Chapter 33: I've Been Waiting For You
"Are you nervous?"
I reach down to the passenger floorboard to retrieve my purse and put it in my lap. Closing my eyes, I lean back into the seat and take a deep breath. "No."
I open one eye and use it to glare at Logan before closing it again. "I'm not."
She leans down and grabs her own purse and opens the door. "Fine. Then let's go."
"Wait!" I quickly reach out and grab her arm, pulling her back down to the seat a little more aggressively than I had intended.
She eyes me over once before shutting the door. "Just forget about her tonight, OK?"
A sarcastic chuckle escapes my chest. "She is nominated for homecoming queen." I pull the keys out of the ignition, unzip my purse, and place them inside. "That would be a little difficult."
I feel Logan's hand on top of mine, and have to admit that I welcome the comfort. "Well..." She squeezes gently; assuredly. "She's lame."
OK, so that was completely unexpected. I drop my head forward, in attempt to bury my face into my chest to conceal the laughter that has managed to betray my feelings.
What feels like an eternity later, I realize that I'm no longer laughing. My eyes are trained on the bottom of the steering wheel, although I don't see it. "She isn't lame." I whisper seriously. Trying to convince myself as well as Logan.
"I know." Logan matches my tone. She reaches over and lightly pulls my chin so that I have to look at her. Her beautiful eyes bore into mine sincerely. "This night is no different than any other night, Ash." I watch as her mouth turns up into a sympathetic smile. "She's still Spencer." Her hand drops to my shoulder. "She's still scared." She leans across my lap and uses her other hand to pull the handle of my door until it comes ajar. She looks up to me with a coy grin. "And you're here with me." Her hands playfully attempt to push me out of the car. "So get your ass in there and show me a good time!"
"Okay, OK!" I raise my hands in resignation. "I'm going." I step out of the car, shut the door, and feel around my purse until I find the button I'm looking for.
I walk around to the front of the car where Logan is waiting. It gives me the opportunity to really admire her. My best friend is looking extra gorgeous tonight and there is no reason why I shouldn't make the most of this. For her. I mean... that was the whole point of me agreeing to go, after all. And there is no reason for me to be sulking when I have such a smoking hot date. I smirk and extend my elbow outward to her. She slips her arm through the offered space, linking us together as we start a synchronized walk to the gym.
I have to admit that I'm really enjoying myself. Logan and I have been dancing non stop. This is exactly what we needed. And although I would never tell her, I am glad that she asked me to this stupid dance.
"I have to pee!" She leans in and yells over the music.
I nod and shoo her away "OK, go!" I throw my thumb over my shoulder. "I'll grab some drinks!"
She smiles and continues to dance her way off the dance floor, waving her hands above her head to the beat of the music. I shake my head, smiling, and make my way to the refreshments.
I cautiously approach the table as I see a certain Latina scooping punch into a cup. "Wilbur." I say from just behind her.
She jumps a little before her head turns back at me. She mumbles "Ellen." as an acknowledgement.
I roll my eyes and squeeze in beside her to grab a couple of paper cups. "Thanks for not suing me."
She shrugs. "Thanks for not telling anybody that we-"
"It's okay!" I interrupt by throwing my palm in her face. I don't need her to verbalize what happened between us. It was one night, and we were both trashed beyond recognition. I had honestly pushed it back into the furthest corner of my mind hoping to never have to uncover it again. But it came in handy with the possibility of her father suing me for Spencer's unlicensed run in with her car. Madison and I had a conversation. It was brief. And now we have an understanding.
I've always known that her homophobic antics were a result of her deep seeded feelings for me. I'm not being conceited, either. She once told me that she was jealous of my relationship with Logan. Then when she found us together that one fateful night... well, the rest is history.
"Don't tell anybody that you what?" My shoulders tense as I freeze on the spot. My face scrunched up with the realization of who just walked up behind me. Madison looks over my shoulder before she looks at me knowingly. With a nod and a sympathetic smile, she walks away. What is with everyone and their sympathetic smiles tonight? Oh... it's because I need them.
Avoiding the question... and her, I turn to the table, grabbing the big ass spoon thing, shoveling punch into the cups quickly.
"You're ignoring me?" She says with a hint of amusement.
It's hard to ignore you when you're breathing down my neck. When your angelic voice is squeezing my heart to the point of bursting. As I can smell the scent of the perfume that keeps me awake at night wishing things were different. But I have to ignore you. I have to. Because if I turn around and see, what I'm sure will be, the most beautiful girl known to humanity, I will lose all my resolve. This night won't be about Logan. It will be about me. And my inability to secure a place in your heart. I'll try and convince you for the millionth time, and you will reject it. Us. For the millionth time.
I ever-so-slightly nod as I turn in the opposite direction, and head back to the dance floor to find my date.
"C'mon. Lets throws these away and get some air!" Logan grabs my hand, waving her paper cup in my face, and leading me to the entrance."
Just as we are about to exit, I feel a tug on my arm. "Ashley?"
I pull Logan to a stop and turn around. "Oh." I look down nervously. "Hey, Mr. C."
"Hey Ash? I'm just gonna meet you out there?" My best friend asks in that way where she wants to make sure that I'm alright. I nod my head, never turning to her. I don't have to look to know she has accepted my silent response.
"Have you seen Spencer?" I look up and am assaulted with his kind eyes and arched eyebrow.
"Um... yeah." I say distractedly, palm upturned and finger pointing in the direction of the refreshments table. "When I was getting drinks..." I drop my hand and clutch my purse and let my sentence drift off into nothingness ...because I really don't have anything else to say about that.
"Oh good." He places is hand on my head and gently nudges it. "She was looking for you."
"Hair!" I blurt before I grasped the realization of what he just said. "She was?" Wow. That small and fragile voice is not something that I recognize. It must be the voice reserved for father's of daughters you've slept with. Or are in love with. How would I know? It's new!
His eyes glisten happily as he flashes a smile. "Yeah. She was."
I'm startled by the feel of my purse vibrating. I look at Mr. C apologetically before fishing out my phone. I flip it open and read the text message that just arrived.
Maddy is here. Help!
With wide eyes, I shove my cell back into the purse. "Sorry. I have to go." I throw my head back toward the entrance. "Best friend duties." I start to turn around when I'm interrupted by his voice.
"You're a good person, Ashley" I glance back at him briefly. "She's lucky to have you."
I give him a thankful smile. His eyes tell me that he wasn't talking about Logan.
"Just leave." I hear Logan say in defeat as I approach.
"You wanted me to come. So I'm here!" Maddy says with a little bit of pleading frustration.
"You trying to steal my date?" I say to announce my presence. I don't want to be caught in another eavesdropping situation.
They both fall silent, although there is a conversation going on between with their eyes. I just look back and forth between them as if I can follow the wordless discussion they are having. But I really have no clue. So I grab Maddy's arm and drag her away from Logan. "Come on."
She rips her arm away, which surprises the hell out of me. "I'm not leaving."
I reach for her arm again. "Yes." Tug. "You are." And I glare at her with a look that says 'don't fucking mess with me!'
Again, she pulls away disobediently. "No." She looks back to Logan and speaks the next sentence authoritatively. "I'm not finished."
"Ash, just let her say whatever she wants to say." I look at my best friend in shock.
"No!" I whine. "I'm not going to let her ruin our night." Maddy had walked over to invade Logan's space again, so I decide that standing in between them, would be the best solution. "Why are you even here, Maddy? Go be straight somewhere else."
"Nice, Ash." God she is annoying me.
"I'm fucking serious!" My voice raises in frustration. "Do you know how hard it is to be in love with someone that can't get their shit together?!" The knowing in her eyes doesn't register as I poke at her shoulder emphasising each of my next words. "You. Don't. Care about. How. She. Feels!" She doesn't say anything, so I take it as my queue to continue. "You're just so consumed with your own god damned feelings!" I mock the next part of my tantrum. "Oh... poor me. I like having sex with girls, but I don't really know if I like them." Taking a breathe I continue. "I love you. I want to kiss you. You can't be with anyone else, but I can't be with you!" When did I start crying? "You're not ready!" I say in disgust AND using air quotes. I'm awesome.
Logan clears her throat, stopping my diatribe, which I appreciate more than she knows. But it doesn't prevent me from the word vomit that comes next as I rub the tears from my eyes. "She's better off without you."
Maddy smiles at me sadly before looking up over my shoulder as if motioning toward something. I follow her gaze slowly until my eyes meet a set of familiar blue ones watching the scene unfold before her. She's shaking slightly and her mascara streaked cheeks tell me that she just heard every word I said. I guiltily drop my head. The intensity of Spencer's desperate stare being too much to handle. I hear the clatter of heels before the gym door slams open and ever-so-painfully-slowly... clicks shut.
"Ash, go after her." I barely make out Logan's words as a barrage of memories with Spencer race through my head. Every single scene on fast forward. Every single word echoing in my brain. All of them telling me she loves me. Why did it take that broken look just now to make me realize?
I start walking to the gym. Everything in my body is screaming at me to go get in my car and drive away. Far from here. But my legs seem to have a mind of their own as they carry me closer to the entrance.
"I do care!" Maddy shouts at me. "And so does she."
I know she's right. But I don't stop to respond... my body is leading me through the gym door against my better judgement. Towards fixing something that I wasn't convinced that I had possessed all along until now.
Stupid crowds. Stupid fucking people and their stupid fucking lame dance moves.
I turn to see Aiden approaching. "Where's Spencer?"
"I just saw her go into the bathro--"
I'm off before he has time to finish his sentence.
I sigh with aggravation. Of COURSE there is a line. The memory of Cancun is flooding my mind and not helping one bit. But this time, my body is on auto-drive and I am the passenger. So it pushes past people without fear of consequence. I pause at each stall listening for what I'm sure will be a muffled cry. And then I hear it. The sound of someone blowing their nose followed by a sniffle.
I look around innocently before the stall next door opens. I quickly cut off a pudgy girl and storm in, latching it shut. I ignore her banging and protests as I quickly unstrap and step out of my heels.
Stepping up onto the toilet I peek over the wall confirming that it is, in fact, Spencer.
"You're in a bathroom stall." I whisper timidly.
"You're smart." She doesn't look up.
"You're not in one with me." I playfully smirk. Trying to gain back confidence and lighten the mood.
She stands up, crumples up some toilet paper, throws it into the toilet, and pushes the handle to flush. "You're not so smart."
And with that, she unlocks the door and walks out.
"Spencer!" I call out for her as I run out of the bathroom barefoot. Like I said... auto-drive. If I had any control, I definitely wouldn't have left my couple-hundred-dollar pair of heels in there.
I wiggle through bodies to catch up to her. Thankfully, she gets stuck by a group of kids dancing together, unaware of the cheerleaders mission to escape. And what happens next, I thought only happens in movies. The fast beat of music stops, only to be replaced by the opening notes of Foreigner's 'I want to know what love is.' I would laugh at this, but I'm too concerned with the future of myself and a certain blonde who looks as if she has all but given up at this point.
A few moments pass and am wondering why my body has suddenly decided to put itself in neutral. I look down at my feet and internally implore them to do anything but just stand here. But they fail me. Figures.
"Dance." I don't have time to register her demand before she has one arm around my waist and the other clasping my hand and raising them in the air beside us. Now if I could only get my feet to pay attention to my brain. "That hurt." But I guess we don't need to really dance. Talking is fine too.
I look into her eyes and they tell me that she is being truthful. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"She's better off without her?" She interrupts.
"No." I whisper.
She lowers my hand to my side before releasing it and placing hers on my hip. "But you said-"
"I didn't mean it." I stop her.
"Don't you think that she just needed to time to figure things out? That her intentions weren't to hurt Logan at all?"
Her masked dialogue doesn't fool me. "I don't know." She looks down in defeat and I bring my hands up to clasp around her neck. I duck my head, forcing her to look in my eyes. "But I hope not. I don't think Logan's heart could take much more of it."
She smiles sadly before hugging me impossibly close to her. I feel her breath against my ear. "She loves her, you know?"
I ponder that for a second. Does Maddy really love Logan? Then I remember that Spencer isn't talking about them. "Yeah, I know."
Alright everyone! Stop all that frisky business and gather around for the announcement of your 2008 King High Homecoming Queen and King!
I didn't even realize that the music had stopped. Then again, we weren't ever dancing to begin with. I'm sure we looked out of place hugging motionless in the middle of the dance floor. Just as I'm sure we look even more out of place now, frozen in our same positions, while people have to maneuver around us to gather toward the stage.
We've resorted to our trusty eye language now. Her eyes telling me that she wants to be ready and strong for us. Mine are asking her to be. And they are repeating the same thing over and over again as we search each other's eyes for something else. But there isn't anything else. That's it. It's the catalyst for everything that has ever gone wrong between us. The one thing that has kept us from being happy together. It's what will make us or break us. My heart is beating faster than I ever remember. And let me tell you... it has beat pretty fast on various amounts of drugs I've indulged in. I just feel like it's now or never. That this moment will define us.
And your 2008 King High Homecoming King is...
I use the pad of my thumb to wipe away her running makeup from earlier, never breaking our eye conversation.
She reaches up to brush some stray strands of hair out of my eyes. My breath hitches as she cups my face with her hands and looks at me adoringly. And true to my body's betrayal the entire night, my eyes do the same and wander down to her lips. I nervously lick my own as I close my eyes and feel her breath getting closer. Is she going to do this? Here? Is she finally going to find the strength to be who she is? For us? In front of everyone?
"Aiden won, honey! Aren't you excited?! They're about to announce-"
"Mom!" Spencer disentangles herself from me as if I were the plague. She's even is patting herself off? Classic. I wouldn't want my big ol' lesbian germs to contaminate her.
"Spencer?" Mrs. Carlin looks at me quizzically. "What's going on?"
I don't answer. In fact, I just look to the stage and watch Aiden ramble on about how being prom King is the biggest accomplishment of his life.
"We were just... I was just... " I can't help but look at Spencer. Looking at me. Trying to come up with some excuse. I'm asking her the same question as before with my eyes. Asking her if she's going to be strong for us. But deep down... I know the answer.
Thank you, Aiden. Alright, now what you've all been waiting for. Your 2008 King High Homecoming Queen!
"Were you about to kiss her?!" Her mother spats out. She is a genius. I watch Spencer expectantly for her answer.
The crowd cheers and I feel like the spotlight is on us. I look up and squint. Oh, it is. My eyes land back on Spencer. Hers are pleading with me for something. But I don't have anything left to give. I can't help her with this. She's ripping every single tingle out of my body with every single second that passes.
The second announcement of her name breaks her from her trance as she looks back over her shoulder at the stage before looking at me once more.
"You're not ready to be with me." I mouth. "Congratulations."
I tell her with my eyes to go accept that damn crown.
And as I head toward the exit, hearing the crowd get louder, I know that she is walking to the stage, and walking away from us.
I step outside and am assaulted with the site of Maddy and Logan swallowing each other whole.
"Gross." I mutter as I walk up to them.
They break away panting and flushed. But for some reason, I don't think it's because they are embarrassed.
"How did it go?" Logan asks me with concern.
"The same as always." I pretend to be unaffected. As if that wasn't THE defining moment that just happened back there.
But my best friend can read me like a book, so she knowingly wraps her arms around me in a comforting embrace that lasts several seconds. "Ash?"
"Is that a phone in your purse? Or are you just happy to see me?"
She chuckles. "You're vibrating."
I quickly pull my out my cell and look at the front.
1 Message from Tingler.
I flip it open.
Come back inside. Please.
I look at Logan. Confusion written all over my face. "It's from Spencer"
"And?" She drags the word out.
"She wants me to go back in there."
She nudges me toward the door. "So what are you waiting for?"
I push through the entrance and glance around, expecting to find Spencer somewhere close. It isn't until a spotlight is shining on me that I realize I was seriously mistaken. I walk tentatively further into the gym and just then realize that it is eerily quiet. I hear the sound of random whispering as one head after another turns to look in my direction.
"Ashley." Spencer's voice echo's from the loud speakers. I look up to the stage to find Spencer standing nervously in front of a microphone holding up the phone that I bought her. "I guess I had a use for it after all."
"I was just telling everyone in here, that I couldn't accept this. I can't be homecoming queen." There are hundreds of people in this room. But right now it feels like just the two of us.
"They were all so nice when I told them that I had to send you a text." I know there is laughter, but I don't hear it. I just hear her. "And patient. You took forever." She giggles anxiously.
I'm terrified for her. And at the same time, I'm so proud of her. Because I know what she is doing. She is trying so hard to be strong for us. And right now, I wish I had an ounce of the magical powers she has so that I could make this all so much easier for her.
"The thing is... This doesn't matter." She removes her the crown from her head. "All of this doesn't matter, Ashley." She gestures grandly, indicating the entire gym. Or the world. God she is beautiful. "You're the only thing that matters to me."
"And even that doesn't matter. If I don't actually have you." She takes a deep shaky breath. "Ash... I can't NOT be with you."
Tingle. Tingle. Tingle.
She barely whispers into the microphone. "I love you." Before she steps backward and hangs her head.
The crowd splits like the red sea as I make my way to the stage. I ignore their whistles and comments as I watch Spencer shaking. Obviously trying to gain control of her emotions. But as I reach the steps a palm is at my chest stopping me.
I look up at a grinning Aiden. He takes off his crown and places it on my head with a goofy smile. "Go get your queen, Ash."
I roll my eyes. "Sap."
"Pimp." I look at him surprised for a second, having expected a usual insult. It's just our thing. But he just smiles and pulls me up onto the stage and pushes me toward my tingler.
I slowly walk to her. The love of my life. The girl who tamed me. The tingler that taught me that it is OK to be loved by one person. That the good things are worth fighting for. Who made me believe, and possibly the entire gym, that nothing else matters.
"You just came out to the entire school."
She looks up and gazes at me teasingly. "You're smart."
I watch as that smile meant only for me takes residence on her face. "We won't have anything to argue about anymore." I faux pout.
"Mmmm." She closes the space between us and whispers "Good." before grabbing the back of my neck and pulling me into the most sensually loving kiss we've ever shared.
We break apart breathlessly, grinning like preschoolers. She entwines our fingers and leads us off the stage to the sounds of whistling, cheering, and applause. We walk right past a glaring Paula and beaming Arthur before exiting the gym completely.
"Gross." Spencer blurts.
I follow her line of site to Maddy and Logan, who seem to be permanently attached at the mouth. "Yeah." I laugh. "Teenagers!"
Once in the car, I turn to Spencer and we just sit in silence, having silent conversation with our eyes. Perfectly content to just be in each other's presence. In love and finally free. A bright future ahead of us; together.
"So what did you and Madison do?"
Hmmm. Maybe we will have things to fight about, after all.