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Snippet Eight: The Showdown
Nicky was waiting in the kitchen and wrapped his arms around me. “Want to talk about it?”
I pulled away and grabbed a bottle of vodka. “No. I want to drink and forget it.”
I saw Gabriel start to head for the back yard and remembered the severity of the situation I was in. If Alec had pre-gamed that hard there was no telling what state he was in now. I needed to keep them away from each other.
“Gabe!” I yelled before he stepped outside. “Come take a shot with me.”
He hesitantly made his way into the kitchen. He had picked the label off his barely touched beer and had it rolled between his fingers. I’d never seen him fidget so much.
“Don’t let her talk you into it, man.” Nicky warned.
“Don’t listen to Nicholas, he clearly has forgotten how to have fun.” I poured three shots of peach vodka. “This will help you remember.”
Nicky, Gabriel, and I each took a glass and held them in front of us.
“To the end of summer,” I toasted.
“Cheers,” Gabriel said before taking half his shot. That was all he could get down at one time. As he struggled to choke down the rest, Nicky and I set our empty glasses down simultaneously.
“Woo!” I cheered. “What next?”
“I’m good for now.” Gabriel said.
“Nicky?” I may have abused my ‘flirty’ eyes to make sure he didn’t say no.
“Go ahead,” he agreed.
I poured him a single and myself a double.
Nick sat his shot glass down and patted a very pale and disoriented looking Gabe on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s get you some food. Looks like that shot isn’t agreeing with you too well.”
Thanks to Nick babysitting my light-weight boyfriend, I could brave the backyard and check up on Dylan. I’d decided he was the one I wanted to ‘win’ for the night. I figured Gabe wouldn’t make it much longer, and I was pissed at Alec. I hadn’t seen him since Finn incident and as far as I knew he left when I ran away and never returned. Good riddance.
Only I was wrong. Alec hadn’t disappeared and he hadn’t avoided Dillon.
“You don’t even know her.” Dillon’s voice was rising above the crowd and they were starting to attract an audience.
Alec took confident steps towards Dillon, backing him to the edge of the pool. One wrong move and they’d both be taking an involuntary swim. I caught Dillon’s gaze and shook my head. He shoved Alec and stepped to the side.
“Leaving so soon?” Alec laughed. He followed Dillon into the yard and the crowd parted ways to let them through. “Tell me, why did you show up in the first place when Isla wants nothing to do with you?”
Dillon turned to face Alec again. The showdown was coming. I managed to take myself out of the equation for minute and realize the person who was going to be hurt most was Gabriel. I ran inside and found him sitting in the living room with Nick.
“Nick was right,” Gabe said between bites of burger. “Food was a good idea.”
“You’re a really good guy, Gabriel. I’m sorry.” I blurted out.
“Sorry for what? The shots? I’m feeling better already, it’s okay.”
I shook my head. “I’m not the kind of girl you think I am.”
Nick took my confession as his cue to leave the room so Gabe and I could talk.
Gabriel sat his plate down, stood by my side and reached for my hand. “Isla, are you breaking up with me?”
“No.” I pulled away. “But I’m pretty sure you’re going to break up with me after this.”
“I don’t know wh—”
Dillon threw the door open so hard he left a small dent in the wall with the knob. “Isla, you tell that douche bag out there to shut the hell up or I’m gonna beat his ass.”
Nicky came running back around the corner and stood ready to intervene if needed.
In strolled Alec. He walked straight to me and propped his arm over my shoulder. “Dilly boy is just upset ’cause I was telling him the truth about how you’re tired of him.”
“Alec, stop,” I whispered, but the crowd around us was already growing. Everyone from outside had followed Dillon and Alec into the living room.
“What? I’ve done the hard part for you, baby. Now you get to tell him to leave and I get you all to myself.” He kissed the top of my head but kept his eyes on Dillon.
“Isla, who is this?” Gabe demanded.
I shrugged my shoulder to get Alec’s arm off. “Gabriel, I’m sor—”
“Oh shit!” Alec laughed. “Your boyfriend is here too? Damn girl, you do get around.”
That was it for Nicky. He moved across the room as quick as he could and grabbed the back of Alec’s arm. “You need to leave.”
“Just when the dramas getting good? I don’t think so.”
Alec pulled away from Nicky and before I could blink Nicky had punched him in the jaw. Had he not been so shit faced, Alec would have been the one to bet on in a match between the two, but Nicky had the upper hand of sobriety. Alec stood dumbfounded with his hand around his cheek. All our onlookers let out a gasp in unison and stared unblinking.
Nick kept his fist clenched, ready to throw another punch if Alec was stupid enough to come after him. “Everyone, get outside or go home!”
Alec, still cupping his chin with his palm, stumbled toward the front door. I waited for another smartass comment, but it never came. I wondered which of us would find a new job first.
The crowd shuffled back outside, and I was left with Nicky, Dillon, and Gabriel standing in front of me. “I’m sorry.”
I ran around the corner into the dining room and sank to the floor. To my surprise Dillon followed.
I could hear Gabriel yelling at Nicky. “Did you know?”
“I stay out of her relationship stuff, man. I’m sorry, but that’s between y’all.”
“This…this…is just really shitty. You know that?” Gabriel’s voice cracked.
Fight back the tears a little longer Isla. You can’t let Dillon see you cry.
“Why are you still here?” I asked as he sat next to me.
“I needed to make sure you were okay.”
I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to look at him and his stupid backwards hat. “Don’t I look it?”
“Did he ever hurt you?”
“Who are you now, my mother?” I scowled. Maybe being mad at Dillon too would keep me from crying. Maybe being mad at Dillon would make him leave, but I quickly realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I was annoyed with him, but I needed him there and he knew it.
“Isla, I’m serious.”
“Alec? No he was just being an especially large prick tonight.”
“How long has that been going on?”
“Why do you care?”
“Because…” he gently wiped a tear from my cheek, “if you really are tired of me I want to know.”
The warmth of his hand made me crave the rest of him. I wanted to stop talking and curl up and go to bed together. We could sort out feelings in the morning. “Dillon, I don’t know how I feel about you.”
Gabriel and Nick’s ‘discussion’ had come to an end and I heard the front door slam.
“Want to go for a walk before Nick finds us?” I suggested.
“Yeah.” Dillon stood up and offered me his hand. I’ve never sobered up so quick in my life.