Rich

You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.

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51. Fifty one

I fall asleep pretty soon after Jem drops me home that night but I'm woken up by my phone buzzing on my bedside table. I expect it to be a text from him but it's a text from Alex:

Are you and Jem together then? 

I wonder whether he even deserves a response but I decide to just be the bigger person and reply anyway:

Yes

He just replies:

Okay, just saw you tonight and was wondering. 

I don't reply but he sends another text:

That was kind of fast, Kaya.

I could get really mad right now. I could have a huge fight with him and make things ten times worse than they already are but I just reply:

At least I waited until you and I finished dating to start seeing Jem.

He doesn't reply after that so I just go straight back to sleep and try and forget about it. The next morning, Carrie and Alice come over on their way to go dress shopping together and I tell them everything from the party to the texts from Alex last night.

"Wait so you and Jem are together?" Alice asks. 

"Yeah." I nod. "So what do you think Alex's deal was because-"

"When did you get together?" Alice asks. "Sorry, I'm just wondering, that's completely out of nowhere."

"Kind of last night at the party." I shrug. "But I guess we've had something going on for a little while. But what do you think is wrong with Alex?"

"It sounds like he's just being a typical boy." Carrie says. "You know, he messes up and lets you go but gets mad when you like somebody else because he thinks you're his."

"Yeah." Alice nods and then smiles turning to Carrie. "We should probably go, we don't want to miss our bus."

"You're right." Carrie agrees and looks at me as they both grab their things and get ready to go. "You sure you don't want to come?" 

"Nah it's cool, Jem will be here in a bit." I explain and with a goodbye, they're gone and five minutes later Jem pulls into the driveway and knocks on the door. 

"Hey!" I exclaim, hugging him. 

He chuckles, hugging me back. "Hey you."

"Come on in." I say, pulling away.

He pulls me back into a hug with a sly little chuckle. "Actually, we're going to my place."

"No..." I object, trying to pull away again but he just pulls me back into the hug and lifts me up, placing me outside of my door and shutting the front door behind us. 

"Yep." he grins, leading me to his car. 

"Johanna's not home, right?" I frown, getting into the car.

"Oh no, Johanna's home." he says, shutting my door for me.

I groan as he gets into the car as well and starts driving. "Why would you do this to me?" 

"Because it's a bridge that needs to be crossed, my love." he says triumphantly. "We don't have to hang out with her, but you coming to my house will show her that she hasn't affected you."

"She has affected me."

"Shhh." he waves it off. "This'll be fun. Once we get past Johanna, we can go to my room and watch a movie, make out a little, eat some chips. I'll even order pizza if that makes you happy."

I sigh halfheartedly. "Why do you always know what to say?"

When we get to his doorstep, he takes my hand and squeezes it, opening the door. Johanna is in the living room, watching The Vampire Diaries and just for a moment, I miss her. I miss hearing about the things she likes, even if the things she likes bored me, I'd like listening to her talk about them anyway. I miss having sleepovers with her and bitching about people at school. I miss the Johanna who stuck up for me and cared about me and I hate that she's gone. But I only let it hurt for a second. I appreciate my life how it is. I've gotten rid of the people who are willing to hurt me. I still have Carrie and Alice and now I have Jem as well and that's more than I could have asked for. Johanna doesn't say anything, she just looks at me, her eyes slightly narrowed. I just smile at her, not wanting to start an argument. 

"What is she doing here?" she demands, raising an eyebrow at Jem.

"She's hanging out with me." he returns and then raises an eyebrow. "Is that a problem?"

"Just remember Jem's your cousin before you think about sleeping with my boyfriend this time around too, Johanna." I wink and Jem bursts out laughing, dragging me upstairs into his room.

"You're incredibly bad-ass, you know that?" he says, putting an arm around me and sitting us both down on this big beanbag he has.

I laugh. "You're incredibly... I don't know-"

"Incredible?" he suggests, grinning.

"Shut up." I laugh.

"Yeah yeah." he picks up his phone and goes onto the website of the pizza place. "Now, I believe I promised you pizza."

"Indeed you did." 

He puts his phone down a moment later and turns on the TV. "I also promised TV."

"Yes you did."  

He turns and looks at me, smiling, one eyebrow slightly raised. "I believe I also promised making out?"

"Nah, I don't remember that part." I joke.

"Shut up." he kisses me and then there are voices from downstairs. He pulls away, hovering and frowning. "Who is that?"

"Alex." I say definitely, recognising his laugh.

He sighs. "It's like they do it on purpose."

"Maybe they do." I suggest.

He rolls his eyes. "Gosh."

I laugh, kissing him. "They don't matter now, do they?" 

He grins. "You do listen to me!"

We hang out for a little while but eventually my dad calls me to tell me to come home for dinner and he times it so well that I end up leaving at the same time Alex is leaving. Alex is on his way out of the front door but he hesitates and turns back around, kissing Johanna. Jem sighs heavily and pushes them aside out of the way a little, taking my hand and leading me out of the door.

"Jeremy." Alex says. 

Jem raises an eyebrow, slowly turning around. "Yes Alexander?"

Alex keeps smiling but his eyes are narrowed. "If you touch me again-"

"You'll hit me?" Jem asks, smirking. "Come on. I mean we all know it's not going to hurt so you're obviously trying to impress somebody."

"Jem." I tug on his hand but he ignores me. 

"The only question is are you trying to impress Johanna or Kaya?" Jem asks.

"Jem, shut up." Johanna snaps.

"Whatever." he laughs and leads me to his car, opening the door for me like he always does.

As we drive away, I turn to him. "What did you mean back there?" I ask him.

"What did I mean by what?" he asks, casually.

"By asking who Alex was trying to impress." 

He sighs. "Kaya, Alex still likes you."

"No he doesn't."

"Yes he does."

"No, he doesn't." I protest. "That's not what it is. He's just pissed that I'm not into him anymore, that doesn't mean he likes me."

"Kaya, I am a guy too okay, I can see that he likes you!" Jem starts tapping on the steering wheel.

"So what if he does?" I demand. I guess I kind of know it's true, I just don't care. I care about Jem and I don't want Jem to be mad. "It's not going to change anything."

"Isn't it?" he demands. "Alex isn't just any guy, even I know that. He gets what he wants okay-"

"You think I'm the kind of girl who will just leave you for him because that's what he wants?" I demand. "You think I'll just give into him? I thought you knew me better than that, Jem."

"I don't know what I'm supposed to think!" he exclaims, angrily pulling the car to a halt in front of my house. "You were in love with the guy! What's stopping you from going back to him? Let's be honest, he just has to say the word."

I shake my head. "You're unbelievable."

I get out of the car, slamming the door behind me. I don't stop being so mad for the entire night. I'm so mad I can't even sleep. I kind of know it's not real anger though. I don't want to be properly angry at Jem. As I'm lying in bed, staring at the wall that night I hear a gentle thump over by my windowsill and I know he's just climbed in through the open window. I kind of left it open just in case he had the idea to come over but I didn't know whether he would. I'm still not fully okay with him though. I don't turn around but I feel the bed dip beside me and his arm drapes over my waist. He kisses my cheek from behind me and rests his head in the space between my neck and my shoulder. 

"Sorry." he says. He almost says it like it's an offering. 

I hesitate but sigh and roll over to face him, resting my head on his chest. "It's okay."

"Am I forgiven?" he asks gently. 

"Yes." I say and nestle closer. "I hated seeing you like that earlier."

He pauses, stroking the hair out of my face. "Seeing me like what?"

"All... tense. And mad. You're never like that, you're Jem. You're calm, laid back, fun, happy Jem." I say.

I feel him smile as he kisses my forehead. "I promise to never be angry with you again."

I laugh a little and then pause. "Jem, when do you go back to England?" 

He shrugs. "I'm meant to go back in a couple of weeks."

I close my eyes. "Okay."

"I'm going to stay for longer though." 

"Jem, no." I open my eyes and look at him. "You're going to leave eventually either way. It doesn't matter whether it's now or in six months."

"It does matter." he says, surely. "More time is more time and that's just that."

I smile. "How much more time?"

He smiles back, shrugging. "A month? Two?"

I narrow my eyes, still smiling. "Are you making irrational decisions that are going to affect your education right now?" 

"Maybe. But I'll think rationally when I'm next on the phone to my mother." he chuckles.

I laugh and then shrug. "But two more months is still only two more months."

"Having two dollars is better than having twenty cents. Having two months is better than having two weeks." he says and he kisses my forehead again. I take his word for it.

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