Read That Girl is Mine - Part Two Online
Authors: Eve Cates
That Girl is Mine
Copyright 2015, EVE CATES
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Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of the author of this book.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely coincidental. Any actual places, products or events mentioned are used in a purely fictitious manner. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various places/products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission and is by no way sponsored by the trademark owners.
PART TWO of THREE
I asked Dylan to be normal so we could work out how we really feel. I didn’t expect him to be this normal. I didn’t expect him to go back to the way he was when we first moved in. I didn’t expect him to quit coming home for lunch and dinner. I didn’t expect him to quit spending time with me… Where does he go every night anyway? I mean, I know he comes home, because I see him in the morning before work. But things are strained. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him to stay. Maybe it would have been better if we spent time apart instead of this…this avoidance that’s going on. I miss what we had. I miss our friendship, and most of all, I miss him.
No matter how this ends, I feel as though we’re all going to lose. There is no way to make this end well. There’s no way to come out on top. There is no way to come out of this and feel good. I will either lose my oldest friend, or I will lose the only girl I’ve ever felt something for. Or maybe I’ll lose both…
To the ones who did it because it felt right
I should let him go. It's the right thing to do, isn't it? I’m in love with Josh, and Dylan just confused things by kissing me. I should let him leave.
I should let him go…
“Dylan – stop!” I call out, when I reach the front door. In my cast, I’m not as fast as he is, and he’s almost at his car. I panic.
“Go back inside, Rusty,” he replies, keeping his head down as he aims the key fob at his Camaro and beeps it open.
I pick up my speed. The engine roars to life. I move even faster – hobbling – and I lunge for the passenger door.
“What are you doing?” he demands, when I slide in beside him, completely out of breath.
I swallow hard. What am I doing?
“You don’t have a job set up in New York, do you? You’re just trying to run away from me.”
He won't look at me. Please look at me.
Kiss me again…
I close my eyes tight and look away to force the thought from my mind.
“Rusty, don’t. The space will do us good. We…we’ve just spent way too much time together, and we can’t keep doing this. We can’t do this to Josh.”
I look down at my hands, the mention of Josh’s name causing a pang to hit in my chest. I’m just so confused. How can one kiss turn everything upside down in the matter of seconds? Yesterday we were just friends…
A tear slides from my eye, and I wipe at it angrily. This is a mess.
“I know, OK?
. But, you can’t do this to me either. You can’t insert yourself in my life, become my closest friend then kiss me and…and make me feel…” I shake my head, as the memory of his lips on mine descends on me like a hailstorm of emotion. I don’t know what to make of it, except that it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, and I need to know why. Was it just the surprise that caused it to feel that way? Or was it exciting because it was wrong – because I'm supposed to be in love with his best friend? Or is there really something there?
“I’m sorry,” he whispers. “It happened before I could stop myself. It was wrong. I’m sorry.”
I open my mouth to speak but nothing comes out. I don’t know what to say. What can I say when all I can think about is that kiss, and the way it felt when his arms wrapped around me? It makes my heart beat faster and my breathing quicken… oh god, I want him to kiss me again.
“Avery,” Dylan murmurs, his voice thick and husky as it curls around my name. But, there’s fear in his voice as well, as if he’s afraid of me, and what might happen between us.
In this moment, I’m afraid too.
I shift my eyes to meet his tortured gaze, his unspoken need. Then I act before I can think anything through.
“Kiss me again,” I whisper, moving toward him, my eyes dropping to the fullness of his perfectly curved lips.
“I can’t,” he says, his voice straining.
“Kiss me again, Dylan, and if it feels like a kiss then go – leave. But, if it feels like music – you need to stay.”
He doesn’t argue further. Swiftly, he closes the distance between us and takes my mouth in his as his fingers spear into my hair, and he holds me to him, strong, commanding. I want to melt into him, to taste every inch of his delicious tattooed skin.
Oh god, how can kissing feel like this? What is this? I…I can’t put it into words, it’s just feeling. It’s pure emotion.
My arms wrap around his neck as our mouths move together, his tongue demanding but sensual against mine as it explores every corner of my mouth. It’s as if the world around us has ceased to exist, and all that’s left is this moment, this sharing of breath, and life, and happiness, and joy, and…sorrow – need, desperation.
It not exciting because it’s wrong. It’s exciting because there’s something here. Something crazy. Something intense. Something that takes my breath away. Something that defies reason.
I pull away suddenly, gasping for air as I place my hand on his chest to force a distance between us. His chest heaves as well, and I swear he’s shaking.
But, that could just be me.
“Fuck,” Dylan growls, looking pissed off at himself, or me, or both of us and the world at large. “Fuck!” He punches the steering wheel and drops his face into his hands. “I don’t want this, Rusty. I never wanted this. You were supposed to be an annoyance. You were supposed to move in, act like a typical girl and piss me off so I’d be glad to see the back of you. You weren’t supposed to be this…this…” He stops talking and shakes his head. “Fuck!”
He turns off the car and gets out, pulling at his hair as he mumbles to himself, and rubs at his tattooed undercut as he heads back into the house.
I take a moment to let the gravity of the situation roll over me, and my stomach twists and turns, while my chest tightens, crushing my windpipe. “Oh god,” I gasp, feeling horrible for feeling so wonderful when I shouldn’t be feeling around Dylan at all.
What are we supposed to do? I’m with Josh, and this feeling – the intensity of it…it isn’t normal. Tears begin to pour out of my eyes. I can’t stop them, and I sit in his car for a long time, and I cry.
When I finally head back into the house, I find Dylan pacing the floor. His hair is sticking up all over the place, and he stops when he hears the door close and turns to me, his expression stricken.
“We can’t tell Josh,” he says in a rush. “Not…not until we know what
is.” He moves his hand, indicting the space between us. It’s filled with electricity, as if when he kissed me, he flipped a switch, and now it’s crackling through the air.
“I don’t want to sneak around behind his back, Dylan. I don’t know what to do here.”
“I’m not asking you to, Rusty. Just…just don't tell him. Not yet. Let's…let's just give this some time, and if it doesn't go away then we'll tell him. Then we'll face up to what this means.”
I nod and take a deep breath before I fold my arms across my chest and meet his eyes. “OK. I won’t say anything yet. At least not until I get this straight in my head. I don’t want to lead him on, and I don’t want to lead you on either. But right now, I have no idea how I feel about either one of you. I need to work it out, and we need to just… just be normal while we do that.”
He holds out his hands in question. “How am I supposed to act normal around you now?”
I close my eyes as my tears well again. “I don’t know, OK? I’m just so confused about all this, and the only thing I know for sure is that I need you here.” I hold my hands out, palms facing the floor, as if the sheer power of my will can keep him rooted to the spot. “Please. Just stay, and we’ll work this out. We’ll figure out what’s going on between us, and then we’ll work out what to do. And…and then we’ll tell Josh. We’ll make this right.”
Dylan nods, his expression concerned, apologetic and pained. This isn’t easy for him either.
No matter how this ends, I feel as though we’re all going to lose. There is no way to make this end well. There’s no way to come out on top. There is
way to come out of this and feel good. I will either lose my oldest friend, or I will lose the only girl I’ve ever felt something for. Or I’ll lose both, and be the empty shell I was before…
Without realizing it, I guess I’ve always wanted a girl like Avery. It just sucks that she belongs to Josh. It sucks that I didn’t meet her first. It sucks that I’m going to have to destroy my friendship to have her. It sucks that fate brought her to my doorstep on the arm of another man.
It just fucking sucks.
Although, the thing I can’t get my head around is why Avery? What is it about her that makes me feel like I’ve lost my mind, and I might die if I don’t reach out and touch her? I have this urge to claim her, to protect her, and to just be with her. Every time something happens in my life, she’s the first person I think about telling. In the few months she’s been living here, I haven’t been bored once, and I haven’t ever wanted her to leave me alone. I live for her smiles whenever I walk through the front door, I love to watch the voracious way that she eats, I yearn for the sound of her voice – her laugh, the scent of her skin and her hair.
And then there’s that whole music thing…
No other girl has ever made me feel this way, and for most of my life, I just didn’t think this was possible. I didn’t think there could ever be a girl like Avery out there with the ability to turn me on and make me laugh, while at the same time giving me a reason to get up in the morning, and a reason to come home at night. I didn’t think there’d ever be a girl who would make me feel…
How am I supposed to be normal around her, when I want her so much?
Two weeks since we kissed… I’m counting. I shouldn’t be counting, but I am.
“Where’s Dylan?” Josh asks, as he stands in front of me, pulling his tie free from his shirt, draping the pale yellow fabric over the back of a chair as he unbuttons the top of his shirt and rolls up his sleeves. I watch him distractedly, knowing I should respond but struggling with my words.
He moves over to where I’m sitting on the couch, watching re-runs of The Walking Dead. Something about watching the zombie apocalypse in the dark is strangely soothing…
“I never see him anymore. It’s like he doesn’t even live here,” he adds.
Josh sits beside me, leaning in to press his lips against mine briefly, before he snags the remote from my hand and begins flipping channels.
I let out a quiet sigh. “I haven’t seen him much either lately. He’s working then going out with friends, I guess…”
I asked Dylan to be normal so we could work out how we really feel. I didn’t expect him to be this normal. I didn’t expect him to go back to the way he was when we first moved in. I didn’t expect him to quit coming home for lunch and dinner. I didn’t expect him to quit spending time with me… Where does he go every night anyway? I mean, I know he comes home, because I see him in the morning before work. But, we barely talk, and things are strained. Maybe, I shouldn’t have asked him to stay. Maybe, it would have been better if we spent time apart instead of this…this avoidance that’s going on. I miss what we had. I miss our friendship, and most of all, I miss him.
“I suppose that’s why he’ll never leave LA. There’s a party going on every night, so he can always find someone willing to share a bed.”
“He’ll probably get syphilis,” I mumble, feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of him going out there and sleeping with other women. Not that I have the right to stop him. I sleep next to another man every night. But, I can’t bring myself to have sex with him. Every kiss feels like cheating. But then, Dylan is going out every night, and I saw what women are like around him at the club that time…I shouldn’t be pushing Josh away – he is my boyfriend after all…
Josh chuckles and slides an arm around my shoulders, his interest caught by a documentary about the dangers of sugar. “Babe, syphilis is a pretty easy cure these days. But, I’m sure he uses protection. He’d be pretty stupid not to.”
Picking at the lint balls on my oversized sweater, I frown. “Can we not talk about Dylan’s sexual prowess please?” I snap, causing Josh to turn and narrow his eye at me.
“Is everything all right, Avery? You’ve been a bit upset since you got your cast off. Is your ankle still giving you trouble?”
He leans forward and lifts my leg, guiding it so I have to lay it across his lap where he gently presses the skin and checks my mobility in a professional but caring way that pulls at my heart. It makes me feel nasty for snapping and for sitting here thinking about Dylan instead of being happy with him. Why aren’t I happy with him?
“Not really. It hurts a little by the end of the day. But, I’m just keeping up my strength exercises and doing everything the therapist tells me, and then some. It’s getting strong,” I reply, trying to inject some lightness into my voice, because none of this is Josh’s fault. I’m feeling this way because I allowed my heart to wander, and I’m beginning to wonder if I was foolish to think a man like Dylan could be happy with a girl like me.
“Are you wearing your brace when you walk?”
I nod. “I’m doing everything to the letter. I want to be in top shape by the time autumn gets here.”
“Well, a little weakness is to be expected. But, you’re a trooper. You’ll be pirouetting perfectly before you know it. Oh, which reminds me. I have been guaranteed this Saturday night off after they reneged on the last one. I’ve messaged Dylan to see if he’s free again so we can go out. Do you think your ankle will be fine? We can stay in and watch a movie if you’d prefer.”
I sit up straight, removing my leg from his lap as my heart picks up at the prospect of fun and the opportunity to be around Dylan. “I’d like to go out. I’m tired of spending my nights here on my own.”
“You know I wouldn’t mind if you wanted to go out with Dylan and Roxy and everyone. They’re a nice group, and you shouldn’t feel as though you have to wait here for me every night. I know this work schedule of mine isn’t easy on you, and at twenty-one, you should be out having fun.”
“I know. I just haven’t much felt like having fun lately.”
He reaches over and gives my thigh a gentle squeeze. “Well, this Saturday will hopefully be the exception.”
“Oh, I see, you’ve got the cast off and now hanging out in a tattoo parlor is beneath your alabaster skin,” Roxy mocks, when we meet up with her and George at another new club. This one is called
and seems to have a bit of an intergalactic feel about it.
“Well, I don’t have the artwork on my cast anymore, so I don’t really fit in with you weirdoes,” I tease in return, as I give her and George a quick hug. Then I wave to the others with them. I remember them from last time, but not their names. However, I don’t see Dylan…
“You know I could give you some ink, and you’d fit right in. I think you’d look beautiful with a bit of lacework on your shoulder and some bright flowers, or a peacock feather on your side. It would be classy, I promise.
Laughing, I shake my head. “Not a good idea, I’d be forever covering it if I ever want to dance professionally.”
“She wants to dance on in the big stage shows on Broadway,” Josh informs her, draping his arm over my shoulder, the scent of his cologne, tickling my nose with its familiarity. He’s dressed in light jeans and a button up navy shirt, and I have on a dress I bought with my dwindling savings that is midnight blue with silver thread running through it, catching the light when I move. It’s fitted and shows off my curves, and I keep telling myself that I bought it for the fabric, and not the way it hugs my hips and shows off my cleavage.
“Broadway? Why in the world would you come to LA then? You’ll end up being a background dancer in music videos. You should have stayed in New York.”
“Well, she has to finish college first,” Josh answers, before I can even open my mouth.
“What happens with your career Josh? Are you planning to go back to New York at the end of your residency so Avery can dance there?” George asks, squinting up at him through his wire rimmed glasses.
Glancing at me momentarily, Josh then turns back to them and offers a shrug. “We’ll work something out.”
“Where’s Dylan?” I blurt out, unable to keep the question inside any longer. I need to see him. I need to know if he’s decided this isn’t worth pursuing. I need to know if there’s a spark of interest in his eyes when he looks at me. I need…I need to know where I stand and what to do from here. I’m in limbo and this isn’t fair to Josh.
“He should be here, soon,” Roxy says, looking out over the growing crowd. “Oh look, there he is now.”
When I turn, I see him instantly, his head above the crowd as he rakes his long fingers through his dark blond hair, before smoothing his hand over the undercut that is slowly growing back. Two weeks. I watch him as if he’s moving in slow motion and without sound. I hear muffled noises but nothing comes through clear. I’m too focused on him. God, he’s so beautiful so… popular with the ladies.
My mouth drops open when he stops walking toward us, pausing to lean down and hug a tiny brunette girl and her friend. They’re saying something that makes him laugh, and the brunette leans up and kisses him on the cheek, holding her cell out to take a selfie.
We wait patiently for him to finish his conversation then he takes a few steps toward us before he gets bailed up again, this time with a blonde. It twists my insides as I realize exactly what he's doing every night (or more so, what he's being collecting – extra notches on his bedpost!)
“Oh god, you can’t take that man anywhere without this happening,” Roxy says, shaking her pink head from side to side before looping her arm through mine and turning me away from the continuing scene. It’s hard to tear my eyes away, but my heart is in my throat and my spirits are suddenly low – he didn’t even look at me… How could I have been so naïve?
“Let’s just meet him inside,” she suggests. “He could be with those girls forever.”
“I don’t know how he does it,” Josh laughs, slipping his arm around my waist as we follow George and Roxy inside.
“What do you mean?”
“Keeps those women loving him even though he’ll never commit to any of them.”
I glance back over my shoulder, catching sight of him just before we step inside the club. “They don’t love him,” I comment. “They just love the idea of him.”
“It’s true,” Roxy adds. “It’s the whole taming the bad boy thing. Plus, too many of them have watched LA Ink and think dating a tattooist might get them on TV. It’s a good time to be an artist in this town.”
“From what I hear, you used to be just like that,” I say to Josh, looking up at his handsome face to see his reaction. He simply laughs.
“That was before I met you, babe. How could any man want that when he could have you?” he says with a smile, before leaning down and pressing a kiss to the curve of my neck.
I close my eyes, and feel my chest do one of those emotional stutters. What the hell am I doing? Why am I standing here upset with Dylan when I’m here with Josh?
I’m here with Josh. I’m Josh’s girl.
What happened with Dylan was clearly a mistake – that seems obvious to me now – Dylan has made it painfully apparent in his actions over the past two weeks and again tonight. I’m being foolish. It was just a kiss…well, two kisses. Two great kisses…but I’m thinking they meant more to me than they did to him, and I shouldn’t be thinking like that. I should be happy that I’m with Josh, because Josh loves me. Josh is here with me – not some bimbo posse that probably only cares about how many selfies they can get on their Instagram feed in one night.
“You want a drink, or do you want to dance first?” Josh calls out over the music. It’s some sort of trance beat, and it’s OK, but I think I’ll need some liquid refreshment if the music isn’t good (The music isn’t good – how ironic).
“A drink, I think,” I smile, looking up at him and taking in his chocolate eyes and silky hair and feeling bad for how unfair I’ve been to him. I need to make up for being a shitty girlfriend. “I think we should move into our own apartment,” I suggest suddenly.
He raises his brow. “You aren’t happy where we are?”
I shrug. “It’s fine. It would just be nice to have our own space.”
He looks at me for a moment then he nods. “OK. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Wait here, and I’ll get that drink.”
Leaning down, he presses a kiss to my lips, holding it for a long moment.