☠ Chapter Thirty-Nine ☠
➳ ZAYN'S POV
I slip on my jeans, beyond happy that I'm finally being let out of this fucking hospital. It's been two days of shitty meals, bitchy nurses, and constant visits from doctors. I'm tired of being asked the same questions, several times a day, and being yelled at by the nurse for yelling at her.
"The nurse gave me some of your stuff," Kit says from behind me. She's carrying a few of my personal items in her hands. As she's turning something around in her hands, I notice a cell phone, and I greedily steal it from her.
I'm sure it's mine, but it's practically destroyed. The screen is cracked and twisted so badly that it's nearly falling off, and when I press the power button, nothing happens. Looks like whoever attacked me, also ensured that the phone was destroyed in the process. I'm positive the thing's broken, but I won't know until I'm able to plug it into a charger to see if anything happens.
"This is neat." When I look at Kit, she's staring at this black ring she's holding between her fingertips. I grab it from her, eyeing it up. It's got the tread of a tire on the outside, with a single initial on the inside - a Z. I easily slip it onto my right hand. I don't remember ever owning a ring like this, but it suits me and it's fucking awesome.
I slip my leather jacket on, and check in the mirror that I look alright. When I'm pleased that I look good, I look back at Kit who asks, "you ready to go?"
"Yeah, c'mon, we're going to a party." I nod at the door to the room before walking out of it, and straight down the hall. I'm already reaching for a cigarette from inside my pocket, desperate for the feeling that nicotine gives me.
"A party?" Kit breathes as she basically jogs to keep up to me.
"Yeah, Liam came to see me late last night. Said he's having a party, so we're going."
The second we exit the hospital, Kit grabs my arm, effectively stopping me in my tracks. "What're you talking about? I thought we were going home."
"Liam's coming to get me right now, so you can either come with me or go home by yourself," I snap at her as I light the cigarette between my lips. The instant I inhale, I end up closing my eyes as the pleasure overwhelms me. It's been too long.
Kit crosses her arms beside me and huffs. "Alright, fine."
"Alright, fine, what?" I ask, obliviously.
"I'll come with you," she mumbles out, still crossing her arms tightly.
"Great," I say it as if it means something that she's coming with me, when in reality I couldn't give two fucks. I don't care if she stays here with me, or if she walks away right now. Frankly, she's gotten to be pretty fucking annoying over the last few days. She always seems to be around, reassuring me that we've been together for months and that I love her, but I don't care. I don't fucking remember her, so how am I supposed to just pretend that I love her? I don't even know her last name and she acts as if it's not important. I can't love her, I don't know who she is. But yet, she expects me to somehow miraculously love her with every fibre of my being, when in reality I just want to fuck her and leave.
What can I say? She's hot and I'd do her in a heartbeat.
Just as long as she doesn't fucking talk because she's annoying as hell.
After a few minutes of silence between the two of us, I recognize Liam's orange Mitsubishi Eclipse coming around the corner. It's loud and it causes a few heads to turn, but that's the point. He pulls up in front of us, and I quickly hop into the front seat, while what's-her-face hops into the back.
"Hey," Liam says as he cups my shoulder with a big smile on his face. "How're you feeling? Still remember me?"
I smack his arm away. "Of course, you idiot. How could I ever forget you?" I joke.
Liam laughs a little before he starts driving away. I notice him adjust his rear-view mirror before he asks, "who're you?"
She leans forward in the backseat, "I'm Kit, Zayn's girlfriend."
"Oh, what happened to Ari?"
"What about her?" I ask.
Kit laughs before saying, "oh, she uh - she's living with Louis."
"Good for him," I say to the news. Glad someone's fucking her, although I'm jealous that it's him and not me.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I figured - never mind . . ." Liam says with a chuckle. "My bad, just ignore me." He scratches the back of his head, never taking his eyes off the road. He just speeds down the roads and it reminds me of just how much I miss the feeling of being behind the wheel.
"So what've you been up to?" I ask him, interrupting the semi-awkward silence that's fallen upon the car.
"Not too much. The usual. Oh, do you remember Snow?" Liam asks me.
I nod my head, "yeah, of course I do." I'd known her for years, I'd watched her descend into a nasty drug habit.
"Alright, well do you remember that we sent her to rehab?"
"Well we did, and she's out now. She's clean . . . As far as I know. You can say hi tonight," he says as he rounds a corner.
"Who's Snow?" Kit pipes up from behind us.
"An old friend," I reply. "I'll introduce you."
"She's very friendly," Liam says with a smile.
"Actually the two of you would probably get on really well," I say it with all meaning. Snow's just as talkative as Kit is, and I've fucked the both of them, so why shouldn't they get along? I realize it's a twisted logic, but it makes sense in a way.
"Well you'll definitely have to introduce me then baby," Kit says. Just as she leans forward to peck my cheek, we're at Liam's house. The three of us exit his car and begin the walk up the driveway. I can hear thumping as the windows vibrate inside of the house from the volume of the music.
"C'mon, I'll introduce you," I say to Kit as she steps inside the house. The second we take a step inside, a bunch of people rush at me and it's a series of slaps to my back, and a chorus of congratulations for my good health before we're able to escape from the crowd and head downstairs.
As I walk downstairs I notice the familiar faces. It takes a moment for my eyes to scan all of the faces before I spot Snow, and I head towards her, pulling Kit with me. If the two of them hit it off, I can easily go wherever I please at this party, and that's exactly what I plan on doing.
Snow smiles when she sees me, pulling me in for a hug. We embrace before I hear Kit clearing her throat beside me. "Snow, this is Kit. Kit . . . Snow."
Kit smiles, "it's nice to meet you."
"You too. Would you like to get a drink?" Snow asks with a smile. She points to the far side of the basement.
"Yeah, okay." Kit looks at me and smiles quickly before the two of them head off to find drinks. I watch Snow carefully, remembering that Liam said she's fresh out of rehab. Is it normal for someone who just left rehab to be out partying so soon? Probably not.
I ignore the two of them and head off to the poker table, sitting down and lighting up a cigarette.
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
It's been probably the toughest day I've ever had while working. Though Hayes and Rae were able to cover for me when I left to see Zayn, it's been incredibly busy as I try to make up for the time that I've missed. Hayes has spent all day trying to teach me better knife techniques and at first, I was really struggling with it, but over the hours my cuts have become more precise, more professional.
The good news is that in all of the busyness, I've managed to push aside any and all thoughts of Zayn. I realize that it's a short-lived relief, however, because the second things slow down the thoughts will consume my brain like a cancer.
The other good news is that now that my shift is over, Hayes and Rae promised to take me out for dinner to celebrate the completion of my first day.
I finish putting away my knives when I hear a voice from behind me. I turn, as Chef Jules says, "great job today, Ari." He smiles at me and I return the gesture, as I begin to wash my hands.
"You have yourself a great evening," he says to me, and then he walks away.
As I'm drying my hands, Hayes approaches me with a big smile on his face. "Ready to go?"
I return his smile before uttering, "yeah, just let me grab my purse."
He nods his head towards the locker room and makes his way over. I follow behind him. Like the gentleman he is, he holds the door open for me and it causes a blush to creep up my cheeks. I unlock my locker and pull my chef's coat off. Hanging inside of my cubby is Hayes' leather jacket, and I grab it and hold it out to him.
"Here, I kind of stole this," I awkwardly stand before him, feeling embarrassed that I managed to accidentally walk away with the thing the other day.
"Oh, right. That's where that went," he gives me a meek smile before gently taking it away from me. He instantly shrugs his chef's coat off, and slips the leather jacket on before running a hand through his hair. He immediately looks different. He always looks so cute and friendly when he's at work, but the second he puts the black leather on, he looks rugged and he totally looks like a biker.
The whole thought just reminds me of Zayn, and I'm right back to where I started: feeling like shit over the fact that I've lost him.
"I'm sorry," I mutter, scratching the back of my head to avoid eye contact, "it was just Zayn and the accident and I-"
"Don't worry about it Ari, getting my jacket back was the last thought on my mind. I just wanted you and your boyfriend to be alright."
"Ex," I correct.
He quirks an eyebrow while opening his mouth to say something, but I interrupt.
"We'll talk about it over dinner, later."
He gives me a small nod. I grab my purse, and Hayes leads me outside to meet with Rae. As we step outside, I receive a text message from Rae.
Rae: I'll meet you at the restaurant
I send her a reply of 'okay' and turn towards Hayes. "So, looks like Rae's meeting us there . . . "
"Oh, right I forgot that she left early," he puts his hand to his head as if he's disappointed with himself for forgetting.
"Why'd she leave early?" I didn't even realize she left, but I guess I was too busy learning knife skills from Hayes all day long that I never even noticed when she wasn't at her station.
"Something about her girlfriend, I don't know. It's always something with those two. C'mon, I'll give you a ride," he nods his head towards the parking lot and I follow behind him. Eventually he stops in front of a black street motorcycle and my mouth goes dry. With wide eyes, I read the brand name Ducati across the machine.
Oh my God.
"This is what you drive?" I ask, nervously. I've never been on a motorcycle, let alone a street one which is fast and just inches from the pavement and we're not protected from an accident or-
"Yeah, she's pretty sweet, huh?" He smiles as he runs a hand across the motorcycle. I shift uncomfortably.
Standing here, staring at this bike makes me feel like I'm cheating. Cheating. All I'm doing is staring at a motorcycle that Hayes rides and it feels like I'm committing some form of cheating on Zayn. Why do I even feel like this? Is it because in a way, Hayes reminds me of Zayn? Why does he even remind me of Zayn? Is it because he wears leather, smokes, and drives a fast, reckless vehicle?
It doesn't even matter anymore. I'm not with Zayn, so I'm not cheating on anyone. Besides, I'm just riding on the back of a motorcycle with him, there's nothing wrong going on here anyways.
"Here," Hayes says as he hands me a black helmet. "Safety first," he smiles as he looks at the shock that's probably written all over my face. I've never done this before, and it's terrifying now that I'm standing here.
"What about you?" I ask, holding the only helmet he seems to have.
"Don't worry about me, just put it on, Ari."
He steps towards the bike and starts it with ease. The sound of the engine immediately fills my ears and it causes my hair to stand up on end, and my heart to race quickly. Again, it feels like I'm cheating when I hear him rev the unfamiliar sounding engine, but I push it aside. I'm not cheating.
With hesitation, I put the helmet on, not even concerned with the fact that it's probably ruining the style I'd given to my hair. By the time we get to the restaurant I'll probably have helmet hair but I don't even care. All I want ride now is to ride this motorcycle and forget about him for even just a minute. I throw my purse over my shoulder so that it's cross-body on my torso and step cautiously towards Hayes. He chuckles at me when he looks at me, probably laughing at how ridiculous I look in this massive helmet.
"What?" I pout.
"You look adorable," he says with a smile.
I stare at the empty space behind him, unsure of how to go about this. Part of me is saying just hop on the damn motorcycle and grip on for dear life, but the other part of me is terrified to get that close to Hayes this soon. I'm scared of the intimacy that's created when you're forced to wrap your arms tightly around another man to keep from falling off a fast moving vehicle - one of which you could fall off and die, basically at any moment.
"It's alright, just hop on behind me," he encourages as he reaches for my hand. I let him grab my hand and he pulls me towards him, leading me to straddle the bike behind him. I have to close my eyes at first, taking in the feeling of being pressed up so close to another man. "Gimme your arms."
I do as Hayes asks, reaching my arms around his waist, and his large hands instantly grab both of my hands. He wraps my arms around himself, locking my fingers together.
"Now, hug me. Tight. Like I'm your long lost teddy bear or something," he jokes, which causes me to chuckle. It relieves some of the anxiety I'm feeling, but then he twists his wrist, revving the engine and I take a sharp inhale while squeezing my eyes shut.
"You ready?" He asks, but I don't open my eyes, I just nod my head and he chuckles. "Alright, here we go."
The second we start moving, I try squeezing my eyes even tighter, but it's not possible. I find that my arms unintentionally grip like a vise around his waist, and the instant it happens I feel Hayes' body vibrating a little with laughter.
The next ten or fifteen minutes is full of the revving of the loud engine, me desperately gripping onto Hayes, and the little excited squeals that fall past my lips. It takes me well over five minutes to open my eyes for the first time, but once I do, it's exhilarating, and for the remainder of the ride I watch eagerly over his shoulder.
When we pull up to the restaurant and Hayes kills the engine, I feel disappointed. The ride was so much fun that I'm now wishing that it wouldn't end. It's absolutely intoxicating being on the back of the bike - feeling the wind against my face, absorbing the bends and the curves of the road, being able to taste the salt in the air when we drove near the beach . . . All of it was so invigorating, that I find myself wanting to do it again.
"You can get off now," Hayes says teasingly, looking over his shoulder at me though he can't fully see me.
I start blushing instantly, squeezing my eyes shut out of embarrassment. He stopped the bike, killed the engine, and yet I'm still straddling the machine while clutching onto his body. "I, uh - shit," I curse quietly under my breath, but I'm positive Hayes hears it when he starts chuckling. "Sorry," I murmur as I struggle to get myself off the machine without falling. When I've finally managed to stand up and away from the machine, Hayes removes himself from it too, standing in front of me with a big, goofy smile.
I start undoing the latch underneath my chin that secures the helmet, but I'm fumbling with it. "Need some help?" He asks me, ducking his head to look into my eyes. I nod my head sheepishly before I feel Hayes' fingers under my chin. He seems to awkwardly fumble a little too but eventually I feel the relief that comes with the chin strap being undone.
"Thanks," I mutter quietly.
He laughs when I pull the helmet off. He reaches forward and adjusts a few strands of hair that I assume went haywire from wearing the thing. I smile at him as a sign of thanks.
"Looks like Rae isn't here yet. Do you want to go inside and wait for her? Or should we just wait out here?" He stuffs his hands in his pockets as he talks.
"We could go inside, I'm sure she'll be here soon," I say. He nods in agreement and we head inside together. We walk in and the waiter quickly sits us down at a table big enough for the three of us, but she places us at a table outside so that Hayes is able to smoke if he wants to.
So Hayes and myself sit at this pretty table with a single candle outside on the patio as we wait for Rae to come. And when we sit down, a little uncomfortable silence falls upon us and I'm positive it's because this feels like a date.
I mean, yes, I'm attracted to Hayes. I think he's hot and he seems really sweet, and he's smart, and friendly, and exciting, but I'm in absolutely no position to date right now. I just got severely dumped by a guy that I was in love with. I don't know when I'll be able to move on, but it definitely isn't now.
"This uh-" he looks down at his menu and furrows his brow, "this kind of feels like a date."
I end up laughing lightly, "that's exactly what I was just thinking."
He leans forward in his chair and places his menu down on the table. "I hope you don't think that this was my intention. Y'know, like I asked Rae to tell you that the three of us would go out to celebrate, and then she suddenly has to cancel so that we're able to have some alone time. I don't want you thinking-"
"No, no, I don't think that," I interrupt his rambling.
He pulls out a pack of cigarettes and places one between his lips. He lights it with his lighter, inhales, and exhales before saying, "'cause if I wanted to date you, I'd just ask." He cocks an eyebrow. I'm enamored with the way he smokes, but it's probably because it's reminding me of Zayn.
"I-" I start to say something, but I don't know what I was going to say. I don't know how to respond to that comment. Did he basically just say that he was into me? Or did he just say that he's totally not into me? My brain swirls with confusion because, in a way, Hayes is really confusing and I don't really know where we stand.
But currently, I'm not available.
I open my mouth to say something, but am interrupted. "There you guys are! Wow, it's so nice out here! I'm sorry I'm late," Rae says as she pushes herself through the door and takes a seat, seeming exhausted.
"Where were you?" I ask out of curiosity.
"Girlfriend trouble," she utters.
Hayes scoffs, "Rae what are you even doing with her?"
"We're not together anymore," she says sadly, but then she turns to me. "This is where you come in."
Hayes raises an eyebrow, probably imagining something he shouldn't be.
"Your boyfriend has to have hot, single friends, right? I swing both ways here, so girl, boy, whatever, just hook me up with someone who isn't psycho."
"Actually, we're not together anymore, so I guess it's up to Hayes to introduce us to his hot, single friends," I reply with a lifted eyebrow in his direction. It draws his attention from the menu, and he gives me a strange look.
"What happened?" Rae asks, touching my hand gently.
I take a deep breath before adjusting my menu out of nervous habit. "He was beaten up."
"But he's okay, right?"
"Sort of. I mean, he's forgotten the last few months of his life, including me."
"Yeah, but how exactly does that equal you two breaking up? I've seen this shit in movies, it's like The Vow. Rachel forgets Channing, but he spends every waking minute trying to show her that she once loved him."
"Yeah, but eventually she rebels against him because he's trying to make her be someone she's not."
"No, but eventually she becomes the girl that falls in love with Channing by the end," Rae replies.
"But she needs to go through everything she forgot as if it was happening for the first time. It's all totally a natural sequence to her. You can't force people to remember you, and you can't force people to fall in love with you. It happens . . . At it's own natural, torturously slow pace."
Rae sighs, "wow, okay, that's totally fucked up."
"It's just really complicated."
"So how long will it be before he remembers you?" Hayes asks from behind his menu.
I shrug, "could be a day, could be a year, could be never. Who's to say?"
"So why aren't you over there making him fall in love with you all over again? He doesn't have to remember you to fall back in love with you," Rae points out.
"Yeah, but the only way he can fall in love with me is if he wants me around," I retort. "Which, he doesn't. He's already showing interest in other girls."
"Asshole," Hayes says quietly, but I catch it.
"There isn't much I can do about it."
"So I guess that leaves it up to you," Rae says as she slowly turns her head towards Hayes. "We need men, hook your sisters up."
Hayes smiles and opens his mouth to say something, but his eyes catch mine for just a moment, before he says, "I could try, but I'm not sure that Ari's ready for dating just yet."
Rae looks back at me and I shrug, "he's right . . . I need some time."
It falls quiet between us, and the silence is broken when Hayes pushes his chair back and it squeaks against the patio flooring. "I'm going to use the restroom. If she comes by, order me a beer please." I nod my head and he walks away.
When he's inside the building Rae turns towards me eagerly, grabbing my arm and tugging me towards her. "So, Hayes is totally into you, why is that?"
"What are you talking about? He's my friend."
"Ari, don't be so stupid, he's into you! Why else would he avoid the topic of hooking us up with his hot guy friends?"
"Maybe because he realizes that I'm not ready to date," I say to her and she feigns laughter. "I'm serious! I literally just broke up with the guy I was madly fucking in love with. I've never loved a guy like I loved him, Rae. I'm still heartbroken, I'm not even thinking of other guys right now. All I want is my Zayn. I want him back."
"So why aren't you fighting harder for him? If you really loved him like you say you do, I find it hard to believe that you're not at his bedside every single day reminding him of just how badly you're in love with him. Think of that other movie, 50 First Dates . . . Adam Sandler is so madly in love with Drew Barrymore that he films the biggest moments in her life so that every single morning when she wakes up and doesn't recognize where she is, or who she is, she just places that VHS in the player and watches. She is reminded of who she is every single morning because he loves her that much. Why aren't you doing that?"
I sigh over-exaggeratedly, annoyed with all of the fucking pestering questions, "it's complicated, okay! There are things that you just don't understand! And I can't fucking explain it to you! So just leave it." It gets quiet as Rae absorbs my words. "We're done, okay? Zayn and I are done. I've been beating myself up over this for the last two days, so don't pile onto it. I need to move on like he's doing."
"Okay," Rae says quietly. "I'm sorry. But look . . . If you really want to move on and you want a good guy, just promise me you won't overlook Hayes, alright? He's a really good guy, he's my friend, and I'm almost positive that he likes you. So just . . . Give him a chance, okay?"
"Okay," I agree quietly. "Just give me some time, alright? I'm in no place to make decisions on my dating life right now. All I need is time. Besides, who's to say I'm into him?"
Rae gives me this look, "oh, c'mon! He's hot as hell! Not to mention that he's super nice and have you seen his bike?"
"Actually that's how we got here."
"Wait, you rode on his bike with him?"
I nod my head, feeling the blush creep up my cheeks again, "yeah."
She throws her hands up in the air and laughs, "well, then that settles it! He's definitely into you. I asked to ride his bike and he refused. You'd think that thing was his damn child."
"No, he was just being friendly, Rae! Stop reading further into it!"
"Stop under-reading these signs, girl! You're oblivious to the signs."
I sink my head into the palms of my hands, just as the waitress comes to order our drinks. I don't know what to think of Hayes just yet because all my brain can focus on is Zayn. He's consuming all of my thoughts, all of my actions, and I know it's because I so badly just want to go and fight for him, but I know that I can't.
I know that it's probably for the best. They say that everything happens for a reason, and maybe this was fate's way of telling me that Zayn and I just weren't meant to be. But I can't help it. I miss his smile, I miss his voice, I miss the feeling of his touch, I miss his soft kisses, and the feeling of his hair. God, I miss Sky so badly too.
But I need to move on. And Hayes was starting to look like a good option, but at the state of mind I'm in, I can't even look at him in a romantic sense.
As I'm thinking, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.
Niall: hey, how are you? We haven't talked in forever. Can we get together soon? :) x