Dangerous Rush(5)

By: S.C. Stephens

Knowing procrastination wouldn’t help the situation any, I shook the vague erotic idea out of my head and got up. I hurried to get dressed, but Felicia stayed there on the bed, naked and exposed, staring up at the ceiling like she was lost in thought. That knot in my stomach tightened as I studied her face. “Hey, you okay?”

She instantly tossed on a smile as she snapped her eyes to mine. “Of course. Just feeling lazy.” She ran her hand down her body in a suggestive way, and I knew it wasn’t just laziness she was feeling. Like me, she was wanting to avoid reality for a little longer. It would be so easy to cave, to stay…but Izzy and Antonia, they needed me. It was time to grow up, time for both of us to grow up.

Not giving in to the small, sensual smile on her face, I reached out for her hand and started pulling her up. “Come on, sleepy, we’ve got places to be.”

She sighed, but stood up.

There was a thickness in the air as we walked to our bikes, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong…something bigger than Antonia. As we were putting on our helmets, I asked her again, “You sure you’re okay?”

Again, she smiled and nodded. “Yep, I’m fine.”

I wanted to believe her, I really did, but there was a haunted look in her eyes. Felicia didn’t like being pressed—me either—so I left it at that and hopped on my bike. She would tell me when she was ready. I just hoped she didn’t freak out first. Felicia had a habit of running when things got hard. Without a word to anyone, she’d up and disappear. Vanish, like smoke. Her foster parents would freak out when they realized she was gone. They’d call the police, and because I was her boyfriend, I’d be brought in for questioning. Izzy and Hookup would be questioned, too—any “known associate” of Felicia who they could find…but it would never lead to anything. Felicia was a pro at becoming a ghost. But then, a couple days later, she would come back, acting perfectly fine, like nothing in the world had happened. Like she hadn’t just freaked out everyone around her. That usually led to a nasty fight between the two of us. And some pretty spectacular makeup sex.

It was a gorgeous early evening in San Diego, the perfect night for a drive, but I wasn’t enjoying a moment of it as Felicia and I rode north out of the heart of the city, toward Izzy’s place. Things had been so intense lately, and in a really bad way. Felicia’s eighteenth birthday had been a week ago today, and normally we all would have celebrated the hell out the momentous occasion of her freedom from the reins of foster care…but we hadn’t even gone out. Izzy had wanted to stay with Antonia, and Hookup had left town with Grunts to bet on a boxing match.

I hadn’t felt like doing anything, but I would have if Felicia had wanted to. All she’d wanted was a copious amount of sex, and while I’d been more than happy to give it to her, I felt like we’d missed an opportunity. A small way for all of us to temporarily put aside what was going on, and celebrate a life event. It would have lifted all our spirits, recharged us, given us a much needed second wind, but instead, we’d dwelled, avoided, and ignored the problem plaguing us. And now it was beginning to feel inescapable.

When I opened the door to Izzy’s apartment, the mood inside felt just as somber as it had back at my place. Maybe it was me. Maybe I was carrying melancholy around with me, changing the tension wherever I went. As I gave Izzy a hug, I would have given anything to be able to lighten the feeling in the air. But jokes wouldn’t work, good-natured ribbing wouldn’t work; nothing would work. It was what it was, and it fucking sucked.

Felicia seemed to shrink inside herself as she absorbed the underlying feeling of hopelessness. She gave Izzy a hug after I did, but there was clearly a wall being erected; her full heart wasn’t in the embrace. It worried me to see Felicia retreating, but if I asked her what was wrong again, she’d only tell me nothing. Felicia was always great, even when she wasn’t great.

“Where’s Antonia?” I asked, as Izzy and Felicia separated. Izzy had always been small, but she seemed downright frail now. I should come by more often, make sure she was eating enough. I was being selfish with my sexual indulgence.

Izzy half-smiled at me. “She’s lying down. Her counts were good, so they let us check out, but now she’s feeling sick. Doctor said that might happen off and on…a side effect of the chemo. I just have to watch for fevers. She could have stayed there a few more days though…maybe she should have… I don’t know, she’s been there for so long, I thought she’d want to be home, but maybe I was wrong. Fuck, I don’t know what I’m doing, Hayden. What the hell do I do? How the hell do I pay for all this? I can’t work, I can’t leave her… I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do…”