Chapter 34: Revelations

I left Olivia late in the afternoon. It was well after dark, when we emerged from her bed and she walked me to the door. I took my time saying goodnight to her, before lightly hugging her and trudging back to my dorm.

I let myself in and found Thomas sitting on the sofa, with papers and books spread out in front of him.

“Hey.” Thomas glanced up at me. “I heard about what happened. It was all over chess club when I got there… how’s everything?”

I sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it, man. Seriously.”

“Oh. Okay.” Thomas nodded, shoving his glasses up on his nose. “Makes sense.”

“Do you need the bathroom? I’m going to jump in the shower…” I shoved my thumb in the direction of the bathroom.

“No, no. Go ahead.” Thomas shrugged, still eying me suspiciously.

I moved into the bathroom, shutting the door. I stood under the water until it ran cold before shutting it off and wrapping a towel around my waist. I placed my palm flat on the mirror and wiped away a streak of steam. I peered at my reflection, placing my hands on the counter and leaning on them wearily. I hardly even noticed the water streaming down my back and chest from my hair.

I was trying to make sense of what was going on in my head at the moment.

I’d never acted like this for a girl before. I’d gotten in fights before, but usually it was over drugs or booze, or just because I felt like it.

This whole relationship thing was completely new to me. And the way I felt about Olivia after only a few short weeks of knowing her completely confused and honestly scared the shit out of me.

She seemed so much more comfortable in this situation than I was.

When she curled up in my arms and drifted to sleep; so relaxed, so comfortable there… it terrified me. While she slept, I couldn’t help but panic. I cared about Olivia. A lot. Probably more than I should.

And she cared about me. She cared enough to sleep in my arms as if she’d known me and trusted me her whole life. That freaked me out. It freaked me out that despite my past, and the select details she knew about me, she still felt safe enough to sleep in my arms.

I understood being boyfriend and girlfriend, and I understood the sex part of our relationship, because it was undoubtedly the best sex I’d ever had.

But now were a couple. And not only that, but I was willing to take on a handful of pretty big football players to defend her honour.

Granted those guys had been total assholes and definitely deserved the beating.

I glanced down at my hands, just noticing now that my right hand was starting to hurt.

I frowned and lifted my hand closer to my face. All of my knuckles were varying shades of blue and purple. The first two knuckles on my hands had split open and the wounds were caked in dried blood.

I sighed and decided I needed a distraction. I yanked a brush through my hair before it dried in snarled curls and shoved it back into a ponytail.

I gathered my discarded school clothes and carried them into my room.

Thomas hardly looked up from his notes.

I ventured into my room, shutting the door. I pulled on a pair of boxers and an old t-shirt.

I pushed open my window, trying desperately to get some air. Why the hell was I freaking out about this already? Barely into the relationship and I was already freaking out over the commitment issue.

And part of what terrified me was how much I liked Olivia. I cared about her a lot. She was quickly becoming my only reason to stick around this place.

I plopped down on my desk chair with a huge, tired sigh. I raked my hands through my hair and propped my feet up on the open window.

I needed something to distract myself. I was sure I had a mountain of homework to do, but in all honesty, that didn’t hold my attention, and it wouldn’t serve as much of a distraction.

I was half tempted to go out and bug Thomas for a go at one of his video games, or to go into the common room to shoot pool by myself, but none of it seemed to be right.

I stared at the top drawer in my night stand. I knew there was at least half a carton of cigarettes in there. They were calling to me; some kind of sick, haunting siren song.

I sighed. I wanted a beer, or something stronger. I wanted a joint or something harsher to take the bite of confusion away, but of course I was surrounded by the best and brightest, none of whom ever had any fun at all. Or at least not the fun that I was used to.

I decided that if my feelings for Olivia were new territory, and almost completely irrational. My desire for a cigarette could at least be explained; it made perfect, logical sense.

I opened the drawer and removed a package of cigarettes from the carton. I tore into the wrapping and shoved one between my lips and rummaged through the drawer for a lighter.

“Shit!” I cursed around the cigarette, rummaging through the desk drawers.

I found a black lighter in the back of the desk drawer and frantically tried to flick the igniter. It sparked, but wouldn’t light.

“Fuck!” I cursed.

It suddenly dawned on me that the stove in the kitchen was gas.

With the cigarette still in my mouth I yanked open my bedroom door.

Thomas jumped in alarm. “Whoa!”

“Hey, dude, hate to do this to you, but I kind of need it right now.”

Thomas’ eyes widened, looking huge under his thick glasses. “You’re smoking? In here?”

“Relax, I’ll smoke in my room with the window open. No one will ever know. I just need a light.”

Thomas frowned. “But what if you get caught?”

“I’ll take full responsibility. Besides, I don’t think we’ll get caught.” I moved quickly into the kitchen, wrenching the knob on the stove. The burner burst into flames and I leaned over it, lighting my cigarette. I drew in a deep drag, like my life depended on it.

I quickly moved back into my bedroom, plopping down at my desk chair. I exhaled a cloud of smoke directly out the window and watched it disappear.

Thomas appeared in the doorway. “Do you do that a lot?”

“No, not really.” I answered. “Just when I feel stressed or-“

“Or after you beat the crap out of the school’s quarterback and his team mates?”

I shrugged. “They deserved it.”

“They usually do.” Thomas answered.

I laughed dryly.

“Dude, are you going to come in or stand in the doorway all night?” I asked.

Thomas nodded, pushing himself away from the door frame and plopping down on my bed.

“So how is Olivia holding up then? I heard she was pretty upset.”

“You heard? Do you think the whole school heard?”

“Well, not to make light of the situation, but if the chess club heard it, then it had to have gone through the rest of the school first. We’re kind of the bottom of the barrel.”

“Hmm…” I mused.

“Can I get you some ice for that hand?”

I glanced down at my hand. It was killing me and I could hardly move it, but in the interest of seeming macho I shrugged. “No, it’s cool.”

I drew in the last drag of my cigarette before dropping the butt out the window casually.

“Want to play my new video game?”

“Sure.” I shrugged. Maybe it would get my mind off of Olivia.