Book 4 Shattered Hearts
Book 4: Shattered Hearts
By I. Diaz
Author’s Note: This is as far as I got with the series. I think I stopped mid-way a scene, and for reasons I don’t quite remember, didn’t write again for another 2 and a half years.
Jessica Heart gasped, and stared at her best friend in horror. “Are you sure?” she asked.
Roxanne Perez nodded through her tears, as more came pouring down. “I just came back from the doctor,” she muttered, and buried her face in her hands.
Jessica put her arm around Roxanne, and held her close. “God, Rox, I’m so sorry,” she whispered, at a lack of something better to say. What did one say in this situation? She rested her cheek against Roxanne’s head, and looked sadly around her room.
“What am I going to do, Jess?”
Jessica remained silent, not having an answer to the question. How had things gotten so messed up? “Have you told your parents?”
Roxanne shook her head, and wiped away her tears. Her usually bright, alert brown eyes were red and bloodshot. She’d probably been crying for a while. “I jumped on my car and came directly here. I didn’t know where else to go. I can’t tell my parents. I can’t tell Alex. Oh, God.” She covered her face again. “Alex.”
Jessica sighed, and watched as her best friend tried to regain her usual cool composure.
Roxanne pushed back a few strands of curly brown hair, and shook her head, laughing bitterly. “I can’t believe I’m pregnant,” she breathed. “Me!”
Jessica bit her lip. “It wasn’t your fault, Rox,” she said softly. “We all know it wasn’t your fault.”
Roxanne laughed, and leaned her head back against the closed door. “Oh, God,” she muttered, a single tear running down her cheek. “Oh, God. Oh, God.” She lifted her head, and stared at Jessica. “There’s just one more thing, Jess.” She took a deep breath, and sighed. “I don’t know who the father is.”
Alix Morris stared at the notebook on her lap, and then looked up. Some girl, named Bonnie Jamieson, was up on stage trying out for the part of Gabrielle Blaze. Alix shook her head. She’s totally wrong for the character. Gabrielle is tough, but sensitive. This girl is whining up there. She looked over at Ms. Jacobs, the play director, who was shaking her head.
Alix nodded to herself, and scratched the girl’s name off the list. She looked over at the other girl on stage, whose name was . . . What was her name again? Oh, Natalie Hughs. That girl was trying out for the character of Angela Owens. Natalie was looking bored, and her voice carried no emotion whatsoever. Off with her head. She scratched the name off the list.
So far, of the people who’d tried out, Jessica Heart–Alix’s best friend, as convenient as that may sound–was the best candidate for Gabrielle. For Angela’s character, Roxanne Perez–Alix’s other best friend–had her vote. It wasn’t so much that she was just choosing her best friends, but Alix had written the play, and both of those characters were based on those two people. It was only natural. Besides, they’d tried out, and had done an excellent job. Even Ms. Jacobs had agreed.
When the two girls on stage finished the scene, Ms. Jacobs clapped, and called Heather Douglas and Mathew Collins to read.
Alix smiled as she watched Mathew walk up on stage. Mathew was Jessica’s totally over-due boyfriend. They were perfect for each other. And speaking of which, he looked perfect for the role of Jonathan Myles. She made a note of that. Actually, it was a little happy face next to Mathew’s name, but she wanted to sound professional now that she was the assistant director of the stupid play she’d been forced to write by a person, whose name was better left unsaid.
She tapped her pen over Jessica Heart’s name, and then looked up on stage, where Mathew was holding a copy of the script, and looking a little uncomfortable.
Alix smiled. She knew he was only up there because Jessica had insisted he try out. Jessica could be a very persuasive person. Alix knew that from personal experience.
” ‘I-is this Hell?’ ” Heather Douglas, trying out for the part of Gabrielle Blaze, said. She was sitting down on an orange chair, looking constipated.
” ‘No’,” Mathew, trying out for Jonathan, answered. He was standing next to her, looking very cool, and in-control.
” ‘Is this Heaven?’ ”
” ‘No.’ ”
Heather Douglas raised an eyebrow. ” ‘Is this some type of death therapy?’ ”
” ‘Excuse me?’ ” Mathew asked.
” ‘Nevermind,’ ” Heather said.
” ‘You’re in the middle of Heaven and Hell, Gabrielle,’ ” Mathew told her.
” ‘Okay. Are there any guys?’ ”
Mathew frowned. ” ‘Guys?’ ”
” ‘You know, babes.’ ”
” ‘Do you think you’re funny?’ ”
Heather shrugged. ” ‘Actually, I thought I was Gabrielle. I guess I was wrong, though.’ ”
” ‘You’re not very amusing.’ ”
” ‘I’m dead, what did you expect? Bill Cosby?’ ”
Alix shook her head, and her mind started to wander off. She’d heard that same scene so many times that day that she was ready to scream. Mathew had definite possibilities for the part of Jonathan. The boy could actually act! What a concept.
Now, Heather Douglas was ruining the thing. She was shifting back and forth in the chair for some reason, spitting out the lines like a tennis ball machine.
Thock. Thock. Thock. Thock. Alix raised an eyebrow, and then shook her head. She was starting to lose it. Three hours stuck in the Baldwin High auditorium, listening to people audition was driving her insane! She had to get out.
The time on her watch read 6:05. This thing was supposed to end at 6:00, so Mathew and Heather were probably the last people. Thank God for small favors, she thought, and scratched her head with the pen in her hand.
Heather and Mathew finished the scene, and Ms. Jacobs stood up. “Thank you all for coming. We’ll have the results posted in the bulletin board tomorrow before school. You may go.”
The noise level in the auditorium rose, as everyone started talking and getting up at the same time.
Alix got up, putting the notebook on the floor. She stretched and yawned. “Thank God that’s over.”
Ms. Jacobs smiled. “It’s over for them, but it’s not over for us. We still have to chose the cast.”
Jessica stared at the waves crashing on the shore a few yards from her balcony, and sighed. Poor Rox, she thought, shaking her head. It wasn’t enough that a week ago she’d been raped by B.J. McNair, now she was pregnant with his baby. Or, she added, Alex’s baby.
Jessica sat down on one of the lounge chairs out in the balcony, and then propped her legs on the railing in front of her. And everything was going so well, she thought sadly. After all the horror, she’d actually believed that everything would be alright. Alex and Roxanne were happy together. Alix had gotten herself a boyfriend. And now, Jessica had Mathew.
Mathew. His name brought a smile to her lips. After months and months of running away from relationships, she’d found the guy of her dreams. He was smart. He was sensitive. He was caring and loving. And he was even adorably cute. He was perfect. And if she screwed up this relationship, as she feared she would, she’d never forgive herself.
“Hey beautiful,” a voice said behind her.
Jessica didn’t turn around, but a grin spread across her face. “There is no one here by that name,” she said.
Mathew appeared beside her a few seconds later. He smiled at her, and she stood up to kiss him.
“How did it go?” Jessica asked, as they pulled apart. She stared into his gentle light green eyes expectantly.
Mathew shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll see when they put the cast list up tomorrow.” He hugged her tightly, and Jessica lost herself in his embrace. “I only tried out because you made me.”
Jessica laughed, and stepped back to look at his face. “I didn’t make you. I simply suggested it.”
Mathew raised an eyebrow. “Right.”
“Okay,” Jessica admitted. “You win.” She smiled, and ruffled his light brown hair with her hand. “You’re so adorable!”
Mathew batted his eyelashes. “Stop it, Jessica. I’m blushing.” He smiled. “Wanna take a walk?”
“Through my room?”
“Down the beach, silly,” Mathew answered, reaching for her hand.
Jessica felt the warmth of his hand on hers, and smiled. They walked down the balcony stairs, to the pool deck, and then down to the beach. They started walking along the shore, leaving the mansion behind.
“You know, we’re still tied,” Mathew said suddenly.
Jessica looked up at him, and frowned. “Excuse me?”
Mathew grinned. “Air hockey and miniature golf. We’re still tied.”
“And I guess you want to break that tie?”
Jessica smiled. “Alright. What do you want to do?”
Mathew thought about it for a moment. “I’ll race you to that bent down palm tree over there.” He pointed. “Winner takes all.”
Mathew considered. “Hm. Good question.”
Jessica laughed. “Okay, let’s do it.” She drew a line on the sand with the tip of her toe. “On your mark . . . get set . . . go!” She darted down the beach.
“Cheater!” Mathew yelled behind her.
Jessica laughed as she ran. She could hear Mathew catching up, so she sped up. She reached the palm tree about a minute later, and turned around. Mathew was walking over.
“You cheated,” he said, when he was close enough to be heard. “Cheater. Cheater. Cheater. I cannot believe I’m dating a cheater.” He walked up to her, and put his arms around her waist. He grinned slightly, and kissed the tip of her nose. “What have you got to say for yourself?”
Jessica smiled, and kissed his lips lightly. “Guilty as charged. What’s my punishment?”
Mathew shook his head, and picked her up.
Jessica shrieked. “Mathew, put me down.”
“Why?” He started walking toward the water.
Jessica looked over, and saw where he was headed. “Because, I don’t want to get wet.”
“Because that water’s probably freezing.”
“Because . . .”
Mathew dropped her in the water before she could finish the sentence. Jessica felt the water around her, and pushed herself up to the surface. She pushed her long, black hair back, and wiped the water from her eyes. Oh, he’s in for it.
Jessica walked out of the water, and approached Mathew, who was sitting down on the sand, smiling innocently.
“How’s the water?” he asked.
Jessica twisted the bottom of her shirt, and let the drops of seawater rain on Mathew’s head. “You tell me.” She sat down beside him.
Mathew shook the water from his hair, and laughed. Then he turned his head, and kissed her.
Jessica kissed him back, forgetting everything else in the world. She lied back on the sand, with Mathew on top of her. Her heart started racing, as she felt the warmth of his body on hers. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and ran her fingers through his hair. She felt his hand on her waist, as it started sliding upward, brushing her left breast.
A hundred alarms rang through her head, and she pulled back from their kiss. She opened her eyes, and saw Mathew staring down at her.
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, staring into her eyes.
Jessica smiled. “Stop it, Mathew. I’m blushing.”
Mathew laughed, and rolled off of her. The front of his shirt was totally soaked.
“Serves you right for dropping me in the water.” Jessica smiled, and stood up. She pulled Mathew to his feet, and they started walking back to the mansion.
“You have sand all over your back,” Mathew informed her.
“I wonder why.”
Mathew smiled. “It’s sexy.”
“Yeah, I can imagine how that can be a turn-on.” Jessica shook her head, and laughed. She gestured to his water-stained front. “See, now that’s sexy.”
Mathew looked down at his shirt. “How do you figure?”
“It looks like you’ve been working out,” Jessica answered. “It makes you look all sweaty.”
“And sweaty is sexy?”
Jessica nodded. “Oh, definately. Here.” She stopped walking, and turned Mathew towards her. “Make a muscle.”
Mathew raised an eyebrow. “Make a muscle?”
“Make a muscle,” Jessica echoed, grinning expectantly.
Mathew shrugged, and pulled back the sleeve of his tee shirt. He flexed his arm.
Jessica whistled. “Woo-ee! You’ve been working out, haven’t you dear?”
Mathew smiled. “I can crack a walnut with my butt.”
“We must try that sometime.”
They started walking again, this time in silence, as they listened to the constant crashing of the waves, and the nice summer breeze that blew through the air. A few minutes later, they were walking across the pool deck toward the balcony stairs.
“What’s that?” Jessica asked suddenly, squinting in the pool’s direction.
Mathew frowned, and turned. “What’s what?” he asked.
Jessica pointed to the pool. “That in the pool.”
Mathew walked over, and stopped at the pool’s edge. He shrugged. “I don’t see any . . .”
Jessica pushed him, and he fell into the pool with a splash. She laughed and stepped away, as a spray of water flew in her direction.
“That was not nice,” Mathew said, pulling himself up from the pool. He pushed his hair back, and wiped the water from his face. Then he stood up, creating a huge puddle at his feet.
Jessica smiled, and stepped up to him. “I know.” She kissed his nose.
Mathew hugged her, and laughed. “I guess I must look pretty darn sexy right now, huh?”
Alix waited for the stupid printer to print. It didn’t. She got up from the desk, and walked over to the thing. She smacked it. Hit it. Yelled and screamed at it. She cussed. Then she started caressing the side of it, whispering sweet nothings in its paper tray, hoping that would motivate it to work.
“What in the world are you doing?” her twin sister, Rachel, asked, frowning in confusion at Alix.
Alix stepped back from the printer. “The stupid thing won’t work,” she answered.
Rachel stepped into the room, and started inspecting the printer. Alix watched her mirror image in action. “You are such an idiot,” Rachel muttered, flipping a switch. “Try turning it on, next time.”
Alix stared at the printer for a moment. She scratched the back of her head, and shrugged. “Oh. Okay, yeah. I forgot about that.”
Rachel shook her head, and walked over to her bed. She lied down on her side, and started flipping through a magazine. “So, what is it you’re doing?”
Alix smiled at the sound of printing, and sat down on the chair. “I’m printing the cast list for the play. I can’t believe Jessica convinced me to write the stupid thing in the first place. This sucks.”
“You’d do anything for Jessica,” Rachel muttered.
Alix turned around, and squinted her eyes. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Rachel shrugged. “Nothing. You’re best friends and everything. I’m just saying, you’d do anything for Jessica. So, what’s the play about anyway?”
Alix grinned. “Oh, now that you’re grounded for the rest of your life, you care about my life?”
“No. Now that you’re in my room, sitting at my computer, I’m trying to make conversation with you. I didn’t say I cared.”
Alix sat back in the chair, and stared at her sister for a second. “Okay, the play’s about this girl, Gabrielle Blaze, who dies, and because she was a bad person in life, can’t get into heaven. But she’s given a mission, which is to save this other girl’s life. So, Gabrielle goes back to Earth, and with the help of her guardian angel, Jonathan, gets to save Angela Owens’ life.” She paused. “It’s kind of hard to explain.”
“Sounds interesting. So, who made the cast.”
Alix grinned, and ripped the piece of paper from the printer. She held the paper in front of her. “Okay, for Gabrielle Blaze, Jessica Heart. For Angela Owens, we have Roxanne Perez. For Jonathan Myles, Mathew Collins is our man. Then a bunch of other people that I don’t really know.”
Rachel raised an eyebrow. “Oh, people won’t wonder about that cast.”
Alix shrugged. “Hey, I didn’t choose them. Ms. Jacobs chose them. I simply nodded my head in agreement, okay? Just because my best friends just happened to be the main characters of my play, doesn’t mean a thing.”
Alix stood up from the desk. “Whatever. I’m leaving anyway. Have a nice life.”
“Are you going out with your new boyfriend? Or, should I say, your first boyfriend.”
Alix rolled her eyes. “Bye, Rachel.” She left her sister’s room, and crossed the hall to her own. Why was her sister such a pain in the neck? Alix shrugged, and put the cast list in her bookbag. Then, she sat on her chair, and propped her legs on the desk, leaning over to turn on the stereo.
Aerosmith’s “Livin’ on the Edge” burst through the speakers in the room. There were two on either side of her bed, and two on the ceiling behind her. Rachel had a computer in her room, and Alix had the awesome stereo system. It evened out somewhere.
The door behind her opened, and Alix leaned her head back to catch an upside down view of a blue-haired girl, with a nosering, and about five earrings on each ear. “You look cool this way, Jade,” Alix said, smiling. She turned around, and scrunched up her face as a woozy feeling hit her. “That was unkiwi.”
Jade Cooper stared at her for a moment, and then plopped herself on Alix’s bed. She dropped her bookbag on the floor “So, what’s up?” she asked, leaning over to take out the Aerosmith CD. She replaced it with Metallica, and “Until it Sleeps” filled the room.
Alix stretched. “Nothing much. I just finished the cast list. You made the crew by the way. You’re in charge of the scenery.”
Jade nodded, and rested her head on the pillows behind her. “I love your bed, Al.” She raised an eyebrow at her comment, and then rolled her eyes. “So, scenery, huh? Cool.” She yawned. “Alright, so what’s the assignment we’re supposed to do?”
Alix got up from the chair, and lied down on the bed. She covered her face with her hands. “A poster of people excersising or something. I don’t know. I thought you were paying attention to Coach Retardo.”
“Oh, right. Me paying attention. Good one.” Jade closed her eyes. “I’m going to sleep.”
Alix laughed. “You do that, Jay. You do that.” She got up from the bed, and walked back to the desk. She sat down, and started flipping through the magazines she’d collected for the sole purpose of cutting them up.
“I need a boyfriend,” Jade muttered.
Alix nodded, grabbing a pen, and drawing a little mustache on one of the flawless models on the page. “Uh-huh . . .”
“Yeah. A boyfriend would be nice. You suck, by the way. You have Zack now. Not that I’m jealous or anything. I’m just saying.”
“Uh-huh.” Alix looked up, and over at Jade. “Jade . . .”
Alix changed her mind. “Nothing.”
“No, it was nothing.” Alix went back to drawing horns and pimples. She couldn’t believe she’d almost told Jade . . . She shook her head. No. No one could know. Not now. Not ever.
“Whatever.” Jade sat up. “Are we gonna work on that P.E. thing?”
Alix shrugged, and made a face.
“Okay, then I’m outta here.” Jade picked up her bookbag, and swung it over her shoulder. “Later.”
“Bye.” Alix listened to Jade’s footsteps on the stairs, and then heard the front door slam. She sighed, and put the magazine down. Then she got up and left her room. “I’m going over to Jessica’s!” she yelled, skipping every other step as she made her way down to the first floor. Once there, she left the house, and started walking toward the beach.
It was already dark, and a nice cool breeze blew through her hair, lifting it up, and spraying strands all over her face. She pushed them back with her hand, and kept on walking.
The beach was about a block or so from her house, and Jessica’s mansion was a little bit down the way. Not very far at all. Nothing was far in Baldwin, actually. And Jessica’s mansion was pretty much everywhere. Ten minutes from wherever you are, she thought.
Her black FILAs touched the sand, and Alix could feel the air getting cooler as she approached the ocean. The crashing waves created a rhythmic, relaxing sound, and she smiled as she walked, wrapping her arms around herself for warmth.
In the back of her mind, she half expected to see her boyfriend sitting back against a palm tree, staring at the ocean, but she didn’t. Zack was almost always at the beach. If Alix needed to find him, that was the first place she would look. Of course, since they’d only been dating for a few days, there hadn’t really been that many occasions in which she’d been at a need to find him.
Dating. Boyfriend. The words echoed through her mind, as she walked. Especially the second one. It was true what her sister had said. Zack was her first official boyfriend. There had been guys here and there that she’d sort of gone out with, but she always scared them off. Not that she could blame them. She’d be scared too if she were them.
But, now there was Zack. And she had no intention of scaring him off.
Then she sighed. In all honesty, she did care a lot about Zack, but there was one person whom she was truly in love with. And that person was so out of her grasp that it wasn’t even funny.
In fact, it was sad. It was sad and disturbing and definitely scary.
Alix pushed her hair behind her ears, climbed the stairs to Jessica’s balcony, and stepped inside her best friend’s room. Her best friend’s humongous, way-too-big-for-reality, room.
She looked around. The little living room area to her right was empty. The desk with the computer to her left was also empty. The waterbed a few feet from the little living room area was empty. And the half basketball court a few yards from the bed was also empty.
Suddenly Alix heard the sound of water coming from the bathroom. Definitely the shower. She shrugged, and walked over to the little living room area. She plopped down on the black leather couch, and turned on the TV. She flipped the channels absentmindedly for a while, until she heard the bathroom door open.
Alix turned, and saw Jessica coming out of the bathroom, wearing a white baby tee and boxer shorts. Her long black hair was hanging down in wet clumps, but as usual, she looked like something off the cover of Playboy. “Hey, Jess.”
Jessica jumped slightly. “Oh, hey, Al,” she said, running a brush through her hair.
Alix shut off the TV, and got up. “Taking a shower at this hour?” she asked, leaning against the back of the couch.
Jessica grinned, and sat down on the bed, sinking in the water matress. “I was with Mathew.”
Alix nodded, and held up her hand. “Say no more. I read ya. So, how’s it going with Mathew, anyway? You two doing it yet?”
Jessica stopped brushing her hair, and raised an eyebrow at Alix. “Your directness scares me, Al. And no, we’re not doing it yet.”
Alix walked over, and lied down on the bed, beside Jessica. “How come? You like him a lot, right?”
“Of course I do. He’s the most wonderful guy in the whole world.”
Alix started playing with a strand of hair. “Do you love him?” she asked.
She heard Jessica sigh. “I don’t know. I’ve never been in love before.” She turned suddenly. “Have you ever been in love?”
Alix stared at Jessica for a moment, and then shook her head, still playing with the strand of hair. “Nope.”
“What about Zack?”
“What about Zack?” Alix asked.
“He’s your boyfriend. Do you love him?”
Alix shrugged. “I don’t think so. It’s too soon to tell, anyway.”
Jessica narrowed her eyes. “Do you think so? Is there like a time period for that kind of thing.”
“You know, you sound very much like Roxanne right now. The whole ‘love’ topic, I mean. You’ve never really talked about that kind of thing before.”
“I never had anyone to fall in love with,” Jessica said, shrugging slightly.
Alix thought about something Jessica had said. “Wait. You’ve never been in love? What about Julian?”
A haunted look fell over Jessica. “I didn’t love Julian,” she said, shaking her head.
Alix remembered suddenly what Roxanne had told her a few days ago. About Julian raping Jessica way back when, and a million questions flew to her head. “Jess, did you sleep with Julian?”
Jessica froze for a moment, and then lied back on the bed. “If you mean willingly, no.”
Alix nodded. “Rox told me about . . . well, you know. I just don’t understand it, though. Your boyfriend of three years rapes you one night. How do you figure?”
“It’s not something you’re bound to understand,” Jessica said softly. “Especially without all the details.”
“So, gimme details. I want to understand.”
Jessica shook her head, and sat up. “Just forget it, Alix. Somethings are better left unsaid.”
Alix would have insisted further, if Jessica’s last words hadn’t hit home. You’re right, Jess. Somethings are better left unsaid.
Roxanne woke up the next morning, feeling like roadkill. Not only was she depressed to the point of seriously considering suicide, but now she was also feeling like crap. And to top it all off, the alarm clock was playing country. That alone was hell on earth.
” . . . and I said, ‘Hey pretty lady won’t you give me a sign, I’d give anything to make you mine, all mine, I’d do your bidding and be at your beck and call . . . ‘ ”
Roxanne smacked the top of the alarm clock, and groaned, sitting up. Why was she even considering going to school? What was the point? Her entire life was over. No more parties. No more going out. No more fun. She was going to be stuck home, with a baby, whose father remained unknown.
And the sad part was, she liked it that way. She did not want to think she was carrying the baby of the guy who’d raped her. That was something off an Oprah episode. But then, she didn’t want to think that she was carrying her boyfriend’s baby, either, because that was just sad.
If she was pregnant with Alex’s baby, then it was her own fault. It had nothing to do with her being raped by B.J. McNair. It was all her fault, for letting her hormones get in the way of her judgement, which, on a normal person would have been more acute after being raped. But no, she just had to be the hoe.
Roxanne covered her face with her hands. That’s what she was. She was a hoe. And now she was being punished.
She pulled the covers over her head, and started crying again, for what felt like the millionth time. She had never felt so horrible in her entire life. Laughter, fun, and smiles, felt like a thing of the past. Darkness is all there was now.
Jessica parked her red Camaro in Roxanne’s driveway. Knowing her friend, Jessica was sure that Roxanne was under the covers right then, crying her eyes out over her lost adolescence. Well, Jessica wasn’t about to stand by while her best friend turned into a weeping vegetable, confined to hours of darkness and depression. Of self-loathing. Of fear. Of shame. And yes, Jessica knew those feelings well.
She walked up to the front door, and knocked loudly.
Roxanne’s little brother, Chris, answered the door, looking tired. “Hey, Jess. What are you doing here?”
Jessica stepped inside the Perez residence, and looked around the all-too-familiar house. “Just came to see Rox.”
“At 6:30 am?”
Jessica shrugged. “Is she in her room?”
Chris nodded, and shut the door. “Yeah, I think I heard her alarm clock, so she’s probably awake.”
Jessica stepped past the living room, and down the hall to Roxanne’s room. She knocked on the door.
She turned the knob, and opened the door slightly, looking through the crack. “Rox?”
“Go away,” came a muffled voice from the bed.
Jessica stepped into the room, and closed the door behind her. Then she walked over to the bed, and sat down, pulling the covers down from Roxanne’s face.
Her best friend was lying there, tears escaping from her closed eyes. “My life is over,” Roxanne muttered, opening her eyes, and focusing on Jessica. “It’s over. It’s just . . . over.”
“It’s not over, Rox,” Jessica said gently. “If my life isn’t over, your life isn’t over. Come on, get up.”
“What’s the point? I’m gonna have to drop out of high school anyway. Then, I’m gonna be disowned by my parents, and forced to live under a bridge or something down in Miami. I’ll probably have to turn into a prostitute or something, ’cause that’s all I’m good for anyway, right?”
“That’s not funny.”
“Do you actually think I’m trying to be funny?” Roxanne asked.
“I think you’re always trying to be funny,” Jessica answered, and smiled slightly. “Unfortunately, none of what you’ve said is gonna happen. First of all, you’re not dropping out of high school. Second of all, your parents are not going to disown you, and even if they did, lucky for you, your best friend is one of the richest people in the world. Prostitution, and living under a bridge, won’t be an option. And third of all, if I ever hear you say anything like that again, I will beat the crap out of you. No questions asked.”
Roxanne managed a smile. “You can’t beat me up. I’m a pregnant woman. I’m in a delicate state right now.”
Jessica stood up, and threw the covers off the bed. “Florida is not that delicate a state. Now get dressed. We’re gonna be late for school.”
As soon as Alix finished stapling the cast list to the bulletin board, she was attacked by a stampede of impatient, yet hopeful young actors, on the road to waiting tables, and dreaming of some day being rich and famous, but consequently instead becoming sick and twisted, drug-addicted perverts.
Alix held the stapler in front of her like a weapon. “Stop the madness!” she yelled, and somehow managed to inch away from the crowd, which by now was groaning in disappointment. Psychos, she thought, rolling her eyes.
Suddenly, a pair of arms wrapped around her waist, and she felt the warmth of someone’s body press against her back. Alix turned around, and stared into the most loving brown eyes she had ever seen. She smiled, and then shook her head. “Oh. It’s you. I was kind of hoping it was my other boyfriend.”
Zack raised an eyebrow mockingly. “Oh, so I have competition?” He looked around. “What’s his name?”
Zack stared at her. “Steve what?”
“Steve Urkel.” Alix smiled, and brushed his lips with hers. She leaned her head against his shoulder, and lost herself in the safety of his arms. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jessica and Roxanne walking in their direction.
“Aw,” Jessica said. “Don’t they look cute together?”
Alix pulled away from Zack, but kept her arm around him. “Hey guys.” She frowned at Jessica. “Where’s your cousin?”
“She decided to skip school today,” Jessica answered, shrugging. “I left her home.”
“You’re spoiling her, Jess,” Alix said, shaking her head.
“What am I supposed to do? Amber’s fifteen-years-old. I’m eighteen. I’m not her mother. If she wants to stay home, she can knock herself out.”
“Mother,” Roxanne echoed.
Alix looked at Roxanne for a moment, and then shook her head. “Oh, guys, check out the cast list!” she said suddenly, dragging Zack by the arm as she ran over to the now deserted bulletin board.
Jessica and Roxanne hesitantly followed.
“I’m Gabrielle?” Jessica asked, wincing and turning to Alix. She grinned. “Cool.” She turned back to the cast list. “Rox, you’re Angela!”
Roxanne acknowledged the fact with a dismissive grunt.
“What is wrong with you?” Alix asked, staring at Roxanne. “You look like your dog just died. Damn, I have to stop saying that. I need new material. Okay, scratch that. You look like . . . you got your period and didn’t have any pads available.”
“My period,” Roxanne echoed, shaking her head.
“I’m not listening to this conversation,” Zack said, covering his ears.
“Why are guys so sensitive about the issue?” Alix wondered. She turned to Zack. “They have this problem hearing the word menstruation.” Alix smiled at the way Zack cringed. “Do you have a problem with menstruation? Menstruation sucks, did you know that? Guys should know what it feels like to leak and leak and leak. Kind of like the faucets in those horror movies. Blood starts pouring out. They think it’s an omen, but it’s really just menstruation.” She pinched Zack’s reddened cheek. “You’re so cute.”
“Mathew’s Jonathan!” Jessica cried.
“My life is over and nobody cares,” Roxanne muttered hitting the back of her head agaisnt the wall behind her.
“Why is your life over?” Alix asked. When Roxanne didn’t answer, she turned to Jessica. “Why is her life over?”
Jessica looked over at Roxanne for a moment. “I think the answer to that should come when we’re alone.” She glanced meaningfully at Zack.
“I get the hint,” Zack said quickly. “I’ll just go stand over there with the guys, and relate the whole menstruation concept.” He kissed Alix’s cheek, and walked away.
Alix smiled as she watched him go, and turned back to Jessica and Roxanne. “Okay, so shoot.”
Suddenly, Roxanne started crying uncontrollably.
Alix stared. She’d never seen Roxanne cry before. “Okay, why is she crying?”
Jessica put a comforting arm around Roxanne. “Rox, come on. We’ve been through this before, okay? Everything’s going to be alright.”
Alix raised her hand. “Hello? Could I get some service over here?”
Roxanne wiped away her tears, and sighed. “I’m pregnant.”
Alix gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth. “Jesus, how did that happen?” She rolled her eyes. “Scratch that question.” She paused as she absorbed the whole concept of the thing. “Oh, my God! Is it B.J.’s?”
Roxanne started crying again, and covered her face with her hands.
A few people walking by stared at them, and then kept walking.
Alix bit her lip, and stared at Jessica.
“Rox,” Jessica said gently. “It’s okay. Really it is. Stop crying. Please. Rox?”
Roxanne nodded, and wiped away her tears again. She breathed deeply. “Alright. I’m okay. Damnit, my make-up’s probably all screwed up now.”
Alix shook her head. That was a very Rox-like thing to say. Go figure. “Yeah, Rox, it’s all runny, and jeez, you look like one of them zombies on Night of the Living Dead.”
Roxanne laughed in spite of everything. “Christ, I don’t deserve you people.”
“We know, but charity work is good for a person’s soul,” Alix said.
Nina Collins rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and turned in bed to look at the time. It was 2:35. She groaned, and covered her face with her hands.
“What’s wrong?” her boyfriend asked beside her.
“I have basketball practice in twenty-five minutes. I told you I couldn’t fall asleep.” Nina was about to sit up, but Leslie held her down, and kissed her. She kissed him back. “Mmm. I have to go.” She pushed Leslie away gently, and then got up from the bed. “Where the hell are my clothes?”
Leslie grinned, and put his arms behind his head, watching her run around the room picking up her clothes.
“Next time,” Nina said, putting on her underwear, “we’re doing this in an orderly fashion, so that–” She put on her bra, “–I don’t have to go through this.” She looked around the floor for her jeans. “And stop looking at me like that, Leslie, you’re making me self-conscious.” She found her jeans, put them on hastily, and grabbed her Baldwin University basketball team tee shirt.
“I don’t see anything you should be self-conscious about.” Leslie was still grinning.
Nina looked at her boyfriend for a moment. He looked so cute lying there, staring at her with those loving black eyes . . . No. No. No! Basketball practice. She put on the tee shirt, and started searching for her shoes. “Have you see my shoes?”
“Hm. If you mean your black and white Nikes, then you might want to try the kitchen sink.”
Nina winced, and started walking over there. “Dang, that’s some distance.” She found one shoe inside the sink, and then the other one under the kitchen table. She walked back to the bed, sat down and started putting on her socks. Leslie grabbed her from behind, and pulled her down on the bed. She stared up at an upside down view of his face. “Don’t start, Les. If I’m late for practice, the coach will have my head.”
Leslie bent down, and kissed her quickly. “That was for good luck,” he told her.
Nina smiled, and pop kissed him. Then she sat up, and managed to put on her socks and shoes. She stood, and saw that Leslie had put on a pair of boxers. He was walking towards her.
“Do you really have to go?” he asked, pouting.
“Yes, I really have to go,” Nina answered, smiling at his sad puppy face. She grabbed her car keys from the nightstand, and walked toward the door of the small apartment.
Leslie passed her, and opened the door for her. “There you go, milady,” he said, smiling. He pulled her close for a long, and passionate kiss.
Nina ended the kiss before they ended up in bed again. “Dinner at my house tonight,” she said, stepping out into the hallway. “Don’t forget.”
Leslie nodded, and tapped his temple. “It’s all in here.”
Nina leaned forward, and kissed him quickly. “I have to go,” she said, regretfully.
Leslie laughed. “Go.”
Nina started running down the hall, then she stopped, turned around, and ran back to Leslie. “I love you,” she said quickly, kissing him again.
“I love you, too!” Leslie yelled after her.
Nina smiled, as she rushed out of the apartment building, toward her car. She really wanted to sit there and dream about Leslie, but if she didn’t get to the University soon, she’d be running laps around the football field for the rest of her life.
Jessica knocked on her cousin’s bedroom door.
Jessica stepped inside, and looked around. Amber had decorated the room completely. Posters of almost naked guys, along with a few others covered the room. There was a desk with a computer. A wall unit with a TV, VCR, and a bunch of magazines was off to the side. Jessica smiled, and closed the door. “Remind me never to give you my Gold credit card again,” she teased.
Amber was lying on the queen size waterbed, reading a magazine. She looked up, and grinned. “Oh, like you can’t afford it. So, how was school?”
“Exciting, as usual,” Jessica answered, sitting on the desk chair.
Amber made a face, and pushed a strand of blonde hair away from her face. “I hate school.”
Jessica smiled. “Yeah, well, I hope you enjoyed your free day today, because it’s the last time you’re skipping.”
Amber groaned. “You’re no fun.”
“I never said I was.” Jessica eyed the magazine on the bed. “What are you reading?”
Amber closed the magazine, and held it up. A picture of a totally naked guy was on the cover. “Isn’t he fine?” She turned it over to look at it herself. “I’m gonna marry him some day.”
Jessica had to laugh. “Do you ever think about anything beside guys?”
Amber grinned. “Of course. I also think about having sex with guys.”
Jessica raised an eyebrow, and crossed her arms. “Excuse me?”
Amber moved to the foot of the bed, and stared at Jessica. “Jess, you’re sort of like my sister, right?”
Jessica nodded, and smiled slightly.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Have you ever done it with a guy?” Amber asked, looking embarrassed.
Jessica debated the question in her mind. Her cousin didn’t know about her overly sinful past. “Yes,” she answered finally, knowing that by answering the question truthfully, she’d have no choice but to lie eventually.
Amber’s eyes grew wide. “With Mathew?”
“No, not with Mathew.”
“Oh.” Amber smiled. “That’s cool. I didn’t know that about you.”
There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me, kid, Jessica thought sadly. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Of course it is! So, who did you do it with? Julian, right? I remember him sorta.”
“Yeah,” Jessica answered. It wasn’t really a lie. She had technically slept with Julian. Not willingly. But technically.
“Wow. How was it?”
Jessica had to laugh at the question. Not so much because it was direct and to the point, but because honestly, she couldn’t remember enjoying any of the times she’d had sex. Not one. And there had been a lot. With a lot of guys. The only one she could remember sort of enjoying was the one she regretted most of any. And the reason she’d enjoyed it so much was precisely why she regretted doing it.
But instead of answering honestly, she said, “It was alright.” She raised an eyebrow. “What about you? Have you . . .?”
Amber snorted. “Right. I wish. Besides, I’m saving myself for him–” She pointed to the guy on the cover of the magazine.”
Jessica laughed, and stood up. “That’s a relief to hear.”
“Are you going out with Mathew?” Amber asked.
“I’m having dinner at his house. Why? Did you want to do something? I can cancel.”
Amber smiled. “You worry about me too much, Jess. I was just wondering.”
“I can’t help but worry about you, Amb,” Jessica said, half-smiling. “You’re sort of like my sister, remember?”
“Is Jessica coming over?”
Mathew looked up from the book he was reading, and stared at his seven-year-old sister, Sarah. “Yes, she’s coming over for dinner.”
Sarah’s face brightened, and left his room. “Jessica’s coming over, Nina!” Mathew heard her say.
He smiled, and shook his head, turning back to his book. A couple of seconds later, his twenty-two-year old sister stood in the doorway.
“Hey, bro,” Nina said, stepping into the room. “Long time no see.”
Mathew placed the book beside him, and sat up in bed. His sister’s long auburn hair was matted with sweat. She was wearing her basketball practice clothes–a pair of black shorts, and a black and white Baldwin University basketball team T-shirt. “Nice to see you again, Nina,” he said, smiling. “You’ve been spending a lot of time at Leslie’s. Will I be an uncle soon?”
Nina made a face. “Jeez, Matt, don’t even joke about that.” She smiled. “I can’t believe you and Jessica finally got together. My little brother has a girlfriend. Aw.”
“Aw,” Mathew echoed mockingly.
Nina laughed. “Don’t even, Matty.” She looked at the time on Mathew’s alarm clock. “I have to go take a shower. The coach made me practice overtime because I got there like two minutes late.”
Mathew raised an eyebrow. “Uh-huh. And why were you late?”
Nina stuck out her tongue. “You’re too young to understand,” she teased, and started to leave.
Mathew laughed. “Babykiller!”
Nina came back, and frowned. “Babywhat?”
“Babykiller,” Mathew repeated. “You’re dating a little college freshman. He’s what, eighteen?”
“Nineteen,” Nina corrected. “And I love my little Leslie, so shut up.” She left.
Mathew smiled, and shook his head, picking up his book. But he couldn’t concentrate. Jessica would be there soon.
Jessica, he thought. Jessica Collins. It had a nice ring to it. He nodded to himself. He didn’t care how silly he was feeling. He was totally and completely in love with Jessica, and nothing would ever change that.
Lynn Hauffman parked her gray Mercedes in the driveway, and got out of the car. An annoyingly cool breeze blew her perfectly styled blonde curls all over her face, making Lynn purse her lips angrily.
She stormed up to the front door, and rang the doorbell impatiently.
A couple of minutes later, the door opened to reveal a short, plain looking girl, with shoulder-length brown hair and tired-looking green eyes. She wore a pair of tight blue jeans, and a white baby tee. “Lynn?”
That wasn’t Alix, Lynn realized. “Is Alix here?” she demanded.
“She’s taking a shower,” the girl, who was obviously Alix’s twin sister, said. She opened the door further. “You can wait in her room, if you want.”
Lynn rolled her eyes. She hated waiting, but this was important. “Fine,” she said, and stepped into the house. She cringed at the plainly decorated living room, and the smallness of the house. “God, how do you live in this dump?”
The girl shrugged. “We manage.” She started walking toward the stairs directly in front of them, and climbed up.
Lynn followed hesitantly, afraid to touch anything for fear of getting contaminated. When they reached the top of the stairs, the girl pointed at a door to Lynn’s immediate left.
“That’s Alix’s room,” the girl informed her. “Go right on in.” Then she walked into the room across from Alix’s.
Lynn turned the knob on the door, and entered the room. Her mouth fell open, as she entered. The walls were covered top to bottom with posters, posters, and more posters. The wall behind them was not visible at all. Even the ceiling was covered. Lynn closed the door behind her and stared in horror.
Clothes decorated the floor in many different piles. The bedsheets were halfway on the floor. They were totally black, which went well with the posters, which were black also. There was a black beanbag on the floor about a foot from the bed. A desk, which was also black, lied directly in front of her. There was a nightstand next to the bed, with a huge stereo system, and a black alarm clock.
Lynn stepped further inside, and saw a television set to the right of the bed. There was a window, with black blinds behind the TV.
How does a person live in here? she wondered disgustedly. She shuddered, and walked over to the bed. She sat down, and sighed. She didn’t even know why she was there in the first place. She knew Alix would never just hand over the tape.
A slow grin spread across Lynn’s face as a thought ocurred to her. She got up from the bed, and walked over to the desk. She opened the first drawer. Socks. She looked under and around, but came up with nothing. Come on, I know it’s around here somewhere. She tried the next drawer. She found a bunch of black- colored notebooks.
Lynn grabbed the first notebook, and opened it up. A bunch of poems. The next notebook was the same. She put it back in its place, and was about to grab the next one, when a something caught her eye.
It was a spiral notebook like the rest of them, except this one was teal, instead of black. She grabbed it quickly, and opened it up. Her grin returned. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw what she’d originally been looking for. A black tape, with a little sticker that read: “Lynn.”
This is too easy, she thought, sticking the tape in her pocket, and pushing closed the drawer with her hip. She licked her lips, and left the room, hoping Alix wouldn’t return as she was leaving.
Lynn walked down the stairs as quietly as she could manage, and then left the house. As she drove away in her Mercedes, she couldn’t help but laugh outloud. I’ve got you now, Alix Morris. I’ve got you now.
After dinner, Jessica, Mathew, and Sarah, went to Mathew’s room to play cards. At the moment, they were in the middle of a very intense game of Go Fish.
“Jessica, do you have the King of Hearts?” Sarah asked.
Jessica looked down at her cards, and sighed. “Yep,” she answered, and handed the card to Sarah.
The little girl grinned brightly. “I win again. Boy, you guys are bad at this.”
Jessica and Mathew laughed.
“Sarah,” Mathew’s mom called from the doorway. “Time for bed.”
“But, Mom!” Sarah whined. “It’s early.”
“It’s eight-thirty. I gave you half an hour extra. Time for bed.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said. She leaned over and kissed Mathew’s cheek. “Good night, Mathew.” Then she hugged Jessica, and kissed her cheek as well. “Good night, Jessica.” She rolled off the bed, and left the room, closing the door.
Jessica smiled, and watched her go. Then she turned back to Mathew, and started helping him clean up the pile of cards. “I should get going.”
Mathew put the stack of cards on the nightstand beside him, and frowned at Jessica. “But it’s early.”
Jessica laughed. “It’s a school night, dear.”
“So?” Mathew asked leaning forward.
Jessica kissed him, and smiled. “Okay, I’ll stay a little while longer.” She lied back on the bed, with Mathew on top of her. She loved kissing him. She could lose herself in his kisses; in his arms.
When they pulled apart from their long, and passionate kiss, Mathew grinned, and got up from the bed. He turned on the radio, where Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You” was just ending.
Jessica turned on her side, and raised an eyebrow. “Why, Mathew, what are you trying to say?” she teased.
Mathew blushed a little, but extended his hand, as Madonna’s “Crazy For You” started playing. “Care to dance?”
Jessica smiled, and let Mathew pull her to her feet. She put her arms around his neck, and he pulled her close. She could feel his heartbeat against her chest. It was racing. She closed her eyes as they danced, trying to savor every second of it.
She had the sudden impulse to tell him that she loved him, but the words caught in her throat. She’d never meant them before. She decided to wait. It was too soon, anyway. How could she be in love with a guy she’d known for less than three weeks?
Jessica held him tighter, but didn’t say anything. She just let the music around them speak her thoughts.
Alix shut off the TV after watching “Friends”. She didn’t feel like watching “The Single Guy” right then. Instead, she rolled on her back, and stared up at the poster of Steven Tyler abover her bed.
She was so confused. Alright, confused was an understatement. She was literally going insane with uncertainty. She hated her feelings. She was embarrassed, disgusted, and frightened by them. It wasn’t right what she felt. It was wrong. It was so wrong.
Alix sighed, and closed her eyes. But she couldn’t help them. Her thoughts drifted. She thought about Zack. He was great. He was wonderful, and maybe, in time, he would help her get over . . .
The other person.
She covered her face with her hands. I’m so pathetic, she thought sadly.
The knock on the bedroom door brought her back from la la land. “What?” she yelled, sitting up on her elbows.
The door opened, and Rachel stepped inside. She raised an eyebrow, and leaned against the wall with her arms folded across her chest. “What did Lynn want with you?”
Alix frowned. “Huh?”
“Lynn Hauffman. Why did she come?”
“Lynn was here?” Alix asked, sitting up.
“Yeah, I told her to wait in here for you.” Rachel frowned. “You didn’t see her?”
Alix froze. Oh, God. “Uh, yeah, yeah, she was here. She just wanted to borrow my uh, History homework.”
“Right.” Rachel rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Listen, it was my turn to make dinner tonight. I totally forgot. Are you hungry?”
Alix shook her head, absentmindedly. “No. I ate a sandwich.”
“Alright.” Rachel stared at her for a moment, and then left.
Alix looked around her room. Lynn had been here. If Lynn had been in here, then she might have snooped around. And if Lynn had snooped around, she might have found . . .
Alix rushed to the second drawer of her desk, where she kept all her poetry notebooks. Under them, she kept her diary. The diary she’d been on the verge of burning because of what she’d written.
Her heart stopped beating as she looked through the drawer. It wasn’t there! Alix looked again and again, and still came up with nothing. Even the Lynn tape was gone.
She sat back, stunned, trying to fully grasp the concept of what it all meant. Tears rushed to her eyes, and she covered her face with her hands. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Her secret. Her deepest, darkest secret . . .
Lynn stuck the tape in her very expensive stereo system, and lowered the volume so that it was barely above a whisper. She smiled. It was the right tape. Things were going beautifully, and she hadn’t even planned them.
She took the tape out, and threw it in the fireplace of her huge, perfectly decorated room. Then she walked over to her bed, and lied down on the pink silk sheets.
Alix’s diary was on the bed in front of her, and Lynn took a deep breath before opening it to the first page. Nothing interesting there. Just a summary of the first day of school. She looked at the date, and realized it was dated three years ago.
Lynn raised an eyebrow. This was a diary of three whole years? Well, it was a pretty thick notebook.
She shrugged, and went on to the next day.
Jessica Heart is in one of my classes. I can’t believe it
after two years of hating the girl, and being thankful she’d
gone off to high school two years before me, I have to see
her everyday for the rest of the year.
But, it’s more than what she did to me that has me
on edge. I’m afraid my old feelings will come rushing back. I
was staring at her today, when she wasn’t looking, and I have
to admit she’s more beautiful than ever.
God, I hope it doesn’t start again. I was almost sure it
had just been my imagination. Thought I’d just been kidding
myself with these silly thoughts. Had I?
Lynn finished reading, and frowned. What in the world is she talking about? She shrugged and went on to the next page. It was dated six days after the previous one.
She’s different. Jessica, I mean. She’s not the same
girl who played that horrible prank on me, back when I was
in 6th grade. Also, her parents died in a plane crash last year.
That’s probably why she’s different.
She smiled at me today. Not the kind of smile that she
used to smile. It had none of that snobbish quality. It had no
arrogance, or smugness. It was a friendly, kind of sad, apolo-
Maybe tomorrow she’ll talk to me.
What kind of obsession is this? Lynn wondered, frowning. She rolled her eyes, and went on to the next page.
I was walking by the girls’ bathroom today, because
I was supposed to go to the office and deliver some stupid
message from my teacher, and I stopped walking because
I thought I heard crying coming from inside.
I would have kept on walking, except I thought I knew
who it was that was crying. I mean, I didn’t know, but I
thought it sounded kind of familiar.
Anyways, I walked inside, hesitantly, and saw Jessica
sitting on the floor in a little corner, sobbing her eyes out.
I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there, watching her
Eventually, she saw me standing there like a tree stump,
and she stood up, wiping her eyes. I thought she was going to
ask me what I thought I was doing, and then order me to leave,
but you know what she did. She looked at me, and said, “I’m
She could have meant that she was sorry for a great
many number of things. Crying in the middle of the girls’ room
for instance, but I knew she meant she was sorry for what she did to me two years ago. I don’t know how. I guess, maybe in
the way she said it, perhaps. But I knew.
And now . . . well, the feelings are back. I think they
never went away, actually. I was just denying them. Still am. I
can admit them on paper, but never to myself. How does one
go about admitting to being in love with another girl? Is there
some rule? Like a 12-step program or something?
Ugh. This sucks.
Lynn’s mouth fell open. Alix was a lezzie? She was in love with Jessica Heart? This was too unbelievable. She turned the page.
I have good news, and I have some bad news. Which
would you like to hear first? I’ll give you the good news first.
I’m not a lesbian.
Uh-huh. Now for the bad news.
What the hell is wrong with me? I’m stuck in a parallel
universe. Kinda like when I can’t sleep at night because it’s too
hot, so I throw off the covers, and then I get cold. So, I have
to stick one leg under the covers, and leave the other one
That’s what I am. I’m that state of mind between too
hot and too cold. But am I both, or am I neither?
What if I’m one of those people that doesn’t like either
sex. I’m destined to die a lonely old lady, while having fantasies
about . . .
Well, what do those people fantasise about?
I’m whining now. And sighing. And groaning.
Jessica and I are like best friends now, by the way. Which
does very little to improve my current situation. I love her. I’ve
loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her three years ago.
She has the most intense dark blue eyes, and the most gor-
geous black hair. I could stare at her forever.
I want to kiss her.
But I can’t.
Lynn started laughing, and rolled on her back. Oh, Alix. You’re gonna regret the day you ever messed with Lynn Hauffman. You don’t know how badly you’re gonna regret it.
Roxanne closed the door behind her, and let herself fall on the bed. She couldn’t believe the day she’d had.
It turned out the doctor had called her parents, and informed them of her pregnancy. Naturally, they assumed the baby was B.J.’s. The word abortion didn’t come up once, though. Her family was very pro-life, and the thought hadn’t even ocurred to Roxanne.
She rolled her eyes, and covered her face with her hands. What have I done to deserve this? she wondered.
And the worst was still to come. Telling Alex. How in the world would she manage that? At school, it had been hard, but she’d been able to act as though nothing had happened. Alex hadn’t asked any questions. Everything was okay.
But she still had to tell him. How, was the problem. How would he react? Would he be upset? Would he yell and scream? Roxanne had never seen him upset. Alex was a very mellow guy. Too mellow, in fact. Still, she was afraid of his reaction.
Roxanne stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully. She was thinking about what Jessica had said. It was true, that with a best friend like Jessica, Roxanne would never lack money, or housing, or friendship. She was lucky in that aspect, but the situation itself was disturbing.
She was only seventeen. A child herself. There was so much she wanted to do. So much she wanted see. Being tied down with a baby at her age was not something she wanted.
A part of her was kind of excited, though. Not a big part of her. A very small part, actually. Still, the whole concept of having a baby was kind of interesting . . .
She groaned. What the hell am I thinking? I’m going totally insane. This is a nightmare.
A growing nightmare. And it could only get worse.
Alix stared at her sister’s computer, as she waited for America On-line to sign her on.
Her mind was a blur, but she couldn’t do anything about the diary thing, short of going to Lynn’s mansion, killing a few bodyguards, and then beating the living daylights out of Lynn. Which sounded pretty cool, in theory.
She covered her face with her hands, and shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. It didn’t work very well, but the sound of the computer singing, “You’ve got mail!”, lifted her spirits.
ScreenLvr Hey, baby, wanna wrestle
Avatar The story of my life
Alix smiled at the second letter, and, skipping the first one, doubled clicked on it.
Subject: The story of my life
Al, I`m really sorry about not writing to you, but
you wouldn`t believe what`s been going on. I tell
you, I don`t believe it, and it happened to me. It
all started a few days ago, when I met this Josh
guy who sold drugs. Yes, drugs, believe it or not.
He was pushing these new pills who made you all
smart and stuff. And, cuz, don`t hate me for this,
but I tried them. And for the first few days, they
did make me all smart. I even wrote better. But
then, they screwed me over, as was bound to
happen. Then, I got it into my drugged little
head, somehow, to go out with this new dealer
dude, Felix. Only he wasn`t really a Felix, but
that doesn`t come until later. Basically, I went
with Felix to this night club, and the next thing
I remember was waking up in the hospital the next
day. Turns out I O.D.`d on whatever crap Felix was
handing out. Pretty UN-kiwi, huh? So, I`m a
dinkus. I just came back from the hospital, and
I`m never looking at another pill again.
On the lighter side, Jerry came back from Seattle
this weekend, and I tell you, that part of the
weekend was great. Specially Thursday night in his
van at the drive-in, if you catch my drift. And
yes, I mean, the BIG drift.
Anyways, in spite all the sucky crap that happened
this weekend, I`m pretty happy right about now.
Isn`t it Ironic? Don`t you think?
Your fave cuz,
Alix shook her head, and started writing.
Subject: Re: The story of my life
Kestra Marie Solace,
I cannot believe you, young lady. Of all the people who I’d think would ever try drugs, you were the very last (uh, no offense or anything).
Anyways, I’m glad that you’ve managed to find happiness in that screwy (yet, very interesting) world of yours.
On my end of the line, let’s just say, MY LIFE SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, it doesn’t SUCK, per se. It just thucks. Yeah, that’s right. It thucks.
Remember my friend Jessica? The one whose parents died, and left her the grand fortune of
Oh, yah, and then Jessica started drinking, cause she was so depressed about the whole thing and tried to commit suicide. She went swimming under the influence.
Luckily, Mathew (that’s her new boyfriend, by the way), and I saw her floating in the water, and he gave her CPR, and revived her (is this a run-on sentence or what?). So, basically, she’s okay now.
Then my other best friend, Rox, she got raped by her sorta boyfriend (remember that guy B.J. I was sort of interested in?–I say sort of because I’m in denial about the whole thing now–he’s the one who did it. Raped, her I mean). And now she’s pregnant, only, she doesn’t know who the baby’s father is, cause she kinda slept with her current boyfriend (Alex), too. She’s a hoe, what can I say?
As for me . . . Okay, Kes, remember my little secret (I know you remember, since you’re the only one–besides me–who knows), well, my diary got stolen by Lynn “The Bitch” Hauffman, and I’m freaking out! What am I going to do if it gets out? Do you have any idea what that would mean? Jessica wouldn’t face me again. She’d think I was having fantasies about her or something (which I am, but let’s not dwell on the subject). God, Kes, I don’t know what Lynn’s gonna do with that diary, and everything–I mean EVERYTHING–is in there.
The worst part is, she–Lynn–found the tape of her screwing our History teacher in class (okay, not IN class, but in the classROOM, when no one was in there, but my little tape recorder), and that’s the only weapon we have against her. We only made two copies of the stupid thing, and I had to erase the original, cause I needed the little tape. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! This is a nightmare.
It’s like being at the mercy of the devil. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I just hope Lynn decides to keep the diary (and the info within the diary) to herself, at least for now, until I figure out a way to get it back (oh, and kill her–you can drink her blood. I know you’d like that, since you’re a wannabe vampire and all).
Jeez, do you think this E-mail is long enough? Please write me back, cuz. Let’s schedule and online chat one of these days. That would be cool. I miss you. Say hi to everyone in Blue Beach, and keep away from those blue pills (try the purple ones, they’re cool).
Write me back. Like right now. I mean NOW. NOW . . . NOW . . . NOW . . . NOW . . .
Alix stared at the E-mail for a second, and then sent it on it’s way to Blue Beach, California. Then she shut off the computer, and left Rachel’s room.
Back in her own room, she lied down on the bed, and stared up at Steven Tyler. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t. She had a feeling she’d be needing all those tears soon. Very soon.
The next morning, Jessica parked her red Camaro in the Baldwin High parking lot, and turned to Amber in the passanger seat next to her. “Alright, what is it?”
Amber stared at Jessica innocently, and frowned. “What’s what?”
Jessica took the keys out of the ignition, and sat back in the seat. She shook her head, and opened the door. “You look like you’re up to something, and honestly, that scares me.”
Amber laughed, and got out of the car. “You’re so paranoid, Jessica,” she said, staring over at her over the hood of the car.
Jessica grinned, locked the door, and slammed it shut. “Can’t help it.”
Amber started walking away from the car, and waved. “See you later, Jess,” she called, and joined a group of football players standing by a red pick-up truck.
Jessica stared at her cousin for a moment, and then started walking toward the main building. Halfway there, she saw Alix and Rachel getting out of their VW Beetle. “Morning,” she said.
Rachel waved, and walked away. Alix acknowledged Jessica’s presence with a half-hearted nod.
“Did you wake up on the wrong side of bed this morning?” Jessica asked, teasingly.
Alix pushed a strand of brown hair behind one ear, and managed a smile. “Actually, I haven’t really woken up, yet.”
Jessica smiled, and they started walking. “Oh, I dragged Amber out of bed this morning, by the way. Since you’re so concerned about her well being and all.”
Alix shrugged. “That’s nice.”
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “You’re really gone today, Al. Did you sleep at all last night?”
Alix yawned and shook her head. “Not really. I couldn’t sleep.”
“I was too busy thinking about stuff.”
Alix looked up at her for a moment, and then shook her head, looking away. “Just stuff.”
Jessica frowned for a moment. Alix was being subtle. Alix was being subtle and vague, which were obvious indications that something was wrong. “Alix . . . ”
“Why are people staring at me?” Alix asked suddenly, looking very alarmed.
Jessica looked around. It was true. People were staring, but not just at Alix, at Jessica, too. “I don’t . . . know.” She frowned. They pulled open the doors, and stepped inside the school building. People turned to look at them. They giggled and whispered to each other.
A crowd was gathered around the office bulletin board. It parted as Jessica and Alix approached.
“Oh, God,” Alix cried, her eyes welling up with tears. “Oh, God.”
Jessica stared at Alix. “What’s wrong?”
Alix stared at Jessica for a moment, and then ran out of the school.
“Alix!” Jessica called, starting to run after her.
“Aw. She’s running after her girlfriend.”
Jessica whirled around, and faced Lynn Hauffman. “What did you do?”
Lynn smirked. “Take a look for yourself. Everyone else knows.”
Jessica looked around. All eyes were on her. “What are you talking about?” she asked suspiciously.
Lynn pointed to the bulletin board with her hand. “You can’t tell me you don’t know about your little admirer over there.” She gestured to the door.
Jessica frowned, and stepped up to the bulletin board. There were a bunch of papers stapled side by side. The first one read “Alix’s Diary”, and had a bunch of drawings of hearts and peace signs and yin yangs. The next page had writing on it. Jessica read the first page, and her heart beat faster with each sentence. She went on to the next page, and then the next. “Oh, God,” she whispered under her breath.
Lynn waved a teal spiral notebook in front of Jessica’s face. “Here. You can return it to Alix. I don’t need it any more.” She grinned. “Although, I wouldn’t hang around Alix all that much anymore. People might start to wonder about you, too.”
Jessica wasn’t listening to a word Lynn was saying. She stared at the door, where Alix had gone. Alix. Jessica grabbed the teal notebook from Lynn, and glared into her eyes. She wanted so much to punch in Lynn’s face, but instead, she walked away, and ran out the door. She had to find Alix.
Alix was sitting out in the back of the school, staring at the canal in front of her. She picked up a blade of grass, and twirled it around in her fingers.
Last night, she’d lied in bed thinking off all the different things Lynn could’ve done with her diary, but never in her most horrifying scenerios had she pictured that happening.
Alix felt the tears running down her cheek, but she didn’t care. It didn’t matter anymore. Her life was over. Now everyone, including Jessica, knew her secret. Now everyone knew that she was in love with Jessica Heart. That she was what she was.
Zack would dump her, definitely. Roxanne being the homophobic that she was, would most definately stay away. And Jessica . . . she didn’t know what Jessica would do. Probably be polite, but their friendship was over. It would never be the same.
“Don’t think too hard, now,” a voice said behind her. “You might just burn a fuse.” Jessica’s voice.
Alix sighed, but didn’t turn around. She didn’t want to face Jessica right now. Or ever, for that matter. She felt Jessica sit beside her, but didn’t look over. She was afraid of what Jessica’s eyes might hold. Pity? Fear? Embarrassment? All of the above? Instead, Alix stared straight down, letting her hair cover the side of her face. She continued to play with the blade of grass. She continued to cry.
“Here,” Jessica said, and placed a teal notebook on Alix’s lap.
Alix stared down at her diary. She should have never written her feelings down on paper. But she had to tell someone. She had to express her feelings, and no one else–besides her cousin in California–knew her secret. But California was so far away.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Jessica asked gently.
Somewhere in the distance, the first hour bell rang. Alix sighed and bit her lip. “Anything,” she said finally. Her voice had lost its usual sarcastic tone, and sounded very small and weak. She’d never heard herself sound so pathetic.
“Alix, don’t cry,” Jessica whispered, and pushed Alix’s hair away from her face.
Alix wished Jessica hadn’t done that. Jessica’s touch made her tremble slightly, as it always did. But now things were different. Now Jessica knew. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, as more tears dropped from her eyes onto her hands.
“What are you apologizing for?”
Alix kept her gaze down. “For not telling you. For feeling this way. For what happened back there. For everything, I guess.”
Jessica’s hand touched Alix’s cheek, and wiped away her tears. “Look at me, Al.”
Alix hesitantly obeyed.
“Never apologize to me, Alix,” Jessica said. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
Alix looked away. “You won’t be feeling that way for long.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’re in denial,” Alix said, shaking her head. “You haven’t yet accepted the fact. Once you realize what it means, you’ll avoid me like the plague.”
“It’s true. You will.” Alix nodded to herself, fresh tears pouring from her eyes.
“I would never–”
“Don’t lie to me!” Alix cried, staring into Jessica’s eyes. “Don’t lie to me, Jess. You don’t know anything. You don’t understand how I feel about you. I love you, damnit! When you asked me the other day if I’d ever loved anyone, I wanted to tell you that I did. But then you’d ask who it was, and I couldn’t tell you the truth. I’ve been in love with you since sixth grade. Sixth grade! And in sixth grade you were a bitch, now that you’re a wonderful person, imagine how I feel. Now that you’re even more beautiful than before, imagine how I feel. I look at you sometimes, and I want to kiss you so badly it hurts. And I can’t! And I’ll never be able to because you don’t feel the same way. I’ve accepted that. But it doesn’t do any good.
“That day at the beach, when Mathew pulled you out of the water, and your heart stopped beating, and you stopped breathing, it felt like a knife had been plunged into my heart. Looking at you lying there basically dead, I knew then just how much you mean to me. You’ll never know what it feels like, Jessica. To love someone and know that you’ll never have them. No matter how many wishes you make at the stars, eventually, the stars will run out, and the hope will be lost forever.”
Alix got up from the grass, crying and shaking so badly she didn’t know how she managed to stay on her feet. “How do you feel now? How would you feel if I told you I wanted to kiss you right now? How does it make you feel to know I’ve checked you out so many times, I have your entire body memorized? How does it make you feel to know that I love you so much it’s tearing me apart, and always has, and probably always will? Do you still want to touch my cheek? Do you still want to push the hair out of my eyes? Do you still want to wipe away my tears?”
Jessica’s eyes had watered, and a few tears had escaped, though it was obvious she was trying hard not to cry.
Alix felt drained and exhausted all of a sudden. All the steam was gone, and now she felt tired. She stared at Jessica for a moment, wishing things were different. Wishing with all her heart that she didn’t feel this way; that she wasn’t this way. But it was a pointless thing to wish for. “I have to go,” she whispered, and started walking away.
Jessica didn’t stop her.
Jade read the papers posted on the bulletin board, shook her head, and took them down, crumpling them up into a ball, and throwing them away in the nearest garbage can.
Lynn had gone too far. The girl had gone way too far, and now Jade was mad. Something so rare, that it scared even herself. Especially knowing how she got when she wanted revenge.
Alix was her best friend in the world. If Jade could pick one person out of any, to trust, it would be Alix. And Jade didn’t trust very easily.
She walked down the deserted hallways of Baldwin High. Everyone was in class, and she could hear the occasional teacher lecturing as she passed by open doors.
Jade’s mind wandered. So Alix was bi. It should have surprised her, but it didn’t. It didn’t really affect her all that much, either. Back in London, she’d had a lot of friends who were gay. It wasn’t something that bothered her. Not at all.
But, she didn’t like the way it had been discovered. Lynn was gonna pay for hurting Alix. She was gonna pay big time.
Jade nodded to herself as she walked down the still deserted halls toward her first hour on the other side of school. Sweet, sweet revenge.
Jessica stared at Alix’s figure in the distance. It grew farther, and farther away until it disappeared altogether.
She ran her hand through her hair, and closed her eyes, trying to hold back more tears. When she opened them, her view was blurred, and she shut her eyes tightly so a final tear would escape. It trickled down her cheek slowly, stopped on her chin, and then fell down directly on top of the blade of grass Alix had been holding.
Jessica sighed. This year was starting out wrong. She wished a huge pencil would appear in the sky, and erase everything that had happened since the first day of school. But, of course, that wasn’t about to happen.
She covered her face with her hands. What was she going to do about Alix? She couldn’t deny the fact that she was a little freaked out by the whole thing. Finding out Alix was bi was surprising enough without adding the small fact that she was also in love with Jessica. That right there would have sent most other girls running.
Still, Jessica wasn’t like most other girls. Above all else, Alix was her best friend. Friendship came first. Then came everything else. And Jessica wasn’t about to lose Alix’s friendship. That would be a loss greater than anything else in the world.
She stood up, shaking the grass from the back of her jeans. It was a good thing she was wearing black. Walking back toward the school, Jessica considered jumping in her car, and going after Alix, but she figured that wouldn’t do any good. Not in Alix’s present mood and condition. She was better off by herself for now.
Jessica walked across the patio, and stepped inside the building. Where was she headed? Oh, right. History. As she walked by the bulletin board she noticed Alix’s diary was no longer there. Hopefully, who ever took it down did it for the purpose of saving Alix any further embarrassment, and not for the purpose of making more copies and handing them out as flyers.
Jessica shook her head at the thought. She felt anger surging through her as she thought of Lynn’s inhuman prank. Had that girl no feelings? No heart? Apparantly not if she was able to pull that off without feeling any remorse.
Jessica sighed. She’d known Lynn Hauffman her entire life, and had been her best friend longer than she had been her enemy. And she still couldn’t understand what made the girl so hateful and evil and selfish and cruel.
She laughed in spite of everything, because she was now being hypocritical. Lynn was still Lynn. She hadn’t changed. It was Jessica who’d changed. Otherwise, it might have been her putting up Alix’s diary in the school’s bulletin board, and spreading rumors all over school.
Jessica nodded sadly. It was true. She would have done it, and felt no remorse whatsoever, because after all, she was rich and powerful, and could carry her wallet as a shield. But that was pure ignorance, because money could not protect you against feelings.
Jessica pushed open the classroom door, ignoring the many stares she got from the other students. She fixed her gaze on Lynn Hauffman. And saw a flash of fear pass through her ex-best friend’s eyes.
Alix stared at the diary in her hand. She should have given it to Jessica. Lynn hadn’t posted up everything. There were some pretty interesting things still in there. Her last trip to the gynochologist, for instance. People wanted to know about that, for sure. Or the time she’d fallen down the stairs, and broken her ankle. Ouch! That had hurt.
She rolled her eyes, and put the diary aside. She turned to the computer in front of her, and waited for America Online to sign her on. Now that she was gonna spend the rest of her life confined to this house, she might as well have some contact with the outside world. Besides, she wanted to go into a chat room, and write: “I’M BISEXUAL AND IN LOVE WITH MY BEST FRIEND. AGE/SEX CHECK.”
Alix smiled at the thought. She’d probably do it, too. She didn’t really care who knew. The only thing she’d wanted to hide was the fact that she was in love with Jessica. But, now that that was out, to hell with everything else.
The little icons at the top of the screen lit up, and a small envelope came out of the first one, as the computer sang, “You’ve got mail!”
“See,” she said outloud, moving the mouse. “I’ve got mail. I’m not totally alone.”
Avatar I’m writing, I’m writing!
“Kes!” Alix cried happily. “My wonderful cousin.” She clicked on the letter.
Subject: I`m writing, I`m writing!
Alix, your life is freaky. I mean,FREAKY. I don`teven know what to say. Oaky, if it were me. I would definitely drink Lynn`s blood. But you know me, I`m too mellow. I would probably like, not care what people thought. But then again,I hate embarra- ssment, so that could be a problem. Oaky, I don`t know. I guess I`ll quote my pal Jim and say,”Things happen for a reason. There are no such things as coinciden- ces.” So maybe it`s meant to happen.Maybe something good will come out of it. Maybe Jessica will come out of the closet.
Anyways, I wish you luck — which is like the best I can do from across the country — and if you really can`t handle the embarrassment, you can always move to Blue Beach. That would be cool. GOOD LUCK woman! And if I could, I`d go over there
and kick Lynn`s plastic butt. Oaky, bye for now.
Alix sighed at the letter, and then opened an E-mail page. She began to type.
Subject: The end has come, and hell started
recruiting in Baldwin
My life is $#!*. I want to kick Lynn’s @$$. < ---I love cussing on the computer. Cuss words look so cool like that. Too bad we can't say 'em like that. Then you'd have a sentece saying something like, "Oh, my God, Becky, look at her at money sign money sign, it is SO big!"
That doesn't work. Or you could say something like, "My gym clothes smell like a money sign number exclamation mark star thingie (the actual name of: *, has totally escape from my memory bank).
But you're probably wondering about the whole Lynn/Diary/Jessica secret thing, right?
Excuse me while I cry out, and yank the hairs out of my hair . . . okay, I'm back. Bald, but back.
Alright, guess what Lynn did. Just guess. Think of the worse possible thing your screwy, disturbed, highly psychotic mind can come up with, and then double it, and add in a set of ginsu knives.
I'm afraid of what you've come up with, Kes. You'll have to call me and tell me sometime, though I'm afraid to know, really I am.
But I'll just go ahead and tell you what she did.
Lynn (being her lovable, and friendly self) photocopied the pages of my diary, and posted them up in the school's main bulletin board, so that everyone, their grandmother, and even their crazy Uncle Geronimo, could see. Guess who was with me at the time . . . ding ding ding!!! Jessica Heart, very good.
Talk about an embarrassing moment huh?
I've regained my sarcastic humor, if you can't tell. I didn't have it when I ran out of the school, and then told all my feelings to Jessica when she ran after me. I didn't have it when I walked away from her. I didn't have it when I walked home. I didn't even have it when I climbed the stairs to my room. But I've regained my sense of humor now, b-cuz, you know what? It can't possibly get any %$#&%!* worse.
Naturally, Zack will dump me. My first boyfriend. The first guy I've actually shown genuine interest for, since like ninth grade when I had a strange fixation with this weird-looking
kid in my biology class, who looked a lot like Parker Lewis, only younger (naturally).
That was a cry of frustration, missed in with hopelessness, embarrassment, and fear. Fear, because I have no idea what’s gonna happen next. I’m gonna walk into Baldwin High on Monday (TGIF), and people are going to point and laugh and whisper, as they did today. I mean, it’s one thing to be bi or gay or whatever, but it’s another thing to have your detailed feelings publicly displayed for the entire world to read.
You know what, though? I feel this strange kind of relief. I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Jessica (and by now the president of the US) knows, so it’s all good. Granted, after the things I yelled at her today, I doubt she’ll be hanging around me much. So I lost my best friend, as well. Roxanne’s a gonner. Jade. Hm. I don’t know about Jade. She’s unpredictable. Drake, too. Zack . . . Oh, Lord, my little Zacky.
I’m depressed. I’m depressed and home alone. In Rachel’s room. Surrounded by posters of flutes, and trumpets and pianos and such. Walls painted pink (I cringe as I write that). So, I ask ya: could it possibly get any worse???
I think not (God, I HOPE not).
Alright. I’m outta here. I’m gonna go back to my room, where black is the dominent color, and sanity is a word meaning “he who sans.” (what sans means, is beyond me . . . look it up; maybe it’s a word–well, obviously, it’s a word–nevermind.)
Say hi to everyone in Blue Beach. I think I remember a few names . . . uh, Jim . . . Niki a.k.a Nick . . . Toro? No, wait, Tori. Right. Okay, whatever.
Oh, Kes, tell the grandparents about my “condition”. They’ll freak. That would be so cool. Yah. Tell them I have a girlfriend named . . . Gorda. I’ll describe her for you. Blonde hair, gray eyes, earrings everywhere imaginable. She’s about 6’7″, and weighs 896 lbs. Oh, and tell them, that Gorda is on parole for . . . prostitution. Yah. Wait. Wait. LESBIAN prostitution . . . oh, yes! I love it.
Look it, I’m getting excited. Gorda is the woman of my dreams. Dreamlover come rescue me…
Okay, I better go before you start taking me seriously.
your fave cuz,
PS: uh, what in the world is “oaky”? Is that like, what you get if you like do it with an oak? You give birth to an oaky. That’s pretty cool actually. Does it hurt a lot? I mean, is it like one of those births where it just rips through your stomach. Like in Warlock 2? At the beginning? Is Julian Sands an oaky? Let me know. I won’t be able to sleep tonight without knowing the answer to that.
Alix sent the E-mail, and reconsidered the whole chat room idea. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to people. She just wanted to sleep. Sleep and sleep and sleep. And never wake up.
“I can’t believe it,” Roxanne said, shaking her head, and staring across the table at Jessica. They were sitting at Pizza Max, not quite enjoying their lunch hour. They were still waiting for Alex and Mathew. “I just can’t believe Alix . . .”
Jessica took a sip from her Coke, and shrugged. “Believe it, cause it’s true.”
“I know it’s true. I mean, I read the papers posted up. Who didn’t?” Roxanne played with the straw in her Coke, as she talked. “It’s just weird, you know? Alix . . . in love with you . . . What are you gonna do?”
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “What can I do?” She shrugged. “I’m gonna go over her house later. Talk to her. Try to get her to believe me when I say it’s not gonna change anything.”
“Do you believe that?” Roxanne asked.
“I want to,” Jessica said, looking a little sad. “I mean, I don’t want to lose Alix’s friendship over this. No way. But you’re right, it’s pretty weird. Very surprising. Very unexpected. When I woke up this morning, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll go to school. I’ll come back home. I’ll do something with Mathew.’ I did not say, ‘Hm. Well, Alix is in love with me, so we’ll have to deal with that.’ ”
Roxanne sighed. “These have been the weirdest past couple of weeks. If the rest of the year goes on at this rate, I’m moving to Alaska.”
Jessica had to smile. “So, what are you gonna do about Alix?”
Roxanne considered. “I’m gonna ask her why she’s in love with you and not me.”
Jessica burst out laughing.
“Okay. Okay, that came out wrong.” Roxanne rolled her eyes. “I just meant, what do you have that I don’t? I’m not saying I’d rather she was in love with me or anything, but the question still lingers in my head.”
“You are so strange.” Jessica shook her head, smiling. “You scare me.” She leaned forward. “Changing the subject. Have you told Alex about the you-know-what?”
“The ‘you-know-what’,” Roxanne echoed. “Nice, Jess. Very nice. And no, I haven’t told him. I figure I’ll just wait until I start blowing up like a balloon, and then go, ‘Hm. I was thinking it was the chocolate chip cookies, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m not pregnant.’ That’ll give me what? Two, three months?”
Roxanne took a sip from her Coke. “I am being serious. That’s the sad part.”
“What about your parents?”
Roxanne waved her hand dismissively. “Oh. The doctor called my house and gave them the news. I’m thinking maybe I ought to ask him to call up Alex and tell him.”
Jessica stared at her. “What did your parents say?”
“What would they say? My mom fainted a few times, that’s normal. My brother stared at me like I was alien or something. My father threw a tantrum around the house, yelling in Spanish. I think I caught the word cheese in there. Which reminds me, I’m failing Spanish II, which, you know, sucks big time.”
“They think it’s B.J.’s though?”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “No, Jess. I told them that a week after I got raped, I went and slept with my boyfriend. And so the possibility stands that the baby might be indeed Alex’s. Ha! I think not. My dad would go after Alex with a B.B. gun.”
“A B.B. gun?”
“It’s the only weapon he owns. Well, that and a baseball bat. Anyways, I’d be labeled a whore by my entire Catholic family. Cast to hell, and banned the black Madonna. Therefore, I’m pregnant with the Antichrist, and a flock of religious fanatics will track me down and kill me. Isn’t that interesting? And where the hell is that pizza? I’m starving.” She started looking around for the waiter.
“So, are you okay with the whole pregnancy thing now?”
Roxanne stopped looking around, and stared at Jessica for a moment. “There’s nothing I can do to change what happened. I screwed up–both literally and figuratively.”
“You had to add the second part in, didn’t you?”
“Of course. I’m not a virgin anymore. I’m bragging. Granted, I don’t have much to brag about, but just humor me for now. As soon as my belly starts growing, I’ll start freaking. For now, ignorance is the key to the universe.”
“So, basically you’re in denial?” Jessica asked, raising a disapproving eyebrow at her best friend.
“Yes, I’m in denial.” Roxanne bit her lip, and leaned forward. “Listen, this stays between us and the sodas, okay?”
“I’m considering an abortion.”
Jessica gasped. “Rox . . .”
“Jess, I don’t know if I’m ready for this kind of thing. I’m seventeen-years-old. I’m not ready to be a mother. I wanna stay a Toys “R” Us kid.”
“This isn’t funny, Rox,” Jessica said seriously. “This is serious. If the kid is Alex’s, and not B.J.’s, then you have a resposibility. If the kid is B.J.’s, then I don’t know. But I think you should definately find out whose it is before you start killing off babies.”
Roxanne looked down at the table. “I didn’t say I was going to do it. I just said I was considering it.”
Jessica placed her hand over Roxanne’s. “Trust me, okay, Rox? Everything will be okay. Besides, you always have the option of giving it up.”
“For adoption, you mean? So that the kid can grow up thinking those are his real parents, only to find out the truth, and then come searching for me in about twenty years. Right. I don’t think so. If I have it, I keep it.”
“Well, at least you have some common sense left,” Jessica told her. “It might not be so bad, Rox. You have about four billion dollars at your disposal. Probably five by now. I’ll give you a blank check, you can bleed me dry, and move with the kid to a huge mansion in Hollywood. I’ll live under a bridge somewhere, hoping you’re okay.”
Roxanne smiled. “You read and memorized the entire definition of a best friend, didn’t you?”
Jessica shrugged. “I’ve messed up a lot in my life. I’m trying to make up for it.”
“By bribing you poor, pregnant best friend?”
“Is it working?”
“Wake up,” said the huge mirror. “Alix, wake up.”
“But mirror,” said Alix, “you have not yet told me how to get to the supermarket.”
“Are these sleeping pills?” asked the mirror, developing a sudden English accent. “Alix, damnit, wake up!”
The ground in the huge castle shook suddenly. “Earthquake!” shouted Alix. And tried hiding behind a table, which then took the form of Jessica.
“For Christ’s sake, Alix, wake up!” cried Jessica.
“Why do you have an English accent?” Alix asked. The earthquake had stopped.
A noise worse than anything else on earth, exploded through the air. Classical music. Nooooooooooo!
“No!” Alix cried, and sat up in bed, kicking her legs, and throwing the covers to the floor. She looked around the room, and saw Jade standing by the bed. Relieved that the music had stopped, she fell back on the pillow. “For crying out loud, Jade, you have to stop doing that to me.”
Jade was holding a white bottle of pills. “Did you take these?” she asked.
Alix stared at the bottle, and remember at once everything that had happened. “It wasn’t a dream,” she said, putting a pillow over her face.
“Answer my question,” Jade demanded.
Alix threw the pillow aside, stared up at Jade, and then eyed the bottle for a moment. She yawned and shook her head. “No. I didn’t take them.” She sighed, and covered her face. “Why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”
“It’s after three,” Jade said, putting the pills down. “Ms. Jacobs is pissed because you didn’t show up for rehearsal.”
“Rehearsal,” Alix repeated.
“I’m never going back to school again, Jade. I’m moving to Antartica, or something.”
Alix looked at her.
Jade stared at her blankly for a sencond, and then nodded, as comprehension crossed her face. “Oh. Because you’re bi?”
“Yes,” Alix said with exaggerated patience. “And also because my diary was posted up for the entire world to read.” She frowned. “Speaking of which, why are you here? Aren’t you repulsed by what you read? Aren’t you afraid I might try to kiss you, or something.”
Jade sat down on the desk. “You haven’t kissed Jessica, and apparantly you’re in love with her, so I see no reason why I should worry. Besides, I don’t care that you’re bi, Al. It’s the 90s. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re not a freak. At least not because of the bi thing.”
Alix managed a smile. Then her smile faded. She sat up. “Have you seen Zack?”
Jade shook her head. “Nope. Have no clue where he is. Have no clue if he read the diary. Haven’t seen the kid since yesterday.”
“Maybe he was absent,” Alix said hopefully.
Jade scratched the back of her head. “Well, I doubt it, cause Drake saw him.”
Alix sank back. “Oh.”
Jade looked at her for a moment. “So, what are you gonna do about Zack?”
“I don’t think it’s so much what I’m gonna do about him. I think it’s more what he’s gonna do about me.”
“Well, I mean, do you like him at all?”
Alix nodded, and stared down at her hands. “I think so. I mean, for the past six years I’ve been after Jessica basically. She was the only person I knew for sure I cared about–Am I grossing you out?”
Jade shook her head.
“So, I didn’t really like anyone else,” Alix went on. “I mean, sure I thought certain people were good-looking. Guys mostly, for the record. But I didn’t really pursue a relationship. Guys asked me out, but they were all dorks, and I didn’t want to start something I didn’t intend to finish. But now, with Zack it’s different. I mean, I really, honestly like him.”
“You should call him.”
“And say what? Hey, Zack, it’s Alix. I know you think I’m in love with my best friend, but, can’t we work around that?”
Jade nodded. “Not in so many words, but yeah.”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’m embarrassed, okay?” Alix said quietly.
“About being bi?”
Alix shrugged. “Not so much that by itself. But the whole Jessica thing. I mean, I’ve been hiding that for a long, long time. To suddenly wake up one morning and realize it’s out in the open . . .”
“I never thought you’d be the kind of person who cared what other people thought of you.”
“I don’t care what people think. The only person I care about is Jessica. What she thinks is important to me. But honestly, I don’t want to know what she’s thinking.”
Jade shrugged. “Well, you’re gonna have to get over it, because you have to go to school, and you have to help direct your play.”
Jade grinned sarcastically. Then she jumped down from the desk. “I better get going. I have some stuff to do.”
“Stuff?” Alix asked, frowning. “You have ‘stuff’ to do?”
Jade nodded. “Yep. Stuff.” She waved from the doorway. “Feel better, kiddo. Things are never half as bad as they seem.”
Alix watched Jade leave, and then stared up at Steven Tyler up on her ceiling, hoping with all of her heart that what Jade had just said was true. She closed her eyes, but the sound of the door made her open them again. Her heart stopped.
“Hey,” Jessica said, shutting the door behind her. She walked across the room, and sat down at the edge of Alix’s bed. “Are you back to your old self again?”
Alix stared at Jessica for a moment. “Why?”
“Because I miss my best friend,” Jessica answered, smiling slightly. She sighed. “Alix, I don’t want to lose you over this.”
Alix sat up. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, that I don’t want our friendship to suffer. I don’t want us to drift apart. I don’t want us to stop talking. I want things to be the same.” She bit her lip. “Can they be the same?”
Alix considered. “Aren’t you scared of me?”
Jessica raised an eyebrow, and cocked her head to the side. “Yes, Alix. I feel so threatened by your 98lbs of solid muscle.”
“You know what I meant.”
Jessica shrugged. “Alright. Are you gonna kiss me?”
Alix frowned. “Unless you suddenly come out of the closet and give me a thumbs up sign, no.”
Jessica smiled. “Are you gonna . . . stalk me, and call me in the middle of the night, start breathing heavy when I pick up the phone, and then hang up.”
“I’ve already done that.”
Jessica gasped in mock surprise. “That was you?”
Alix nodded. “Who else?”
Jessica laughed. “Okay, you’re back. I’m glad. Do you believe me now when I say I don’t mind?”
“I guess.” She sighed, and bit her lip. “What about the people at school?”
“What about them?”
“Aren’t you afraid of what they might say?”
Jessica smiled. “Who cares what they say? This has nothing to do with them.”
Alix felt relief flood through her. “Do you love me, Jess? I don’t mean like that. I know you don’t swing that way. As a friend, I mean.”
“More than you’ll ever know.”
Alix smiled. “That’s good enough for me.”
“Good. Because if I have to change my entire sexual preference just to keep you by my side, we’ll have a problem.”
Jade looked down at the time on her watch. It was after seven. The SGA meeting was supposed to end at seven, so Lynn would be coming out at any moment.
Jade hid in the shadows as she heard footsteps approaching. She froze, but then relaxed as she noticed it was just some cheerleader girl on her way home from practice.
Jade looked around. She was standing out by the Baldwin High parking lot. It was empty except for a few cars parked off to the side. One of them was a gray Mercedes. Lynn Hauffman’s gray Mercedes.
It was almost dark, and the shadows offered great protection. The last thing she wanted was for someone to see her standing there. Waiting.
Footsteps approached, and Jade got ready, but it wasn’t Lynn, either. Just some freshman-looking kid running across the street to where his mother was waiting in the car.
Jade looked at her watch again. It was 7:06. Any moment now.
Lynn Hauffman stared at the clock. She had to end this meeting already. “In closing, there will not be another election. The circumstances have changed, and Jessica Heart does not wish to participate again.” To her dismay, the whole room exploded into a series of groans. “Dismissed!” she yelled, grabbed her papers, and left the room, quickly. Being president of the student body was a pain in the neck. But the power was the important part. Responsibilities and such, were the least of her worries.
Now that she had the tape back, Alix had to way to fight back. And Lynn didn’t have to worry about scheduling another election so that Jessica could compete and, as unfair as it may sound, beat Lynn with flying colors.
Lynn had no doubt that Jessica would win. The girl was too popular for her own good. Too beautiful. Too nice. Too rich. To perfect.
There was a time when Lynn had looked up to Jessica Heart, and put her up on a pedestal, but since Jessica’s parents had died, the girl had become as lame as dead meat. Hanging out with middle class people. What was she thinking, anyway?
Not that Lynn minded. She finally had Julian Sanchez, even if he was an idiot, and she didn’t get to see for nine months out of the year. He was probably cheating on her at this very moment, actually, but Lynn didn’t care, because she was cheating on him. She had Billy, the most wonderful man in the whole entire world.
He was about eleven years older than her, and her History teacher at that, but it didn’t matter. He was wonderful, and he was perfect, and when Lynn got tired of him, she’d find somebody else. Somebody better.
It was the only way to be. Lynn still didn’t understand how some people could be tied down to the same person for months, and then years. Marriage was the most ridiculous thing in the world. What were people thinking when they took those vows?
No way. Not her.
Lynn pushed open the doors, and stepped outside into the cool, fresh air. There was no wind. Good. She hated when her hair got all messed up.
She looked around. The school was empty. Totally deserted. It was almost creepy, and she suddenly had the feeling that someone was watching her. Staring at her.
Lynn turned around, but saw no one.
I’m being paranoid, she scolded herself. What’s wrong with me?
She turned around, and her heart caught in her throat. Then she sighed with relief. “What are you doing? I thought people like you dropped out of school, not showed up after hours.”
The blue-haired girl, whose name was Jade or something of the sort, walked over to her.
Lynn frowned. What the hell is she doing?
In response, the girl pushed her. Lynn’s head hit the wall behind her, and a sharp pain flooded through her.
“Did you honestly think you could hurt Alix and get away with it?” the girl asked, staring at her with cold brown eyes.
Lynn froze, and her eyes widened with fear as the girl pulled something out of her pocket.
It was a blade.
After Jessica left her house, Alix decided to go for a walk. She needed to think for a while.
She reached the beach a few minutes later, and started walking along the beach. She was barefoot for a change, and she sank into the wet sand with every footstep. The waves then crashed around her feet, covering them up with water, and then pulling away, as if ashamed.
Alix stared out at the sea, where the ocean darkened with each passing minute. The sky above was a dark shade of purple, and the moon was already visible; half hidden behind a bunch of burning blue-gray clouds.
“It’s pretty, isn’t it?” a voice said behind her.
Alix didn’t have to turn around to know who it was, but she did so anyway. “Hi,” she said softly.
Zack walked up to her. His long brown hair, was hanging down to his jawline, and as usual fell into his beautiful brown eyes. He pushed his hair away with a swift motion of the hand, and stared at her for a moment. “Hi,” he said at last, and sat down on the sand. The water crashed in, and got his clothes all wet. But he didn’t seem to mind.
Hesitantly, Alix sat down beside him. “I think we should talk,” she told him, feeling the water around her. Her clothes were instantly soaked, but like him, she didn’t mind.
Zack nodded, and looked at her.
His eyes looked so sad, so vulnerable. Alix had never seen him look so small. It broke her heart, and for the first time since they met, she realized how much she really cared about him. She hadn’t just been hoping. It was real. “I don’t know what to say,” she admitted, smiling ironically.
Zack sighed, and stared at the ocean ahead. “You’re in love with Jessica. What’s there to say?”
Alix didn’t respond. This was awkward. In fact, it was beyond awkward. It was one of those conversations you never really imagined yourself having.
“Did you lie to me?” Zack asked quietly, keeping his gaze straight ahead.
“Lied to you about what?”
“When you told me you liked me. When you kissed me. When you stared into my eyes. Where you just pretending? Where you imagining Jessica?”
Alix would have laughed if he didn’t sound so serious. “Zack, I didn’t lie. I wasn’t pretending. I really do care about you. A lot.”
This time, Zack looked at her. His eyes were sparkling with tears. “Do you mean that?” he asked.
“With all of my heart.”
Zack nodded slowly, and then looked away. “So, what now?”
“I guess it’s up to you.”
“I don’t know what I want,” Zack said, after a minute’s hesitation.
Alix felt her heart sink down to her feet. Not that she was surprised. She was sure Zack would break up with her over this, but the reality was painful. Especially now that she knew for sure she cared about him. “Oh.”
Zack stood up. The bottom half of him was totally soaked with water. He waved slightly, and started walking away.
Alix watched him, feeling a tear roll down her cheek. This is how it would be from now on. It didn’t matter that Jessica was understanding. Alix still didn’t have her.
And now, she didn’t have Zack either.
From a few feet away, Zack turned around. He stared at her for a moment, and then walked back to her.
Confused, Alix stood up, and frowned. He was standing a few inches away, and when she was back on her feet, his arms went around her, and he kissed her quickly, and a little sloppily.
“I love you,” he whispered, staring into her eyes. Then he sighed and walked away, leaving Alix with a racing pulse, and a crazy longing to kiss him again.
Jade pressed the blade to Lynn’s neck, smiling brightly. “Don’t screw with me,” she warned.
Lynn’s eyes were wide with shock and fear. “You’re insane,” she whispered.
Jade laughed at that. “Probably.”
“You’re not getting away with this,” Lynn said, trying to sound threatening, but failing miserably. “I’m going straight to the police when you go.”
“Who says you’re gonna be alive when I leave?”
Jade pressed the blade of the knife a little harder, but not enough to draw blood. “Listen to me, Lynn Hauffman, and listen good. I’ve already been to hell, and let me tell you, it sucks there. This is Heaven compaired to what I’ve been through, and a little rich snob isn’t going to ruin that for me. Stay away from Alix Morris. If you so much as look at her, I’ll track you down and kill you. Literally kill you.”
“You’re screwed,” Lynn said, trying to smile.
Jade raised an eyebrow. “How do you figure?”
“My lawyer’s gonna have a party with this case.”
Jade laughed, and put the knife away in her back pocket. She then punched Lynn’s stomach.
Lynn doubled over, gasping for breath.
Jade grabbed her shirt collar, and punched her face. Blood poured from her nose. “Oh, look at that, plastic noses do bleed.”
Lynn froze at the sight of her blood. She didn’t yell, she didn’t scream. A slow smile spread across her face. “You’re so screwed,” she muttered.
“Oh, yeah?” Jade asked. She reached into her pocket, and withdrew a tape. “Check again, Einstein.”
Lynn’s eyes grew wide, as she stared at the tape.
Jade nodded. “Boo.” She dropped the tape on the floor by Lynn’s feet. “There’s about seven more copies where that came from, so don’t even bother getting rid of that one.”
“You’re not getting away with this,” Lynn said, in a weak almost whispered voice.
Jade shrugged. “We’ll see about that,” she said. She was about to walk away, but Lynn’s next words made her turn around.
“So, I guess you’re Alix’s play toy, huh? Since she couldn’t have Jessica.”
Jade walked over to Lynn, and punched her so hard, that Lynn fell to the floor. “This is about friendship, Lynn,” she said. “Look it up.” She shook her head, and then walked away, leaving Lynn bleeding on the floor.
After taking a shower, and changing out of his wet clothes, Zachary Woods entered his room, and plopped down on the bed. His brother looked up from some homework, and stared at Zack for a moment.
“What’s the matter with you?” Alex asked, closing the textbook in front of him.
Zack turned his head to look at his older brother, who was lying on his stomach on his own bed across from him. “Do you really have to ask?”
Comprehension crossed Alex’s face. “Oh. Because of the Alix thing?”
“What other thing would I be bummed about?” Zack asked. He sighed. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so sharp. I’m just depressed.”
Alex nodded and shrugged. “Don’t worry, bro. I understand.”
“What am I going to do?” Zack asked, more to himself than to his brother. “This is messed up, you know?”
“I told her I loved her,” Zack said suddenly, for no particular reason except he liked the way those words sounded. “I meant them, too. I haven’t known her for very long, but Alex, she’s the most wonderful person in the world. What am I supposed to do if she’s in love with . . .” He left the rest hang in the air. He closed his eyes, and pulled a pillow over his face.
“Does she like you?” Alex asked.
From under the pillow, Zack said, “She says she does. I just don’t know if she means it or not. I wanna believe it. But what if it isn’t true? What if she’s just using me to get over Jessica. God, that sounds weird.” He threw the pillow aside. “Why couldn’t I be born in like the 1700s or something? I just had to fall in love in the 1990s.”
Alex started to laugh, but stopped. “Sorry.”
“It’s not funny,” Zack said. “You just think it’s funny ’cause you’re finally happy with Roxanne. You don’t care about your little brother.”
“Zack, that’s not fair.” Alex sighed. “Listen, all I can tell you is, be understanding, okay? Alix is probably messed up right now. I mean, just imagine if your diary had been posted up in the middle of the school. Now imagine the whole school found out you were in love with . . . I don’t know, Mathew Collins.”
Zack smiled. “Wouldn’t that be funny, though? Alix in love with Jessica. Me in love with Mathew. That’s pretty darn screwed up. We should call Oprah.”
“You’re hopeless,” Alex said, and turned back to his homework.
Zack stared up at the ceiling. And thought about Alix. Her big green eyes. Her gentle lips. Her soft brown hair. He’d told her once that he’d never let her go. But things had changed. It was like finding out your girlfriend was in love with another guy. Only, in this case, his girlfriend was in love with another girl. That alone was disturbing. Messed up. It was sick. But that didn’t change the fact that he was totally in love with her.
He picked up his pillow, hugged it to his chest, and turned on his side, away from Alex.
What was he going to do?
Jade listened to her footsteps as they echoed through the night. She was walking down the sidewalk, on her way home, feeling a mixture of self-doubt and regret.
Lynn deserved what she got. She more than deserved it, but still, Jade felt a little weary as memories of her darkened past came to haunt her. Any act of violence reminded her of him. And he was someone she wished to forget. He deserved to be forgotten.
She shook her head, and tried to clear her mind. The past was the past. There was nothing she could do about it.
As Jade rounded the corner, and started down her street, she caught a sight of a figure sitting out on her porch. He was about six feet tall, lean. Muscular, but not lumpy. As she neared, she realized who it was, and she relaxed.
Drake Hill smiled at her, pushing away his blonde hair with a sweep of the hand. “Where have you been, young lady?” he asked, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
“Out,” Jade answered. “How long have you been waiting there?”
“About ten minutes,” Drake answered. “See, I rang your doorbell, and your aunt opened the door, took a look at me, and screamed at the top of her lungs. Then she shut the door in my face. I remember you telling me that it meant you weren’t home, but would be back any minute. So, I decided to wait. It’s a nice night, anyway.”
Jade smiled, and started up the porch. She dug into her pocket for the key, and opened the door, letting Drake inside the house first. She followed.
Aunt Josephina, better known as Aunt Fifi, was dancing around the living room, flapping her arms as though they were wings, and chanting, “I’m a butterfly!”, over and over.
Jade shook her head, and leaned closer to Drake. “Pretend you’re a butterfly,” she whispered in his ear.
Drake frowned, then grinned, then nodded, and started flapping his arms. “I’m a butterfly!”
Jade bit her lip to keep from laughing, and then did the same. “I’m a butterfly! I’m a butterfly!”
“I’m a butterfly!” chanted Aunt Fifi. “I’m a butterfly!” Then she stopped, and hunched her shoulders forward. She deepened her voice. “I’m a gorilla.”
Drake couldn’t take it anymore, and he burst out laughing. Jade pushed him in the direction of her room, and they entered.
“I’m a little teapot . . . ” Aunt Fifi was now chanting.
Drake collapsed on Jade’s bed. “She’s nuts!” he cried, between fits of laughter.
Jade shook her head, and sighed. “Yeah, well.” She moved across the room to the window, and looked through the telescope at the stars above. No movement except for an airplane. No UFOs. No sign of aliens. Damnit! Where the hell are they?
“No UFOs?” Drake asked her, smiling.
“They’re out there somewhere,” Jade said, staring up at the sky. She turned back to Drake. “So, now what? Any particular reason why you’ve blessed me with your presence?”
Drake shrugged. “So, how’s Alix?”
“Alix is fine,” Jade answered.
Drake raised an eyebrow.
“I didn’t mean it like that, you perv.” Jade rolled her eyes. “You’re such a guy.”
“I would hope so, wouldn’t you?” Drake asked. “I mean, if I wasn’t a guy, then I’d be a girl. A very strange-looking girl at that.”
Jade stared at him. “Right.” She sat down at her desk, and turned on her computer.
Drake got up, and leaned down behind her, so that his chin was rested on her shoulder. “What are we doing?”
“I’m checking my E-mail,” Jade answered. “I don’t know what you’re doing.”
Drake pulled back. “You know, you’re in a real bitchy mood today. What is it? PMS?”
Jade looked at him for a second, and turned back to the computer. “Yeah, that’s it. PMS. It’s the answer for everything.”
Drake walked back to the bed, and lied down, picking up the remote, and turning on the TV.
Jade checked her E-mail. She had one.
DarkAngel My life sucks
Alix. Jade clicked on the letter.
God, this really sucks. Zack told me he loved me, and then walked away. I was left standing there like, “Please come back.” I don’t know what to do about him, Jay. I don’t know how to make him understand that I really do care about him. I just don’t know if that’s enough for him, though. I mean, I know for sure that in time I’ll fall in love with him. Or, at least, I dare to hope, but if he doesn’t give me the chance . . . What am I going to do?????????????????????????????????????
???????????????????? . . .
I’ve been screaming a lot lately. What a nightmare. My life sucks.
Well, that’s all I had to say. Talk to you soon.
Jade finished reading the E-mail, and wrote Alix a short letter telling her everything would be alright. Then she exited America Online, and turned to Drake, who was watching some people have sex on TV. “You’re gonna get horny,” Jade told him.
Drake looked at her for a moment, and smiled, turning back to the TV. “Too late.”
Jade shut off the computer, and sat down on the bed beside him. She grabbed the remote control. “Ooh, Star Trek.”
Drake went to grab the remote back, but she held it out of his reach. “Wait, I don’t know if I’ve seen that episode.”
“You’re a dork if you watch Star Trek,” Drake told her. “Gimme the remote, you little Trekker.”
Jade shrieked. “What time is it?”
“It’s 8:22.” Drake grinned. “Don’t worry. You didn’t miss The X-files.”
“No. But I’m missing Sliders.”
Drake groaned. “No! Not Jerry O’Connell! Aaaaaaaaaaaah!”
Jade hit his leg with the remote. “Scoot over, Drake, you’re taking up the whole bed.”
“But I’m horny,” Drake whined.
“What do you want me to do about it? If you want, you can turn over on your side, and masturbate,” Jade told him. She hit his leg again. “Scoot, you dinkus. I want to lie down.”
“Masturbate?” Drake asked, moving to the left so that Jade could lie down beside him.
“On second thought, you might want to use the bathroom. Your moaning won’t let me hear the TV.”
“Shhhh. Jerry’s talking.”
“Oh, Jerry,” Drake moaned. “Ooooh, yes. Jerry, baby. Right there!”
“Oh, Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”
Jade smacked him upside the head with the remote. “Shut up!”
The bedroom door opened, and Aunt Fifi walked inside. She looked alarmed. “What’s going on in here?” she asked, holding her arms up as if she were practicing karate.
“Drake’s masturbating to Jerry O’Connell, and he won’t let me hear the TV,” Jade told her, pointing at Drake with the remote.
Aunt Fifi relaxed. “Oh. I thought it was something serious. So, Drake’s gay? Hm. Anal sex. Never tried it. Should.” She started out the door. “Gotta have anal sex.”
Drake turned on his side, and stared at Jade. “So, wanna have sex?” he asked.
“Drake! Come on! I didn’t get to hear what Jerry said!” Jade put the remote in front of Drake’s face, and tried turning him off as she would do the TV. It didn’t work.
“Jerry’s gay,” Drake said, turning on his back, and looking at the screen.
“He is not!”
“Is too. I think it’s the hair. It gives it away.”
“Shut up, Drake.”
Drake shrugged. “I still don’t know what you see in that guy anyway. What does he have that I don’t?”
Jade looked at Drake for a moment. “A TV show. Movies. Fame.”
“Oh, so if I were rich and famous you’d be obsessed with me?”
Jade considered. “If you were rich and famous, and looked like Jerry O’Connell, then I’d be obsessed with you.”
Drake groaned. “You suck.”
“Whatever.” Jade turned back to the TV. “So, who are you obsessed with?”
“You know, Rachel from ‘Friends’,” Drake said..
Jade looked at him, and raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“She’s hot! Why? Don’t you think so?”
Jade shrugged. “She’s alright. I just thought you’d be the kind of guy who liked that blonde girl from ‘Baywatch’.”
“I don’t watch that show.”
“You’re kidding?” Jade said. “I thought all guys watched that show.”
Drake shrugged. “It’s not Must See TV.”
Jade laughed at that. “If you say so.” She turned back to the show, and realized she’d already seen it, so she handed the remote back to Drake. “You have fifteen minutes to watch anything you want. Then I’m watching ‘The X-files’, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“Eighteen . . . nineteen . . . twenty!” Jessica turned around. “Ready or not, here I come!” She looked around Mathew’s living room, and could see Sarah’s reflection in the plexiglass doors. The little girl was hiding behind the kitchen table.
Jessica smiled, but pretended not to see her. She started down the hall, in search of Mathew. She stepped inside his room, and looked under the bed, beside the desk, in the closet. He wasn’t in any of those places. “I know you’re in here, Mathew.” She tried opening the bathroom door, but she couldn’t. Someone was on the other side. Jessica laughed. “I found you, dear. Don’t try cheating your way out of it.”
“You have to tag me!” Mathew called from the other side of the door. “And I’m stronger than you!”
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “Cheater.” She decided to try another tactic. “The game’s already over, by the way. I found Sarah.”
“It’s not gonna work, Jess. I’m not that dumb.”
Jessica smiled, and bit her lip. She had to find a way to get into the bathroom. She tried pushing the door, but Mathew was definitely stronger, and heavier. “I don’t like you anymore,” she said. She shrugged, and sat down, leaning back against the closed door. “You’re gonna have to come out eventually.”
“I have everything I need in here. I even stole a Nutri-Grain bar from the kitchen. I’m set.”
Jessica knew he was now sitting down, with his back to the door. It was strange, and almost ridiculous, but she could feel him through the door. I’m losing it, she thought, shaking her head miserably. “I don’t want to play this anymore,” she said.
A pause. “No you’re not. You’re just trying to get me to come out of the bathroom.”
“Well, I sort of need to use the bathroom, too.”
“Now you’re definitely lying.”
Jessica shook her head. “I’m not lying. Do you want me to leave a spot on your carpet?”
The door behind her opened before she got a chance to lean forward, and she fell back, hitting her head on the tile floor. “Ow.” She stared up at Mathew, who was now in front of her, helping her up.
“Sorry,” he said, when she was back on her feet.
Jessica stared into his eyes, and kissed his lips gently. Somehow, they wound up on the bed, with Jessica on top. They were kissing passionately now.
When they pulled away, Mathew said, “I thought you had to go to the bathroom?”
Jessica smiled, and stared down at him. “I lied.” She leaned down and kissed the tip of his nose. “Oh, and by the way, you’re it.”
“What in the world are you doing?” Amber asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Jessica looked up from the cookbook she was reading, and stared at her cousin. “I’m trying to make eggs.”
Amber burst out laughing. “No, seriously.”
Jessica frowned. “I am being serious.” She held up an egg, and stared down at the book. “Okay. I have the egg. What’s a pan supposed to look like?”
“Are you cooking for yourself, or for me, too?” Amber asked cautiously.
“You and me,” Jessica answered, trying to read the directions on the page.
Amber walked over to the kitchen counter, and sat down on one of the stools. “Why, exactly are you doing this?”
“Well,” Jessica began, turning on the stove, even though she wasn’t exactly sure she had turned on the stove, “I was talking to Mathew last night, and he told me he could cook. So, me being the person that I am, lied, and told him that I could cook, too. Of course–ah! What is that?”
“It’s the stove,” Amber told her. “It’s ready.”
“Oh.” Jessica relaxed. “Anyways, I wanted to make sure I could make eggs incase there was a pop quiz or something.” She looked around. “Where the hell are the bowls?”
“What do you need a bowl for?”
“To put the eggs inside,” Jessica answered. She looked up, and bit her lip. “What? You don’t put them in bowls?”
Amber cracked up.
“Go right ahead and laugh,” Jessica told her, looking in the cupboard above her head. “These are gonna be the best eggs you have ever tasted.”
Amber got control of herself, and walked around the counter to help Jessica. In a few minutes, they had the eggs frying in a pan. “Call me next time,” Amber said. “You’re pathetic.”
Jessica laughed, and leaned against the counter. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
Amber took a seat in the kitchen table, and grabbed a grape from the bowl in the center. “So, you and Mathew doing it yet?”
“What is your obsession with the subject?” Jessica asked, shaking her head.
“I’m not obsessed,” Amber told her, grabbing another grape. She popped it in her mouth. “I’m just curious.”
Jessica stared at her cousin for a moment, and then shook her head. “No. Mathew and I are not doing it yet.”
“Hm. But you will, right? I mean, it’s not like you’ve never done it before or anything. Or is he the one who doesn’t want to . . . you know?”
Jessica rolled her eyes. “You scare me, Amber. Seriously. We’ve only been going out for a few days, okay? The subject of sex has not come up.”
“It’s too soon.”
“Is it? I know of some people who do it on the first date.”
Jessica went over to check on the eggs, and decided they were ready. She turned off the stove, grabbed a couple of plates, and, with the help of a spatula, got the eggs on the plates. “I know there are people who do it on the first date. But I’m not the kind of person who does it on the first date. Do you want orange juice, or what?”
“O.J. So, when do you do it?”
Jessica sat down at the table, and poured some orange juice into both glasses. “I don’t know, Amber. When I’m ready.”
“Is he pressuring you?”
Jessica realized she didn’t have a fork, so she got up to get it. “What kind of questions are these, Amber? Mathew isn’t pressuring me. We’re just not having sex yet, okay? Let it go.”
Amber played with the eggs on her plate. “Hmm.”
“What is it?” Jessica asked, leaning back in the chair.
“Do you remember Ray?”
“Rodriguez? Yes. How could I forget him?” Jessica stared at Amber expectantly. What was the girl getting at?
“Did you love him?” Amber asked, still staring down at the plate of untouched eggs.
“He was my best friend in the world. Of course I loved him.”
“I didn’t mean as a friend. I meant, the other kind of love.”
Jessica frowned. “Amber, I was what? Like thirteen when I left Midnight Island. I wasn’t really thinking about that kind of thing.”
“Yes you were,” Amber said, staring across the table at Jessica. “I know you were. So answer my question.”
Jessica met Amber’s gaze and held it for a few seconds. Then she shook her head, and looked down at her food. “I had a slight crush on him. But it didn’t go as far as love.”
“Did he love you?”
Jessica frowned. “Amber, why are you asking me all this? I haven’t talked to, nor heard from Ray in like six years. He’s what, twenty now?”
“Twenty-one,” Amber corrected.
Jessica thought about it, and nodded. “Right. Twenty-one. I still don’t understand why you’re asking me about Ray. I’m sure you’ve seen him around the island a few million times.”
Amber shrugged. “He left a few months ago to travel around with his band. I haven’t seen him since.”
Jessica took a bite of the eggs. “Hey, these aren’t half bad.”
“There aren’t that many ways of screwing up eggs, Jess,” Amber said, half-smiling. She looked down again. “Um, Jess.”
Jessica sighed to herself, and looked up. “What?”
“Did you ever kiss Ray?”
Jessica nodded. “Once. When I was like twelve, and he was fifteen, and let me tell you, for a fifteen-year-old, he wasn’t half bad.”
Amber didn’t laugh.
“Alright, Amber, what’s the matter? What’s this obsession with Ray?”
“Did you sleep with him?”
Jessica drew back. “Why in the world would I sleep with Ray?”
Amber shrugged. “I want to know. I’ve always wanted to know.”
“No,” Jessica answered finally. “I didn’t sleep with Ray.”
Amber nodded, looked up, and smiled. “You know what would be cool?”
Jessica was startled by her cousin’s sudden change in mood, but at the same time, glad that Amber was back to her old self again. “No, what would be cool?”
“A party!” Amber cried. “A party, and then a sleepover. But only for the girls, of course. Unless, you and Mathew . . .”
Jessica laughed. It did sound like a pretty good idea. After everything that had been happening lately, it would be a relief. “When, and who would we invite?”
“Tonight. And only your closest personal friends.”
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “Tonight?”
“Tonight, tonight,” Amber said, grinning. “Like that song from Smashing Pumpkins.”
“Isn’t it a little sudden?”
Amber shrugged, and finished off her eggs in a matter of seconds. “Spontanious. That’s what it’s called. It’s a spontanious party. That makes it all the more interesting.”
Jessica shrugged, and took a sip from her orange juice. “I’ll make a few calls.”
Alix was on a spaceship. A fleet of enemy vessels, that looked a lot like teal spiral notebooks, appeared out of nowhere, and started shooting at Alix’s ship.
Alix tried to swirve, but the wheel came apart in her hands, and the ship started shaking. It was making the sound of a ringing telephone, but that was normal, because, after all, that was the sound a spaceship was suppose to make when its steering wheel came off.
“Someone get the friggin’ phone!” the Commander of the spiral notebook spaceship yelled. He looked a lot like Zack, but sounded like Rachel.
Not that Alix found anything peculiar about that. She reached over, and picked up a pen. She started doodling in the air, and humming the National Anthem.
Why does Aerosmith sing the National Anthem? “I was cryin’ when I met you,” Alix started singing, for no particular reason. She then stood up, and put her right hand over her heart.
Then she was magically transported to a baseball game. She was now hovering in midair, and holding a bat in her hands. And the bat kept ringing.
“Please get the phone!” it yelled, also sounding like Rachel. “I love you,” it said next, and jumped out of her hands, and started hopping away.
“Wait!” Alix cried, and tried running after it, but she was still hovering in midair, and had no idea how to fly. “Why can’t I fly?”
Alix opened her eyes groggily, and reached over to pick up the phone. “What the hell is it? I’m trying to learn how to fly here!”
“Do you want me to call back later?” It was Jessica.
Alix rubbed at her eyes, and yawned. “No. No. It’s okay. I’m awake. Sort of.”
“Is that your alarm clock?” Jessica asked.
Alix had no idea what Jessica was talking about, until she realized there was music playing. She looked over, and realized she’d forgotten to shut off her alarm clock. “Oh. Uh, yeah.” She smacked her hand over it, silencing Aerosmith, and took a look at the time. It was 11:23. “Jess, we’re still in the AMs here. Why are you calling me at this ungodly hour?”
“Sleepover,” Jessica answered.
“Sleep over what?”
“No. I meant, there’s a sleepover at my house tonight. If you’re interested.”
Alix yawned again. “Why?”
“Why would you be interested?”
“No. Why is there a sleepover? What’s the special occasion?”
“Well, since everyone’s life pretty much sucks right about now, I thought it might be cool to get everyone’s sucky lives together, so we can bask in each other’s misery.”
Alix smiled. “Sounds kiwi. It would sound even kiwier if I were awake. Which I’m not.”
“Sorry. I forget you hybernate during the weekends. So you’re coming?”
“Who else is going?”
“Well, I called Roxanne, and she said she’d do anything to get out of her house. She called Alex, and he’s com–”
“Wait, is this one of those couple party thingies?”
“Sort of. Bring Zack.”
“I can’t bring Zack. Zack dumped my little butt.”
Jessica gasped. “No way! Alix, I’m so sorry.”
Alix shrugged, even though Jessica couldn’t see her. “I’ll live. Who else is going?”
“Oh, it’s a little party,” Alix said.
“Can I count you in?”
Alix considered. “I’ll show up for the sleepover part.”
Jessica sighed. “Alright. Any particular beverage you would like to drink? I’m going shopping.”
“Dr. Pepper,” Alix answered. “Did you even have to ask?”
“I suppose not. Chips?”
“Baked Tostitos. Those rule.”
“Well, Roxanne ordered M&Ms. Mathew wanted Nutri-Grain bars. Cherry, of course. And Alex wanted me to get him some batteries.”
“I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know. So, what’s your pleasure?”
“Don’t ask. You don’t want to know.”
Jessica laughed. “Okay, you’re right. I don’t want to know. So, what would you like?”
“About three or four more hours of sleep.”
“Alright. Alright. Jeez. I get the hint. Show up whenever, okay?”
“Bub-bye.” Alix replaced the receiver, and rolled over in bed, hugging her pillow. She closed her eyes. Gotta learn how to fly.
Jade rolled over, and felt breathing on her face, so she opened her eyes. What she saw, made her jump back so suddenly, that she fell off the bed, and hit the floor with a loud thump. She sat up, and looked over at the bed. No doubt about it. Drake was still there. No wonder I couldn’t sleep that well last night. The little sucker had half the bed. Jade jumped on the bed, and started shaking Drake’s body. “Wake up, you dinkus.”
Drake groaned, but didn’t open his eyes. He turned around so that he was staring right at her, but his eyes remained closed.
Jade sighed, and rubbed her hazel eyes with the back of her hand. Then she pushed a few strands of blue hair away from her face, and tried again. “Wake up, Drake!” she cried, smaking his face lightly.
His eyes fluttered, and then opened slowly. Confusion passed across his face. Then his eyes closed again.
Jade sighed, and got off the bed. She walked out of the room, and down the stairs to the kitchen, where she half-filled a cup with water. Then she walked back up to her room, and dumped the water on Drake’s face, getting her sheets all wet, but not really caring.
Drake spit and sputtered, and sat up, breathing heavy. “I’m awake! I’m awake!” He looked around the room and frowned. “Okay, I guess I’m not awake.” His gaze landed on Jade. “Am I?”
Jade rolled her eyes, and put the cup on her nightstand. “We must have fallen asleep.”
“Did we . . . ?”
Jade raised an eyebrow. “Would it make you happy if I said yes?” she asked.
Drake grinned. “Of course.”
“Then no.” Jade grabbed his arms, and tried pulling him off the bed. “Go home, Drake.”
“I’m going. I’m going.” Drake broke free of Jade’s grasp, and started toward the bedroom door. “I hope last night was as good for you as it was for me.”
“You are such a perv,” Jade told him, shaking her head.
“Yeah, but you love me anyways, right?”
Jade almost laughed. “Whatever. Get going before your parents kill your sorry butt.”
“Kill my butt?” Drake asked, frowning. “How do you figure?”
Drake held up his hands. “I’m going. I’m going. Chill.”
Jade smiled as she watched him leave. He’s such a weirdo.
Nina stepped up to the foul line, and dribbled the ball a couple of times. She stared up at the basket, concentrated, and shot the ball. It hit the rim, and bounced off.
A loud whistle echoed through the air. Coach Gray clapped her hands. “Hit the shower, boys! Except for Collins.”
Nina cussed under her breath, and waited for the coach to walk over.
“What’s the matter with you Collins?” Coach Gray demanded. “Last Thursday you were incredible. For the past few days you’ve been coming late to practice late, you miss half the shots you make. What’s the deal?”
Nina wiped the sweat off her face with her tee shirt, and shrugged. “I don’t know, coach.”
“You don’t know?” Coach Gray asked. She blew her whistle again, making Nina wince at the noise. “Back on the foul line, Collins. You’re gonna stand there until you make ten shots in a row. If you reach number ten, and miss number ten, you start over. Understood?”
Nina nodded. “Understood.”
Coach Gray blew the whistle again, obviously just to annoy anybody within earshot, and then walked away.
Nina reached over, and picked up a basketball from the cart. She saw Leslie out of the corner of her eyes, and suddenly felt self-conscious. She dribbled the ball, and stared up at the basket. She had to concentrate. She had to concentrate, and she had to forget Leslie was there. She closed her eyes, and pictured the ball flying swiftly through the air, and landing in the basket with a nice, smooth swish.
She licked her lips, and shot the ball. It bounced off the backboard, and went in. “One,” she whispered to herself, grabbing another basketball.
She shot this one, too. It flew into the net. “Two.”
The next couple of shots went in, and Nina began to relax. She’d done this before a million times. Since she was a kid, she’d been fascinated with basketball. And now, now that she was captain of the Baldwin University team, she couldn’t lose her touch.
“Five,” she counted, as her next shot went in.
When her count reached nine, she could feel the perspiration on her brow, but she ignored it. What she couldn’t ignore was Leslie, sitting up on the bleachers, watching her.
I can do this. Just one more shot. Concentrate for crying out loud! She took a deep breath, and shot the ball. It missed by a mile. She had never in her entire life thrown a worse-looking shot. The ball had just missed the entire perimeter of the basket, flown over the backboard, and bounced across the gym.
“Damnit,” she cussed under her breath. She knew she had to finish this stupid punishment, or else they’d miss their reservation. She glaced at Leslie, who was watching her patiently, waiting for her to get going so they could reach the restaurant by six.
Nina looked at her watch. It was 4:26. Quickly, she made the math in her head. She had to go take a shower, change. If she made the next few shots, they’d make in time.
Okay, Collins. It’s now or never. She grabbed a basketball. Shot it. Made it. “One,” she said, this time a little more forcefully. The next shot went in. “Two.” So did the next one. “Three.”
By the time she got back to nine, she was feeling confident. She waved at Leslie, who waved back, and then she shot the remaining ball.
Come on. Come on. Nina bit her lip as she watched the ball. It went in with a swish. “Thank you,” she whispered, more as a prayer than anything else.
Leslie was standing up on the bleachers, clapping.
Nina smiled, and bowed, blowing a kiss up at him. She then hurried out of the gym, and up to the locker room, where she grabbed her stuff, and left.
Nina rolled her eyes, and stopped at the sound of the coach’s voice. “Yes, coach?” she asked, turning around in the locker room doorway.
Coach Gray walked over to her. “Nina, you’re my best player. You’re my star player. Don’t do anything that’s gonna get in the way of your game.”
Nina frowned. “I don’t do drugs, coach. I thought we established that already?”
Coach Gray shook her head, her short black hair swinging back and forth in the process. “I’m not talking about drugs. I’m talking about that young man you’ve been hanging out with.”
“Leslie? What would he have to do with my game?”
Coach Gray shrugged. “Just keep your eyes open, Collins. Just keep your eyes open.”
Alix stared up at Steven Tyler. If she stared at him long enough without blinking, he started to resemble Elvis. Elvis or Elvira. One of the two.
She blinked, and rubbed her eyes. She turned her head, and looked at the time. It was 6:33. Jessica’s little party thing had started at six. Alix didn’t plan on going. There was no point. It would be Jessica and Mathew. Roxanne and Alex. Alix would be the third wheel, obviously. The bisexual third wheel. No doubt they all thought of her differently now that they knew.
Jessica . . .
It was strange how she felt right then. Especially about Jessica. Now that the truth was out, she couldn’t help having this stupid, naive, hopeful feeling that maybe Jessica would be hers after all. The thought alone made her hands tremble, and her heart skip a beat. But it was stupid of her to think that way. It was stupid, and she was torturing herself as she’d done before. Reality was cruel. Jessica wasn’t like her. Jessica didn’t have her problem.
Alix let the tears run freely. It was pointless to stop them. There wasn’t anyone around to see her cry. She didn’t have any emotions left to hide. Love was all she felt.
She’d been around Jessica about a million times. She’d stood so close to her at times. Close enough to touch her. Close enough to kiss her. Close enough to tell her how she really felt.
But what difference did it make?
None. None whatsoever. It made no difference, because Alix was still alone, watching Jessica with silent longing in her eyes, and an eternal fire burning in her heart. A fire, which Zack had almost put out.
Roxanne held up two bottles of nail polish. “I can’t decide–help me out. Magenta or black?”
Jessica arched an eyebrow questioningly, and gazed at Roxanne over the top of her Seventeen magazine. “Black?”
“I’m trying to decide whether or not to make a statement,” Roxanne answered, staring at both bottles critically. She scrunched up her face with indecision. “Help.”
Jessica turned back to her magazine. “Flip a quarter.”
Roxanne groaned. “You’ve been spending way too much time with Alix. Speaking of which . . .”
“She said she’d come. It’s only 11:00. We kicked the guys out a little early.”
Roxanne nodded. “Well, it’s been a while since us girls hung out together. We’re missing a third party, though.”
“I’ll call her.” Jessica reached over, and picked up the phone from the nightstand next to her. She speed dialed Alix. One ring . . . two . . .three, four, five . . . eight . . . ten . . . “She’s not picking up,” Jessica said after a while. After a few more rings, she gave up. “Maybe she’s on her way.”
“Mm,” Roxanne said dismissively. She eyed the nail polish bottles. She shook her head, and turned back to Jessica. “Alright, truth or dare?”
Jessica looked up once again. “Excuse me?”
“Truth or dare?” Roxanne repeated slowly.
Jessica stared at her for a second, and then shrugged, turning back to the magazine. “Truth.”
Roxanne thought about it for a second. “Alright. How do you really feel about Mathew?”
Jessica sighed, and tossed the magazine aside. She leaned back against the stack of pillows behind her, and seemed to consider the question carefully. “I like him. A lot.”
“You just like him? It hasn’t evolved to the big L word, yet?”
Jessica leaned forward in the waterbed. “See, I just don’t know about that. How do you know when it’s no longer like? I mean, according to movies and stuff, there’s like this huge spark of light, and background music of some sort, you know? I keep expecting to see something like that when I’m with him.”
Roxanne raised an eyebrow.
Jessica narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. “How did you know you loved Alex?”
“I just . . . knew.” Roxanne shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just like . . .” She searched the air around her for the right words. “Okay, it’s like whenever I’m around him, I sense this strange connection. Like we belong together, you know? I guess it sounds corny.” She shook her head, and shrugged slightly. “He’s perfect.” She smiled. “You know, I was his first.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “You know. His first.”
Jessica’s heart skipped a beat, and she looked away from Roxanne quickly. “He told you that?”
“Yeah. Right afterwards.”
Jessica bit her lip, but nodded. “That’s nice.”
“Nice?” Roxanne laughed. “It’s wonderful. I mean, a guy like Alex Woods has girls throwing themselves at him day in and day out. I’ll have to do something about that, by the way. To think he actually saved himself for me . . .” She grinned.
Jessica forced a smile in her best friend’s direction. “Yeah. You’re right. It’s pretty wonderful of him. You don’t see that very often.”
Roxanne snorted in agreement. “You can say that again.” She bit her lip uncomfortably for a moment. “Um, Jess, I’ve been meaning to ask you something, which is really hard for me to ask, because it makes me feel so guilty for even wondering. But I need to know.”
“I know you knew Alex way back when, since he was Julian’s best friend and all . . .” Roxanne shook her head suddenly. “Nevermind. Forget it. It’s so stupid of me to even consider it.”
Jessica was afraid to know what the question was, because she had the feeling she already knew. “Just ask me, Rox. What’s the big deal?”
“It’s stupid. It was just something my over-jealous imagination came up with. Not important at all.”
“Would it make you feel better to know the answer?”
Roxanne smiled slightly. “Depends on the answer.”
Jessica shrugged. Alright. It was better this way. It was better she didn’t ask. It was better she didn’t know.
“Okay.” Roxanne sat up on the waterbed, and faced Jessica. “I’m gonna ask you anyway. Just to get it over with. But, don’t get mad at me for asking this, okay? I don’t ask because I think it happened, just because I want to make sure it didn’t.”
Jessica’s heart stopped.
“Did you and Alex ever . . .?”
There it was. The question she’d been dreading for almost a year. Jessica’s heart was beating so hard, she was surprised Roxanne couldn’t hear it. She could just tell her. Tell her the truth, and get it over with. Lying to her best friend was torture. But telling her the truth would be even worse. “Rox!” she nearly yelled, in a tone full of mock offence. “Come on.”
Roxanne laughed with obvious relief. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. You know how I am.”
Jessica felt the guilt rise to her heart. Why didn’t she just tell her? Oh, right! She could just come right out and say, “Rox, I had sex with Alex last year. About an hour after I found out you were in love with him, I went over his house, and practically raped him. Of course . . . he enjoyed it too much to consider it rape.” Not quite the kind of thing you want to tell your best friend.
“I’m sorry for asking,” Roxanne said suddenly, looking a little sheepish. “I mean, God, you’re my best friend. If I can’t trust you, then . . .” She shrugged. “I guess, I was just wondering since you used to hang out a lot with Alex because of Julian, and well, I heard things about you . . .” Roxanne bit her lip, and closed her eyes.
Jessica frowned, and leaned forward. “You’ve heard things about me?”
Roxanne opened her eyes. Obviously, the last part had slipped out. She sighed. “Alright, they’re old rumors, though. I heard that you had a rep for sleeping around a lot.”
“When the hell did you hear that?” Jessica demanded, with more anger than she’d intended.
“Jesus, Jessica, calm down. I heard that a while back. Before we were even friends. It’s just that I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago. Not because of anything you did,” she added quickly. “Just because I remembered all of a sudden.”
Jessica’s anger resided. What was the point of getting mad? It was all true. Of course, she hadn’t known there were rumors about it. It shouldn’t have surprised her, really. In fact, it would’ve been more surprising if there hadn’t been rumors about it. But still.
“Jess, that was a while ago, okay?” Roxanne said, frustrated. “It was like at the end of our sophomore year. Not now. I know you’re not like that . . .”
“Anymore?” Jessica finished for her.
Roxanne shrugged. “I didn’t know you back then. I don’t know what you did.”
Jessica nodded slowly. Here was another chance to confess. Yes, Rox, I was the biggest slut that ever walked the halls of Baldwin High. I slept with Alex, and you know what? It was pretty damn good. More M&Ms? “Why did you think I’d done anything with Alex, though?”
Roxanne shrugged. “I didn’t mean you did that with him. I know you didn’t. I was just curious if you’d ever kissed him or something.”
Jessica forced a smile. “What would you do if I said yes?”
“Did you?” Roxanne asked, biting her lip.
“Rox, come on. I always knew you were in love with him. What kind of friend do you think I am?” God, how it hurt to speak those words.
“What about before you knew me?”
Jessica shrugged. “No, Rox. You can relax.”
Roxanne sighed, and rolled her eyes heavenly. “I cannot believe I asked you that. God, I must be the world’s worst best friend.” She reached over and squeezed Jessica’s hand. “Sorry. I feel like an idiot for asking all that. I don’t know why you put up with me.”
Roxanne smiled. “Oh, is that it?” She nodded to herself. “Fine. I see how you are. You’re just jealous because you’re not a Puerto Rican princess like yours truly.”
“Uh-huh. You forgot to put the wannabe part before that title, Ms. Perez.”
“Hey, don’t rain on my parade, Ms. Heart. I’m more Puerto Rican than you’ll ever be.”
“Yeah, but I actually lived there, unlike some other people.”
“You didn’t live there. You lived on Midnight Island. That’s not the same thing.”
Jessica cocked her head to the side. “Well, you’ve never even been there. I’ve been there numerous times.”
Roxanne opened her mouth to say something, but realized Jessica was right. She rolled her eyes. “Just shut up.” She smiled. “Truth or dare?”
“What do you really think about Alix?”
Jessica frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Like, are you scared of her now, or something? I know I’d be freaking.”
Jessica smiled. “Unlike some other people, I’m in touch with my sexuality.”
“That sounds kinky. No, but seriously.”
“What do you want me to say? I’m not going to stop being her friend because of this. I’m not going to run the other way. I’m not going to be afraid of her.”
“But you are a little intimidated by the whole thing right? I mean, you can’t tell me you’re not going to be wondering what she’s thinking everytime she looks at you?”
Jessica sighed. “Can we not talk about this?”
“Sorry. I guess I’m just trying not to think about my problems. I’m sorry. Alix is my best friend, too. I shouldn’t be talking about her like that. Even if she is . . . you know.”
A faint buzzing sound broke the short silence that fell between them.
“Is that you, or me?” Jessica asked.
“Probably you. My beeper’s not on vibrate.”
Jessica reached for her beeper, and looked at the written message. She sighed. “It’s Alix. She’s not coming.”
Jessica picked up the phone, and dialed memory one. “Let’s find out shall we?” A few minutes later, she hung up the phone, and sighed. “She won’t pick up.”
Roxanne shook her head, and shrugged slightly. “That was such a horrible thing Lynn did to her. I mean, if it were me, I’d move to Alaska or something.” She narrowed her eyes, and made a fist. “I just want to kick Lynn’s ass so bad. She deserves it, the little . . .”
Jessica just nodded. The past was catching up to her at tremendous speeds. Julian . . . Alex . . . her parents . . . Lynn. Of course, in the Lynn situation Jessica had the upper hand. She knew what Lynn had done. And Lynn would do anything to make sure her secret remained buried.
It seemed like everyone was hiding something nowadays. But Jessica hid so many secrets it was tearing her apart. Her conscience hammered at her heart day in and day out. It was a wonder she’d only tried killing herself four times . . . well, including the most recent attempt, five. But even then.
Roxanne was staring at her expectantly.
“Did you say something?” Jessica asked, suddenly aware of Roxanne’s presence.
“I asked if you wanted to change the subject? You look a little pale.”
“Oh. Um, yeah. Let’s change the subject. Please.”
Roxanne nodded. “So, have you and Mathew done the deed yet?”
“The deed,” Jessica echoed. “You mean like volunteer work?”
“Very cute. You know what I meant.”
Jessica shrugged. “If I’d had sex with Mathew, you would’ve found out about ten point three seconds after it happened, or during. I don’t know how fast my spies are working these days.”
“Are you gonna?”
“I already had this conversation once today, can we please drop the subject?”
“No. I really want to know. I mean, if you’ve gone out and gotten one of them chastity belts or something, then I would like to know about it. On the other hand, if you’re just waiting for the perfect time or whatever, then I’d like to know about that too. This is important information, Jessica.”
Jessica sighed, and picked up her magazine again. “We haven’t gotten to that department yet.”
“It’s departments now? What happened to the good ole bases? Anyways, I’ll humor you. What department have you gotten to?”
Jessica didn’t answer.
“Come on, Jess. Gossip is good. I’m a pregnant woman with no future. I would like to know what I’m missing out on, so that I can bitch about it to my grandkids, and ruin their lives when the time comes.”
Jessica had to smile. “Going back to the bases theory. I’d have to say first base.”
Jessica shook her head, and made a point of staring at the Advil ad on the page in front of her. After a few seconds, she turned the page, counting mentally . . . five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . .
Roxanne cracked up.
“Why are you laughing?” Jessica asked, tossing the magazine aside and crossing her arms against her chest.
“It’s just that it’s . . . you. I expected you guys to have gotten to base like twenty, and–” She seemed to realize something, and grew serious all of a sudden. “Oh, man. Oh, man, Jess I’m sorry. I forgot about . . . about Julian. I keep forgetting he . . . you know. Is that what’s keeping you from . . . you know?”
Jessica forced a smile. “You seem to have a great problem with coherent sentences today, Rox.” The truth was, Roxanne had hit home. It wasn’t so much because Julian had raped her. Jessica hadn’t been emotionally scarred because of the actual act, but because of the reason behind it. She didn’t want to screw up with Mathew. If and when they slept together, it had to be special. It had to be different from the other times. Otherwise, she’d never be able to convince herself that she’d really, trully changed.
“Earth to Jessica. Girl, you’ve been spacing out on me all night.”
Jessica smiled. “Sorry. I guess I’m a little pensive.”
Roxanne nodded. “Alright. For the rest of the night, we are not allowed talk about anything significant, deal?”
Roxanne nodded. “Okay. Wait. Wait. One last significant thing. Truth or dare?”
Jessica hesitated a second. “Truth.”
Roxanne held up the nail polish bottles. “Magenta or black?”
Mathew lay in bed that same night, staring thoughtfully at the far wall. He couldn’t get Jessica out of his mind. It was killing him. What was it he felt for her?
How did you know when you crossed that line? How did you know when your feelings could be officially labeled “love”? He didn’t want to mistake his feelings about Jessica, but he couldn’t ignore them either.
She was so beautiful. So kind. So funny. So gentle. So loving. So perfect. No one else in the world was that perfect. He didn’t deserve her.
Mathew turned on his side. He remembered what Jessica had said about her past relationships. She’d apparently slept with quite a few guys.
Just the thought of it made Mathew sick to his stomach. Thinking about Jessica in someone else’s arms; kissing someone else’s lips made his world spin. And not in a good way.
He pushed the thought from his mind. No need to dwell in the past. The present was a million times better.
Mathew reached over and grabbed the phone. He knew Jessica and the girls were having a little sleepover, so they were most likely still awake. It was just a little past midnight anyway. Not so late at all.
Jessica picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Mathew! Hey, babe. How’s it going?”
“Pretty good. I-uh, was calling to say good night. I didn’t mean to interrupt your party.”
Jessica laughed. “Oh, right. Our party consisting of two people. Very exciting indeed.”
“Where are Alix and Amber?”
“Alix isn’t coming. I can’t say I blame her. I mean, God, she’s been through enough. And Amber’s been acting so strangely. Seriously, I’m worried. I have this feeling she’s up to something.”
“You’re just being paranoid, Jess. What would she be up to?”
Jessica sighed. “I don’t know.” A pause. “I guess I am being paranoid. Not that I should be. I mean, hello, what else can go wrong in my life, right?” Another pause. “Besides losing you, of course.”
Mathew smiled, even though Jessica couldn’t see him. “Thanks for adding that as an afterthought.”
Silence. Then, “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.”
“Don’t worry about it, Jess. I know what you meant.” He paused for a second. “I guess I’ll let you go now. I just wanted to hear your voice before I went to bed.”
There was a second of static, and then Roxanne’s voice. “What did you just tell her?” she yelled.
Mathew frowned. “Huh?”
“She blushed!” Roxanne shrieked. “I’ve never seen the girl blush before. What did you tell her?”
“Sorry about that.” Jessica’s voice. “She’s lying. I didn’t blush.”
“She did too!” Roxanne yelled, from somewhere in the background.
Mathew was smiling. Did he really make Jessica blush?
“Shut up, Rox! Mathew, you there?”
“I’m sorry. Roxanne’s being a dork.”
“That’s alright. Oh, I forgot to ask if you wanted to do something tomorrow?”
“Definitely. Come over tomorrow morning. I’ll make you eggs.”
Mathew heard laughing in the background. “Sounds fun. What time?”
Jessica paused. “Hold on–Rox, what’s a good time for eggs?”
“Whenever,” Jessica answered. “Just show up. Surprise me.”
Mathew smiled. “Okay.” He paused. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good night, Mathew.”
Mathew listened to the click on the other end. “I love you Jessica,” he said outloud, to the silence at his ear. Then he sighed and hung up the phone.
At five-thirty, Sunday morning, Alix saw signs of the rising sun. She picked up a handful of moist sand, and let it slip through her fingers, as she watched the water’s surface change in color.
She looked at her watch, and sighed. She hadn’t been this depressed since her father had died a couple years back.
Alix shook her head at the memory. She didn’t want to think about her father’s death. She was too depressed already.
“Oh. Um, hi.”
Alix turned, and forced a smile. “Hey, Nika.” She eyed the huge sketch pad Nika was carrying. “More paintings?”
Nika hesitated a moment before sitting down beside Alix. “Just sketches. I overslept. It’s too late to catch the sunrise now, so I thought I’d just sketch a few things.”
“Can I see?”
Nika bit her lip shyly, and looked as though she would say no, but after staring at Alix for a couple of seconds, she handed the sketch pad over. “They’re not very good.”
Alix turned to the first page, and she mouthed an amazed, “Whoa!” There was a sketch of the ocean with the waves and the trees. Every little thing was emphasized to it’s most minimal detail. The picture itself looked more realistic than the actual beach around them. “This is awesome.”
Nika shrugged. “It’s really not that great.”
“Are you nuts?” Alix cried, looking over at her for a moment. She turned back to the picture. “This rules.” She turned the page. A bunch of shapes and figures filled the page. Together, they formed a very cool-looking sketch. The next few pages were sketches of people Alix didn’t recognize. All of them girls, but very different-looking girls. The first one had a very long, thin face. She had short blonde hair. Her eyes were small, and she wore glasses around them. The second girl had curly black hair, and had a very bored expression, almost annoyed. She was very pretty, but nothing out of the ordinary. The other girls were pretty much the same. “Are these friends of yours?”
Nika hesitated, but nodded. “Yeah. Back in Australia.”
Alix nodded, and kept looking through the sketch pad. When she was through, she handed it back to Nika, and shook her head. “Man, I wish I could draw like that.”
Nika seemed to blush slightly. “Thanks. But I think your writing is talent enough.” She smiled. “I read your play.”
Alix raised her eyebrows. “Are you in it?”
“Backstage. I’m in scene design.”
“Oh, that’s kiwi.”
Nika frowned. “Kiwi?”
“Alright. You know the expression, ‘Peachy’?”
“Well, I changed the fruit to kiwi.” Alix grinned expectantly.
Nika laughed. “I like that. It’s very . . . kiwi.”
“There you go!” Alix smiled. “You’re a fast learner.”
“Thanks. I guess.” She frowned suddenly. “So, how come you’re here so early?”
Alix’s good mood evaporated. Reality came tumbling down on her, and she looked away from Nika. “I couldn’t sleep.”
“You’ve been here all night?”
Alix stared at the crashing waves for a moment, not responding to the question. “Probably since like three,” she answered finally.
“What in the world did you do for two and a half hours?”
Alix shrugged. “Think.”
“Yeah. I guess I understand what you mean. Back in Australia, I used to leave my house for hours at a time. I would just walk around, thinking.”
Alix turned to her. “What did you think about?”
Nika’s green eyes darkened, as though a shadow had fallen over them. She looked away. “Just thoughts. Nothing in particular.”
“Liar.” Alix smiled. “That’s okay, though, you don’t have to tell me.”
Nika smiled gently. “What about you?”
“I’d tell you, but I would probably gross you out.” Alix shrugged. “I’m surprised you’re even talking to me.”
“Why wouldn’t I talk to you?” Nika asked, frowning slightly.
“Where you in school on Friday?”
“Didn’t you get a good look at my diary; posted conviniently throughout the school?”
Nika snapped her fingers. “Oh. Right. Right. The bi thing.”
Alix had to smile. “The bi thing,” she echoed. “Never thought of it that way, but okay, yeah.”
Nika nodded. “I get it. You’re upset about what happened.”
“Well, I guess I should be, but that’s not really what’s bothering me.”
Alix snapped her head to look at Nika. Then she nodded slowly. “Jessica,” she stated. “And my boyfriend, too. He dumped me.”
“So, basically, you’re upset because you can’t have the girl you love, and the guy you like dumped you?”
“Pretty much. Sounds very 90s, doesn’t it?”
“I think it was an Oprah episode, actually,” Nika joked. She smiled. “Don’t feel bad about it. Everything that happens, happens for a reason.”
Alix smiled. “My cousin in California said exactly that. I guess it may be true, but for the time being, life really sucks.”
“I hear ya, sister.” Nika bit her lip suddenly. “So, how come you kept everything hidden?”
“Do you even have to ask?”
Nika shrugged. “No, I suppose not. If it were me, I’d most likely take a permanent residence in the closet. But you’re more outgoing than I am. You’re out there.”
“Out there!” Alix laughed. “Okay.”
Nika laughed too. “Seriously.”
“I’m not that outgoing,” Alix said, shaking her head seriously. “I’m actually kind of shy. It’s just that I pretend to be outgoing so that I don’t blend into the background.”
“I know what you mean.” She shrugged slightly. “I’m not that great at pretending, though. I seem to blend into the background no matter what I do.”
Alix stared at Nika for a moment, but didn’t say anything. She turned her head, and looked up at the sky. Dawn was underway. “Can I ask you something? It’s totally off the subject, but it’s really nagging at me.”
“What was the deal with you and Alex? I never understood that.”
“We were just friends,” Nika answered, a little too quickly. “I knew he was head over heels in love with Roxanne. He talked about her 24/7. I’m not that dense.”
Alix nodded. “Did you like him?”
“Sure. He’s a great guy.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Oh. You mean, did I like like him? No. He’s . . . not my type.”
Alix smiled. “Not your type,” she repeated. “I thought Alexander Woods was every girl’s type?”
Nika shrugged. “We were just friends,” she said again. “Nothing happened.”
“I believe you.”
“So, how’s Rachel?” Nika asked. “I see her in class, but I haven’t talked to her in a while.”
“She’s alright. Grounded for the rest of her life, but alright.”
“Why is she grounded?”
Alix shrugged. “Long story. Give her a call one of these days. I’m sure she’ll tell you everything in detail.”
“I’m sure she would.”
Alix yawned. “Wow. I should go to sleep. I think exhaustion is finally catching up to me.” She stood up, shaking the sand from the back of her light blue jeans. “It was nice talking to you, Nika.”
“Nice talking to you.”
Alix motioned to the sketch pad. “Those rule. I don’t care what you think.” She smiled, waved, and started walking away, noticing for the first time, that she wasn’t feeling all that depressed anymore.
She should talk to Nika more often.
“Can I help you with something?”
The guy sitting at Jessica’s kitchen table jumped slightly at the sound of Roxanne’s voice. He looked up from the magazine he was reading, and frowned. “Oh. Uh, hello,” he said, getting up from the chair. “You’re not Jessica.”
Roxanne raised both her eyebrows. “I know that,” she said, walking over to grab a box of cereal from one of the cupboards. “And you’re not Brad Pitt. What’s your point?”
The guy sat back down. “I’m waiting for Jessica. Amber told me to wait for her here.”
Roxanne grabbed all the needed utensils, and sat down at the table, facing the strange, yet undeniably gorgeous guy. “So, who are you anyway?” she asked, casually, pouring milk into the bowl in front of her. “Are you here for a job interview? Are you the new pool guy?”
He smiled, showing a row of perfectly straight, pearly white teeth, that contrasted beautifully with his darkly tanned skin. “No, I’m just here to see Jessica.”
Roxanne dug into her cereal, and nodded slightly. “You’re a friend from school? Do you go to Baldwin?”
“No, I graduated a few years ago. Not from Baldwin, though,” he added quickly. “I’m from Midnight Island.”
Roxanne nearly choked on her Corn Pops. She coughed. “Sorry.”
“Are you okay?”
Roxanne nodded. She smiled, and extended her hand. “I’m Roxanne Perez. Jessica’s best friend.”
“Ray Rodriguez. Jessica’s old best friend.” He bit his lip. “Do you think Jessica will mind my showing up unannounced? Amber invited me, but I still feel a little self-conscious.”
“I see you’ve been discovered,” Amber said, coming up beside Roxanne. She smiled. “Hey, Rox, how was the sleepover?”
Amber sat down, and grabbed an apple from the bowl in the center of the table. “I’m guessing you introduced each other already, right?” she asked. She nodded before they had a chance to respond. “Ray here has been traveling all over the world with his band.”
Roxanne was impressed. “What band would that be?”
“You’ve probably never heard of it,” Ray said uncomfortably. “We usually just open for the more famous bands.”
“What’s the name of it, though?”
Roxanne laughed. “That’s cute. You’re right, though, I’ve never heard of you people. What kind of music is that?”
“That’s probably why I’ve never heard of you people.” Roxanne finished off her cereal, and got up from the table. “Well, Ray, it was nice meeting you, but if I don’t hurry up, I’m gonna be late for work. Bye, Amber.”
Roxanne waved and left the kitchen. She smiled as she stepped outside the mansion and walked toward her car. Jessica was in for a big surprise. A big surprise.
Alix sat in front of the computer, and yawned. Behind her, Rachel stirred in bed.
“What the hell are you doing in here?”
Alix turned around in the chair, and faced her half-asleep sister. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Rachel sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Well, I was sleeping just fine.” She motioned to the door. “Do you mind?”
“Take my room,” Alix said, in a voice she didn’t recognize. It was so weak and pleading that Alix herself winced at the tone. She looked away, embarrassed, and faced the computer screen.
Rachel hesitated before answering. “I’m sorry for what happened on Friday.”
“No biggie,” Alix said, and started tapping on the keyboard, causing a bunch of random letters to appear on the screen. “It was bound to happen.”
Rachel didn’t say anything, and Alix began to get uncomfortable. She rolled her eyes, and turned around again. “Listen, Rachel, I appreciate your concern, but I’m fine, okay? Just drop it.”
Rachel got up from the bed, and groggily started for the door. “You’re a lousy liar, Alix,” she said, and then walked out of the room. A few seconds later, Alix heard the sound of her own bedroom door closing.
Alix sighed to herself, and waited for America Online to retreive her mail. The mailbox lighting up at the top of the screen lifted her spirits a little, and she leaned forward to read her new mail.
Subject: Check this out!
Alix, you won`t believe this! Remember I told you about that guy who tried to rape me? Well, he turned out to be Pete Fairfield`s older brother Jeff. I accused him and stuff, but then this guy calls me and tells me that now Jeff`s accused of murder, and he`ll probably get the chair. He asked me if I was going to drop my charges, but I said, no way, Jose. I hope he gets the chair.
Besides that, I have nothing to say. Except, though, that Kevin, the guy who was bi, I think I told you about him, turns out he`s in love with his old girlfriend Nick. I hope they get back together. They`re cool and stuff. Anyways, I hope your life`s getting back to normal. Anyways, normal for you.
I love you.
Your eternal friend, and only cousin,
Alix stared at the letter for a moment, and then opened a new file.
Subject: My life is an abyss of misery
My life is an abyss of misery
Getting darker with the days
The moonlight blackens all the hope
The sunlight sends my way
In my darkness, tears now fall
Like blood from wounded pain
The light outside my window
Is shadowed by the rain
I scream but no one hears me
The tears have now gone dry
I plead for help, I plead for love
But all I get are lies.
Take a look, next time you’re near
To the sorrow in my tone
To the pain I’m masking daily
To the fact that I’m alone
Does that give you a clear enough indication of my current mood?
I haven’t slept in like 48 hours. I can’t. Everytime I close my eyes, the events of Friday appear to ruin any attempt at sleep. Jessica invited me to a sleepover at her house last night, but I didn’t go. I felt kinda bad since I’d told her I’d be there. I guess I’m embarrassed of facing her. And Roxanne. And whoever else.
I don’t think I’m going to school tomorrow. I don’t think I’m going to school ever again. I’m dropping out. I HATE THIS!! Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? I don’t understand.
I went for a walk at like 3am this morning, and I stayed at the beach until like dawn. This girl, who I’ve talked to a couple of times, came and sat down beside me at one point. She’s an artist. An excellent one at that. Her name’s Nika. And while I was talking to her, I cheered up somewhat. I did. But then I got back home, and I went up to my room, and I lied down. That’s when my thoughts drifted back to Zack and Jessica.
I don’t know what it is I want anymore. And even if I did … I know I couldn’t have it. That’s the thing about wanting things.
This is such a nightmare. I give up on my junior year. This sucks!
Okay, that didn’t help at all.
So, anyways, enough about me. What the hell do you mean that you almost got raped? When did that happen? You NEVER mentioned rape. You mentioned drugs … hospitals … sex (voluntary) … But no rape. Start explaining, missy.
You’re one to talk about my life being freaky. I’m starting to think everyone’s life is a soap opera. If that’s the case, I don’t feel so bad about everything. I could just blame it on the drain.
So, how’s Jerry? Is he back in Seattle? Raising cattle? Sorry, it rhymed, okay? I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Well, I guess this e-mail is long enough, don’t you? I think so. So, I’ll just send this on its merry way to Calif. I love you (not like that, Kes. Jeez, we’re related. It would be like incest or something).
Love, peace, and
Alix sent the e-mail, and sighed to herself as she stared at the computer screen. She sat back in the chair and stared blankly at the wall behind the computer, pondering her options.
Normally, she would have taken the opportunity to write something, but her creative genius was turning out to be homophobic. She might have also gone back to her room to listen to music and bask in the glory of darkness, but Rachel was sleeping there. If things were different, Alix might have decided to take a walk down the beach and end up at Jessica’s, but that was the last place on Earth she wanted to be right then.
Alix ran her hand through her hair, and turned off the computer. She left the bedroom, and walked out of the house, with no particular destination in mind. She’d just walk around aimlessly until she figured out what to do.
Jessica stared at the ocean ahead, and smiled, as she leaned foward against the balcony railing. The cool, crisp, ocean breeze picked up her long hair, and blew it away from her face, allowing her to get a clear view of the beach a few yards away.
Jessica looked up at the sky and sighed contentedly. It was going to be a good day. She could feel it. With that positive note, she turned around and left the bedroom.
“Jess, we need to talk,” Amber said, appearing suddenly at the foot of the stairs. Her long blonde hair was tied back into a pony tail, and her voice was bubbling with its usual girlish excitement.
“Uh-oh,” Jessica said teasingly, stopping at the very last step. “Is this something I want to hear?”
“I sure hope so,” Amber mumbled.
“So it’s good news? Good!” Jessica started toward the kitchen, closely followed by Amber. “I knew today would be a good day. Fire away.”
Amber stopped at the kitchen doorway, and leaned against it. She pushed a few strands of hair behind her ear, and looked nervous for a moment. “It’s not really good news.”
“So it’s bad news?”
“It’s not really news. It’s more of an unexpected annoucement.”
Jessica turned around, and watched her cousin carefully. She narrowed her eyes for a second, as though deep in thought, and then sighed. “Okay,” she said slowly. She raised her eyebrows expectantly.
Amber bit her lip. “We have . . . sort of a visitor.”
“A visitor?” Jessica frowned.
“A male visitor,” Amber added.
Jessica nodded slowly. “I’m confused.”
Amber sighed, and seemed to give up. She smiled brightly all of a sudden. “You know what? Nevermind.” With that, she turned around, and walked away, suddenly yelling over her shoulder, “Mathew called!”
Jessica stood paralized for a couple of seconds, and then recovered. “Mathew,” she said, outloud. Then she snapped her fingers. “Right! Right. Breakfast!”
“Did you tell her I was here?” Ray Rodriguez asked, biting his lip nervously.
Amber gave him her most innocent and apologetic smile. “No.”
Ray sighed. “I shouldn’t be here,” he said, lying back on Amber’s bed. “I don’t even know why you asked me to come.”
Amber sat down beside him, and smiled down at his gorgeous face. If he had any idea how she felt about him, he would most probably grab his bags and go. Amber was thankful she’d at least gotten him to spend the night, even if she knew Ray was there to see Jessica. It had always been Jessica, Amber thought sadly. “Jessica’s gonna freak when she sees you.”
Ray laughed shortly. “I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
“It’s a good thing, Ray,” she assured him, patting his arm quickly, hoping that her gestures were casual. “You’re just nervous because you haven’t seen her in so long.”
“Almost six years,” Ray said, in a soft, regretful tone, full of silly memories from the past, and a strange, almost childish hope for the future.
Amber sighed to herself, trying hard not to blurt out her long-hidden feelings for him. She had secretly told him a thousand times before, but Ray’s ears weren’t acute enough to hear the silent longing in Amber’s voice, nor the rapid beating of her heart. And his eyes were too blind to see the love in hers. Why are guys so incredibly dense? Amber wondered. “Don’t you want to see her?” she asked him.
Ray laughed. “Let me think about that one for another six years,” he told her. He sat up on the bed, and then stood up. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”
“Can I join you?” Amber asked, only half jokingly. Not that Ray could tell the difference.
He smiled, and then shook his head. “I would feel too vulnerable. You’d probably just use the opportunity to take advantage of me.” He winked at her, and then left the room.
Amber groaned, and let herself fall back on the bed.
Alix looked up from her glass of Dr. Pepper. “I didn’t sleep at all.”
Nika smiled sympathetically. “Yeah, well, you look like you haven’t slept in a year.”
“Thanks.” Alix motioned to the seat in front of her. “Want to join me? You can only talk to a glass of soda for so long before it gets repetitive.”
Nika sat down, and looked around the crowded boardwalk. “So, how come you’re all by your lonesome over here?” she asked, turning her attention back to Alix.
“No one came by to join me.” Alix shrugged. “Besides, I enjoy these little coffee shop places. You can see the beach, and the ocean, and you don’t have to leave the shade to accomplish that.”
“Yeah, it’s a victory for all mankind.”
Alix narrowed her eyes. “Are you mocking me?”
“Who, me? Of course not. I would never do such a thing darling.”
Alix shook her head and grinned slightly.
“So, how come you couldn’t sleep?” Nika asked, leaning forward on the table.
“Good question.” Alix paused for a second to look at the not so distant beach. Then she turned her attention to Nika. “It’s just that when I close my eyes, all I can picture is Jessica and right beside her, Zack. It’s awful.” She shuddered. “I just wish I could turn back time. I hate this so much.”
Nika nodded. “It’s really not so bad.”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
“I’m serious. Really, Al, maybe you’re blowing things out of proportion.”
Alix considered, while taking a sip from her soda. “I don’t know,” she said at last. “I really don’t know. I guess, in a way it’s more me than anything else. Like, it’s not so much Zack or Jessica, but myself. Maybe I’m just not comfortable with this whole thing being out in the open. It just makes it that more difficult to deny it.”
Nika frowned. “Why would you want to do that?”
“I don’t know. I guess it’s easier to deny the whole thing to yourself, than to actually admit it. What’s that saying? Ignorance is bliss.”
“I don’t know about that,” Nika said softly.
Alix stared at Nika silently for the longest time. Then she leaned forward, and sighed dramatically. “Do you ever get confused about your feelings?” she asked.
Nika smiled ironically. “Sometimes.”
Alix sat back, and crossed her arms against her chest. She picked up her Dr. Pepper and took a long sip. “See, I’m always confused. There hasn’t been one time in my life when I was sure about how I felt.”
“Not even with Jessica?”
“I don’t know what I feel anymore,” Alix said sadly, shaking her head. “I don’t know. I just don’t know!” She let out a long breath, and looked around the crowded beach. So many happy people. So many happy couples. Why couldn’t she find someone she could truly, honestly love? “Love sucks. The whole concept of it.” She turned back to Nika. “Have you ever been in love?”
“Not in love. I’ve liked people a lot, but I don’t think it ever went as far as love.”
Alix nodded. “I think love is overrated. Maybe I should just join a convent and become a nun.”
Nika raised an eyebrow.
“Of course,” Alix went on, “I’m not Catholic, so that wouldn’t quite work. Unless I convert . . .” She shrugged. “Whatever.”
“A bisexual nun.” Nika considered, grinning slightly. “That would really be something.”
“Hey, maybe nuns are bis and lesbians who gave up on love.”
Nika laughed. “Yeah, maybe.”
“Well, anyway, that’s not even the point.” Alix looked around. “I give up!” she said after a few minutes. “This is frustrating.”
“Are you looking for someone in particular, or are you just hoping to spot the person of your dreams?”
“I’m looking for Zack,” she admitted with a wry smile. “This is so ridiculous.”
“What about Jessica?”
“I really don’t want to see Jessica right now.” Alix shook her head. “I mean, she says she’s okay with it and everything, and I’m thankful, but I can’t deal with that right now. I just want to stay away for now. Keep my distance.”
Alix looked over at Nika. “What was that for?”
“Nothing.” Nika shrugged. “I was just agreeing with you.”
“Liar.” Alix smiled slightly, and looked back at the beach. “It’s a pretty day today.”
Alix looked at Nika for a moment. “I should get going,” she spit out suddenly. Then she stood up, and payed the bill in front of her. “I’ll see you around, okay?”
“I hope so.”
Alix smiled, waved, and walked away from the table. She had to get a grip on herself.
Jessica looked around the kitchen for a moment. “French toast,” she said outloud, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. “Okay, I’m guessing . . . bread?” She considered, and then left the kitchen. This was ridiculous. She would never get breakfast going at this rate. Mathew would be there any minute, and she still didn’t know what to make. Eggs seemed so . . . boring.
Jessica walked across the foyer in the direction of Amber’s room. Amber would know what to do. How the girl knew so much about cooking and such, remained a mystery, but it was interesting nevertheless.
Jessica stepped up to Amber’s door, and knocked softly. When there was no response, she turned the knob, and pushed the door open. “Amber I–Oh, my God.” Jessica’s mouth fell open at the sight of the really fine-looking, yet very naked guy in the center of the room.
“Oh, wow,” said the guy, wrapping around his waist the towel he’d been holding. “How’s this for awkward?”
Jessica shut her eyes, and opened them again.
The guy smiled. “Wow, Jess, you look . . . I mean, you were always beautiful but . . .”
Jessica frowned. “Do I know you?” she asked, fully aware that her heart was beating at irregular speeds.
The guy stepped closer, and ran a hand through his wet brown hair. His light brown eyes settled on hers, and for a second, Jessica had the uneasy feeling that the world around her was spinning. “Do you really not recognize me, Jess?” he asked gently.
A slow grin crept across Jessica’s face. “I don’t believe it,” she whispered, not daring to look away. “Ray?” she asked cautiously.
“In the flesh.”
Jessica laughed, and threw her arms around his neck. “Ray!” she cried.
Ray hugged her back, and suddenly, the towel fell from his waist. He pulled away suddenly, and grabbed the towel. “Sorry about that.”
Jessica laughed. “Sure you are.”
Ray looked embarrassed. “I’m gonna go put on some . . . uh, clothes.”
“Very funny.” He smiled at her, walked over to a small suitcase, grabbed some clothes, and then stepped inside the adjoining bathroom.
Jessica watched the bathroom door close, and let herself fall back on Amber’s bed. This couldn’t be happening. Ray; the guy she hadn’t seen in over six years was here. Her old best friend. The guy she used to idolize, even if he was from the wrong side of the tracks. He was the only person she had ever trusted. He was one of the few people she had actually loved.
Jessica was brimming with happiness. She couldn’t believe Ray was here. They had so much to catch up on.
A few minutes later, Ray came out of the bathroom wearing a pair of worn blue jeans, and a Dallas Cowboys football jersey. Jessica found herself staring at him. Undoubtly, he’d become even more gorgeous since Jessica had last seen him. Also, he had a gentler sparkle to his eyes. He didn’t seem as bitter, or rude. In fact, he looked gentle and kind. It was like looking at a totally different person. But then, Ray was probably thinking the same thing.
He spun around. “How do I look?”
Jessica sighed and shook her head, smiling. “I can’t believe you’re really here.”
“Neither can I,” Ray admitted, leaning against the bathroom doorway. He stared at Jessica silently.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Jessica shifted, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
Ray shook his head as though to clear it. “Sorry. It’s just that you’re . . . Wow.” He ran his hand through his hair nervously. “I’m sorry. I probably sound like a dork. It’s just that it’s been . . . so long.” He said the last part in a mere whisper.
“So long,” Jessica repeated. She nodded. “Six years.” She stared up at him, and smiled. “I can’t believe you’re really here.”
Ray grinned. “I think you mentioned that already.”
Jessica stood up and laughed. “Well, that’s because it’s true!” She stretched out her hand. “Come on. We need to talk.”
Ray took her hand, and followed her out to the back of the house, where they soon found themselves walking side by side down the beach.
“I’m sorry,” Jessica said, after a few minutes of silence. She smiled apologetically.
Ray narrowed his eyes in confusion. “What are you sorry for, Jess?” They sat down on the sand.
“It was my fault we lost touch. I wouldn’t call you back. I wouldn’t write you back.” Jessica shook her head, shamefully, and covered her face. “I was such a horrible person, Ray.”
“Jess, it wasn’t your fault, okay? It was for the better that we stopped talking. You didn’t need a loser like me bringing you down.”
Jessica looked at him. “Don’t you ever say anything like that again, Raymond Jose Rodriguez, because I’ll kick your little behind in a second.”
“It’s the truth, Jessica Lexy Heart. It’s the honest to God truth, and you know it.” Ray shrugged. “I understood, though, Jess. What I could never understand was why you hung out with me in the first place.”
Jessica sighed to herself. Because I loved you.
Ray frowned slightly. “Are you blushing, Jess?”
“What is this obsession with my blushing?” she burst out. “Everyone seems to be tallying up the number of times I blush.” She smiled, and shook her head.
“Well, I don’t know, but you’re blushing pretty badly now,” Ray teased. “That’s a new thing. Although, I’m starting to realize there are a lot of new things.”
Jessica stared at Ray for a moment. “You’re one to talk. What happened to your Spanish accent?”
“What do you mean? It’s still there.”
“Not really, babe. It’s pretty much gone.”
“Well, that’s just great!” Ray covered his face with his hands. “What am I to do now? Girls won’t find me cute anymore.”
Jessica laughed. “I don’t think that’s possible, Ray.”
Ray uncovered his face, and stared at Jessica. “Jess, are you coming on to me?”
Jessica nodded. “I’m afraid so, Ray.”
“So how long are you in town for?” Jessica asked.
Ray scrunched up his face. “A few days. I’m not quite sure yet. I stopped caring. I go wherever and whenever the wind takes me.”
“It is! You don’t know how great it is to be free, Jess. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Jessica smiled. “That’s what you always wanted.”
Ray sighed, and looked away. “That’s not everything I always wanted.”
“What do you mean?”
Ray smiled and looked back at Jessica. “Nothing. Forget it.” He stood up, pulling Jessica to her feet. “Come on, let me take you out to breakfast. My treat.”
“Wow, you look bummed,” Jade said, shaking her head. She sat down next to Alix on the fallen down palm tree, and pulled a cigarette from her pocket.
Alix didn’t respond.
Jade lit the cigarette and took a drag. Then she looked over at her best friend. “Want to talk about it?”
“I was thinking of shaving my head,” Alix said suddenly, looking quickly at Jade. “Not bald, though. Just shaved enough to have that cool fuzz.”
Jade raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. Alix was going a little overboard with this.
“How about getting a tattoo? That would be kiwi.”
“Um, why exactly are you thinking of doing this? I mean, don’t get me wrong, under any other circumstances I’d say go for it, but I don’t think this would be one of those times.” Jade threw the cigarette away, and turned so that she was facing Alix’s side. “Alix?”
“Don’t listen to me. I don’t know what I’m saying.” Alix shrugged. “I’m just depressed.”
“How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know. An hour. Maybe two. Maybe three. Maybe fifteen minutes. I wouldn’t know one from the other.”
“I guess this is a stupid question, but what exactly are you so depressed about.” Jade rolled her eyes, as Alix glared at her. “I meant exactly. What’s bothering you right now?”
Alix shook her head. “I don’t know, Jade. I don’t know. I mean, I’m sad about Jessica. I’m sad about Zack. I’m sad about what happened on Friday. But . . .I don’t know. I feel like that’s not even what’s bothering me.”
“You need to get over this.”
Alix laughed sadly. “You know, it’s funny, ’cause I told Jessica that same exact thing last week.”
“You know, I envy you.”
Alix smiled wryly. “Do you?”
Jade nodded. “I do, actually. I mean, you get to choose from anyone in the world. You have the whole world at your finger tips.”
“Come on, Alix. You’re cool. Or, what’s that word you use? The fruit? Kiwi! You’re kiwi.”
Alix laughed in spite of herself. “You’re such a weirdo.”
“You’re one to talk, you bisexual freak.”
Alix sighed. “So, anyway, how are you and Drake doing?”
“We slept together last night.”
“Really. How was it?”
Alix nodded. “Too bad. Are you thinking of doing it again?”
Jade shrugged. “If it happens it happens.” She smiled. “Do you even know what I’m talking about?”
“Sure. He fell asleep on your bed.”
Jade frowned. “Wait a second. You weren’t supposed to think that! You were supposed to think . . . the other thing!”
“The other thing.” Alix nodded sarcastically. “Jade, let me tell you something. If you’d had sex with Drake, I’m sure your wording would’ve been a lot more colorful and graphic. Almost enough to form a disturbing image. You would not have said, ‘We slept together last night.’ ”
Jade scowled. “I don’t like it when people know me too well.”
“Hm. I need a boyfriend.”
“Can’t help you there,” Alix said. She lifted an eyebrow and grinned. “Now, if you needed a girlfriend, maybe we could talk.”
Jade considered. “I’ll get back to you on that one.”
Alix laughed. Then she bit her lip. “So, anyway, have you . . . ah . . . seen Zack?”
“Oh.” Alix looked down at her hands. Then she looked up, and sighed. “I’m gonna go home. I think I’ve been sitting here too long. My butt’s asleep.”
“Thanks for the mental picture, Al.”
“You’re the sicko, Jade. Picturing my butt. I feel exposed and vulnerable. Get away from me.”
“Hey, Amber,” Mathew said, smiling as he stepped inside the mansion. He looked around the foyer, and then back at Amber. “How have you been?”
Amber shut the door, and looked around nervously. “Oh. Me? I’ve been good. You?”
“Fine.” They stood there in silence for a couple of seconds. “Um, so where’s Jessica?”
Amber seemed to ponder the question carefully. “Jessica. She’s . . . she’s out.”
Mathew frowned. “Out? But I thought we were going to have breakfast together?”
“Yeah, um, breakfast. Right.” Amber scratched the back of her head. “See, Jessica had some unexpected company.”
“Yeah. They went for a walk.”
Mathew frowned. “Oh, um . . . okay.”
“I don’t know when they’ll be back,” Amber added. “Do you want to come in and wait for her here?”
Mathew looked around for a moment. “No, that’s alright. Just have Jessica call me a little later, okay?”
Amber smiled brightly. “Sure. I’ll tell her you were here.”
“See you later, then.” Mathew gave her a quick smile and then walked out of the mansion, scratching the back of his head in confusion. He jumped in his car, and sat there for a couple of seconds before starting the car, and driving away.
He didn’t know whether he was upset, or worried. Probably a little bit of both.
Mathew checked the rearview mirror as he pulled out into the street, then he sighed to himself, and smiled. He was being stupid. He had absolutely no reason to worry.
Ray stared at Jessica’s beautiful face, and frowned slightly. “Jess, is something wrong?”
Jessica looked up from her food suddenly. “Oh. No. No. It’s just that I just remembered something.” She shrugged. “But it’s not important. Well, it is important, but it’s not a problem. I don’t think.” She bit her lip, and rolled her eyes. “Okay, now I sound like a bimbo.”
Jessica smiled. “So, do you have a girlfriend, Mr. Rodriguez?”
Ray shook his head. “Nope. I had one, but she . . . left me for the drummer.”
Jessica winced. “Oh, wow. Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” He shrugged. “What about you?”
“Do I have a girlfriend?”
Ray arched an eyebrow, and sat back. “Well, no, unless there’s something you haven’t told me.”
Jessica laughed. “I have a boyfriend. His name’s Mathew.”
Ray nodded, though his heart sank slightly. It had been too much to hope for, but he couldn’t help feel the disappointment. How would he ever tell Jessica that he was in love with her? That he had always been in love with her? And that he would never stop loving her? Ray took a sip from his orange juice. “Does he have anything to do with that recollection just now?”
“Yeah,” Jessica admitted, “I was supposed to make him breakfast this morning.”
“Wait, are you saying that you cook?”
Jessica laughed. “Well, I wouldn’t say that.”
“Oh? What would you say, then?”
“I’d say that I basically look confused for a few minutes until I realize that I’m truly lost. And then I go find Amber to help me.”
Ray smiled. “Sounds like a plan.”
“I guess so.” Jessica grinned, and took a bite of her scrambbled eggs.
Ray watched Jessica silently. He had to let her know how he felt about her.
But not yet.
The guy at the other side of the counter placed a Cd in front of Roxanne, and then grinned stupidly at her.
Roxanne forced a smile in his direction, and picked up the Cd from the counter. Classical music. What a loser. She rang up the purchase. “Eighteen-fifty-four.”
The guy handed her a twenty, and Roxanne made change for him. Then she placed the Cd in a bag, along with the receipt, and wished him a good day.
“Wait, um, what’s your name?” he asked her.
Roxanne had to hold her hands down to keep from smacking him. “It’s on my pin.”
The guy blushed a deep red. “Oh, right. Sorry. I didn’t see it there.”
Can’t see why you didn’t. You haven’t been looking anywhere but there. She smiled, and prayed for another costumer to walk up.
“Do you go to Baldwin High?”
There’s a nice pick-up line. So original. “Yes. I do.”
“Well, actually, I knew that. I’ve seen you around.”
“You and Jessica Heart are kinda hard to miss,” he added, with a shy smile.
Click. Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Listen, I already have a boyfriend, so you can save your breath trying to get my number. Have a nice day.”
The guy shrugged and left.
Roxanne sighed, burying her face in her hands. I’m in hell.
“Excuse me, where’s the alternative section?”
Roxanne recognized the voice, but didn’t look up. “Under the sign that says alternative.”
Laughter. “Having a rough day?”
“You could say that.” Roxanne looked through her fingers at Alex. “Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
“Probably. When can you take a break?”
Roxanne looked over Alex’s shoulder at the clock across the music store. “Right … now.” She walked to the back of the store, and told her manager she was leaving. Then she punched out, and met Alex outside.
“Better?” Alex asked, grinning.
“Mm. It’s okay.” Roxanne grabbed a hold of his hand, and they started walking down the crowded mall.
“So, how was the sleepover?”
Roxanne shrugged, and looked around as they walked. She stole a glance at Alex, who smiled assuringly. Roxanne sighed to herself, exhaling slowly. She had to tell him about the baby. The baby, she thought miserably. God help me. “Alex …” She looked up at him, and then frowned. “Did you get a haircut?”
Alex grinned broadly. “I was waiting for you to notice. Do you like it?”
Roxanne arched an eyebrow. “Well … it’s just shorter.” She reached over and ran her hand over it. “Fuzzier.” She half smiled. “It’s pretty cute.”
“Thanks.” He smiled. “Were you going to tell me something?”
It was too late. She’d lost her nerve. “No. No. Just that I’m starving.”
“Wow, he’s a babe,” Jade commented, leaning back against the railing.
Drake followed her gaze down the crowded boardwalk, and then let out a noncommittal grunt. Then went back to licking his ice cream cone.
“I’m worried about Alix.”
Another noncommittal grunt.
“Do you think she’ll be okay? I mean, is this one of those things that will blow over soon?”
“What, her being bi?”
“Her depression, you dinkus!”
Drake frowned, and pointed the ice cream cone menacingly at Jade. “Don’t call me a dinkus.”
“Whatever. I’m trying to express my concern for a beloved friend … Wow, that guy’s hot! Think he’ll give me the time of day?”
Drake turned around, looked at the guy, and turned back to Jade. “Not a chance. So, anyway, you were saying about concern …?”
“Oh, I’m concerned about Alix.”
Jade was silent for a couple of minutes, enjoying the feeling of the wind blowing through her hair. “Should I cut my hair?”
“Shave it off.”
Jade nodded. “Definitely. But not yet.”
“Why do you want to cut it? I think it looks good just the way it is.”
“It’s too long. It’s starting to annoy me.” Jade paused. “Should I go talk to her?”
“Oh. Didn’t you talk to her already?”
Jade sighed. “Yeah, I guess I did.” She looked at Drake for a moment, and debated whether she should tell him what she’d done to Lynn. But she decided against it. It didn’t matter anyway. “So, I guess our band went down the drain.”
Drake shrugged. “We still have time. It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings.”
“Mhm. Whatever you say.”
Drake finished off the last of his cone, and looked around. “So, what now?”
Jade shrugged. “Whatever. I don’t feel like doing anything. Have you talked to Zack?”
“Why would I talk to Zack?”
“I don’t know! I was just asking.”
Drake smiled gently at Jade. “Jay, I think you should relax. Let nature take its course.”
Jade shook her head. “Nature is our enemy. We’re just usually too ignorant to realize that until it’s too late.”
“Birth of a chicken … na na na na na na na na. Birth of a chicken … na na na na na na na na …”
“What the hell are you singing?”
Alix looked up from her keyboard, and gazed wearily at her twin. “If you must know, I’m writing a song.”
“Oh yeah? What’s it called?”
Alix stepped away from the keyboard, and sat down on her bed. ” ‘Birth of a Chicken’,” she answered, hugging a pillow to her chest. “It’s going to be a classic.”
Rachel smirked. “Sure it will.” She looked around the room for a moment. “Anyway, keep it down, Adam Sandler, some people are trying to study.”
Alix threw the pillow aside, and stood up. “I’m going for a walk.”
Rachel didn’t move from the doorway. Instead, she sighed. “Alix, are you okay?”
“Why do you ask? Of course I’m okay. My life is wonderful. It’s just perfect. I couldn’t ask for more. Ha ha ha. See? I’m laughing.” She moved closer, and made an attempt to walk out of the room. “Now, if you don’t mind . . .”
“Why didn’t you go to Jessica’s party?”
Alix sighed, and stepped away from her sister. “My foot fell asleep. I couldn’t walk.”
Rachel shook her head, and turned to leave. “Forget it. You’re not human. I can’t talk to you.”
“Glad you finally realize it, Earthling. Now I must go mingle with others of my kind.” Alix ran pass her sister.
“You’re not as tough as you think, Alix!” Rachel called after her. “You’ll eventually realize you can’t get through this alone!”
“I don’t have a choice in the matter!” Alix called back. And then the front door slammed behind her.
“Mathew was here,” Amber said, as she watched Jessica and Ray walk up the pool deck. She adjusted her sunglasses, and leaned back against the lounge chair. “I don’t think he was very happy.”
Jessica bit her lip, and forced a smile at Ray. “I’m gonna go call him and explain. I’ll be right back.” She walked into the house, leaving Ray and Amber alone.
As usual, Amber’s heartbeat sped up, as Ray walked over to her. He sat down on the lounge chair beside hers, and smiled his usual, radient smile. “So, did you and Jessica have a nice time?”
Ray nodded. “I always have a nice time with Jessica. I’m glad that didn’t change.” He glanced quickly at the door Jessica had left through. “She’s really beautiful, isn’t she?”
A pang of envy shot through Amber. She forced a smile. “Yes. Yes, she is.” She bit her lip, and sighed. “When are you going to tell her?”
Ray’s attention snapped back to Amber. “Tell her what?”
Amber smiled slightly and shook her head. “That you love her.” She laughed. “Don’t deny it, Ray. I’ve known it all along.”
Ray opened his mouth to protest, but then gave up. He shook his head and sighed. “I don’t know how to tell her. She has a boyfriend, no?” He paused for a moment, staring down at his hands. “Is he …her boyfriend, I mean … is he good for her?”
Amber knew this was her golden opportunity to say something. She could discourage Ray. Tell him that Jessica was head over heels in love with Mathew and vice versa, and nothing in the world could change that. She could do it. It was her big chance …. and yet … “I don’t think it’s that serious, yet.”
Ray’s eyes lit up.
Amber silently scolded herself. But it was no use. She loved Ray too much to lie to him.
“It’s all settled,” Jessica said, walking outside of the house. “The four of us are going out to dinner tonight. My treat.”
“Cool,” Amber said, nodding.
“Was Mathew upset?” Ray asked, standing up.
Jessica laughed. “No. I don’t think Mathew gets upset. He’s the sweetest guy. I’m sure the two of you will become really good friends.”
Yeah, right, Amber thought, shaking her head. And then mokeys will fly out of my butt.
Nika sat back on her elbows and watched the ocean roll away from the shore. She was beginning to panic. Her feelings were getting way out of hand, and she wasn’t able to control them. It was as though all the voices in her head that had once told her it was wrong, had suddenly silenced, and the only thing audible was her heart.
Australia seemed farther and farther away each passing second. She missed it there so much that it was starting to hurt. And the sad thing was, that she could never go back. Not after what had happened.
In the light of day the past didn’t seem as horrible, but at night, as she lay down to sleep, all the memories crept back to her. Each night more and more vivid, keeping her from living life as she had once dreamed. It had now become a nightmare that she could never escape, because the past would always be there, haunting her, reminding her of the sins that life had to offer.
A tear fell down her cheek, but she didn’t bother wiping it off. She knew wiping one, would only cause another to fall in its place, and the last thing she wanted was to cry. Especially since all she’d been doing the past few months, was crying. Crying led to nothing. It only left a feeling of emptiness were misery resided, leaving the door open to pain.
She was losing her mind. She was losing it quickly and it could not be stopped. Her mind was her own worst enemy, and she could not do battle against her own feelings of frustration. In the end, the only thing left to do was . . .
“Everywhere I go, there you are.”
Nika looked up, and forced a smile, quickly and subtly wiping away the threatening tear that was still trickling down her cheek. “Hi, Alix.”
Alix plopped down on the sand. “You look all cheery. Where are all your drawings?”
“Home, I guess.”
“Are you okay?”
Nika nodded. “I’m fine. I think I might be allergic to the Florida sand, though.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that must be it.” Alix smiled.
…and that’s all she wrote (roughly around 07/1996)