me why you’re here.”
He followed me into the kitchen. “I didn’t like the way I left things.”
Anger boiled inside me. “The way you left things?” I turned back to him, my hands resting behind me on the breakfast bar. “Jake, you have been nothing but cold to me for weeks now. Every time I look at you, you’re glaring. Everytime I try to talk to you I get one-word answers. You’ve hated me every moment since Kayla’s accident.”
He shrugged. “Look, I know I’m not good with, you know…talking. Especially with stuff like this.” He paused. “But neither are you.”
I threw my hands in the air. “Seriously? I’ve held your family’s hand through this whole thing! I arranged the funeral, I’ve tried to comfort you but you pushed me away. I tried to connect with you because we should both be hurting right now but I have no idea if you’re feeling anything at all.”
He was suspiciously calm. “The way I feel…it’s important to you?”
“Of course it is! You’re Kayla’s brother! You’ve been in my life since I was six years old. Do you think that means nothing?” I said too much. I shrunk against the counter.
He edged toward me until I could feel his body heat. He had a strange look in his eyes that I found disconcerting. I back pedaled. “I mean, we’ve been friends all these years, haven’t we? At least I thought we were. Until she…”
He looked at the floor. “Yeah, I know. I’ve been kind of an ass.”
A huge ass. “A little bit.”
He leaned in to my ear. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do. I feel…like you said, you’ve been there my whole life. And so has Kayla. And that means something. And then she was gone, but you’re still here and I guess I was afraid…”
I swallowed and that stupid tear finally made its debut.
He watched it trail down my cheek, then smudged it away with his thumb. He closed his eyes. “I was afraid I might lose you, too. And I couldn’t lose two people that I, uh…” He trailed off.
My fingers were sweating on the breakfast bar. Was he trying to tell me something? Was he saying he…no. There’s no way.
He looked me in the eye again and my knees became weak. “Like I said,” he mumbled, “I’m not good with words.”
I rubbed my eyes. Without thinking, I said, “Well then what in god’s name are you good at?”
He held my gaze for a moment, his state probing, calculating. He stepped back, and I relaxed as he pulled off his jacket and placed it across the back of the couch.
He stared at his jacket for a moment, then clenched and released his fists. He returned to me, but this time he wasted no space. He leaned his forehead against mine. My pulse spiked and my libido jumped into overdrive.
“I loved Kayla,” he whispered, his lips hovering too close to allow rational thought into my mind. “Too much to ever take away her best friend. And I still do.” He brushed my hand with his.
“You can’t exactly take me away from her now,” I murmured.
He sighed and linked his fingers in mine. “Old habits die hard. No pun intended…”
I surprise myself by smirking. I felt bad – I should’ve been offended. “why did you push me away?”
“Kayla’s the only person I loved that I didn’t pushed away. You’ve always been next in line. It scares the shit out of me, Trish.” He placed his other hand on my cheek.
For the first time in my life, I found myself yearning for Kayla’s brother. It was almost painful wondering if he would lean in or walk away. I held his hand tighter to ensure his presence would remain.
He looked to the ground with a laugh.
“What?” I asked.
“This is the part I’m usually good at.”
“What part is that?” I asked.
He raised an eye brow up at me and shook his head. “Ah, fuck it.” He palmed my face and kissed me.
The kiss was warm and soft at first, lingering for several seconds. He pulled back just a heartbeat, gauging my reaction.
I placed a hand on each cheek, brushed my thumbs across his jawline, and waited. To my relief, his lips returned to mine, this time with more urgency. I leaned into him, our bodies pressing together, our breath hanging heavy. I could hardly believe what was happening. Did I really want this? I had never thought about Jake in this way before but with our mouths connecting our souls and my hands in his hair and his chest so nice and solid against mine…
He pulled me away from the breakfast bar, the contact between us barely broken, and led me to the couch. I gladly fell below him and let him press me deeper and deeper into the couch cushions. He finally broke away from my lips long enough to kiss his way down my my cheek, my jaw, to my neck and his hand snuck underneath the hem of my shirt.
He peppered my neck with soft kisses and I groaned, raising my pelvis up to rub more deeply with his. I wrapped my legs around him and pulled his mouth back to mine.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled just before I bit top lip.
“For what?” I was so caught up in the moment I couldn’t remember what had brought us here.
“For being an ass.”
I let his lip go and kissed his eyes, then nose. He really was hotter than hell itself. If I’d had any idea how he felt about me, I might have noticed earlier.
I gave him a seductive look. “You can make up for it by taking my shirt off.”
He was a wizard with clothing. I swear it was only seconds later that he had me naked on his naked lap, writhing against him, running my hands down his bare chest, biting his ear as he fucked me in a way that felt angry, passionate, and loving all at the same time. He moved me next to him and tasted every inch of me, the intensity building and my desire overflowing with every touch of his lips to my needy skin.
At last, I had had enough pampering – I wanted him with me, against me, inside me again, both of us working together. I wanted to see his need, his want, his desire.
I pulled him on top of me until he was inside of me again. All my breath left me at once and we began to move together again. With each jagged but controlled thrust, I watched him, observed his eyes cloud over, his chest movements become erratic, his muscles constrict.
“Fuck, Trish…” He mumbled, and then he fired on all cylinders. I pulled him as deeply inside me as I could, my own ecstasy crashing into a wall of tension, emotion, and lust. We kissed again, but with desperation this time. We needed each other, every bit of each other. Every thought in our minds, every centimeter of our bodies, every hurt, every weakness, every unrequited desire.
He collapsed on top of me and buried his face in my hair. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his ear.
“You’re not going to wake up in the morning and hate me again, are you?” he muttered.
I laughed. “Not after that. Are you?”
He kissed my neck. “I never hated you. This is what I’ve always wanted. With you.”
I sighed. “I don’t know if I’ll ever understand you.”
“I don’t think I will either…”
He moved to lay next to me and held me close. For the first time in weeks, I fell asleep without a worry or fear.