Page 23

PS: Your initials are so stupid.

The confessions are supposed to be anonymous, Auburn. This isn’t anonymous. As much as I want to laugh, her confession also reminds me of how much I let her down and how I’m probably the last person she wants to see come rescue her from a bar.

I walk across the street anyway and open the door, immediately searching for her. Harrison notices me approaching and nods his head toward the restroom. “She’s hiding from you.”

I grip the back of my neck and look in the direction of the restrooms. “What’s she doing here?”

Harrison lifts his shoulders in a shrug. “Celebrating her birthday, I guess.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. Could I feel any more like shit?

“It’s her birthday?” I begin making my way toward the bathroom. “Why didn’t you call me sooner?”

“She made me swear I wouldn’t.”

I knock on the restroom door but get no response. I slowly push it open and immediately see her feet protruding from the last stall.

Shit, Auburn.

I rush to where she is but stop just as fast when I see she isn’t passed out. In fact, she’s wide awake. She looks a little too comfortable for someone sprawled out in a bar bathroom. She’s resting her head against the wall of the stall, looking up at me.

I’m not surprised by the anger in her eyes. I probably wouldn’t want to speak to me right now, either. In fact, I’m not even going to make her speak to me. I’ll just take a seat right here on the floor with her.

She watches me as I walk into the stall and take a seat directly in front of her. I pull my knees up and wrap my arms around them and then lean my head back against the stall.

She doesn’t look away from me, she doesn’t speak, she doesn’t smile. She just inhales a slow breath and gives her head the slightest disappointed shake.

“You look like shit, Owen.”

I smile, because she doesn’t sound as drunk as I thought she might be. But she’s probably right. I haven’t looked in a mirror in over three days. That happens when I get caught up in my work. I haven’t shaved, so I more than likely have a good case of stubble going on.

She doesn’t look like shit, though, and I should probably say that out loud. She looks sad and a little bit drunk, but for a girl sprawled out on a bathroom floor, she looks pretty damn hot.

I know I should apologize to her for what I did. I know that’s the only thing that should be coming out of my mouth right now, but I’m scared if I apologize then she’ll start asking questions, and I don’t want to have to tell her the truth. I would rather she be disappointed that I stood her up than know the truth about why I stood her up.

“Are you okay?”

She rolls her eyes and focuses on the ceiling and I can see her attempt to blink back her tears. She brings her hands up to her face and rubs them up and down in an attempt to sober herself up, or maybe because she’s frustrated that I’m here. Probably a little of both.

“I got stood up tonight.”

She continues to stare up at the ceiling. I’m not sure how to feel about this confession of hers, because my first reaction is jealousy and I know that isn’t fair. I just don’t like the thought of her being so upset over someone who isn’t me, when really it’s none of my business.

“You get stood up by a guy so you spend the rest of the night drinking in a bar? That doesn’t sound like you.”

Her chin immediately drops to her chest and she looks up at me through her lashes. “I didn’t get stood up by a guy, Owen. That’s very presumptuous of you. And for your information, I happen to like drinking. I just didn’t like your drink.”

I shouldn’t be focusing on that one word in her sentence, but . . .

“You got stood up by a girl?”

I have nothing against lesbians, but please don’t be one. That’s not how I envision this ending between us.

“Not by a girl, either,” she says. “I got stood up by a bitch. A big, mean, selfish bitch.”

Her words make me smile even though I don’t mean for them to. There’s nothing about her situation worth smiling over, but the way her nose crinkled up while she insulted whoever stood her up was really cute.

I straighten my legs out, placing them on the outsides of her legs. She looks as defeated as I feel.

What a pair we make.

I want so badly to tell her the truth, but I also know that the truth won’t make things any better between us than they are now. The truth makes less sense than the lie, and I don’t even know which one I should go with anymore.

The only thing I do know is that, whether she’s mad or happy or sad or excited, she has this calming energy that radiates from her. Every day of my life it feels as if I’m fighting my way up an escalator that only goes down. And no matter how fast or how hard I run to try to reach the top, I stay in the same place, sprinting, getting nowhere. But when I’m with her it doesn’t feel like I’m on that escalator. It feels as if I’m on a moving walkway, and I’m effortlessly just carried along. Like I can finally relax and take a breath and not feel the constant pressure to sprint in order to prevent hitting rock bottom.

Her presence calms me, relaxes me, makes me feel as though maybe things aren’t as hard as they appear to be when she isn’t around. So no matter how pathetic we may seem right now, sitting on the floor of the women’s restroom, there isn’t anywhere else I would rather be at this moment.

“OMG,” she says, leaning forward to pull at my hair. Her entire face contorts into a frown and I can’t understand how my hair is displeasing her so much right now. “We need to fix this shit,” she mutters.

She puts one hand on the wall and one on my shoulder and she pushes herself up. When she’s standing, she reaches for my hand. “Come on, Owen. I’m gonna fix your shit.”

I don’t know that she’s sober enough to fix anything, really. But that’s okay, because I’m still on my moving walkway, so I’ll effortlessly follow her anywhere she wants to go.

“Let’s wash our hands, Owen. The floor is gross.” She walks to the sink and squirts soap on my palm. She glances at me in the mirror and looks down at my hand. “Here’s you some soap,” she says, wiping the soap across my hand.

I can’t tell with her. I don’t know how much she’s had to drink, but this interaction isn’t what I was expecting tonight. Especially after reading her confession.