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Beautiful Mess: Chapter One


posted by Lucy V Morgan on

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Coming November 25th

EXCERPT:
Chapter One


Four days, three hours and approximately forty-seven minutes. That was how long it’d been since I got dumped by Craig. 

It’s just not working anymore, he said.

I stuffed a teddy bear into the box--the one holding the red satin heart from our first month anniversary. Bleugh…dust. That’s right, you prick. I’m choking on the memories. They taste like your mother’s cooking, by the way.

I can’t give you what you want, he said.

How did he know, exactly? How did he know when he never even asked me? Smash! In went the painted glasses and the empty Champagne bottle from last Valentine’s Day. I never liked them anyway. They were tacky.

I’d really like for us to stay friends--

We were never friends in the first place. Opportunistic twat. Crack. There went the picture frames. Come to think of it, his face looked better like that--

No, no it didn’t. Oh fuck. He was out of my league from the beginning.

“Bailey!”
The door trembled as Tom thumped it, and I sprang up from the bed.

“Don’t come in yet!” I screeched, lunging for tissues. He wasn’t going to see me crying. Again. Nuh-uh.

“We know you’re mooning,” he called. “The pizzas just arrived and we bought Jägermeister.”

“I’m not hungry.”

The handle creaked, and his shaggy mop of hair appeared around the door. He spotted my wet cheeks immediately, and there it was, the sucka-punch combo of lip-pout and eye-roll. Pity and sympathy. Eugh.
“You can‘t mope about in here forever.”

“I’m not. Look.” I rattled the box full of broken crap. “I’m already on to the angry stage. I’m making good progress.”

“Still crying, though,” he said.

I made a sad attempt at a clawing motion. “They’re tears of…y’know, rage.”

“Hell hath no fury, eh?” He nudged a large, beheaded Winnie the Pooh with his foot. “What did this poor sod ever do to you?”

“It’s from our trip to Euro Disney. The one where I thought he was going to…you know…pro-propo…” No, it was no good. More tears. Possibly snot. This was just embarrassing. “I’m sorry!”

“Jesus, Bailey.” He passed me another tissue and then hauled me up. “I’d give you a hug, but we both know I’m shit with the comforting. Besides.” He looked shifty. “I’m on a new obstetrics rotation and I haven’t washed my hands yet.”

I winced in disgust. “Because nothing cheers a girl up like eau de split vag.”

“Precisely.”

“Pervert.” I sniffed. He went to tap my nose and I lunged away.

“Come and have a drink. You’ll feel better.”

“No, I won’t.”

He dragged me by the wrist. “Have one anyway.”

Tom deposited me in the kitchen next to a horrifically large pizza box and then wandered off to shower. I peeled the lid up with a fingertip; the rich, yeasty stench of it turned my stomach.

Maybe just a glass of water, then.

“Bailey! You’re alive!” Olly pulled me into a rough bear hug. “We thought you’d been eaten by the gnomes of self pity.”

“There are gnomes of self pity?”

“Mmph.” He chomped pepperoni. “They ride on owls of despair.”

“Are they from your videos?”

“No. But they should be.” He jabbed a finger at me. “Your grief is inspiring, Bails. I like that.”

I would have punched him, but it never seemed to do anything. He enjoyed it, actually. “Glad I could be of service.”

Olly and his friend Linc were internet heroes. They started doing paranormal parodies on YouTube just before I moved in--demons, vampires, that kind of thing. It blew up like crazy, and all of a sudden, they had advertising contracts and people made covers of their songs. They were currently designing a new line of metrosexual werewolves.

That’s right--my flatmate was a pseudo-bigot Z-list celebrity. This was possibly the only thing I had going for me. Must. Not. Cry. Again.

“Having a drink?” Olly waved the Jägermeister in my face. “We bought it just for you.”

“No, you didn’t,” I scoffed.

“Well…not the whole thing, okay? But it would have only been Jack if you weren’t so miserable. We upgraded to the ‘Meisty to cheer you up.”

“You know how poor my alcohol tolerance is.”

“Which is why it’ll be especially amusing.” He patted me on the shoulder. “Just one?”

I sighed. “Go on, then.”

He sloshed the brown liquor into a tumbler and I downed it in one burning, bitter gulp. My whole body shuddered.

“Are you sure I’m supposed to drink that straight?” I coughed.

His eyes darted about. “Nope.”

“I’m going to get a shower. Thanks for poisoning me.”

My head was fizzy already. When I said my alcohol tolerance was low, I wasn’t exaggerating. I smacked right into Tom as he emerged from the bathroom.

“Thinking of joining me?” His hips were towel-clad, damp hair swept back.

“Your manly manliness is difficult to resist.” I squeezed the bicep he offered, dutifully. “Is it safe to go in there?”

“Safe as it’ll ever be.”

Showers are supposed to make you feel better, aren’t they? You scrape off the day. Lather up your troubles. Wash that man right out of your hair (Oprah finger snap!). So why, after at least fourteen quid’s worth of Clinique, did I still feel like I was scraped off Craig’s shoe?

I slathered on coconut moisturizer, threw on satin pajamas, combed the curls out of my hair. The only thing the Jäger had done was give me a headache. What was that incessant --

-- oh, the doorbell. Great.

The boys never answered the door unless they were expecting food. It was an unwritten rule-- a bit like “Bailey always brings the cake off-cuts from work and we feed them to her rats when she’s not looking.”
I tucked my hair up into a bun and shuffled towards the groaning bell. I still wasn’t sure why we went for the musical one that plays the Phantom of the Opera. In the dark, it just got creepy.

Linc filled the doorway, all shoulders, dimples and ruffled black hair.

“Hi,” he said, looking awkwardly surprised. Not that it was personal. Linc(oln) always looked like that. It was his thing.

“You can come in, you know.” I stood aside and he nodded at me.

“Yeah. Okay.”

He practically lived with us, anyway--what with he and Olly’s website.

“Go on then,” I said.

He slid in and I put the latch on behind him.

“Good day?” I asked.

“I killed some servers. I was meant to do that, but then they wouldn’t come back online…and then…” He toyed with his hair. “Then we all snuck off for McDonald’s and came home.”

“Sounds eventful. Maybe if your gay poodles take off, you can quit the day job, like Olly.”

“They’re camp werewolves.” He grinned just slightly. It lit up his whole face. “But yeah. Paws crossed.”

I’d barely shut my door when I heard him talking to Olly in the kitchen.

“What’s wrong with Bailey? She’s all…sullen.”

“Oh.” Olly talked through a mouthful of pizza again. “That cunt dumped her.”

“Shit.” Air hissed through Linc’s teeth. “Is she okay?”

“They were together for like, two years. Do you think she’s okay? Still.” More chomping. “The dude’s done her a favor. I mean, he stayed over often enough and there was never much going on in the bow-chic-a-wow-wow department, eh?”

They guffawed with that manly, cringing laugh that they do when a footballer misses a goal.
They’d listened to me and Craig have sex? Was it even that loud? Why had this not been mentioned in a passive aggressive boy-pun?

Linc tittered. “Oh man. That’s low.”

“It’s true though! Come on, you were here enough times. Creak…creak…creak…sorry, baby.”

Oh God. As if things weren’t bad enough.

“If my girlfriend looked like Bailey then I’d want her to at least, you know, realize that I’m fucking her,” said Olly.

Linc cleared his throat. “Your girlfriend looks like Lucy Liu.”

“I know. I got some sauce with my awesome! Let’s eat.”

I couldn’t sit down. Couldn’t think. I was just so mortified, and so…rage-y.

I put music on so I wouldn’t hear anything else they said; it was so hard not to listen. I splayed my sketchbooks out on the floor and tried to come up with some new designs for the ridiculous wedding cake one of our clients wanted, but it wasn’t happening. In the end, I hugged headless Pooh to my chest and had another good sob into his bulging neck cavity.

Had Craig really been that bad in bed? So he didn’t last that long, but that was a compliment, right? He was generous with foreplay…sometimes. And I’d never been a screamer. It wasn’t his fault--
-- argh. No. Too annoyed. I couldn’t stay in here.

I sauntered out and poured myself a large Jäger and lemonade. Then I found the boys in the living room, claimed the last slice of pizza and wedged myself between Linc and Tom.

“You decided to grace us with your presence, then?” said Tom.

“I would have stayed in my room if I realized you were playing this shoddy game again.” I nodded towards the huge TV. “You know that Glee is on, right?”

Linc elbowed me. “If you insult Assassin’s Creed again then I may be forced to tickle you.”

“I’m about to down a pint of disgusting alcohol. If you tickle me, I will vomit.”

Olly laughed. “Classy words from a classy lady.”

“Sod off,” I grumbled.

In the end, it took me the best part of an hour to finish my drink--it was either pace myself, or pass out. In the meantime, I made short work of the pizza. It was cold and not as nice as it looked, but cheese is one of a girl’s greatest comforts during a break-up. I thrashed Tom and Linc on the Tekken game until they tasted my pain, and got slowly, steadily drunk.

I’ve said it before, but my body doesn’t know what to do with booze. As the alcohol seeped into my veins, there were moments that I not only thought, just for a second, that gnomes of self pity existed, but was actually afraid of them and thus kept delaying going to bed.

If I didn’t know the boys better, I would’ve suspected that they drugged my drink. Fortunately, they knew me even better and realized I didn’t need more than a few short measures to fall out of my tree.

At one point, I tried to stand up and crumpled at the knees. “I feel weird.”

“Shush,” said Olly. “It’s therapeutic. Trust me, you’ll feel all purged in the morning.”

“Is that another way of saying that I’m going to be date raped?”

Tom grinned. “It’s a good idea. But no.”

“Well maybe you should.” I sighed. “Then Linc and Olly can stand outside and listen.”

Silence.

Oopsie.

“Oh.” Linc shifted about, folding his thick forearms. “You heard us earlier, then.”

“I heard you slagging off my ex, yep.”

“We’re your friends,” Olly protested. “We’re supposed to slag him off.”

“Yes, but, but --”

“But nothing. Admit it. Craig was crap in bed.”

The blood sloshed in my ears as I glanced from Olly to Linc, and back to Tom.

“She’s got that look again,” said Tom.

I blinked. “What look?”

“The one where you’re wishing you had some pissy girlfriends to whinge to, and do face masks and shit,” said Tom.

“I do not.”
True--the boys were my closest friends. I met Tom and Olly during our first week at uni and we just kind of clicked in that comfy, mellow way. Linc got dragged home from the pub one night and became an honorary by association. I got enough pink frippery at work, and having girlfriends just never seemed that important.
Over the past few days, though, I might have had fantasies about going shopping with some cool blonde girl who helped me pick shoes, and we got our nails done, and then we came home and burned Winnie the Pooh while deciding which member of the Twilight cast we’d like to do bad things to with a tube of--

“See,” said Tom. “I was right.”

“I don’t need girlfriends to cheer me up,” I insisted.

Olly swapped his PlayStation controller for a bottle of beer. “So talk to us, you retard.”

I hunched my shoulders. “I don’t know what I’m meant to talk about.”

“We can start with how shit he was in the sack. Because you know he was, right? Never heard you make a peep.”

“Not all women moan the house down,” I retorted.

“So what was your shag-to-orgasm ratio?” he said. “Go on.”

Linc winced. “Olly!”

“What? If I was a girl, I could totally ask that! Because it’d be ‘for the sisterhood.’ Gah.”

I’d had way too much Jäger to be answering such dodgy questions.

“Go on,” said Tom. “Indulge Olly. He thinks he’s doing you a favor…and I’m nosy.”

“Me too.” Linc gave a single nod.

“Really?” I stole a gulp of Olly’s beer for composure. It didn’t come. “I…um…”

“Like you don’t know.” Olly laughed.

A wide, warm hand covered my eyes. “It’s alright,” Linc whispered. His breath was all hot on my neck. “Now you don’t have to look at him while you’re saying it.”

How did he know I was so embarrassed?

“Zero,” I squeaked.

“Like…zero orgasms?” said Tom.

I nodded, and with the admission over, I peeled Linc’s palm away with a grateful attempt at a smile.

“He never made you come, not even once?” Olly stared at me as if I’d morphed into a cucumber.

“No.” I blame you, Jäger. You and your fizzy drunkenness. “Why’re you looking at me like that?”

“Not once?”

“That’s what I said!”

“But…but…” Olly shrugged. “You know that’s not fair, right?”

“It’s normal. “ I’d read about this on the internet--I knew what I was on about. “I mean, for some girls, it just doesn’t happen…”

“Okay. Back up a minute.” He leaned forward, elbows welded to knees. “You mean you’ve never had one at all?”

“Not with a bloke,” I mumbled.

“Want me to do the blindfold thing again?” Linc whispered.

“No. This is just as mortifying in the dark, actually.” I bit my lip. “Thanks for offering, though.”

Now Tom had the she’s-a-cucumber look going on as well. “So just, you know, out of interest, how many guys have there been?”

What did I have to lose now? “Four.”

Olly grinned. “You sly minx!”

“What? I’m twenty-four. That’s a good number.”

“This is true. Still.” Olly shook his head. “I can’t believe you never just turned round to one of them and said they weren’t doing the business.”

How hard was I blushing right now? Somewhere between Coke can red and Laura Ashley fuchsia? “I didn’t realize they were supposed to.” I glanced around at them. “Come on. They can’t all have been doing it wrong. Your girlfriends always…?”

“Not that I want to boast about my hit rate, or anything.” Olly meshed his fingers before flexing them. “But I can’t say I’m quite at Craig’s level of disappointment.”

“Olly Harris, the cunt whisperer.” Tom started to snigger and Linc crumpled on to his shoulder, joining him.

“I’ve got the moves.” Olly blew on his fist. “What can I say?”

“What moves? What’s this wonderful trick you’re all using that I’m so blatantly unaware of?”

Tom took a swig of beer to compose himself. “Honestly? In my experience? I mean I’m not a doctor--yet--but I think it just takes a bit of perseverance.”

Oh. That might explain a few things. Maybe.

“It does take a while sometimes,” said Olly. “But you have to find the buttons before you can push them, so to speak. Preferably before you get a hand cramp.”

“Or neck cramp,” said Tom.

“It’s better if you get some feedback. It’s like the videos me and Ol make.” Linc paused. “The better a reaction you get for the first bit, the more you enjoy doing the second bit, and then…”

“It does get dull if she’s not doing anything,” Olly cut in. “You’re like, ‘fucking hell, we‘re not doing the ironing!’”

Yeah, because this was totally building my confidence.

Tom tittered again. “You know what you need, Bailey?”

“Go on.”

“A montage.”

All three boys collapsed in crooning laughter then, and I couldn’t help it; I started giggling with them. Fuck the sisterhood. I liked my cozy brotherhood, even if they did get me drunk and force out embarrassing confessions.

“You should have another drink, Bails,” said Olly. “If you’re finding us amusing, then it’s obviously wearing off.”

“No, I just…if I don’t laugh, I might cry again. I feel like such a sad case.”

“You’re not sad. You got dumped, and it turns out your sex life is sorely lacking. But you’ve still got all your awesome cakes.” Olly gave me a valiant wink.

“And a great rack,” Tom added.

“And nice legs.” Linc looked almost as embarrassed saying that as I did hearing it.

I pulled my knees up to my chin and buried my face. You might think that in the five odd years I’d been close to these guys, something sexual would have happened. It’d be logical since they all had penises and I had girl parts. But it just…no. It was never that way. Not that they treated me like a fellow pork sword chevalier; they referred to my feeble female status at least twice a day. But that sort of thing never really came up, for whatever reason. And I was so not in the right head space to take a compliment.

Stupid, donkey-raping, substituting-a-diamond-for-Pooh Craig.

“So what do you suggest I do, then?” I said finally. “Go out and molest men until I find one with your sexual prowess, Ol?”

“Oh God, I don’t know.” He rolled his eyes at me. “I mean, you might do all sorts of weird things like not let them go down on you, or you might not actually know where your clit is.”

“Or sometimes it’s just too hairy and you wish that she’d wouldn’t let you,” Tom said glumly.

“I’m not a freak,” I muttered. “And I’m not that hairy either.”

“Not that hair is bad,” said Olly quickly, “just that nobody wants friction burns. Or to suddenly be transported to the Mongolian wilderness when she takes her knickers off.”

“You know, I think I’m going to go to bed before you depress me any further.”

Tom jumped up in front of me. “Hold on to my arm,” he said. “You don’t want a twisted ankle to add to your list of girly whinges.”

“I can walk, you moron.”

I gave all the boys a rather woozy hug goodnight and stopped off in the hall to feed the rats. Bruce, the fat, fluffy brown one, sidled up my arm and sat on my shoulder.

“You need to go on a diet,” I told him sagely. “No more fromage pour Bruce.”

Tarquin, the skinny white one, looked up from his crossed paws and then pretended he wasn’t excited while I refilled their bowl. He always had this sniffy nonchalance about him; I knew he’d be cartwheeling with joy when I left the room and he found the dog biscuits.

“See, Bruce,” I said, “I’m not going to be the lonely cat lady on the veranda with her shotgun. I’ll be half covered in royal icing and sawdust, instead.”

He chattered his teeth into my ear and I nudged him with my nose. Then I lowered him into the cage, slid it shut, and wandered off to bed.

I put Pooh--and the box of stupid Craig--outside my door before I closed it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to work on being Angry with a capital A.

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