I’m in class though I don’t want to be. I took a lighter load after my supreme screwup of the fall semester. Why risk temptation again? I’ll have to make it up over the summer break by taking a few extra courses, but I don’t care. Where else would I go?
Not home, that’s for damn sure.
At least while I’m on campus, I feel somewhat normal. I can forget about my dad and Adele and what she told me. I haven’t spoken to her since the last time I called her and made her tell me everything. I barely talk to my dad either. He knows something’s wrong with me, but doesn’t push. I know something’s wrong with him too, and I don’t push either. What’s the point? Do I really want to find out what’s wrong?
I move through the day like a robot, checking in and checking out. The longer I’m alone, the more in my head I get. Remembering I promised Jace I would go to Logan’s birthday party this Saturday fills me with a sort of panic I don’t like to focus on. I have to do this. Dr. Harris said I need to make like a real person again and she’s right.
But it still scares the shit out of me.
I’m in my communications class, which is huge, and there’s this girl who I sit close to every day. She’s short and petite, her hair is long and blonde and she reminds me so much of Fable, it’s almost painful.
But I’m a glutton for punishment. I like sitting by her. Pretending she’s someone else, holding my breath when she turns her head in my direction, always ready to be surprised when I find out Fable really is sitting next to me.
Dealing with the disappointment when the truth is revealed. She isn’t who I want her to be. No one ever will be.
The professor is droning on but I’m not listening. I take out a sheet of paper and start writing. A letter I will never give a certain someone. But I need to pour my feelings out for her or I’m going to explode. Once my pen meets the paper they just flow and I have no control over them.
Maybe it was a mistake leaving you.
And I don’t know how to make it right.
Regret fills me every single day.
So much of it builds up I
Hate myself for
Missing you. Hurting you.
And I want you to know I…
Long for you
Others may come and go in our lives but…
We belong together
I stare at my stupid little poem that the girl I love will never read. I draw little squiggly lines around it. A cursive F, just like I was taught in elementary school. Her name. Fable. A story. A myth. A fairy tale. She’s my story. I want to live and breathe and die for her and she has no idea how much she consumes my thoughts. To the point I think of nothing else. I’d rather sit in class and write her love poems with secret messages in them than pay attention to what’s really going on my life.
What a fucking mess I am.
For a girl
As pretty as she deserves the
Best. No more
Lies. She is my
But I’m not brave enough to tell her. I stare at this new bit I wrote for her and disgust fills me. I’m not good enough for her. I can’t even tell Fable how I really feel about her to her face.
“Are you a writer?”
I glance up to find my pseudo-Fable smiling at me and I frown. Her face is all wrong. She has brown eyes. And she’s not as pretty, though she’s definitely attractive. I don’t know how I thought she looked like Fable. “What did you say?” I ask.
She nods toward the piece of paper filled with my scribbling. “You’re not paying attention to the lecture. Are you writing a poem? It looks like one.”
Sliding my hand over the paper to hide the words from her seeking eyes, I study her face, willing her to look more like Fable. But it doesn’t happen. This girl is nothing like her. And I hate her for it. “I’m taking notes.”
She smiles. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell if you’re not.”
“But I am,” I insist defensively because these words are for no one else. They’re for me and a girl who will never see them.
“No need to freak out,” she whispers. Her gaze narrows, as if she can see in me, through me, and I’m tempted to run. “Or get so defensive.”
I say nothing. How can I defend myself against that when she speaks the truth?
“Hey, aren’t you Drew Callahan?” She cocks her head, her expression full of sudden interest. “Mister Big Shot Quarterback?”
Her voice is full of sarcasm. I let down the entire school at the end of the season in one spectacular fail after another. I fell apart and everyone knows it. I can see the contempt in her gaze, feel it radiating from her body, and I know she thinks I’m a joke.
Grabbing my backpack at my feet, I shove the piece of paper into it, along with my book. I get out of my chair and haul the strap over my shoulder. “He doesn’t exist anymore,” I mutter to her before I make my escape. Right in the middle of class.
But I don’t give a shit. I just keep on going. Until I’m outside and breathing in the sharp cold air, the sun shining on me, the people bumping past me as I push through the crowd. I hear someone call my name but I ignore it. All sorts of people seem to know me but I don’t know them.
That’s my bullshit story, no matter how much I don’t want it to be.
I feel my phone vibrating in my jeans pocket and I grab it, see that it’s my dad. Normally I’d let it go straight to voice mail but for whatever sadistic reason I’m in the mood to talk to him. So I answer.
“Drew.” He sounds surprised.
“What’s up?” My voice is deceptively casual. I should’ve been an actor. I’m so good at faking my life it’s unbelievable.
“I was hoping I could come and see you.” He clears his throat and it’s like I can feel how uncomfortable he is even through the phone. “There are some…things I need to talk to you about.”
My gut clenches and I feel like I’m going to throw up. He sounds serious. Scary serious. “Like what?”
“Well, I’d rather talk about it when I see you but…I may as well tell you now.” He takes a deep breath and so do I. “Adele and I are getting a divorce.”
I feel like I’ve been smacked upside the head and little birds are tweeting in a circle above me, straight out of a cartoon. Glancing around, I catch sight of a bench and I sit heavily on the edge of it, my backpack knocking against me, making me wince. “What? Why?”
“I’d rather come there and tell you. Are you free this weekend?”
“Sure.” I remember Logan’s party. “Well, I have something to do Saturday night, but I can cancel it.”
“I don’t want to interfere with your plans.” My dad usually doesn’t give a shit about my plans, so his protesting is unnerving. He’s not himself. Is he upset that he’s getting a divorce? Does he view this as a good thing or a bad thing? Of course, I automatically blame Adele for everything.
“You won’t be interfering, Dad. Trust me. It’s just a stupid party.” Dr. Harris is going to be pissed at me, but I don’t care. I need to be here for my dad. Especially if he’s finally going to really end it with Adele.
I shouldn’t be happy. I should feel sorry for him. But this is the right move. She’s a sick bitch and I want her poison out of my life. Out of my dad’s life too. Plus—and this is completely selfish on my part—I don’t want our secret revealed.
I don’t even know if her secret is the truth. And that’s what scares me the most. What’s real, what’s not? I’m not sure anymore.
“How about I’ll come there Friday, stay the night with you and go home Saturday? That way you can do what you need to do Saturday night,” Dad suggests.
“You can stay the entire weekend if you want.” I want him to. I miss him. We used to be close. Before I turned fifteen and my stepmom decided I looked far more interesting than my dad ever did.
You’ve grown up so much, Andrew. You’re so handsome, so big and s
Closing my eyes, I shove her flirtatious voice firmly out of my brain.
“Let’s play it by ear,” my dad says.
That’s all I can ask for, so I agree. And when we hang up, I feel a little lighter. My head’s not as cloudy and for once, I’m hopeful.
I clutch that feeling close to me for the rest of the day.
If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever. – Winnie the Pooh
My dad shows up Friday around noon and we go to lunch, at one of the popular cafés downtown that’s full of college students and people on their lunch break from the nearby businesses. It’s small and busy and the tables are tiny and round. Our knees bump against each other because we’re both tall, and it feels incredibly awkward. I’m not saying much beyond small talk because he’s the one with the major news.
Scratch that. I have major news, but I’m never going to drop that particular bomb on him now. It might scar him for life. Ruin our relationship forever.
I’m not taking that chance.
Finally, after the waitress brings us our lunch, he finally says something important.
“I filed divorce papers yesterday. Adele will be served sometime next week.”
I lift my head to meet his gaze and find him studying me pointedly. As if he’s got everything all figured out. For a moment, I’m afraid he does. But then he digs his fork into the salad he ordered along with his sandwich and eats. Like what he said really didn’t matter at all.
“Where is she?” I ask after I swallow. I can’t bring myself to say her name.
Fable would like that. If she had a chance, I know she’d scratch that bitch’s eyes out.
“She’s still at the house. I asked her to leave and she refused.” Dad wipes the corner of his mouth with his napkin. “Not quite sure what I’m going to do about that. I can’t kick her out—yet. She really has nowhere to go. But she was the mother of my child.”
Maybe. I swallow hard. “Where will you go?”
He shrugs. “I’m staying at a hotel for the moment. And she’ll trip herself up. I have a plan.”
My appetite leaves me. If this is going to be an ugly divorce and I’m somehow involved, I don’t think I can take it. “What’s your plan?”
His gaze is pointed again, directly aimed at me, and I want to squirm. “She’s having an affair. I know it, I can feel it, but I don’t have proof.”
My stomach churns. If this has anything to do with her and me, I don’t know what I’ll do. God, that was so long ago. No way could their current problems have anything to do with me. “Who do you think she’s messing around with?”
“That I’m not sure. It’s only been going on for a few months but I know she’s involved with someone. And I don’t think this is the first time she’s done this sort of thing.”
Shit. I haven’t been with her in years. And my dad’s right. This isn’t the first time. I’m sure I wasn’t her only. More like the first of a long string of guys. She thrives on attention. Needs it like we need oxygen to breathe.
“I’m sorry, Dad.” I am. I’m sorry that he has to go through this and deal with an evil, cheating, immoral bitch for a wife. He has no idea the damage she’s wrought to his family. My dad’s oblivious. He definitely has his faults. I know he’s not perfect, none of us are, but I wouldn’t wish this on him.
He chose her, though. Now he has to deal with the fallout of their dissolving marriage.
“Don’t be sorry.” My dad waves his hand, dismissing my worry with a flick of his fingers. “She’s a stupid bitch who finally ran out of options. Whoever she’s fucking, I think he works at the country club.”
She’s slumming. Great. Dad must love this.
“And I think he’s young,” he continues. “She’s dressing like she’s twenty and listening to music that would only appeal to a silly teenage girl. I caught her working out in a Justin Bieber T-shirt a few weeks ago while listening to some boy band. She’s too damn old to wear that sort of crap. What woman her age does that?”
I want to laugh but I don’t. I’m not laughing at my dad’s irritation. More like at her desperation and the fact that she seems to like them young. It’s either that or go into a complete rage. She’s disgusting. “How do you know she’s having an affair?”
“I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I hired a private investigator. He’s tailing her now. Finding out all her juicy secrets. Bitch doesn’t stand a chance.”
Neither do I if he finds out the juicy secret I share with her. “I hope it doesn’t blow up in your face.”
“How could it? I’m not the one who’s done wrong here. She is. I’ve been faithful to her our entire marriage.”
My good friend guilt nestles in deep within me and I push my plate away. This is the last thing I want to hear. I’d almost prefer it if my dad admitted he’d done nothing but cheat on Adele. “Really, Dad? You can be honest with me, you know. Not like I’m going to tell.”
“Really.” His expression is hard; his eyes, as blue as mine, are cold. “I loved her. Deep down inside, I still do. I have to wonder if she ever loved me. How long has she been unfaithful? Who else is involved? How deep do her lies go?” He shakes his head, his disgust clear. “She’s wronged me. Made a fool of me in front of our friends. For all I know she’s been flaunting this boy toy of hers while I’m out of town working. I don’t know.”
“You talk like you want to get revenge on her.” I don’t know how to react. Don’t know what to say. His words…fill me with fear. He could push her to admit things I never want to her to confess. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my dad like this.
“Maybe I do.” He laughs but it’s an angry sound, as if torn from his throat. “Maybe I want to make her suffer. Make her look like a stupid slut. I gave her everything. When we first met, she was perfect. Beautiful, fun, thoughtful and amazing in bed.”
I grimace. Last thing I want to hear. “Didn’t need to know that.”
“Come on, Drew. You’re an adult. That sort of comment shouldn’t bother you.” He studies me. “Now that I think of it, you haven’t mentioned your little girlfriend. Are you two still together?”
My entire body stiffens at the reminder of Fable. “We broke up.” Not really, but technically we were never together so what else can I say?
“That’s a shame.” His words are completely insincere. “Not that I thought she was the sort of girl for you.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I growl, flexing my hands into fists.
“You know exactly what I mean. She’s the sort of girl you screw on the side, not the one you keep forever.”
I stand so fast I knock my chair into the person sitting behind me. My blood boiling, I glare at my father but all I can see is red. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. Fable is one of the best people I’ve ever known. She’s loyal, kind, sweet…”
Dad’s gaze meets mine, his eyes full of contempt. I’m making a scene and he doesn’t like it. I really couldn’t give a shit. “If she’s so great, why aren’t you with her?”
The truth falls from my lips with ease. “Because I’m not good enough for her.”
I leave the restaurant without another word.
“You look different.”
I smooth my hand over my newly colored hair, my freshly painted nails catching my eye. They’re red, as bright as the color coating my lips, and I feel like a different person. But I want to show indifference. As if this sort of thing is common for me. That handsome men who just so happen to be my boss whisk me to a popular and expensive hair salon in the late afternoon without an appointment and pay for my complete makeover. All the while he’s standing by with a satisfied grin on his face, like he’s solely responsible for my transformation.
Which he sort of is.
I should be insulted. Colin taking me to the salon is basically saying I
don’t look good enough to work for him. I need to change—at least physically.
But secretly, it’s also flattering, his attention. No one pays attention to me. They all just…count on me to get stuff done. My mom, my brother, my old boss at La Salle’s—yep, I gave notice this morning, finally. Drew paid attention for a little while but he’s too wrapped up in his problems to worry about mine.
I miss him. I hate that I miss him but I do. Funny how someone can come into your life for such a brief time but leave such a lasting impression. He permanently imprinted himself on my heart, and I permanently imprinted his name on my skin.
It’s silly, longing for a man who doesn’t long for me.
“Your hair—the blonde is darker.” Jennifer smiles at me, nodding with approval. “I like it. Suits you better.”
Colin is a great boss but he employs a bunch of bitches at his restaurant. And I’m starting to realize why they’re so bitchy—we’re all in direct competition with one another, not only for being the most wanted waitress at The District, thus getting the most in tip money at the end of the evening. But we also want to be the most wanted waitress in Colin’s eyes. Which is all sorts of fucked up if I think about it too long.
So I banish the realization from my brain, like I’m so good at.
Jennifer so far has been the nicest to me, but she was the new girl on the block until I showed up so she’s probably thankful there’s a fresh target here for them to hate. She’s pretty in an exotic, almost mysterious way, which I find amusing considering her standard, every-girl name. She has long straight-as-paper black hair, large dark brown eyes, olive-colored skin, and she’s so incredibly tall, I get a crick in my neck if I stare up at her for too long.
She’s everything I’m not. We’re complete opposites in every way.
“Did Colin take you to get your hair done?” she asks as we set the tables for the evening. I’m doling out the silverware, she’s setting out the freshly polished glasses and I’m so startled by her question, I stand there with my mouth hanging open for a second. Long enough that she speaks again.
Second Chance Boyfriend (Drew + Fable) Page 3