Insomnia is a terrible thing. I don't own Jane By Design. I do wish I had access to Nick Roux (Billy), though.
The news is like a punch to the gut.
He's been sneaking around with Lulu.
It's italicized for emphasis. The girl has had it out for me ever since the unfortunate apple juice incident of 1999. I'd rehash the details, but it's a memory I think neither of us particularly wants to relive. The point is that she hates me. It's the stereotypical, rich popular girl archetype that I have to deal with. And I'm just the orphan Annie girl that has to suffer through it. A part of me wants to believe that she went after Billy just to further antagonize me, but that wouldn't explain why Billy went along with it.
Then again, he's a teenage guy. And she's a gorgeous girl. It makes total sense.
But no. Billy's not that vain. He wouldn't do that. I think he really liked her. Likes her? I don't know. I just don't know how I could have missed it. How could he have snuck around for three months without anyone, especially me, noticing? Am I really that oblivious?
Billy waves his hand in front of my face and I realize that I have completely zoned out on him. Guess that answers that question. I turn my head just a few degrees so that I don't have to really look him in the eye. I'm still staring at his face, but I can't quite force myself to meet his eyes, which are obviously trying to gauge my reaction.
It's not a question, but I breathe out the two words and Billy launches into an explanation as if it is anyway. "I know, I know. I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have kept it a secret from you, but Lulu didn't want anyone to know and I guess I just felt like I shouldn't say anything. But I got tired of keeping up the charade, Jane. I wanted to believe that she wanted what I wanted."
I have no idea what he has said. Except for the last bit. "And you wanted Lulu." It's a dull sort of surprise that pops out of my mouth.
He finally forces me to look at him, really look at him and after his hand falls from my chin, I can see that admitting this to me is hard for him. His best friend hates the girl he likes. Liked? It's a tough rock to be pushing up that hill.
"I...did. Yeah. I didn't want to, but there was something about her. I thought that the rich, mean girl thing was just an act. And maybe being with me would make her want to be different." His head dips down and I suddenly feel sympathetic.
"I'm sorry, Billy."
Even as I say the words, I can feel the level of suck in them. They're the worst to hear, especially when it's something this bad. "No, wait! I take that back! I mean, I am sorry about it all. It sucks. I mean, it really sucks. But it's her loss! If she doesn't want to walk down these hallways with you, hand in hand, just so all of the other girls can be jealous of how amazing you are then - then that is just her loss, Billy."
Oh, the ranting. It's something I don't think I'll ever get over. Not even with Billy.
He sighs. "No, Jane. I'm not amazing. You're my best friend. I should have told you about her a long time ago. In my book, that makes me a pretty un-amazing friend. And I guess a part of it was that I liked this girl - "
He said liked. Liked. Not like. Liked.
" - and she was totally ragging on my number one all the time. I mean, she pushed you into a pool. She's...just not a good person." He gives me a small smile. "She doesn't have the good heart that you do, Janie."
These words melt that 'good heart' of mine. "It's sweet talk like that that keeps me around, Billy Nutter."
"So, you forgive me then? For keeping this secret?"
The bell rings, signaling that our lunch is over. We stand and throw away our trash. I readjust my bag and we stand together for a moment, as I try to put into words what I'm feeling. "I'm not mad. I'm a little crushed that you kept it from me, yeah. I couldn't keep a secret from you if I tried. You're one of two constants in my life. You and Ben. And thinking, knowing, that you could go three months sneaking around with someone who makes fun of my clothes, pushed me into pool, and invited me to a slumber party as a prank - I guess I'm just a little bit numb is all."
The thing about me and Billy is that no matter what, no matter what is between us, we're honest with each other about our feelings. It's how we know that no matter how bad it is, we can get through it.
"I know. You're the most important thing to me, Janie. And I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I hurt you." After this totally girly statement flies out of him, he leans in and hugs me and it's a good one. A confirmation and solidification of something deeper than friendship. It's the kind of embrace that we don't share all that often. It's like warmth.
When I open my eyes and see Lulu staring at us from across the courtyard, the smile slips off of my face and I just know that this conversation about Lulu won't be our last. The look she's giving me is one of pure contempt. Jealousy. And maybe a little twinge of regret. This isn't the end of Billy and Lulu.
I just wonder how far into it I'll be dragged.
How do I bully you into reviewing? Do I add a smile? Do I say please? Do I promise to review something of yours? What do I need to do to get one of those nice comments I know you've got stored in your fingertips? Hmm? Alas, I'm at a loss for what to say.
Or am I? If you want to see a continuation, well...you would kind of need to let me know, am I right? ;)
I'm not always this cheeky. I promise. All criticism is very much appreciated. Thank you for reading!
(Let me get one thing straight, too, before you hound me about it - I am pulling for Jane and Billy one-hundred percent. I'm just trying to do it realistically and build up to it.)