C2 Chapter 02
I feel like I’m drowning and my head is about to explode. He didn’t really do that to me, he didn’t humiliate me in the worst possible way, just because he couldn’t let go of his fucked up past?
The whole thing seems like a crazy, gut wrenching nightmare that keeps coming back every night.
For a few weeks I was happy, dancing in my room imagining what the future would hold for the both of us.
There is no future, nothing to look forward to, just plain deep gloom.
I’m running ahead not looking back, tears are rolling over my cheeks, pain, deep and sharp is cutting through my lungs and heart.
Oliver’s laugh rings in my head, pain moves down to my stomach, spreading to every pore; every joint and I can’t take this anymore.
I’ve just won another bet. Getting you to like me again. It worked, didn’t it?”
I will always remember his words, the look on his face when he said it. Dora and everyone else had been right about him. He had never loved me, never cared for me and I’ve fallen into an-other trap.
I run for a while, no matter where, no matter for how long. I want to get away from the plac-es that remind me of him, the faces that are mocking me.
That bastard is probably laughing at me right now with his mates, enjoying his video. Jacob must have known what Oliver was planning.
Going back to the apartment is out of the question. I’m soaked from head to toe; my heart is in my throat, burning with pain and hatred. I stop for a second, look left and right at the empty street. I don’t recognise the buildings, the roads or the cars. It’s like the world I know has disap-peared and nothing is the same anymore.
This pain evolves like a snake slithering through my veins and infecting me with its poison, I feel the agony, I can’t even breathe anymore.
I glance at the street and a memory starts forming in my head. Russell lives nearby. I don’t understand how I‘ve ended up here or how I got here, but it doesn’t matter, because I don’t want to be alone.
The thunder and lightning crash over the sky and the rain intensifies, so I carry on running until I arrive at his house.
My lungs are on fire and I can’t stop crying. I ring his bell over and over. If he lives with someone then that’s too bad because I’ve now woken them all up. He can’t turn me away.
The door opens, I stand in the darkness staring straight at him.
“India, what the fuck … is that you? What the hell are you doing here?” he asks staring at me, seeing me as the real person without judgment and lies. Before I realise what I’m doing my body suddenly moves forward and I throw myself in his arms. “Shhh, it’s all right, come on stop this now.”
His voice soothes making me feel safe but I can’t stop crying. I don’t even know what I’m doing here seeking comfort from the guy I’ve pushed away, and a stranger.
He takes me inside, locks the door, the dizziness suddenly hits me and I feel like I’m going to pass out. I’m shivering and cold.
“Wow, hold still Indi, I’m here,” he whispers, lifting me over before I collapse on the floor.
Russell places me on the sofa and disappears for a moment. Next thing I know I have a warm blanket over me.
“Come on Indi, tell me what’s happened. Is it that prick? He did something to you?”
When I finally look at him I see a guy that truly cares for me, that wants nothing in return.
“He never loved me, he only did it for a bet!” I howl.
“Shhh, don’t get upset, you don’t have to think about him now, just relax and forget all about it. Russell is here and you’re the luckiest girl on this planet because I’m going to take care of you,”
Then, just like that I smile and I know that destiny has decided for me, by bringing me here. Oliver will soon be just a distant memory.
As Monday morning approaches I can’t seem to keep my eyes open. I went to bed at twelve and tried to sleep, but it was a struggle. Toxic thoughts and memories kept me up all night. I’ve been thinking about all the crap that India had put me through in high school, justifying what I did to her in the restaurant—but no, I pushed the boat too far.
I stayed in my room the whole Sunday, tending to my fucked-up misery and thinking about how I was going to tell her how I really felt. I needed a friend, so a bottle of vodka helped me cope through the night. I also made some phone calls, catching up with Sam and his mates. Sadly, the video was online by the time I managed to speak to them. With my persuasive arguments, they agreed to take it down. I threatened to beat the shit out of them and that was enough for them to listen to me. I have a reputation in Braxton and people are scared to cross me.
In the afternoon I went to India’s apartment, but no one answered the door. I called her, but the phone went to voicemail after just one ring. Jacob came home in the evening, telling me to back off. He didn’t want to say anything about India, because Dora was in charge and told him to keep his mouth shut.
“You made your bed, so now you have to lie in it,” he said, shaking his head like my mother when she was disappointed in me. “Sorry man, but you’ve done a really shitty thing. I thought that you ditched that cruel idea a long time ago?”
I didn’t reply, walking away and clenching my fists, but at the end of the day, I have to admit he is right. I fucked with India’s feelings and her good nature for a brief moment of satisfaction and a desire for payback. In the process, not only have I lost the trust of my best mate, Jacob.
India is never going to trust me again, not after what happened between us. I’m trying to be-lieve that maybe I can fix this, but reality is crushing me down. I have no idea how I’m going to explain myself, but I have one and only one shot. If I screw it up, then that’s it. I’ll lose her forev-er.
Correction mate: you have already lost her.
I push my arrogant side away, knowing that I can’t be perceived anymore by others as this immature guy with a short temper. It’s time to change, to face reality.
My classes don’t start until nine, so I throw some clothes on and try to eat breakfast. We have rugby training this afternoon and Sam is going to be there. He is probably pissed that he lost the bet. He can go to hell with the cash. India means more than five hundred fucking pounds.
Jacob isn’t downstairs and when I think about food, my stomach churns uncomfortably. I’m nervous because I’m going to see her. I have to show her that I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life and that I love her.
It takes me about twenty minutes to get to campus and on my way, everyone keeps turning their heads towards me. They normally look at me because they are curious. Most of them just want to know who this guy is that everyone is talking about, the guy that sleeps around with most girls on campus. From now on I don’t want to be him. Other birds don’t mean anything to me. It’s only her; it’s always been her.
Whispers, snickers and a few awkward stares multiply when I walk into the class. All the girls are staring at me with disgust, turning their heads in the opposite direction. Only MacKenzie grins at me on my way to the last row of desks. Jacob sits in the far corner, so I slide next to him. Things between us are strained and tense, but we’re still talking. Oldie Thomas, our tutor, is set-ting up the computer, trying to figure out which wire goes where. I bet I’ve got at least five minutes with Jacob before he gets on with the lecture.
“Man, you’ve got to help me. I’ve screwed up, but I need to talk to her. Anger overwhelmed me and I freaked out,” I say, looking at him.
He frowns, which isn’t a good sign. Jacob is a straight-up guy. You’re either on his team or not, and currently he wants to squash me like an insect.
“What is wrong with you, Oliver? You told me that you called off that bet. Why are you be-having like a total arsehole?”
“It’s complicated. Just tell me, how is she? She hasn’t left Braxton or anything like that?” I ask, clutching my fingers, because I’m scared, fucking terrified that she’ll be gone before I have a chance to tell her how I feel.
Jacob exhales, twisting his lips and tensing his jaw. He probably wants to punch me again; I bet that Dora told him to do it.
“I’m your friend, Oliver, but I promised Dora that I’d keep you away from India and, trust me, I don’t want to hit you again, but I’ll do it if you force me to.”
“We both know that if I want to talk to her, no one will stop me,” I reply, shrugging. Thomas is starting the class, so Jacob doesn’t have a chance to tell me how he is planning to keep me away. We met in Braxton and we always got on all right. I don’t want to screw up our friendship.
The lecture is boring and I can’t concentrate, so I leave five minutes before the bell rings, hoping to catch India after her criminal law class. Jacob confirmed that she hasn’t left, so maybe there is a slim chance I can convince her to give me five minutes alone. I don’t know if Jacob will anticipate my next move, so I’m a little surprised when he strolls a few minutes later from around the corner—Jacob is in love and he will do anything to keep Dora happy.
I make a split-second decision and disappear before people start appearing in the corridor. When I walk through the right wing to get to my next class, I hear people whispering about the video, talking about me. Normally I’m used to stares and attention, but today I feel like I’m walk-ing on a thin line. Jacob follows me everywhere, which means that India is on campus. She is car-rying on with her life as she is supposed to. There is a plan forming in my head and during lunchtime I manage to pull a few guys to one side and give them a few quid in exchange for a small favour. Then I head to another class and leave earlier than everyone else.
I know India’s schedule: she normally eats lunch at one o’clock in the afternoon when there are fewer people in the canteen. After all, she doesn’t like the attention. I wait a little while, then make Jacob follow me back there. He is protecting what’s mine, but this isn’t how it supposed to be. I’m her past, present and future. I lose Jacob for a bit and wait for India to sit down with her lunch. If I get lucky enough, I might be able to pull her away from the canteen and just have my big speech away from other people.
Fifteen minutes later, I hurry back. Unfortunately, Jacob is already waiting for me there, so I give a nod to a few of the guys that I tipped off earlier so I could keep him away from me. My heart skips a beat, knowing that my words have to come from the depth of my soul, the better part of me. People are staring; a few more eyes than I expect are glancing in my direction.
“Oliver, you knew you would have to go through me first, before I let you go there,” Jacob says, folding his arms together and walking in front of me. I nod towards Aaron and his team again to take care of the problem. Before Jacob realises what is going on, three guys are on him, holding him in place.
“Fucking pricks, let go of me…”
I wipe the sudden surge of sweat off my forehead and walk into the canteen. Jacob’s scream fades when I spot India sitting a few tables away from the entrance with that idiot Evans, who has his eyes on her. There are way too many people in the room and as soon as I start walking, I feel as if everyone has stopped breathing all of a sudden. The tension rises; it’s like I can see it popping up everywhere.
It was a mistake India, a fucking… no, I’m not supposed to swear. As soon as I approach her table, she spots me. Evans gets up as soon as he notices me, but I shoot him my challenging look to put him into his place.
“Hey, India, can I please talk to you?” I ask, but my voice sounds pathetic, weak. Dozens of people stop eating their food and stare straight at me, penetrating our private world with their nosy looks. When India’s beautiful blue eyes fix on me, my insides clench. The warmth and love that is normally in her eyes has disappeared. Now there is just pure hatred that burns me right down to the ground. Her body tenses and the muscles on her arms and chest contract. My heart has never thumped so wildly in my chest like it’s doing right now, and I want to take my cruelty back, see-ing how much damage it has caused. I’ve been so blind and so stupid but now I understand that maybe this is not going to be easy at all.
She gets up abruptly, her face white and tense. The silence all around us is so apparent that I think something is going to explode, ripping my heart out of my chest. For a few seconds she measures me, staring deep down into my soul, maybe convincing herself that she should listen to what I have to say. Then she slaps me hard and fast before I have a chance to react. Waves of snickers start exploding all over the canteen. My cheek burns, but I barely blink, forming the right words in my head.
“Stay away from me, Morgan. I don’t want to waste my breath on you,” she snarls, poking me with her long finger.
“Hey, Morgan, well done, mate! I wasn’t expecting you to win this bet after all, but, hey, the money is all yours. Five hundred quid for making her hate your guts!”
The colour drains from my face and blood starts pounding in my ears when I see Sam next to me holding a white, thick envelope. India takes a step back, widening her eyes at me. I want to kill this motherfucker right here and now. The horror painted on India’s face is my nightmare. The hollow feeling in her eyes is making me nauseous. I stare at her, feeling as if the room is closing in on me. My emotional confession hasn’t worked out the way I thought it would.
“I thought I could trust you, but in the end you’re just a twisted son of a bitch like your brother, who doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings,” she snaps, shaking her head like she doesn’t believe in any of that. Her voice breaks. “From now on, you’re dead to me.”
“India, this isn’t like that. I told them—”
I don’t get the chance to explain myself because there is movement in the back of the can-teen. Then Jacob barges through, breathing hard. His brown eyes sweep the scene and then he spots me. I take a step towards India, but then Evans moves in front of her.
“That was a nasty move, man. Just leave before you do any more damage,” Jacob says. He has a red mark under his eye. Aaron and the rest of the guys barge in after him, but they just stand in the entrance staring at me, slightly baffled. I swear under my breath, ready to smash my fists into Evans’s face because he is holding my India.
“India, listen to me! This isn’t what it looks like. I can explain!” I yell, but she doesn’t even look at me anymore. Jacob pushes me away from her while Sam follows after us. India vanishes shortly after that, holding Evans’s hand, hurrying away to the other entrance. Jacob sends an un-expected punch to my gut, and for a split second I can’t catch my breath. Then I lose it and come back to him, slamming my fists into his face. Frustration boils in my mind, inflaming my anger, but a few seconds later someone pulls me away from him. Raw, instinctive emotions are over-whelm me. I can’t keep losing my temper like that. I need to wind down and stop behaving like some wild teenager.
“Calm down, Olie. She’s gone; it’s over,” says a voice that I recognise as Aaron’s.
“Fuck, I’m all right; just let go of me,” I snap, breathing hard.
Jacob glares at me, massaging his cheek.
“I don’t want your cash, Sam. We discussed this before and I told you that I’d changed my mind, but you still showed up! James has pulled the video down, and I suggest anyone who already watched it forget about it. Pronto!” I shout, glancing around at everyone in the canteen, clenching my fists so hard my fingers are numb.
“I know that you told me to leave it, but look what this whole thing got you. You’re five hundred quid richer, Olie,” Sam says with his arrogant smirk. “How about another bet? I’ll double your money if you make her go out with you again?”
Sam obviously has no idea what I’m talking about. I know that he is winding me up, but he just crossed the line. I throw myself at him with the pure desire of hurting him as deeply as I can. At the same time, Jacob lets go of me, screaming at me to calm down. My mind stops registering what’s going on. Next thing I know, some catering stuff runs towards us and we’re separated. I fall back into despair knowing that India hates me so much that she’ll never forgive me.