”Callie! Callie wait up!” The voice behind me is as recognizable as the creak of the stairs in my old victorian-style house.
”Martin. Hey!” I try to put on a genuine smile, I swear. Yet, he doesn't look too convinced.
”I tried to get you attention in the hallway, but you just walked right past me. Got somewhere interesting to be today?” he asks. He sounds so vulnerable, so breakable, and I can't bear the pressure that puts on me. I have to be the strong, responsible, reassuring one.
”No not at all, I just didn't hear you. I'm not feeling too well this afternoon.” Relief and then concern flashes over his face. My conciousness is gnawing at me.
”Are you coming down with something?” His hand reaches up to feel my forehead, but I wiggle out of the way.
”No, it's nothing. Not enough sleep, I guess,” I hurry to say, which is the lamest excuse in the history of extremely lame excuses. He buys it though. Because why would I be lying? That gnawing sensation draws my attention again.
”Of course. That Spanish test was a mean son of a bitch. As hard as you study it's obvious you don't get enough sleep. But really baby, I think you should take a few nights off. Believe me, your average won't crash from two days of A minus.” He explains it away so easily, and I can't quite figure out if he naïve or desperate. Either way, the truth is another. And my grades might not suffer under a few A minuses, but it sure is suffering under the B+'s that's been coming in lately.
”You know I'm right! Do you want me to drive you home? I can postpone my workout,” he offers with a devious smile, and suddenly I understand exactly why I fell for him. That smile...
”Oh, no, you shouldn't. Anyway, Marissa is taking me,” I assure him hurridly, and look around the parkinglot for my next-door neighbor and best friend.
”Sounds great baby. Catch up with you later, right?” Again with the vulnerability. Like I might throw him away at any given opportunity. Little does he know...
”Yeah, see you.”
A quick peck on the cheek and a tentative smile later, and he is on his way back to the gym.
The phone is out of my pocket the second he rounds the first corner.
'Where r u?'
After that quick text to Marissa I check my other messages. No new texts, not surprisingly, but my facebook shows new notifications.
One of them is a message.
'Are you still up for it today? Or is the big and bad keeping you trapped? :D'
So typical for Luke to refer to my boyfriend as 'the big and bad.' A small smile catches my lips.
Martin isn't big, nor bad, but what Luke doesn't get is that I am not scared of Martin. I am afraid of hurting him. Luke doesn't take that threat too seriously, though.
If he can't hold on to you, it's not yours, nor my fault, he always says.
'Oh, you have no idea how up for it I am ;)' I reply, just as my phone buzz. It can only be Marissa.
'In the PL. B right there<3'
Great! After having stood next to the midnight-blue Volkswagen for 10 minutes, I am starting to think I could've spotted the wrong car. But no more than a few seconds after that thought pass through my mind, I spot Marissa's black curls.
”There you are!” I burst out as soon as she arrives. My fingers are beginning to fidget with the hem of my shirt, and I don't like the nervous movements one bit. ”Wanna get the hell out?”
”Yup! I am SO ready for the weekend! And you are meeting the hottie today!” she squeals, a little too loud for my liking.
”Marissa! Quiet down!” I hiss, but she just brushes it off.
”Aww, don't worry about it. Martin IS a hotty, so...”
I get her point. Everyone knows that Martin and I am a thing, and he is quite good looking. It might not be as suspicious as I first thought.
”Okay then. But back to the 'getting out' part. Like, now.”
She pulls out her car keys and waves them in the air in a mock salute. ”Yes ma'm!”
The grin that cracks over my face is impossible to hide, though I do try.
”March!” I order, and when she opens the car I pull open the door I slide into the soft fabric of the passenger seat.
The first half of the drive is without complications. Marissa is playing some of that terrible techno she loves, and yapping on about this really hot guy from her bio class, who might also be very sweet. I nod and laugh at all the right times, but since I haven't met him or even seem him anywhere, it is hard to come up with a relevant opinion.
Also, my mind is partly otherwise engaged.
'Make Ris drop you off at my place, she doesn't have to take you all the way out of town :P'
'Are you making naughty plans? :o'
'Maybe... What'ya gonna do about it? :D'
'Kick you in the groin...'
'You know what? Ris can just drop you off at your own place, if that's the attitude we're dealing with today :P'
'No chance! :D'
It goes on like that right until Marissa breaks my happy-bubble.
”So... How are things with Martin?” she asks, a careful look in her eyes.
”He loves you, you know. And you always say that you love him too... so what is going on?” This was a talk we'd had before. I knew that I was playing with fire. A part of me just hoped, that if I was burned I would be able to shy away. I hadn't been yet. And oh my, that fire was so captivating.
”You know Luke... He's...”
”Of course I know Luke. He's my brother's best friend, and has been so forever. And I will admit that he is sexy as hell and has only gotten hotter over the years, but... I just don't like it, you know. It feels wrong.”
Wrong... Wrong wasn't the word. There is something groundbreakingly frightening with being able to deceive the people you love that way.
”I know.” I say, a single tear spilling down my cheek. ”Believe me, I know.”
Marissa signals and pulls into the curb. ”Hey? I'm not saying you're a bad person. I love you, just like I always have. It's just that Martin is so devoted to you, and I see you fight with your feelings every day. It's taking it's toll on me too. That's all,” she assures me, and pulls me in for one of her best-in-the-world hugs. I know it isn't all there is to it, but in that moment she sounds so convinced that I could almost bury myself in the certainity she radiates. I miss being certain of things. Especially about myself and my choices.
”Thanks. I love you, you know,” I whisper, and hug her a little closer.
”You too. So where were you going? My place? His? Out of town somewhere?” Her voice is back to being light and cheerful.
”His place. He specifically said that you shouldn't have to drive me all the way out of town,” I instructs with a wicked grin.
”Oh! How uncharacteristically gentlemanly of him. I have no idea what you see in him,” she says with mock exasperation, and rolls her eyes.
”Yeah.. You do,” I say, still with that wicked grin on my lips.
”Well... Yeah,” she admits. Then she laughs heartedly, and everything feels like it'll be okay.