Chapter 10: Making Sense of Feelings

I stood in front of Olivia, trying to decide on the proper way to start. As I was carefully choosing the words, I was immediately distracted by the way the sunlight shone on her; showing beautiful auburn highlights in her perfect curls.

I shook my head and began speaking with the overwhelming realization that I was about to sound like a bumbling idiot.

“About the other night… I… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I had no idea how much I would upset you. I was trying to do the right thing. You were really, loaded. I mean, what kind of a guy would I be if I took advantage of how drunk you were? Olivia, if I had kissed you and things had kept… going. How much would you have hated me if we’d done anything more? What if we had sex? Trust me, the roles have been reversed many times. I’ve been where you were… it’s not fun. You do a lot of stupid shit and then you regret it the next morning. I didn’t want to be something you would be regretting severely when you sobered up and realized what you’d done. Your inhibitions were lowered, and I couldn’t take advantage of you like that.” I sighed. “How much of a complete asshole would I have to be to do something like that when you weren’t yourself?”

Olivia bit her lip for a moment. She sighed and dropped her head into her hand. “You’re right. Isaac, you did the admirable thing, and I can’t hate you for that… and I don’t.”

I waited. “Why does it feel like there’s a but at the end of that sentence?” I prompted.

She pursed her lips. “The morning after, when I was sober you still rejected me. I still tried to kiss you, and you pulled away… is it me? I was just humiliated. Do you just not like me or something because I….” She stopped herself suddenly. She looked away, glancing across the lawns to a handful of students lounging beneath another tree. They were laughing and joking around. Some were even throwing fistfuls of grass at each other. And here we were, several yards away and having a grave conversation.

I frowned. “Because you what?” I prompted again when she failed to finish her sentence.

Her voice came out small and meek. “Because I like you.” She admitted at last. “Or at least I might like you if you gave me a chance. You’ve got these walls around you, and I’m trying to get to know you, I feel like I’m making all of the effort here, and you keep pushing me away. Actually, I’m quite sure I do like you, even with all of those walls in place. What I know about you, I like. And I’m sure that whatever I don’t know about you, I’ll like when and if I do get to know it…” She babbled.

I knew exactly what she meant.

I blinked in shock. What parallel universe was I on? How could this insanely beautiful girl in front of me be telling me that she liked me? She was a million times out of my league and yet she was telling me she was interested in me of all people.

I shook my head and laughed before I could help myself. She had to be kidding. Maybe this was some kind of a sick joke that the popular girls played on the new kids, but I wasn’t having any of it.

Olivia’s jaw dropped and she stamped her foot like a spoiled child and stormed off. I knew at once she wasn’t kidding in the least. I felt terrible for laughing at her when she had told me something private.

“Olivia, wait!” I jogged to catch up with her. I caught her arm lightly. “I’m sorry, I offended you. I really didn’t mean to do that. It’s just… I mean, look at you! You’re insanely hot, and look at me. There’s no reason why you should have feelings for me. You’re too good for me, you deserve so much better. You deserve a guy with a future, a guy that you know is going to do things right by you and take care of you… And you hardly know me.” I insisted.

Olivia stopped. She drew in a deep breath, and glanced down at her shoes again. Her hair fell forward in thick silky curtains, shielding her face almost entirely. “I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because you’re new or maybe it’s because you’re not like the other guys at this school. I mean you don’t seem to be a stuck up, entitled jock who’s only interested in one thing… I mean you cared enough not to just leave me passed out in the common room. You were chivalrous enough to take me back to your dorm room and let me sleep in your bed while you slept on the sofa. And you’re totally right. Any other guy would have taken complete advantage of my ridiculously inebriated state. But not you. You were a complete gentleman and despite my inappropriate and embarrassing behavior. I guess I just admired that and I thought that if you were sweet enough to do all those things for me, than maybe you might just like me too.” She sighed.

“Olivia, I do like you… but… you really shouldn’t want anything to do with me. I’m way out of your league. I’m not good enough for you. You deserve way better than a screw up like me.” I insisted.

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

I sighed. “You’re smart, and popular and you’re insanely beautiful, Olivia. You could have any guy here wrapped around your little finger…. You have to believe that deserve better than me. I mean, I know me and I’m not a great guy or anything… there are a million guys out there better for you than me.” I swallowed, and decided it was time to come clean. Or at least tell her part of the reason why we couldn’t be together. “I haven’t told anyone this; but do you know why I came here to Pine Crest?”

She pursed her lips and shook her head.

I drew in a deep breath, buying time to decide how much or how little I should be telling her. “I got in some trouble before I came here. I had a little issue with some controlled substances. I was partying a lot and I did some other things that made my parents fed up, so eventually they sent me up here, thinking the time and the isolation would get me straightened out and thinking that I might be able to focus more on my studies… This is kind of my last chance before they throw me out entirely.”

Her green eyes were sympathetic. She studied my face, trying to tell if I was faking it or embellishing the story. If anything, I was leaving huge chunks out. I was telling her as little as possible.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know… I…”

“How could you have known?” I retorted.

She pursed her lips tightly again.

“The thing is, I’m not ready for relationships or anything. That stuff hasn’t gone to well for me in the past, and I’m just trying to… get everything else in order before I’m ready to add anything else onto my already full plate.”

I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my own mouth. This insanely beautiful, smart and sweet girl standing in front of me was telling me she wanted to be with me, and for some reason I was turning her down. I was a complete idiot. It must be true when they say drugs and alcohol will rot your brain. If I had been watching anyone else do this, I would have smacked them upside the head and called them an idiot.

Olivia looked hurt, and I felt like crap.

“Could we at least be friends?” She asked in a tiny voice.

“Of course. I do like you; you’re probably the realest person I’ve met since I’ve been here.” I answered. I wasn’t kissing ass in the slightest, I actually meant it. Everyone else in this place seemed completely self centered and fake.

Olivia smiled sweetly. “So we’re friends.”

I nodded. “Friends.”

She pursed her beautiful, plump lips. I watched fascinated. If she had tried to kiss me at this very moment, I would have definitely gone for it, whether she was sober or not. “So then you want me to help you with your biology stuff?”

My eyebrows shot up. “Seriously? You know about that?”

She nodded. “I saw your mark when you got your papers back today. I assumed that professor Payne would want to talk to you and suggest you get some help. I guess I’m technically your lab partner. It makes sense that we help each other out.” Her cheeks seemed to turn a light pink. “And I guess I kind of owe you one after getting so drunk and completely humiliating myself.”

I chuckled. “Okay, I can look at it that way. I’ll call in the favor.”

Olivia smiled. “When are you free?”

“I’m free all the time. I just have to explain to Thomas that I won’t be around to kick his ass at Dragon’s Dungeon.”

She frowned in confusion.

“It’s a video game.” I explained.

“Oh.” She nodded, understanding.

“Whenever you’re free.”

“Tomorrow night?” She asked.

“Sure.” I answered. “Eight?”

“Seven is probably better.”

“Do you want to meet at my place or yours? Or maybe even the library?”

“The library will be busy. There’s a Chess club meeting tomorrow night. Gabby won’t be around, how about my dorm? No distractions there.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I agreed.

She smiled. “Room Four-seventeen. I can meet you at the elevators and let you onto the floor.”

“Sure.” I agreed.

Olivia straightened up suddenly. “Oh! I was supposed to meet Gabby for lunch!” Her eyes widened in abrupt realization.

“Is there another couple breaking up or fighting? More hot gossip?” I mocked.

Olivia smiled. “I don’t know. But I’m sure she’ll tell me. She knows everything about everyone.”

“She doesn’t know anything about me yet.” I clarified, just to be sure.

“And she won’t. You can trust me, Isaac. Anything you tell me won’t be repeated.” She promised.

“Thank you.” I returned her smile. “You should go before she comes looking for you.”

“Oh, right! I’ll see you this afternoon in math, okay?”

“Sure.” I nodded, hitching my messenger bag over my shoulder. “See you there.”

She gave me a tiny, cute wave and hurried off across the quad, rushing off toward one of the smaller buildings.

I watched her go, watching the sun glisten in her hair and her skirt fluttered as she moved.

I swallowed and leaned back against the thick oak tree we’d been standing under. I briskly rubbed my palms over my face.

“What the hell is wrong with me?” I asked beneath my breath.

How the hell had I just turned her down like that? The hottest girl in the entire school had just told me she had feelings for me, and I brushed her off.

I wanted to bang my head against the tree trunk, but instead I just leaned back against it, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

The truth was that I liked her too. She occupied almost every thought I had. I had several dreams about her, some too inappropriate to mention or even think about out in public. Even Thomas had been telling me to go for it with her, but I couldn’t.

I had already fucked up my own life beyond recognition; I couldn’t drag someone else into that. I hardly knew who I was any more. How could I be with someone else when my life was so messed up already?

She seemed very well adjusted and very well put together. I’m sure she knew exactly what she wanted out of life, she had no business being with someone like me, I would only drag her down. A girl like Olivia didn’t deserve that.

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