But I didn’t see how I could keep them both.
Oren didn’t contact me after Sander’s visit. I expected a text, a call, something that night.
I’m sure there was plenty he wanted to say, like, “What the hell did you ever see in that douche?” Or, “Please, fuck, tell me I’m better in the sack, or hung lower, than him.”
Anything! But, nope, he went radio silent.
I wasn’t sure what that meant. I wanted to talk to him, was dying to tell him that watching him toy with Sander had been sexy. He’d reminded me of a great lounging lion, or panther, one of those huge jungle cats, the type that didn’t just beat the shit out of its prey, but played with it first, picking it apart limb by limb. I have no idea why I thought that was hot, but I did.
So now, I wanted to know if he was so disgusted by my past choice of boyfriends that he was done with me now, or what. Why wasn’t he freaking talking to me? To go from multiple texts a day to nothing scared the shit out of me.
When he finally texted me fifteen hours after kicking Sander out of my backyard, I was a little too scared to read his message. What if it said something like, We need to talk? I didn’t want to have one of those talks. I wasn’t done with him yet.
But I pulled on my big-girl panties—or at least my college-girl panties—and cracked open one eye to read it that way. When it said, Let’s go out today, the other eye popped open.
“Huh?” Instead of texting back, I dialed his number. “What the heck are you talking about?” I demanded as soon as he answered.
“What do you mean, what am I talking about? It wasn’t a complex question. Do you want to go out or not?”
“What do you mean by go out?”
“Out,” he repeated, sounding stumped. “Like...out. Outside. Out in public. Just...out.”
“But...what...we can’t go out.”
“B-because!” I sputtered. “What if someone saw us and told Noel? Heck, what if Noel saw us?”
“I swear, Noel is the only person left on earth who doesn’t know about us by now, and I’m beginning to wonder why he doesn’t.”
My mouth fell open. Had he just said what I thought he’d said? “What’re you saying? Do you want to tell him?”
“Well, eventually, yeah.”
“B-b-but do you want to tell him now?”
He sighed before answering. Then he said, “Let’s just say I’m ready to tell him whenever you are.”
Oh my God. My stomach churned with sudden nerves. I pictured Noel jacking Oren in the face and not stopping until my boyfriend landed in the hospital. Fear clutched my throat, and my palms went from hot sweat to cold panic. “So you’re ready to tell him?”
“No,” he said steadily. “I’m only ready whenever you are.”
I shook my head. “That’s not an answer.”
“Well, tough shit, because it’s the only answer I’m giving you.”
“Well, fuck you. I don’t like being put into the position where I’m the one making this decision.”
“Well, I don’t like this conversation, period. I didn’t call you to fight. I just want to spend the fucking day with you because I didn’t get to see you all fucking night. I’m irritable and jealous as hell after meeting that fucktard you used to date, worrying myself crazy that you’re second-guessing your relationship with me after seeing him again, and I just want to spend the goddamn day with you. Okay?”
He had diarrhea of the mouth or something. The words just started vomiting out of him until he had my head spinning.
I finally lifted my hand and said, “Wait. Why would you even once think I’d second-guess our relationship after seeing him?”
“I don’t know,” he muttered. “He was your first love, or whatever. You chicks get all sentimental and shit when it comes to your first loves, don’t you?”
Why, yes. Yes, we did.
“But Sander was not my first love. He was just some...stupid boy who smiled at a young, vulnerable, lonely girl starved for a little attention. He was a user and left me used. The only thing I feel for that douche is supreme satisfaction that you kicked him in the junk for me.”
I smiled and rolled my eyes. It completely boggled my mind that cocky, confident Oren Tenning was acting so uncertain. But then I remembered this was the first time he’d dared to open himself up to anyone and attempt a relationship since his sister’s death, since that one stupid whore who’d first had him had shattered his ego. Thinking of it that way, yeah, it made sense he’d have a few doubts.