Chapter Thirty-Seven: Driving Me Crazy
Renly is going to let me practice driving without obtaining a learner's permit. I just hope no one catches us. Renly pulls in to an abandoned parking lot. He gets out and we trade places. I buckle my seat belt, adjust the mirrors and steering wheel and get ready to turn the key.
Renly tells me to press the brake when I start the car. I grip the key and freeze. My mind creates a scene of me driving like nothing is wrong with the wind in my hair. Suddenly I lose control and the car spins off the road, hit a tree, and kills us on impact. I snap out of it when I hear Renly telling me to start the car. I wipe a bead of sweat off my brow.
"What's the matter?"
I try to start the car but my hand is shaking so bad I can barely grip the key. I manage to get it started somehow. I put the car in gear and start to drive forward, it's as if the car moves on its own, and as I get ready to turn I press on the accelerator and my hands shake so badly the car swerves. The car drifts onto the street into oncoming traffic. I panic and pull off into another lot and stop. I catch my breath.
"Yes I saw, but why?"
If I tell him the truth he would patronize me. Maybe he would be a little sympathetic.
"I was scared of crashing."
Renly laughs. Of course he did. He tells me to try again. I take a deep breath and do it. I manage to get a block down the street when I start to have an anxiety attack and almost hit a stop sign. My heart feels like it's about to beat out of my chest.
"What are you scared of driving is easy? You just need to take a deep breath and try again."
I have a better plan, let's not do it at all. I am a prince; I should not have to drive. I can hire people to drive me around.
"Do I have to learn at all?"
"It's a rite of passage."
"It's a passage into what the afterlife?"
"You need to learn to drive."
"No. I am a prince; I can hire people to drive for me."
"Loras, you need to learn. All it takes is practice. Do you think I did it perfectly my first time? Come on, just try again."
"No. I don't want to."
"Stop being a big baby and do it."
"Loras, give it another try. You don't know what you can do until you try, so stop being childish and just do it."
I try again, more out of anger than encouragement. I get about six blocks going about twenty-five and then I have another panic attack and hit someone's mailbox. I try to get back on the road but I hit a bump, freak out, run off the road and hit a light pole. It smashes the front of Renly's Volkswagen.
He's very upset with me. I get out of the car and sit on the ground while Renly talks to a police officer. He takes the blame since I was driving illegally. He gets very mad at me. I am a little mad at him too.
"You wrecked my car, you spoiled brat. How am I supposed to school and work? I can't believe this."
"I'm sorry, I told you I panicked."
"I think you did it on purpose to spite me because I made you try again."
"You think I tried to spite you? Why would I do that?"
That launches a heated argument. It's a hurdle in our relationship. It's our first major fight. We have had small fights, but nothing like this. Even when Renly cheated on me, our fight was nowhere near this big.
Renly calls Brienne to pick us up but she's working. Gendry is not answering his cell. I decide to call Robb since there is no other option.
"Oh sure, run to Robb Stark."
"If you have a better plan I'd love to hear it. Unless you can make two bicycles magically appear I think this is the only option."
Robb was nearby. Jeyne lives two blocks from here and he was visiting her. He finds us in no time. I think I was lucky he was in the neighborhood. Renly decides to wait for the tow truck, claiming he cannot be around me right now.
I tell Robb what happened. He tells me to calm down. I had an anxiety attack and he pressured me into driving. I never want to be behind the wheel again.
"Maybe it's partly Renly's fault."
I hate hearing Robb blame Renly. It's not his place to do so. Robb likes Renly. Renly likes Robb. But they neither have the right to blame the other for anything.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. Maybe you should find someone else to teach you."
"Who taught you?"
"My father taught me. My uncle Benjen used to let me drive his old pick up when I was fourteen. I also went to driving school. That made it so much easier."
"There's a driving school?"
That makes sense. If people suck at it as badly I do then it would make sense that there would be a school to train drivers. This is actually a great idea. Maybe I should take driver's training.
I ask Robb for more information on this driving school. He says the class he took was for two weeks, in the evenings for three hours. After the classroom portion of the class was six hours worth of actual driving with an instructor. I really like this idea.
I get home. Robb leaves because he has to pick up Sansa from her "girly" doctor appointment. When I asked him what he meant by "girly" doctor he blushed and changed the subject. Apparently her mother dropped her off on her way to the nursing home to see their grandfather. I make a mental note to ask Margaery about "girly" doctors.
I tell Margaery and Gendry about the disastrous drive I had with Renly. Gendry laughs at me but Margaery is sympathetic. We sit on the couch together to watch TV. She holds me close. My head is on her lap. She pets my hair lovingly, as I breathe in the scent of her. She smells like peaches.
We talk about her crush on Sansa and how they made out last week because Sansa wanted to see the difference between kissing girls and kissing boys. Sansa has yet to reach a decision on which one is better, but apparently she has a few boys at school she is thinking about kissing to compare.
I fall asleep on Margaery's lap. She wakes me when Renly comes home. Margaery gives Renly a kiss on the cheek then goes into our room to give us some privacy.
Renly looks at me, but I cannot read his expression, but I assume he wants me to continue.
"I'm sorry I crashed your car. I will pay for all the damages and if I must I will buy you a new vehicle. I am completely responsible."
"You're damn right you're responsible. I just got off the phone with my insurance. It seems they aren't going to pay. I hope you're happy. Oh and the police think I was drinking and driving with a minor in the car, thankfully I passed that breathalyzer test and they dropped that charge."
His tone was pricklier than a cactus.
"This is your fault. You kept pressuring me to continue."
"So I'm the one who made you crash my fucking car into a light pole? God. I can't deal with this right now."
Renly looks like he wants to hit me. He takes a bottle of wine out of the cabinet. I glare at him. He gives me a dirty look then opens the bottle and drinks right out of it.
"So you're just going to get drunk. You're just like Robert."
Renly and I get into a shouting match, which ends with him taking his wine and Rocky into his bedroom and slamming the door. I walk up to the door and yell at it.
"Fine, if that's the way you're going to be then I am leaving."
"Good. Just fucking go, I don't give a shit."
Margaery comes out of our room. I stuff some clothes in a bag because I do not plan to come back for a few days. I get my school uniform and stuff it in the bag with my contact lenses, clean underwear, and my tooth brushes.
"Where are you going?"
"To Robb's, I guess, or a hotel. I can't stay here."
I kiss my sister on the cheek and look for my wallet and I take my passport just in case I feel like leaving the country, which sounds like a pretty good idea.
I take a taxi to the Stark's house. I pay the man when we stop at their house. I walk to the door. I hear several dogs barking inside. I ring the doorbell, and Arya answers. She looks me up and down then lets me come in.
"Robb's upstairs," she says.
I kneel to scratch Nymeria behind the ears. I pass Bran in the hallway. He is going to the bathroom. Summer is behind him faithfully. I pat both of them on the head on my way to the stairs. Robb is studying hard when I walk into his room. I notice he finished painting it a very dark green. All the furniture has been moved back in, but the room still looks bare without Jon.
"Hey, Loras," Robb says. He finishes writing something, and then closes his book. He looks at my face, "This can't be good. What's up?"
I start crying when I tell Robb what happened. I feel like such a girl for crying about it. Robb stands up and hugs me. There is a little stubble on his face that tickles my cheek when he nuzzles his head against me.
"I don't think he loves me now. You should have heard the way he spoke to me. I think it's over between us. Renly hates me."
"He doesn't hate you," Robb says breaking the embrace.
"How would you know?"
"I have seen you together. He's crazy about you."
Robb leaves his room after that. I follow with Grey Wind, who I now noticed was laying on bed, Robb's bed. Robb's parents are in the living room watching a TV show. Rickon is sitting on the floor playing with his toy trucks. Shaggydog is lying on the floor watching him.
Sansa comes in the room just as we do. Her sweet little Lady sits down and looks up at Sansa; Sansa pats her on the head. Lady nuzzles her head against Sansa's leg. When Sansa moves to speak Lady sits still.
But it's Robb who speaks first, "Could Loras crash here for a couple of days?"
"Meera's coming over. Do you care if she spends the night?" Sansa asks.
I look at Robb; his cheeks turn a little pink at the mention of Meera's name.
"Robb, did you finish your homework?" Mrs. Stark asks.
"Almost, I still have to proof read my essay on Ancient Civilizations and go over that chapter on String Theory for Physics. I can do that tomorrow."
"Then I guess he can stay."
"What about Meera?" Sansa asks.
"Did you finish your homework?" Mr. Stark asks.
"Yes, Daddy, I did everything I was supposed to. I walked Lady, I made sure Rickon took a bath, I went to the doctor, and I never fought with Arya."
"Then your friend may stay too as long as you help with the dishes afterwards."
"M-M-Meera's staying over? Is she coming for supper?" Robb is trying to sound casual but the pitch in his voice is a little too high for that.
"Yes, why do you care?" Sansa says laughing.
"I don't. Come, Grey Wind."
He leaves. I follow. Sansa is giggling as we head for the stairs. The door bell rings, and Robb runs upstairs quickly. Grey Wind and I follow at the same pace. I hear Sansa and Meera talking at the bottom of the stairs.
Robb shuts his bedroom door only leaving a little crack so he can peek out and look at Meera as she walks by. He shuts the door after they pass. He leans against it momentarily. Grey Wind and I are watching him curiously.
He goes to his closet and starts pulling out shirts. He stands in front of his mirror and looks holds them up to his neck to look at himself.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Which one of these is better?" Robb asks.
Robb shows me five shirts. I choose one that I think is the nicest. Robb pulls a pair of pants out of a drawer of his dresser and leaves for a moment.
"Where are you going?"
"To shower," Robb says sniffing himself. He grabs some other stuff to take with him and leaves in a hurry. I pat Grey Wind and decide to snoop around Robb's room. I open one of his desk drawers and find a note book.
I know reading it would be an invasion of Robb's privacy, but I doubt it contains anything I do not already know. I open the book. I am a little surprised by what I find. The first page is a bunch of English notes, and I begin to think that's all the note book is until I flip a couple pages. Meera's name is written at least a thousand times. It fills an entire page. The backside of that page says, "Meera Stark" and "I love Meera Reed" and "RS Loves MR" and her name in a heart.
The next page is Meera's class schedule, locker combination, email, and phone number. The next page is her likes and dislikes, her hobbies, and miscellaneous tidbits about her. Obsess much?
There is more, but I have seen enough. I put the notebook back in his drawer and sit on his bed beside Grey Wind.
"Don't tell Robb," I whisper to Grey Wind.
He comes back after twenty minutes clean shaven, wearing a generous amount of cologne, and his hair straightened. Robb stands in front of the mirror and rubs some hair gel between his palms and runs it through his hair to give it a wild, but well-groomed look. He sort of leaves a little hanging down in his face to add a bit of sex appeal.
"Well?" Robb asks.
"You need pants," I say.
Robb pulls a shirt over his head without messing up his hair, which is a feat I have yet to accomplish. I peek at him while he gets dressed. He drops the towel around his waist and pulls on a clean pair of boxer-briefs and then puts on his jeans.
"Now how do I look?"
"You look good."
Grey Wind barks in agreement.
Dinner is embarrassing, for Robb at least. He spills his soda all over the table, he drops mashed potatoes in his lap, and he stabs himself in the face with a fork from not paying attention. I force myself to hold back a laugh.
"What is that smell?" Arya asks.
"Why are you dressed up?" Bran asks.
"It's called cologne, Arya. I'm not dressed up," Robb says.
"So did you ever figure out who your secret admirer is?" Catelyn asks Meera.
Robb nearly chokes when his mother asks this question. I thump his back to help him get the food down.
"No, I didn't. I have a few guesses, but I doubt any of them are him."
"Who do you think it is?" I ask curiously.
"Well I thought it might be Gendry. He is very sweet and the gifts started coming right after we kissed at the baseball game."
Robb still has not forced that hunk of food to go down. He is still choking on it. I thump his back harder and he swallows it. He takes a large gulp from his soda and wipes his mouth on a napkin. He stares at Meera for a moment.
"You think it's Gendry? I thought you said you he wasn't your type," Robb says.
"He's not, but if it is him, I'd like to give him a chance."
"It's not him. He doesn't like you like that," Robb says.
"How do you know?" Meera says.
"He doesn't see you as anything more than a friend. He's not interested. It's not him."
"You don't know that."
"Yeah I do. He likes someone but it's not you."
I am not sure where the communication went wrong but Meera took Robb's words offensively. Robb made it clear that Gendry was interested in someone else. What Meera heard was: "He would never like you because you're flat-chested and ugly". Girls are very confusing sometimes. I need to get Margaery to write me a manual.
"I know one thing, Robb Stark, it's certainly not you," Meera says. She excuses herself from the table and walks away. Sansa and Arya start laughing until their mother quiets them. Robb looks embarrassed.
"What did I say?" Robb asks.
"It's not what you said it's what she heard," I tell him.
"What did she hear?"
"What she heard was you saying she's not good enough for Gendry."
"I never said that. I never thought that. Of course she's good enough. Meera's amazing. Why would she think I would say that?"
Sansa says, "Aw" and Robb throws a yeast roll at her.
Robb excuses himself from the table. I follow him upstairs. He knocks on Sansa's door. Meera answers. He grabs her by the hand and drags her to his room. He shuts the door on me. I crack the door and eavesdrop. Sansa comes up; I put my finger to my lips to quiet her. We lean against the door to listen.
"Gendry's not your secret admirer."
"You said that already."
"Robb, I don't know what to say?"
"I don't either."
"How could you?"
"Jeyne put you up this didn't she? It's not funny to mess with someone's heart, Robb. She said it was a joke and it is. I knew it was too good to be true. First you let her bully me, now you're doing it. I hate you."
Meera pushes past Robb and Sansa and I back out of the way. She comes out the door crying. She takes Sansa by the arm and they go into the girls' room. I hear Meera crying. I walk into Robb's room. He's on the verge of tears. He grabs his keys and pushes past me.
"Where are you going?"
"To break up with Jeyne, something just occurred to me. Are you coming? Because I think I know how to fix both our problems."
"I am right behind you."
So I have a major crush on Jon Snow. Can I have him for my birthday? It's this Sunday, I'll be… a woman never reveals her age. It's more than eighteen and less than twenty-five. I'm old enough to be Mrs. Jon Snow. Ignore me.