“I’m so sorry.”
It was 6 o’clock and Alex was going to pick me up at any minute. My cell phone had been vibrating every fifteen minutes since five o’clock, which is when I figured Spencer had told Brendon of my plans. I hadn’t even checked the voicemails. I would after dinner. I didn’t want Brendon to run my life, and choose who I got to hang out with. I wanted to make my own decisions, even if they were bad.
The knock was loud, and even though I wasn’t answering it I still grabbed my cell phone and headed to the door.
Alex didn’t look like he was ready to hang out with a friend. He looked like he was going to a fancy dinner party, with the very best dressed. I was just wearing something similar to what I’d wear to school- on a day that Spencer wasn’t dressing me up. Wasn’t that what friends did? They dressed down, not up.
“You look good.” I looked the same as I had the last time he saw me, though a little more casual.
“Hi.” I nodded at him, not really replying to his compliment. It was odd, in my opinion. “So, where are we going?”
“I told you. It’s your choice.”
“Oh, well in that case… um, I haven’t really eaten out in this town. Do they have a Denny’s?” Denny’s was already a pretty good pick. Or Shari’s. Or anywhere that was sit down styled, without being fancy and without being fast food. I wasn’t in the mood for fast food. I wasn’t really in the mood to eat anything now actually.
“Yeah, I think so.”
They didn’t have a Denny’s but what Alex thought was a Denny’s worked just fine. It was a nice, family restaurant by the name of Daniel’s. They had cute menu’s, with creative siding. The staff was friendly, with genuine smiles and normal clothing, not elegant stylish uniforms.
It took Alex a few minutes to grow accustomed to his surroundings but then he smiled down at the menu, “Do you know what you’re getting?”
“Yeah, I’m going to get the grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing.” I glanced over at Alex, setting my menu down. “What about you?”
“I guess I’ll get the same.” Alex responded, setting his menu down as well. “They have really slow service here.” He muttered.
“They only have one waitress that I can see.” I responded, glancing around. “Give her a break.”
“It seems like she’s already taking one.” Alex answered, as he stared at her talking to some guy. I noticed she was writing something on her pad, and knew she was taking his order but Alex didn’t seem to care. He was impatient.
“So, have you ever eaten here before?” I knew he hadn’t but I didn’t know what else to ask.
“Nope, and probably never will again if she doesn’t get her ass over here.” Alex snapped.
“Calm down.” My own tone got cold, making me somewhat proud. “She’s doing the best that she can.”
“Do you know her?” Alex asked, surprised.
“Do you?” I shot back.
“No.” He scoffed. “Obviously not.”
“Obviously?” I was getting upset for her. “You don’t know her, you just said so. Therefore how the hell could you judge her?”
Alex nodded, “I guess you’re right… I’ll leave her a big tip and my lips are now sealed.” Money, money… Well, at least he would shut up.
It was silent until the waitress came over, smiling pleasantly at us. I was glad that Alex showed his manners as she took our order, and soon enough she disappeared to submit our order. “So-“ Alex began but she quickly returned with our drinks, and he went silent again.
“What did you think about the book Mrs. Willman assigned us?” I asked, trying to have a conversation with him once again. This was kind of awkward.
“I haven’t even checked it out yet.” Alex responded. “Chelsea is getting together a few students for the upcoming dance. I was wondering if you wanted to join us in the entertainment. Her plan was to have a little talent show before the music, and well since I overheard that you can sing I figured you might want to show the school.” How off topic and unappealing.
“No… I- Who told you that I can sing?”
“Brendon mentioned it before our falling out.” Alex replied.
“Oh, well no. I really can’t.” Or won’t. I could sing in my room alone, but not on a stage in front of the school. I wasn’t ready for that kind of attention.
“I’m sure you have some kind of talent then.” Alex said, grinning.
“What are you doing for it?”
“I’m taking part in the auction which… actually, you could do that with me!” Alex looked excited. “Chelsea would be thrilled.”
“Yeah, it’s after the dance.” Alex answered. “Chelsea is one hell of a party planner so you’ll find that none of our dances are like other school dances. We have the talent show, then music and dancing, then the auction in which we raise money for various charities.”
“Weird.” I murmured.
Shit. “Oh, nothing.” I blushed.
“You and Chelsea just don’t strike me as very charitable people.” I spit out, embarrassed with my own rude thoughts.
Alex just laughed, “We really aren’t.” At least he was honest about it. “But it’s something to do and it puts us in a good light, well her since she’s organizing it… and that’s why she usually organizes everything for the school.”
“What’s the charity?”
“It goes to a children’s hospital, specifically the cancer wing.” Alex replied, shrugging as if it didn’t matter.
“I’ll do it.” I was sold. How could I not take part in something so meaningful, even if they were doing it for meaningless purposes? In the end the proceeds would still help.
“Yeah… Um, what exactly do I have to do?”
Alex laughed again, “You’re put up for auction.” How lovely. “And then whoever bids the most for you gets you from 7 AM Saturday to 7 PM Sunday, just to hang out with. Of course there is no sex involved or anything but-“ Alex winked suggestively, “You can do whatever the hell you want with them. We just put the no sex thing so that it doesn’t seem like prostitution, since we are all innocent high school students.” Funny.
“That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“It really isn’t. I’ve done it for the last two years and it always goes well for me.” Alex winked again and I laughed, beginning to warm to him. His sense of humor was somewhat off, and his morals were almost nonexistent- possibly completely nonexistent, but he was a little funny, and a little nice if he tried.
I heard the bell above the door clink and then the hostess greeted whoever was at the door but the person didn’t respond. I didn’t even think much of it until the heavy footsteps reached our table and Alex looked up, frowning. I followed his gaze, surprised to see Brendon.
“I had no idea where you were.” Brendon said, glaring at me.
“I’m just hanging out with a /friend/.” I replied, gesturing to Alex.
“Friend?” Brendon looked at Alex, concern overshadowing his momentary anger. “What are you telling her?”
Alex just shrugged, but he was smiling.
“I won’t let you tell her first.” Brendon looked back at me. “Juliet I-“ He was breathing kind of hard now. “Juliet, I drugged you.”
Other diners looked over at our table, their confusion mirroring mine. “Wait Brendon.” I swallowed around the growing confusion. “I don’t understand.” There, I’d said it. What the hell was he talking about? He didn’t drug me.
“Can we talk about this in private? My car is outside.” Brendon was a step away from being down on his knees, begging. I could see it in his eyes.
“Sure.” I stood, realizing that my legs were a little shaky. What was Brendon talking about? “I’ll be right back.” I mumbled, not quite looking at Alex.
“I’ll be here.” Alex responded, relaxing against the booth.
Brendon didn’t say anything as we walked to his car, and he opened the passenger’s side door for me. I got in, thinking through everything that had happened between myself and Brendon. Drugged? When he closed his car door I didn’t even look at him. “Was that why I was hospitalized?”
“Yeah.” Brendon mumbled. “You took the rest of the pills I had instead of Advil, since they were both in my glove compartment box.”
“The rest of them?”
I don’t want to hear this. I don’t want to hear this.
Just tell me.
“I kept lying to myself, saying that I had better intentions than I did but… I was going to sleep with you on our first date. That was my only intention.” Brendon whispered, sounding horrified but not nearly as horrified as I was. “So, I slipped the pill in to your drink on our first dinner date. I didn’t expect you to leave but then you did… and I couldn’t find you that night.”
“And instead Jon found me.” Oh god, I was going to be sick. “And that’s why I felt so weird.”
“I tried to find you.”
“But you didn’t.” What if something else had happened?
How could Brendon do that to me, to anyone?
“This goes beyond not respecting me.” I laughed bitterly, towards our fight from the night before. “This is something so much worse… Why didn’t you just tell me?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“That’s not enough.” I spit out, finally looking at him. He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking straight ahead, a frown firmly in place. “Why didn’t you just tell me?” How could anyone be so cold? “Why didn’t you just tell me that all you wanted was to fuck me?” I shoved Brendon, but he still didn’t look at me. “Why didn’t you save me from feeling anything for you and just tell me? I’d rather have just fucked you than to feel like this.”
Brendon shook his head, “This wasn’t my plan. I never wanted to hurt you and I just… I wanted to tell you so that you wouldn’t hear it from Alex.”
“Why would-“ I didn’t want to know.
“Alex sold me the pills.”
“Why did you and Jon fight at the hospital?” So many questions, I never bothered to find the answers. How could I be so stupid? I’d allowed this lie to live for as long as it did.
“He found out.”
“And didn’t tell me?” I whispered the words, finding that the hurt continued on.
“Ryan asked him not to.” Brendon whispered, and though I appreciated the badly timed honesty… I wondered, did anyone not know, or was it just me?
“Does Spencer know too?” Nothing would surprise me at this point.
“No.” Brendon shook his head. “Spencer would’ve killed me.”
“So, he was right.” I murmured. It seemed Spencer was actually a friend to me, more so than Ryan or Jon were. How could they all hide this from me?
“Was it fun?” I whispered, the words hard to force out.
“What?” Brendon sounded appalled. Good.
“Was it fun playing with me like this?” I wanted him to look at me. I wanted him to know how badly he’d hurt me, but then again if he looked at me I might just cry, and I didn’t want to cry for him. “Was it fun hurting me? You hurt me Brendon. This hurts.”
“I didn’t care about you then.” Brendon answered, “But now I do.”
“We still barely know each other, not much has changed.” I replied, shaking my head. “What suddenly made you care?”
“I got to know you. I got to like you… I do like you Juliet. You’re my girlfriend. I care a lot about you. I’ve never… had a girlfriend before.”
“You’ve had sixty two that I know of.” I responded, disgust bringing the words to their full potential.
“No, I just fucked those girls. None of them were ever my girlfriend. You are, because you mean something. They never meant anything.”
I wanted him to stop talking, because the more he said… the shittier I felt.
“I can’t talk anymore. I don’t have anything else to say and I don’t want to hear anything else that you have to say.” I whispered, tears threatening to spill. I didn’t want to cry. I refused to cry.
He lied and I got to pay the price. How was that fair?
“Can I take you home?” Brendon asked quietly.
Take me home. That sounded so nice.
“No. I left Alex inside. I should really get back.” It was so weird holding such a normal conversation, when Brendon had pretty much just shoved his fist through my heart, and brain. Now I was mush-brained and heart hurt.
“I’d prefer if you’d just let me take you home so I at least know where you are.” Brendon replied, still keeping his voice quiet.
“I’d prefer you try not to control me.”
“Yeah. You can’t tell me who to be friends with, or where I can be. You can’t do things like that, especially not after… after…” I couldn’t even say it. I couldn’t even explain how I felt, or what he’d done. I didn’t want to explain it.
“I’m not trying to control you, and I didn’t mean to hurt you. It was a stupid mistake that I made when you meant nothing and now that you mean something it hurts me too. I’m not happy to tell you this. It isn’t filling me with happiness, and I’m only doing it because I know it’s what you’d want.”
“You think this is what I want?” Oh no, tears. Warm, wet, unwelcome tears. Here we go… “How is this what I want?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Brendon hit his fist against his steering wheel, a loud honk replying. “Can’t I say anything right?”
“I don’t know.” I whispered, glancing out the window. “But I’m sure you’ll find out with the next girl.”
“What? Wait, no.” But I was getting out of his car.
I took one look at his panicked expression and felt bad. It wasn’t fair. Why did I feel bad? “I’m going to continue hanging out with Alex. Thanks for…” I swallowed the bitter lump, and winced as it flooded through me, filling my eyes with bitter angry tears. “Thanks for the truth.”
The truth sucked.
Brendon nodded but said nothing. He looked hurt. I was more hurt. I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t the one that drugged him. I wasn’t the one that had planned to fuck and leave him. I wasn’t the one that did this to us.
So, why did I still feel so damn bad?
“Everything okay?” Alex asked, as I sat back down, hoping that it wasn’t obvious that I’d been crying.
I took a couple of large drinks from my soda to try and avoid what had just happened. It at least gave me the time to strengthen my tone. “Great.” I finally muttered, glancing down at the food that had arrived. Food sounded like the worst idea ever. “I should actually go.” I just didn’t want to go with Brendon.
“Sure.” Alex responded, picking up the check.
I pulled my wallet out but Alex reached over, placing his hand over mine. “Don’t, I’ve got it.” But that’s not what friends do.
The words died on my lips as I struggled to fight the emotion out of my throat. I didn’t want to sound like I’d just cried, or look like I just cried. I wish I hadn’t just cried. Damn you Brendon.
Alex returned after just a few seconds and I stood, realizing that I really didn’t want to face my mother. “Can you just drop me off at a park or something? I think I need to be alone.”
“I think being alone is a bad idea. How about you come home with me?” Alex suggested.
That sounded like the worst idea ever.