On Sunday, Dad decided to torment me for hours
by making me go through some of his old school materials. He often had these
lectures for me during the weekends if he was at home. I appreciated his help,
of course, and knowing what to expect when I’d finally start college was
priceless, but his teaching methods really didn’t help with my anxiety.
If only he stopped acting like I’d never get in if I didn’t work for it every second of the day…
I tried my best to focus, but he got frustrated with me several times because there were still so many things I didn’t understand yet. Or couldn’t remember. I swear, these lectures of his made me feel like I wasn’t that smart at all. He finally let me go when his frustration got too much for him to handle, leaving me feeling like crap.
And it got worse when I saw seventy-two new messages from Cecilia. I hid the phone under my pillows and went to watch TV to get my mind off things. It didn’t really help.
I was still feeling horrible on Monday morning when I went to pick up Jessica. She asked about my date with Cecilia, and I lied when I said I had fun. I left it at that, and I knew she knew I didn’t want to talk about it. She then asked me about my weekend, and just the thought of my dad and his disappointed looks made me want to drive off a bridge.
“That bad, huh…” she mumbled when I parked my car at school.
“He’s asking way too much. I’m supposed to learn all that in college, not now!” I said and groaned, turning off the engine.
“And talking to him isn’t going to help…” she guessed.
“Nope,” I muttered.
We got out of the car, and I quickly noticed people staring at me, whispering something behind their hands. I was used to people trying to get my attention, but this was new.
“Did I do something?” I asked after the fourth group of people started pointing at me as we entered the school.
“They’ve noticed you messing with Jax,” she said quietly. “They keep asking me if you’re suicidal.”
And now I was annoyed on top of feeling like crap. I usually didn’t mind the attention, but now it was getting on my nerves. As I glared at the people around me, I spotted Daniel and Caleb close by, so I headed to them.
“So, how was your first week?” Caleb asked with that stupid smirk on his face.
“I’m making good progress,” I said confidently, but I could tell he knew I was lying.
“I’ve noticed,” Caleb said sarcastically. “Too bad you forgot it was Jax you needed to make fall for you, not Cecilia.”
“Caleb, stop it,” Daniel said angrily. “This whole bet is stupid. Just forget about it.”
“If you want out, then you need to pay me,” Caleb reminded me. “Save yourself the trouble. We both know you will lose this one.”
“No, I won’t,” I said, growing more and more annoyed with him, but he just laughed and walked away without saying a word.
“He’s being a real asshole,” Daniel muttered.
“I noticed…” I replied.
“People are asking me why you’re trying to make friends with Jax,” Daniel told me. “They’re not happy about it. They think you’re bored with them.”
“Your friends. Alan seemed annoyed when I talked with him this weekend,” Daniel told me. “He thinks you’re ditching him for Jax.”
“Ugh… How hard can this get..?” I muttered – mainly to myself. “I better go find him.”
“And tell him what?” Jessica asked in a whisper. “You’re not allowed to tell anyone about the bet.”
“I know what I’ll say to him,” I said. “Don’t worry.”
I suddenly knew what I had to do. If I wanted to win this bet, I had to make things more realistic. I knew I should’ve just paid Caleb and be over with it, but I wanted to wipe that stupid smile off his face.
I was feeling reckless again, and I knew I was going to regret it. But did I care?
Thankfully, Alan had most of the same classes with me, so he was easy to find. But when I tried to call for him, he acted like he didn’t hear me. Why didn’t he tell me he was upset with me?
“Alan! Alan! Wait…!”
He had to stop when he reached the classroom door, and he turned to squint his eyes at me.
Why the hell is he so pissed, anyway…?
“Hey, Alan. I need to tell you something…” I said when I reached him.
“What is it?” he asked in a hostile voice.
“It’s about Jax… Can we go somewhere private?” I asked.
He hesitated for a moment, but then nodded. Thankfully he was too damn curious for his own good. I gestured for him to follow me, and I led him up to the roof. I peered around to make sure we were alone, and then turned to face Alan.
“Look… I heard you’re angry with me because of Jax,” I began, and he immediately snorted loudly.
“People are talking, man. They say you’re fed up with me,” he said. “That you want new friends.”
I stared at him for a moment. “And you believed them?”
“I don’t know. Do you want new friends?”
“No, of course not! Wait, why are you being so dramatic about this? We’ve been best buddies for ages!”
“Then why are you trying to make friends with him? He’s an asshole.”
“Well…” I muttered, not having to fake my hesitation. I was not thinking this through, that was for sure. I could already see a million ways for this to backfire, but I didn’t care. I was not being myself, and that was fine with me.
“The thing is… That… I’m…” I spoke slowly, giving myself one last chance to not go through with my plan. I knew what was going to happen after this.
But I didn’t care.
“I think I like him.”
“Like him?” he repeated.
“You mean… you like him, like him?”
“You like Jax.”
He fell silent and just stared at me in shock, his mouth wide open.
“I like Jax,” I repeated.
“So… You’re…. gay?”
Fuck’s sake, this better work or I can’t face anyone ever again…
“I like girls too,” I muttered. “So that would mean I’m bi.”
His eyes looked like they were about to fall off.
“Are you freaking kidding me? You’re gay??” Alan said with wide eyes.
“I don’t know, maybe I always was…” I lied, already annoyed with this conversation. “Does it matter? Didn’t think you’d be a homophobe.”
“I’m not! I’m just… You are gay!”
“You like guys!”
I said nothing and just waited for him to get over this fake news.
“That actually makes sense,” Alan suddenly said, his expression going back to normal.
“What?” I asked in surprise.
“Well, yeah! All those girls… You never seemed to care about them,” Alan said. “Does this mean I can have a shot with Cecilia?”
He bought it!
“You… like Cecilia?” I asked.
Now that was a real shock.
“Yeah, I think she’s amazing…” Alan giggled and blushed.
“She’s all yours buddy,” I told him and smiled – he could definitely have her.
“So..? Why Jax?” Alan asked hesitantly.
“He’s different,” I said to him with a shrug. “I don’t know. I think he looks good.”
Oh God, where did I get myself into..?
“He’s mean and a jerk,” Alan said. “You know how he treats people, right?”
“Still… I can’t help it,” I said, hoping Alan would leave it at that.
I mean, no one in their right mind would find Jax tolerable enough to actually like him. He had the looks, but that was it. He was mean to everyone. He lied if he was asked a question, or completely ignored it. He loved harassing the new kids by sending them in wrong places or coming up with wild rumors to scare them. He skipped school, his grades were shitty, he smoked on school grounds and stole everything he could get his hands on. And that was not even the whole list.
I was actually amazed he was still allowed at school.
“I must admit, I never thought you could… you know… like someone like him. You’re better than that.”
“But he’s hot,” I said.
“Just be careful with him, alright?” Alan said in a worried tone.
“I will…” I said and sighed.
We returned inside. From that moment forward, things were going to be so much different.
For there was a reason no one told Alan secrets they wanted to keep.
It happened so much faster than I thought. By the time lunch break rolled around, the entire school seemed to know about my “secret”.
Nicholas Gabriel was gay.
Bi, for fuck’s sake. Apparently, no one remembered that I still very much had dated almost every girl in our school, but whatever. I was not actually bisexual either.
While we had lunch, Jessica kept glaring at me over the table. She had hardly said a word to me after she’d heard about this new rumor. She was not happy. She was far from happy, but at least she was mad enough not to speak to me. I didn’t want to have that conversation.
I focused on my food, trying to ignore the whispers and stares. I waited patiently, and this time, I wasn’t even trying to look for him. For Jax.
He would find me this time.
I knew he would.
And he did.
I stepped out of the lunch hall just when Jax was entering the school at the opposite end of the hallway. I stopped to watch him, my heart suddenly racing. This was not going to go down well.
It took him only a short moment to realize people were staring at him more than usual. He slowed down his step, looking at a group of people on his left, then on his right. He seemed confused.
Then one of the girls approached him with crossed arms. I couldn’t hear what she said, but whatever it was, she spoke shortly, and marched away. Jax stood still for a second before lifting his gaze up.
He immediately spotted me.
“Oh, boy,” I muttered.
My friends fled from my side, but I stood still and watched as Death himself was coming for me with his nostrils flaring and eyes sparkling with anger.
“What the fuck did she mean by that?!” he shouted while he was still halfway across the hall.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I spoke loudly, but my answer didn’t satisfy him.
He ran the last steps to me, swiftly grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and slammed me against the wall with such force it surprised me – he didn’t look strong, but here we were, my lungs completely cleared out of air.
“What the fuck did you do?! What the fuck is this?!” he demanded to know while everyone in the hallway was staring at us.
“What… do you…?” was all I managed to force out of my mouth.
“This! Why are they talking about us!” he shouted angrily.
“I… I… uh..” I stammered and fell silent.
I was really starting to regret this…
“I like you.”
His eyes got wide with shock. “You what?” he growled.
“I like you. A lot,” I repeated, feeling a bit braver this time.
Jax didn’t say a word. He was beyond shocked. For a moment there I thought he’d let go of me, that my confession would’ve somehow turned him into a nicer person. That he’d be touched. Hell, I was kind of hoping he’d just say the words I love you right then and there so I could go laugh at Caleb’s face.
He jammed his fist so deep and hard into my stomach that for a moment I feared he’d destroyed every single organ I had in my body. Then he let go of me and watched as I fell to the ground and curled into a tiny ball of pain at his feet. I tried to gasp for air, but my lungs were momentarily paralyzed from the hit.
He slowly crouched down next to me, his angry eyes flashing again.
“You fucking stop whatever sick prank you are trying to pull, or I will fucking kill you. Got that?” he spoke in a low growl.
He didn’t wait for my reply. He got up on his feet and marched away without looking back.
“And leave me the fuck alone!” he shouted over his shoulder.
“Nic!” Jessica hurried to help me up, and Alan joined her only a second later.
I sat up against the wall, trying to catch my breath now that my lungs were back up and running.
“Did you see that? Jax is a total jerk…” someone said close by, and suddenly, I was surrounded by sympathetic people who were trying to cheer me up.
“Don’t worry Nic. You deserve someone much better than him anyway.”
“Yeah, just forget about him…”
“He’s just an asshole! He doesn’t know what he’s missing out on…”
I thanked them, and when they continued walking after making sure I was all right, I turned my attention to Jessica and Alan. Alan seemed worried, but Jessica was glaring at me just as angrily as Jax had just a moment ago.
“I… I guess that went well,” I muttered.
Jessica shook her head in irritation and got up to walk away. Alan was much more sympathetic than she was, but I felt like he would’ve followed her example if he’d known what was really going on.
Things definitely changed after that.
The entire school quickly learned what had happened to me when I tried to confess my feelings to Jax, and the compassion I received was overwhelming. During the rest of the day, I got a lot of sympathetic looks from girls everywhere I went. Even the guys were pissed off by Jax rejecting me like that, too. Well, the ones who weren’t being jerks about my perceived sexuality. There weren’t that many of those, surprisingly.
Though I did have the feeling that my popularity and riches were saving me from most of the hate.
What surprised me even more was Cecilia, who popped up right in front of me after the last period ended and I was making my way to my car.
“I’m so sorry about Friday,” she said. “I had no idea you were gay! It must’ve been so awkward for you! I practically forced you to have sex with me!”
I could only stare at her. I wasn’t sure if I understood her right. I had treated her like garbage, and she was asking for my forgiveness?
“It’s… It’s alright?” I said carefully.
“No, it’s not! I feel terrible about it. No wonder you were so distant with me the whole time. I was angry at first, but now I understand everything!” Cecilia went on.
Oh God I’m the biggest jerk there is…
“No, no, no, no… I feel like an idiot. I should’ve said something,” I played along. “I was being a jerk.”
That part was true.
“Don’t worry about it. It must’ve been hard for you to come out,” she said cheerily.
This was not a conversation I wanted to have with her. Or anyone. So, I quickly came up with something else to talk about.
“Did you know…” I said slowly and she perked up. “Alan likes you a lot. I think you should ask him out. He’s a really good guy.”
Changing the subject wasn’t my only goal here. I felt so bad for lying to them both that I hoped it would ease up my guilty conscience if I brought those two together.
“Oh?” She seemed surprised. “Well, if you say he’s a good guy, I believe you.”
Yeah… keep twisting that knife…
I just gave her a smile before she left.
Oh my God I’m going to burn in Hell for this…