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Carrie and Me

“Riley! You didn’t actually, did you?” she asks incredulously. There’s shock in her face, but a sort of pride too. She’s fighting back a smile and her dark blonde hair waves behind her as she attempts to stop her shoulders shaking with laughter.

“Yes, yes I did. I warned his punk-ass, didn’t I?” I say, grinning. I had warned him after all. You don’t mess with fire unless you want to get burned. I wasn’t like the other beach-blonde tramps that he fucked and then fucked over. I didn’t do things by halves either and that was why his prized Ford F150, with a brilliantly red coat of paint and a flame decal (so high school, but let him have his little treasures) was now sitting on Main Street with “cheater” etched into the glass. Well, what remained of the glass at least.

“He’s gonna press charges,” Carrie tells me.

“Let him,” I say, knocking back my shot. “He can do whatever the fuck he wants, Care. I’m fucking over it, y’know? He don’t mean jack anymore.” As with all good friends, Carrie had taken me to the local bar as a “get better” kind of outing after my disastrous break-up. Well, not really even a break-up – I’d never even said the words “we’re done” or anything even along those lines. I’d mostly just sputtered at the sight of my fiancé with another chick in our bed. I’d actually – and it embarrasses me to even admit – I’d even let a tear or two fall. See, I pride myself on being a strong, no-nonsense type of girl. I don’t think crying is particularly strong or courageous, and plus, my tears were way too precious to waste on that dumbass. Tonight, I was going to get fucking hammered.

“RILEY KATHERINE MATTHEWS!”

Oh shit.

“Don’t fucking even think about taking one step closer,” Carrie snarls at the hero-of-the-hour, my wonderful (ex?)fiancé, Matt Hemming. See, Carrie may look like a delicate little belle, with her porcelain skin and rosy complexion, but girlfriend packs a punch. Trust me, I’ve been the recipient of a few of her attacks, and that girl could probably fight Muhammad Ali and win.

“Riley,” he hisses in that tone that I know to mean he’s beyond pissed. He’s like way past it. He drove straight by the sign for “don’t go any further” and accelerated. He’s the kind of angry that makes you afraid. The kind of angry that some girls find hot, the kind of angry that I found hot, but now it’s just a little worrying.

“Matt,” I say, 100% emotionless. I down another shot and motion to the bartender for two more.

“Riley, you shouldn’t be drinking all that. You can’t handle your alcohol–” he begins to say before catching himself.

“Shut the fuck up, Matt. Just because bimbo-Satan can’t handle whiskey doesn’t mean I can’t,” I slur.

“She’s not bimbo-Satan – look, I made a mistake, can we talk about this like two mature adults? You fucking wrecked my car!”

“I’m not a mature adult, I’m a girl and a whore who wants to get drunk because her life is over, so just fucking leave me alone,” I say but there’s no conviction behind my words. He does something to me, that boy, so that I cannot see straight. At this moment, it is his one redeeming quality. As much as it pains me to admit, I’m definitely not over him, and I’ve got the feeling that I probably never will be.

“Riley,” he whispers softly, cupping my face between his hands. Tears start spilling over the edge of my eyes and I can feel them splash on his well-worn fingers. He gently wipes them away. Furious with myself, I turn away and blink repeatedly, but it’s absolutely no use. Fueled by whatever the fuck I’ve been drinking all night, the tears tumble out like the traitors they are. I hate it. The way my body betrays me at his touch. Like right now, my breath is catching in my throat just because he’s put his arm around me.

I roughly shrug his arm off me. “Fuck off, dick,” I snarl. So I’m an asshole. Who knew? He deserves it.

He winces slightly. This isn’t like the other times we fought – and believe me, we fought a lot. I don’t take kindly to being told what to do, and for all his “progressive, liberal values,” he still wants the “lady in the streets, freak in the sheets” type of wife. I look the part, at least, which is why he asked me out in the first place. Auburn hair that tumbles down low and that I’ve scraped into a messy half-up, half-down thing for the purpose of this outing. Hazel eyes that gleam green and gold with the shine of my tears. Smooth tan skin that compliments his rugged, blonde-hair type thing. We look good together. It’s a fact. But another fact is that we aren’t good together and that’s evidenced by the smell of sex that still permeates the air around him.

“Riley–” he starts again, before Carrie cuts him off. I swear, if it weren’t for Care, I’d probably have died by now. She’s the one I confide in for everything. She knows every time Matt drinks he gets a little too frisky and doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer. She knows how I drink to forget sometimes. Okay, not sometimes. More like 90% of the time. She knows the fact that when the alcohol doesn’t do it for me – when I've had a really shitty day and I can’t breathe at the end – the white powder I snort is just another way of me sticking my middle finger up and saying “Fuck you, God.”

“Just get out, Matt,” she says. On the other end, of course, I know everything about her. I know that she’s deathly afraid of her feelings for girls because she doesn’t understand them. I know that when she made out with Melissa Rivera in a game of Spin the Bottle, it meant more to her than just some “experimental fun.” I know that she’s terrified her boyfriend’s gonna find out how she feels and I know that, given the chance, she’d probably fuck half the girls in this bar, if only to prove to herself that she’s not straight. I know that she and I both have severe substance abuse issues and cheating boyfriends and feelings about sexuality that we don’t really get. Maybe it’s what makes us so close, or maybe it’s what’s gonna drive us apart in the end.

Matt wipes away a tear, like the pussy he is. Crocodile tears, my mom used to call them. My dad shed them all the time. ‘Course, they worked on her, cause he stayed until he found something better. But I’m not my mother and so I just watch as he shuffles out of the bar.

Carrie holds me close for a minute before signaling to the bartender to call us a cab. In her embrace, I feel safe. But I feel something else, too, and here’s the real issue with my friendship with her. I think I love her. I’m only admitting this to myself under the watchful eyes of Jack Daniels and Absolut Vodka, but it’s a coalition of feelings that have been growing for a long time and now, with a cheating boyfriend at my back and a world that suddenly doesn’t make sense, I turn my face up to hers and kiss her. Hard.

The first thing I think is wow. Because even with the alcohol clouding my judgment and a sort of emotional detachment dulling my senses, there’s no denying my body’s response to her touch. The second thing I think is shit I’ve just fucked up the friendship of the only person who matters to me. After that, I kind of stop thinking.

I’m not sure who breaks the kiss. Probably her. She’s breathing hard and looking at me with wild, seductive eyes.

“I can’t go home,” I say.

“You can come to mine,” she says, and I know it’s another mistake but I get in the cab with her anyways.

We’re barely in the door before she has me up against the wall. This time, it’s her who initiates the kiss, but it’s not like I do anything to stop it. She’s not the first girl I’ve kissed, and I know I’m not her first either – in fact, she’s got a whole list – but there’s something different about this kind of a kiss. Yeah, it’s a drunken hookup, and we’re both wasted enough that we can wake up tomorrow and pretend we don’t remember it, but the truth of the matter is that we will and it’s gonna change a lot about us. I just hope we can handle the change because like I said, she’s the only person who matters to me.

Too late now anyways. She breaks the kiss but it’s only to bring her lips down to my neck and gently nip at the skin there. She knows it’s one of my “zones” and I feel myself panting at her determined exploration. Meanwhile, my hands are everywhere. Up her shirt, across her back, scraping lightly against the fabric of her t-shirt until they begin to dance, almost of their own accord, along the fastenings of that damned bra. Our hair is everywhere and there’s a sheen of sweat that seems to put the room in a hazy glow and I’m about to rip her shirt off when there is a knock on the door.

We look at each other, wide-eyed, before she says “It must be Ben,” (Ben being her boyfriend) and we both collectively sigh, the moment effectively gone. She opens the door, disheveled but sexy as hell, and he walks in, talking on his cellphone before planting a quick kiss on her lips. I may have imagined it, but I see her make a face of disgust before turning back to face me, who he’s just noticed.

“Riley,” he cries, surprised and pleased. As much of an ass as he is, considering all the times he's broken her heart, he and I have always gotten along well and I don’t think that’s going to change, even though I did just make out with his girlfriend. He hugs me close for a second before quirking an eyebrow.

“What’s up?”

Carrie is about to answer but I wave her off. “Matt cheated and I need a place to stay, just for tonight,” I say bluntly. “I just can’t go back to my house.”

“God,” he says. “I’m sorry. Want me to go beat him up?”

I chuckle humorlessly and shake my head. “Maybe later,” I say.

He nods. “Stay for as long as you want. I’m out tonight anyways. Carrie, it’s that overnight resort thing I was telling you about. I just came back to grab my briefcase and heard you inside.”

“Okay,” she says. He grabs his duffel, hugs me and her goodbye, and slams the door behind him, leaving me and Carrie in the hallway of her apartment, still drunk and confused.

“So,” I say.

“So,” she replies.

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