Word Count: 3,604

A/N: I apologize it took me long to get this chapter out. I've been fairly distracted with life. Good news is, you have a new chapter! And it's fairly long because I happily got carried away. Bad news is I didn't save money with Geico (aha, kidding. I don't even have a driver's license... *shot*). So no, no bad news. Except that I tease you with sex (but you get none) and leave you with a minor cliffhanger (and I haven't written the next chapter yet). Enjoy. =)

Chapter 05: Nerves

My throat burned as I inhaled. Closing my eyes, I let the taste of god-knows-what that makes a cigarette taste like a cigarette swirl in my mouth before slowly allowing it to drift out of my mouth in a thin plume of smoke. Honestly speaking, I hated cigarettes. Smoking fucks with my voice and while I'm not actively pursuing a career in the music industry, I do like my voice as is. Still, I hated malls more, and guess where I was? A cigarette was in high demand to tame my more than usual flair of annoyance.

I didn't care that there were 'no smoking' signs plastered all over the place.

Biting my lip, I tapped my thumb against my chin, making a wiggly pattern of smoke in the air beside my face as I watched Cat and Tori. They were in a nearby clothing store, one of those small ones where the owners watched you like you were about to steal something but plastered fake smiles and asked you if you needed anything even though they had no real interest in knowing. They were bent over looking at some glass display – likely of watches or 'fancy' wallets – smiles from ear to ear on their faces. Hell, they were adorable. They moved to a nearby rack of shirts and Cat grabbed a hanger with a orange and brown shirt. Pressing it against herself, she smiled and said something to Tori – likely i'how does it look?'/i – to which Tori said something and then they were laughing at an unheard joke.

It's dumb, but I sort of wish I had heard it, even though it was probably stupid.

Truthfully, I felt like a third wheel to this shopping expedition. If it hadn't been for Cat, I wouldn't even be standing here fucking up my vocal cords with cigarettes and wishing I could hear stupid jokes Tori said. Unfortunately, while she could be irritating, Cat was very good at being persuasive. All she had to do was walk up to me with her hips purposely swaying from side to side, ask me a question she knew I would say no to, and cup her hand tightly against my crotch. I honestly think if I were born a guy I'd be her hopeless puppy dog, especially when she did things like that just to get her way. She had learned long ago that with me, sex gets more 'yes's than puppy eyes and she has happily exploited that knowledge many times before. Did that mean I was her hopeless puppy dog anyway? Not on your damn life.

I continued to study them as they left the store, Cat pausing to wave enthusiastically at me and Tori throwing a cheery smile in my direction before heading into yet another store. As a girl, I've done my share of store hopping and shopping, but those times centered around me and thus, weren't so bad. Waiting for other people to browse store after store while you wanted nothing more than to lie in bed until the materials that comprised it decayed away is torturous.

Aside from promising Cat, which meant little as I've broken promises to her before, though not many, I stayed and watched because I was curious. All through high school I saw how our small group of friends had interacted with each other but unless I was forced, I usually never stuck around long enough around to really figure out why it was that we all seemed to like each other so much. Some of it was obvious – old school mates, friends for years, common interests, and whatnot. However, Tori started out as an outsider to us. Aside from her singing, she was a completely unknown factor. It was easy to quickly chalk her off as another Trina because they were related but the truth had been much more tolerable. I knew why I had tried avoiding Tori in our Hollywood Arts days, but I didn't really know why the others seemed so drawn to her, even myself in time.

Tori and Cat were comparing products in Bed Bath and Beyond, which I momentarily considered entering myself as I was running low on a few things but I just lit another cigarette instead. Tori tucked some stray strands of hair behind her ear and I watched the seamless motion as I thought about my somewhat involuntary confession to Cat the other night. I liked Tori, and have probably since... Well, I can't really say when exactly. I just know that one day most of my animosity for her just disappeared and was replaced with a knotted feeling in my stomach whenever she flicked her hair or licked her lips. Naturally, I felt like an idiot for feeling that way at the time, and mostly still feel the same about it. I didn't know what it was that was so alluring about Tori. I spent far more hours than I care to admit to mulling it over until I decided it was a pointless endeavor.

Without realizing it at the time, Tori would become my favorite mystery to puzzle over when I was really bored.

A mall cop began walking in my direction but I had already been on watch for them and stubbed out the cigarette before he could get to me. Instead of sticking around to hear some lecture about following rules, I entered Bed Bath and Beyond. I tried to make myself look interested in a display, partially hiding behind it when the mall cop walked by. Cat and Tori were nearby, their backs to me, chatting adamantly about whether coconut or cherry blossom smelled better. Rolling my eyes, I glanced about for the mall pig but he had vanished and I made to make my more than happy exit when Cat and Tori's conversation grew a little more serious and a lot less giggly.

"I was just wondering about how Jade is adjusting to this thing we're going to do?" Tori examined a bottle with little interest as she waited for the redhead beside her to speak.

"What thing?" Cat asked with confusion.

"You know, the s-e-x thing." Tori's voice was a whisper.

"Oh! That thing!"

Tori nodded at her beaming friend.

"She's being a little shy about sharing me," Cat said with a teasing giggle.

"Is she really?"

"No. But she is a little more sour than usual. I think she's nervous about the whole thing." The redhead paused and shook her head. "She's nervous about you."

"Nervous about me? I'm the one that she tormented in school and she's nervous because of me?" Tori was incredulous.

"Jade is deeper than she lets on. On the inside, she's a big softie."

Tori lapsed into silence with that, either not believing it or too stunned by it. Either way, I decided it was my cue to disappear before they realized I was eavesdropping on them. Out in the main mall area, I strolled over to a fountain and took a seat beside it. There were other people milling about but my beaming aura of dislike and disapproval seemed to make them give me just enough of a berth that I felt alone and thus, comfortable. I lit another cigarette as I waited for Cat and Tori to give up their girlish squawking and giggling for the day. Thinking over their conversation, I tried to imagine the way Tori must see me. As a scary being, I'd hope, as it should be. Yet I didn't think she did or else she would never be here with both Cat and I.

So what did she see in me as things were?

With a grunt, I decided I wouldn't dwell another minute on it. This kind of obsessing couldn't be healthy for me so screw it, let things just fall as they may.

This morning I had smoked more half a pack of cigarettes and now I was sipping my way through a third cup of vodka and coke. My throat was going to be complete shit for the next two or three days for sure.

On the bright side, if there was one here, I was watching Cat and Tori kissing quite drunkenly on the former's couch. I was secretly really trying to be mad here, but I tricked myself into believing that the alcohol was breaking down my defenses – which it wasn't – and sat back to enjoy the show – which I was totally supposed to be mad about, I think. Nothing beats alcohol logic – even though it took a lot more than three drinks to get me wasted to the point where I might actually have alcohol logic like that. It didn't hurt to pretend though.

Cat, always the eager one, was groping Tori's boobs, making me smirk into my cup. I had the feeling neither was as drunk as they were pretending to be, but that didn't seem to slow down either as they swapped spit and Tori rested her hands on Cat's hips.

So... Was this going to be it?

Were we going to fuck on the couch after a day of shopping, eating, and drinking? Or were Cat and Tori going to fuck in their supposedly drunken stupors and just leave me on the sidelines to watch?

Tori looked over at me, her eyes both registering the fact that I was there with some embarrassment and then scanning my face to find any kind of annoyance there. There was none because I wasn't mad like I wanted to pretend I was. With a shy smile, her cheeks coloring red as Cat nipped along exposed shoulder and collarbone, she lifted a hand away from the redhead's waist and beckoned me over.

Ah, so I am to be part of the fun.

I set my cup down in slow motion, or it felt like slow motion. Maybe I had drunken a bit more than I had initially thought or perhaps my rapidly increased heartbeat and the fluttering in my stomach was slowing down time like in one of those horribly cheesy romance movies. Ugh, I hope it was only the alcohol. Still, I felt a tingle of something flush across my skin as I sat on the other side of Tori and leaned forward to capture Cat's waiting lips – her hands were still playing with Tori's boobs. Even though I pressed myself against Tori's back, I kept my hands in my lap, too nervous to touch her, even though I really wanted to. Fuck, like badly. I could smell her perfume, that same one from all those weeks ago, mixed with a tinge of sweat and alcohol. It was an intoxicating bouquet of Tori and my instincts wanted me to run away or punch her. My instincts were pulsating i'danger'/i and i'poison'/i but my head was pounding to the rhythm of my blood and heart, leaving me breathless and wanton when I so should not be.

Then I'm kissing Tori. Just like that. I don't even remember the transition of Cat to Tori but I know it's the brunette because I haven't been able to stop tasting her lips since our first kiss weeks ago. Daring to sound cliché, only this once, I swear my heart stopped beating for a moment before I felt it flickered a beat again. I then allowed myself to give in to the snake in the Garden of Eden.

"Bed. Now," I managed to get out, standing and brushing past the entwined redhead and brunette.

Neither seemed happy about leaving the comfy couch but they quickly followed, giggling amongst themselves as I tasted desire on my lips so thick that I thought it was blood until I wiped my mouth on my hand and only saw lipstick on it. Kicking off my pants, I turned to find Cat and Tori kissing against the door frame to the bedroom and growled - audibly - causing them to break apart in surprise. There was blood on my lips in the form of desire and I wanted so much more of it that I didn't want to let their silly pretend drunkenness get in my way. I tugged Cat to me and kissed her, hard and sloppy. It broke some of my rules of sex but fuck it, I wasn't going for style here, then I pushed her onto the bed, where she squealed like a five-year-old on a ride as she fell, and turned my attention to Tori.

Despite what had just been transpiring between her and Cat, Tori seemed awkward and shy as I cupped her chin in my hand. I wanted to be rough with her. I tried to yank her toward me the way I had done to Cat but instead I moved against her, kissing her with all the secret love I had carefully hidden in my heart over the years. She responded with gentle hands on my backside and a tongue that sought out mine. I'm pretty sure I came at the moment. Then someone – Cat – was tugging me backward to the bed and I held onto Tori as I did as the prodding hands wanted. I fell backward with Tori landing right on top of me and felt every bit of me burst into flames as she chuckled in embarrassment.

This... This was only about sex. About a proposal Cat had offered Tori and that Tori had agreed to. There were no expectations to come of this. No love.

No love...?

I realized at that moment, that despite what I had tried to do; all the things I had done to keep myself distant and safe – I had fallen in love with Tori. Or perhaps I always had been and was just now realizing it.


Rolling over, I pinned Tori beneath me and studied her for a long moment. Her cheeks were tinged red. Her lips were kiss swollen. Strands of her hair were stuck to her face with sweat as the rest did what it could to fan out beneath her. Tori's cleavage was struggling to remain in her shirt. I wanted to paint the moment in my head and keep it there forever. From the corner of my eye, I could see Cat smiling at me and I realized then that this had been her plan all along. But maybe that was just some imaginary alcohol logic at work. Maybe.

"Beautiful..." I heard drip from my lips as Tori's eyes widen in shock. Realizing my slip of the tongue, I quickly added, "Don't say anything or you'll kill the moment."

Tori was smart though and could read between the lines as her eyes soften and she touched my cheek lightly before letting her hand slip to the back of my neck. We met halfway for a kiss that left me breathless yet again before I forced myself to look up at Cat. Her eyes, as always held secrets I would never be able to decipher, but I could tell that she was pleased with herself.

And then I realized I didn't know what to do.

Because I was nervous.

And a bit afraid.

Geez, what the hell is wrong with me?

"Do you hate me?"

I didn't even realize I had been wondering the question before it slipped out of my mouth. Tori looked honestly confused, tilting her head ever so slightly to make sure she had heard me right.

"No," she finally answered.

"Are you afraid of me?"

"Should I be?"


"Then yes. You've scared me ever since I first met you," Tori admitted, looking guilty. "But I always considered you a friend even if you hated me."

Rolling my eyes, I rolled off of Tori and sat on the edge of the bed. I didn't feel well. My head was spinning with alcohol and too many feelings – Cat's nauseating colorful décor did absolutely nothing to aide my spinning head. Someone touched my back sending me to my feet and collecting my shoes from the floor. It was silent for a moment as I struggled to get them on and then Cat asked where I was going.

"I feel sick. I need some air."

It was a lie, partially. My head was still spinning which really was making me feel sick, but I knew I wanted to get out of there because... I don't know. I was a pussy? Had to be because I had two beautiful women ready for me to take them any way I pleased and instead I was turning into some sentimental head case and running away from them.

What. On. Earth. Is. Wrong. With. Me?

Maybe Beck had tainted me with his kindness and sentimentality. Yeah, that sounded possible. I took pride in passing myself off as a cold hearted bitch and now that facade was crumbling right before my eyes. Obviously, Beck found a way to subconsciously fuck me up.

Okay, so that sounded like bullshit even to me.

Outside in the parking lot, I leaned against a parked car and lit another cigarette as I thought about what had just transpired. Cat and Tori were either worried about me or laughing at me. Or they were fucking without me, but I sincerely doubted that final possibility. The fresh air was helping to clear up my head as the cigarette did it's job to destroy my vocal cords further. I had felt suffocated upstairs between Cat and Tori, which I couldn't really understand why. I wanted this threesome to happen just as much as Cat seemed to have wanted it but I was becoming an emotional bitch about it.

I repeat: What is wrong with me?

My phone rang, scaring the shit out of me. Ignoring it seemed ideal but it just kept ringing until I finally yanked it out of my pocket and glared at the screen to see who it was.

It was Beck. Of course it was.

"It's your fault I can't fuck them without having weepy, pussy emotions about it," I blurted into the phone a split second after I answered it.

"Hello to you too, Jade," came the cool response. Despite my personality, I've never been able to rattle Beck except for when I was about to explode a fiery hell upon someone and even then he was always able to calm me down just enough to keep me out of jail. Probably why I finally cut him loose.

"What do you want?"

"I was just calling to say hi but it sounds like you're having a bad moment. What's up?"

Slumping down to the ground so I was hidden between two cars, I tried not to sound miserable but after the outburst I felt the fight drain out of me just enough to allow me to feel the familiar tendrils of my old friend misery. It was never hard talking to Beck though, which was probably why I stuck it out with him for so long.

"I don't know what's wrong with me anymore. I feel like I'm losing my mind."

"Tell me about it, maybe I can help."

Resisting the urge to scoff, I summarized the situation in as few sentences as possible. Not only did I enjoy being difficult like that, but I didn't want Beck to hear me being a softie pushover so I tried to omit as much of my sappy thinking over the past few weeks out of the summary. When I was done, Beck was quiet for a second.

"I don't think I've ever heard this side of you, Jade," he said. "I think you've held in your feelings so much that they're acting like the bubbles in a bottle of soda. Shake the bottle enough and sooner or later they'll pop that cap off on their own and make a mess everywhere. I know you, so that's something you don't want, but it sounds like it's happening anyway. Your best bet is to slowly uncap your feelings."

"I'm not a bottle of soda," I snipped.

"Jade, you're trying to avoid my point, which has proven to backfire on you so far. Just try and tell Tori how you feel, then go from there."

"You make it sound so damn easy."

"Because it is. Just give it a try."

I couldn't see his face but I knew he was smiling and for a moment, I realized I missed him a lot more than I thought I would when he first left. Beck was like a comfortable pair of shoes you wore over and over again and when they broke, you either try to fix them or tuck them in the back of your closet because you don't have the heart to throw them out. And when you finally did? You missed them terribly.

"Thanks, I guess," I mumbled into the phone.

"You're welcome," Beck beamed on the other end. He always seemed so proud of me when I used my manners.

"And, er, hi," I added.




Hanging up, I could only stare at my MyPhone in thought for a long time. Beck had made it sound so easy but that's because it was easy for him, he was used to being the emotional one. Standing, I dusted my ass off and pocketed my phone before looking up at Cat's building and sighing. Fine, I could do this. Or I could at least try to do this. Honestly though, I was tired of feeling conflicted and not myself so I had to do something now or I knew I would never be able look at my reflection again.