I'm Only Me When I'm With You
"I'm gonna kill that little squirt!" Jordan said, while icing down his shoulder.
"Just chill. You insulted his first girlfriend, and in case you didn't notice, he actually cares about his girlfriend." I said, holding his shoulder still.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jordan asked, twisting away from my grasp and turning to face me.
"I mean, why are you with Chelsea?" I asked, turning him back around and lightly placing the ice back on his shoulder.
"Because I like her." He answered simply.
"Why though?" I asked, probing deeper.
"Because…she's pretty." He said, shifting around.
"Name one thing about Chelsea you like that isn't physical." I said, turning him around to make him look me in the eyes.
"Nothing." He said, looking downward.
"That's what I mean by Ben actually cares about his girlfriend." I said softly, before turning to go.
"You know, it's not completely my fault that I'm dating someone I don't care about." He called out, just as I reached the edge of the kitchen.
"What do you mean?" I asked, turning to face him.
"I mean, I cared about this one girl. I loved her from the moment I met her, but see, she won't even give me a chance. So instead, I just dated anyone that would go out with me, which just so happened to be Chelsea." He said, standing up, wincing slightly as his shoulder moved.
"What was that girl supposed to tell everyone? That the guy she'd once thought was her cousin, was also the guy she'd fallen in love with? I don't think so." I answered, turning around, just as Jordan reached me.
"Then that girl should stop worrying about everyone else. She needs to just think about me, and whether or not being with me would make her happy." He said softly, turning me around and pulling me closely.
"I think she's just gotten her answer." I said just before my lips touched Jordan's.
"Ruby? Jordan?" Audie asked just as she walked in, making us scramble away from each other.
"What was going on here?" Patrick asked, looking sharply at the two of us.
"Mom, Dad, it-"Jordan began to explain, his face beet red.
"Up to your rooms. Both of you!" Audie said softly, her eyes low, and her voice threatening.
"What do you think is going to happen?" I asked as we reached the top of the stairs.
"I don't know. But I'm so sorry Ruby." He whispered before hugging me tightly, and disappearing into his room.
"What do we do about this?" Patrick asked, his head in his hands and heart shaken.
"Well, I can't say this was much of a surprise. I don't really see what we can do. I mean, we just told Ruby she could stay here, even though she was family, we can't kick her out for kissing Jordan, especially when he's been in love with her for years." Audie said softly, taking Patrick's hand in hers and kissing it lightly.
"So what, we keep them both here and hope they don't do anything wrong? They're teenagers; you know they're going to." Patrick asked, pushing his hands through his hair.
"Well, I don't know what other choice we have." Audie said, walking away from Patrick for a moment.
"Actually, I have an idea." I said, pulling myself off of the stairs and walking into their sight line.
"Ruby, I thought I told you to go to your room." Patrick asked wearily.
"You did, and I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. But see, the thing is, you can't blame Jordan. He didn't do anything wrong, and I don't want him to get in any kind of trouble, so I've decided that I'm gonna leave. I'll say goodbye to Ben when he gets back and I'll leave a note for Jordan, and then I'll be gone. For good." I said softly, pulling my bags out from where I had stashed them beneath my feet on the stairs.
"Are you sure about this, Ruby?" Audie asked, walking over to me.
"I'm positive." I replied, shaking the tears from my eyes.
"Well then, it's settled. Do you need any money or anything?" Patrick asked, rubbing his hands together and already pulling out his wallet.
"No sir. I've already talked to grandparents. They said I could come back, and I have enough money to get back there." I replied, trying to hide my disappointment at having to go back there.
"Oh honey, but don't they forget who you are and that you live there and-" Audie said, her matronly self kicking in.
"Yeah, but it's okay. I'll be fine. Just like I was before I came here." I said smiling sadly, "Can you give this to Jordan tomorrow when he asks where I am? I'll go wait on the front porch for Ben to get here."
"I'm already here, what's going on? What's with the bags?" Ben asked, looking at me with his eyes wide.
"Can I talk to you outside, Benny boy?" I asked, picking up my bags and walking to the front door, Ben trailing behind me.
"What happened?" Ben asked as soon as the door was closed.
"We kissed, and your parents walked in, and I didn't know what they were going to do, and I didn't want Jordan to get in any trouble, so I told them I'd willingly leave." I said sadly, finally letting the tears I'd been holding back out.
"But why?" Ben asked, pulling me down onto the stone steps with him.
"Because, I care too much about him." I answered.
"So you really were in love with him all this time?" Ben asked.
"Of course. You were always right, but I didn't want you to be, so I ignored it." I answered, sobbing more into his shoulder.
"You can't leave then." Ben stated, grabbing my hand and standing up.
"Ben, I need to do this. But I need you to do something too." I said softly.
"What? I'll do anything." Ben said, looking eagerly into my eyes.
"I need you to tell Jordan that my note is complete bullshit, and that I loved him all along, okay?" I asked, grabbing at my things.
"Of course, but what does your note say?" Ben asked lightly.
"Everything your parents want it to say." I replied before hiking my things up on back and walking off.
"I can't believe you guys are doing this to him! Do you realize how long he's waited for her? Do you realize how much this is going to hurt him?" I said when I came in from watching Ruby fade off into the darkness.
"Honey, sometimes hurting the people you love is the only way to make things better." My mom said, coming over to me and rubbing my back.
"So not even giving the two of them a chance to be together when they both love each other is for the best?" I asked, glaring from one pair of eyes to the next.
"Honey, you just don't understand." My dad answered, looking at me sadly like I was still an incompetent child.
"You're right; I don't understand how two such normal people could really be such heartless heartbreakers. Your being horrible parents, in case you didn't know." I said, before running up the stairs and into Jordan's room.
"Get the hell out of here." Jordan growled at me, not even turning from his computer to look at me.
"Look, you can hate me all you want to, but I need to tell you something." I said, plopping down on his bed, and hoping I could get this out before mom and dad realized what I was up here to do.
"What?" Jordan asked, spinning around to face me.
"Ruby left. And mom and dad are going to give you a horrible note form her, but nothing in there is true." I said, just as Jordan raised a white envelope.
"You mean this note?" He asked, looking at me solemnly.
"I guess so." I said, "Don't believe anything in there!"
"Too late, Benny. There's nothing you can say to change anything. Just get out." Jordan said, turning back around.
"You know, I never thought of you as a quitter, especially when the thing you're quitting loves you back." I said as I shut the door to Jordan's room.