Hi everyone! I've actually almost finished this story so will be able to update probably a couple times a week. I hope you like it, and would LOVE feedback! Thanx!
I've been waiting in the square for awhile now, long enough for the sun to streak over the fountain and sink behind the old theatre. Knowing I arrived early I'm trying to be patient but I'm starting to wonder, insecurity poorly disguised by irritation. It's time to stop dragging out the last sip of my coffee, I get up and make my way over to the trash bin.
Without warning, arms encircle my stomach, my heart feels like it's going to explode it's beating so fast, and I let out a cry. I try to lurch away but I'm pulled back against a lean, familiar body.
"Honey, I'm home." Jacob's voice is low in my ear. I turn towards him, my fear immediately swallowed up by the sight of him, my pulse refusing to slow down as his eyes run over me. He's taking in every detail, like he's noticing any small change in my appearance since the last time he saw me. I flush under his gaze, momentarily forgetting everything but my desire to measure up, waiting for some sign of approval. But then he looks away.
"Did you think of texting that you'd be late?" I ask frostily.
"Nice to see you too." His lips quirk up at the corners. He threads his fingers through mine and pulls me closer so that I have to tilt my head back to see his expression, I'm taken aback by the intensity in his eyes.
"Come on, I drove here. Let's go for a drink."
Jacob's Porsche is parked haphazardly by the side of the road nearest to us, we arrive at the passenger side and my heart thuds as he backs me up against the door. Trying to control my breathing, I make myself take a slow leveling breath, fighting the urge to let the air escape through my lips in a quick rush, anything to deflect from the sensation of his body pressed against mine. I gulp and look down at our toes as his hand brushes against my hair.
"What has you so tense?" Jacob's persistent obliviousness to my feelings cuts into me, sharper than him being late. I defiantly push back against his rock-hard torso, but my weight doesn't even make him budge.
"Seriously, Jacob?" I ask. After half a beat he backs off a step, but instead of being satisfied by his withdrawal I feel rejected. I manage to catch the door handle behind me and open it enough to clumsily climb in. The soft leather interior is luxurious but tension has me sitting up, pin straight, instead of relaxing back into the seat. I turn so that I'm facing forward, making it awkward for him to touch me again. For an excruciatingly long moment he stands looking down at me, then he slams the door shut.
As we pull out into traffic, I train my eyes on the road ahead of us, unable to think of a single word that I can say out loud. Usually we have a million things to talk about, but I'm finding it harder and harder to be friends; it feels disingenuous, a masquerade, when there's so much more that I want. So instead I keep looking silently out the window, and keep it all inside.
He makes a last-minute turn off Houston, ignoring the furious honking of the cabs behind us, and pulls into a side street. There's an expensively-dressed crowd lined up along the sidewalk and spilling onto the road in front of us; harsh neon lights over a rusted metal door are the only signs that the place they're waiting at is anything other than a block of run-down apartments. The sight of the seedy, albeit trendy, pub has nerves gnawing at my stomach. Being alone with Jacob after a few drinks seems like the perfect way to say something I can't take back.
The shelves behind the bar are lined with all kinds of interesting bottles. Balancing carefully on my very tall and wobbly bar stool, I take in the rows of vials, test tubes, antique-looking perfume bottles, all neatly labeled with names like 'creme de violet' and 'green chartreuse'. One of the bartenders picks up a perfume bottle with a tasseled pump on the end and I watch with interest as he spritzes it into the drink he's making. I catch a glimpse of the label, which reads 'absinthe', that explains the shocking emerald of the liquid inside.
"How are the renovations going?" I ask, turning my attention back to Jacob and setting my glass down. doesn't answer; one arm slung casually over the back of my chair, he's watching a bartender expertly mixing drinks and I'm not sure he heard me at all. She's tall and blonde, with a smoking hot body. As she's pouring a drink, her gaze falls directly on Jacob over the rim, and she gives him a seductive smile. I swiftly look down into my drink, and concentrate on swirling the liquid so that the ice clinks around in the glass. Jacob constantly and effortlessly attracts so much attention, that the idea he's going to want me seems like an impossible wish. When I look up again his eyes are on me. His expression somehow imbues a lazy enjoyment, a relaxed but temporary state that could flick into scorching heat at any moment. It's difficult to think when Jacob's attention is focused so totally on me, and it's a moment before I realize he might have just asked me something. "What did you say?"
"It's not happening, I'm moving into the city."
"Wow that's sudden," I say, surprised, "you and Derrick love your place." It's outside of the city, but what they lost in location they definitely gained in size: a sprawling rancher with a big pool in the back, wet bar, games room, and every other bachelor pad necessity.
"You're going to be here, what other reason does there have to be?" Jacob asks. As I try to think of a flippant response, the bartender slides a drink in front of Jacob.
"I heard you were asking for something special," she says coyly, leaning over the bar towards him.
"I was," he says, letting his statement hang in the air before adding, "for Isabella." He makes no move to touch the drink, and watches her as she finally picks it back up and places it in front of me. I'm sure my embarrassment is staining my cheeks but I force myself to look at her, and give her a polite smile. She smiles back, an insincere, professional curve of her lips that doesn't reach her eyes. Jacob doesn't watch her go. He's still looking at me, not taking me in like before, this time his eyes are fixed on my face, as if my blush or a change in my expression could give him as much information as my words. Under his scrutiny there's no chance that I'll come up with something to say, the best I can hope for is a coherent response to whatever subject he chooses.
"Have you talked to your brother?"
I study him carefully. "Not for a few weeks." The last time I saw them together, I had thought there might be a subtext that I wasn't included in. Derrick was getting pretty wild and the way Jacob was watching him, it was like he was waiting for him to go off the rails or disappear into a haze of frat parties. Concern creeps in, I never thought about that weekend again until now. I was wrapped up in school and took for granted that Jacob would sort it out, the way they've always watched each other's backs.
"What's going on, Jacob?" I ask, guilt and worry lacing my voice.
"Nothing, we should go." He tosses some bills down on the bar. "I have to swing by my place to talk to him, want to come?"
The house is mostly dark when we arrive. Jacob goes to see if he can find Derrick in his room, while I walk through the kitchen, flicking on a few lights along the way. I open the French doors to the backyard and step outside, my eyes taking a minute to adjust to the dim light of dusk. The glow from the windows and the flickering pool are the only illumination as I walk along the deck, and I'm right at the edge before I notice Derrick in the water. It takes me another moment to register that he's not swimming, his body swaying gently, the blue lights refracting his shadow against the side of the pool. My mind refuses to process the unnatural way his form is floating, limp and lifeless.
I try to call Jacob to come outside but I can't speak, frozen to the concrete where I stand. I stagger to the side when he runs past me and jumps into the water, I can hear him but can't make out the words over the rushing in my ears. I feel numb. Derrick is flung out on the tile next to the pool, Jacob yelling at him and shaking him. Derrick's arms hang by his sides and his legs aren't moving at all. One of his pockets has come inside out, I want to put it back in. I wonder, as if from a distance, what he was doing swimming in his clothes.
I walk over and fumble with the pocket but my trembling hands aren't working properly. Jacob is in my way, I push him and he gets up. His hands fist in my hair, turning my head roughly to force my eyes towards his, and I realize that he's saying, "We have to call an ambulance Bella," over and over. He's pawing through my jacket and then he's gone.
His footsteps fade and silence falls, filling my limbs with a bleak hopelessness. I lay down beside Derrick, looking up at the sky, his clammy arm cold against mine. Touching his body makes me shiver but my heart still feels like lead, as if nothing will ever move it again. I'm a match tossed into a stream, saturated and unignitable. I don't think I'm intoxicated - or maybe I am, I can't seem to remember what I was doing before this.
A thump from inside the house rouses me and I sit up, staring straight ahead. Finally I bring myself to look at his swollen face beside me; caught in the grotesque horror of it, I can't turn away. His eyes are still open but there's nothing of him in that blank stare. It's strange because I think of my own mortality often. It haunts me at night, my eyes unable to shut for fear of not existing. But in my thoughts it's always me who's a stone cold corpse, soon to decay and disappear.