Authors: J. L. Paul
Tags: #General Fiction
JL Paul Vicious Circles
Copyright © 2011 JL Paul
I have never been in love in my life – nor have I ever fancied myself in love. That just wasn’t me. I wasn’t built to be a one man kind of girl. I was more of a – wel , for lack of a better term – love ‘em and leave ‘em type.
I hadn’t always been this way. There was a time in my life when I actual y did care for a boy. He was sweet and I was smitten and we were both young. If things would have continued, I’m sure I probably would have fal en in love with him.
But, that was ruined by a spiteful little witch and that’s an entirely different story for another time.
So, I was pretty shocked when I realized that I was in love. And I was even more shocked that it hit me out of the blue while I was lounging at the pool with one of my best friends.
“Oh,” I said, as I bolted upright in my chaise, my arms extended behind me to prop my body. “Hm.”
“What?” Morgan asked as she eased her sunglasses down her nose and peered over the top.
I bit my lip, my eyes blurring as they gazed abstractedly at the high school kids splashing in the pool. I couldn’t see anything, real y, just his face and it made my stomach lurch a little. My heart fluttered quicker than normal and my pulse hammered in my veins. At first I couldn’t figure out was wrong with me – I’d only been thinking about the last conversation I’d had with him. Then I realized that I’d had similar symptoms al week whenever I was in his presence or thinking vaguely about him. Not only was it bad timing and total y inappropriate but it also sucked big time.
“Bailey?” Morgan said, prying into my insight.
“Yeah?” I said as I eased back into the chaise, adjusting the top of my simple, black string bikini.
“Is something the matter?”
“Nope,” I said with a little smirk. “Nothing.” Wel , nothing I could discuss with her at that moment. I needed to sort this out by myself.
“Are you sure?” Morgan persisted as she removed her glasses to gaze anxiously at me.
Some people couldn’t figure out why Morgan and I were such good friends and to be honest, it was sometimes a mystery to me, too. She was a little more moral –
take the high road kind of person – while I preferred to live and let live. Her parents were wel off, like my father, and I suppose that was pretty much the only similarity.
But Morgan was fun, too. And a good listener. She knew how to have a good time even if her good time wasn’t quite as ‘good’ as mine. I truly adored her.
“Yeah, Morg, thanks,” I said. I snuggled into the chair and lifted my face to the sun.
“So, do you work this afternoon?”
“Yes,” she pouted. “It’s too nice out to work.”
“I don’t see why your parents insist you take a job,” I said. It was a statement I’d been making ever since we'd decided to rent a condo near school instead of spending the summer in our respective home towns.
“I told you,” she said with a touch of impatience. “My parents are more than happy to help me with my share of the rent but they think that I need to earn some of my own money. They think it wil help me to appreciate things.” I snorted and rol ed my concealed eyes. “Al you need to do is look at Irelyn and it wil make you appreciate what you have.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Irelyn. Now,” she frowned. “Lucas keeps tel ing her that she doesn’t even need to work – he makes enough to support them.”
“Yeah but she won’t let him help her with school,” I pointed out. “She’s getting financial aid and loans. She doesn’t need to pay the loans back until she finishes school. I think she likes it. Makes her feel al domestic.”
“I think they’re cute,” she giggled and I rol ed my eyes again.
I did have to agree that Irelyn and Lucas were a great couple – and they’d been through hel to get together. Although I hadn't seen a problem with her seeing Lucas while she was stil dating Dustin, I did see how it was tearing her apart. And Dustin real y was a bore. But she ended up with Lucas who she loved more than anything.
I was happy for her.
“So, you’re working until when?” I asked, as I opened the datebook in my head. If Morgan was going to be stuck inside a bookstore al afternoon, I’d have to figure out some way to entertain myself.
“I’m working until eight,” she said as she glanced at her watch. I chuckled. Only Morgan would wear a watch while sunbathing. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’l go bug Irelyn”
“Why don’t you cal Spencer? Or is he working?” she asked.
My heart plunged as I remembered Spencer. Sweet Spencer who was doting and kind and fun. Spencer who was enjoyable – especial y when we spent the night together. Spencer who'd been my on-again-off-again fling since last winter.
Spencer, who'd promised me that we’d not take things too seriously. Spencer, who was starting to get a little too clingy…
“It’s Thursday – they’re rehearsing tonight,” I reminded her.
“You need more friends,” she said then col apsed in a fit of giggles.
I had to laugh, too. “Yeah, maybe. But no one understands me like you, Morg.” She actual y snorted. “No one can tolerate you but me. And Irelyn.”
“True,” I said as I groped the concrete next to my chair in search of my water bottle.
I found it and took a long drink. “I’l probably hang with Irelyn or with the guys. I’m not particularly picky.”
“I’l cal you when I get off work,” she said as she sat up and col ected her belongings. “Maybe I’l come by and hang out with you guys.”
“Sure thing, Morg,” I said as I waved. “Have fun at work.” She glowered at me before scurrying to the pool house to change.
Once she left, I closed my eyes and pondered my earlier revelation. I wasn’t sure what to do with it at that moment – it wasn’t exactly a wonderful thing like one might think. Matter of fact, it was kind of crappy.
Oh, I didn’t think I’d have a problem attracting him – not in the least. Confidence had never been much of an issue for me. But whether or not I could make him love me back – I wasn’t so sure.
I laughed aloud and drew a little attention from the high school boys horsing around in the deep end. I fluttered a couple fingers at them and they smiled. Let them think I was flirting – what did I care? I had other things to worry about – especial y how to deal with this problem.
I sighed, not able to resolve the problem lounging by the pool. It was something that I’d just have to get over and that would take time.
I grabbed my towel and my water bottle and sashayed out of the pool area, pul ing a sheer bathing suit cover over my head. I rode the elevator back to the condo I shared with Morgan and showered once I let myself in. Morgan had left already though the scent of her body lotion lingered in the hal .
I dried my hair, letting it hang in a dark curtain down my back, and chose my clothes careful y. I pul ed on a pair of navy blue capris topped with a white tank and slipped my feet into a comfortable pair of flip flops. Not too sexy and not too conservative. Forgoing makeup, I grabbed my bag and headed out the door.
“You’ve been at the pool al morning, huh?” Irelyn said as she handed me a soda.
“Gee, how’d you guess?” I asked as I raised a brow.
She pointed at the touch of red on my shoulders. I shrugged. I often burned slightly but it usual y faded to a tan in a matter of days. That was the beauty of inheriting my father's dark complexion. “What else am I going to do while al my friends slave away?”
“You could get a job,” Irelyn suggested, her eyes twinkling like Santa’s.
I frowned thoughtful y. “Sure – for shits and giggles.”
“You have a wonderful way with words,” she laughed.
“Why beat around the bush,” I said, smiling. Irelyn was always great to hang around
– even when she was stressed. She wasn’t whiney or preachy. She took my moods for whatever they were and never faulted me. And damn, was she fun.
“The guys are rehearsing,” she sighed, leaning on the counter in the kitchen of the apartment she shared with Lucas. “And I’m bored. Want to go over there and drink their beer?”
See what I mean about fun? “You are a bril iant woman.”
We arrived at Col in Newton’s place and could hear the muted screams of the guitars as soon as she parked her car in the drive. My heart twittered again and I mental y chastised it – forcing it to calm down. I fol owed Irelyn into the garage and glanced at each of the boys in turn. Lucas was sitting on an upturned barrel, guitar strapped around his neck. Spencer was standing as usual – he was always ful of energy. And Col in was perched on a stool behind a set of drums.
I watched – a little jealously if I were to be honest – as Irelyn’s face lit up when her eyes fel on Lucas. She hurried over to stand behind him, waiting for him to finish the song so she could kiss him.
I turned my attention to Spencer and earned a smile. I returned it though it was forced. He didn’t seem to notice so I snagged a couple bottles of beer out of their cooler and handed one to Irelyn. As I opened mine, I found a lawn chair that wasn’t too dirty and looked like it wouldn’t split with the application of any weight and shook it open. I sat, crossed my legs, and listened to the music.
When they finished, Spencer and Lucas set their guitars aside while Col in jogged around the drum kit. Lucas wrapped Irelyn in his arms while the other two raided the cooler.
“Hey, Bailey,” Spencer greeted as he kissed my cheek and draped an arm around my shoulders. We were currently in the on-again stage.
I patted his stomach and mustered another smile. I could already tel my jaws would be aching by the time I got home. “Hey, Spence.”
“Nice tan, Bailey,” Col in smirked as he nodded at my shoulder.
That little flutter in my stomach woke. “Thanks,” I said, flustered. I concentrated on the bottle label, peeling it away from the glass. “You guys sound great. Are you playing at Rusty’s tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” Spencer said as he opened a bottle and tipped it to his lips. “For the rest of the summer and probably the fal .” I fil ed my mouth with beer and bobbed my head before swal owing. Spencer’s nearness was a bit unnerving and I was rethinking my decision to accompany Irelyn. I should have stayed at the pool.
“Where’s Morgan?” Col in asked and my bottle slipped out of my fingers. I caught it before it could crash to the floor but I managed to splash beer al over my shirt.
“Damn,” I swore as I slammed the bottle on top of the cooler. I wiped futilely at the wet spot. “Wonderful.”
“Come on, Bailey,” Col in chuckled as he squeezed my arm. “I’l give you a dry shirt.” I fol owed him into the house and to his bedroom, stil blotting my shirt, and ignored the rapid beat of my heart. I had to stop it before it got out of hand.
He opened a drawer and dug out a clean t-shirt with some sort of beer slogan printed across the front. He handed it to me with a smile curling his lips and I nearly gasped. I’d always thought Lucas was the hot twin and even though they were fraternal, there were stil several similarities. Their eyes were the same deep brown with flecks of green and they had the same, slow, sexy smile.
But now, standing in his bedroom with my shirt covered in beer, I realized that Col in’s sexiness came not only from his looks but also from his charm.
I raised a brow. “Trying to tel me something?”
“Yeah,” he teased, his smile slipping into a smirk. “Spil ing beer is alcohol abuse.” I snatched the t-shirt from his outstretched hand and snorted at him. “So suck it off my shirt if you’re so concerned about waste.” His eyes narrowed as his smirk widened. “Is that an offer, Bailey?”
My heart jumped to my throat as I started to lift my shirt. I gave him a pointed look.
“Depends, you taking me up on it?” He laughed and chucked me under the chin.
“You are something else. I’l leave you to change. If you want, just toss your shirt in the basket over there and I’l wash it.”
“Hey, a clean shirt and laundry service – I’l bring my entire wardrobe over and spil the contents of your fridge on it.”
“Just the undergarments and you have a deal,” he winked as he walked out of the room. Once the door shut behind him, I sank to the bed and pressed a hand to my chest. My heart was beating a mile a minute and I was afraid it would jump right through my skin.
“What is wrong with you?” I whispered. “He’s just a guy. And he’s Spencer’s cousin.
This ain’t cool.” I drew in a few breaths, hoping it would calm my heart, and quickly changed shirts. His was long and I tied it in the back to keep it from fal ing down to my thighs. As I dropped my tank top in his laundry basket, a little thril shot up my spine. Something about my clothes mixing with his did weird things to my body.
As I rejoined the others, Spencer snagged my hand and pul ed me next to him. He wrapped his arms around my waist and I tried to just lean into him, but the usual affection wasn’t there. I was far too aware of Col in to relax.
I knew I couldn’t have Col in, but I couldn’t string Spencer on any longer - especial y if he was getting as close to me as I thought he was.
Although he'd been the one to suggest a break the last time we'd split, he'd also been the one to suggest we give it another try a month later. He was such a sweet, fun guy that I hadn't been able to say no. Plus, I real y enjoyed spending time with him. But, the romance was no longer there. So, when they decided to break for the night, I asked Spencer to take me to Irelyn’s to fetch my car. He agreed, chattering happily al the way, talking about their gig the next night. I soaked it al up – biding time until I would tel him it was over.