My nose is stuffy. I realize I can’t breathe out of it as I’m waking up and I wonder what on earth could have happened to have caused that. And it comes pouring back to me. I cried in front of Jeremy. Because I couldn’t figure out if he liked me or not. Oh that’s embarrassing.
Ha. And he thought, I wouldn’t remember anything. I mentally slap myself. I think I’d rather not remember it. I wonder if he remembers it. I feel him stir against me, but he doesn’t wake up. His arm moves, and his face presses against my neck. I smile, remembering this happening before.
I carefully roll over, so I can look at him. Is that creepy? Yeah, that’s probably creepy. Oops. He looks so peaceful, so much different than when he’s awake. I gently remove his arm from my waist and sit up. I have to pee, so badly. I sit up, apparently too fast, and my head starts spinning. "Oh great." I groan, pressing a hand to my head. "Too much drinking." A large part of me wants to just lay back down, to try to go back to before my head decided to explode. But I really have to go to the bathroom.
I push myself up and step carefully over Jeremy’s sleeping body. I manage to somehow avoid all the creaky spots on the floor, even though I can barely see. I’m trying to keep my eyes mostly shut as it eases the pounding in my head. I’m about to push past the curtain he has for a door when I remember I’m only wearing a large shirt. I pick up my dress and get dressed as quickly and quietly as I can. The dress really isn’t much better than the shirt, but it somehow just feels different.
I fold his shirt and set it on his bureau before I step into the windowless hallway. And I thought his room was dark. The hallway is pitch black and I let my eyes adjust for a second before I try to find the stairs.
I hit all the creaky steps on my way down, and I can only hope that I don’t wake anyone who might be trying to sleep. I can’t tell what time it is. I should have searched for my phone, but I didn’t want to wake Jeremy. The windows in the living room are only letting in a bit of light, so I guess that it’s still fairly early. Someone is passed out, snoring, on the couch and I try to tiptoe past whoever it is. Someone’s in the bathroom. I can hear the shower running and I groan. Of course, someone would be showering when I need the bathroom. I lean against the wall and rub my temples. Will this headache ever go away? I know, I’ve only been feeling it for under ten minutes, but it already feels like it's been at least an entire day.
I decide to head to the kitchen to find some type of pain-reliever for this headache. The floor creaks behind me when I open a cupboard and I turn around to see Jeremy. He’s still shirtless and I try not to stare at him. He has a slight definition of his ab muscles, but he’s not a six pack. Somehow the in-between suits him. He runs a hand through his hair, his biceps distracting me from his stomach and he blinks sleepily.
"What are you looking for?"
"Some type of tylenol," I say and he nods.
"Me too," he steps close behind me and stretches up to the top shelf in the cupboard. His chest rubs up against my back as he reaches up and takes a bottle of ibuprofen down. He uncaps the bottle and pours out few pills. "Do you need water to take yours?" He asks after somehow taking the pills dry.
I nod, "Yeah. Otherwise they get stuck in my throat and make me think I’m going to die."
He chuckles, grabs a cup and makes his way to the fridge. He passes me the cup once it's filled with water and he hands me two ibuprofens. I feel slightly self-conscious as I take them because he’s just staring at me. "Hangover?" He asks and I nod.
"Just a bit."
He chuckles, "Same here."
"At least you weren’t puking last night." I say with a smile, remembering the first night we met.
He rolls his eyes, but smiles back, "I wasn’t the only one puking that night."
I laugh, "Yeah, that’s true."
Everything feels awkward, like we’re walking on eggshells. "I’m sorry about last night," he says, like he somehow knows what I’m thinking.
I don’t quite know what to say, so I stay quiet. It starts to get even more awkward and I desperately want something to happen to make things less uncomfortable. Like an answer to my silent wish, my stomach growls loudly. That’s almost more embarrassing than my crying last night.
"Hungry?" Jeremy asks with a chuckle.
"No," I say, sarcastically. "Not at all. My stomach grumbles like that when I’m full."
He laughs again, "I think, we have pancake mix somewhere." He sounds a bit hopeful and I raise my eyebrows a bit.
"You’re hoping I’ll offer to cook you pancakes, aren’t you?"
He grins, looking slightly sheepish, "Well, maybe."
I roll my eyes, "You’re lucky I’m hungry."
His grin widens and he searches the cupboards for the box of mix.
I flip the last pancake over and lean back to wait while it cooks. Jeremy’s leaning against the counter beside me and he slides his arm behind my back and around my waist. I step forward. "You know, it’s things like that make you, not make any sense to me."
"What do you mean?" He asks.
I sigh, "Never mind."
"No, tell me."
I shake my head and check on the pancakes. He comes up behind me and wraps both arms around my waist, nuzzling his head into my neck. I turn around so I can face him, and push on his chest to make him give me some space. "You act like this, like you like me, but you say we can’t be together. It’s major mixed signals. You’re giving me emotional whiplash."
He raises an eyebrow and smirks at my phrase, "Emotional whiplash?"
"Don’t make fun of me," I say the words in a sigh and his smirk stays, but he doesn’t say anything else. "I’m serious though. You just can’t do things like that to me. If you don’t like me, fine, we can be friends. But you can’t act like this with me. It’s confusing."
"Maybe I don’t want to be your friend," he says, trailing his hand up my arm.
I try to back up, but I’m already standing against the stove and my arm hits the hot pan. I whimper when it sears against my skin and I jolt forward, pressing up against his bare chest.
"Are you okay?" He asks, turning us so I’m away from the stove. He inspects my arm and frowns slightly. "It doesn’t look too bad, but we should get some ice on it."
"Not yet," I tell him, trying to get to the stove again. "I need to get the pancakes off before they burn."
"Screw the pancakes. You’re burned."
I laugh, but manage to get him aside enough for me to reach the spatula and get the pancakes onto a plate. As soon as I’ve switched the burner off, he tugs me towards the freezer and pulls out a tray of ice cubes.
"Of course, it’s empty," he grumbles, sticking it back into the freezer.
"No wonder it’s empty. If all you ever do is just put it back in without filling it up first."
He ignores me and pulls out an ice-pop, "This will have to do." He grabs a napkin and wraps it around the ice-pop before gently pressing it to my arm.
"Ow," I want to pull my arm away, but I know the iciness will eventually help.
For a few moments we stand there. One of his hands his holding my arm up, the other is keeping the ice-pop pressed against my burn. "You know, I appreciate the ice, but I’d really like to eat the pancakes while they’re still warm."
His eyes, which were staring at my arm, lift up at the mention of food. He glances towards the counter where the pancakes are, "Okay. But after we eat, you should ice it again."
"Sure." I say, knowing I won’t be able to get any breakfast if I don’t agree with him on this.
He puts the ice-pop back into the freezer and pulls out plates for us. "Do you have syrup?" I ask. He pauses and glances around the kitchen.
"I can’t believe you had me make pancakes when you don’t even have syrup." I look at the strawberry jelly that I’d spread on my pancakes. Jeremy used honey on his. "Who has pancakes without syrup?"
"Us apparently," Jeremy says, taking a bite out of his.
Whoever was sleeping on the couch got up and left sometime, so we sit down on the couch and he scrolls through Netflix while we eat. He finally settles on some random show. For a few minutes, he seems really into the show. But after a bit, he turns to me. "So what were you saying before you got burnt?" He sets his empty plate aside and checks out my arm. "It looks somewhat okay now, by the way." He pauses and then gives me a stern look. "And don’t tell me it was nothing. Because it wasn’t. You burned your arm over it."
I sigh, "You know, what I was talking about. We’ve tried to have this conversation twice now and it clearly just doesn’t matter."
He sits quietly for a second, "Maybe you’re right."
Anna comes stumbling out of Russell’s room, where Sally let her sleep last night. "Oh good, you’re awake!" She says, before pressing a hand to her head. "Oh I need tylenol."
Jeremy directs her to the kitchen. After a minute, we hear, "I’m stealing some of these pancakes!"
I’m grateful for her distraction. Jeremy doesn’t try to start up the conversation again. He stares directly at the television, and I find myself wondering if maybe we should have tried to talk about it again.
Anna stands beside the couch, scarfing down some pancakes. "Oh, hey, Tyler texted me sometime last night. I just read it this morning. He’s asking about you."
His name snaps me from my thoughts of Jeremy. "Is he in town?" I ask. I thought he had moved away.
"Yeah, he just got back in a week or two ago. You know, he was at my Saint Patty’s day party. You could have seen him if you’d gone!" She’s talking with her mouth full, I’m surprised, I can understand everything she’s saying.
"I don’t want to see your chewed up food." I say, trying to change the subject.
Jeremy is looking at me, eyebrows raised, like he’s waiting for me to explain. I just shake my head
"Are you just about ready to go?" Anna stands up straight and jingles the keys in her hand. "I know you’ll need a ride home and I need to go, so I can get ready for work. Remind me to not ever party with any of these guys again when I have to work the next day."
I laugh a bit, "Yeah, they party hard."
She nods, "And I clearly can’t hold my alcohol."
I stand up and take a few steps towards the door.
"You’re leaving already?" Jeremy asks.
I nod, "Yeah, I’ll see you at work sometime."
Anna follows me out of the house and we get into her car in silence. We’re near my house before she talks, "You’re mad at me, aren’t you?"
"No, whatever gave you that impression?" I can’t help, but sound sarcastic. I’m still mad at her for tricking me into seeing Jeremy. I can’t say I hated being at the party, but I did hate being tricked into it. Jeremy and I clearly aren’t going to be able to be together, and everybody needs to realize that. By everyone I mean Cameron, Anna, myself, and possibly Andrew. I’m not convinced that he didn’t have a hand in this set up.
"I’m sorry," Anna says, feebly.
I roll my eyes, "Sorry is not exactly good enough, Anna. I know you were trying to help, but just forget about it, alright? Jeremy doesn’t want a relationship with me. And I won’t just be a toy for him to play with when he wants. I won’t degrade myself like that."
She sighs, "I really am sorry. Cameron was so sure that Jeremy would want to be with you."
"Yeah, about that. How do you even know Cameron?" I ask.
She grins, sheepishly, "Remember that one time Andrew and I were fighting near the beginning of our relationship?" I nod and she continues. "I came to see you at work, and met Cameron and he insisted on getting my phone number." I raise an eyebrow and she continues. "No, we didn’t ever do anything! But he still had my number, and he put it to good use last night."
"If you call tricking me into meeting up with someone who doesn’t like me the way I like him ‘good use’ then yeah, sure. Congratulations to both of you."
She doesn’t say anything, and keeps her eyes glued to the road. I sigh. "I’m sorry, Anna. I don’t mean to be so rude. I just don’t know how to feel today. I really thought he liked me. But he doesn’t. It’s kind of depressing."
She nods and looks over at me with a sympathetic smile, "I know what you mean." She pulls into the driveway.
"I’ll see you later." I say, before getting out. "Maybe we can actually go clubbing sometime. You know, actually clubbing. No tricks."
Anna smiles, "Yeah, I’d like that."
I head inside, thinking about crawling into my comfortable bed. It’s Monday and I don’t have to work, and I don’t have classes. I stop by the kitchen to grab some water and then head to my room. I change out of the dress and into a baggy t-shirt and some fluffy, warm, pajama pants. I curl up under my covers and fall asleep almost instantly.
Em - Thank you so much for your support, and for waiting so long for the next chapter. I really appreciate it!
Bookluver78 - Thank you so much. I appreciate your thoughtful words! And thank you for being so patient while I try to continue writing! I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
Chrystina J - Thank you so much! I really appreciate your waiting and support through this! I hope you enjoy this chapter!!
Miha - Thank you so much for waiting so patiently and so long, and thank you so much for your support, I appreciate it so much. I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
Scars And A Daisy - Chapter FourteenMore Jeremy and Brookie!
By Em Bishop