Dinner with Mila had been great.. so great I was almost scared about how I was able to forget about everything for a short time and feel normal. She was a character, someone who I knew I would get along with.
It was nice to find someone to befriend who wasn’t just out to get wasted and fool around: like Darren.
I arrived home in good spirits to find one hell of a house party going on. There were people everywhere, and I pretty much had to squeeze past them just to get through to the living room.
I spotted Darren standing on the coffee table bumping and grinding with some drunk chick.
“YO, DARREN!” I grabbed his arm, making him stumble and look at me.
“HEY IT’S NICK!” He yelled out, jumping down to hug me.
“What the hell is going on, dude?!” I waved around at the room, which was a mess as well as filled with people.
“It’s a party! Come celebrate!” Darren grabbed my arm, pulling me through to the kitchen.
“I can’t, I have to study.”
Darren laughed. “Study? But.. this is uni! It’s time for fun! Go grab a girl and have a good time! Here.. this is Katrina..” He grabbed some brunette, who immediately grinned at me. It made my skin crawl.
“I’m alright..” I waved him off before pushing through all the people to get up the stairs. It amazed me how just a year or two previous and I would have been on that girl like a shot, and now… it pretty much repulsed me.
Maybe because I’d pretty much been there, done that and worn the t-shirt.
A couple making out on the stairs made me groan as I stepped over them and jogged up the rest of the stairs. Darren’s bedroom door was wide open, mine and Ste’s were still closed. I wondered if Ste was down in the party or still in his room, still… I fought the urge to knock on his door and instead walked into my room, shutting and locking my door behind me.
The music was pumping through the house so much that everything on my desk was shaking. I wondered how long it would be before the neighbours complained. I was tempted to complain myself, but decided against it and pulled my macbook out.
It had been a week since I’d used the internet for anything other than research and studying, so the first thing I did was log in to my email.
As well as the usual junk, there were three emails from Kevin, and my guess was he was sending them every other day in hopes of a reply. I clicked on the oldest one and moved over to my bed, reclining back and resting my laptop on my stomach.
Title: No Subject
Sender: Kevin Richardson
Body: So I’ve called everyone we know, the rest of the fellas, your family, even Lauren. No one has heard from you… where are you, boy? We are worried sick. I am worried sick. Just a word, just something to let me know you are at least alive.
I won’t give up, boy. Mark my words.
I sighed, hating that he’d now contacted everyone and they knew I was gone. I only wanted that information to be between the guys.
I clicked on the next mail.
Title: No Subject
Sender: Kevin Richardson
Body: So tell me what I am to do. Go to the cops? Announce you are missing on the internet? Forget you? Tell me, because I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out what your game is.
Call me stupid if you want, but I know you.. I know you have a plan up your sleeve. I know you don’t give up so easy.
Please Nick, just one word, just let me know you are safe.
I hovered the mouse over the reply button, but shook my head and went to view the next message.
Title: You are aging me
Sender: Kevin Richardson
Body: So Kristin advised me against reporting you missing. So for now I will stay quiet, but I hope you know this is aging me immensely. It isn’t right for a person to worry so much about another person. We love you, Nick. And we miss you. I beg of you… just give us a call, or a text, or reply to my goddamn emails.
Leslie won’t want this, Nick, and you know it.
I slammed my macbook lid down and sighed loudly. He just had to mention Leslie’s name. After the great evening I’d had I now felt like crap.
This party was doing my head in, and I actually wished I was back in my condo in Malibu, sat on the balcony enjoying the sound of the ocean and the gulls. Not listening to an outdated remix of Rihanna’s Umbrella.
I climbed off my bed, shoving my macbook back in its bag before stripping down to my underwear and climbing into my bed.
For the first night since I’d been here, I went to bed feeling completely homesick.
“How was your date?”
I looked over at Sarah, who stuffed a generous mouthful of ice cream into her mouth. “Date?”
“Mm hmmm..” Sarah nodded, finishing off her ice cream before speaking.
“You went out with that American dude.”
I rolled my eyes. “How the hell did you know? And it wasn’t a date…”
“Yea right, and of course I know!” Sarah grinned at me. “I saw you go into the pub, and a few minutes later blondie followed.. after I gave him directions.”
I raised my eyebrows and glared at her. “And where the hell were you?”
“At the bus stop.” Sarah looked way too amused. “So, kiss him yet?”
I chuckled. “No. It wasn’t a date. We just went for dinner.”
“On a date.”
“Sarah!” I yelled out, making her laugh.
“Ok, ok, fine it wasn’t a date.” Sarah dug out another spoonful of ice cream from the tub sat in her lap. “But you like him.”
“He’s a friend, yes.” I groaned as Sarah laughed.
“Sure, but you liiiiike him!” She shoved the spoon in her mouth.
“Sarah, he’s just a friend. Yes, he intrigues me, but that’s it. Now are you going to share that ice cream?” I waved my spoon in the air waiting for Sarah to pass me the tub.
“Fine, here.” She handed the tub of ice cream over before leaning back against the couch. “So when are you seeing him next?”
“Tomorrow… and no it’s not a date! We have English Lit together.” I scooped some of the chocolate ice cream out and shoved the spoon in my mouth.
“Would it be so bad if it was a date?” Sarah asked, making me look at her.
“Why do you ask?”
She shrugged. “Well, you’re constantly denying that it’s a date, and won’t be a date. But would it be so bad if it was?”
I bit my lip and sighed. Sarah watched me the whole time, waiting for my answer. “Well…”
“You can’t think of anything, can you?” Sarah raised her eyebrow and kept her gaze on me.
“No..” I muttered, looking away.
“You have to give guys the benefit of the doubt. Not all of them are out to hurt you, Mila. I mean you wanna be his friend, and that’s cool. But what if he asks you out? You can’t just run away.”
I looked back at her. “I won’t. And anyways, he won’t. I don’t get them kinda vibes from him.”
Sarah chuckled. “Mila, you’ve known him all of five minutes. Just… give him a chance, ok? From what I saw he seems nice. Plus.. Americans are hot.”
I snorted. “Sarah, your taste in men is rank!” I laughed as Sarah pretended to be offended.
“How mean! Give me back my ice cream!” She lunged towards me and grabbed the tub off me, making me laugh more.
“You’re welcome..” She hugged the tub and looked at me. “But for what?”
I smiled. “Being there.”
I laid awake much later that evening thinking over what Sarah had said to me before. She had known me since we were pretty much born, and had been there for me through all the good and bad times. She knew me just as much as I knew myself.
So she knew why I was nervous about even talking about dating guys.
My last relationship had ended badly. He had cheated, breaking my heart, then went on to spread lies about me around our small town. It was one of the reasons why I was so excited to move away.
Clean slate and all that.
Still, it didn’t make the scars of hurt go away. My trust was close to zero, and I kept most guys at arm’s length. Nick was no exception, even if Sarah was convinced he was.
He was a friend, and that was it.
We both had English Lit together, which I’d found out this evening whilst at dinner. He seemed relieved to find out that we had classes together, and that made me smile. I got the feeling he had no friends here at all. He never mentioned his roommates, so I guessed that he was alone apart from.. well, me.
Although there was still something about him I couldn’t quite place. Sometimes I felt like I knew him, but then I knew I didn’t. I’d never met an American before. Sounds sad I know, but I’d spent most of my life in Cornwall, I hadn’t travelled much.
So whatever it was about Nick that I couldn’t place, well I was determined to find out. Otherwise I knew it would drive me crazy.