Rules of Attraction
“So, you think there’s a possibility that you and Natalie will get together?”
“I don’t really know. I hope so. I had such a great time with her at the beach but…I’m kind of worried about the whole ‘coming out’ issue. I mean, my mom has been talking about me marrying a ‘good man’ for the past three years. I kind of feel like I would be disappointing her.”
“But you wouldn’t be happy with a ‘good man’, although you would probably be happy with Natalie.”
“Yeah, I know that but she doesn’t. I don’t know. I’m just terrified of telling her and… now I’m dead! Great job defending me Lee!”
I glared at my best friend and he held his hands up in defense. “I told you not to go down there but no, you didn’t listen to me,” he teased, looking back at the TV screen.
“I thought you were behind me!” I argued. “I was. I just turned around when you walking down those stairs.” I hit him with the couch pillow and he just laughed.
“Beck! Where are my roller skates?” Brandon asked, walking into the game room with his kneepads in his right hand, his helmet in his left.
“I don’t know. Why are you asking me?” I asked, arching my eyebrows at him.
“Because mom said you were the last one to see them,” he replied, looking around the room. I furrowed my brow in thought, trying to remember where I put his skates.
“Upstairs in my closet” I said, picking up my game controller. He ran out the room and headed for the steps.
“Sometimes, I wish I had a cool little brother like Brandon,” Lee remarked, leaning back against the couch. “You do,” I said, glancing over at him in confusion.
He scoffed. “Lance is only four and he barely does anything,” he groaned, as if he was generally upset that his brother didn’t ‘do anything’.
“He’s a toddler, not a toy! He’s not supposed to entertain you,” I said laughing. “Isn’t that really why people have kids? For entertainment. I mean, after a while, you start getting bored with just one person in your life and you decide to ‘settle down’ and have a family,” he said seriously.
“Is that really what you think about kids?” I asked, looking over at him in interest. He just shrugged. “According to my biology teacher, all living things have one goal in life and that is to reproduce. Humans seem to be the only living beings that don’t fit that ‘status quo’ because we can decide if we want children or not” he replied.
I arched my brows at him and hit pause on my controller. “Ok, where is all of this coming from? Is Jessie pregnant or something? What’s going on with you?” I asked, turning to get his whole attention.
Lee sighed. “I guess I’ve just got a baby-phobia. Jessie keeps talking about the future, mainly our future. Mostly college and…marriage but it’s actually starting to freak me out. I love Jessie but…I’m seventeen. All this talk about marriage and having kids one day is getting pretty heavy,” he groaned.
“Wait. Jessie’s been talking about you two getting married?” I asked incredulously. He just nodded. “Why?”
“I don’t know. I guess she thinks that I’ll leave her if I’m not totally ‘tied down’ to her. Plus…I think she might be a little right because…I’m kind of attracted to Rachel,” he replied.
I shook my head and leaned back against the couch next to him. “Lee, don’t do it. I know things with Jessie may seem a little strange right now because she’s talking about marriage but she just doesn’t want to lose you. Maybe you should just tell her to calm down with all the marriage talk. But don’t count her out just because you’re afraid…okay?”
He nodded his head and we just sat there for a few minutes. “How was the beach?” he asked randomly. I sighed contently and a small smile crossed my face.
“Amazing. Natalie looked so sexy in her bikini and we spent the whole day relaxing on the beach, walking on the boardwalk. We met this guy named Dylan and his friend Gloria; at first, I thought he was a prick but he turned out to be a pretty okay guy. I actually got to be Natalie’s ‘girlfriend’ for a day. It was just…a good day” I replied dreamily.
Lee looked over at my face and laughed. “This girl has you so whipped!” he teased, hitting me with the same pillow. My jaw dropped and I quickly shook my head.
“Whoa! There is no way I’m whipped. I just like her a lot. She’s fun to be around and I do want to be with her some day,” I defended.
“Yeah right. She’s had you whipped since day one. It’s been what, like four days? She better be a freak in the bed or someone is going to be very disappointed. That someone being you.”
I lunged at him and he laughed as we hit the ground. “Take it back!” I growled, wrestling with him. “Nope! You know it’s true. She totally has you whipped, Beck!” he shot back, flipping over me.
“Who has who whipped?”
We both looked up and I saw Melody standing next to the wall, looking over at me with her eyebrows raised. Lee got off me and sat back on the couch.
“Hey, Melody. Who let you in?” I asked, slightly embarrassed. I hoped that she hadn’t heard what we we’re talking about.
“Brandon. He was on his way to go roller-skating. Beck, who has who whipped?” she repeated, sitting on the couch across from us.
I tried to think of a quick alibi and looked over at the game Lee was playing on the TV.
“Uh…Kevin1314! He has been whipping my ass in this game since we started playing. Isn’t that right, Lee?” I asked, pleading for his help.
He nodded but didn’t say anything to Melody. I frowned at him and looked back at her. “Oh anyway, Beck can I talk to you…alone?” she asked shyly.
“Uh sure. I’ll be right back, Lee” I replied, getting up from the floor and following her upstairs to my room. Lee nodded to me but once again didn’t say anything to Melody. Man, Mark was right. They really did not like her.
I closed the door to my room and sat on my computer chair while she sat on my bed. “Okay, what’s up?” I asked, playing with the end of my shirt nervously.
She crossed her legs and looked out the window before turning to look back at me.
“Beck, I want you to know that you’re my best friend. I would hate for anything to come between that but, I’ve been keeping something from you,” she said, keeping eye contact with me.
I gulped and felt myself began to sweat. Was this it? Was she going to tell me how she feels about me today? She can’t. I can’t let her. I don’t feel the same way and I don’t want to just out right reject her.
“W-W-What is it?” I asked, praying to God that it wasn’t what I was thinking.
She inhaled and exhaled slowly. Looking around my room once more.
Oh God. Here it comes. The “I know we’re friends but I want to be so much more” speech. I know exactly what that speech looks and sounds like. I’d been planning to say one of my own to someone else. Let’s just hope that she doesn’t start crying when I tell her that I can’t be with her because I like someone else.
“I’m with Duncan.”
“What?” I exclaimed, looking over at her in shock.
“I know, it probably isn’t that big of a deal to you but I’ve been planning to tell you and it’s been killing me because there are no secrets between us but…I didn’t know how you were going to react. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you when Duncan and I started dating and I know I should have because you’re my best friend. That’s why I’ve been acting so weird lately because I was afraid to tell you,” she shot out quickly.
I blinked and tried to take in everything she just said. She doesn’t love me. That wasn’t a confession. Thank God! I don’t think I would have been able to handle that.
I jumped out my computer chair and pulled Melody into a hug. Her eyes widened in shock but she returned the hug back. I smiled to myself and Melody arched her eyebrows at me.
“So…you’re not mad?” she asked. “What? No! No, of course not. If you want to be with Duncan, than go right ahead. He’s a good guy, right? I’m sure he is with a name like Duncan. I have no problem with the fact you didn’t want to tell me. I don’t tell you everything,” I said without thinking.
My eyes widened and she looked over at me. “What do you mean ’you don’t tell me everything?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Um, just that sometimes, I have secrets of my own. You know, like your secret about being with Duncan” I replied, scratching the back of my neck nervously.
“Okay. Yeah, I guess you’re right” she said softly. I could tell she wanted to ask me what those ‘secrets’ were but I guess she decided to keep her mouth shut and ask another day.
She looked up at me as I leaned down and kissed her forehead. “You’re my best friend too, you know. Just because things between my friends and you aren’t great, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. You know that, right?” She smiled and wrapped her arms around my neck.
“I love you Beck.”
I was slightly taken aback for a minute and Melody noticed my facial expression had changed. “I mean, as a friend! I love you as a friend…or a sister! Yeah. A sister. That’s what I meant to say” she rambled, pulling away from me.
I nodded my head at her and looked down at the ground. “Yeah. I love you too…as a sister” I said, wondering why I was feeling nervous about this entire conversation.
We stood there in an awkward silence until I suggested we go downstairs. I heard laughter coming from the game room and noticed Lee, Natalie, and my father playing on the Wii.
“Get it! Get it, Lee!” Natalie cheered, laughing when Lee totally missed what they were trying to get on the screen.
“That’s it! I win! Rory Smith, 1. Natalie and Lee, 0” my dad boasted. Natalie pouted as Lee begged for a rematch.
I laughed and Natalie’s head shot up. Her smile brightened. She ran over to me and jumped into my arms.
“Beck!” she shrieked, wrapping her legs around my waist. I tried to steady myself but slammed into the other wall.
Natalie cringed at the sound while I laughed. “You okay? I’m sorry. I should have warned you first,” she apologized.
“It’s fine. I’m alright. Lucky for me, you’re not that heavy,” I teased. She stuck her tongue out at me and I did the same.
“Beck! Can you believe your dad beat us at Wii baseball?” Lee joked incredulously. “You know, I used to be on the baseball team when I was in High School, Lee,” My dad responded.
“Oh yeah. When was that, fifty years ago?” Lee shot back. Dad wrapped his arm around Lee’s neck and put him in a chokehold. I laughed as I watched Lee try to escape the grip my father had on him.
Melody cleared her throat and I was once again aware of her presence. For some reason, I felt bad about having Natalie wrapped around. I put her down gently and she looked over at me, frowning.
“I’m guessing this is Natalie,” she said, with a tone that I had never heard in her voice. “Um yeah. Natalie, this is my best friend, Melody. We’ve been close since we were kids,” I introduced.
“Hi Melody. Nice to meet you,” Natalie said politely but she also had a challenging tone in her voice.
I didn’t know what was going on but it looked like my two friends were sizing each other up. I cleared my throat and both of their gazes were directed at me. I felt a slight chill run down my spine.
“Well, I’m gonna go. I have to meet up with Duncan, Mary, and his friends at the movies. It was nice meeting you, Natalie,” she said with a phony smile on her face.
“Hmm likewise,” Natalie countered. Melody walked toward me and pulled me flush against her in a tight hug. Her hand ran down my back as she whispered “See you later, Beck” in my ear before pulling away.
I watched her saunter out of my house and close the door. Natalie looked over at me before rolling her eyes and walking back in the game room with my dad and Lee.
I arched my eyebrows at her but she simply ignored me. I sat on the couch next to her. Once I was comfortable, I felt her slide into my lap and lay her head on my shoulder.
I looked down at her in surprise but didn’t say anything. I just wrapped my arms around her waist, holding her closer to me. She sighed and I whispered, “Why so tense, Natalicious?” in her ear.
She laughed a little and slapped my arm. “Don’t call me that.”
I laughed, noticing Lee looking at me from the corner of his eye. I flipped him off when my dad wasn’t looking. He just smirked at me.
Two thoughts were going on in my mind. One, what the hell was going on with Natalie and Melody today? And two, why do I feel slightly attracted to my best friend?