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Complicate Me(2)

By:M. Robinson

I couldn’t take my eyes off her, it took everything inside me not to make a scene. I couldn't control the internal battle that surfaced in the forefront of my mind, it was a tsunami of emotions. I loved her, I knew I loved her, I always have and I always will. She owned every part of me. My heart was hers since before I knew what her having it even meant. But she deserved to be happy, so I had to let her go.

It wasn’t fair to either of us.

Especially her.

She suddenly looked down at the ground as if she felt me. The look on her face exposed the girl I grew up with, the same girl that couldn’t hide her emotions from me. Her face frowned and her mouth parted, instinctively pulling away from her fiancé who didn’t pay her any mind. I didn’t know if she did it for my benefit or hers. Then she looked up and right at me. There was no wandering in her stare as she found mine from the corner of the room. We stood on the dance floor gazing at one another like there was no one else around us, like the room wasn’t filled with our friends and family. I didn’t care if anyone saw us. We had spent over two and a half decades worrying about everyone else’s feelings.

I saw nothing but pure unadulterated fear as she placed her hand on her heart, as if she were trying to hold it together. Slowly breaking her gaze from mine, our connection was broken. It mirrored our love. My feet moved of their own accord as I followed her out to the beach.

Our beach.

Grasping the necklace tighter in my pocket.

We exchanged words that will forever haunt me, adding to the pile of endless confessions, secrets, and betrayals. I inhaled the sweet and tantalizing smell of Alex, the lingering scent of her vanilla shampoo and the sunscreen that I knew she still put on every morning. The smell of her cherry lip-gloss brought me right back to childhood when she used to be mine.

I kissed her because I couldn’t not kiss her.

I pecked my lips on the only spot I knew wouldn’t be crossing the line, even though a line was never drawn.

She belonged to me.

Plain and simple.

Our emotions were running wild, trying to accept the bond our hearts will forever have. We laid our love out for each other years ago. I fought a battle I knew I could never win. The emotional turmoil ate away at me the closer we got to saying goodbye. That’s what happened when two halves of a heart come together and become one.

We would always be linked.

We were destined to be soul mates.

Star-crossed lovers.

When I spun her to look at me, the little girl with pigtails wearing boy clothes was gone and all that was left was…

The woman getting married to a man that wasn’t me.

“Guys, this isn’t fair!” I shouted from below.

“Life’s not fair, Half-Pint,” Lucas called out.

“But I want to play in the tree house, too.”

“Can’t you read?” Jacob yelled, pointing to the crappy sign that looked like it was drawn with women’s lipstick. The bright red, boy handwriting clearly stated, “No Girls Allowed.”

“That’s a stupid rule if I ever heard one. I’m not a girl, I’m one of the boys, exactly how I’ve always been. I’m one of you.”

I put on my best boy stance, as they peered down at me, leaning all my weight on one leg and crossing my arms, giving them one hell of a standoff. If they didn’t let me up there, I would find my own way. Even if that meant I had to climb the tree all by myself. By the look on all four of their faces, they knew it, too.

We grew up in the small town of Oak Island, North Carolina. Our families had all been friends growing up in this Southern beach town. My parents, Nathanial, and Jana owned a restaurant right on the water where I spent most of my childhood along with my four best friends, who all happened to be boys.

Jacob Foster was the oldest. He took on the "Big Brother" role before all of us could even walk. He was thirteen and tall for his age, nearly six foot. He was still a gangly kid, all skin and bones, but with the sweetest smile and vibrant green eyes. He always had a ball cap permanently glued on his head. He was like the poster child for surfing, always wearing all kinds of different surf brands. He protected me fearlessly, but I didn’t need any protection, I could carry my own weight and I often reminded him of that. His parents, Ginger and Lee owned a grocery store up the road, where they sold all kinds of tourist crap and food. They preserved a farm on his grandparent’s old plantation in South Port that they only opened on Sundays. The church folk would gather together and go to town just to get the freshest produce near us. He had two younger sisters, Jessie, and Amanda, who bored me to no wits end.

Why would I want to play with dolls when I could be climbing trees and building forts?

Dylan McGraw was thirteen, just a few months shy of Jacob. They were always the closest to one another. I think it’s because their personalities were somewhat the same, both acting as if we owned the beach whenever kids passed through town on vacation. He was also tall, almost the same height as Jacob, with hazel eyes and skin that tanned like the best of them. He had long blonde hair that went past his ears. His mom was always on his butt to get it trimmed but he refused, saying it was his style. During the summer the sun and salt water would bleach his hair almost white. His parents, McKenzie and Steve mostly worked from home. They had an act for refurbishing old furniture and turning it into something modern, new, and unique. Some of the items were sold in local shops, some from their online store, and some were loaded up and hauled to flea markets, where tourists flocked and overpaid for the quality work. Dylan and I both had the only child syndrome.

Austin Taylor was eleven and the shortest among the boys, although he would punch you in the face if you ever told him that. He was a rambunctious kid that was always trying to make up for the fact that the other boys were bigger than him. He was a cute kid with red hair and green eyes. His mom said he had some Scottish bloodline, hence the red hair. He hated it growing up, but once we reached high school, it had its perks. The freckles on his face became more prominent, which were very enticing to the girls at Oak Island high school. They fawned over him because he looked so different from the other boys around here. He had a baby brother named Hunter, who was five years younger than him.

Last, but definitely not least was Lucas Ryder or Bo, as I called him. It meant commander and that was him to a T— born to lead, not to follow. He was twelve, almost thirteen, and had a temper like no one else I had ever met before though he was always the sweetest boy to me. No one could tell him no and if you did, he would do it anyway just to spite you. We’re the closest to one another. He always looked out for me and defended me when the boys called me a girl. I hated when they pointed out I couldn't do something they could do, just because I didn't have something dangling between my legs.

Who would want that anyway?

Nothing pissed me off more than being called a girl.

I was constantly showing them up because I had to. I was always covered in bruises, skinned knees, and dirty clothes. My hair tied up high on my head, either in pigtails or a ponytail. When I was four years old I took a pair of scissors that I found in my mama’s nightstand and walloped off all my hair, cutting it short just like the boys. From then on out they hid the scissors from me and always tied my hair up, fearing that I would do it again if given the chance.

Lucas was secretly my favorite out of all the boys. You could even go as far as saying that I loved him a little bit more than the rest of them. I didn’t know why, I just did. It had always been that way for me and I often felt like the feeling was mutual. Though we never spoke about it until we were older and understood the emotions that circulated through the years. He was always the most handsome out of all the boys and girls were pining over him since the day he was born. He had dark hair that complemented his baby blue eyes that resembled the ocean water on a warm summer day. He had prominent facial features that I never got tired of looking at, and even at that young of an age, he knew it.

Lucas was just as tall as Jacob, maybe slightly taller. He was built broader than the other boys because he surfed like crazy. All the boys did, but Lucas was obsessed with it. You could always find him on the waves whether it was night or day. He wanted to grow up to be a professional surfer, often riding waves that no one else dropped into and making all of us nervous.

The boy had no fear.

He had a baby sister, Lily, she was a few years younger than me, but we didn’t become friends until much later in life. I swear the girl came out singing with a guitar in her hand, they put her in lessons by the time she was five. Their dad, Dr. Robert Ryder was one of the only doctors we had in town, often seeing patients that weren’t even part of his medical degree, while his mom Savannah was a housewife.

I couldn’t tell you how many times Dr. Ryder stitched us up right in his very own living room, not bothering to take us to his office. Bringing home medical supplies became a thing of the norm since we were constantly getting hurt. I remembered the first time I needed stitches. I was six years old and tried to jump off the riverbank like Dylan and my knee caught the rock at the bottom of the river. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t cry, I never cried. I bit my lip as hard as I could to keep the damn tears from falling down the sides of my face. Lucas tried to sit me on his handlebars, but it hurt too much to bend my knee. So I sat facing him on his lap as he rode his bike home.