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A Tangle in the Heart [Part 5]
So because we expected Tarah's parents to come over that morning to pick her up, I decided I'd take Tarah to work with me. The library always needs volunteers, and they wouldn't expect her there. Their next stop would be Nick's house or some other place Tarah would run off.
We're placing the books in their respective areas, peeking over at each other every now and then. A little kid comes running into the aisle and knocks down all of my books. I huff a breath and get down to pick them all up and place them back on the cart. Tarah comes to help and smiles at me when we are facing each other, reaching for different books.
"Can we talk about last night?" she asks.
"Look, the kiss meant nothing to you, and it means nothing to me," I lie. It was the most passionate, genuine kiss I've ever experienced. "I just did it, because you were just there in front of me. I wanted to know what it'd feel like."
"Oh," she says. She stays quiet as she goes back to her own cart on the opposite side of the aisle. After a minute, she turns back. "Look, Colin," she begins to confess, "there's something I need to tell you."
A part of me hopes that she's going to tell me that she felt something in that kiss, too. She turns back to her books and is about to open her mouth to say something, until Stew walks into the aisle and interrupts her. "What's up with the bet, C?" he blurts. Oh, crap. "You and Tangle hook up, yet?"
Tarah swiftly turns around and looks at Stew. "Oh my god," she croaks. She backs away from the books, and I don't know what to say. "Was that what the kiss was about? A bet!?" She's starting to scream, which is causing people to look through the aisle. "You haven't changed one bit, Colin." She's starting to cry, and I try to grab her from running away from me. I hold her wrists, but she just pushes me away even more.
"Tarah, I can explain," I reason. She shakes her head, backing away.
"What? You're too afraid to fail a bet that you'd risk my emotions for it?" she argues. Tears are continuing to fall down her face, and I feel like the biggest loser. "Well congratulations, Colin," she adds. "You win." She turns her back to me and runs out the door.
I'm an idiot. I keep repeating that in my head. It's been a week since I've heard from Tarah. She was only here for two nights, and I managed to get my heart broken within that time. I hope she realizes why I'm so afraid of love. I'm at home on a Thursday night, thinking about her, how she broke down those walls I had, and how much she cared about me. No other girl I was with actually cared for me like she did.
Tarah was a beautiful girl, and when I say this, I only mean it. She didn't hold beauty only on the outside, but she had a kind soul on the inside. If I had ever given her a chance when we were in school, I would have realized that. Maybe if we all stopped looking at Tarah for her outside flaws rather than the angelic heart she had on the inside. An angel...the perfect definition of Tarah. She came into my world twice to help me out of the tunnel, and I let her go. Idiot, I tell myself.
As suspected, I lost the bet with Stew. He's over tonight to watch the basketball game with me--Miami Heat vs. Pistons. We're on the couch, and a beer is in my hand. I take a swig and stare at the TV, but my brain isn't even taking in the actual game. I'm thinking about other things...other people.
Stew turns to me and yells, "Did you see that foul?"
I turn back to him and shake my head no. "Sorry, man. I guess I'm really not into this one."
"Look, I know you really wanted Martha, and things didn't work out with Tarah," he points out, "but for all the damage I've done, the least I can do is let you have the motorcycle. I know it can't fix things, but--"
"Nah, man," I interrupt. "Martha is yours. I could never take her away from you. Keep her; I mean it."
"Yeah, I'm sure," I answer. "I'll be fine without it."
The room gets quiet as the game goes to a commercial. "Sorry, again," Stew repeats. It's the fiftieth time he's apologized. It wasn't his fault, because I shouldn't have taken up that stupid bet. I shouldn't have played with Tarah's heart like that. Games like that should have been played out in grade school.
It's the next morning, and I'm back at work for the fifth time in a week. I decide I should stop moping around and get back into the normal me--before Tarah came along. I'm placing the books back in order again, and once again, I'm messing everything up. 'I' comes before 'U', idiot. I sigh heavily and pull all the books off the shelf and redo the entire section until I get it right. Stew walks by my aisle and is smiling at me with that "Hey-I-Have-a-Stupid-Challenge-For-You" face.
"I have a surprise for you, C," he says. "Someone's looking for you." Before I can think of someone to come, I see Tarah stepping beside him. We're looking at each other with a serious face, scared of what to say. "I guess I'll leave you two alone..." he trails off. He acts like he's gone off, but I know he right in the other aisle, looking through a gap of books.
"Hey, Colin," she greets flatly. "How have you been?"
"Um," I stammer. "I've been all right...you know, okay."
"COUGH! Miserable! COUGH!" I hear from the aisle beside us. We look at Stew and give him the look which means 'Go away'. He slowly creeps out of the gap we spotted him in.
"Did you forget anything at the house?" I ask. "If you need anything, I don't mind going back with you to get it."
"No, no," she mumbles. "It's not that. I have something to show you." She pulls out two Polaroid pictures from her cream colored purse. She shows me the one we took the night she called everyone for dinner. "Remember this?" she giggles.
I nod and smile, remembering how much that day changed everything. "What's this about, Tarah?"
She looks at the other picture in her hand and hands it to me. "What's the difference between these photos, Colin?"
I study both of them and notice the one I took, she had no makeup and her hair was all wet. In the other photo, she was fully glamorized and had pounds of makeup on. She looks the same in both, but I prefer her all natural. "You have makeup in this one," I wag the respective picture.
"See, Nick needed me to put on all that before taking a measly picture of me," she points out. "That isn't love, Colin. Love is when the guy of your dreams looks at you and thinks you're beautiful the way you are, and he wants nothing but to be with you. I thought him and I were so in love, but we're not." She's speaking all fast, because she's so nervous. "And I know I look really stupid coming here with this speech prepared and these photos, but I needed to let you know. When you kissed me, even if it didn't mean anything to you, it did to me. I only wanted to be with you the rest of the week, and then things got crazy, and I left when the tough got going. I don't care about the bet anymore, because Stew explained everything. He told me how you really feel and the only thing I'm waiting for is for you to tell me on your--"
I shut her up by placing my lips on hers. She's kissing me, groaning at the sudden embrace. Then she starts smiling, placing her hands around my neck. I hold onto her waist and let my lips roam. I separate and kiss her softly on the neck. Then on the lips again. She held onto me and looked into my eyes. Finally together--everything I've wanted was in my hands. I wasn't going to fail this one.
"I thought you didn't like stuck up brats," she laughs into my lips. I pull away from her and laugh.
"Well I thought you didn't like judgmental jerks," I whisper into her ear.
"I don't," she declares. It confuses me for a little, but then she continues, "I love them." She bites her lip and kisses me again. Everything fell into place for me, and with a little courage and love, I was able to fix the tangle in my heart.