Twenty-Seven: Bowling Dates †

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I entered my room; Johanna sat tantalisingly staring at me.

She was probably anticipating the door opening. It only just occurred to me that she'd be as upset about the predicament as I am right now. Oh well, I mused, at least this is one for the books. What a story.

"No," I mechanically informed, "we didn't kiss." I leaned back on the door and bent my knees that were morphing into jelly still. I sighed. "He said to wait until Christmas day."

I staggered over to my bed now, letting the door recoil after me. I sat down on the bed, letting my legs suspend over the side as I lay down, my head on the pillow, my side on the bed and my feet inches off the floor. Johanna gawped in amazement at me.

"Did you not even put up a bit of a fight?" she queried.

"Why would I fight back?" I asked rhetorically. "He has a girlfriend. I don't want to be the reason why someone breaks up with their girlfriend of four years. Or even the reason why the girlfriend breaks up with the guy of four years. No, Johanna, I didn't," I finally answered.

She sighed and hung her head low. "I forgot he had a girlfriend," she muttered.

I nodded. "Sometimes I think he forgets, too."

Johanna replied wordlessly, nodding only in response. I closed my eyes and pictured back to when we were by the alley. If I hadn't agreed to the bet, this wouldn't have happened and I wouldn't be in this much of a funk right now. In fact, never kissing Jason would be preferable because he wouldn't be cheating on his girlfriend then. But then I wondered if he had ever cheated on her before. Maybe he had done this with other girls and that thought frightened me.

"Maybe it would have been better for Jason to lose the bet," I declared, "then we'd be strangers and I'd be free to get closer to Scott."

"You'd hate being a stranger to Jason."

"I know. But right now, that seems like the only logical solution to stop Jason from cheating on Lea."

I have never wanted to be the other woman. I had friends back in London who were the other women and they abhorred the confidentiality. All girls have dreamed of guys just stopping them and kissing them passionately – their boyfriends, or crushes, obviously, not strangers. And to be kissed in the rain in public was another desire... I shuddered, feeling Jason's lips on mine, on my jaw line, on my neck... on my collar bones. My eyes snapped open.

I can't think like that. I will never become the other woman.

"I'm going to get ready for bed and read," I breathed, "I'm meeting Scott tomorrow, anyway. I don't want to be tired and over-thinking everything with Jason."

"Okay, so am I," replied Johanna, before using hands gestures, "only, except without seeing Scott."

I smiled pathetically before stumbling into the bathroom, nearly tripping over my own feet when I got off the bed. My cheeks warmed up, flushing an angry cherry colour. I closed the bathroom door behind me, abruptly apprehending that I forgot to bring in my pyjamas so I had to materialise out of the bathroom and grasp them.

Then, I concealed myself in the bathroom again.

***

The next morning, I leisurely got ready at my own pace.

I managed to get down to the food court just in time for breakfast without seeing Jason, Lea, Ruby, Verity or Scott. Henceforward, I had to sit on my own in the corner. I didn't mind, I craved for the solitude.

When I finished, I pranced upstairs again to get my bag and filled it with some worthless junk like my phone, purse with money, portable charger, room key and some perfume just in case. It was only a small, russet bag, anyway that I slung over my shoulder.

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