You have been thoroughly warned.
If you are squeamish about colorful language, don't like sex scenes, and honest dialogue makes your hair curl, walk away now. Do not read this.
I'll be posting installments every day until the end. I don't know how many days that will be because I am still writing this story. You can read it or not, share it or not, like it or not. It's up to you. Unlike me, you have a choice. I can't not write it.
As You Were
Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Lummis
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Continued from Installment 12...
“Huh? What?” Erik turned back to me, his forehead crinkled.
“In your walk-out basement. Remember? I always wondered why he never took them down. Seemed too feminine for his man cave.”
I handed Erik one of the cans and popped the other open. Erik’s dad was the quintessential conservative Republican, complete with the hunting fetish and the other appropriate accoutrements. An ATV on a trailer he took to the hunting cabin he shared with his brothers. A dislike for his son’s dope smoking hippie persona. He hated those dreadlocks with a passion. Back then, I was surprised that he hadn’t chopped them off while Erik slept.
Erik stared passed me for a few seconds, then shook his head and blew out a breath. “I don’t know. I think…I think he missed her. He’d never admit it, of course. But I think he did.”
I nodded, then took a sip. The cold fizzy liquid burned my throat on the way down. “Yeah.”
Erik reached out to put his arm around me. “Come on.”
As his warm skin brushed over the back of my neck, I thought about the last time I’d seen Jack. He’d tried to comfort me in his awkward way after his big revelation, putting his arm around me much like this, squeezing. I’d knocked his arm off and told him to go to hell, that I’d never marry a man who didn’t think I was the most fuckable woman he’d ever met.
I reached up to touch Erik’s hand. “I don’t suppose we’ll get back to what we were doing in there?” I half-laughed. Erik had made me feel like that, tonight. I sighed. No one had ever made me feel that fuckable, that desirable, now that I thought about it.
Erik chuckled. “I don’t know. I think we have a lot more to say to each other before that can happen.” He slid open the door, gesturing for me to go first. “Don’t you think?”
I laughed loud, surprising both of us. “I can’t believe the Erik Richards I know and love would rather talk to a female than bonk her brains out.”
He grinned, pushing me out the door. “See? People can change.”
“Just my luck,” I grumbled under my breath.
“Wait.” He either didn’t hear me or chose to ignore my words.
He jogged back into the house. “What are you doing?” I called after him, setting my soda on a table. I shoved one of the deck chairs over so two of them were bumped up against each other, then picked up another little table and sat it on the other side.
“Here.” He came through the door clutching a mound of blankets and pillows. He tossed them down on a chair then spread a blanket over the other, tossing a pillow at the head.
Erik and I met our first day of freshman year at the new high school. We’d both come from different middle schools, both from middle-class families, both nervous but too cool to show it. Well, Erik had been. I’d wanted to be cool, but I couldn’t quite master the required indifference. I’d cracked the biggest, sappiest grin when he deigned to introduce himself in silence class.
“Do you remember Sara Miller’s sweet sixteen party?” Erik sat down in the blanket chair and patted the chair between his legs.
I quirked an eyebrow. “You want me to sit with you?”
He waved his hands over his lap. “Plenty of room.”
I frowned and he frowned with great exaggeration, even sticking his bottom lip out. It was an awfully cute expression on such a manly face. He had grown up, sort of. Then he grabbed my leg and tried to drag me down. I laughed. At least some things hadn’t changed. I fell into him and he wiggled us around until I was resting with my back on his chest. He pulled the other blanket over us and handed me my soda.
“Mmm,” I sipped. “Yeah.”
I stared out at the beach and ocean, listening to the constant rush of waves on the shore. I could hear the boardwalk faintly, like a tinkle of chimes in the wind. Voices. Laughter. Music. Too far away to be annoying. Just far away enough to add to the ambiance.
“I didn’t love Gena.”
I jerked around. One of Erik’s hands rested on my thigh. The other held his ginger ale. “You didn’t?”
He shook his head. “Are you surprised?”
I turned back to my surf gazing. The moon was coming up over the ocean, it’s light sparkling on the tips of ripples, riding the waves to the sand. I wasn’t, but it made me sad to think about. Gena. She was a good friend. I chugged my soda, flinching at the thought of how I’d let things go so far.
“No,” I finally admitted. “I never thought it was love. I mean, I think Gena loved you, but…”
What could I say? That Erik never struck me as the type to fall in love? It sounded mean even in my head. But had I ever really been in love, either? I thought I was in love with Jack, but it turned out I was wrong. I knew that now.
“But I did care about her. Still do.” He rubbed my arm and goosebumps trilled up to my chest.
And I burst out crying.
“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” Erik shifted me so I was sitting sideways and hugged me. “What’s wrong?”
I laughed through my tears, shaking my head. “I think I really screwed my entire life up. I thought I knew what love was, but I was so wrong. And then I hurt one of the best friends—no the best friend I’d ever had. And it’s too late. She’d never forgive me now. She’s too stubborn and I’m too chicken-shit to make the first move.”
End of Chapter 5