I’m gutted. I knew the possibility was there that she would do this and still it doesn’t make it any less painful. I knew what I was doing two years ago. I knew that by letting her assume I’d cheated I was pushing her so far from me I didn’t stand a chance of getting her back but back then I didn’t care. Now, now it’s all I can do to keep myself from rolling down to the lake to let myself drown in it. Surrounded by bagged dresses and countless items of makeup paraphernalia and shoes and anything else these girls would need I sit here though. I sit here imagining a different life, something I haven’t let myself do in a very long time because in my heart I knew she wouldn’t change her mind. She wasn’t going to be happy that I didn’t actually cheat on her or that I coerced JJ into playing along, she wouldn’t miraculously forgive my stupidity with open arms.
“I don’t know about you but I could use a drink…” I hear behind me.
When I turn Logan is leaning against the door frame, his arms crossed and face sullen, “One wouldn’t be enough.”
I watch him stroll through the room, his feet heavy before he holds out a flask to me and with a nod he stands there waiting for me to take it.
“I know you mean well bud but I can’t. Maybe tomorrow I’ll join you in self medicating, tonight I need to feel this,” I say with a shake of my head.
“I thought you were ready for this to happen Jack?” he asks quietly.
“So did I,” I respond.
We stay quiet for I don’t know how long before Luce comes back into the room stopping dead in her tracks when she sees us, her face going blank when she finally looks at me.
“We’ve been looking for you two, Lacey is about to melt down because we are so off schedule, let’s go,” she says, turning on her heel without a second glance.
We follow her out to the rotunda and mentally I’m going over all the times she’s walked away from me, not just today and my heart cracks a little with each replay knowing I’ve earned her coolness. I finally find my place and go through the motions of what and how everything will happen tomorrow before finally for a brief few seconds we are alone again.
“I waited for two years for this and you couldn’t even pick a better time, what did you think I was going to do Jack, just let you back in? Just allow myself to be sucked right back into our life? Our life that you threw away? Everything that happened between us and even what didn’t happen, it’s too much, I think. Too much to let go of in a few hours…” she blurts out not even looking at me.
“I know,” is all I say, as a small bloom of hope opens.
Still not looking at me she says, “I’m not saying your grand scheme is working but I’m not completely dismissing you, I’m just mad as hell…”
I don’t say another word but I let a small smile curve on my lips, little shoots burst from that small bit of hope in my mind. Hearing her utter those words, even with the seething tone to her voice, makes all the effort and hard work I’ve put in somehow worth it. This small amount of hope will need to carry me through her date for tomorrow and get me through the long conversations we will inevitably have about everything we’ve kept inside all this time and everything I did to sabotage our life. It isn’t going to be easy and I knew that, and I know that she may not be able to get past what I did or how I did it and despite my best attempts I still may be right back where I started. I have to try though, I have to know that I did everything I could to be the man she deserves.
“Jack? Earth to Jack?” Logan says with a smack to the back of my head.
“Jeez, what?” I respond, rubbing the back of my head and wondering where Luce disappeared to.
“Dude I’ve been talking to you for like five whole minutes and you’re zoned out like a space cadet…” he says with a chuckle, “Come on we’re taking the cars to the restaurant.”
“Oh, I thought they were for tomorrow?” I ask, still not sure what the plan was.
“Well they are but Lacey said we could take them out tonight…” he starts and stops.
“What’s the catch?” I ask, knowing that changing plans at this point isn’t in Lacey’s nature.
“It’s a trial run,” he answers, his features going dark.
Instantly I know why. He doesn’t have to tell me. Lacey knows that this is difficult for us, Luce and I and she is willing to do anything in her power to force the issue. Shutting her sister in a car with me and only me will provide her the opportunity to not only watch me squirm but to get back at Luce for throwing her off schedule. Imagine if you will the wicked witch of the west as she rubs her hands together cackling and inside I’m one hundred percent positive that is what Lacey looks like sometimes. Logan used to hide printed out pictures of the witch around their house when he was younger, in cereal boxes, inside medicine cabinets, you name it she was always finding them.
“Why aren’t you in the car?” I hear her cackle behind me.
“I’m heading that way now, relax…” I say before I can stop myself.
She stops then and bends so that her face is close to my ear, making my hair stand on end, “You have no idea how hard I can make this, Jack. Don’t push me…”
After she pats me on the shoulder in the most condescending manner, I bite my tongue and slowly follow after her. Really I want to just run her over. She’s so hot and cold sometimes it makes my head spin. It’s hard to believe that she’s the same woman who tried to keep the shop girl from embarrassing me in front of the other guys a few weeks ago. With a quick look in my direction she disappears into her car as I pull open the door to the superbee and my eyes find Luce’s.
“Nervous?” I ask, not breaking eye contact until she finally looks away.
I transfer in easily and I manage not to ding the paint at all. Silence fills the space around us as we follow the rolls royce to the restaurant and the tension that comes with it is nearly choking me. I’ve waited years to have her in this car but this, this isn’t how it was supposed to be. I steal a look in her direction and find her eyes trained on me.
“You know she’s doing this to get back at me. At you too…” she says.
“I know. You forget that I’ve been around this block before, Luce…” I answer with a chuckle.
“No, I didn’t forget,” she says softly.
“She’s pissed though, for a bunch of reasons,” I offer.
“You’re not wrong about that, Jack. Even if it’s for the wrong reasons,” she says.
“It doesn’t matter to her, what matters to her is that her schedule was thrown off, that she didn’t know…” I say matter of fact.
The quiet seeps around us again after that and I’d give anything to know what she’s thinking about as she taps her finger on the door panel while she watches the little town go by. I can’t stop myself from wanting to take her hand in mine, to feel her skin against mine but my hands are occupied and I know she’d reject it faster than I could enclose her hand in mine. As we pull into the parking lot and everyone begins exiting the cars she stops me, her hand on my shoulder.
“She’s not going to let up,” she says, meeting my eyes with her own.
“I can take it Luce,” I say, mustering up the strength to shrug away from her touch.
Logan is waiting for us as I put my chair back together and I’m a little shocked that Luce is still lingering around the car instead of dashing off at the first opportunity to get away. I feel her watching me and I wonder again what’s going through her mind. I’ve gotten a lot more efficient at this and most other things since we’ve been apart and I wonder as I jump the curb if she notices. If she does she doesn’t let on and when I try to bust her she turns away so quickly she trips, eliciting a loud laugh from Logan. Socking him in the shoulder as he walks next to her, for a moment it’s just like old times. Watching them I realize just how badly I’ve missed this, missed her.