They made their way into the house, but had not escaped the rain. Rachel pushed her drenched hair out of the face and looked at the boys, who were equally saturated.
“I’ll go get you guys something to change into.” She muttered and hopped up the steps quickly. Walking into her mom and step dad’s room she went straight to the closet. She rummaged through the step dad’s side of the closet, basically grabbing anything dry. Walking halfway down the stairs she threw the clothes at the boys, and raced back up them and into her room.
She had put on a dry sports bra and sweat pants, and was looking through her drawers for a shirt when the bedroom door squeaked open. She whipped her body around to face the intruder.
“Chad! Get out! I’m not done.” Her brow furrowed together in anger.
Chad just grinned mischievously. He made his way over to her and reached out to hug her. She batted his arms down.
He chuckled. “C’mon Rach, it’s me. I’ve missed you.” He reached again to hug her, this time faster than she could muster the conviction to stop him.
He wrapped his now warm arms around her, sending comforting chills out from where his skin touched hers. She groaned in disapproval.
“Yeah yeah, I know. Hugging me is so horrible.”
She pushed him off and reached for first shirt in her open drawer.
“It’s not that, and you know it.” She threw the shirt over her head and tugged it down. “It’s been two years, Chad.”
“Your point being?” He waggled his eye brows at her and hopped on her bed.
She just huffed and walked towards the door. His words caught her just as she began to turn the door knob.
“This is what we do Rach. The best part about us. We can always pick right back up where we left off.” She had stopped because she knew it was true.
All through out high school, no matter how long they had been broken up (never more than a month), or how many times she’d been with Mark, they each had a brilliant ability to push everything aside and be together. It was easy and an escape from all the problems Rachel always found herself in. Chad was her constant, and that’s why he held her heart, even for these past two years. She knew that no matter what, he would be there. Nothing she could do or say to him would turn him away, a talent she had made an art of with friends and family her entire life. She let a sigh out as she realized that she would always turn back to him.
Rachel turned to look back at him, and ran right into Chad, who had quietly made his way to stand right behind her. Her hands came up instinctually and she laid them on his chest. She slowly look up at him, standing a good six inches taller than her, his dirty blonde hair still dripping from the rain onto her face. She smiled and shook of the drops just as he bent down to kiss her.
It was a surprise as much as it wasn’t. She hadn’t been expecting to kiss Chad, but her body was so used to kissing him it was like picking up an old habit. Her mouth moved with his before her brain could tell it what to do, lips parting just enough to feel his breath move into her. He pushed her backwards, into the door. His hand gripped her waist and her eyes shot open.
NO! Her brain shouted at her. She reached behind her and grabbed the doorknob, and, in one quick movement, opened the door, darted through it, and closed it in Chad’s face.
She skipped down the stairs, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and, ignoring Mark who was sitting on the living room couch trying to get information out of the newsman, she walked promptly into the kitchen.
Standing in front of the open refrigerator she took a few deep breaths to calm herself down, then had to take more when she heard a door upstairs open and close, followed by footsteps on the stairs. Then the sound of voices in the living room eased her a little bit.
What was she supposed to do? Chad was obviously trying to start something, and Rachel was 80% sure she did not want to start anything. After the storm she would be headed back to college in Virginia, and no boy was going to stop that.
She remembered when she had been packing for college just a week after graduation, and Chad had come over to help her pack. They had been official until the day after graduation, when she had told him about the drunken hook up between her and Mark. She thought he had come over to get back with her, maybe a final goodbye make out, but he had actually helped her pack. It wasn’t until everything was ready and they were loading her SUV when he had trapped her on the side of the car and kissed her fiercely.
“Chad.” She had pushed him off her.
“Rachel.” He answered, keeping one hand on the side of her face. “I don’t want you to leave.”
This had made her angry. No one could tell her what to do. “Well too bad. I have to get out of here Chad.”
“What about us?” Here it was, what she had been waiting for all afternoon.
“There is no us anymore, remember? And besides, you’re going to college too. After a few frat parties, I’m sure you won’t even remember me.” It had been the first time she ever refused him.
“That’s not true. I will remember you. And you’ll remember me.”
“Oh yeah? What makes you so sure, Chad?”
He had put his other hand on the other side of her face and looked gently into her eyes.
“Because I love you. And you love me.”
Her breath had caught, but she still found the attitude to look cross at him.
“What makes you so sure about that?”
A spark in his eye let her know that he did, in fact, know she loved him. Words weren’t needed as they had a final kiss on the side of her car. It was sweet and comfortable. Everything she thought she wanted. She might have actually stayed for him, if it weren’t for all her issues that told her to run before she really got tied down.
So she had left, and there had been brief phone calls, the occasional text, and information passed between their parents. But nothing was ever said about that day, about the supposed love professed.
Rachel knew that was why Chad was able to get to her now. He had wrapped her up in familiarity, in love.
She shivered, not knowing if it was the fear of commitment or the refrigerator. She grabbed a frozen pizza and turned on the oven, knowing she better make good use of the fact that her house still had power.
The rain and wind beat furiously on the walls of the house, making it seem like boarding up the windows would do no use, but she knew better. They would hold, she was confident in that more than in her heart.
She jumped as a hand touched her back. She turned to see Mark smiling at her.
“You need some help?” He asked semi-sarcastically.
“I think I can cook a frozen pizza.” She quipped back.
Rachel threw the pizza into the oven and shut the door, turning to the sink to wash her hands of the gross cheesy condensation.
He was handing her a towel before she could grab for one.
“Thanks” She muttered.
“I want to talk about us.” He blurted out.
She just groaned.
“Now wait a minute, Rachel.” He led her to the dining room table and they sat next to each other.
Mark looked into his hands for a very long minute, then looked right into her eyes. He opened his mouth the shut it. He opened it again, but look like he had suddenly changed his mind about what to say.
“Do you remember the graduation party?” He smirked as he asked her.
She rolled her eyes and answered. “Yes.” She would not give him more than that.
“Well, I know we both had a lot to drink, but…”
“Mark, that was two years ago.”
“Now wait a minute Rach, it might have been two years ago, but I haven’t forgotten what you told me. Do you remember?”
She thought about that night for awhile, trying to swim through the drunken memories hidden somewhere in her mind.
The three of them had arrived at the party together, Rachel and Chad giving Mark a ride. After a few shots and three keg stands, Rachel had found herself in the bathroom of whatever house they were at searching for something stronger than alcohol. Mark had found her there.
“Chadthss passed outtt.” He had slurred at her, as inebriated as she was. “Whattcha lookin fo?”
“Sum fun.” She slurred back, holding up her latest obsession, codeine. They each took three and made their way to the first bedroom they found. Laying there with Mark, she had said many things, pills being one of the only thing to turn her into a chatterbox.
Then she remembered what she had told him. The recent use of the word must’ve made it easier to find now.
“I told you I loved you.” She answered Mark, closing her eyes to hold back the forming tears.
“Yeah, well, I’ve been thinking about that. A lot. Ever since you left.”
No no no. This could not be happening. She practically screamed at herself.
“I think… well no, I know… Would you just look at me for a minute, Rachel?”
She regretfully opened her eyes, letting the wetness spill over them and onto her red cheeks.
“I love you too.” He spoke the words, she knew he had, but it sounded like her ears were full of cotton. She stared at him, blank faced, unable to form words in her trembling mouth.
He looked at her for a minute, then slowly got up and left the kitchen, left her alone with her thoughts – not a good thing.
Was this really happening? How could anything get worse right now? She had come home just to prepare the house for this stupid hurricane, she didn’t know she had needed to prepare her heart for an equally brutal storm. There was no way she was coming out of this without a scrape. Words in her head screamed her need for a choice, and she needed to shut them up. She walked right to the freezer and poured herself a glass of straight vodka, drinking it fast so she didn’t have to think about the ramifications.
It helped a little, helped her focus her attention on the present, on getting some food and ignoring the professions of love she had just received. As soon as she could, she would leave here, leave this awful place that made men fall in love with an unwilling, undeserving, and damaged child. She would leave, then everything would be fine.
The wind picked up and rattled the glass of the windows, mocking her resolve.