“…and then we saw the lights, and Tabby started freaking the fuck out and -”
“Well, to be fair, spray painting on perfectly decent walls is illegal, Elisa, and I hadn’t wanted to come along anyway,” Tabitha sipped her latte as Elisa rolled her eyes.
“It’s a right of passage,” she asserted, “and I insist that all my friends do it with me at least once.”
“So I guess I’m not really your friend, huh?” Andrea chirped.
“Of course not, you’re far too straight-laced,” Elisa teased in response.
“I honestly think the wildest thing I’ve ever done was skinny dipping in the lake at a party in high school,” Courtney mused. “I was freaking out the whole time, worried that some boy would see us.” She laughed. “My friend Gina stood guard though, she was even more chicken than me.” Fatima had waggled her eyebrows at her when Gina informed them that Keegan was coming, which had made Courtney turn a very unflattering shade of red. “My boyfriend almost caught me naked,” she finished, frowning.
“Well at least it would’ve been him and not some rando creep,” Andrea chuckled. Courtney noticed Tabby squirm a bit uncomfortably in her seat.
Courtney shrugged. “He still hasn’t seen me naked,” she admitted.
“Dude, we are so with you on that,” Tabby chimed in.
“For some of us, it’s not for lack of trying,” Andrea added.
Elisa snorted. “What’s this about a ‘we?’ I am in a very happy, very long-term, very sexual relationship, thank you very much!”
“Oh, quit gloating, nobody gives two fucks about your sex life,” Andrea said.
“Yeah, ’cause none of you have had any fucks to give,” Elisa joked. “I’m totally kidding, by the way,” she assured Courtney, “it makes no difference to me how many guys have seen you in your birthday suit or whatever.”
“I don’t wanna get deep here or anything, I mean I just met you all, but if I ask Fatima this I know exactly what she’ll say and I want a second opinion.”
“Girl, we all just admitted our varying V-card statuses, I think we can all put our big girl panties are and give you advice on whatever you need to ask about,” Elisa said. The others nodded in agreement.
Courtney exhaled. “Okay, well… Keegan and I haven’t had sex yet. I don’t think I’m ready for that, but I also don’t know how I’ll know when I am ready for that. I mean, I love him… and I’m worried that he’ll find someone who’ll give him what I don’t think I can right now.”
The three girls exchanged glances. Andrea motioned at Elisa. “You’re the one who actually knows about this stuff. What’s your advice?”
Elisa sat up a little. “How long have you two been dating?”
“A year and a half, almost,” Courtney replied.
Elisa pondered for a moment. “If he really loves you, he’ll choose you over sex. And honestly, I can’t really give you any advice about how to know when you’re ready. The most obvious part you’ve already got down – feelings for the other person. God, when I met Sarah I swear to God it was like this firecracker went off inside me, and I knew after, like, three weeks that I was ready. I say think on it, because you may actually be ready but be holding yourself back with, like, overthinking. I dunno. I’m not a sex guru.” She shrugged.
Andrea’s eyes darted across the room to the door, where four guys were walking into the coffee shop. “Oh fuck, guys, look who’s here…”
Tabby shot out of her chair and in a flash Andrea was by her side.
“Do you need to go?” Andrea whispered. Tabby only nodded. Andrea wrapped her arm around her friend and led her out the side door with a strained, “I’ll see you guys later.”
“Not to pry or anything, but what’s wrong?” Courtney whispered to Elisa.
“You see the guy in the beanie?”
“The one sitting next to my boyfriend?”
“What?! Shit. Yeah, I guess. Anyway, that’s Rebecca’s boyfriend.”
“Club soccer captain and see-you-next-Tuesday extraordinaire.” Elisa grimaced.
“What’s her beef with Tabitha anyway?”
Elisa sighed. “Basically Matthew over there is complete and total trash. He was hitting on Tabby all night at a party Rebecca wasn’t at. And I don’t mean flirting, I mean literally backing her into a corner and practically forcing himself on her. Of course Rebecca’s sidebitch snitched, but she didn’t tell it quite the way it actually happened, and now Rebecca’s pissed because she thinks Tabby’s trying to steal her disgusting man.”
“Yeah… And I know it’s not my place, but for real, be careful. I don’t doubt your boyfriend’s a great guy, but those bros are toxic.”
“Hey Courtney!” Keegan called.
“You don’t look well, are you sick?” he asked with genuine concern.
Courtney shook her head, but she did feel sick to her stomach at what Elisa had told her.
“Okay, if you’re sure. Come over here and meet some of my new brothers; this is Matthew, and Taylor, and Vince is wandering around here somewhere… guys, this is my girlfriend Courtney.”
Taylor raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend,” he said, amused.
“That was some fucking bullshit,” Elisa muttered, “like, literally the first thing people know about me is that I have a girlfriend, what kind of asshole fuck wouldn’t have mentioned it for three weeks?!”
Courtney choked out another sob in response.
“You probably don’t want to hear this, and you definitely won’t believe me, but that boy is shit, and you deserve -”
“I have to go,” Courtney stopped her as she rushed away.
The library was empty; it was still way too early in the semester for most of the students to really need it. Courtney pulled out the assignment and tried her hardest to make sense of the letters on the paper, but she couldn’t think straight. She had that asshole Taylor’ smug comment stuck in her head on a loop.
She sighed in frustration. She wasn’t going to get any work done this way.
Oliver had already found a shady spot by the lake. When she arrived, he’d been pulling up his notes on his computer. “Hey,” he said cheerfully.
She half-smiled in response and piled her books on the table in front of her.
“I remember writing it yesterday, but the words aren’t making any fucking sense now.”
“Are you having a stroke?”
“I’m really not in the mood for jokes right now, I really just need to finish this assignment,” she spat, harsher than she intended.
“I wasn’t joking…” Oliver mumbled.
Courtney saw the hurt look on his face. “I’m sorry,” she croaked, “I just… today… I can’t…”
He came and sat by her as she cried. He didn’t ask her for an explanation, and she didn’t give him one. She appreciated that.
Her sobbing didn’t subside as quickly as she thought it would. She felt eyes on her as she cried, students studying by the lake glaring at her for making a scene, and she buried her head into Oliver’s shoulder in a futile attempt to hide.
Everything was falling apart. Hell, the only reason she’d chosen Sims U over her hometown community college was so she could be with Keegan, and Fatima. But now it seemed like Keegan was moving on without her. It wasn’t like he had already become an entirely different person, but she saw little bits and pieces, flashes, warning lights. Elisa had only confirmed what she’d already feared was true: the people Keegan hung out with, his fraternity brothers, they were toxic. She wasn’t really worried about getting sucked into that, because she knew at some point, he would decide he didn’t want her anymore and leave her behind.
She just hadn’t thought it would be this soon. She didn’t know if she was ready for him to move on without her.
She jumped a tiny bit as she felt Oliver’s hand tentatively stroke her hair. She sniffled and buried her head further into him in response.
“Let’s go get ice cream,” he murmured, “ice cream always makes me feel better.”
Courtney nodded. He stood, and she shivered in the autumn air as she felt his absence.
“One strawberry cone for you, sir.”
Oliver smiled with childish delight as the shop worker handed him his ice cream. “Are you absolutely sure you don’t want any?” he asked Courtney. “It’s on me,” he added.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Courtney wasn’t so sure that she should eat right now; she still felt like she might projectile vomit from anxiety at any moment.
She expected Oliver to say something when she declined, make sure she was absolutely positive, “suit yourself,” or something, but to her glad surprise he just silently made a beeline towards a table. It took a weight off her shoulders, him being comfortable with her silence. Fatima and Keegan both would have been hounding her to tell them everything; they always did even though she rarely felt like talking at times like these.
She watched Oliver happily lick his ice cream cone for a moment before she turned her attention to the menu. It seemed to be ordinary diner fare, which made her think the food wouldn’t be all that great.
“Oh yeah, they do great breakfast here. Like, food of the greasy gods.”
Courtney looked up from the menu to find Oliver studying her. She glanced at his pink soft serve, which was already half eaten and was melting fast.
“Fancy a bite?” he chanced, holding the cone out, “strawberry is the best ice cream, by far.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Ew. I just like vanilla, thank you.”
He raised an eyebrow as he took another lick of his ice cream. “I knew that there had to be something wrong with you. Hm… that can’t be the only thing that you’re wrong about. Tell me your unpopular opinions.”
She looked at him for a long moment. She didn’t really want to talk, but she was the one who’d asked to meet up with him, and she knew he was trying to do her a favor by distracting her with idle conversation.
“Okay,” she began, “so this is something I’ve never told anyone, not even my best friend, but mostly because she doesn’t give a shit about nerdy stuff, but… I prefer Star Trek to Star Wars.”
“Okay, now you’ve just gone too far!”
“Then I guess I shouldn’t add that I’m not a fan of the Beatles.”
Oliver shrugged. “I mean, me neither, the Beatles are one thing, but Star Trek?! Come on!”
“My Grandpa was a huge Trekkie, we watched every series together when I was a kid.”
“That’s really sweet, though; I’ll call it an acceptable excuse.”
“Hmm, okay, so no Beatles. What old music do you like? ‘Cause there’s nothing post-1990 on this bad boy as far as I can see.”
“Alright, no judgement.”
Courtney raised an eyebrow and listened as a distinctively 80’s beat wafted through the speakers. Her face lit up as soon as the piano came in and she realized what song he had chosen. “Oh. My. God.” she laughed. “Dude really?!”
“Where have all the good men gone
and where are all the gods…”
“I have eclectic taste, and we agreed no judgement.”
“For real, I only know this song from Shrek 2.”
“The best of the Shrek movies, by far.”
“Eh, I’d call it a relatively narrow margin. It’s almost tied with the first.”
Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I could swear there is someone, somewhere
Through the wind, and the chill, and the rain
And the storm, and the flood
I can feel his approach like a fire in my blood
I need a hero
Courtney threw her arms up and attempted a pirouette, but accidentally threw herself off balance. “Shit!” she called out just as Oliver reached out to steady her.
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
“Thanks,” she mumbled, blushing.
“It’s not like I’m just gonna let you fall. Do I look like an asshole?”
Courtney wanted so badly to say something witty in response; it’s what Fatima would have done, but she was always so quick with that stuff. It wasn’t Courtney’s strong suit. She shook her head in response, becoming keenly aware that his hands on her waist was sparking a fire deep in her belly.
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life!
“Hey, are you okay? You’re so quiet all of a sudden.”
“I’m… fine. Great, actually,” she stammered, pulling away from him. “Thanks for catching me.”
“Anytime, Courtney. Though I wouldn’t make a habit of it if I were you.” He winked, and there was that fire again.
There were three thoughts in Courtney’s head then:
- Regardless of her uncertainty over her relationship, she was not single and was absolutely, 100% in love with her boyfriend.
- Even if she were single, Fatima had a thing for Oliver and there was no way she would ever have the opportunity to act on whatever these feelings were.
- She may already be a goner.
“So let me get this straight.” Fatima stifled a yawn and continued, “you randomly have weird, unwelcome feelings for some rando and now you’re thinking that you should end your relationship with a fucking awesome guy because you felt butterflies with someone else once?”
“Well, when you put it that way, it sounds a little silly,” Courtney admitted.
“You think?” Fatima looked at her over her glasses and rolled her eyes. “Come on, Court, do you really wanna throw away what you have with Keegan over one interaction with your classmate? I mean, you love Keegan!”
“But that’s the thing, Tima! How do I know I love him? I have no basis of comparison! I mean, if I loved him wouldn’t I have wanted to jump his bones by now or something?”
“There’s more than just this other guys, though… Tima, I think he’s changing. In a bad way.”
“Well, Courtney, people change, especially in college. If you really love him, you’ll try to make it work; if you’re meant to be together, which by the way I totally think you are, it’ll work out.”
“But how do I know if I really love him?”
Fatima shrugged. “I mean, the way I see it, it’s a choice you make. So I guess if you choose him over everything else, you really love him.”
Courtney let out a frustrated sigh.
“Look, Courtney, I can’t describe it to you. The only advice I can give is that you’ll just know if you’re in love.”
A/N: I didn’t realize how abruptly this chapter ended. Whoooo boy, that’s annoying. Anyway, hope you enjoyed your daily dose of Bonnie Tyler 😉
I’m honestly probably not going to have much to say for the next 6 chapters because these are just posting to catch up this blog from what’s been posted on Tumblr. If you absolutely need to know what happens next, you can catch the link up in the menu. Otherwise, stay tuned, the next chapter should post in a few days. 🙂