Chapter 1: Jake
I sat staring out the window at the people walking by, I kept
asking myself what in the world I was doing. I was sitting in the
passenger seat of my own car, nervously twitching my leg as he
pumped the gas. He always filled up my gas tank, I'll at least
give him that. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a BAD guy,
but he wasn't a good guy, either. Which was fine for the purpose
that he served.
He was older than me and he didn't have a reputation for being faithful. Quite the opposite, actually. I was ok with that, because we were never officially a couple. I never intended on getting serious about him. He was fun to be around, and I was getting over the fact that the boy I DID love didn't want me. I needed a fun, no strings attached relationship to mend my broken heart, and thats what he gave me.
When we met, I was 16 and he was 19. We met through mutual friends and quickly started up a casual friendship. He had pursued me a couple of times, unsuccessfully. Cute as he was, I knew about his reputation and what he would expect from me -- and I just wasn't that kind of girl. I was a good girl. My friends all called me the "Pure One" because I was the only one left out of them all with my virginity still perfectly intact -- which I'm convinced is the reason he chased me so much. He wanted something that he couldn't get. Nevertheless, here I was, now 18, waiting patiently for him in the car.
Our casual romance started in the middle of my senior year. He had just broken up with his latest girlfriend, and I was nursing my shattered heart. We met up somehow one night and he asked me to go for a drive. I'm not sure why I said yes, but I did. We eventually ended up parked on a dark road steaming up the windows in the midst of a major make-out session, and that's where our stringless relationship began. I wouldn't go all the way with him, although he pushed, but we ended most nights at a secluded place in a compromising position. We hung out in town and with friends as if nothing was going on. Only his best friend and my two closest friends knew, or so we thought. Anytime we were out, we always ended up sneaking off together, so I'm sure people caught on. At the time though, we were oblivious.
Forthree months we snuck around and had the time of our lives doing so. I only intended on having fun with him, not getting attached. After all, he was only the rebound guy, meant only for carefree fun and for making the boy I DID want insanely jealous (and it did...but we'll get to that story later). I sometimes wondered if he messed around with other girls besides me, but I never asked and he never offered up any information. I always assumed yes - this way it was easier to remember that it was only a fling.
Three months went by quickly, and soon it was time to say goodbye. Not because we were getting too serious or because we had met other people, but because he had joined the army and was scheduled to leave. I took it a lot harder than I had planned. As much as I hated it, I had grown attached to him and had even developed real feelings for him. When he left, I would be all alone again, reminded that I had no one, and that no one wanted me.
I tried not to, but I cried the night we said goodbye. We stood in his driveway and he just held me, and I felt safe in his arms as I wept into his chest. We promised each other that we would write every chance we could, and as he squeezed me tight, reluctant to let go, I could tell that he had unknowingly developed feelings for me, as well.
We kept out promises and wrote each other often. My best friends rolled their eyes at me when I showed them his letters. He wrote me things that he could never say in person, letting me know how he really felt about me. They knew as well as I did what a player and manipulator he was. I assured them that we were only friends, that I would never be stupid enough to really fall for him. But my heart was so vulnerable, and I was so desperate for someone to want me. I didn't even realize that I was letting my heart get involved in what was supposed to be an otherwise "stringless" relationship.
Months went by and we continued to write with an occasional phone call. I didn't realize how much I had let myself fall for him until one of my friends came to me with the bad news. A girl she worked with had been bragging about the beautiful letters that her "boyfriend", who was in the army, had been writing her. When my friend pressed her for information, she found out that her suspicions were true -- that's right, it was HIM.
When she told me, my heart sank and I knew right then that I had let my emotions get too involved. This was supposed to be my rebound guy, and here I was, broken hearted all over again. I was furious. But not with him, with myself. Ok, maybe a little with him, but mostly with myself. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't be mad at him. We both said all along that it was a casual thing. Even though it still hurt, I never said anything to him about it. I suspect he knew something was up, though, because my letters became fewer and shorter as the months went on.
Six months after he left he called to let me know that he was coming home for a week and wanted to see me. I reluctantly agreed, not wanting him to know that I had let him hurt me. But I really wasn't looking forward to the outing. I knew how it was going to end up, and my emotions were just too fragile to bare it. Yet, somehow here I was, still patiently waiting for him in the car.
I suddenly heard the gas pump click off and I looked to see him walking towards the store to pay. I rolled down the window, "Jake!" I called to him. He turned and looked at me, his blue eyes glistening in the hot July sun. "Will you get me a coke?" I asked, parched from the summer heat. He smiled and nodded his head and disappeared into the store. He really is a good friend I thought to myself as I put on my sunglasses and leaned back into my seat, closing my eyes and letting the warmth soak into my skin. Definitely not boyfriend material, but a good friend nonetheless. Thats got to count for something, right?
I was awakened from my thoughts when the driver's side door opened and Jake appeared holding a Dr. Pepper for me and a Mt. Dew for himself. He slid into the driver's seat and reached over and sat the Dr. Pepper between my legs. I gasped and shrieked loudly, "Jake! That's cold!!!" I quickly grabbed the coke bottle and gave Jake a playful punch on the arm.
He laughed as he said, "Woke you up, didn't it?"
I smirked at him. "You think you're SO funny..." I said, wiping the water that the cold bottle had left behind from my bare leg.
Still laughing Jake said, "I miss messing with you." He took a drink of his Mt. Dew and looked the other way out the driver's side window, "Ya know, being back here with you, I realize how much I just miss being with you..."
I knew how hard it was for him to talk about his feelings. It just wasn't who he was. Lightening the moment, I said, "Oh, well that's funny, because I haven't missed you AT ALL!" We both laughed and he shook his head as he started up the car and began to pull out of the gas station.
"So," he said, "Did we ever decide what we're doing or where we're going?"
"Ummm..." I began, but was suddenly cut short in my sentence as I noticed a blue Ford Ranger pulling into the gas station. I stared intently to be sure it was who I thought it was, but I didn't need to...I knew exactly who it was, and so did Jake.
"Look who it is," Jake smirked as the truck pulled up beside my car. The driver pulled close, rolling down his window so that he could talk to whoever was in the driver's seat of my car -- no doubt, expecting it to be me. Jake rolled down his window and leaned over and said, "Hey, man! What's goin' on?"
I held my breath waiting for his reaction. I could see the surprise on his face, but I wasn't sure if it was because he was expecting to find me driving the car or if it was that he wasn't expecting to find me with Jake. His eyes shifted to mine and he opened his mouth to speak but stopped. He just took a deep breath, shook his head, and quickly sped up to the store where he slammed his truck door before heading inside.
"Wonder what his problem was?" Jake said laughing. I rolled my eyes because I knew he was being sarcastic. The two of them couldn't stand each other, and when you throw me in the mix, the end results could only be bad.
"Will you turn around and go back for a minute?" I asked.
"What? Why?" Jake asked, hitting the breaks.
"I just have to make sure....I just have to do something. Come on, go back."
Jake's tone suddenly turned cold and I could see the jealousy on his face as he turned the car around. "What IS it with you and that guy??" he demanded.
"I just need to talk to him."