Chapter 28: The fairest of llama breeders
Gerard laid on the floor, a magazine on his hands while the chubby fingers of his daughter played with his hair. At times the tugging became painful, and Gerard was pretty sure that Bandit had dumped all of her hair accessories into his hair, but that was fine. He knew he looked like a cupcake with all those pink bows and hair bands and tiny scrunchies sprinkled all over his hair, but at least Bandit was happy. He could not say that much of his other daughter.
Since they came back from fetching Gia’s stuff from her mother’s place, she had been very quiet. At the ride home she didn’t say two words to him, but sat in the back with earphones on and a sour look on her face. A couple of times he glanced at her through the rear view mirror and saw her wipe her eyes with her sleeve. So, yes, it was safe to assume that Sean really did deserve a slow, painful death delivered by Gerard’s hand. Still, he had been too afraid to ask her what was wrong, and when they got back home, Gia headed straight to her room and didn't come out for anything other than food. Gerard sent Lindsey up the next day to see what was wrong.
Now Lindsey returned from her mission, looking rather befuddled.
“Uh, Gerard?” Lindsey asked. “Why is Gia planning on moving to the Himalayas and becoming a llama breeder?”
“What?” he asked, sitting up.
“Yeah, something about all guys being assholes and becoming a hermit so she wouldn’t have to see another guy ever again, just llamas.”
Gerard was torn between her daughter relocating to the Himalayas and her hating all guys. Eventually the thrill of her obviously hating the opposite sex was overpowered by the concern of what happened between Sean and her.
“I think she just needs to be alone right now,” Lindsey said when Gerard attempted to go upstairs.
Gerard hesitated, but trusted his wife. So he laid back down on the floor, and stared at the ceiling, wondering why he was supposed to kill Sean while Bandit ripped and tugged at his red hair.
It was night. Gia wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting on that bean bag chair in a very unnatural position, but it must’ve been hours. Her back was killing her.
Sean’s reaction tormented her. She knew she had not been unreasonable with her demand, but knowing that Sean always considered her to be more like a living blowup doll than an actual person with emotions, she did somehow understand where he was coming from. Well, it hardly mattered. Gia knew she won’t see him again. But she had grown somewhat fond of him, so the way they parted still haunted her thoughts.
Groaning, she slowly let herself slide off of the gigantic yellow leather bag, and just laid sprawled on the floor. Somewhere beside her head, her phone began to buzz just as she had closed her eyes.
For a moment she just wondered if it was worth the trouble of opening her eyes and reaching for the phone, but then decided that yeah, a distraction might be nice. The bright light of the screen hurt her eyes, and she groaned when she saw that the clock was already past 3 AM. The buzzing came from a text message, and when she saw who it was from, she was understandably surprised. After Lucas had caught her sneaking out of his roommate’s bedroom, a hungover mess, she had not expected to hear from him again.
The text was short. ‘You home?’ it said, and quickly she replied that yes, she was home, and asked why he wanted to know.
The reply came quickly. He was in her backyard. Wondering why he was there, and most of all if it was wise for her to go there, she answered to him that she’ll be there shortly, and grabbed the nearest hoodie and a pair of shoes she could find.
Quiet as a mouse, she crept through the dark, silent house, careful not to wake anyone up. Jersey stirred from his sleep when she passed him in the living room, but when he realized it was only Gia, he lowered his head again and closed his eyes.
Lucas was waiting for her by the stone bench they had in the middle of the flower beds. He was sitting there with his phone in his hands, obviously playing something to pass the time. He looked up from the phone when he heard her approach, but didn’t put it down.
“What are you playing?” she asked, sitting down next to him. The stone of the bench felt cold under the thin fabric of the skirt she was wearing. Gia wished she had thought to put on more clothes. It may be summer but it was still a chilly night.
“Angry Birds,” Lucas replied. “But that’s not really why I came here.”
“I figured. Why did you?”
Instead of answering her question, he changed the subject. “How have you been?”
“Fine,” she said, obviously lying. She just spent a whole day and a half sulking in a dark room, so, no, she wasn’t doing too well. “I went to visit my mom yesterday. I had to pick up my stuff.”
“So you’ve officially moved back now?”
“I suppose so.”
When he didn’t seem to want to get to what he wanted to say, Gia sighed. “Lucas... My butt is freezing,” she hurried him.
Lucas cracked a smile, but it disappeared and his face was solemn when he spoke: “I broke up with Janie.”
Gia looked away from him and was glad it was night, because the dark hid the smile and the blush on her face. She hated to admit but the news made her very happy. “Oh?” was all she said. “How did she take it?”
Lucas simply shrugged. “Well, you know. Losing a guy like me is so horrible there’s hardly a reason to live anymore.”
Gia snorted a laugh. “Yeah, you think you’re such a catch.”
“I am!” he insisted. “I went to a gym once!”
“Was it a virtual gym?” When he didn’t reply, she laughed. “Oh, I’m just kidding. You’re perfectly alright.”
“Yeah, well, I heard perfect, so...” he said, and then went back to the topic he was supposed to stay in. “Before I say anything to make myself look like even a bigger fool, I have to ask.”
“What is it?”
He took a moment to gather his thoughts before opening his mouth. “The other night... Danny said it was nothing, but...”
Gia hadn’t expected him to ask about that night, but she should’ve seen it coming. “Lucas, listen to me. Not only do I find Danny kind of repulsive because he looks and quite frankly smells like he never showers, but also, I would never do anything like that with him. Nothing happened. He offered me a place to crash so I could drink without having to worry about my dad finding out. Was that wrong?”
“No, it’s just... I had to ask. Sorry.”
“I understand. I’d probably be a little bit suspicious, too.”
Gia fiddled with her fingers a bit. Her ass was frozen solid now.She kept shifting on the seat and tried pulling on the skirt a litte more.
“You know, you could sit on my lap,” he said, winking at her.
“Don’t push your luck,” Gia laughed, but when he offered her his jacket to sit on, she gladly took it. They were incredibly close now, because she pulled him to sit on the jacket as well.
“So... I was thinking,” Lucas finally said. “I mean, if you’re not seeing anyone right now, and since I’m currently on the market... I’m just saying, it would make sense for you to snatch me now before someone else beats you to it. I’m wanted meat, I’ll tell you that. It’s a curse to be as ruggedly handsome as I am.”
“Oh I know. I’m battling all the sexual urges to jump on you right now and having my way with you,” she laughed, but in her mind she was thinking about what he said. Sean passed her mind, but then she realized he didn’t matter anymore. Then, she decided not to kid around anymore. “Lucas, I hope you realize that if something between us did happen, we couldn’t jump right to where we left off.”
“What do you mean?”
Sighing, she pulled her feet onto the stone bench and wrapped her arms around them, hugging them to her chest for warmth. “I told you I went to visit my mom. While I was there, I sort of broke up with... Well, he was kind of my boyfriend. And it didn’t go very well. The thing is, I don’t know if I even want that right now. I know this is such a cliché but relationships are hard. I can’t deal with that now. And I’m such a mess anyway, I probably shouldn’t drag you down with me.”
When he seemed to take her words personally, she sighed and continued. “It’s not that I don’t want to be with you, it’s just that I’m not sure I want all that drama right now.”
“It doesn’t have to be drama,” he replied quietly, looking at her. “We could start again.”
Now it was her turn to be confused. She furrowed her brows and tilted her head, asking him: “How?”
“Just, let’s go out. See how it turns out. If it doesn’t work, if it’s so difficult to even manage one date, we’ll scrap the idea and we can try again later if you still want to.”
A shy smile spread on her lips. “Lucas Parker, are you asking me out on a date?”
“Not just a date,” he pointed out. “A first date. I swear I’ll do the whole cheesy romantic movie stuff, okay? I’ll bring you flowers and pick you up at the door and I’ll pay for everything and whatever you want.”
Gia considered it. What she said was true. She was a mess. So much so that she wondered if it was fair for Lucas for her to hang on to him. “Why?” she asked finally. “I haven’t exactly treated you as I should’ve. I left you. You know what kind of messes I get myself into.”
He simply shrugged. “Perhaps it’s worth it.”
They were silent for a long time. She sensed how tense he was. This wasn’t easy for him, and he was anxious to hear the response. Finally the logic was overrun by what she wanted, and she gave him an answer. “You know my dad’s gonna kill you, don’t you?”
She could practically feel the smile on him, though she didn’t even look at him. For a time they just sat there, and Gia had long ago accepted the fact that her butt was probably going to fall off from the cold, but she flung her legs down from the bench anyway and leaned her arms on the surface of the stone. When Lucas’ hand covered hers, taking it into his, she knew she’d made the right choice. Sure, her life was a mess and she was most likely setting him up for the string of difficulties and misfortunes as well, but hadn’t Lucas managed it quite well before?
Gia rested her head on his shoulder and felt content for the first time in a long time.
Inside the dark house, a man groaned, rising from the bed. He left his sleeping wife, unsure of what had woken him. He had that uneasy feeling in his stomach that he got when he knew something bad was about to happen. He glanced at the alarm clock, noticing that it was nearly three in the morning. Ruffling the mess of red hair on his head, he stumbled to the window and looked out. In the middle of the dark garden, he saw two figures. If his daughter hadn’t been so depressed the past two days, or god knows how long, he probably would’ve thrown a shoe at them. Now all he had the heart to do was leave the two teenagers be, and climb back to bed.