Sonata Six: Zone Defence
"Hey...? Are you still there...? Kris, say something?"
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. How many months had it been since she last heard that voice? That slow, ashy, sensual voice? The voice that whispered so many sweet nothings in her ear over their times together, the voice that encouraged her during team play. Paige's voice. Kris had spent so little time thinking of her recently that actually hearing her voice felt... peculiar. It was a weird ass kind of inertia, and for a moment it seemed like her bedroom was gradually spinning around her. That spinning didn't stop until Kris paused, swallowed the stifling lump in her throat, and got a grip on herself. She wasn't a kid. This didn't have to be hard.
"Paige," the first time in months that Kris had said her name outside of reference. Still felt all kinds of bizarre though. "What do you want?"
A pause. "...Nice greeting."
"Well, what did you expect?"
"A hello might be nice." She quipped.
You couldn't imagine how someone with such a sensual voice managed to sound so defensively gentle and vulnerable. But that was Paige's style, something Kris was completely attuned to. Having Paige reacquaint her with it eased Kris in moments. Talking to Paige was like putting on an old sneaker. You might be tired of it but it was oh so easy to slip on.
"Hello, okay?" Kris chipped. "There, I said it. Wanna say goodbye too?"
She overheard Paige's frustrated sigh. "You're still mad at me, I get it. I don't blame you. After everything I did, I really don't blame you."
"Is that why you called? To talk about old times?"
"Do I need an excuse to call you? Since when?" Asked Paige.
Without realizing it Kris spread herself over her bed. She hauled her feet over the edge and kicked off her shoes. "We haven't spoken in what... five months? No phone calls, no emails, no texts, no nothing. Yet here you are, calling me. Kinda sudden."
"I just wanted to talk."
"About what? I'm a little busy."
"No you're not," Paige hurled back. "If I know you, you just came back from the rink or something. Emma was probably with you. You'll lie in bed for a few minutes then get back up and put on your Gretzky jersey, slink around for a while... eat something... then take out some old DVD you have of an NHL final and heckle the TV."
Frown lines creased Kris' face. Where did she get off acting like they were still in each other's pockets? But as she leaned up to dispute that comment, the sporty teen realized that she was in fact on the bed. Like Paige said she would be. Her eyes rolled around the room. One after one she saw the Gretzky jersey (can't ignore a legend, no matter how old) the stack of NHL DVDs, as well as the bag of double stuffed Oreos Kris had a sudden urge to sneak downstairs and get. Damn. She hated it when this girl was right.
"Aren't we a little old for this 'memory lane' crap?" Said the hockey star.
"You know, you think you're all grown up, Kris, but you're not. If you were, you'd know that adults actually talk to their exes, they talk things through. Can't we do that? Or aren't we grown up enough?"
"Okay. I'll be serious then. Give me one goddamn reason why I shouldn't hang up on you."
"Because I'm sorry," Paige didn't hesitate. Remarkable for someone who, long before the day they broke up, had been so unable to accept responsibility for her mistakes. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the way I treated you. I'm really sorry."
Kris stilled. She was kind of... unnerved, actually. Did Paige just apologize to her? Since when did she apologize to anybody for anything she did? Paige had always been stubborn like that, defiant and hard as diamond, probably one of the things Kris liked about her when they first started dating. Of course stubbornness in a person is always a double-edged sword. It seems cute at first when you tell your girlfriend not to buy you gifts and she does it anyway, just to be sweet, but over time that hard-ass streak just gets old. Paige had hers all the way up to the hip. It was one of those little details that made their break-up so darn messy. So, needless to say, it struck Kris' ears as uncharacteristic when they heard Paige-freaking-Marquez apologizing.
Then, her ever-surprising ex-girlfriend popped something out of the blue.
"Are you dating anyone?"
Kris' eyes sharpened. "...That's none of your business."
For the first time since Paige started spitting together these demi-redemptive verses, Kris' thoughts turned to that cute blonde girl she discovered at school. "...No, I'm not. You?"
"Nope. Free as a bird. Haven't been with anyone since... well... you."
That was surprising. Especially when Kris recalled just why they broke up, not to mention all those things she said during their habitual shouting matches. One thing Kris never forgot about Paige was that she hated to be seen as someone who slept around or looked easy; something about not feeding Latina stereotypes, but she also knew that Paige dated more than a few others before they hooked up, mostly boys. The typical male from her palette was the jock, some dude into sports, much like Kris herself. Things like that REALLY made her question the basis of Paige's attraction to her... back then at least.
Paige spoke up. "Are your surprised?"
"A little. Maybe."
"Why do you think?"
"That's why I'm saying sorry," the teen whispered. "I never did before so I am now. Sorry, okay?"
Kris rolled her eyes again. She reclined onto the bed again. She sighed -- again. "Okay. Thank you."
"Okay," She almost heard Paige's renewed smile through the phone. That was another odd trait of hers -- she practically telegraphed her emotions. It was what made her such a poor liar. "How's Emma?"
There were a multitude of things she could say. That Emma still planned on studying fashion at college, that she was dating Summer and loving every minute of it (though a little nervous about her best friend, Holly-Raine Johnson). "She still hates your guts."
"She'd slap me if she knew I was talking to you."
Paige exhaled. "I don't blame her. You guys are best friends. Of course she hates me."
Well this was certainly a change of tune. Months ago, when they were still dating, Emma and Paige were almost constantly at each other's throats. Paige kept sniping in Kris' ear that Emma was only a jealous bitch getting in between them, while Emma hurled similar invective; that Paige was a whiny, selfish slut incapable of handling a relationship.
Emma still felt that way, which was why it was anathema to raise Paige's name between the two of them (though they still did from time to time). Kris had to wonder how Paige's feelings had changed since then.
For a long moment neither one of them, Kris nor Paige, said anything. No words were had. It didn't feel awkward. Maybe they were both wondering how it had gotten to this. Kris certainly wondered that. If Kris had run into Bonnie six months ago she wouldn't have looked at her twice, that's how serious she'd been about Paige. Now they stumbled just talking to each other.
Paige took another breath. "Things are different now."
"H-how'd you mean?"
"I had... like... a lot of time to think," clarified Kris' ex. "It was stupid the way I treated you. More than stupid. After we broke up, I kept wondering why I... you know... couldn't stop thinking about you, I mean... aren't you supposed to want to walk away from those kinds of relationships? Where you just argue and fight all the time? So I thought a lot and I realized that... it was much more my fault than yours that we broke up. I stopped being angry at you and, uh... when I figured things out I decided that I should make it up to you somehow... I guess it just took me a couple of months to work up the nerve."
No kidding. Despite living just a short bus ride from each other, Kris and Paige managed to not see each other for well over five months. Five months. Nearly half a year. It was hard just believing it had been that long.
Kris couldn't say anything except, "Thank you."
"I'd be nicer if I could say it in person."
Then it got quiet again. Meet up? Was that what Paige was suggesting? See each other? Kris turned her weight onto her shoulder, forked her fingers through her bangs, and squirmed. If Emma knew about this her 'no freaking way' would be so unequivocal you could hit it with a brick, and for no small reason.
Getting over Paige was one of the HARDEST things Kris Taylor had ever been forced to do. There was a time when her self-respect and toughness was so foreign to her that if Paige had simply sent her an email saying 'I miss you' she would've come back running. The amount of girls she selfishly went through just to get Paige out of her head -- it boggled the mind. Yet Kris didn't remember as many as two of their names. Emma was right when she'd said, all those months ago, that the real reason she and Paige broke up was that they brought out the worst in each other. Now Kris was finally in a place where she could move on and not fall into that trap again, and yet...
...here Paige was. On the phone. Being nice. Apologizing. Making amends for things. You just couldn't discount that, could you? That had to be worth something. It wasn't as though Paige wanted to get back together or anything, and there certainly wasn't anyone in her life, romantically speaking, that she had to 'check in' with beforehand.
Once again though, the hockey player was drawn to thinking about Bonnie.
There was a pull inside Kris' chest. Two forces pulling in two directions. But then she stopped and she thought. Thought hard. Thought about the way Bonnie reacted when she thought they were going to kiss, about what Emma warned her of; falling for someone she wasn't sure of. Maybe she was picking and choosing Emma's warnings to suit herself... but then who didn't do that? Didn't priests do that with the Bible?
Kris glanced at the Gretzky jersey she longed to put on and recalled just who bought it for her. A gift from her old girlfriend.
"Emma wouldn't like it."
"You know... you don't have to do everything Emma tells you to. The Kris I remember only did what she wanted to do."
"How do you know seeing you is what I want to do?" Retorted Kris.
"I don't hear you saying 'no'."
Wow. Even after apologizing and admitting her fault in almost everything between the two of them, Paige still had that proactive not-if-I-kick-your-ass-first attitude. A little grin tugged at the corner of Kris' lips. "Where and when?"
"Afterschool, at our old spot. The smoothies'll be on me. C`mon. Say yes."
She couldn't believe she was doing this, but... "Fine."
Okay, it'd be a lie if Bonnie said she didn't hope on running into Kris again. Something hard in the back of her brainy brain told her that there was no assurance the Taylor girl would be here. It was that intuitive voice Bonnie kept ignoring as she flicked idly through the pages of her text book. She licked her thumb, turned a page, sighed, glanced at her watch, then carefully let her eyes rise every now and again. Their doe blue drifted from one clump of students to the other, hoping to find some quirkily long bangs amid the pack, but none were to be found.
Two long and boring days had come and gone since her little study sortie with Kris Taylor. Two whole days and Bonnie hadn't seen her since. Not a puck. Needless to say, everyone who knew her (in short her parents) saw the depressed funk Bonnie had been in throughout that time. Bonnie didn't feel depressed, all in all she was a cheerful girl. Prozac was nothing but a word to her. Then again she never failed to pay attention in class, not willingly anyway, which was why it was so odd when Bonnie found herself daydreaming through Mr. Duncan's Math class. Her daydreams were general, fading, non-specific, but consistently peppered by one recollection, that odd moment between her and Kris the other night. But what did it mean?
Bonnie heaved another sigh, dropped her chin in her hand, and turned her gaze from the kids gathered about the library to the book in front of her. Her eyes were on the page but she didn't see it. The memory was like a broken record in her head recycling itself over and over and over again, of Kris and her, leaning toward each other. Close. Close enough for something magical to happen. And then...?
And then? What?
Kris was gone.
But what did it mean? Did Kris... see something in it? Bonnie wasn't even sure how they got that close to each other. She didn't mean for it to happen, of course she didn't, it was never her intention to kiss Kris. Right? God, why was her mind so hazy on the issue? Why couldn't she remember it clearly? Almost all of it was a blank... aside from Kris, of course. Bonnie bit her lip as she went there again, to those thick lashes, those strident eyes, those naturally pink-rouge lips...
No. Bonnie shook her head, shrugging off the inertia. No. Why was she even setting herself up like that? This was Kris Taylor, after all. What chance did she really have someone like her? It didn't even make sense for her to be thinking that she had a chance... especially the way things ended that night...
Her eyes made one last swoop of the library, the place Bonnie first met Kris, but she definitely was not here. Kris wasn't coming. Here she was, stupid enough to think they might bump into each other again. Bonnie exhaled the breath she didn't realize she held and packed away her books. Maybe she'd get lost in the cafeteria and drown her sorrows in a pudding cup.
It was better than being stupid enough to think she was good enough for Kris.
"Hey. You're not nervous, are you?"
Emma loved the way Summer held her hand under the table, working her out of her nervousness. She didn't want to admit that she was anxious about meeting Summer's friends but apparently she was giving off that vibe. You couldn't blame her for it. From personal experience Emma knew how these `best friend' things work. Getting your feet under the table is hard to do if the friends don't like the spouse. Emma knew who girls tend to choose when it comes to friends and girlfriends but she liked Summer too much to slip up now. She had to make sure Jenny and Holly-Raine liked her. Unfortunately, Jenny wasn't the one Emma was worried about.
In the meantime Emma checked herself out in her compact mirror. For her, casual meant mixing up different kinds of outfits, so the budding fashionista dressed hard with a flowery rosette peasant dress, smooth ebony cruise boots and a black hemp choker necklace (complete with a peridot birth stone) around her neck. Her clutch bag was Lady Dior and had all her gear; her cell phone, money, make-up, chapstick and mints. Judging by her reflection (as well as the desperate gazes Summer stole of her every now and again) she looked good, especially her hair, which all wavy and glistening from hours of self-care, hairspray and loving attention.
Yeah. By Emma's own evaluation she looked good. Good enough not to embarrass Summer, anyways.
It took about five more minutes for them to reach the food court from one of those overhanging balconies of the mall's second floor. Summer was the first to notice them. She rose from the plastic chair underneath her, waved them down, calling out "Hey Holly, Jenny, over here!" over the throng of other food court hoppers. Jenny waved back and pulled Holly along with her. They both had a fair amount of bags between them -- even though school only ended an hour ago.
Summer came up and hugged the pair. That's how Emma knew they were a close batch. They went to the same school, Atlantic High, yet here they were hugging like they hadn't seen each other in months.
Summer's smile was broad. "Hey guys, so glad you aren't late. I want you to meet..." she turned to the girl in question. "Emma. Emma Anderson. She's my... well, you already know. Emma, these are my BFFs, Jenny and Holly-Raine."
Jenny, smiling and cheerful, extended her hand. Emma shook it and smiled back. She seemed to be a pleasant girl. A little plain maybe but pleasant. "Nice to meet you, Jenny."
"Same here," She replied. "Summer's been talking our ears off about you. Gotta say, I love your dress. Where'd you get it?"
That was a kiss to Emma's heart right there, a compliment of her fashion sense. The girl blushed and resisted the urge to do a little pirouette. "Really, you like it? I bought it off this really great online boutique I found. I could send you the URL later if you'd like?"
"Sure, that'd be cool."
Then, of course, Emma's attention finally settled on the crux of the hour, Holly-Raine Johnson.
Right off the bat Emma was blindsided by how heart-wrenchingly pretty she was. Not `girl next door' pretty but `teen supermodel' pretty. Her eyes were the richest shade of green, huge, and seemed to catch more than a little sparkle in the sunlight reflected through the mall's high glass ceiling. Holly's faint cerise lips puckered naturally, cheeks with a permanent blush, and glistening chocolate coloured hair hovered over her shoulders. She was short but her petite figure fitted the height. Suddenly Emma wasn't smiling any more. Everybody this side of Victoria knew about her and knew that she was cute, but she never imagined...
"Hi," her tiny voice was just as cherubic. "I'm Holly."
Emma gave her a weak `h-hey' in reply then glanced at Summer who'd somehow got to talking with Jenny without her noticing. They were both seated. So she returned to Holly-Raine and tried her darnedest not to look puzzled and stupid -- which was pretty much how Emma felt right now.
"You like Summer, don't you?" Asked Holly, promptly.
"Uh... yeah, I do. She's... really, really special."
The infamous teen nodded. "You don't have to tell me, I know. She and I are close. Really close."
Emma frowned. What the hell was that supposed to mean? "I care about her."
"That's nice," Holly got to twirling a lock of her hair around her fingertip. "You haven't know her very long though, have you?"
What was she trying to imply here? That she wasn't trustworthy? Who was Holly-Raine Johnson of all people to be criticizing her about being right for Summer after her track record? This girl was probably a walking time bomb of STDs and she-
"She's my best friend," Holly affirmed further. "Treat her nice, okay?"
"Uh..." Crap. Was she already jumping the gun here? Emma sighed, chuckled at herself, then gave off a little smile. She was so ready for trouble with Holly-Raine she was inventing it. "I-I will. I like her." she gestured to the table. "Should we sit down or... something?"
Holly smiled back, though not as widely. "Sure."
They all sat down. In time they ordered some smoothies and shared a big basket of thick cut, Southern-style fries. As they all good to talking Emma was somewhat relieved by how accessible Jenny was. Holly was kind of stoic but animated herself enough when Summer mentioned her plans for Saturday. They were all good friends and she felt comfortable enough, eventually, to join in their discussion, mostly because Summer wouldn't stop talking her up. Seeing them in motion made her wonder about her own best friend.
Kris was kinda cagey this morning, even odder still was that she didn't mention Bonnie's name once, but because Emma was SO darn nervous about meeting Summer's friends, she hadn't had the chance to press the hockey player on it.
Then, strangely enough, as Emma's eyes wandered from Summer to the tables surrounding theirs, six tables down, she saw first-hand just WHY Kris hadn't said much today. Because there she was, grinning like all hell with cool banana smoothie between her hands directly across from a girl Emma was never gladder to see the back of -- Paige-freaking-Marquez. A seething Emma launched up from her chair, slapped her hands down and yelled...
"WHAT THE HELL?!"
* Yayness! Finally got around to updating SLSS. Paige was introduced, finally, as were Holly and Jenny, who, along with Summer, originate from my old Misadventures Series (don't go back and read it though, it's terrible). I've developed a new appreciation for Emma, especially through this and the previous chapter. I think friendship is going to be an important theme from now on, but make no mistake, this is still Bonnie and Kris' love story.
* You know the drill. If you like what you read, visit my blog,http://ksn-kaiser.blogspot.com/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.