Chapter Six:Written by Callista Loveday
Caroline had told Alex it was a bad idea to take Joe along to the cinema, but Joe had pulled Caroline aside earlier that evening when he saw Dan's sleek silver car pull up. He had learned to despise that car in the past couple days.
"Joe, it's just an innocent little movie. What does it matter?"
"Because, because-" Joe cupped her sweet little face in his hands as if explaining to a child, which in a way she was. "Because I know men like Dan! He will take, take, take, and- For god's sake, Caroline, you've already invited him into our house. Sitting next to him in a dark theater is just adding on to this chaos, and it's blatant teasing. Oh sure, it may seem like innocent flirting now, but you can't keep doing this to me, to us. Things will keep adding onto each other until they're-" Joe finally stopped, seeing that Caroline wasn't getting all this, her blue-green eyes blank. It was time to use another tactic. "Aren't David and I enough for you anymore?"
Sure enough, the last sentence hit Caroline with a blow.
Dear god, I need to talk to Alex. I can't keep lying to him. His green eyes, brimming with love and fear and trust were so life-like she could almost believe he was orga. But perhaps wanted to was more like it.
Oh, the lies, when would it ever stop? "Joe, don't say that, you know it isn't true." Joe smiled wistfully at her response, reminding Caroline once again how strikingly handsome he really was. It was times like that when she allowed herself to be attracted to him, flinging social status and care out the window.
"Do I?" Joe whispered softly.
Caroline resisted the natural instinct to move back as he moved to kiss her. Probably the millionth time in Joe's mind, but it would really be the very first.
Before it happened, the click of Alex's heels and the soft sound of Dan's loafers (with little tassels on them) hitting the floor was heard coming into the room. Alex must of used the key she had given her when she moved in.
So finally, here they were, walking out of the movie (which was good but Caroline couldn't enjoy, because Joe kept smirking at the mediocre dialogue and action scenes), each with their own worries.
Well, except for Dan, who if he had to chose his biggest worry- after all, Alex had been interfering with his plans lately, which could be a problem-, it would be how many millions of Joe's to replicate.
"Before we go outside, I'm going to.. powder my nose," Caroline said. Frankly there was no elegant way to say she had to go. Alex knew she was expected to follow, but out of devilment let her wait a good ten or fifteen seconds after Carolin had disappeared into the bathroom.
"Meet you guys outside," Alex called behind her.
The two guys slowed their pace down a little bit, Dan scanning his mind- for this was one of the few times in his life he found he had nothing to say. He decided to buy a pretzel off a vendor, for since he was a small child he had always had to have something in his hands, not realizing until it was too late that Joe couldn't eat, which meant another slung insult against him in Joe's mind.
"Why Caroline?" Joe asked in the same manner as if acquiring about the weather.
"What do you mean?" Dan asked back, desperately trying to buy himself time. Alex and Caroline must be talking in there, he realized.
"You-" he began, clenching and unclenching his hands. "Why not Alex? She's already in love with you. Why my Caroline?"
Dan did the math quickly, and knew he would crumble to the ground instantly with one blow from Joe's fist, which he designed himself to be strong. Normally he avioded fights, but he decided that a bloody nose may be worth it just to see how far Joe's anger could go when threatened.
"What's wrong, Gigolo Joe? Jealous because Caroline chose me instead of you?" His words felt thick in his mouth, and he felt just as shocked by his words as Joe looked. Fortunately for Dan, Alex appeared, and dragged him off, saying good-night. They moved a couple steps forward as Dan called behind him, "She's a good kisser, too."
"Who?" Alex asked, wrapping onto his arm.
"Just talking about you, Alex," Dan said, trying to look sincere.
Joe heard all this and made a small note to himself to explain to Alex one day what he was really talking about. But for now Caroline was his only business, and he needed some answers.
When Joe walked into the ladies room. he was once again overcome by Caroline's beauty. Even though her hands were gripping onto the sink so hard her knuckles were turning white, and she was inhaling too deeply for her small frame, she still managed to look pulled together.
"Caroline?" Joe said softly, as if afraid that the 'moment' would shatter if he talked too loudly.
They stared at each other's reflection for a moment.
"You're not supposed to be in here, you know."
"I was talking to Dan outside," Joe started anyway, daring to move a few steps closer to her and gesturing at the door, not taking his eyes off her for a moment. "He told me some things, Caroline, some things I find very unnerving." He moved even closer, nearly touching her. "You know I forgive you. I just need to know why."
An orga man never would of forgiven her so easily. Some wouldn't have at all. But that was Joe.
She broke eye contact with him. He had stopped blinking when he had been talking to her, which to her was unsettling. "What do you mean, you forgive me? What exactly did he tell you?"
"He told me you kissed him. That he kissed you." Images rushed to Joe's mind, too quickly to possibly stop. The two of them together- Oh, it was so painful to even think about. "And that would mean that you didn't tell me the truth, and that you lied to me several times. You promised, Caroline." Although his tongue was eagerly spewing out these words, everything inside him screamed for him to stop, desperately wishing it wasn't true. But it had to be.
"Yes, I did promise. And I was true on that promise, Joe, I didn't kiss him. Not once since three years ago, and I apologize for that." She could of left it at that, and they both would of been happy, but she fekt like doing something very cruel at the moment. "I thought you trusted me, Joe, I thought you knew me better than that."
She practically feel his mecha heart breaking, and allowed herself to be pulled over to the couch in the ladies room sitting lounge. She let herself think over her conversation with Alex.
"I swear, Alex, I'm getting so sick of this, him following me around like a little lost puppy. It's something out of grade school. No, wait, that's not true- No one ever had a crush on me during grade school." She rubbed concealor under her eyes lightly. "You said only the imprinting process would do this."
"Mm-hmm." Alex had been acting unusually quiet lately.
She had tried to think of the night this had all happened, when she started connecting things, and she didn't know why she didn't do this earlier.
Alex had never said the code had to be imprinted by the buyer.
"Yes, Caroline," she asked, not meeting her eyes.
"Please tell me- Please tell me you didn't do it."
The silence that had greeted it more than made up for a suitable answer of any kind.
"Carol, trust me, I had no choice."
She felt cold all of a sudden, and she realized she didn't really care anymore. The only thing she knew was that she wanted Joe. She couldn't explain it, but it suddenly seemed as if it was a logical explanation, and it felt so right. "Please just get out, Alex."
"I just- I want you to know, Caroline, that you're my best friend. I was doing it for you from the very start. I don't know what else to say-"
"Just- Get out." She had closed her eyes, knowing Alex hadn't moved. But then after what seemed like forever, Alex made up her mind to leave. Caroline knew that Alex would call, day after day after day, asking for forgiveness, and even if the days passed into months and months passed into years, she would forgive her.
Joe's soft hand touched her shoulder. "Darling?" Even though she hadn't heard the question, she knew what he was asking. To put this behind them, to move on, to be sucked into the world Joe had created for the two of them.
For the first time in her life, she didn't think of the consequences. Leaning over into his arms, she kissed him. For the first time, and not for the last.
And when the kiss ended, all too briefly, she stayed there, with Joe holding onto her, knowing how she answered and wanting to hold onto her forever.