I certainly hadn't mean to run in Ryder like this.
I had stood outside his door for literally ten minutes, pacing back and forth, puzzling out what I was doing here, and more importantly, why I wasn't leaving. My whole mind was consumed with thoughts of him and it was freaking me out. I hadn't ever felt like this before, but now... Seeing him with Dinah ignited some terrible jealousy within me, burning and raging on, endless and unwavering.
That was when he had opened the door, run straight into me and sent us both tumbling to the ground. For a few seconds I ended up on top of him, staring into his eyes before blushing furiously and scrambling to my feet. Did he notice the way I couldn't look at him? The way my face had reddened considerably?
'Lexi?' he asked, genuinely surprised.
'Yeah...' I couldn't think of what else to say.
For God's sake Lexi, get a grip.
'Hey do you want to come in? Dinah and I are leaving in a bit but you're welcome to join us.' He smiled at me and my instant reaction was to shout no, but my mouth couldn't seem to say the words and I felt myself mumbling the exact opposite.
'Great! Come in, Dinah's just getting ready.'
I followed him into his flat, thankful that he couldn't see my facial expression. He'd definitely know something was up then. I took a moment to compose myself before making myself at home, sitting down on one of the sofas.
He sat directly opposite me and once again I found it hard to control my wandering eyes which seemed to look anywhere but at him. I forced myself to return his gaze.
'So...' Nothing said awkwardness like pathetic small talk. 'Where are you heading?'
'To a gig, actually. Dinah doesn't know, it's a surprise,' he gave a cheeky grin.
'Oh, well then I would feel rude intruding,' I started to stand but he shook his head.
'No! Come with us. It'll be fun.'
'Okay...' I sank back down. Seconds later, Dinah entered the room, looking stunning in a black dress and matching heels. She stopped in the doorway at the sight of me, her thickly lined eyes flickering between me and Ryder before she smiled.
'Lexi, it's nice to see you. When did you show up?'
'A moment ago,' I returned her smile, suddenly feeling incredibly guilty. Why was I even here? Why was I trying to ruin their perfect night? She'd been nothing but nice to me ever since I'd arrived in New York. I wasn't allowed to feel like this about her boyfriend.
'Am I wearing the right attire?'
'Yeah, you look beautiful,' Ryder murmured appreciatively. Seeing the way he looked at her, how it was so natural and full of such love and adoration, the guilt slowly subsided and was replaced with the familiar feeling of envy. Why couldn't I ever have a guy look at me like that?
'Where are we going?'
'There's this thing going down in Central Park tonight. A sort of concert thing. I thought it'd be nice if we all went.'
'Sounds fantastic,' Dinah grinned.
Fantastic was the last word I'd use to describe how the night was going to be.
The night air was cool against my skin and I shivered involuntarily. If I'd known we were going to be outside, I might have worn a jacket, instead of just a simple top and skirt. Ryder had already given Dinah his jacket and he looked guilty as he saw me suffering from the chill. I just shook my head, my teeth chattering.
'I'm fine... it's my own fault for not bringing a jacket.'
Moments later we arrived in Central Park. It was all done up in fairy lights which linked from tree to tree, creating a warm luminous glow against the dark surroundings. People were gathered in their crowds, sipping from plastic cups, chattering animatedly. Some way up was a large stage with microphones and a drum set already set up.
My eyes were scouring the crowd when I saw something that made my heart plummet.
Elijah. With his girlfriend.
I quickly ducked my head, hoping he hadn't seen me.
'Lexi?' Dinah spoke softly. 'Are you alright?'
'Elijah's here,' I mumbled pathetically.
'Oh yeah,' Ryder chipped in. 'I heard he was playing tonight.'
'Great,' I replied. 'Terrific.'
'Hey, let me get you guys a drink,' Dinah offered. She kissed Ryder on the lips, before heading over to a nearby stand, returning moments later with three large cups. I took a tentative sniff of the liquid and scrunched my nose up.
'Of course,' she laughed. 'What else is there gonna be? Orange juice?'
They both laughed and I flushed red, suddenly feeling incredibly naive and childish. Looking at them both drinking, I felt an incredible urge to join in.
Here's to new chances.
* * *
'You know,' I laughed. 'This music is actually terrible when I think about it. Elijah really isn't that good...at anything.'
'I've heard better,' Ryder agreed.
'Ditto to that,' Dinah chirped.
I stifled another giggle as the guy I had once had feelings for belted out another incredible pointless, incredibly shit lyric, accompanied by the worst guitarist I had ever heard in my life.
'I could play better with my EYES closed!'
'I think she's drunk,' Dinah sniggered.
'Hey,' I frowned. 'I'm not drunk. I'm just...happy. Happy, happy, happy.'
'Listen, I'm gonna call for a taxi. It's getting late for Lexi.'
'I'm not a kid,' I had meant to point at Dinah, but somehow forgot I was holding the cup and the liquid from inside suddenly ended up all down her dress.
'Omigod.' I burst out laughing. 'I'm so sorry Dinah! I forgot my cup was full.'
'How much did you drink tonight?' she narrowed her eyes.
'The man was very nice, didn't ask for my age or anything.'
'I'll take that as a lot.' She sighed, beginning to wipe down her dress. 'I'm gonna get a taxi for her Ryder, you take her away from the crowd to calm down.'
Ryder looped his arm through mine and began to lead me away.
'You're a nice person you know that?'
He laughed. 'Thank you Lexi. But you're drunk and don't know what you're saying.'
'I'm really not drunk,' I sighed, sagging against the tree we had stopped at. He crouched down so he was eye level with me.
Without thinking, I leant forward and kissed him. It lasted only a few seconds, but it was enough to stun me into silence and for him to break off, staring at me with complete and utter confusion.
'Wow,' I murmured.
'Why did you do that?' he whispered, hurt.
'I wanted to,' I replied simply.
'You're completely drunk, and you know I love Dinah. This is getting out of control. You are going to sober up, and we'll forget this ever happened.'
'I don't think I want to...' I mumbled truthfully.
'Lexi!' he groaned, standing up. 'Please don't do this to me.'
'The taxi's gonna be here any minute,' Dinah appeared out of nowhere and we both jumped slightly. Luckily it wasn't enough for her to notice.
'Great,' Ryder did his best to smile, but as his eyes caught mine he couldn't help the grimace that entered his features.
I had just made things, incredibly complicated.
Muse - Resistance