Enjoy this wordy ass chapter :/
The twins won’t stop moving.
I’m trying to keep my eyes on both of them, but they are intent on pacing in opposite directions.
Larry is walking away from the sound of people. He has his earbuds inside of his ears. I know the volume is raised to capacity because I can hear the music that is spilling out of his phone. Somehow, I am aware that he would make the music go even louder if there was some way that he could.
The noise around us is distracting to him. Baby Boy doesn’t like the incessant chattering, or the sound of equipment screeching. The yelling voices are annoying him, and the constant feet tapping against the ground are putting him on edge.
He’s trying to use his music to flood the disquietude. He wants to completely drown the pandemonium.
He wants to listen to it be engulfed.
Hiding in silence, adumbrate protection…
Laurent on the other hand, is moving only towards the evidence of resonance. He keeps himself away from corners where he might end up by himself. He doesn’t want to be alone. He doesn’t want to pretend like he’s the only person in the room. That’s not how he makes himself feel better.
He embraces the fact that there are other people around him. He pulls comfort from the consistent lull in sound waves. I actually think that if there was no noise, then Baby Love would be losing his mind right now.
God knows I am.
Today is the day of the audition video shoot for Juste Debout.
Well, it’s not really an audition. Once the entry fee is paid, the continuation into the competition is subsequent. The point of the video shoot is solely for promotion. The people who are in charge of the competition will choose the five videos they are most impressed with and upload them to their official Youtube channel.
Almost all of the videos go viral within days. They’ll be seen on every social network site, and the views usually reach numbers in the millions. In turn, the chosen dancers will hopefully be rewarded with a supportive fan base. This ensures that the names of the dancers get out, that people begin to notice them, and that they are recognized for what they can do.
In my eyes, the twins becoming one of the five featured dancers is almost as important as them actually winning the competition.
The last two weeks has been filled with me preparing them for this day. It hasn’t been a hard task since they’ve both been relatively good lately.
Larry in particular has been on his best behavior.
Even when he began to gain his strength back, he still stayed in my company for most days and nights. There were a few times that his restlessness got the best of him, and I’d awaken to an empty bed in the morning. But he always came back when the sun went down, which let me know that he’d been out being a delinquent for one reason and not two.
Baby Boy only spends nights away when he’s selling drugs or spreading his scent inside of another girl’s bed sheets. He never visits his conquests during the day time because he’s precise when it comes to not giving them the wrong impression. He sneaks into their minds and between their legs at night; when their ambitions are low and they need someone to make them feel good about themselves.
So during the day when he would escape my grasp, I knew that he was more than unlikely preparing to make money. He was probably networking, collecting things that he needed, and being in the right places at the right times.
I hadn’t been too worried about him until just a few days ago. When I’d asked if he was ready for the video shoot, he’d acted as if Juste Debout in its entirety had completely slipped his mind. That was absurd considering the fact that I’d talked nonstop about it for the last week straight, and it had concerned me in more than one way.
For one, I am not too sure about how much effort he will put into this event in the first place.
I sternly warned him about the repercussions of purposely refusing to try. Throwing the competition would not only mean that my money would get wasted, but it also meant that he would just genuinely disappoint me.
I expect so much greatness out of him, only because I’ve seen him be great with my own two eyes. I would hate to see him ruin the chance for the entire world to witness him excel. I know they’ll be just as floored by his talent as I am. He just doesn’t want to believe that him and Lau actually have a chance at winning.
The other thing that is concerning me is Larry’s influence over his brother.
If Laurent feels even a little bit of Larry’s pessimism it’s going to rub off on him. It’s like he pulls the neglected emotions out of Larry and gives them attention. Sometimes he’ll be wearing unsureness on his face, and it won’t even be a vulnerability that stemmed inside of him. It’ll actually be a product of Larry’s doing; one of his hidden secrets that Lau was able to pick up on.
I know that Larry is aware that him not having confidence in their ability is reason enough for Lau not to have confidence either, and I hope that he’ll keep that thought in mind when they take the stage in front of those judges. If not to calm my anxiousness, then to quell the insecurity in his brother.
"Les Twins in five minutes."
The sound of their name over the intercom makes my heart stutter. I watch Larry and Lau both come to a simultaneous stop. Their bodies freeze with the huge gusts of air that they release, and I find it slightly alarming that they’d both been holding their breaths in nervousness.
I wish one of them were more positive about this than the other. That way they could rely on each other for a confidence boost. Since they both are equally unconvinced, I have to be the light that shines optimism into their hearts. I have no problem with taking on that role. It’s just that I know they both can’t be persuaded in the same way.
Laurent needs constant appraisal. He needs to be told how good he is. It has to become a hymn. The words won’t register unless they are repeated until they are ingrained in his psyche, and the only way you’ll get him to listen is if your voice is loud enough to defeat all of the other thoughts in his head.
What Larry needs is constant patience. He’s going to be negative, and hard to sway, and unaccepting of your compliments. You can’t just tell him that he’s good at something and expect him to believe it. You have to tell him that he’s good, wait for him to make his sarcastic remark, and remain calm when you give him your response. No matter how irritating his hostility may become, never agree with him for the sake of just ending the debate. He always wants a reason to be discouraged.
I walk over to where they have joined each other. We’re standing next to the stairs that lead onto the stage. The two dancers who were just showing their moves to the judges are now making their way off of the platform. It’s interesting that neither of the twins thought it was a good strategy to watch their competition as they danced. Neither one of them even glanced at the stage, and they still don’t look - even as the dancers brush past us.
I take a second to look the boys over.
They are going with the “twinning” concept today. It’s something that they don’t usually do. Not because they don’t like to look like each other, but because they both just have two completely different styles.
Today however, they are both wearing their black , jersey shirts. Baby Boy has the number 61 on the back of his and it reads Tom Ford across the top. Laurent’s number is 73 and Picasso is stitched into the fabric. Other than the differentiation in numbers, the cut and style of the shirts are exactly the same. They decided to pair them with their grayish-washed Levis jeans, and their black and gray Jordan shoes.
I also managed to get both of them to sit down long enough to get their hair twisted this week. Larry’s wearing his favorite black snap-back over his hair, and his brother is wearing a simple black beanie. They still have their respective sets of accessories, but that won’t stand out to anyone who doesn’t know them personally. They look identical to everyone else’s eyes, and that’s the effect that they are going for. They want to put an emphasis on the stage name they decided to go with.
I stand in front of the both of them, but I reach out and touch Larry first. He looks down at me questioningly. There’s curiosity written over every part of his face except for in his eyes. That is where he stores all of his anxiety away.
"Larry, are you okay?" I ask, placing my palm over his unsteady heartbeat.
His eyebrows draw together in the middle of his forehead. It’s a wonder I can even see them through the shadow the brim of his hat is causing. “Can you stop ask me that?”
I guess he has a right to be irritated with the persistence of my concern. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve uttered the same four words to him today. I think I even resorted to reciting them in French once. I keep forgetting that this is the tactic that I’m supposed to be using on Laurent. I want to spend more time comforting Larry but I only have five minutes, and I have to make sure that they both are in the correct state of mind.
I turn towards Lau and peer at him with easiness. “Laurent, are you okay?”
Him winning the battle against Eric should have boosted his self-esteem. I think it did for a while. He was proud of himself because Larry was proud of him. As soon as he noticed Larry’s lack of enthusiasm for the shoot, he began to trivialize his accomplishment though. He concluded that if his win wasn’t enough to inspire his brother, then it must not have been as impressive of a performance as he’d thought.
Of course, that’s not the truth. Larry is impressed by Lau’s talent but Lau is never going to know that. He’s never going to ask Larry to announce his opinions. And even if Lau did ask, Larry wouldn’t reveal the way he really feels because he figures that telling Lau he’s good will only set him up for disappointment if other’s don’t think the same.
They’re both frustrating me because they’re going around in a circle that’s not helping either one of them.
Laurent looks down at me with a soft smile and nods his head. “I think so.”
"Did you guys practice last night?" I wonder, looking between the two of them.
Larry dismisses my question with a head shake. “We never practice.”
"We just do." Lau says pointedly, lifting his shoulders in a shrug.
Alarms begin to ring in my head as I stare at them both. “So, you’re just gonna go out there and freestyle?”
"Yeah." Their reply is simultaneous and confident.
I don’t know if their shared nonchalance is more nerve wracking or confusing. Just a second ago, I was sure that they both were going to keel over from anxiety. Now as I stare at them, I witness nothing but intrepidity in their plan to go out and dance unrehearsed. They seem unbothered by the thought of unplanned choreography, and though it would seem that they are ill-prepared, their intention to freestyle for the judges is apparently all of the preparation that they need.
"I feel like I’m more nervous than you two are."
"Why you nervous for?" Larry wonders sarcastically, scoffing when I level my gaze onto his. "I thought you say we so good?"
I feel my irritation coming alive, but I am able to banish it to a place where it can be ignored. “You know you’re good, Larry.”
Like I expected, Larry refuses to accept my consoling. He rolls his eyes and huffs. I watch him cross his arms over his chest. It’s to disguise the wild beating of his heart. He doesn’t know that I’ve already noticed how quickly it’s thudding against his chest. I don’t say anything about it.
For the first time, he allows his eyes to travel around the room. There are many dancers still waiting for their turn to take the stage. “I know a lot of these guys look good.”
Baby Boy is right.
There are several dancers here that have incredible talent, and most of them have different strategies than the twins. Instead of staying subtle and unnoticed like my boys, they fight for the center of attention by showcasing their dance moves for everybody to see.
This is a classic psych out move. Unless they are planning to freestyle like Larry and Lau are, there’s no reason for them to choose this exact moment to rehearse. They’ve probably rehearsed it a million times already. These dancers just want to show everyone how good they are. They want all of their opponents to see them.
They want to shake their competition up.
And it’s working because shakened up is exactly what the twins are.
They’re devitalized and weary.
"I need you two to go out there and dance your very best." I say firmly, taking Larry’s face between my hands when he holds off from looking at me. "Do you hear me?"
I force him to peer at me even though he doesn’t want to. He’s not in the mood to fight with my encouragement because he knows it’s going to beat his diminished motivation into a bloody pulp.
I wait for him to nod his head or make any indication that he understands what I am asking of him. Baby Boy doesn’t give me an answer. He tilts his head to the side and begins to wait for me.
I am able to catch onto his purpose within seconds. This is not him admonishing my inspiritment. It’s him asking for more of it.
"You need to go out there and dance like you believe that these other dancers can’t touch you." He starts to turn his head in the direction of a group that’s dancing near the center of the room, but I pull his face back towards me and my sincerity. " Go out there and dance like I’m the only person watching you." My eyes flash over to Lau’s and his chocolates devour my hazels. "Go out there and dance like you want to make me proud."
The five minutes they are given to prepare seem like one measly second. Their name is called a second time, but it’s not to alert them that their turn is approaching. It’s to tell them that their turn is now in effect. I give them both one more hug before they make their way to the stage, and I pray that I wrapped my arms around them tightly enough to brand a piece of myself into their souls.
We’re in the auditorium of a college so the stage is big but it’s nothing fancy. This is not where the competition will be held. The arena that’s hosting Juste Debout is not quite finished with construction yet, so the producers rented out this auditorium for the day.
They are sitting in the front row of the middle column seats. There are four of them. Three men and one women. I am glad that the twins got called relatively early because I assume that watching over three hundred performances will become tiring. The judges are still in high spirits and bouncing with excitement. They seem to be entertained from the previous performance, and they are anxiously waiting to see what the twins will show to them.
I take a seat in the front row as well but I don’t sit by the judges. I put several seats between us. Just in case the boys happen to look out into the crowd I want them to be able to see my face. I’m going to wear a smile the entire time. I’m going to try to attack their hearts with my love.
I need them to know that I am their biggest support system, and I am proud of them no matter what the outcome may be.
The music begins to pour out of the speakers behind Larry and Lau, and I immediately recognize the song and its artist. The twins have this rare skill where they can dance to literally any type of music, but at the same time they are accustomed to dancing to dubstep type of songs. They like musicians like edIT because the beats are considered electronica, but they are still on the fringe of hip hop. ‘If You Crump Stand Up’ fills the silence in the air, and Laurent gives Larry a shove that has him taking the front of the stage.
I’m surprised that he chose to go first. I would have bet my last dollar on Larry being the last one to dance, but I quickly come to understand that this isn’t about one of them going before the other. When Larry begins to dance, so does Lau. Only Lau stays in the background, catching Larry’s sly moves and running away with them.
It’s hard to believe that they did not choreograph or at least plan when they would fall to the ground together, or vibrate in unison, or finish each other’s moves.
Their styles are so completely different, yet they are effortlessly cohesive.
Larry puts a lot of emphasis on footworking. He uses his legs, and his feet, and his lower body to kill the beats. His transitions are phenomenal. They’re so damn smooth that it looks like the stage floor is made out of ice or something. He’s like hot liquid, reducing his dancefloor into a melted puddle as his feet burn into the glacier. His body flows into each move, especially when he is gliding and drifting.
Laurent uses his entire body when he dances. Every time I see him give his self away to the music I have to close my eyes for a few seconds. The sight is always completely unreal, but it’s even more difficult to wrap my head around now that Larry is dancing with him.
I rarely ever see Baby Boy dance. It’s not that he doesn’t like to. It’s just that he doesn’t want to start liking it too much, so he’s always off doing something else while his twin dances for me instead. It’s evident that they are both incredible dancers.
They’re two of the best in Sarcelles alone.
The fact that they are self taught only adds to their impressiveness. They’ve never taken a single class, never learned a single move from a instructor. Actually, I think they started dancing when they were really young - as a coping mechanism to deal with their father’s abuse.
Now as I examine them, Larry bends the rules of gravity with his footwork and Lau crushes the floor with his back bends.
It’s not even just their moves either. It’s the expressions on their faces. When they dance, they completely come alive. I never see Larry so full of exuberance. The only time I witness him breaking down his barriers is when the music is taking control of him.
The way they sway and interact with each other, with the song, with the judges; it’s entrancing to say the least. I am not paying attention to anything besides my boys, but I don’t fail to notice how many of the other dancers stop what they are doing to regard the twins. Some of them even take seats so they can watch Larry and Laurent more closely.
The song begins to come to an end, and I’m not sure which twin I want to watch more. They’re on different sides of the stage, and they’re dancing in unison, but they’re not necessarily dancing together.
Lau drops onto his knees and spins himself in three complete circles, until he is back in the center of the stage. Larry’s at the front, near the female judge, rolling his hips as the drop in the beat permits. I laugh to myself when her eyes widen. Baby Boy chuckles too, before gliding across the stage to meet his brother.
They both do a hand gesture, where they curve both hands into the letter “C” and cross their arms. I decide that I have to ask them what it means later. I’ve never seen them do it before, but for right now, I’m just trying to get a handle over myself and the excitement that is ravaging me.
All three judges stand to their feet to applause. Now, I am wishing that I would have been watching the other performances, because I’m not so sure if the judges were this congratulatory over the other dancers. I want to believe that they find the twins to be special, their reactions would say so, but I only time can tell how they actually feel.
I meet the boys where they exit the stage, and they are both reverberating with adrenaline.
They fall against me and I catch them both with my arms. We’re bundled together in a three-person hug. Only, this hug is not just a general pleasantry. This is me telling them how proud I am of them. This is me telling them that I love them with all of my heart. And this is them thanking me for being there to support them. This is them telling me that they are glad that I convinced them to try.
They nuzzle their faces into either sides of my neck, and I don’t even care that they’re getting their sweat all over me.
I hold onto them with an intention of never letting go.
After leaving the video shoot, Larry takes us to get something to eat.
We spend some time eating burgers, french fries, and shakes that are so bad for us but taste so good. We talk about our plans for the night, and Baby Boy reveals that he’s planning on staying in tonight. This instantly relieves me but before the relief can settle Laurent opens up his mouth and snatches it away. Apparently, he and Nadia have plans of their own. That means he’s not going to be close enough where I can watch him and make sure that he is alright.
I want to say something and oppose. I know if I were to express my displeasure, Lau would quickly cancel his plans to appease me. He’s all about making me happy, but I don’t want to use the influence that I have in his life against him. I’m not a manipulator, not when it comes to Laurent that is.
Instead, I ask him if he can be home by seven. That’s the time the Juste Debout judges will be done deliberating. I want us all to be together when we check the YouTube page. I’m positive that they’re going to be featured, and I want to see the looks on both of their faces when they realize it as well.
Laurent agrees to my wishes, but he tells us to drop him off at Pom’s house on our way home. That’s what we do, begrudgingly on my part, and indifferent on Larry’s.
I think Baby Boy and I see different things when we both watch him disappear beyond Pom’s front door. Larry sees his brother just going to kick it with a friend, and I see him walking into a place that he will never come back out of.
When we get back to my house, I am not in the best of the moods.
It’s not that I don’t like Nadia. It’s just that the frequency of her presence is starting to get under my skin. The fact that I know nothing about her upsets me because that means that I can not properly judge her.
From what I have seen, I want to label her as a bad influence. I want to say that she is no good and that Lau should stay far away from her, but that wouldn’t be fair of me to do so.
I just hate waiting.
I don’t want to wait and see how things will play out between them. Either they’ll end badly or they won’t. It’s hard to see the future and that’s another thing that’s making me apprehensive. I’d rather Laurent just stick to the things we already know, the things that we already have figured out. I would rather him toy around with Aja again than keep forcing his way into Nadia’s circle.
She’s too unpredictable.
Too haphazard and risky.
Larry and I decide to watch some movies in the living room. Gavin is not here but I do not find that unusual. I haven’t seen Dj or Aunt Jeanie in a week, but I don’t find that unusual in the least bit. They might not ever return home, and it’s sad that I wouldn’t even find that unusual either.
We’re sitting on the couch, looking at the pictures that flash across the screen. I’m trying to comprehend the movie but my mind keeps drifting towards other places. I turn my head to look at Larry, and I see that he’s not all that interested with what’s on the television either. He keeps looking down at his phone, swiping his fingers against the keyboard on his screen.
I think it’s funny that he’s so entranced that he doesn’t even notice me staring at him. I wonder who could possibly be so captivating, but I know he’d never tell me if I asked. I watch him tuck his phone into his pocket, and seconds later it begins to ring to recapture his attention.
He retrieves it a second time, glancing at the screen to confirm that the person he was just texting is the person who is calling him now. He still doesn’t realize that I’ve been watching him for the last five minutes. I clear my throat quietly and he finally looks towards me.
There’s no question written on my face. I’m not asking him to tell me who’s calling him, not yet. The only expression that I wear is one of awareness. The pointed smile on my face cause him to smirk, and soon after his lips tug apart the ringing stops.
Not for long.
The disruptions are always abundant.
The ringing begins again and it’s only seconds after it ceased the first time. Whoever is calling Larry must be anxious to talk to him. That means it’s either Dj or one of his forgotten messes. I cock my head to the side and look at him warily, not because I am upset but because he was doing such a fantastic job at being a good boy for once.
"Who is it, Baby Boy?" I ask curiously, crawling over the one cushion that separates us.
Larry doesn’t try to move the phone out of my line of viewing. He makes no move against the nonchalance that he’s already chosen to announce. His actions are not conclusive to a person who is under suspicion. He lets me read the five letters that flash across his screen. He lets me brand the name into my memory. He lets me boil, and brew, and hate him all over again.
Timeless loathing, odium…
"Let me answer it." I challenge unkindly. "Let me tell her who you really belong to."
He looks at me with a piqued interest. I guess he’s wondering what my motive is and that makes me frown. Curiosity isn’t the reaction that I was looking forward to pulling out of him.
Of course, I shouldn’t have expected anything remotely close to apprehension to cross his face. Although, a little bit of weariness would have done well enough.
The fact that he’s so unmoved is what angers me. His indifference is not an act. He literally doesn’t care, and he lets me know this when he drops the phone into the palm of my hand with a smirk.
His fingers close around my own as he forces me to receive the device. “Take it.”
Now, he is the one cocking his head to the side. He watches with more than just curiosity as I maneuver the phone up to my ear. There’s amusement working its way around his features.
He thinks it’s funny and I think it’s sad. There’s someone on the other end of this phone who cares about him, and he doesn’t pay her feelings the type of attention that they deserve.
"Bonjour." I say, looking directly at him.
I’m not surprised by the silence that follows after. I’m not the one that she wants to talk to, but she has to know that she has no other choice at this point. I wait for her to gain the courage, or the desire, or the will to speak.
This will be the first time that we’ve said anything directly to each other in a while. That night at the party however, our talent of sending subliminal messages to each other had reached an all-time high.
She’d told me she hated me so many times, yet she hadn’t uttered a single word to me.
"Gabriella?" She says quietly, causing me to smile sadly.
She never calls me Bliss.
That’s not what I am to her. I’m the opposite of that.
I sigh and sit back against the couch. Her name vibrates out of me and I hate the way that it feels. “Lylah.”
I think she hates the way her name sounds when it’s coming from my mouth as well. She doesn’t like for anybody to say her name except for Larry. He’s the only person she wants to hear. His mischievous "I love you" lies are nice fables to her ears. It’s what she builds herself up with. She’s so sad. So numb. She gorges herself on his defected promises.
She’s worthy of so much more than Larry’s half-assed passion.
"Can I…" She stops and swallows. I can’t believe that I am able to make her nervous. Once upon a time, knowing this would have comforted me. Now it only makes me hang my head. "Can I speak to Larry?"
I cut my eyes at Baby Boy, narrowing my gaze involuntarily. “No, he’s busy.”
"It’s just that I needed a ride somewhere and…"
"I need a lot of stuff that Larry doesn’t give to me." My words are meant to spite him. I will them to burn across his conscience like molten lava. "You’re just gonna have to get used to it."
When she responds, her voice is so much of a whisper that I’m not even sure my brain translates her words correctly. “He gives you everything you need.”
"What?" I wonder, holding the phone against my ear more firmly.
I need her to repeat herself so I can let her know that her assumptions are wrong. I don’t want her to feel like she is the only person who Larry disappoints. I wish she was aware of how alike we actually are.
Our situations are the same, but our stories are written with different details. We’re both searching for a happy-ending with Larry. I stopped believing in fairytales a long time ago though. Lylah probably still believes in the possibility of one existing.
If you can believe in something as incongruous as Baby Boy, I guess you can believe in almost anything.
I come to the conclusion that she’s not going to repeat herself, and so I begin to hand the phone over to Larry. I’m not going to stop her from talking to him. If he wants to be a liar, and cheater, and heart breaker … I want to see him do it in front of my face.
Larry still doesn’t make any moves. He stays in the same spot and decides not to accept the phone. I like how he pretends to be so modest. It’s such a fucking joke. I can’t get myself the laugh though. The humor is bitter and leaves impressions all over my body. I’ve pulled the device away from my ear, but it’s still close enough for me to catch a glimpse of Lylah’s last words.
"I’m sorry for calling." She says quickly. "Have a nice day."
Before I can tell her that I was just messing with her, the sound of the dial tone rams into my ear drums. I pull the phone away from my face a second time and stare down at it.
The “call ended” notification keeps flashing over the picture that Larry took the time to assign to her contact, or maybe Lylah implemented the picture when she had her time with him. He probably just never changed it. I can’t see him mustering up enough interest to do so.
My eyes absorb the photo with bleakness. It’s one of Larry and Lylah sitting outside at a cafe table. He has a clear cup inside of his hands. There’s an orange liquid filling the container. I give myself a moment to wonder if it is orange juice or soda.
Neither of them are smiling largely. There are just soft smirks sitting at their mouths, indication that they are comfortable in each other’s company. Lylah looks happy. I noticed a long time ago that she rarely ever does, only when she’s next to Baby Boy.
My heart goes on a violent rampage. I try to console it by understanding that this picture was taken years ago, back when Larry wasn’t even Baby Boy yet, but my consciousness does nothing to calm the fit that my heart is throwing. I drop the phone back into Larry’s lap, and he picks it up without a word. It’s stuffed back into his pocket.
Forgotten in an instant.
"Well, don’t you want to know what she said?" I ask incredulously, taking in his porcelain expression.
His brown, doe eyes drink me in inch by inch. “You want me to know?”
"Do you want to know?" I ask again, frowning as he shrugs his shoulders.
"If I wanted to know then I would call her and ask her."
"So, you just really don’t care?" My first question is rhetorical. My second one is spiteful. "Is that what you say when I call and you’re with other girls?"
"I never would let some girl answer you call and say some shit like that for you."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" I ask sarcastically, standing to my feet.
"Why we do this?" He wonders, catching my hand before I can take a step away from him. "I not touch anyone but you for weeks."
I turn back towards him, and lean my face towards him. He prepares to kiss me and I smirk when he realizes that my intentions do not match his. I don’t want to use this moment to kiss him. I need to tell him a secret.
A sweet one.
Cacophonous…like the truth.
"Because I’m so jealous when it comes to you."
After the kiss in the kitchen, I didn’t see Larry anymore during the day or at night.
I was under the impression that he would come back the next night just like he’d done the day before, but his hectic life took a hold of his hand and led him in a direction that was far away from me. It was actually quite funny to think about.
The day that came after Larry had given me more nighttime kisses was the day that I’d needed to talk to him the most.
I remembered walking into the school building the same exact way I’d always done. My objective was to get to the sophomore hallway so I could update Aja on the news between me and Larry. That meant I had to travel through the entrance doors and pass the lockers that Lylah and her friends always stood against before class started.
I hadn’t given too much thought about it, only because I always passed those lockers, and nothing out of the ordinary ever happened.
When I’d walked through the hallway that time, it almost seemed like people were waiting for me to make my approach. I felt like a celebrity when I’d walked, but not a celebrity who was well-known and loved.
I felt like someone who’d done something very terrible and deserved to be ridiculed because of it. Heads turned when I ventured past, people watched me out of the corners of their eyes, and voices whispered my name underneath their breaths.
I was confused and overwhelmed before I’d even made it half-way down the condensed corridor. It was crazy how someone like Aja could put all of her passion marks on full display and not get judged, but I could do something that I wasn’t even aware of and quickly become the new topic of gossip.
I said that it was funny how Larry had disappeared when I’d needed him, but locking eyes with Lylah in that hallway was even funnier than that.
As soon as I’d seen her, I’d known exactly why everyone was staring at me so intently. I saw her and her group of friends, and along that group of friends was Shawn. I’d never known him to converse with Lylah that much. They were a part of two different crowds, but the thing that they had in common was that they both knew the twins.
I didn’t have to take a guess about what had suddenly possessed him to approach her. The amusement on his face when he saw me was equal to the anger that was on Lylah’s.
She tore me apart with her eyes, starting at the shoes on my feet and ending at the top-knot that sat upon my head. Her hazel glare was merciless and it almost froze me into place. I knew that if I stood there and stared back at her it would give my peers even more to talk about, so I trudged past her and tried not to listen to her friends scorning my name.
They knew my secret.
That was why everyone was having such a conniption. They knew that I’d kissed Larry and the gossip spread around the halls like a wildfire because the topic of Larry and Lylah’s relationship was always something that stayed inside of people’s mouths. I was just this fifteen year old girl, the little sister of Larry’s friend, the girl who barely ever said anything in class; and I was apparently Larry’s new object of interest.
If everyone knew the truth, which was what I knew about Larry, none of them would even be remotely interested in what we did together.
I was still immature to him, and he didn’t take me seriously half of the time, and Lylah was still only girl he decided to express outward interest in; but I knew Lylah would never let me explain that to her. I didn’t want to explain it to her. I kind of liked that she was mad at me for kissing Larry. I knew it would wear off when she realized that Larry would never let me take her place, so I decided to try and ignore it as best as I could.
The only thing I was interested in was learning how the news had sprung to surface. Of course, I’d known that Aja had to have told Shawn. That was the only way he could have known. The reason why she told Shawn was what was troubling me.
I found her in the sophomore hallway and the first thing that came out of her mouth was an apology. I didn’t know if it was sincere but it was definitely believable. She told me story of how it just happened to slip out while they were talking, and that she didn’t mean to cause any trouble, and that she would reprimand Shawn when he came to her house later that night.
I told her it was okay but I walked away before she could figure out if we were still friends or not. The only reason it was okay was because it had happened. It was done. She couldn’t take it back. There was no point in her bearing remorse. Just because it was okay did not mean it didn’t bother me, and I found that I could not talk to her for quite some time after that.
The rest of the week went on like that, and the week after, and then the week after that. I’d avoided Aja and Lylah during the school days, and I waited for Larry to come back to keep me company at nights.
Lylah’s anger had not lessened my attraction towards him. In fact, seeing her regard me so seriously made me want to see Larry even more. I needed to tell him about the events that were happening in school, but I was sure that he already knew about them.
He knew everything.
It was a Friday when I saw him again. I remembered because I’d been so excited about going home to finally relax. It was the afternoon and I had to turn in a science project to my teacher after the dismissal bell rang.
I ended up waiting until the end of the day because I hadn’t finished the project until after lunch, and by that time the class had already been over. I was adamant on getting it to her before I went home because turning it in on Monday meant that I would have to accept late credit, and I would have never heard the end of it from Gavin.
For some reason, my teacher saw it fit to lecture me about academic integrity. She wasn’t used to me not being up to par. I was the student who passed all of the tests, and turned in all of the assignments, and read every chapter. Lately, everything had been jumbled. I’d been distracted and not all that dedicated to my school work, but I knew that I couldn’t tell her that.
She’d held me so long that I’d ended up missing my school bus. It wasn’t that big of a deal. The high school was only a few blocks away from my house. The only thing that irritated me was that I’d have to take the walk in cold weather. I could have taken a chance and called my brother, but I was almost positive that he would be too busy to answer my phone call.
Instead, I decided to walk.
Outside the school building, I ran into one of the students from my history class. His name was Thomas and he was one of the only people I went to school with that I’d ever taken the time to talk to. Albeit, it was because we were assigned to work together on a paper, but he was still familiar nonetheless.
I’d asked him what he was doing outside, and found out that he missed the bus as well. I knew that he lived in the same direction as I did, so I suggested that we walk home together. It wasn’t awkward and I’d already concluded that it wouldn’t be because we’d spent hours in the library together. He didn’t talk much and I was grateful for that. He respected quietness and privacy.
He wasn’t one of those boys who tried to pry and play mind games. He wasn’t a Shawn. He definitely wasn’t a Larry. Though he was silent most of the way, the things that he did not say intrigued me more than I knew a conversation with him ever would.
I tried to imagine myself walking home with him everyday, maybe even holding hands along the way, but when we got to my house and I saw Gavin on the front porch with Dj the thought quickly slipped my mind.
The look that my brother gave me told me that I’d better tuck my wandering thoughts away, say goodbye to Thomas, and explain why I hadn’t gotten on the bus like I did everyday. Actually, Gavin probably wanted to know who Thomas was more than why I’d chosen to walk home with him. Before he could do anything to particularly embarrass me, I ushered my classmate away and thanked him for walking with me.
My explanation was short and sweet. Dj made fun of me and swore that I had a crush. He was right but he just didn’t know that Thomas wasn’t the boy that I’d had a crush on. Gavin gave me a mini lecture about boys my age and what they wanted from girls like me. I wanted to ask him what boys his age wanted, but then he probably would have grounded me.
Upon entering the living room, the first thing that I saw was Laurent.
He was sitting on the couch with an annoyed expression on his face. His attention was focused on the television so he didn’t pay much mind to my entrance. I wanted to go to him and jump on his back. I wanted him to spin me around and show me his newest dance moves. I hadn’t seen him in almost a month, and the excitement that flooded my system almost knocked me down.
I would have said something to him if Larry hadn’t caught my attention a second later. He was leaning against the staircase and I was surprised to see that Lylah stood with him.
My breath stopped as I watched her talk animatedly in his ear. She appeared to be upset but I could not hear what she was saying to him. His face gave no hints about how he’d felt. He was wearing a neutral mask until he turned his head and watched me enter the room. A smile immediately tore his mouth apart, and Lylah’s hand came flying down against his chest.
She gathered his attention and glared at me over his shoulder when he wrapped her in his arms. I heard him tell her to chill out, but that’s all I heard because the rest of what he said was whispered into her ear.
Again, I wanted to say something. I didn’t know what I wanted to say though. I didn’t know what I could say in a moment like that, but it didn’t matter anyway because Gavin came barreling through the front door and told me to go up to my room.
I did what I was told like I always did. I didn’t fuss or try to put up a fight. That day Gavin’s authority hadn’t irritated me, only because I’d known that Larry would find a way to see. If not during the day, then definitely some time at night. The smile that he’d flashed upon my entrance was unmistakable.
He’d been happy to see me, even as Lylah stood at his side.
I did my homework, took a shower, and waited to hear the knock on my window. As the hours passed, the sound of footsteps on the lower floor grew scarce. By nine I was the only person left in the house. Gavin texted me and told me not to go anywhere without alerting him. That made me laugh, considering that I had nowhere else to go. The only person who could have possibly been the source of my escape was a backstabber, and I hadn’t talked to her in over two weeks.
I waited, and waited, and waited until I concluded that the knock on my window would never come. I was correct in a way. The knock on my window did not come, but a knock on my front door did.
I’d raced to the foyer and pressed myself against the front door to peer out of the peep-hole. My heart surged and ruptured in my chest when I caught sight of a brown halo of hair. He was by himself, which made me wonder where his brother was, but I knew the only way I could find out was if I opened the door for him.
It was midnight but he didn’t seem to think it was inappropriate to be out so late. When he’d entered my house, he smelled of marijuana and laundry detergent. I took in his dark attire and decided that he always wore the color black because he wanted to blend in. He looked good and the thought made my cheeks grow warm.
Once the door closed behind him, I went to the couch and found myself a seat. I turned on the television as an invitation for him to come sit next to me. I did not hear his feet move for several minutes, but I told myself not to turn and look at him just yet. I wanted to wait and see what he would do first.
"You cheat on me, Bliss?"
I raised my eyes slovenly because I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him correctly, and I wasn’t so sure what I’d find in his expression if I had. His back was still pressed against the front door, and his head was still tilted in curiosity, but now there was humor attached to his face as well. His eyes sparkled with mischief as he waited for me to answer his question.
"What?" I’d asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
Larry smiled softly when he caught sight of my confusion. I watched him push himself away from the door and move towards the kitchen. “Gavin tell me some boy walk you home.”
My heart surged in my chest as soon as his words registered. My head turned and I followed his trek to the fridge with my eyes. I felt my cheeks grow warm because suddenly I was embarrassed, as if I’d just been caught doing something very wrong.
"I missed the bus." I explained myself, just as I’d done to Gavin and Dj. "He lives in the same direction."
Larry chuckled quietly to himself, continuing to rummage through the empty refrigerator. “You invite him up to you room?”
I wanted to ask him to turn around so he could see my face while I answered his question. I needed him to understand my sincerity for what it was worth. Even though I didn’t understand the thing that I had going on with Larry I respected it. There was a certain loyalty I felt towards him, a certain dedication, and it prohibited me from ever picturing another boy in his spot.
That didn’t mean I would not entertain the thought of someone else. It meant that I could not. I was unable to extend my communication with the opposite sex past mere friendliness. In fact, while walking home with Thomas, I’d decided that I would never invite a boy up to my room unless he was Larry.
That was when I realized how much like Lylah I actually was. Larry was the only boy that I wanted to invite to my room, and that was unfortunate since Lylah had been giving him invitations long before I ever thought to.
"No." I said firmly, causing his rummaging to stop for a couple of seconds.
I thought that he would turn around and face me then, but he didn’t make any particular move to prove my assumption correct. The little that I could see of his profile showed me that he was smiling now. My head began to spin as I wondered what was going on inside of his head.
What did he find funny?
Was it me or was it what I’d said?
Was it how I’d said it?
There was always so many questions to ask when it came to Larry. He was a paradox that I always found myself lost inside. Every time I would find a way to get myself out of one corner, I’d turn around and find myself stuck inside of another one.
"I thought Aja tell you to do that for boys?" He asked lightly, though something terribly weighted was bogging down the flow of his words.
There was humor leaking into his tone. That was a tool that he often used to implicate his evasiveness. It would swallow the subliminal meanings of his word choices, and regurgitate them as phrases that appeared to be simple upon reaching the ears.
Only, I knew that Larry never meant exactly what he said. There was always something deeper to his words, something complex; something that he knew you would never figure out, but liked to see you struggle to try and do so anyway.
He’d spinned around and shut the fridge, deciding to lean his back against it instead. “You no want to kiss him in you bed?”
His eyes regarded me with an interest that he did not attempt to hide. It was funny because I knew that his question did not have a right or wrong answer.
He would find my response interesting no matter how I decided to respond. I knew if I said yes, he’d start to think that I actually took the time to consider other boys. I thought that I’d like for him to make that mistake. I knew he talked to Lylah, he kissed her and he had sex with her, so that made me feel like we’d be even if he suspected that there was another person that had my attention too.
But then again, Larry probably wouldn’t even care.
And he probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.
I knew that if I said no, he’d start to consider me young again. The truth was that the thought of any other boy touching me made my stomach squirm, and it was because of my inexperience. It was because Larry was the only boy I actually felt comfortable with in that way. I thought that if I told him that, he’d probably laugh at my immaturity.
I bet girls like Aja and Lylah didn’t get nervous, and I bet boys like Larry liked that.
Instead of answering his question with a yes or a no, I simply shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t listen to her anymore.”
"Why?" He asked, showing me a smirk that twisted and churned my insides.
Actually, there was a lot of reasons why I no longer sought Aja out for advice.
The two main ones where the simplest. She used the same tactics that she always provided me with, and I noticed that they never really worked for her. Shawn was still no closer to claiming her than he was the day he’d walked directly past her in the hallway.
It seemed like no matter how many times she asked him to spend the night, he would never like her the way that she liked him. That disheartened me because I often felt as though I was in the same exact boat with Larry, but at least Shawn actually touched Aja. Larry was always so tentative with me.
I didn’t understand it.
When I’d seen Shawn and Lylah talking amongst each other, that was also a point in which I knew I could never fully trust Aja again. I’d told her the happenings between Larry and I in confidence. It would seem that her and Shawn would have more to talk about than me anyway, and the fact that she’d told him made me feel like she wasn’t as great of a friend as I’d once thought she was.
If I could not trust her, then I could not take advice from her.
I was sad about the possibility of our friendship dwindling. I hadn’t told her that I was upset that she’d told Shawn my secret. After learning why she’d done it, I tried to stop myself from being irritated about it. It was hard for me to do though, only because everyone that I knew was keen on respecting privacy. I thought it was something you just knew.
Certain things weren’t meant to be repeated.
Gavin had taught me that as soon as I was old enough to understand why secrets were important. I guess I couldn’t fault Aja for her loose lips. She had a mother who didn’t really take the time to teach her much, and maybe that’s the only reason why I wasn’t completely disregarding her.
She needed a friend just like I did.
"You told me not to." I said with a sigh, though that was the least thing that had contributed to my decision.
Larry pushed himself away from the fridge and sauntered over to where I stood. “Who you listen to now?”
He stationed himself directly in front of me, staring at me through the fringes of an eyelash forest. I saw his intentions darken his impish expression as soon as they danced across his face.
He reached out and curled an arm around my waist, pulling me forward until my torso was pressed against his. He leaned against the wall that was crosswise from the one I’d taken, and forced me to breathe in every ounce of his appeal.
I studied his face for a few seconds : his inviting eyes, his pink lips and the teeth that lingered behind them. I felt my body start to coil up but this was not a sensation that brought forth discomfort. My eyes fell to floor when he began to smile again.
He was aware of the affect that he had over me, and I’d come to the conclusion that he quite liked having that control.
I felt my face contorting into a frown. I hated feeling like he was always three steps ahead of me. “Myself.”
"You self tell you to cheat on me?" He wondered mockingly, curving a finger underneath my chin to bring my eyes back up to his.
"You’re not my boyfriend." I stated wryly, causing his mouth to twitch. I could tell he wanted to smile but he didn’t. "If you were, you wouldn’t still be kissing Lylah."
I’d hoped that I’d learned something from him when it came to choosing words carefully. He was deliberate and precise when it came to that, but it wasn’t just a notion that he exercised with me.
Larry only engaged in conversation with people if he had a goal to accomplish that required talking to them; whether that be getting a certain reaction out of them, or learning something that he needed to know.
He always knew exactly what words he was going to say before he said them, and he’d gotten so good at predicting people’s responses that it was something that came natural to him now.
So, not only did he always know what he was going to say…he knew how people would react to those things he said as well.
That’s why I tried to think about the way I responded to him before I did but he knew me too well. He could tell when I was guarding my reactions, and so he’d tihnk of something to say that would catch me completely off guard - and I’d end up getting caught right back up in his web of confusion.
I wanted to see how he would react when I used his own gimmicks against him. My words and the way that I’d delivered them were very purposive. The subject of him and Lylah was something that I often wanted to bring up and explore, but I didn’t know how to do so without blatantly asking him how he’d felt about her. I’d already done that so many times before, and his answers were always the same.
Clipped and convoluted.
"If I was you boyfriend, no other girl would matter to me." He said pointedly, smirking at the way I’d tried to outsmart him.
Somehow, I knew that I could never one-up him. He had too much experience over me. That’s what made me wonder how Lylah dealt with him. She was the same age as him, but it didn’t seem like the year that they were born mattered all that much.
He still managed to spin her in circles as well. That’s why she’d been so upset in my living room. He wasn’t giving her answers either, and instead of trying to figure out ways to get around his aloofness, she’d called him out on it.
"What did you two argue about?" I asked, waiting to see if this was one of those questions he’d refuse.
Larry tucked his smile away and leaned towards me, meeting my ears with a slight brush of his lips. “A little girl.”
"Me?" I ask incredulously, recalling how she’d glared at me behind Larry’s shoulder.
When she’d stared at me in the hallway, I’d known that she was mad because I kissed Larry. The look on her face was not one that could be misconstrued. She was pissed and she had a right to be. Larry wasn’t exactly hers, but in a way he was. Or at least, that’s how I’d felt about it. I would have been upset if I found out my boy was kissing other girls. I understood her anger but I imagined that it would wear off.
Which meant she was still thinking about me.
She was still thinking about me kissing Larry.
She was still thinking about Larry kissing me and it threatened her.
"She jealous." He said, which would confirm the assumptions I’d conjured in my head.
I shook my head slightly, unable to believe that someone like Lylah could even be jealous. “Of me?”
"You act like you don’t know you the prettiest." Larry response was quiet and muddled, not because he hadn’t wanted me to hear it, but because his lips were in the process of relocating from my ear to the base of my neck.
My head lolled to the side as he puckered softly against my throat, I found my fingers clenching his shirt in an effort to bring him closer. “I don’t know that.”
"Why else some boy wanna walk you home in the cold?" This question was rhetorical. I knew that by the way he’d bitten my neck, bringing the skin between his teeth with such ease that it rendered me silent for a couple of seconds.
I basked in the feeling of him being this close to me. It seemed that when he touched me like this my thoughts about everything else floated away to some place I could not reach. The only thing I could pay attention to was the way his lips felt on my body.
I let my fingers trail up his body until I could snake them around his neck and find the curly hair that rested at the back of his head. I’d tugged and gasped, tightening my grip when his bites would become more aggressive.
"Are you jealous?" I asked breathlessly, feeling a smile entering my voice.
My words must have distracted him because he stopped his maneuvers and pulled away from me a bit. I wanted to protest but the expression on his face caught my interest, and I found myself wanting to hear what he had to say.
”Tell him if he try to walk you home again I break he face.”
I wanted to laugh because he’d sounded so nonchalant that I’d originally considered his words to be an empty taunt, but he didn’t smile after they’d fallen from his tongue. Something told me that he was being halfway serious, and I was instantly frustrated with the confusion that had climbed upon my shoulders.
A lot of boys talked to Lylah. There was always someone in her face, even when Larry still went to school. There were many more now that his presence no longer belonged in the hallways, but that was not the issue that I was perplexed about.
I was struggling to understand why I’d never seen Larry threaten any of the boys who flocked around Lylah. He gave them no mind. It was almost as if he didn’t care if she entertained them or not.
After a few moments of pondering, I decided that he was just pulling my leg again.
"You wouldn’t do that, Baby Boy."
"I think I do a lot of things you never think for."
He saw the skepticism in my face, and I thought his words were supposed to be his way of telling me not to underestimate him. The way he was looking at me however, intently and enthralled, advised me to consider a deeper meaning to what he’d said.
I looked down with a sly smile, staring at way our shoes scuffed the kitchen floor. “I don’t think you’d ever have sex with me.”
"I thought you stop listen to you friend girl?"
I looked back up at him pointedly, relishing in the way I’d captivated his attention. “I did.”
"You think about it on you own?" His eyes zeroed in on every part of me, looking for a moment of hesitation looking for indecision.
I did think about it on my own. I’d been thinking about it ever since he told me to stop trying to rush into it like other girls. I didn’t want to rush but I wanted to know that it was a possibility for me and him. There were no thoughts in my head about making him fall in love with me through sex, or getting him to choose me over Lylah because of it.
I liked to imagine myself with him in that way because it was something that I knew he’d never consider doing with me.
I wanted to prove to him that I could. I wanted him to hear, and understand, and digest that I wasn’t too young or too stupid. He didn’t have to be afraid to touch me how he touched Lylah. I wasn’t afraid.
"I think about it with you." I revealed quietly, peeking through my lids to gauge his reaction.
He was staring at me unabashedly. His eyes were drinking me in. Everything about him was vibrating except for his mouth. I needed him to say something. I needed to know what he was thinking. As if he were afraid of his mouth opening and saying something that he was not ready for me to hear, he grabbed his neck warmer and pulled it up over his lips.
He continued to study me, to speculate and to consider. His eyes were burning holes into my skin. His gaze was hot and it had almost as much of an affect on me as his lips did.
Naturally, the fabric of his neck warmer fell back to its place. He cleared his throat when it did, and that alerted me to his intention to respond. I was starting to think that he was just going to ignore the concept altogether.
His head tilted ever so slowly, and then finally he spoke. “I’d break you, Bliss.”
My chest sputtered as all of the air flew out of me. His voice was a warning and that thrilled me. Once again, I was at a loss for words. He seemed to pick up on this and it made him smile to himself. It made me annoyed but even more than that, it made me want to retaliate.
I leaned up on my tippy-toes so that I could reach his ear, and I gave him a secret for all of the ones he’d given me. “I can bend, Larry.”
"Don’t say shit like that to me." He said so quietly, his voice strained and gruff.
I grinned and poked him in the chest. “Because it gets to you?”
"Because you not know what you ask for forreal."
"I know exactly what I’m asking for." I cocked my head to the side coyly, allowing my hair to fall over my face.
I felt like I’d successfully thwarted him. I felt like he wasn’t ready for those types of words to leave my lips, but I quickly found out that I was the one who was not ready. I was not prepared for the next moment at all.
Larry grabbed me and the movement happened so quickly that I was not even aware of us switching positions until my back hit the wall. My hands were pinned above my head in the next instance, pressed against the wall and held there by Larry’s strength. I could not move an inch, not just because Larry wanted it that way, but because my body had completely frozen over.
My eyes were wide as they landed on his frenzied ones. His were hooded and low. They were dangerous and they made me squirm. I understood that this was his way of making a point. Though he was the one in control, it would appear as if he didn’t really have everything under control. Not himself. He didn’t have himself under control and I could tell by the way his chest was heaving.
I could tell by the way his lip got caught between his teeth.
I could tell by the way he’d even allowed himself to react so aggressively at all.
While I was caught up in staring at him, I was barely conscious of the fact that he’d dropped one of my hands away from the wall. He didn’t let go of it. If anything, his grip only tightened. He obstructed my blood flow as his fingers coiled around my wrist and maneuvered my hand between our bodies.
He guided me down his torso and the pace was slow, almost excruciatingly so. I had no idea of what he was doing until our journey came to an abrupt stop, and I noticed that my palm was pressed against the bulge that had begun to grow in his pants.
"Look at that." He’d growled, causing my stomach to jump. My eyes widened even more as they fell to where our hands were collected. "You feel it?"
I liked pushing Larry’s buttons because sometimes if I pushed hard enough, I could get some sort of plausible reaction out of him. That was something I’d learned the first time he’d kissed me. But this scenario, it was not something that I never could have imagined. I just thought that I would say some stuff about to sex to him, and he would call me a kid again before being done with it.
This let me understand that he did consider me that way, and I did not know how to feel about it.
"You know what to do with it?" He’d asked in a whisper, closing his fingers around my own so that I had no other choice but to grab it.
I wanted to jump away from him because the nerves in my stomach were making me shaky. The answer to his question was a big fat no. Of course, I did not know what to do with it. I had no idea of how I should hold it. I had no idea if I should squeeze it or rub it.
I was shocked still and Larry was loving every minute of it.
He’d moved his hips against my palm, squeezing our hands around him tighter. The sound that came with the breath of air he released made me shudder, and my eyes fell shut when he dropped his face into the crease of my neck.
"You gonna put it in you mouth like Lylah?" He wondered, scorching my neck with his lips. "Or you gonna bend over so I can fuck you?"
My eyes shot back open in a second. I couldn’t believe what he’d just said to me. My ears were about ready to launch off of my head. The room started spinning and I got really nervous. I got more than nervous. I was to the point where I was uncomfortable. I was unsure.
Is that actually what Larry expected from me?
Did Lylah do those things with no problem?
Was I capable of doing those things?
"You want me to kiss you in you bed? Then put my dick in you, Bliss?" He asked, moving against my hand again. "Say it." He lost his breath with his last words, burrowing his face deeper into my neck; almost pleading when he made his request. "Say I want your dick, Larry."
"No." I said quietly, almost silently.
In an instant, he was putting space between us.
I watched him reach into his pants and adjust himself. My heart raced at the sight, and when he caught me staring he smirked. “That what I thought.”
Anger and embarrassment flooded me because I knew that Lylah would have never reacted to Larry’s advancement with such apprehension. I knew that Larry knew that too. He just wanted to show me that as much as I thought I knew what I was talking about, I really had no idea. That was always the thing with him. He was always proving me wrong about myself, and it made me want to throw a fit like the child I fought so hard not to be.
"I don’t know why you treat me like this." I said angrily, blinking my eyes to keep any tears from welling up.
My eyes flashed up to his and they felt like lasers. “Like you don’t want me to be like Lylah.”
"I don’t want that." He said simply, as if it was something that I should have already known.
I did know. He’d told me before. What I didn’t understand though, is why he didn’t want me to be like her. That’s what I wanted to know, and that’s what he was most adamant about not telling me.
"You treat me like you don’t want me the same way that you want her."
"Is true." He’d said, taking my hand. "I no want you like that." His head shook from left to right, emphasizing his point. "Not in that way."
"Then what way?" I looked to him with desperateness. I was at the point where I would beg for him to explain himself to me. "I don’t understand."
"You no have to understand." He shrugged his shoulders. "You just have to accept."
I stomped my foot against the ground. I could not stop myself from letting my frustration get the best of me. “Accept what?!”
"That I no want you like any other girl." His voice was soft and patient. "I want you like this." He cocked his head, looking at me as I leaned against the wall and accepted him into my space. "I want to kiss you in you bed and not fuck you."
I tried to picture him in Lylah’s bed, just sitting. Just talking. But I could not. “You’ve never done that?”
"I never go even just to a girl house and no fuck her." His answer was pointed. He let me know that this was the only explanation he was giving to me, and that it was my job to comprehend it. "If I spend time with her then it only because I want sex with her."
But I still liked to break the rules. “Why?”
"They have no thing else that I want." He smiled a little, tugging at the end of my hair.
He nodded his head once. “They have no thing else to give for me.”
I couldn’t understand what I had. I couldn’t understand what Lylah did not have. All I wanted from him for once was a straightforward answer. “Well, what do I have to give?”
Of course, I shouldn’t have expected him to give me one.
I watch the water pour into the sink, unable to understand why my tears won’t fall the same way.
Freely and fearlessly.
"Why you sad, Gabriella?" Baby Boy asks, as he encircles his arms around my waist.
It’s actually funny that he picked up on my change in moods. I guess I’m not as good with shielding my emotions as he is. I’ll never be as good as him. No one can beat Larry when it comes to hiding feelings. That’s because he hides his away in the tiny crevices that most people fail to notice. Mines are too tenacious to keep secret.
I have to fold them over a thousand times just to keep them contained.
Still, I have to wonder what gave it away this time. The only thing I’ve done for the last couple of hours is clean up the house and start dinner. I left Larry in the living room and he quickly fell asleep, grasping a chance for a nap with stingy fingers. This has been a busy day for him. I’m glad he allowed himself a moment of relaxation. It put my mind partially at ease.
He’s just awakened. The first thing he does upon rising is meet me in the kitchen. I’m at the sink rinsing off green vegetables for a meal that will be cold by the time everyone it is intended for arrives home. Larry can’t even see my face because my back is facing the way he’d entered the kitchen, yet he is still able to tell that my heart is bleeding out.
I think about how loudly it must be crying for him to have heard it.
I shut off the faucet and turn around in his arms so I can face him. Instead of finding eyes that are red and puffy from sleep, I find eyes that are chocolate coated and vibrant. He’s been taking care of himself and the evidence shows in his appearance.
I run my fingers through his twisted hair and smile loftily. Another thing that’s funny about tonight is that Larry is not the one who’s troubling me. It’s not Gavin either. I know where my brother is, and though his location unnerves me, I can guarantee that when he doesn’t come home tonight it’s not because he isn’t okay. Baby Love however, has slipped between my fingers once again.
Leaving me empty handed and waiting.
"I told Lau to be here at seven so that we could check the Youtube page together." I say quietly, tracing my finger across his top lip.
He puckers and presses a kiss to my fingertip, before he gives me an earnest look. “How you know he not come?”
"You know he’s not going to come back tonight." I let my eyes fall behind him to the clock that hangs above the wall. "He’s with her."
The girl with the high smiles.
The girl with the chestnut skin.
She’s an enigma, a startling trouble-maker…
Nadia has become a thief and I’m not so sure how she did it.
Her tactics aren’t even stealthy. She doesn’t sneak into my house and whisk Laurent away. All she does is stay inside of her bedroom and wait for him to come to her. At first, it wasn’t as troubling of a thought. I was under the impression that Lau just had a crush on her.
The way he brings her up once warmed my heart. It once captured my interest. Now, it’s starting to make me suspicious. It’s making questions raise underneath my skin, questions that will blister and remain there until they are answered.
I want to know why he likes her so much, and what they do when they are together, and how he really feels about her, and where they go when they hide away, and who they’re going to trust to keep their torn-together secrets.
But Baby Love doesn’t tell me much. He only tells me what he wants me to know.
I’ve never had to worry about Laurent. The things he says sometimes put me on edge. The way sadness collects behind his eyes sometimes make me antsy. The way his father is able to get past Larry sometimes and hurt him freezes my spirit, but I’ve never worried too much about him.
I always knew that I’d be close enough to hold him in case those things ever became too much for him to handle, but since he’s been constantly fleeting, I don’t know where I’ll be the next time he really needs me.
Today, he told me that he’d be back at seven.
It’s eight now and Nadia still has her fingers wrapped all around him.
Larry sighs underneath his breath, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear. “I know.”
"You don’t care?" I ask curiously, expecting to see the same contained nonchalance that I always do.
He surprises me when his face scrunches up. His mouth twists in contemplation as he actually takes a moment to dissect my question. I often forget that Larry’s rules sometimes change when it comes to his brother.
Laurent is one thing he’s not afraid to say that he cares about. I watch him : his caramel skin, his brown eyes, his pink lips. I watch as all of his features work to show me that he’s sifting through his thoughts. He’s searching for an answer.
When he finally speaks, it’s through a small smile and a little bit of teasing. “I think maybe that Nadia is his Bliss so I never say nothing.”
I am immediately shocked. I am immediately thwarted. No amount of time taken could have ever prepared me for the blasphemous tool Larry’s mouth has become. Terror wracks through my body and I almost collapse completely against his chest.
I look at him closely, wondering if he actually means what he said, or if he only said it to get underneath my skin. He has to know that Nadia can’t take care of his brother the same way that I can.
How could he ever get my role confused?
How could he ever be okay with someone trying to pretend to know what Laurent needs?
I am the only person who has the knowledge and sufficient experience to be that person in his life. Nadia probably doesn’t even know the difference between Lau’s sads smiles and his happy ones. There’s so much of him that you have to study in order to understand, and you have to understand him to be able to give him what he needs.
He’s scaring me because he’s never been one to drift off on his own. He’ll follow in Larry’s footsteps if Larry runs away, but he rarely leaves my side by himself.
He’ll get lost out there without my hand to guide him, and he won’t be able to find his way home.
"No Baby Boy." I frown at him. "I don’t think so."
Larry chuckles at me knowingly, leveling his calm gaze on my bewildered one. “You say that only because you no want any person to take your place.”
"Lau told me that no one could take my place." I whisper, dropping my head to peer at the floor.
I can no longer look at Larry or over his shoulder at the clock. Both are reminders that Laurent is not here with us right now. My insides begin to shiver and I hope Larry can feel the change in my body as I become a pillar of ice.
Baby Boy curls his finger underneath my chin to lift my head back up. He softens his voice for me. “He tell the truth so you no have to worry for him.”
"He’s forgetting us." I cry, only I don’t cry. The tears are coming from my heart. They only want to exist within me at the moment. "She’s going to take him away."
"No person never could take my twin from me." Larry scoffs at the thought. "Bebe, you react too much for nothing." He takes my hand and begins to lead me towards the living room. "Come on, we check the page together."
"Okay." I agree, only because I think it’s amazing how Larry wants to be the one to console me tonight.
We sit on the couch together and he hands me his phone. I don’t feel nervous as my finger taps the YouTube app on his home screen. I’m not sure of a lot of things anymore, but one thing that I can never mistake are my boys and their talent. I think the producers of Juste Debout would be crazy not to see how sickening they are. I could write a ten page essay about their skill and preciseness.
They’re that good.
I type in Juste Debout in the search engine, only to find that it is the very first thing that pops up when my finger lands on the letter “J”. This must mean that Larry has been coming to their page and watching their videos on his own, and he has to have done it frequently for it to remain as his top most searched topic.
Secretly, this pleases me. He’d done such a great job at pretending like he didn’t really care about the competition. I actually believed him for a moment. Now, I am aware that he’s at least given deep thought about it. He must be intrigued if he watches the videos they post.
He’s told me a secret without even knowing, and I smile to myself as I tuck it into my heart.
The Juste Debout page loads and I notice that Larry is not looking at the phone. He’s sitting beside me but he’s staring at the television instead. I want him to know that it’s okay to be nervous. I want him to know that I am aware that he doesn’t want to pay attention to the screen because he’s afraid to not see his name blaring across it. I want him to know that even though I’m torn up tonight, I’ll still sing him his favorite lullabies if these results don’t turn out in his favor.
I see the first, second, third, and fourth dance crews who were picked. I remember some of them from earlier. The two girls who’d taken the stage before the twins are among the winners. One of the crews who were striving the be the center of attention has also been picked. I tried my hardest not to watch them, but out of the corner of my eye it was hard not to see how amazing they were, and it’s not difficult for me to understand why the judges decided they should be promoted.
My eyes scroll down to the fifth video. It’s the last video that’s been uploaded today. I glance at Larry to see if he is still not looking. I don’t know how he’ll feel about the turn of events.
Undercover know-it-all, beholden…
"Phenomenal ‘New Style’ talent." I read the title slowly, causing him to direct his attention onto me. "Les Twins.”
His eyes drop down to the phone as if he expects me to be lying. They narrow and tear apart the picture of him and his brother on the screen. A smile bubbles onto my face as his eyes widen.
"What this mean, Bliss?" He asks, refusing to look away from the phone.
He thinks it’s a mirage, and he doesn’t want to believe in its permanence. I glance back down at the phone too. There’s nothing else that I expected to see to be honest. I knew that Larry and Laurent were going to be chosen, just like I knew that Laurent was going to win that battle against Eric, and just like I know that they will win the entire competition when the time comes around.
I just need them to believe it.
I need Larry to be more confident in him and his brother.
I need Lau to be here with us so he can relish in this accomplishment.
I need a second to breathe.
I need so many things.
"It means you got picked over three hundred other dancers." I say. "It means you’re better than you ever thought you were."
"It mean you say the truth." His voice is wondrous. "Me and my brother are good."
I’m nodding my head before his sentence is even finished. I agree wholeheartedly. “You’re so good, Larry.”
"I not bad anymore?" He is still wondering, his voice is still airy with disbelief.
I look up to find that he is looking at me. He’s looking with expectancy. He’s looking with love. “You’re always going be bad but that doesn’t matter.”
"Because I believe in your goodness so much more than your badness." I reach out and touch his face, melting at the feeling of his skin. "What do you believe in?"
He leans into my touch and closes his eyes. “I believe in you, Bliss.”