Twenty Seven: Got You Where I Want You

Alley

I trotted into my room, snapping my fingers merrily along the way. Damn, he had a nice chest. Just right. Thin, but not bony skinny, with just a little muscle definition. Not what I would have expected at all. I wondered what Jay’s chest looked like.

Taylor and I had decided to keep all of his clothes separate from mine and hidden, just to be safe. I’d bought several large tupperware boxes just for this purpose, and they slid easily under my bed. Well, easily after I’d cleaned all the junk out from under there.

I fell to my knees, reaching under the bed and pulling out the boxes. Each one contained different kinds of clothing. One for jeans, one for shirts, one for underwear, etc. I started with the shirts box.

He’d only been here for a few months, but already his wardrobe was surpassing mine. There were masses of shirts, all folded and stacked neatly in the box. It was ridiculous. No teenage boy should be this neat, and certainly not own this many different shirts. I thought guys just wore the same thing everyday.

  I didn’t want to mess up the order of the box, though, so I didn’t dig through them to choose a shirt. I grabbed the first one off the top and tossed it on the bed. Well, that was the way that I got dressed, anyway. I shoved that box back under the bed and lifted the lid of another. Jeans. Lots and lots of jeans. I sighed and picked the first pair off the top also. Alright. Well, he rarely wore socks or shoes around here, so that wasn’t needed.

Next was his underwear. I opened the box gingerly, as if I expected something to jump out and bite me.  I gently fished around, looking for a pair of Joe Boxers with big smiley faces that I‘d bought for him that I hadn’t seen him wear yet.  It occurred to me that the very articles of clothing I was touching had also touched his... uh... well, nevermind. And they hadn’t been washed, because there was no need for it... well, until now. I wasn’t sure if I should be disgusted or turned on by this, but at any rate, it made me realize something. He was going to have to wash his stuff now. That could cause some problems. We would have to work out a schedule, or something, for when Taylor could wash his clothes.  I was suddenly very glad that Louise and I didn’t have to pay the water bill... otherwise she would get suspicious, wondering why so much more water was being used.

“You still haven’t picked anything out?” Taylor stood in the doorway, still clad in the fuzzy green towel, hair wet, but combed out. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Good grief. How long does it take?”

“Shoosh. I’ve picked out everything except your underwear.... and I’m almost afraid to touch it.” I smirked at him. “Which reminded me, Taylor... you’re going to have to start washing your clothes.”

He threw his hands in the air comically. “Hell! What is this, ‘Taylor’s a Skank’ Day?”

“Well... if you insist on putting it that way...”

“Just get out of here so I can put some clothes on. Sheesh!” He stopped and then raised an eyebrow at me. “Unless, of course, you don’t want me to put my clothes back on...”

Now it was my turn to blush. “I’ll get out.” I dashed past him and out the door.

I made my way downstairs slowly, yawning. The crazy events of today had worn me out. In the kitchen, I grabbed two bottles of Ale8 and took them into the living room, settling into our couch. I closed my eyes, trying to clear my mind of all thought.

I couldn’t. I kept thinking about Jay. Nothing was making much sense anymore. I needed Taylor to reassure me, to tell me I was being silly, and to go to the party and have a good time.

“BOO!!!!”

I screamed, nearly jumping out of my skin. “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!?!?”

He cackled, clapping his hands gleefully. “Oh, man, you should have seen your face!”

My breathing was still ragged, and I clutched one hand to my chest. “Taylor, if my knees weren’t so weak right now, I would walk over there and slap the shit out of you.”

“Your knees are weak? Well, I do tend tohave that affect on women,” he smirked, smoothing down the front of his shirt. My, he was awfully uppity and full of himself today.

“Don’t flatter yourself, hon.” I carefully articulated each word as sarcastically as possible. He’d said those exact words to me the first day he arrived.

“Awww...” Suddenly the flashy arrogance was gone. “Alley, I didn’t mean that, you know. I’m sorry. I just put my foot in my mouth. Are you still harboring some resentment against me for that?”

“You remember that?” I smiled halfheartedly, kind of surprised. That was months ago. “Anyway, you don’t need to be sorry. It’s true.”

“What’s true?”

“I shouldn’t try and flatter myself. You’re much prettier than I am.” I grinned, expecting him to be irritated at this comment.

“Allisooooonnnnnn....” Uh-oh. A lecture was coming on. Anytime he dragged the last syllable of my name out like that, I knew I was in for it. I sighed and sat back down, patting the couch beside me.

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

He walked around the couch and dropped down beside me, throwing his arm around my shoulders affectionately. “I’ll spare you the talk this time. I wouldn’t want your oh so important discussion topic to be delayed any further.”

He still smelled like peaches, but the scent was not as overpowering as it was before. I turned my head to study him. His hair was damp, just starting to dry, and plastered flat against his head. He had actually chosen to wear what I picked out-- an ugly orange shirt with black jeans. It didn’t really match, but that’s what happened when you grabbed things at random. He looked so normal, so everyday, like this, not all made up, hair not perfectly coiffed, wearing a hideous outfit.

But his eyes danced as he spoke. I decided to retract my previous thought. He could never truly look like an everyday person. He was far too beautiful. No matter what he did.... to his hair or to his clothes, he would still be beautiful. It almost hurt to look at him. I felt an uneasy stirring in my stomach, and quickly looked away.

“You alright?” he asked, slightly alarmed.

I cleared my throat. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”

The look he gave me indicated he didn’t believe that for a second, but he didn’t dwell on it. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

I inwardly sighed with relief. Removing his arm from my neck, I turned halfway and stretched out on the couch, setting my feet in his lap. I put a pillow behind my head and rested my arms on my stomach.

“What’s this?” he grumbled, staring at my enormous feet.

“Well, they look like feet to me, Taylor.”

“Smartass. What are they doing in my lap?”

“They’re hoping to get a little love, Taylor.... they sure could use some,” I hinted.

“No way.”

“Please? Please, please, please,” I chanted over and over. “If you love me, you’ll do it. I had a hard day at school.... they ache.... please?

He exhaled noisily but gave in. That argument always seemed to work.

“Mmmm,” I murmured as he kneaded the ball of my foot. “You should be a masseuse. Forget that whole teenage rock star deal.”
He chuckled. “I’ll think about it. Now, are we going to discuss something, or did you just drag me down here to be your little slave?”

“Slave,” I answered shortly with a grin.

“Lucky me.”

“OK, I guess we can get started now.” I proceeded to tell him about my day, every detail I could think of, from Jay’s invitation to my uncertainty to the deal with my painting, even though it didn’t have anything to do with the Halloween party. He nodded occasionally, not interrupting me once. He was a good listener.

“So... I don’ t know. I mean, I want to go to the Halloween party, I guess. It would be something different. I’m not really a party person, though.”

“Don’t go.”

“What?”

“I don’t think you should go.”

I wrinkled my eyebrows. “Why?”

“Because... nevermind.”

“No, you tell me.” I sat up and removed my feet from his lap, staring him directly in the eye.

“I don’t think this guy is right for you. I think you’re wasting your time.”

I sat still, shocked, for a moment. Not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be reassured that everything was fine and that I was just nervous.

“What makes you say that? You haven’t even met him,” I responded hotly.

He leaned over, putting his head in his hands, rubbing his temple roughly. “Allison...”

“Don’t ‘Allison’ me. You must have a reason for this.”

“I...I just don’t have a good feeling about this.”

“Why?” I demanded. “Dammit, Taylor, if you’re going to tell me not to go, which by the way is not at all what I wanted you to say, then you better have sufficient reason.”

“Alright. I’ll tell you, but it’s going to piss you off.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes.”

“Go right ahead.”

“You’re wasting your time here. I can already tell that this isn’t going to work out... you know why? Because you’re not being yourself. You just said you weren’t a party person. And the fact that thinking about going makes you so ill-at-ease is a big clue. Just going because of him isn’t going to make it worth it. Plus, you’ve changed the way you dress.... you’ve never cared much about the way you look. Just because it didn’t work with him before doesn’t mean you should change that just to get him. Weren’t you the one who said earlier this summer that you would never change the way you were just to get a guy? It’s.... it’s so frustrating to see you act like this. And you’ve said that you know virtually nothing of this guy’s personality. Although, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s not much to speak of. He‘s got you where he wants you, Allison. You’ve changed into the kind of girl he likes. But what happens when he finds out the real you? Eventually you’ll have to go back to being the same “I-don’t-give-a-damn” kind of girl you were before, unless you want to be miserable for the rest of your life. Are you telling me that a guy who is that superficial is going to learn to love you for your mind and personality? I don’t think so.”

“Interesting,” I remarked coldly, “but what makes you think he’s so superficial, especially when you’ve never met him?”

“Based on what you’ve told me, which, unless you were lying or exaggerating, I think my point is pretty accurate. And you know what? I think you realize it, too, and that’s why you’re hesitant about it all. So it’s better if you stop it now. It’ll save you a lot of heartache and trouble later.”

I remained silent. I was steaming on the inside, my anger threatening to boil over. Who was he to tell me what I was thinking? Or to judge who I dated? He was supposed to be my friend, to be supportive, to offer to help me do my nails, for God’s sake! Taylor took a deep breath, nervously rubbing his thumbs together.

“Allison?” he asked cautiously.

“What?”  My voice could have cracked cement.

“My point is.... there is someone out there who is just perfect for you... who appreciates everything you have to offer... and you shouldn’t settle for less than that.”

We remained on the couch in stony silence for several minutes more, Taylor swallowing apprehensively, almost afraid to meet my eyes after such a passionate speech. Finally he gathered the courage to speak.

“Are you mad at me?” his voice was soft, uncertain, worried.

“Yes.”

“I figured.” He scratched his arm absentmindedly, still studying me. “But I’m only telling you because I.... um... I’m your friend. I’m just worried.”

“Oh, so you’re just telling me this for my own good, is that it?”

“Don’t... don’t make it sound like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like I’m your big brother or something, looking after you. Like... like I’m the big, bad, mean one here. I’m just telling you what I think, Allison... as a friend.”

“Obviously.”

I crossed my arms and turned my head away from him. Why was he doing this? I felt so worthless. He was telling me that the only guy who had shown any interest in me in recent memory didn’t really like me... that hurt. I wasn’t used to having a relationship, and I was happy that I finally found one. Why couldn’t he just be happy along with me? Didn’t he know that if I didn’t jump at the chance now, I might never get another? Or did he want me to die an old maid?

Quit exaggerating
, my mind admonished.  Maybe he’s right. You HAVE been acting weird lately.

I angrily brushed this thought away. NO! He was being the weird one here. Whatever apprehensions I may have had about attending the party vanished as my rebellious side made a cameo appearance. I was going to that damn party, and I would have a damn good time. If for nothing else than just to spite Taylor. What was his problem, anyway?  Was he jealous?

“Well,” I said icily, “I don’t suppose you’re going to help me pick out a costume.”

He wrinkled his nose as he looked up from his hands. “A costume?”

“Yes, a costume. It’s a Halloween party, after all, I’m going to need a costume.”

He sighed again, more heavily. “Alley--”

I cut him off. “No. You listen here. You know what I think, Taylor? You’re jealous.  Because Jay’s been taking up a lot of my time. Time that I haven’t been able to spend with you.  You’re afraid that we’re going to start going out, and then I’ll be around even less to entertain you. Well, you know what? Contrary to what you might think... the world doesn’t revolve around you.  I don’t know why I was chosen to baby-sit you, but let me tell you this, I sure as hell didn’t sign up for it. Now, I’m going with Jay to that party, whether you like it or not.”

I took a deep ragged breath as I finished my rant, amazed and slightly horrified at the harsh words escaping my mouth. My hands trembled, and I tried to calm down, unsure why I’d just said that. Taylor’s face scrunched up, and I swallowed hard, suspecting that he was going to start crying. If he cried, then it would be all over. I’d cry and apologize for making him cry, and then my whole strong stance here would crumble. He breathed in hard, but thankfully kept his composure.

“Jay?” he repeated. I grumbled in irritation. “I thought his name was Jason.”

“It is Jason.... Jay for short.” I’d just ripped him a new one, and all he can think about is the inconsistency in Jay’s name? “I’m going upstairs. I need to decide what I‘m going to wear.

“OK,” he murmured softly, as if he wasn’t really listening, and biting his lip in concentration.

I stood up and stalked out of the room, stomping my feet like a small child all the way up the stairs. On my way up I could still hear him muttering Jay’s name over and over to himself, as if trying to make sense of it all.