Part VII: Hurt
When Marian’s ride left, my heart was still feeling heavy. As glad as I was to have her back, I still felt horrible for what I had done. I went back inside and since we had all finished our meal I pay for everything.
“Want to go to my place?” I offered Caroline.
“Sure.” She said with a smile.
“Let’s get these guys home first though, don’t want to lose half our class.”
I showed the others the nearest Ravenhold bus stop before calling a cab for Caroline and I. It came quickly and it drove us to my house. Even after a month of coming every so often, Caroline always looked awed by the size of place.
“We’re home.” I declared as we came in. Although it was slightly past ten by then dad and Colleen were still awake, sitting at the bar.
Colleen came up to greet Caroline and I went to my dad’s side who was nursing a fruity drink.
“Not getting drunk again after last night, are you?” I teased.
“Just pineapple juice and coconut milk for me.” He said with a smile. “How was your evening.”
“It was fine.”
He raised a brow before frowning. My eyes were still a little red and puffy from earlier. I bit the inside of my cheek for a second.
“I saw Marian.”
“Oh. How did that go?”
“Very emotional.” I sighed. “She was angry at me at first but we talked it out. Not before she punched me, even after a month of Michael’s tough love teaching, she still hits really hard.” I chuckled.
He wrapped his arms around me.
“Ooh like a real date then.” I heard Colleen say, before speaking louder to Ian.“They grow up so fast, am I right?”
“They do.” He said, ruffling my hair gently.
“What are you two doing still up?” I asked.
“I don’t sleep.” Colleen answered. “And Ian was nice enough to give me some late company. Although we might not stay up too long.”
Her use of ‘we’ stood out, there was a little suggestive bend to her word. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Ian repress a smirk. They were clearly into each other and very much intent on sleeping together again.
“I’m going to shower.” Caroline said flatly before practically stampeding upstairs. Clearly she still wasn’t over it.
Colleen looked a little taken aback by Caroline’s reaction.
“Children, am I right?” She then said, rolling her eyes.
“I don’t know, Charlie’s supportive.” Ian said.
“It’s none of my bizz.” I said with a shrug.
They sat back at the bar and picked up their drinks, Ian refilling Colleen’s whiskey glass which she drank slowly, clearly enjoying the taste of it.
“Do I get a drink too? I’ve had a very heavy day you know.” I said with a grin.
“Eh, why not?” Ian said. “But just one. I know just what you want, you could always say I’m psychic even.” He went to the other side of the bar and began mixing stuff together. “And one Planter’s punch for my favorite daughter.”
“Perfect.” I said with a grin, taking the glass and bringing it to my lips. Dad had obviously gone light on the alcohol but I liked the way the kick of the rum complemented the sweetness of the pineapple and orange juices
It wasn’t my first time trying alcohol. Ian was a cocktail connoisseur on his off days and he’d often let me have a sip of whatever he’d mixed. The tropical ones were my favorites, even if I had never actually gotten drunk. We sat for a moment, talking about random things and drinking until I decided to go get changed.
Caroline was still in the shower by the time I’d put on my PJs so I went back downstairs where I found that Grump was surprisingly awake. At twenty one years or so he was massively ancient for a dog, the longevity treatment kept him healthy but he didn’t have the energy he had when I had first met him anymore, spending most of his days sleeping. So I went to his side and gave him some much needed belly rubs.
When the shower finally stopped Colleen excused herself and went downstairs. She and her daughter were together for a few minutes. When Colleen finally came down, I went upstairs with Grump on my heels. I went into my room where Caroline was sitting on the bed, looking somewhat gloomy.
“Hey, everything okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, just some mother-daughter talk.”
I nodded and sat down on the bed next to her.
“Charlie?” She asked, although her head faced me, her eyes stayed away from mine.
“Why did you never tell me about Marian?” She muttered looking down.
“We hadn’t talked in four months.”
“Why?” Her tone was dry, feeling accusatory.
“Because my stupid mental health got in the way, okay?” I answered, taken aback by her attitude. “What’s with the interrogation?”
“It feels like you kept her secret from me.”
It took me a second to even answer. “Are you jealous?”
“No!” She cried out. “Should I be, was there something between you?”
“No, she was my best friend that’s it.” I answered, feeling my stomach twist. How could Caroline even ask me that… “Marian’s straight, she’s had like three boyfriends before.”
She looked away and stayed quiet.
“What about Jenna? I didn’t even know she existed before yesterday.”
“What about my sister?” She snapped defensively.
“It’s kind of hypocritical to be angry that I ‘hid’ someone from you when you did the same.”
“So, what you’re angry I didn’t mention her?”
“No!” I sighed and took a second to clear my head. Why the hell were we even arguing about this? “Look, I’m just saying that it’s not fair to hold me to a different standard. Plus you never once asked about my friends, if you had I totally would’ve told you I wasn’t seeing any of them.”
“I’ll go sleep downstairs in the living room.” Caroline said, still not looking at me.
She got up but I stepped in front of her, baring the door. “Caroline… Don’t be silly, there’s plenty of space for two people. And if anyone has to go it’s going to be me.”
“Charlie, it’s your house.”
“My house my rules.” I said firmly. “Let’s just forget this stupid argument? Please…” I begged her.
She didn’t argue and removed the covers from one side of the bed. I closed the light and took the other. Grump who had stood by our argument settled in between us. Although I tried to sleep, I didn’t manage to find rest until the early hours of the morning, our stupid argument replaying over and over in my head. I couldn’t believe it had happened… The last month had been like a fairytale but now we’d gotten mad over something so dumb…
Caroline woke me up when she got up but I pretended to sleep. It was best not to talk to her before we were really awake… She took a shower and I just stayed in bed, rubbing Grump’s fur.
“Should I apologize?” I asked him, whispering in his ears. “Did I do something wrong, she was the one who got all accusatory…” I ruminated. “But if I hadn’t gotten defensive and just answered calmly, this wouldn’t have happened.” I sighed and hugged Grump’s furry body. In answer he licked my hands.
“I love you boy.”
I stayed in bed just a little longer, focusing on breathing exercises to try to clear my head as best as possible. When I finally got out and went downstairs, Colleen was making pancakes. She offered me some and I accepted, sitting down opposite of Caroline at the brunch counter.
There was a long silence between us. “Last night I asked Marian to hang out with me today…” I said. “Is that alright?”
She nodded quietly before adding “yeah, I’ll be in church most of the morning anyway,” a second later.
We didn’t speak anymore than that that morning. I retreated to my room and crumbled down on my bed, crying…