*A/N: Alright, so if your already reading this far, thank you so much! I've got good plans for this novel and I hope they continue to go through my head as you continue to fly through these chapters. :> Of course, right now not much is happening, but I hope you have enough interest to continue. Don't forget to look at the character pictures! : A/N*
Ben sat behind the wheel of his old truck, smoking a cigarette and watching the rain stream down the windshield in light splatters. Although it was only ten o'clock at night, the convenience store parking lot was almost completely deserted. There wasn't even anyone parked at the gas station pumps, despite the heavy traffic passing by on the interstate behind him.
Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Ben turned his head, watching as an old Honda pulled into a parking spot that was two spaces down from him. Because the guy who was driving was staring over at him with a glare in his eyes, Ben didn't have to see the familiar young woman climbing out of the passenger seat to know who he was. He looked away in the other direction, not just because he didn't want to see her with another guy, but because he didn't want to watch her move her seat forward and lean into the backseat to retrieve the large cardboard box with his stuff in it.
Mezyma had insisted on meeting him in a parking lot somewhere to give him back his stuff he had left at her apartment for when he would stay with her on the weekends, but she had left out the part where she was going to bring her new boyfriend with her.
Ben didn't look back in their direction again until he heard gentle knocks on the passenger window of his truck. Mezyma was standing there with the box balanced on her hip and her honey brown hair slightly wet from the rain, her pink tinted lips curving into a nervous smile. Even after all she'd done to him, the very sight of her made his heart jump. "Door's open," was all he said, taking one last puff of his cigarette and smudging it into his ashtray. He knew how much she hated cigarette smoke. She nodded in acknowledgment, opening the door and setting the box down on the floor. She hesitated, her blue grey eyes showing uncertainty of what to say or do. "Climb in," he offered. Unsure, she looked back at her boyfriend before she returned her attention to him and lowered her gaze.
"I...I have somewhere to be," she informed him. She never was a good liar. He shrugged, reaching down to pick up his Redbull and raising it to his lips.
"Leave, then," he replied pointedly, taking a swig of it and then setting it back down in its holster. She nodded, but didn't move to leave. He looked out the windshield, watching as a mother unloaded three kids.
Suddenly, her boyfriend rolled down his window and yelled over. "Mez, let's go, babe."
She glanced over at her shoulder at him and then looked back at Ben. "Bye," she said quietly, shutting his door softly and turning around to walk back to the Honda with her hands hugging her elbows.
"Bye," Ben murmured, long after she could hear him. After lighting another cigarette, Ben leaned his seat all the way back, closed his eyes and let out a deep breath, smoke hovering in the air over him. Mezyma had always left an impression on him, but when she was saying a final goodbye it was worse. He felt empty, drained, utterly useless.
He cursed suddenly, slamming his clenched fist on the dashboard of his truck. She had destroyed him, and without her he would never return to normal.
I sat in the Honda with my boyfriend, Grady, hands clasped together. Seeing Ben had been harder than I would have though. Selfishly, I felt glad that Grady had come with me; if not, I could've fallen back towards Ben.
"Mez," Grady put his hand on my knee, and smiled at me briefly. "Everything's done with him now, you can move on." The enthusiasm in his voice made me sick. Before I had started dating Grady, I knew that he was like that. Self-absorbed, careless, full of himself and ruthless, but I fell for his looks like all the others.
After five minutes of me saying nothing and keeping a stony gaze out of the window, Grady sighed and took back his hand. I only felt bad for a second.
"I don't understand why you can't get over that stoner. He was no good for you anyway. Hell, he couldn't even pay a light bill!" Grady had exploded, his voice rising several volumes. I pressed myself against the door, hands clenching together so tightly my knuckles were white.
"Grady, I am over him. But, I just gave him all of his stuff back, a final goodbye. Can't you under-"
"No, I can't. Your mine, not his and I'd be damned if I didn't go back right now and beat his ass." Grady's eyes had narrowed, his foot slowly pushing down on the gas petal. My eyes widened as he swerved from one side of the rode to the other, throwing out curse words about anyone or anything that passed. I felt myself grab the handle above my head. After two more swerves, Grady let one more curse slip from his mouth, then he stopped the car and pulled to the side of the road.
I saw him turn towards me out of the corner of my eye and I let go of the handle above me, wiping sweat from my palms. He started to reach for me, but I shook my head. "Don't- don't touch me. You're still mad." My voice shook horribly. I was scared of the way Grady had been since I'd asked him to come with me to meet Ben. He'd slapped me twice and kicked me after I'd fallen several times. If I touched the left side of my ribs I could still feel a bruise.
And now, as I saw him ball up his fist, bravery was flung into me as if by sheer force. I turned and locked my eyes with Grady. He watched me, fist still clenched on his knee. My cold gaze never wavered, but bit by bit, two minutes past then three, he finally looked away and pulled back to the road, none to gently.
Our drive home was quiet, tension weighing down everything. Everything seemed to piss Grady off, even when I asked him to roll my window up (the button was broke on my side). He wouldn't look at me, but out of anger or shame I didn't know, and I didn't want too. My head had started hurting long ago and my teeth were chattering from the cold interior of the old Honda.
When I finally started to fear my toes may have frostbite, Grady pulled up by my apartment that I shared with my father and little brother. He shut off the car and stared ahead, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. Before I could change my mind, I leaned over to kiss his cheek, but he turned and met my lips. This was his greatest apology and I pulled away shortly after, smiling softly. "G'bye. See you tomorrow?" I said as I climbed from his car. Grady nodded and gave me a small smile as well. With a nod, I turned and walked up the path to my first story apartment.
The first thing I noticed when I walked through the doors of East 87 high school, best friend Emily standing beside me, was the busy commotion. I looked at the freckled brunette and she shrugged, flipping her hair over her shoulder. Emily wasn't much for nosing around in others business, unless it was mine. This occasion was probably one of the most boring things to her.
Someone came up behind me and plopped their chin on my shoulder. I turned around and got a facefull of ginger hair. Jackson, the other friend I've known my whole life, smiled at me with his perfect teeth. I smiled and playfully shoved him from me, looking back towards the cluster of people staring down the hallway.
"Mrs. Simmons went into labor right in the middle of the hallway," Jackson explained thoughtfully, standing on his top toes to try and see over the crowd. Emily made a disgusted snort and I gave a chipped laugh along with her. Mrs. Simmons had been pregnant for nearly ten months already, her belly was freakishly large. But the other two kids she had were also born way later than usual. All of the gangly perverts liked to assume she'd had sex longer than normal. This also earned Emily's signature snort when she heard it from her boyfriend, Austen.
For about ten more minutes, Jackson, Emily and I all stood their waiting for the hallway to clear before making our way to the track where P.E was always station. Luckily we didn't have to dress out, but that was the least of our worries. Emily constantly complained about all of the football boys checking her out as she went around the track, and I agreed. She walked as if she had everything to strut, when in truth, she had very little.
Jackson and I, on the other hand, loved just being able to walk around the track. We would discuss the things we didn't have time for in normal classes.
"Told you Mez, Grady's a jerk." Emily claimed picking at her nails. I had just given them a few detail about my journey of returning Ben's things from my apartment. Jackson, as always, was sympathetic whether faking it or not. Our honest mouse of the group however, was giving me hell about choosing Grady over Ben. But, like I kept telling myself, they didn't know him.
"But, then again, " she continued, still picking at her nails. "I never liked Ben. He smokes and drinks, and is a musician. Can't trust those." Emily shook her head, then laughed at Jackson's appalled look. He was, after all, a guitarist in a band.
"I know, but... Grady's starting to scare me with his temper. Ben never had one." I said nervously, watching Jackson and Emily's faces
"All guys have tempers."
"Shut up, Jackson. You don't have one, do you?"
"Nope. No but's mister." Emily chimed, waggling her finger at him across me. I smiled half-heartedly and pushed her arm back to her side, already starting to feel like I was loosing their attention.
As our subject changed from Ben and Grady to the school play we were trying out for, I started to slow my pace. Grady was supposed to meet me at eight; it was already eight thirty. But before either of my friends could notice, I sped up and linked arms with them, giving a loud sigh of protest as we passed our P.E coach. She looked up from her clipboard, blew her whistle at us and went back to scribbling away with her pencil. I was just about to say something when I saw the familiar black hair of Grady. He was walking towards us, arms outstretched and a smile playing across his lips.
Jackson groaned. I slapped his shoulder and jogged to meet Grady, giving him a brief hug. "Hey, I'll see you guys second hour," I shouted over my shoulder at the two friends who were now watching me and and Grady, frowns plastered on their faces. I ignored this and slid my arm around Grady's waist as we walked down the track and past the bleachers towards his truck.