Spitalfield, Those Days You Felt Alive
I was stunned. First of all, how was I supposed to know she'd be here? Flower didn't tell me, and neither did TK. Then again, she looked surprised to see me, too. I knew I was staring at her, and I wanted her to look at me. I wanted her to see what she was doing to me. But whenever she did look over, I had to look away.
She disappeared for a while, and when she appeared later, she was dancing with some pervy Frenchie. I didn't like the way he was looking at her. Or the way everyone was looking at me now, waiting for my reaction. If she didn't want me anymore, if she couldn't handle being with me anymore, that's one thing. But how could she move on so fast, with some random guy she didn't even know?
I shouldn't have cared, but I couldn't help it. I still loved her, even if she wanted to break my heart. She did break my heart. But she should have been respectful and kept her hands to herself in front of everyone. My teammates. My friends. I knew I was letting her get to me, but I acted before I even knew what I was doing. I stormed over and grabbed her shoulder to get her attention. "Stop it. You're embarrassing yourself."
She asked, "What the hell do you care about me for?" Right away, I could tell she was drunk. Her question didn't make a lot of sense, even though I knew what she meant. She must have drank a lot after she disappeared. I felt a tug on my heart, but I wasn't sure why.
I thought about her question. I didn't know why I cared about her, not after the way she was treating me, but I knew I just couldn't stop. So I spat back the first thing that came to mind. "Fine. You're embarrassing me." Which was half-true. I hated seeing her dancing with Frenchie the way she should have been dancing with me.
"Fuck you." She had fire in her eyes, and she wasn't slurring when she said that. Nelly stumbled away, and I was too taken aback to go after her. I didn't understand why she was so mad at me, anyway. She's the one that left me. When I came to my senses, I followed her trail into the kitchen, but she wasn't there. I saw Talbo and Charlotte holding hands and making googlie-eyes at each other. "Hey man, have you seen—"
He cut me off and pointed to the door. She left? Nelly was way too drunk to drive, and I didn't like the idea that she was out there, where no one could keep an eye on her. I ran for the door. She was lying prostrate on the ground, and I immediately thought that she had passed out or hurt herself.
"Nelly, are you okay?" I ran to her side, and she looked up at me. She was fine, and I let out a deep breath. "Jesus Christ, Nell, what is wrong with you?! Don't do that to me."
"I didn do nofin. You do evrefin."
I looked at her as if she had three eyes. She was incoherent. "I'm taking you home. Just shut up and stay here." I didn't even know why I told her that; she obviously wasn't going anywhere.
I met Kelsey back inside and told her that I was taking Nelly back home with me, but she didn't like my suggestion. "She's staying here tonight, Sid. I already worked this out with her."
"Are you going to forgo having a good time to babysit her? Because she's in no condition to be left alone. She's fucking plastered."
"I don't know what happened between you two," she continued, "but I saw how completely freaked out she was when she saw your car. So I don't know if it's a good idea for you to be alone with her. She'll just flip out even more when she finds out I agreed to let you take her home."
She freaked out knowing I was here? That didn't make any sense. Maybe there was something more going on here. If that were the case, I really needed to spend some time alone with her. "It's fine, Kels. You know I'll take good care of her. And I don't want her here with that damn Frenchie," I added. I know he's V's cousin or something, and I can't tell Nelly what to do, but I'll be damned if I let her touch him again.
Nelly was right where I left her, singing to herself. Is that Reel Big Fish? How random.
"Come on, Nell, let's go," I told her, reaching down to help her stand up, since she obviously couldn't do it herself.
"No. Leaf me heeere," she drunkenly whined.
There's no use trying to reason with her. She's so stubborn when she's sober, and she's even worse after a few drinks. Right now, she's impossible. I realized I'm so angry with her. So, so angry. For leaving me. For getting shit-faced and making me take care of her. But even though I'm furious, I couldn't not make myself care. I needed to know she was going to be okay, and the only way to know that was to take her back home and watch over her myself.
I picked her up in my arms, and she flailed and argued, but basically she let me carry her. As much as she hated being manhandled, there wasn't a lot of fight left in her. I strapped her into the front passenger seat of my Range Rover, and I prayed to God that she wouldn't get sick and throw up in my car. I didn't need another reason to get angry with her.
Once I got her home, she fumbled with the seat belt and stumbled to my porch, waiting for me to unlock the door. At least she could stand on her own, mostly; that's a good sign. I got her inside, and she collapsed on the couch like she was about to fall asleep.
"Come on, upstairs," I said. I had done plenty of babysitting. Not so much with Taylor, because I was away in juniors when she would have been old enough for me to watch, but I watched the Lemieux kids all the time when I lived with Mario. This sucked in comparison.
"No, leaf me heeere," she mumbled into the pillow. Nelly was slowly drifting off to sleep. I was worried she might have alcohol poisoning. I didn't know how much she had consumed or how much she could handle.
"Nope, upstairs," I told her, grabbing her again, but she fought me and I had to help her walk. I pulled her against my side, and I could smell the whiskey on her breath and that conditioner she used. This was an inappropriate time to start thinking like this, but my body started to ache for her. Why do I even care? Why am I doing this? She's the one that left me. I'm such a sucker, a lovesick fool.
That scene replayed in my mind over and over since Sunday. We just got home after a busy day, and Pat was already there, just waiting to burst our bubble with bad news. Nelly buckled under the pressure. It's not easy in the limelight, and it was especially hard for her because although she knew I was under constant scrutiny, she didn't know the extent of it or how much she would be affected by it. I didn't know how much she would be affected by it either; only now was I beginning to understand how much.
It was bothering her a lot. I mean, I knew that from her reaction when the story broke, but after her initial freak-out, she calmed down. This time, she blew her lid and just started yelling, and she didn't want to calm down. They started bickering back and forth, and I couldn't think straight with all that noise in my head. I lost my cool too, and I had to leave the room. I banged my fist against the counter in the kitchen before heading to my gym in the basement. I was down there for a while, and when I came back, she was gone.
"Where's Noelle?" I had asked Pat.
He shrugged. "She was upset. She left."
"She didn't say goodbye." Pat shrugged again, and he had this... look in his eyes. Like he felt bad. And that's when I knew, I just knew that she ran away. That's her M.O. She gets angry, she gets scared, and she leaves because she doesn't quite know how to trust me to do the right thing just yet.
Nelly's struggle up the stairs yanked me out of my thoughts, and once I got her in the bathroom, I had to pat her cheek to keep her awake as I leaned her against the sink. I dampened a washcloth with cool water and pressed it to her forehead, and she immediately jumped and groaned.
"Why donchoo juss leaf me alone," she slurred.
"Why did you have to be stupid and drink so much? You have to throw up, Nelly." Even though I didn't want to, I couldn't help myself and used her nickname. She'll always be my Nelly.
"Iss all your fault! I came for V. Why did you hafta be there?"
"She's my friend too, you know. Come on. You have to throw up and get some of this alcohol out of your system." I'm at a loss as to what to do. The guys could knock 'em back, but they never let themselves go. Do I have to put my finger down her throat? That's gross. I know I might have to do it, but I really hoped I wouldn't have to.
Luckily, I didn't have to. She slumped onto the floor and crawled to the toilet. "I dun feel so good." She moaned a little and got herself in the universally known position, ready to pray to the porcelain gods. I pulled her hair away from her face and rubbed her back as she got sick and threw up. A lot. It stunk, and I had to keep flushing so I wouldn't start vomiting myself. Fuck, this was going to mess with my sleep schedule and my game-day routine, but I'd deal with that tomorrow.
I could tell her body started to ache from the heaving, and her eyes were wet from tears. More than just the normal wet eyes you get from vomiting, but she's crying, too. With some of the alcohol out of her system, she was a little more coherent. "I'm sorry."
She was still drunk, but I knew she was going to be okay. I kept rubbing her back. If only she could be this subdued all the time. "What are you sorry for?"
She was choosing her words carefully and speaking slowly, her thoughts dampened by the alcohol. Even so, she was pretty eloquent after drinking so much. "For drinking sooo much. For getting like this. I just... couldn't bear to see you."
"Imagine how I felt," I snorted.
She closed her eyes and tried to stand, but I had to help her onto her wobbly legs. "I dunno why you insisted on bringing me here. What do you care? You don't want anything to do with me. If you go back to the party, I'm sure Marylene will be more than happy to see you."
"Flower's little sister? Are you nuts? First of all, Flower'd kill me. Second, I don't want her. For some odd reason, I'm hung up on you. Stupid me, because you moved on to some pervy Frenchie—"
"I was just dancing, you ass! You had no right to come over and try to mark your territory. If you don't want anything to do with me anymore, then you don't get to tell me what to do and who to dance with."
Nelly started reaching for her toothbrush that I should have gotten rid of but didn't, and I grabbed it and dabbed some toothpaste on it for her, because her hands still don't quite work the way she wanted them to. "I want everything to do with you. I don't know why you're upset. You don't get to be mad at me. You're the one that left. You didn't even say goodbye, or tell me we were finished. You just up and left, and that was it."
She brushed her teeth and didn't talk until she finished. "Pat told me to leave, and I waited for you to call me. But you didn't. I told him to tell you to call me when you got your head in the right place. What was I supposed to think when you didn't call?" She didn't look me in the eye, but I knew she wasn't lying.
"Pat told me you left. That's all he said." I couldn't believe it. He just let me know she was gone, that she was too upset to stay. I thought he meant that she couldn't take being with me anymore and couldn't handle having her life ripped apart because of who I was. She always ran away; every time we fought, her first instinct was to put distance between us. I figured this was the same thing, and I never assumed she had left for any other reason. Least of all that Pat told her to.
"Yeah. Because I knew you were angry, and it was your call to decide the next step. You didn't want to listen to me or Pat. And you were going to run for hours, and I couldn't stick around for that. I waited for your call, but then Max said you were in Boston and still upset. I thought that was your decision."
"You didn't send me my texts before the games. You always do that. I thought that meant—"
"I didn't want to talk to you, because I thought we were over. And if I tried talking to you, you'd tell me that we were finished, and I couldn't stand to think that."
Maybe it was inappropriate, but I grabbed her and kissed her. Her mouth was painfully minty, but I couldn't stop myself. Nelly didn't leave me. I didn't want to think about what that meant—that Pat had lied—I just wanted to get back to that place where we were last weekend. Back to that feeling.
Nelly instantly responded, and as much as I loved feeling her tongue against mine and her hands creeping under my waistband, I stopped this before it kept going.
"Please, Sidney, don't stop," she begged, taking off her shirt and bra and then proceeding to help me undress. "I missed you, I need this."
"Nelly, it's not that I don't want to. But you're drunk. Remember, it doesn't matter if you can't do it sober?"
"I don't care," she continued. "I thought all week you hated me."
"I could never. Believe me, I tried to hate you. I can't."
"Good. Because I couldn't either."
She continued to work on removing our clothing, and I felt her hot, minty mouth on my Adam's apple. "I just don't think this is a good idea."
"Stop trying to be noble. Just do it."
"But what if you don't remember in the morning?"
"I promise I'll remember." Down to nothing but her panties, she got on the bed and pulled on my hand, whispering the magic word. "Please."
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