“The one for what?” He gave me a funny look and he turned his eyes away from me quickly. “I don’t understand what’s going on here.”
“I don’t know exactly what’s going on, Luke.” I said, hurt that he wasn’t understanding how important this was to me. “But I’ve liked Bryce for a really long time and I think he may like me as well.”
“We kissed and it was sweet and wonderful and I want to see where it goes,” I whispered.
“Where do you think it’s going to go, Lexi?” Luke’s voice was raw.
“I don’t know. Maybe he’ll be my boyfriend, maybe he’ll be my first.”
“You would lose your virginity to that guy?” Luke looked at me in shock. “You barely know him, Lexi.”
“I know that he’s sweet and handsome and a good kisser.” I stared at him. “I know that I’m twenty-two and I don’t want to be a virgin forever.”
“You should wait to be with someone who loves you, Lexi.”
“Like you did?” I frowned.
“Briget and I had strong feelings for each other.”
“Yeah—but you both thought you were in love when you had sex?”
“You know that’s not true,” he sighed.
“So why do I have to wait for this perfect coupling?”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, Lexi,” he sighed. “Guys like Bryce, they don’t care who they hurt.”
“He’s not like that.”
“You’re just another piece of flesh to him.”
“No, I’m not.” I looked at him with hurt eyes. “He likes me and he respects me, Luke.”
“No he doesn’t, Lexi,” he said, angrily. “He didn’t give you the time of day in high school.”
“That was years ago, Luke, we are past that now.”
“Are we?” He looked at me with pained eyes. “All you seem to do is talk about Bryce from high school. You barely knew him then and you barely know him now, yet you think he is boyfriend material?” he laughed, bitterly. “Give me a break, Lexi. I know your mom sucks and you are emotional, but don’t go making any silly mistakes because you are rebelling against her. You don’t want to end up pregnant and single.”
“How dare you!” I screamed and slapped Luke across the face. He had no idea how much his words had hurt and stung me. He had no idea how close to home he had come. Especially because of the secret.
“I dared to tell you the truth because I am your best friend, Lexi. I thought that was what best friends did. But I guess, maybe, in your world best friends only get to hear some of the news.”
“I didn’t tell you Briget was a bitch when you first started dating her, did I?” I snarled, angry that he was being this way.
“You weren’t exactly friendly to her.”
“I didn’t have that much time to be, you guys pretty much disappeared once you started having sex,” I hurled at him and he flinched.
“I made a mistake, Lexi. I dated Briget because I thought I needed to be a different type of guy. I realized I wasn’t that guy and she wasn’t who I wanted.”
“Okay.” I rolled my eyes at the seriousness in his voice.
“I already had someone very special to me in my life,” he continued and my heart stilled. I didn’t want him to continue. I didn’t know what he was going to say, but I was scared—scared he would say he loved me, or Anna. I knew I didn’t want to hear either of our names mentioned. I didn’t want to know. Not now. Not when it would complicate everything. I needed him to just be my best friend.
“I’m tired, Luke.” I pulled away from him. “I’m going to go to bed.”
He looked at me with sad eyes and I felt myself pulling away from him. I couldn’t give him the comfort that he needed at this point. I couldn’t tell him that I was going to push Bryce away, because it was the last thing I wanted to do.
“Good night, Luke.” I walked away from him slowly and I felt him walking behind me.
“Do you want to Dawson’s Creek it tonight?” he whispered, hopefully, and my heart sank.
“Not tonight,” I whispered, without looking at him. “Not tonight.” My heart felt heavy as I walked into the house and locked the door. I didn’t look back to see if Luke was still there or not. I didn’t want to think about him. Not now. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t be happy for me. I had been thinking about—and talking about—Bryce for years. He knew how much I cared about him. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t more supportive. I wanted him to jump up and down with me. I wanted him to ask me for details and to give me advice on what to do to find out if Bryce really did like me. I wanted him to be happy for me. I sighed as I walked to my room and drew the curtains.
I was excited as my mom got the food ready for the evening. And my excitement pleased my father who, for some inextricable reason, had decided that he wanted to attend my party. I guess it was his way of trying to influence the younger folks of Jonesville to vote for him. My mother was delighted that both myself and my father were going to be home and was whipping up cookies and cakes to her heart’s delight. I wanted to tell her that I was having a party and not an evening soiree, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Knowing my friends from the football team, the food would get eaten up, so it really wasn’t a big deal.
“Phone, Bryce!” My mom called out to me and I picked it up without thinking.
“Hey, Bryce,” Suzannah’s sultry tone purred at me through the phone line and I groaned.
“Oh hey, Suzannah, what’s up?” I tried to keep my tone friendly.
“Just checking to see if you want me to come to the party earlier tonight?”
“No, why?” I frowned into the phone. “We aren’t together any more, Suz.”
“Well not currently,” she purred.
“Suz, it’s not going to happen.” My voice sounded frustrated. “Please accept that.”
“You never used to tell me no, Bryce.”
“You never slept with my best friend the night before he died before.”
“Bryce.” Her voice was shocked.
“Sorry,” I sighed. “Look, I’m kinda seeing someone else.”
“Who?” Her voice was mean and catty. “Not that bitch, Mary?”
“Isn’t Mary one of your good friends?”
“I grace her with my presence, yes.”
“Look, I have to go,” I sighed, eager to be away from this juvenile conversation. “I’ll see you later tonight.”
“I think we need to—” she continued, but I didn’t hear the rest of her sentence because I hung up. I had no interest in what she had to say. The fact that I had dated her so long was proof to me that I had been in a bad state of mind for a really long time.
“Hey, son, can we talk?” My father walked up to me with his political grin and I knew he wanted something from me. I sighed, but knew that this moment was inevitable. I had been waiting for it since I had gotten back.
“Shall we go and talk in the study?” He walked in and sat down before waiting for my answer. “Close the door,” he said as I followed him in. I rolled my eyes as I closed the door and sat across from him.
“Yeah?” I questioned him, hurriedly. Whatever he wanted to talk about was not important to me.
“I think you should enroll at Notre Dame and then come and work for me as an aide.”
“I don’t think so.” I spoke quietly but firmly and I saw his nostrils flare.
“It’s not a decision you have to make now.” He looked at me with narrowed eyes and I felt my insides flare up.
“I have no interest in politics.”
“Then what are you going to do? Play football?” he scoffed. “You ruined your chances for the Pro’s a long time ago.”
“Thanks for your belief in me, dad.” I said, dryly, unmoved by his scathing remarks. The truth was, I never wanted to play pro-football in the first place. “I’m thinking about going back to college. I’m not sure where yet and maybe I’ll study psychology.”
“Psychology.” He frowned. “What are you going to do with that?”
“Become a psychologist?”
“I guess you can get into law school with any major. If you want to become a doctor, I suggest studying biology or chemistry.”
“I don’t want to be a lawyer or a doctor.”
“But you want to be a shrink? Who are you going to help? Your crazy mom?”
“How dare you.” I stood up and looked at him with hate. “I wish she’d leave your sorry ass of a husband. You’re the one who has driven her crazy.”
He looked at me with distaste and stood up as well. “You’re my son, Bryce, so you know I have worked my hardest to make your life easy and carefree, but you are fast using up your resources, son. I suggest you come up with a plan quickly and leave.”
“Oh, I plan on it.” I turned my back on him and walked to the door. I looked back at him before entering. “But I’d think long and hard about how you treat mom and me, you wouldn’t want it getting out how you treat your family and spend most of your time with your whores.” I slammed the door behind me as I walked out and ran up to my room. I couldn’t believe that I had just threatened my dad. It was long overdue.
I picked up the phone to call Lexi, but I realized I didn’t have her phone number. I really hoped that she came tonight. I wanted to talk to her. To kiss her. To whisper sweet nothings in her ear. She made me feel alive. She made me feel like life was worth living. I wanted to tell her about my idea of being a psychologist. I figured I could really help people. I hoped that she would be encouraging; I needed somebody to have some faith and trust in me, even if it wasn’t deserved.
“Bryce honey, your friends will be here soon.” My mom knocked on my door and opened it. “Why, don’t you look handsome?” She stared at me in my new jeans and navy Rugby short and smiled. “If you weren’t my son and I was a bit younger, I’d give those girls a run for their money.”
“Mom,” I laughed and gave her a hug. “That’s so inappropriate.”
“Maybe I need to start being inappropriate.” She looked at me seriously for a second. “I heard what you said to your dad.”
“Oh mom.” My eyes widened. “I’m sorry.”
“No,” she squeezed my arm, “you’re right. I thought I was staying in this marriage for you. That’s what I told myself. But I don’t know why I’m still here now. I don’t want this life anymore.”
“Mom?” I looked at her in shock, surprised to hear her voice firm and clear.
She laughed at my expression. “I know, I know. You don’t expect to hear your old mom talking like this,” she sighed. “I’m sorry, son.”
“Mom, don’t be sorry,” I hugged her tight, “I’m soo proud of you.”
“Well, don’t be too proud until I’m out of this house.” She smiled, weakly. “But that’s enough for now. Let’s go have a party.”
“Let’s go party.” I grinned at her. I knew that tonight was going to be a great night. A really, really great night. I felt like all of a sudden everything was starting to go right in my life. I was soo proud of my mom. I just wanted us to pack our bags and leave, but I knew that it wouldn’t be quite that easy.
DING DONG! The doorbell rang and my mom and I grinned at each other.
“Let’s get this party started,” she smiled and I kissed her on the cheek before running down to answer the door.
“Bro, wassup?” A bunch of my football buddies walked in the door and we gave each other bear hugs. “Looking good, Evans.”
“Hey guys, what’s up?” I was excited to see the old crew of guys. They all looked pretty much the same, though Josh and Ryan had gained weight.
“Great, man.” Ryan threw an arm around my shoulder. “Though I could do with a beer.”
“You sure you old enough to drink?” We all laughed at my joke. Ryan had a baby face and had always looked young for his age.
“Dude, I hope you have multiple kegs.” Ryan punched me in the arm and I laughed. “Oh, hey, Mrs. Evans.”
“Hi, boys.” My mom smiled at the guys and flicked her finger. “Follow me into the kitchen if you want some food and drinks.”
“That’s what’s up,” Josh laughed and ran after my mom.
“What would you guys like?” My mom pulled out a plate of nachos, chicken wings, hot dogs and chips and the guys grabbed plates and started eating quickly. I laughed at the sight and saw how happy my mom was. I’d have to make sure to eat at home more often so that I could make her happy and support her decision to leave my dad.
DING DONG. The doorbell went again and I rushed to answer it. Unfortunately, my dad got there first. “Why hello, Suzannah, what a pleasure to see you again. Why, Meg, you look beautiful.”
“Thanks, Mayor Evans,” they echoed and blushed as my dad complimented them. I hurried over to the door.
“Hey, guys,” I smiled.
“Bryce.” Suzannah walked over to me and stopped right in front of me. “You look wonderful.”
“Thanks.” I looked into her sparkling blue eyes and smiled back, warmly. “You look great as well.”