Soundtrack Song - Damone, Stabbed in the Heart
"Let me tell you something, Charlotte. If he was stupid enough to let you go, and believe me, he's an idiot if he let you go, then he doesn't deserve you and he never did and never will. And all this time that you spend being miserable over him, is just more time that you're devoting to him that he doesn't deserve to have either. Not all guys are like that. Don't hold what he did against us all."
Hot damn. What am I supposed to say to that? I can't think of anything, so I tear my eyes away from Max's and rest my head against his shoulder so I won't have to look at him anymore.
Should I thank him for saying that? I mean, if it's true, that could quite possibly be the most profound thing anyone's ever said to me regarding the John situation, as I so infamously refer to it as. If John isn't The One, then I've already wasted years of my life on him. And why should I be wasting any more? God, even Gina never said it so simply and eloquently. She just wants me to magically forget and move on. At least Max is acknowledging that there had been something there, once.
It's so weird to me that I find Max's words to be so epiphany-inspiring. After all, he neither knows John nor even knows about John. I guess it could be that very fact that is what provides the breakthrough for me. Max is completely outside the situation and is therefore unbiased. And he's a man, which makes me think about his perspective and contemplate his advice. I sincerely doubt that men can ever feel that way, but who better to know than a man?
I still want to say something, but I can't think of anything and now I think that the moment to speak has passed. So I continue to sway with him and let his body lead the movement of mine. When Gina's finished with the song, I pull away to see a few wet spots on Max's dress shirt. Fuck, was I crying? I wipe the back of my hand against my cheek. Shit, my make-up!
"I'm sorry," I mumble, trying to wipe at the spots on his shirt. Why am I always making myself look like a complete and utter fool in front of this man?!
He grabs my hand. "It's okay," he whispers.
I look up into his blue eyes and lose myself for a moment before I pull my hand out of his warm grasp. "Excuse me. I have to freshen up before I go back up there." I walk as fast as I can—or teeter as fast as I can in these dreadful heels—to the restroom. I don't even have to look in the mirror to see that I'm a mess; I know it. I re-pin my hair and dampen a paper towel to dab at my face. I stare at myself and curse John out loud. "Fuck you for doing this to me tonight."
"Max Talbot, huh?" comes a voice from behind me. Some random girl walks out of a stall and stops at the sink to wash her hands and check her make-up. "It's best not to get attached. He's probably not interested in thinking long-term."
"Excuse me?" I ask, wondering what the hell this girl was getting at.
"I saw you dancing with him," she explains. "He's not boyfriend material. If you're looking for anything more than just one night, it's best to just move on."
"Oh. I didn't.... I mean, we're not...." I just shake my head and hope she gets my point.
"Oh, well, if that's the case then send him my way. He's probably forgotten me, and I'll take him again," she giggles, quickly walking out of the restroom and back to the lounge.
I try not to get mad. I mean, I don't have any reason to be mad anyway, but I am still incredibly irritated to the point where I'm not thinking straight. Am I mad at the girl or at Max? I shake my head and try to clear out all thoughts from my brain. It's not like I'm interested in him that way. Besides, I have another hour and fifteen minutes of performing to get through.
When I walk back into the lounge, I look straight ahead and aim for the stage, neither looking for Max nor that tramp. Gina stares at me, immediately knowing something's not right. I smile back unconvincingly, but since now is not the time, she tickles the ivories and I turn back to the mic, avoiding looking into the crowd. Instead, I stare toward the bar, focusing on the Crown Royal bottle on the top shelf.
"Dude, Talbo, what did you do to her?"
"What are you talking about?" I ask Gronk. He's unusually inquisitive tonight. It makes me wanna deck him. Kris is looking at me, too, mischief in his eyes like he's trying to figure out what I'm thinking. I don't get why the guys are all up in my business all of a sudden.
"You made her cry," Staalsy explains. "I thought you were supposed to be smooth and charming."
"I am smooth and charming. I didn't make her cry," I say, refusing to answer any more of their stupid questions.
Charlotte returns to the room and hurries back on stage. I like to watch her hurry in those heels and that dress.... She jiggles in all the right places. I bet she'd hate to hear me say that, but it's true. When she opens her mouth to begin singing again, she stares straight ahead, losing all the emotion previously present in her voice. There must be a switch inside her that can make her change from the lively girl that has captured my attention to this shy version of Charlotte.
I settle back into my chair for the next hour, patiently waiting for the end of their set so our night can begin. The boys are getting restless, too. They're ready to leave and hit the club. It's none too soon when they finally finish their performance. Charlotte talks to Gina, and Gina's eyes widen with excitement. While Charlotte joins us again, Gina goes off toward the bar.
"She's just gotta see the manager, and then we can leave," she mentions, not looking me in the eyes.
"Great! I think the guys are going stir-crazy. You were really good, but this just isn't their kind of scene."
"Well, here's hoping that changes," Gina interjects, sauntering up between Charlotte and me. "Because the manager just asked if we'd come back in two weeks. Apparently, he likes the crowd we drew," she further explains to her roommate, "and the bar tab they racked up. Are you up for doing this again?"
Gina hands Charlotte an envelope, which she tentatively opens. I can't see how much is in it, but Charlotte smiles slightly to herself. "Maybe. The compensation more than makes up for my embarrassment. Can we go now?" she asks Gina.
"Please," Gina laughs, eying the guys, who have all noticed her arrival.
"Would you like me to introduce you?" I question.
"No need," she smiles. "I know who they all are." The guys seem to like that answer. "So why are we still hanging around here? Let's go!"
"We're stopping home first, right?" I ask. I should know better; I ask anyway.
"No! We're going straight to Diesel to meet the guys. I'm so excited. You have no idea!" Gina practically screams.
"Um, well, I have a pretty good idea since you're bursting at the seams. Speaking of bursting at the seams," I sigh, gesturing at the dress I'm surprisingly still in. "Please can we go home? I'm not trying to get out of going. I need to put something else on."
"You look great. I don't know why you're making a fuss."
"Listen, I'm not crazy about this. I only said yes to them for you. So why don't you do me the favor and let me change? I'm uncomfortable about going out to Diesel, and I don't want to be wearing anything uncomfortable, too. That'll just make it worse," I lie. I originally said yes because I wanted to hang out with Max and his teammates as much as I knew Gina would want to. But after what that girl said, I changed my mind.
"Then why did you agree at all if you were going to be this wishy-washy about going?"
"Because when I first agreed and told the guys I'd go, I thought it would be fun. And now I don't think it's going to be a good idea."
"Nothing." What a lie. That stupid bimbo in the bathroom. But what was I expecting? I knew the type of guy that Max was. "I told you, I'll still go for a little. I figured that would make you happy. Anyway, so, are we going home first?"
"No. It doesn't matter how many times you ask. Answer's still no. You're hot. Don't you feel good in that dress?"
"Yeah," I admit. It's true. Most of my clothes were so baggy and practically falling off me, so once again wearing something fitted really gave a boost to my lagging confidence. Or at least, it did. Getting attention from guys, and not just Max, was a little nice. Usually, I was never the one ogled or checked out. And not that I wanted to be objectified, but I'm not going to lie: finally getting some attention from the opposite sex was a little... validating and rewarding.
So I changed my mind again. It's my prerogative, right? I was going to go out and relish in the attention of some guy other than Max. It probably wasn't going to make me feel better long-term, but it was going to tonight, at least.
We park back at the apartment and head back toward East Carson Street and the club. As we near the crowded corner, I get nervous. Is this such a good idea? But before I can back out, Gina's grabbing my arm and pulling me inside and up the stairs to the VIP section. It may be too late to change my mind, but it's not too late to leave early.
Sensing my hesitance, Gina makes sure the guys supply us with lots of alcohol. I know better than to drink too much, because if I do, I will just end up making myself look like an even bigger fool, and I certainly don't need help in that department. Instead, I imbibe just enough to lower my inhibitions and raise my self-esteem.
I start out dancing with Gina. Not dirty girl-on-girl grinding; just innocent dancing. Through a flurry of activity, Gina's off with Geno, which sounds hilarious in my buzzing head. Gina. Geno. Ha. And the dark quiet one's in front of me. What's his name again? Kris? What did Gina call him? LeSwoon? He is rather good looking. He starts off by keeping his distance, but he's slowly closing in. I just want to touch his hair. I'm fascinated by it.
Next thing I know, I feel hands on my hips. They're not Kris's. I look behind me. Max. I hear his voice close to my ear, but he's not speaking to me. "Qu'est-ce que tu fais? Sors d'ici!"
"Pardon? C'est quoi ton problème?" I squint and try to concentrate. The music's loud and I can't understand the words that Kris spouts out with his left eyebrow cocked.
"Laisse-la tranquille, Kris. Elle n'est pas intéressée." Is Max speaking French again? Maybe that's why I can't understand them. They're not speaking my language.
Kris narrows his eyes. I really wish I knew what was going on. "Peut-être qu'elle n'est pas intéressée par toi. Juste parce que tu as trop peur de faire un geste, mais ça ne signifie pas que nous ne pouvons pas."
"Tu ne comprends pas les circonstances. Elle est hors d'accès. Trouve-toi une autre fille." When Max says that, Kris scowls and starts to walk away.
Before he leaves, he switches to English to talk to Max. "I'll find someone else. Is the chick you took home yesterday here? Geno said she was hot." Kris walks away without waiting for Max's answer. I guess his little speech was just for my benefit.
Max's jaw clenches and his grip around me tightens as he watches the crowd close around Kris as he vanishes from sight. I feel about as angry as Max seems. Not at Kris, though; at Max.
I don't have a legitimate reason to be angry. Who Max goes home with isn't any of my business. That was always an aspect of his life that was out in the open. It's on the internet, for Christ's sake. Everyone knows his sexual tendencies. If he's not getting any with me, he's going to go elsewhere to get it. But it's not like we're together or heading in that direction. We're friends, damn it! So I shouldn't feel this upset about that. I try to channel my energy into being mad at him for chasing Kris away. I wasn't interested in Kris, but if Max can screw around with whomever he chooses, shouldn't I be afforded the same luxury?
"Thanks for scaring away my dance partner," I yell over the music.
"I'll dance with you."
"You already had your dance." I grab his hands that are still on my hips and remove them from their place.
He tightens his grip around my hands before I can leave him on the dance floor. "I'm only allowed one?"
"Yup. That's your limit. And since I don't have anyone to dance with, I'm going home."
"I'll take you."
"I'm three blocks away. I don't want to interrupt your night," I say. I want to say that he shouldn't bother taking me home when there are dozens of other girls around who would jump at the chance for Max to be their escort. But I'm not supposed to be mad at him for that. It's just who he is.
"You won't be. I don't want you walking alone. I'll take you."
"It's three blocks."
"I know. I remember where you live. I still don't want you walking home alone at night."
"Fine. Then let's go," I mumble, tugging on his hands and heading for the door. I know he's trying to be nice, but I don't need his brand of niceness. I don't know what I need from him, but it's certainly not this confusion and havoc he's wreaking inside my head.