We went back to my place and did exactly that. It must have been successful, because I woke up on my couch with no memories of the night before.
Alex was fast asleep on the coffee table, his shirt off, but otherwise clothed. Bottles and cans littered the floor of my tiny apartment, and I grimaced when I saw some of the clothing I was wearing yesterday mixed into the mess.
My head was throbbing with a passion, and I cradled it as I made my way to my bedroom. Quietly I shut the door and I gingerly crossed the room to my closet.
Having gathered an outfit and my towel, I let myself into the bathroom. A warm shower will definitely help, I told myself, pausing as I searched through my medicine chest for an Advil. I downed it dry, and turned on the shower.
As the water fell on me I began to panic. None of this is real. It can’t be, I thought, punching the wall of the shower as my knees gave way beneath me.
All of my disgust, my frustration, and my alcohol came rushing up, and I doubled over, vomiting hard. Coughing and spluttering I changed how I was siting, tucking my knees under my chin.
She’s really gone. You have to move on. Keep going. Sarah would be annoyed by how you’re behaving, I told myself, the water still falling on me. I hated myself and the way I felt. I hated the muteys for killing Sarah, and above all else, I hated her team. They had let her die. They hadn’t been there for her when she needed them the most.
The water was now turning cold, but I didn’t feel like turning it off. I knew that my water bill would be high, but I didn’t care.
I jumped at a knock on the bathroom door, which sounded and felt like a gunshot to my poor aching head. The shock was enough to convince me to turn off the water, and I did so.
“I’ll be out in a moment,” I called, wrapping myself in my towel, drying off vigorously as I moved.
“Okay,” Alex said. I heard the rasp of fabric against the wood of the door frame, and I sighed, throwing on my clothes.
I need to scrub down the tub, I thought, eying the floor of it. I guess I’ll do that after Alex is gone.
As soon as I was decent I pulled the door open, stepping back a half step as I came face to face with Sarah’s brother. He still hadn’t put his shirt back on, and there were dark circles under his eyes.
“What’s a guy got to do to find an empty bathroom around here?” he croaked, grinning at me.
“Try waking up earlier, dear,” I said sarcastically. “It’s first come, first serve around these parts.”
He laughed and pulled the door closed behind himself as I turned away. I made my way down the hall, pausing at the doorway of my room to swap my towel for my hairbrush. When I returned to the living room, I took a deep breath, surveying the floor.
Where do I even start? I wondered. I guess at the door, and work my way across the room.
I heard the shower turn on, and I sighed. Alex was leaving me to clean up on my own. How typical of him. At least the shower wasn’t at the top of my to do list anymore.
By the time he had reappeared, I had most of the mess cleaned up. He watched as I threw the last beer can into the recycling bin and stood up.
“Would you like to go out for breakfast?” he asked, leaning against the door frame again.
“I can’t afford it right now,” I said, turning to face him. My headache, although numbed by the Advil, was still ferocious, and it was not helping my temper any.
“I’ll treat,” he said simply.
“Is that Alex or his hormones speaking?” I asked, the sarcasm practically dripping from my words.
“I just took a cold shower,” he pointed out drily. “And I’m pretty sure my head hurts just as much as yours, so there’s no need to get snappy with me.” He eyes we with his steady brown gaze.
“Fine,” I said, reaching for my hairbrush. “Just let me do my hair first.”
“Ugh!” he scoffed. “The famous last words. I’ll be waiting for hours while you crimp and blow dry and smooth it.”
“You’ll be waiting ten minutes with I drag a brush through it,” I countered.
“That’s what they all say,” he said, grinning as I vanished into my bedroom.
The brush slid through my short hair easily, and I was done within two or three minutes. Instead of rejoining Alex, though, I studied my reflection in the mirror.
My eyes betrayed my exhaustion, bagging slightly underneath, and my skin looked pallid in the morning light.My lips, on the other hand, didn’t look as colorless as the rest of my face, nor as terrible as the rest with the exception of a relatively recent cut.
Hesitantly I probed the cut, straining my aching head to try to remember where it had come from. I knew that I hadn’t had it before the funeral yesterday.
I’ll ask Alex, I thought, turning away from the mirror and grabbing my handbag.
“Told you I’d only take a few minutes,” I said as I walked back into the living room.
“I suppose you’re right,” he responded calmly. “Now, are we going?”
“Sure,” I said, making my way to the door. “That is, if you want to go.”
“Trying to get rid of me?” he asked, grinning easily.
“Wait, what?” I asked, completely confused by this shift in tone. He laughed and led the way out of my apartment and down to the parking lot.
“You’re not the only woman who’s been anxious to see me go,” he said, sliding into the passenger seat.
“I can’t imagine why,” I responded, backing out of the lot.
Silence fell as I made my way to the local diner. It wasn’t until we were seated that Alex spoke again.
“Sometimes I disgust myself.”
“Oh?” I asked him, disinterestedly. “You finally noticed how gross your eating habits are?”
“No,” he said, pausing until he had given me a satisfactory glare. “I find it disgusting how we can play pretend, how we stuff our true thoughts and feelings deep within as we drink and party and make out. How, when something’s not comfortable to our sensitive little selves, we try to ignore it.”
“True,” I murmured, resting my chin on the palms of my hands. “That reminds me. I was wondering if you remembered what happened last night.”
His lips twitched slightly, amusement appearing in his eyes. A sudden feeling that I wouldn’t like the answer to that made its presence known in my stomach.
“We drank,” he began. I bit back the urge to make a nasty comment again. “And we danced and kissed.”
“Was that all?” I prodded, my blurry memory agreeing with what he said. An uncomfortable warmth from shame and humiliation was filling me steadily.
“Even if I remember are you sure you’d want me to tell you?” Alex asked curiously.
“I don’t know,” I said, feeling a slight blush coloring my washed out cheeks.
“Well, I see that point where you’ve had too much to drink for you to remember clearly a blessing,” Alex said, leaning back. There was a brief pause in conversation before a tired looking waitress came up to take our orders.
As she vanished into the kitchen, a smirk appeared on his face.
“If we’re going to talk about last night, can I just say that you have very nice legs?”
The blood rushed to my ears, pounding and thundering like a stampede of elephants was running through my hurting head. Half-consciously I wished that the booth would just open up and swallow me. Alex was laughing, and the way he was looking at me told me that he remembered far more than he claimed to.
“You bastard,” I hissed angrily.
“Has anyone ever told you that whatever you feel shows on your face? Your expressions are very entertaining,” he said, every ounce the younger brother. It made me feel sick to my stomach with shame and I felt disgusted with myself.
“I’m going to kill you,” I told him, taking as dignified a sip of my tea as possible while glaring over the rim of the cup.
“Now, is that how you react to a compliment?” he asked, laughing at my rage.
“You bastard,” I repeated.