Day Two Hundred and Nine.
The next time Rainie saw me after our intimate encounter, a beach ball was thrown at my head.
It was a Saturday in October, and we had the day off. Joe was feeling better, Kevin and Danielle were still going strong, and our band suggested we spend the day lounging at the beach. I brought Pep along and the lot of us struck up an intense beach volleyball competition. (My team was winning).
After a while, Kevin and Danielle bailed on us because they wanted some lame couple time or something. What I didn’t know was that Kevin used this ‘couple time’ to call all of his friends and invite them to join us. I don’t mind Kevin’s friends - they’re an even mix of guys and girls and they’re all good people. What I didn’t understand was when Jesse switched from ‘tour buddy’ to ‘friend’, and why he was invited to spend the day with us. Furthermore, and more importantly, why on earth was Rainie accompanying him!?
They were seriously still together. Fuck me sideways, they were still together, and they were still parading around in front of me like the happiest couple in history. She obviously hadn’t told him that we kissed, and she obviously didn’t intend to. Apparently, it meant nothing to her.
… how could it have meant nothing to her!? Did I have to change my kissing method, or was she just the Snow Queen of all ice bitches?
When I saw them walking towards us holding hands, Rainie’s windswept hair and simple summer dress making her look like someone I’d only fantasized about in my wildest dreams, I had to pause for a moment just to stare in awe, confusion and anger all at once.
That was when someone (I’m guessing Joe, as usual), threw the beach ball at my head. I staggered on my feet and readjusted my sunglasses in annoyance, and even from far away, I heard Jesse’s loud laughter. I wondered what he would do if I spontaneously burst into a rousing rendition of ‘It Happens Every Time’ and insisted that he take over to give the people what they wanted.
He and Rainie joined our volleyball game. Because more of Kevin’s friends had joined us, we had to restructure the teams ever so slightly. Of course, Rainie and Jesse became my rivals, and I had to stand in my position on the opposite side of the net and watch them playfully flirt with one another. They tried to steal the ball from one another, they nudged each other flirtatiously, and they squealed (well, Rainie squealed. Jesse laughed). Not only was it painful to watch, but it was ruining the entire competitive dynamic we had had before they arrived.
How were they still together? How had they not broken up yet? You don’t just kiss Nick J and then pretend it never happened. I carefully plan out who I kiss specifically so this kind of thing doesn’t happen. It had been almost two weeks since the epic fight, and it was like their relationship had somehow been rejuvenated.
Fuck! That was never in my plans. I never saw it coming. And now they were flirting in front of me. Every so often, Rainie glanced at me, like she knew exactly what she was doing.
What was she doing?
I had never had so much difficulty with my Chaucer-ness before. That’s when I began to think that maybe my sixth sense wasn’t failing me. Maybe the key to figuring Rainie out was coming to terms with the fact that she was entirely, positively, irreversibly insane. How many girls would kill to be in her position? I mean, the Jesse McCartney thing is… whatever, but she had kissed me. Didn’t she realize what a rarity that was? I don’t kiss just anyone. I can count on one hand the number of girls I’ve kissed. I’m a hot commodity. I’m in high demand, but the supply is low. Sorry, girls, but you might just have to settle for a cheap look-alike.
Rainie got a piece of me, Britney Spears style. Didn’t she get what that meant? It meant that she was special. I only kiss special girls. Girls that are meant to be with me and only me (even if it’s only for a short period of time… see ex-girlfriends one and two).
She was trying to defy that unwritten law, and I was not pleased.
“Don’t be confrontational,” Pep instructed as she talked me off the ledge. We stood face-to-face in the sand, speaking in low tones just in case passer-bys were attempting to eavesdrop. There was no fear of my brothers or Rainie hearing us - everyone else was still in the water splashing around after the game. Well, everyone except for a few key people. Kevin and Danielle were walking her miniature dog up and down the beach, and Rainie was lying on Jesse - yes, on him - as they soaked up the sun. Ice bitch. Well, in this case, she was a bitch on fire. A burning bitch. In fact, I hoped she did burn.
I buried my face in my towel, shaking my head and groaning aloud as I wiped droplets of water off my face. “But I need to know what she’s doing.”
Pep half-laughed at that one. “I think it’s pretty clear that she’s back together with Jesse and that she doesn’t want to reminisce on what transpired between you two.”
“Where did you get those words?” I demanded, temporarily distracted.
“I wrote an essay last week,” she answered in a cavalier fashion. “Listen to me, Nick J. I like Rainie, but what she’s doing to you is mean. She’s not even offering you an explanation. Doesn’t that mean she’s not worth it?”
“It means she’s worth more than I thought because I have to fight for her,” I answered easily.
“No!” Pep exclaimed with voracity. Wow, she got pretty excited there for a moment. Too adamant for someone who was supposedly talking me off the ledge. Her scary soul-sucking blue eyes found mine. “Nick, please think clearly for a second. Don’t do anything stupid.”
I scowled. This shitty advice was pointless. “I never do anything stupid,” I retorted. I always think things through. It yields the best results.
“Please?” Pep pleaded. Her face broke into a grin. “Can’t we just have fun today? We were having so much fun until she put you in a bad mood. Go back to the way you were. Let’s just play.”
Let’s just play - I didn’t think anyone had said that to me since the third grade.
“What are we whispering about?” Joe hissed, poking his sopping wet head in between us. It was a tight squeeze, and I immediately stepped back in disgust.
“Nothing,” Pep giggled.
Joe straightened, demanding entrance to our huddle. “We should get the Frisbee out. How about a game of Ultimate Frisbee, huh, Pip?”
“Let’s do it!” she exclaimed enthusiastically.
Over Pep’s shoulder, I saw Jesse and Rainie. She jokingly put a glob of sunscreen on his nose. He tickled her sides; she squealed. They laughed, she removed the sunscreen, they kissed. That’s when my nausea set in.
“Nick? Hey, idiot!”
Joe cupped my cheeks with his hands and turned my head towards him.
“Wha’,” I demanded, my mouth in an O-shape as he squeezed.
I placed my hands on his forearms and ripped his hands away from my face. “Yeah. Whatever.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Joe asked.
Pep waited for me to answer. When I showed no interest in responding and turned my head back towards Romeo and Juliet, Pep replied in my place, “He’s upset that Rainie’s here with Jesse.”
Joe slapped my back so suddenly that I jumped forward in shock. “Snap out of it, kid. Stop thinking about it. It’s a beautiful day, we’re with our friends, and we got a yellow Frisbee with a smiley face on it. Life is good.”
Noodlebrain. Here was the guy who had chastised me for three days straight after I kissed Rainie. He said I took advantage of her. She was sad, and I pounced. I was a jerk and I deserved to be rejected. He said that everything she’d told me was justified because it was my fault.
In my defence, I’m seventeen years old. I’m not even legal yet. Nothing is my fault. It’s like, if a four-year-old stole a teddy bear, would you try him in court? If a seven-year-old shot someone, would you send him to jail? Again, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Rainie, on the other hand, is an adult. The blame rests on her.
I resumed partially ignoring my noodle-headed brother as I glanced at Jesse and Rainie. Joe and Pep continued to try to talk me out of it while I stared. Jesse had one arm wrapped around Rainie. She laid her head on his shoulder, melting into him and placing a hand on his chest. She shrugged her shoulders as she sighed contentedly. They looked at each other and kissed again. Were they in love or something? How could something go from being so bad to so good? Was this a charade? She went from hating the jerk to not being able to take her hands off him. It was an act. I knew it. I could see right through her. She was trying to make me jealous. I didn’t know why, but I attributed it to the ‘ice’ on top of her bitchiness.
You know, I think she really needed a man like me to calm her down. Jesse wasn’t good for her; he riled her up with his dickheadedness. I was smart and self-assured and collected. Only a real man (that is, me) could tame her inner bitch.
But I wasn’t just going to stand there while she tried her hardest to make me jealous (which was working, by the way). Two could play the game. I could make her jealous if I wanted to. All I had to do was wait until she looked my way, and then I had to do something that proved I was over her.
She glanced my way.
Fuck. I had to think fast. Um… okay. No time. Shit. Yes. Okay. Let’s go.
Grabbing Pep and crashing my lips against hers was probably one of the stupidest things I have ever done. No, it was the stupidest thing I have ever done. It was kind of ironic, because Pep had told me about three minutes prior not to do anything stupid, and I assured her that I never did. But I wasn’t thinking about that as I kissed her.
There was definitely a turning point. During the grabbing process, it seemed like a brilliant idea. A sure-fire way to show Rainie what she was missing. The moment my lips touched Pep’s, I realized how wrong I was. Joe actually gasped aloud, as if it were the sixteenth century and a nun exposed her ankles to him.
By this point, though, I had to carry through with my plan. I’d look like a moron if I didn’t. Pep was a lot more easy-going than I expected; I made a mental note to buy her a Coke later or something.
For the record, there was no insertion of tongue (gag me). But there was definitely top lip action. I needed to make it look convincing, after all. Rainie had to know that I wasn’t going to wait around for her. I would find other girls, because girls loved me.
Pep was seriously doing a good job.
I hated myself.
I broke apart from her and took a step back, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. Though I was pretending to look at Pep, I was really glancing behind her at Rainie. Oh, she was definitely looking. It was the stupidest thing I’d ever done, but at least it caught her attention.
I felt like throwing up.
Pep looked like she was going to say something, but I held up a hand to silence her. Joe’s jaw was practically touching the ground, so I didn’t have to worry about him saying anything intelligent in the near future.
I shook my head. It would take too long to explain and she’d never understand. All I could really say was, “Thank you.”
With that, I left Pep with Joe and went in search of my clothes. I needed my wallet. Where the fuck were my clothes!? I spun around in confusion, scanning the entire beach.
Oh. Of course my clothes were three feet away from the happy couple. I had to turn what would have been the ultimate walk of shame into the walk of pride, showing no signs of regret. I acted on-camera five days a week, but I was pretty sure this was the toughest acting I had ever done in my life.
“Nick, pass me my iPod, will you?” Jesse asked almost as soon as I had picked up my shorts and plunged my hand into a pocket. His iPod was about two and a half inches away from his fingers, but of course, with Rainie sitting in between his legs, he couldn’t reach it. How easy would it to pick up the iPod and throw it into the ocean? Or stomp on it? Or I could simply leave it where it was and make him get it himself, the lazy ass.
In the end, I caved. I passed him his iPod. I wondered if he had all of his songs - Dream Street included - on his iPod. He seemed like the kind of guy who would.
While I pulled out my wallet, Rainie snuck a peek at me as nonchalantly as possible and questioned, “So you and your friend Pep, huh?”
I’m not lying when I say I hated myself.
I shook my head to get rid of the excess water dripping from my hair to my chest, replying awkwardly, “Uh huh.”
Then I left as quickly as possible. I’m a firm believer in not saying more than is necessary. I could have easily made up a huge lie about how there had always been something between us that was worth pursuing, but it was easier to leave her wondering. It was better this way. She’d lay awake at night with questions, and I would sleep soundly knowing that she’d come crawling back.
But I still felt sick.
It didn’t matter. I would make this up to Pep. I marched up to a vendor on the beach and pulled two one’s out of my pocket. “Coke, please,” I said politely.
When I searched for Pep’s easily-spottable red hair with all the others in the ocean, I instead found her sitting next to our clothes, hugging her knees to her chest. Thankfully, Jesse and Rainie finally decided to get up and join Kevin and Danielle on their walk. I would have to inform Pep that we were now officially dating in their eyes, so if they asked questions, she had to answer them properly. I felt kind of bad - poor Pep, I always seemed to include her in my lies. Rainie already assumed that her mother had a newborn baby, and now this. Oh well - that’s what Cokes are for.
I plopped down beside her in the sand, handing her the bottle of Coke.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Reciprocity,” I replied. “Are we even?”
She shrugged in confusion. “For what?”
I stared at her, unsure of how to answer the question. If she made me say it out loud, I would kill myself.
Ultimately choosing to brush off her inquiry, I chuckled as I instructed, “Just drink it, Pepper.”
Joe was mad at me again. I thought it was because I stole his glasses and tried to angle them over Jesse’s head according to the position of the sun so that his hair would catch fire, but apparently that didn’t bother him as much as what I’d done earlier.
“I’m actually ashamed that you’re my brother today,” he muttered venomously.
I shrugged innocently. “Are you ashamed that I was your brother yesterday, too? How’s tomorrow looking?”
“Why don’t you take your head out of your ass, shitbrain?”
This was dumb. I had previously confided in him to make him happy, but he could never understand. He wasn’t aware of how much I had been through in the past eight months. I had been on a no-girl diet, and I was slowly wasting away to nothing - something had to be done in my favour. Something drastic.
There was no use explaining it to him. I could only try to divert his thoughts, which was a piece of cake. I looked over his shoulder and smiled brightly, waving as I exclaimed, “Oh, hi Camilla!”
Joe’s head whipped around so quickly, I thought it would swivel off his neck. It was too easy. And he called me a shitbrain?
To take my mind off of things, I thought it would be a good idea to polish off the second season of The Office that night. I can’t stress how bad of an idea this was.
Not to ruin the ending or anything, but Jim kisses Pam and professes his love. Did not see this coming.
I felt sick again.
Day Two Hundred and Nine.
I’m interested to hear your theories on what you think will happen next. By that I mean what you think will happen directly after this, not what will happen when the story ends, because I’m pretty sure I’ve already got a firm grasp on who is Team Pep, who is Team Rainie, and who is Team Nick-Should-Be-Friendless-And-Alone. Anyway, I just want to know if I’ll be able to surprise you with what Nick decides to do next… so let me know what you’re thinking!
I’ll post ASAP. The next chapter is written but I’m trying to stay one chapter ahead of myself, so chapter 22 needs to be written. By the way, I’m stoked to write it because I have so many ideas. Usually I only plan out a chapter on Word in three to five lines, but I have so many ideas for chapter 22 that it’s like half a page. I’m psyched!
Hey, funny story, I’m done class in five weeks. Could not be more excited.
Anyway, for all who inquired - my weekend was awesome. I’m sad to be back at school because I won’t get to see my niece now until I’m done exams in late April. I hope she has some chub on her by then. Also, because many of you have asked (you’re so sweet), no, she does not have a name yet. Hahah my sister and her hubby just can’t decide. They don’t agree on anything, except that they want a really unique name. My sister is pushing for Charlize and he’s pushing for Carling (which by the way is a Canadian brand of beer. Go figure). Personally I like neither of these names, but others on the list were Jaelyn, Kameron and Charlie (there is already a boy in my family named Charlie; I think he’d be offended). Anyway, hopefully they name it within the next few days because I’m dying to put a name to the pretty face.
EDIT: So weird, I found out literally 2 minutes after I posted this that the baby has been named! Koltyn. WOW. Way to be original, sis. People will think she's a boy, and her name will be misspelled her entire life. Right on. At least she's still cute.