True to his word, Bale called the following day. He asked me out again but we would arrive and leave separately as we had on the first date. I had been a little worried and more than a little annoyed because we had been making such good progress and now we were back at the beginning. I really had no reason to worry. As crazy as Bale was constantly making me, I was making him ten times crazier. It wasn't even five minutes into the meal when Bale hissed at me to wait two minutes and then meet him in the restroom. I did as I was told and the two of us made out in the handicap stall. Only the sound of another person entering the restroom was enough to push us away from one another. I for one was thanking whoever wanted the thanks that the stall walls and doors stopped just short of the floor. Only when the man left did I make a quick exit, straightening up in the large mirror before offering Bale--who now emerged--a little wink before leaving the restroom and returning to our table. Bale was there a moment later and it took all of my skill and will power to keep the giggles from surfacing.
Many of our dates happened in similar ways. Our make out sessions would always stop or be forced to a stop before things got too far. Of course, as things often take place in Hollywood, things had already gone too far in the ever-watchful eyes of the press. Already their minds had concocted theory after theory and each theory had one important element of truth: that Bale and I were most definitely involved. Not that they knew that it was actual fact and not just speculation. But it was only a matter of time until they had the proof needed to make a credible claim. The task of retrieving such proof fell to the dreaded and damned paparazzi, and unknown to Bale or myself, our friendship was becoming a favorite subject of theirs. It didn't help our case any though that we had dropped most of guise and were all but in each other's laps on most nights.
Weeks passed and then a month, and then two. I had lost count of the number of dates we had already gone on and was almost always in a very good mood. Little did I know, that was all about to change.
I had woken up one morning with the promise of a good morning call from my boyfriend--yes, I was calling him my boyfriend. We'd been dating for two months already after all and most celebrity couples called one another boy and girlfriend after barely a week. I was very comfortable with using the word in regards to Bale. Very comfortable and extremely giddy.
I was eating my daily bowl of cereal when the phone rang. I reached over and took the phone from the receiver that sat upon the island, pressing "talk" and pressing it to my ear.
I was cut off before I could get out a proper greeting.
"Get the People. Now."
I blinked at his tone but sputtered that I would and with the phone still pressed to my ear, I hurried into the living room where I had tossed the magazine and newspaper. Picking the People up from the coffee table, I flipped through the magazine without needing any prompting from the older man. Suddenly, my fingers stopped flicking through the pages and my heart stopped beating as my eyes took in the full color photo and the accompanying heading.
It was Bale's voice alone that pulled me from the petrified state the page had caused. I now saw the image clearly: Bale and I enjoying dinner at a very nice restaurant and reread the headline.
Christian & Jake: Friends or Friendlier?
Could These Hollywood Icons Be More Than What They Seem?
I dropped the magazine and glared at it. I didn't need to read anymore to know what would be said in the article. How dare they! Why now? Why when everything had been going so well
"Jake," Bale said again, and this time it was with firm conviction and a slight bit of reluctance. I didn't need to hear what he would say next. I already knew the words that would come. At least, I thought I did.
"Yeah," I said, working hard to put everything I could into making the words I spoke sound indifferent. "Yeah, I know. I agree."
"I don't think you understand, Jake."
"What don't I understand, Christian," I snapped, really not liking his tone and dreading the words that he would say next.
"It isn't going to work," he said and there was finality in his voice that left no room for debate or argument. I mouthed wordlessly, wanting to say something, anything. Anything that would make him reconsider but nothing came. No words formed. Seconds of silence past and finally I realized that he was waiting for me to speak. I cleared my throat.
"Christian..." I stopped. I could hear the desperation in my voice and knew that he would have no trouble hearing it as well.
"Jake. You know this is the only choice we have. This is the way it has to be." I could hear the forced patience that he was struggling to hold onto. I didn't care. I wanted answers that I knew he wouldn't have.
"Why? Who says it has to be that way?"
"Damnit, Jake! Stop acting like a child. I am not going to waste my time while you whine about things that neither of us can change. Goodbye."
The click of Bale hanging up reached my ear before I could form the words to say goodbye. I stared at the phone until the dial tone sounded loudly from the speaker. I clicked the talk button and returned to the kitchen, placing the phone back in its cradle, slipping onto the stool I had vacated just minutes before.
As I stared unseeingly out of the kitchen window, I realized as I never had before about how a single action could bring about a reaction that could ruin something that I had taken for granted.
I really didn't know what I felt. I was hurt, and angry, and I was lost, but I had no desire to react in any way. To me, just sitting in silence while looking but not seeing anything was a perfectly logical thing to do.
The world thought otherwise and I was soon forced into answering a phone that rang insistently. I had a moment of hope that maybe, just maybe Bale would be on the other end of the like to tell me that he changed his mind and wanted me back. About a second after that delirious thought, I reached out and picked up the phone, answering it for the second time that morning.
It was Maggie. Of course it was Maggie.
"Little brother," she continued as if she knew I wasn't about to speak just yet. She probably did know. "I'm sorry, Jake. But you knew before you pursued him that this could happen. What did he say?"
She already knew what he'd said. She was doing this to make me say it because if I said it than that would make it a reality that I would have to deal with.
"He... He said it wasn't going to work. He broke up with me."
That did it. Suddenly my heart hurt like it had never hurt before. I felt like crawling into a small, dark space and just crying myself to sleep but Maggie's voice tugged me back to reality.
"Jake, do you want me to come over?"
Did I want her to come over? No. I did not. I wanted to slip off to my room and bury myself upon my bed under all of my covers so I wouldn't have to deal with the real world any longer. For the moment, at least.
"No. I'm fine, Maggie. Don't worry. It was a mutual--mutual decision."
"Honestly. I need to go now anyway. I have a date with a good book."
She sighed and I was grateful because I now knew she would get off my case.
"Okay. I love you."
"Love you too. Bye, Mags."
I hung up the phone first and set it on the island. I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair, taking a deep shaking breath as I tried to reign in the many emotions raging inside me. This worked for a few moments before I broke into tears that seemed to have no end.
Maggie came over anyway and when she found me tangled up in blankets and sheets, my face tear stained and my nose runny, she scowled and placed her hands on her hips.
"I'm very glad I decided not to believe you. This isn't like you Jake. I know you like him--"
"I love him, Maggie," I snapped, and then my eyes widened as I finally realized what I felt for the man. A man that I still knew so little about but loved unconditionally--still loved even after he had broken my heart. Maggie's face softened and she joined me on my bed, hugging me close.
"I'm sorry, Jake. I know it hurts but don't you think he didn't do it to hurt you. Maybe, just maybe he did it to save your reputation. Maybe everything that you are feeling, he is feeling too."
I frowned as I thought about this and nodded, not really feeling like speaking. She poked my nose as she had done a lot when we were younger and shrugged when I looked up at her.
"Then again, maybe he doesn't care. Who knows?"
I could have killed her but I would be the first suspect as her brother and that really wouldn't help my cause. She got up and snorted, looking around and then returning her attention to me.
"You have tonight to finish this mopefest, Jake. Tomorrow, you and I are going shopping and you will face the world again. And when the time comes that you and Bale meet again, you will face him again and with dignity."
I said nothing. Whether I agreed or not she would make it happen anyway, so why even bother?
She left soon after and I allowed myself all the tears my eyes had to give and drifted off into a deep, deep sleep.