We walked down the dark street and I was so inebriated. Alex’s arm supported me as I stumbled, but he was just as gone as me. I guess being a rock star, though, he was used to supporting young girls after gigs and all of that. I felt glorious anyway, as if not being the first girl never bothered me much anyway. Alex looked down at me and laughed. “Maybe we should have gotten a taxi. We’re both a little off, tha knows.” He smirked down at me and I looked up at him, charmed. It wasn’t the accent. I was too used to his accent. At first it was such a beautiful thing but my brother and the rest of them had it too so it wasn’t sexy anymore. It wasn’t the quiff, either, although it did add to the charm. Something about the way his words slurred a bit together made me very aware of how close his hand was to my ass. “Why would we do that? I’m fine!” I mumbled. I knew I sounded like a drunken fool but the smile didn’t fade from my face. In hindsight, I know my breath probably smelt like gin and cigarettes but I’m sure he didn’t mind too much. Judging by what happened later he didn’t. I stopped walking and faced him as the crunching of asphalt ceased under his boots. I stepped back and looked at him with confidence fueled by the 5 drinks I’d had earlier. “I’m practically sober. I bet I could even drive, Alex.” I tried to stand up straight with confidence and conviction but wobbled a bit, and fell into Alex’s chest. He caught me, his arms around me with a hand on each elbow. Calloused hands from playing guitar. I immediately was graced with the familiar smell of leather and a slight bit of sweat mixed gingerly cologne. With grace he caught me and then chuckled, “Whoa, steady there, Edie. Wouldn’t want a doll like you to get a bump on the head, would we?” Whoa. The proximity was alarming. I’d been close to Alex but not enough to smell him. And why was the scent so comforting? I laughed and looked him dead in the eye although a blush came to my cheeks. He couldn’t see me anyway, it was too dark. “A doll like me?” I continued to chuckle. “You’re like a little china doll.” He grinned, eyes half-lidded like a lizard…an adorable lizard who tried so hard to be as cool on the outside as he really happened to be on the inside. He moved my bangs aside as I looked down and pressed his lips against my forehead. His lips were warm, my head was cold and clammy in contrast. God, Alex, couldn’t you have picked some time when I wasn’t sweating like a drunken pig? Okay, think about this, Edith. I thought to myself before I did anything or before Alex had a chance to do anything else. I moved my bangs back to their original home above my eyebrows. Alex is in a rather popular band now. He’s going to be touring and running around with other crowds all over the world. He isn’t going to be serious about you, Edith. Think. He’s too busy for that. He’s having too much fun to have you tie him down. Don’t do this to yourself. I felt my face grow warm despite the thought. “…Like a little china doll”…. The compliment filled my drunken brain with repetitive insistence. Well, if I was a china doll then I could be broken. He must’ve realized that. I suppose at that moment that I just didn’t give a shit. Maybe it was the alcohol or the warmth from his arms around me or the mingling of his sweat and breath after the kiss, but I looked up into Alex Turner’s eyes and kissed him straight on the mouth. Right there, the warmth of the London street underneath us, the music and laughter of our friends from the pub only about twenty feet away, I pressed my chapped lips against his. I didn’t even care anymore. He reacted instantly and knowingly. His tongue eased its way into my mouth and danced with mine, although not in a crass way. What began as my kiss turned into his, and his hands moved from my arms to my waist, and then one glided up my back to the back of my neck and then into my hair as the kiss continued and what was once friendship melted into something more. He was gentle but persistent, still, and when he pulled away I cursed myself and damned it all to hell until he kissed my cheek as if it were an autograph. “Sorry…” He looked down, sheepish and shy like the boy my brother had known his whole life. This was so stupid. I was so stupid. I blushed, “I was asking for it.” I bit my lip. He regained his confidence and used his hands to slick back the sides of his hair in true greaser fashion. My words and actions betrayed my doubtful thoughts. In astonishment I found myself smiling. I brimmed with happiness and he seemed to be pretty pleased with himself. We joined hands and continued our walk down the avenue. I felt stable again all of a sudden. What a sobering thing a kiss could be. A few tens of yards later I thought aloud, “This wouldn’t have happened had we not had a hundred thousand drinks tonight.” We were getting pretty close to home. I looked over at Alex’s boots, then his pants, his jacket, his shoulders, and finally his face. As I waited for his response, I got to thinking again, only this time silently. He was so confident. He always had this jovial, ironic, confident air to him that just didn’t give a fuck and I’d never been able to break it down until tonight. Funny how all it took was alcohol and a drunken kiss. “No, I think it were just a matter of time. There’s been tension.” He spoke with Sheffield grammar to his boots. He didn’t look at me, and I couldn’t place whether it had been out of embarrassment or lack of interest. “What tension?” I raised an eyebrow, looking at his face although he didn’t look at mine. His face looked sure, though, so I feared it might have been the later possibility. But then he looked up. “Oh, Edie, come on.” A cocky smile played on his lips. The same lips which had graced my clammy forehead only about 15 minutes before. “You’ve had that crush on me since you found out you and Helders was kin. Don’t think I couldn’t tell. I’m not completely stupid. You blushed like a year 7 the first six months you were ever around.” I fumed with embarrassment. Who did this smug bastard think he was? I took my hand away almost anxiously and crossed my arms with bratty indignance. “So we’re pouting now?” He chuckled. This was funny to him. I couldn’t believe I’d embarrassed myself like this. I kissed him. I got drunk with him. For Christ’s sake, I held his fucking hand like we were some loving couple. God, was I angry. I quickened my pace. My house wasn’t too fair, I could get there myself. I knew at this point he was drunker than me so maybe he couldn’t keep up. “Oh, Edith, love, don’t act like a baby.” I felt his hand on my shoulder. I guess he wasn’t so drunk after all. “Don’t call me Edith.” I mumbled without looking at him. He walked closely behind me, trying to keep up. I walked quickly on the cobblestones for a tipsy girl in heels. “Nobody calls me Edith.” “Edie, then, okay? Don’t be angry with me.” He stopped me, and then made me face him with a hand brought to my chin. “Obviously I felt the tension too. I wouldn’t have kissed you had I not.” He brought his hand to my cheek, and despite my best efforts I leaned into it almost instinctually. I looked up into his eyes, circles pocketed among the two brown orbs floating in glossy, bloodshot white. He had the sincere eyes of a writer, the eyes of a poet, yet the whole rest of him swaggered around like Danny fucking Zuko. For some absurd reason, girls liked it. I was just one of many. “You don’t have to be so pompous with me, Al. You’re not on stage. You don’t have to impress me,” I whispered. “I’ve been impressed since the day we first met.” He didn’t say anything, just rolled his eyes at my sentiment and kissed me one more time. I was less surprised this time, and threw my arms around his neck in approval and felt myself being lifted off the ground by two muscular, leather sheathed arms. In these arms I felt excitement and adventure and yet they were still so comfortable and familiar. The owner of these arms around me had been the object of my affections for such a long time, throughout numerous of his relationships and only a few of mine. I’d sat back and watched the growth of his and my brother’s band and even became close with the lot of them. I’d been through everything with these four boys and the comfort and bewilderment I felt in these arms around me wasn’t surprising. It had been written anyway. Somewhere along the line this night had been meant to happen, and time had it in his plan the whole time. Who could’ve known, though, that time had had it in for us?
I awoke with a headache from hell and the sun glaring past my lids into my corneas. I was still wearing mascara which had flaked everywhere except the root and it made my eyes feel heavy and like the lashes themselves were being forced out of my eye lids. I reached up to touch my hair to check if it needed washing but in doing so, I got a whiff of myself and realized I needed a washing in general. The sheets were soft on my skin, all of it, and I realized I wasn’t wearing anything.
“Shit.” I said aloud, bringing a hand to my forehead with a frown. I rolled over, expecting the bed to be empty next to me. Surely Alex would have left by now. However, I was surprised to roll into a rather large, warm sweaty mass and a pile of greasy black hair breathing softly and blanketed by my pink cotton sheets.
Alex. He had stayed? Either that or he hadn’t woken up yet. Shit. Oh, fucking hell, it was going to be so awkward. I needed an escape.
Luckily, my bathroom was an en suite and was literally only feet away. I slipped out of my bed as quietly as possible, and tip toed across the wood floor into the cold tile of the bathroom. I needed to think, to process, to remember what had happened the night before.
Drinks. Obviously, when considering the pounding in my head and the disgusting sweaty smell of my entire body. A kiss…or 17. Though I could only remember one and that had happened on the walk home. Then, clearly, sex. I was especially displeased that I had no recollection of that one.
I had lusted after Alex since the day I’d met my brother and I had finally gotten close enough to him to have something intimate happen between us. It’s only my luck that we were drunk and I couldn’t remember the details, if it had been as beautiful as I’d imagined, or what Alex even looked like naked. Or if he’d appreciated how I looked naked.
I turned the faucet and was alarmed and irritated at how loudly the water spilled out into the claw-footed tub. If Alex wasn’t awake before, he’d sure be awake now. As I let the tub fill up, I looked at myself in the round glass of the mirror above the sink. I looked like hell from the night before. My hair hung stringy and greasy in its short, straight crop which hit right below my ears. My brown eyes stared back at me, surrounded by last night’s liner and mascara flakes. My skin was uneven and needed to be washed. I poked out my chest and studied my shoulders and collar bones. I wasn’t exactly tall; I only stood at about 5 feet 4 inches, a measurement my brother and his band mates from High Green wouldn’t fully comprehend. Having grown up in the states my whole life, they always looked at me like I was so American whenever I said something they weren’t used to.
I needed a cigarette which probably assisted with the hangover in its reign over my aching head. I ignored the nagging for nicotine and quit picking apart my reflection long enough to turn off the faucet. I stepped into the too-warm water and tried to relax. I couldn’t though, because I needed that cigarette. And also because Alex lay sleeping in my bed, wrapped in my sheets in the next room.
What had I done? I was becoming such a Yoko these days. I knew whatever was going on between Alex and I now couldn’t last long because he’d eventually want out or hurt me because the life he led was so different than mine. I mean, sure, my career wasn’t exactly the norm; I wrote for the UK’s edition of Vogue regularly and lent my skills in fashion to a couple of fashion blogs that asked, but I wasn’t considered famous by any means. My brother and Alex were, as were Jamie and Nick. I probably didn’t mean to Alex what I knew he meant to me, anyway. So I hoped to shake this off after this morning, because I knew that whatever Alex and I had between us was going to be short lived. And it would probably piss off Matt.
I sunk deeper into the water with a frown. That’s not what I wanted at all. I didn’t want to piss off the brother I had acquired just a few years ago. I didn’t want to risk breaking up this band that gave everyone in it so much joy and entertainment because of what I wanted and required, because of what I, like so many other idiot girls, saw in Alex Turner and the way his returning gaze made me feel. But I also wanted it to mean more than just a drunken fling. He’d said something last night about feeling the tension between us, but was it just tension? Or was it something besides something as physical as tension? I read somewhere that a crush only lasted a few months, and after that you were in love. Well, my ‘crush’ had lasted much longer than just a few months. Could I be in love with Alex?
The thought disgusted me and made me shiver even in the steaming hot water so I submersed my entire head into the water to try and wash it out.
I finished my bath quickly because I was anxious to get dressed and have a smoke. After getting out and towel drying my hair, I went to the dryer and pulled out some underwear and a shirt dress. I slipped on the dress, found a belt for it, and left the bathroom to find my bed rid of any English rock stars it had previous held.
I scowled, feeling betrayed. I don’t know why I still expected him to be there, smoking a fucking cigarette with some adorable cocky look on his face. He was probably halfway back to the hotel where they had all been staying, since Matt said he didn’t want to intrude. Well, Alex sure intruded. Alex had been intruded since the first time he looked me in the eye and that was three years ago. I was so disappointed. I grabbed my pack of cigarettes off the dresser, where I didn’t remember putting them, and a lighter from my purse and began working on the first of what I thought was going to be many in a chain-smoking session.
As I lit the cigarette, I migrated somberly into the kitchen to go make some tea. As I rounded the corner into the small room, I looked up, surprised to see Alex, dressed in his clothes from the night before, sitting at the table with a coffee cup full of tea, smoking a cigarette of his own.
“Hey,” He looked up at me with a smile, cigarette still between his lips. “I borrowed one, I hope that’s okay. I think I left mine at the pub last night somewhere.”
“Oh, no, sure, it’s okay.” I shook my head, smiling back with an exhale of smoke. I took a seat at the small, round table adjacent to his and looked down.
“D’ya want some tea? I made some.” He looked down at his own, almost bashful. “I never noticed everything in your house was so girly. This cup has flowers on it.”
I laughed a little in response and wondered aloud, “What did you want it have on it? Guns?”
“Yes, or motorcycles. Guns or motorcycles would probably be more appropriate. I feel a bit like you drinking out of this. I’m becoming daintier and daintier by the second.” I laughed and smiled back at him, waiting for the next joke. He looked up from his cup at me and put out his cigarette in the ash tray in front of him. He turned in his seat towards me and placed a hand on my thigh, leaned forward and planted a kiss on my neck.
“I really enjoyed last night, Edie.” He breathed into my ear and I closed my eyes and felt tingles all along my neck from his kiss. Suddenly I remembered more of last night because it had felt just like this, except it wasn’t only my neck that had been tingling.
He brought his face around to mine and I looked up into his eyes, less bloodshot than last night, but still just as vibrant and familiar. He brought his lips to mine gently but insistently, parted mine with his tongue, but before I could react properly he pulled away. A look of confusion and a slight bit of hurt took over my face.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to get carried away.” He smiled, smoothing my semi-dry hair. “I have to go back to the boys soon and get ready, we have some interview scheduled later and they’re probably wondering where I am. Jamie and Matt already called twice…”
A look of understanding took over my previous expression and I nodded in response. “You don’t have to stay around here. I’ll be here if you want to come by later or something.”
Ew. Why did I say that? Like I was going to be waiting around for him to just show up and give me the time of day. That didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.
He smiled, though, and laced his fingers with mine. “Is that an invitation?”
I smiled back, no longer regretting my previous statement. Not entirely anyway. “If you want it to be.”
“I’ll text you, Edie, okay?” He smiled and kissed my forehead and took his jacket off the back of the chair he had been sitting in.
And I watched him walk out of the door and down the street, back to the pub where his bike was parked in front.
I had no clue what I had gotten myself into. I hoped he didn’t say anything to Matt.
I sat at the bar, waiting as patiently for Alex as I could. I looked down at the drink I’d ordered and then looked out the window where the London rain fell down gloomily from the gutters. Alex said he’d been running late but I didn’t think he’d take this long. I ran my fingers along the rim of the glass, becoming worried. I thought of all the reasons he could be late. It was raining and God knows that stupid bike he loved so much was dangerous.
I shook the thought from my mind. Alex wasn’t stupid; he’d be well able to maneuver the bike through the rain. Where he’d been staying wasn’t far from here, either. I thought of other possibilities. Maybe his quiff wasn’t quiffing correctly and he was at home in front of the mirror struggling with a comb and hair gel. I laughed at the thought. Or maybe someone had called and he had some press things to attend to. They were working on a new album, after all. I looked at my phone for the time.
45 minutes. This wasn’t like him. Well, not like him since our night together. Since then he’d been very punctual, and relatively spontaneous. This was the only time we’d really planned anything.
I tried not to worry. I launched myself on to the floor from the bar stool, leaving it spinning. I walked over to the more modern juke box to see which records they had. I pressed down on the little red button and listened to the records shuffle hurriedly. I went through them alphabetically. Abba, which was lovely. AC/DC, fine. Aerosmith, ew. Amy Winehouse, which was surprising. And then I saw something which made me smile.
Arctic Monkeys, the red print read underneath the curved glass. I skimmed through the track titles. I don’t know why I was so excited. There was only one song choice, and the cover featured the boys (minus Nick, of course), particularly young. I looked at my brother’s picture with his curly mop of hair and yet the same smug demeanor. He thought he was so rock ‘n’ roll. In reality, he was. Just not so much in this picture. Then my eyes scanned over to Alex’s staring back at me in the picture. I smiled; this was before I knew any of them. Alex’s face had small spots of acne and his hair was a mess, and he wore a collared polo shirt and ill-fitting jeans. I almost had to laugh. What a transformation he had underwent. They had all changed so much, yet were so the same.
I kept shuffling through just to see what was there. I was distracted enough so that I wasn’t so worried about Alex. Just as that thought crossed my mind, I felt two familiar hands on my shoulders and a familiar chin rested on one of the hands.
“We’ve got trouble,” he said with remorse into my ear. “Don’t hate me, Edie.”
I turned around, wearing a puzzled look. Was this why he was taking so long? There was a glint of worry and trouble in Alex’s eyes, and as soon as my eyes focused to what was behind him, I knew why.
I looked into my brother’s eyes, angry and filled with irritation. Shit. I glanced back at Alex, waiting for him to say something. “What all did you tell him?”
“He knows. Everything.” Alex closed his eyes.
“You’re damn right I do,” Matt said angrily. His arms were crossed and his bottom lip protruded outward in a pout. He was such a baby. “You’ve got some explaining to do, now, this ain’t fair to me.”
“It’s not like I wasn’t going to tell you, Matt…” I started. “We were just waiting for the right time.”
Ugh, I knew before the words left my mouth that I sounded pathetic. Really, what was my excuse? I had none. I went and ventured out into restricted territory, and as sweet as the battle had been, it wasn’t going to be victory. Not for me, at least.
“Don’t you think that the right time to tell me you want to screw my sister is BEFORE you screw my sister?” Matt spit out, angry. He wasn’t looking at me even though I’d been the one to speak. His glare was focused on Alex and as he spoke, his voice was getting louder. I looked around at the lot of startled faces, staring at us with anticipation and interest. I felt uncomfortable.
“Keep it down, Matt.” I said quietly, “We’re in a public place.”
“Oh, shut up, Edith, don’t be so stupid. D’ya think I really give a shit?” Matt said, loudly, still. “Don’t you have some other guys to fuck around with? Nick? Jamie, perhaps? Maybe you could even screw up the engagement. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it? You’re already going to screw the rest of this up, why don’t you finish there? Maybe they could pass you along.”
I couldn’t even begin to fathom what Matt had just said to me. I looked up at Alex and he looked so serious. The look on his face was grim with anger but he put an arm around my waist to show support. I curled into him, comforted, and before I could realize what was happening, I felt the hot tears burn into Alex’s shirt.
“Look what you’re doing,” Alex said to his friend. His voice was steady but dark. “D’ya like where this is ending up, mate?”
I hid my face, I didn’t want to see Alex’s face or hear Matt’s response. What had I done? I was literally coming between these two guys who had been friends since childhood. I had no right to have done this, but what could I do now? I felt helpless; Matt had just butchered me and had said everything but the name I knew he wanted to call me. Edith, I could replay him hiss. He had never called me that. No one called me Edith. But I could hear it in my brother’s voice that when he said my full name he meant something else.
“You know what you did was wrong.” Matt said, “You know that were fucked and that’s why she’s crying and that’s why you’re so angry. You’re not angry with me. You’re angry with yourselves.”
“No,” Alex’s voice vibrated from his chest as I listened, “I’m not angry, I di’n’t do anything wrong. You, though. This is your fucking sister and she’s crying. And it’s not because she was with me, there’s been something between us since the start. She shouldn’t have to feel guilty for acting on what she felt. Neither should I. But you should fucking think about what you say to people, mate. That’s what was wrong. Come on, Edie.”
With that, Alex led me out of the pub and took me home, tears still streaming down my face. On my way out, Matt looked at me without sincerity. I felt disgusting but the way Alex had stood up for me helped waver the hurt.
“I need a fucking cigarette,” I told Alex as we walked to my door. Alex’s face was wet with rain and his hair was coming undone. As soon as I thought that, he seemed to realize it and smoothed it back. He looked down at my welcome mat and I could feel tension between us.
His chivalrous display before wasn’t genuine. I knew what was coming. Still, I tested my limits.
“Do you want to come inside?” I asked him gingerly, calmly. I wiped smeared mascara from underneath my eye and looked up at him almost pleadingly.
Anything but this, I thought. I could feel the hole forming already. I felt like an idiot. All I wanted was for this to last longer than it was probably meant to. Years and years had been wasted on me wanting him and not doing anything about it. I knew what the outcome would be, though. I knew what he was about to say.
“No, I don’t think I should.” He shook his head. He reached for the back of his neck but I reached for his hand, completely vulnerable.
“Yeah, you shouldn’t.” I smiled, although I knew my eyes looked sad. “We shouldn’t have, anyway.”
He finally looked at me, and the look on his face seemed hurt. His writer’s eyes took over his entire face now, and who he was truly shown through the leather and hair gel.
I hoped he saw through what I had said. I didn’t want to be rid of him. I wanted him to come inside and help me make drinks and borrow my cigarettes. I wanted him to take off his jacket and shoes and sit on my couch and tease me for my curtains. I wanted him to look through my records and tell me which ones he had, too, and which ones he didn’t but wanted. I wanted him to watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with me because I knew we both loved it. Most of all, I wanted to keep waking up to him wrapped in my sheets. I wasn’t ready to get rid of this.
“No,” he shook his head and looked in my eyes, intent. He spoke hurriedly. “We should have. Who’s to say we shouldn’t? You wanted me and I wanted you and it has nothing to do with ‘em. He’ll get over it, Edie.”
“What if he doesn’t?” I said quietly. I don’t know where this voice of reason was coming from, but I figured it had something to do with the look in my brother’s eyes back at the pub. “What if I ruin your friendship? I can’t do that. I can’t be that girl, Alex.”
“You’ve always been that girl, Edie.” He smiled, but still serious. “You’ve been batting them lashes at me and blushing any time I looked at you for a year, at least. You’ve already started what can’t be stopped.” He laced his fingers through mine and my cheeks burned with embarrassment.
“I didn’t start it,” I mumbled, staring down at my boots. The holes for the laces gleamed back from the moisture from the rain, silvery like the moon that was probably hidden behind the clouds. But then I looked from my boots up to where the rain was falling before and it looked like the stars and moon were coming back.
Alex looked up to where I was studying and I heard him laugh a little under his breath. “What are you sniggering at?” I kicked his boot with mine and looked from the indecisive stars back to Alex’s much more decisive face. He grin sent a feeling racing through me.
He looked back at me and then down at our hands, laced together like ribbons. “I was thinking about some beautiful romantic bullocks to tell you but I’ll probably just put it in some poem or song that’ll never get published or recorded because it’s not hard enough for the Monkeys…” He shook his head. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, Edie.”
“I know what we probably should do, but it’s not what I want and it’s not what you want.” I frowned, trying to be diplomatic and matter-of-fact. “At least, it’s not what I think you want.”
“I want you,” he replied, more quietly. “I want you and I want Matt to stop giving a shit about what we do. I want to go inside and dick around like we usually do. But I know we shouldn’t.”
I didn’t know what to say but I couldn’t look up at him. My heart felt unsecure, like it was about to fall from suspension in my core. Alex saw my downhearted expression and gathered me in his arms, and he was warm although his shirt was damp from the rain. I leaned into him, he smelled familiar by now and it was familiar enough to where I knew I would miss it.
“Although,” Alex said, and ran his hand through my hair to the back of my neck, “That fact could make it all the more interesting.”
I pulled away from our embrace enough to look at him, his face only centimeters from mine. His eyes sparkled back, smug and sure and not at all grim like they had been at the bar. “This is bad,” I laughed darkly at the situation.
He smiled back as he leaned in to melt my lips to his, and his familiar kiss tasted like cigarettes.
“You’re like a little sprite,” Alex commented quietly as I pulled the large, thin t-shirt back over my bare shoulders. His voice was steady as he studied me sweetly, and I watched his blue-brown eyes watching me. I popped my head out of the shirt and waited for the inevitable reason why. “You’re all quiet and mischievous and you’re always laughing at something I don’t know about.” I smiled and tried to smooth my now messy hair, which I knew stuck out everywhere.
“I’m not like anything. Not mythical creatures,” I shook my head and laughed. I stretched back out next to him on my bed, semi-clothed now. He reached forward to grab a cigarette from off the side table as I curled into his side. My hair was still wet from the rain and his hung messy like after the boys were finished playing. His skin was warm on mine, but didn’t scorch me like I always felt it would. I always thought Alex and I would burn like fire and eventually fizzle out, and although I often-times felt like a moth near his flame, whatever candle that had been expelling our fire kept burning, keeping me attracted.
“No, you are,” he insisted after lighting his cigarette and exhaling, “You’re like an imp.”
I looked up at him and I rolled my eyes. “Don’t get all Nathaniel Hawthorne on me, Al. I’m a human being and I’ll take no part in your weird medieval fantasies.”
He jutted out a bottom lip and faked a pout. “Fine,” he pouted, crossing his arms. The cigarette hung from his jutted lips precariously and unfittingly and I gave a soft chuckle. “I guess we’ll just be humans then, although what’s the fun in that?”
“Plenty of fun, apparently…” I hinted at the innuendo quietly into his shoulder as we lay horizontal against my mattress. A knowing, somewhat cocky look overtook his previously immature expression and he extracted the cigarette from his lips only to lean over and tempt mine, going from boy to man in nearly seconds.
“You’re being coy,” he said quietly, “It ain’t fair to me. I’m in a fragile state, Edie. I’m only a man. ”
“Gimme a break, Alex, I’m not a machine.” I kissed him quickly and impatiently and squirmed as to escape his embrace and slipped out of the bed and into the living room where I hid.
I heard him move from the bed and then some rummaging. I figured it was Alex finding his clothes somewhere to come look for me. I could hear his footsteps move slowly and suspiciously through the hall and into the bathroom as he searched for me. The only light came from the twinkle lights I had that lined the ceiling of the hallway, and I sat in the couch facing the opposite direction of the hallway underneath a quilt.
Things with Alex were easy, despite the trouble with Matt. The night threatened whatever Alex and I had, but there was no use in trying to trump this. No one else would go searching for me like this. No one else would appreciate the twinkle lights in my hallway and my flowery sheets like Alex did. I liked him so much that I didn’t care when he frequently smoked my cigarettes or made fun of my coffee cups. When I was with him I felt like I was with my best friend and someone I could love. I was holding hands with an equal, someone who went against the grain as much as I did, and I wouldn’t let my brother ruin that. And eventually once he got past the shock of it all, he wouldn’t want to ruin it either.
Still, the tension from my brother’s insults earlier hung in suspension over my head as soon as I felt seemingly alone in my hiding place. He had been so angry just over something that everyone else had to have seen coming. Alex said he did, he always knew. Others must have known too.
“Edie, where are you?” Alex sighed, coming near. “I don’t right know where your light switches are and I don’t want to fall over something…” He whined a little bit and his immature tone calmed me and brought a grin to my face. How funny it was that the same guy who swaggered around and acted so tough and authentically cool whined and pouted and was so worried about stubbing his toe in the shallow light of my living room.
“Edie, where are you hiding!” He insisted impatiently. He might as well have stamped his foot. The bratty tone of his voice caused a laugh to escape my lips, and it gave me away. He turned around and lifted the quilt that covered me and I stood up with a squeal to escape. However he pulled me down to his lap and brought my laughing mouth to his smiling lips and shut me up with a kiss.
I melted into him. It just felt so real and comforting. My fingers tangled through his hair and he brought his arms around me, one hand on my cheek. A smile still played on his lips when I kissed him, and he was still laughing a bit.
And then the bell rang, interrupting us.
I pulled away and we both looked at the door inquisitively.
“Who the fuck…” I said quietly as I left Alex’s lap to look. He followed me to the near-by door. I opened it to see who it was, wondering who would be by so late.
Behind the door stood Matt, only to be greeted by me in only a large t-shirt and Alex just in his jeans. Fuck. After the display at the pub earlier this couldn’t be good. I immediately felt the jovial, playful air of the room implode into whatever tension had come between Alex and my brother from earlier. I stood awkwardly between them as waited for one of them to speak, once again feeling as though I was literally coming between them.
Matt didn’t look angry, but he did look irritated. “Can I come in?” He asked insistently and flipped a switch as he entered without my permission. I had to move for him to get through.
“Guess so…” I said and laced my fingers through Alex’s behind me. He stared down at the Cedar floor silently, and I could only try to assume what he was thinking. I hoped he wasn’t feeling any guilt about what we had been doing. He almost seemed like he couldn’t decide.
“For Christ’s sake, could you all put on some clothes? I know you’re all in love an’ shit but this is a little much, don’t you think?” Matt said rather bluntly.
“Well, it is like, 2 in the morning…” I mumbled reason quietly to Matt who sat on my antique sofa with his feet on the coffee table. “Most people don’t have guests this time of the day.
“None of us are ‘most people’,” Matt chuckled as he reached for the remote and turned on the television. Reruns of some fitness infomercial blared back awkwardly. He had a point. This wasn’t normal.
“I need a cigarette,” Al said into my hair a bit tensely and squeezed my hand before he let go and went down the hallway into my room to get a smoke. I didn’t like that.
“Come sit,” Matt said to me. I went and sat reluctantly on the cushion furthest from him. I could smell the bourbon and laager on him. “I needa talk to ya anyway, without him. He’s got quiffin’ to do…” Matt snickered at his own joke.
“You’ve been at the bar,” I noted to my brother aloud. He looked back at me with a snide look, his eyes bloodshot. He shook his head.
“No, I’ve been at the PUB.” He uttered insistently. “I had some drinking to do there after ya left so rudely.”
“Rudely?” I sat up, facing him. I blew up. “Fuck you, Matt, you basically accused me of being a groupie slut who fucked all of your friends. You called me by my full name, you dick, I think if anyone’s being rude, it was you!”
He laughed at my uncharacteristic reaction and I knew that even in his drunken state he deemed it as strictly American girl. I frowned and mumbled insults as he laughed.
“I actually came to apologize,” he chuckled more, “But if ya wanna keep calling me a fuckass there I can just go, I have other places I can be.”
“Then apologize.” I rolled my eyes. He quit smiling and his inebriated expression turned serious. He turned towards me and sighed a deep breath.
“Look, I don ‘t care that you fuck around with Al, alright?” He huffed, his brows contorted thoughtfully. I could tell he was thinking deliberately about what to say and that he was fighting through the alcohol to stay coherent. “I feel like a dick fer making ya cry and all that, so I’m sorry, alright? I stayed at the pub and bitched to Nick about it and he told me how fucking obvious it were. He said that you and Alex were basically eye-fucking each other fer months now and I were just too oblivious to notice. So, I’m sorry, okay? Just, if it ends, I don’t want it to end badly.”
I looked back at him, relieved and now a bit worried for my brother. After his speech he seemed a little too drunk. It seemed like it took a lot out of him. He leaned over, resting his head on the back of the sofa, his brow in the same contortion.
“Matt, did you walk all the way here from the bar?” I asked.
“No,” he said sarcastically. “I walked here from the PUB!”
“Whatever,” I said, ignoring his attitude. “How much did you have to drink?”
He laughed a little at this and didn’t open his eyes after that. He looked green.
“Are you okay?” I said insistently. “Please don’t vomit all over my rug.”
“Wouldn’t have been the first thing he ruined tonight…” Alex called, entering the room with a cigarette tucked behind his ear and now fully clothed. He was still irritated with his mate and that bothered me considering the heartfelt apology I had just recieved. Well, heartfelt for Matt, at least.
“Oh, fuck you, mate!” Matt called drunkenly. “I just gave your bird here my blessing for you two to have at it and you say I ruined your night!” He scoffed, irritated and inebriated. “Shit’s unbelievable after all the sneaking around you all did. That’s fucking betrayal! Fucking dickhead…”
Alex laughed, to my relief. Even he couldn’t stay angry at the drunken pile of slurs that sat across from me on the sofa. That was his best friend, after all. I looked at Alex and he shook his head at his friend, his expression softer now.
“I’m sorry, mate,” he said as he laughed at his friend, “I won’t let it happen again.”
“Fuck you! Don’t be gay.” Matt said in defense, and that was the end of that feud.
Alex and I laughed a bit, exchaging looks of relief. Then Matt leaned over and heaved what looked like it used to be cheese fries on to my carpet.
I chewed on a nail as I finished the final draft of the article that was due for next month’s Vogue and looked to the side me at Alex sleeping with BBC blaring on the television in front of us. He had fallen asleep on the couch with me, his legs in my lap and head against the arm rest. He looked so different sleeping; he looked innocent and young, like he wasn’t trying so hard. He tried increasingly less hard as time between us passed; he was getting comfortable without losing interest. I mean, his socked feet were in my lap and he fell asleep on my couch. Everything felt like home. I guessed the steady clicking of computer keys had lulled him into an uncomfortable slumber and I got ready to wake him up and lead him back to my room.
And then I realized something. I looked down at the clock and date in the corner of the screen and made a disconcerting realization.
Alex and the boys would be leaving for the states in three days. Two if you counted after midnight being the next day. Shit. I didn’t want to be here alone having to write articles and drinking at our pub by myself. Alex, Matt, Nick and Jamie (and occasionally his lady) were the only people I ever hung out with.
I frowned as the tiny digits chugged forward and stared at them, trying to make them go backwards. Stop ticking, I thought. You’re awful, stop it, life ruiner.
Well, that was a bit much but he would be so far away. I didn’t consider myself that dependent, but it really put a bummer on the contented mood I was in. I stopped looking at the accursed little numbers and colon that wouldn’t cease movement and shut the laptop, setting it on the floor to the side of the sofa.
“Alex,” I whispered. His eyelids fluttered a little. “Alex, wake up, let’s go to sleep.”
“I already am asleep,” he mumbled sleepily and turned to the side, “Don’t ruin it.”
I leaned over and squeezed my way in between his body and the edge of the couch and inched my way up to where his head lay. He wrapped an arm around me and didn’t open his eyes. My legs ended about half-way down his calf. So short, so small.
“Wake up,” I said once again, “Let’s go get in bed.”
“Shhh,” he furrowed his brow and kissed my forehead, eyes still shut.
“AL.” I didn’t whisper this time. His eyes popped open.
“Okay, I’m up.” He stretched the arm that had been around me and scratched his head with the other. “What time is it?”
He yawned in my face rudely with and end smirk and I was assaulted by cigarette and morning breath.
“You’re despicable,” I said as we both sat up. “You’re a vile creature; do they even teach you manners in Sheffield?”
He looked over at me disapprovingly and said with mock irritation, “Me mum taught me all I need to know about manners in Sheffield, miss New York.”
I rolled my eyes and stuck out a tongue at him childishly.
As he walked in front of me down the hallway to my room, I studied the way he looked walking so sleepily. He wore some t-shirt and his usual jeans, but they were slung low from being worn all day. His feet were bootless, a rarity, and his hair sat messy, dark and greasy on top of his head, out of its usual perfect style. He rubbed an eye and then took my hand behind him, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. He would be far away soon, and that was so different. It was such an abrupt change from what we had had the past few weeks; he was over at my house virtually every day since he’d been in London. I missed him even while he was next to me.
We got to my room and he got in bed and I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, introspective and a little frustrated. Attached so soon, as usual, to someone who’d be leaving? Classic Edie. All the time. I would’ve missed him either way, but this time it’d hurt even worse.
I tried to calm down after I brushed my teeth and washed my face, but it really was no use. I tried to get my mind off of it but I gave up. I changed and went back to my room where I got in bed and curled into Alex’s side, a frown gracing my lips.
“Edie’s pouting,” Alex noted aloud, “What’s wrong, love?”
“You’re leaving soon,” I mumbled.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s right,” He said. “We leave Monday. You aren’t coming with us?”
I looked up, perplexed and a little less bummed, “Was I supposed to?”
“Well, we all just assumed…” he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the entire universe.
I smiled, feeling like a dolt and curled into him again, happy.
“Okay, I’ll go with you,” I grinned. “How informal.”
He chuckled and kissed the top of my head.
“You’re so irrationally silly sometimes, Edie. If you didn’t come, who’d be my muse?”
“Who indeed!” I huffed with mock jealousy and he laughed a little.
The next day we’d made travel arrangements and in the next few days we’d be in the states.