Chapter 18: Jealousy
My mom invited everyone to the living room to chat and wait for dinner to finish cooking. My mom and Christi sat on the love seat together, while Loki, Layla and I were stuck with sitting on the couch. Layla sat herself right in the middle of the couch, while Loki and I sat on either side of her. As soon as we all sat down, she immediately started up a conversation with Loki, turning towards him, leaving me out of the conversation. My mom and Christi tried to include me in their conversation, but I was still fuming.
“So, where are you staying?” Layla asked Loki, flipping her hair. I wanted to pull it. Calm down Noelle.
“I am currently staying here, with Noelle, until we return home.” Loki said neutrally. He didn’t look my way while he spoke to her, nor did he try to include me in his conversation, which bugged me more.
“Oh…so you guys are a couple?” She knit her brows together, pursed her lips unhappily.
“No.” We both replied at the same time, though Loki said it faster and sounded more alarmed than I did. Did he react that way because he likes me or because he doesn’t? And why am I becoming so worried about this? It wasn’t like Loki was openly flirting or showing interest in Layla. He was just being polite. And who was I to get angry when Loki was just being polite?
“Oh, so you’re friends. Well, Noelle and I are great friends too. We’ve known each other a long time.” I resisted the urge to roll my eye. Layla may have sounded sincere to everyone else, but she was fake to me. “So how long are you going to be here Loki?”
“Perhaps four days at the most.” Loki eyed me then, and I knew we wouldn’t be staying a day longer. “We only just arrived yesterday though. Not much time I’m afraid but there is work to be done back home.”
“Maybe we could get together before you leave. I could show you around town, maybe we could get dinner?” Layla offered, sliding a little closer to Loki.
“I’m sure I can show Loki around just fine.” I put in. Loki nodded, sensing the tension building in the air every minute Layla and I sat next to each other.
“But you’ll probably want to spend more time with you mom, and Loki doesn’t have family here, so maybe it’d be better for him to experience some one on one attention.” Layla argued with me. I opened my mouth to reply when my mom and Christie cut into our conversation.
“So Layla, Christie tells me you’re working?” My mom asked.
“I’m working at the Lounge downtown, but I’m thinking of quitting.” Layla said indifferently. I saw Christie’s face drop a bit.
“Why? I thought you liked that job?” Christie asked, a little embarrassed. I didn’t blame her; she finally had something positive to tell us about her niece and she blew it.
“I don’t know. It just really isn’t me.” She said, bored. “I mean, waitressing isn’t that great.”
“Are you still thinking of going for that secretary of law program at the community college?” My mom asked, trying to smooth things over. “I know waitressing doesn’t pay well, but college can be pricey.”
“I think I might go, but I haven’t applied yet. Again, the job won’t pay well.” Layla crossed her legs, looking at Loki. “I just can’t seem to find the right program for me that pays a lot. I mean, come on, we all can’t get by on 15$ an hour. I have a lot of expenses.” No one said anything.
“Christie, would you mind helping me serve dinner?” My mom changed the subject.
“Yes, of course Beth.” Christie got up, her face slightly flushed. I couldn’t her blame her. They left to the kitchen, leaving us three to sit quietly and awkwardly in the living room.
“So, where are you from exactly?” Layla leaned in closer to Loki. “You have a cute accent.”
“I am from…” Loki looked to me. He clearly forgot the cover story.
“England.” I finished for him. Layla turned and gave me an annoyed look.
“I’ve never been to England.” Layla sighed. “So, Loki, do you live by yourself then, or with your girlfriend in England?”
Loki knit his eyebrows. “Noelle is my girlfriend?” My jaw dropped, before I realized Loki didn’t know that the term ‘girlfriend’ meant a girl you were romantically involved with.
“But you said you two weren’t a couple?” Layla said accusingly.
“We aren’t.” Loki and I replied, looking at each other. “In England, girlfriend means a girl who happens to be your friend.” I said quickly, covering for Loki. It was a good thing that Layla either wasn’t very bright or she simply didn’t want to believe Loki was taken, because she accepted what I told her with a nod, but still looking slightly suspicious. Layla opened her mouth to stay something when Christie called us to dinner from the kitchen.
The table was all set up for the five of us, two on each side and one at the head of the table. My mom and Christie were already seated at the head of the table and on the left side. Loki and Layla sat on the right side, which left me next to Christie on the left.
“Let’s eat!” Was all my mom had to say, and we began digging into the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the other Christmas dinner fixings available on the table. Loki just took what I took, seeing as he didn’t know what much of this was, except for the turkey, and we couldn’t explain it to him without giving away too much. The first few minutes were quiet, except for the sounds of chewing and someone asking to pass a dish. It was actually nice, having a dinner with the people I cared about. Well, four out of the five people at the table I cared about. I knew the way I interacted with Layla wasn’t nice. For years, I had tried to figure out why I didn’t like Layla. I could come up with a lot of reasons, mainly her attitude drove me nuts and the way she treated Christie after all she had done for her. But Layla had never really done anything to me specifically.
And the way she flirted with Loki bothered me even more. But I guess I couldn’t stop her. I mean, I had no claim to Loki, and he didn’t have any to me. We weren’t together, so it didn’t matter if she flirted with him. Did it?
Layla ended up flirting with Loki the entire dinner. I did see her hand move under the table a few times, but I tried not to put too much into it. I mean, Loki didn’t have any reactions, if you know what I mean, so I ignored it or put it off to Layla doing something weird. But I knew she was squeezing his knee, I saw her arm flex slightly. Being on Asgard had made me more perceptive. I was tempted to read her thoughts to find out what she was doing, but decided against it.
Layla kept talking about this club downtown, or this great bar she had been to, suggesting Loki to go with her. She also made it painfully obvious that she was single, cracking jokes about being the third wheel, or making comments about how long she’s been single.
We had dessert at the table, a delicious chocolate cheesecake, some small talk, and that was dinner. Loki was fairly quiet the whole time. He answered questions that were directed to him, but that was it, unless it was Layla talking to him. Then he smirked and chuckled, obviously entertained.
“So how are you and James?” Christie turned to my mom, smiling suggestively at her. My mom blushed, smiling shyly.
“We’re great. I’m seeing him tomorrow night for a movie and some drinks.”
“What is James like, Mom?” Even though I was fine with my mom dating, I wanted to make sure he was a good guy. There were tons of scumbags out there.
“He’s a very nice man. He loves music, and traveling.” My mom sighed happily.
“What does he do?”
“He’s a lawyer.”
This surprised me, but pleased me. I was glad he wasn’t a deadbeat. “What kind of lawyer?”
“A Civil Rights lawyer.” I nodded, approving of him.
“He’s a wonderful man. Quite charming, kind, polite. A complete gentleman.” My mom seemed to really like this guy. And he seemed okay, so I was happy for her. “I would like you to meet him tomorrow”
“I would like to meet him.” I said. Suddenly, Layla let out a loud, obnoxious laugh. She and Loki had been having their conversation, and Loki must have said something witty. I looked over to see Layla with a hand on his shoulder, still laughing at whatever he said. Loki was smirking, mildly amused with himself. I rolled my eyes at them, trying to ignore them.
“Well, I say we call it a night.” Christie said, yawning. I could’ve done a happy dance. It was good to see Christie, but Layla was getting to me, with her desperate attempts to flirt with Loki.
Layla pouted. “Aunt Chris, just a little longer?”
Christie sighed. “Well, if you would like, you can stay. As long as you can get a ride and it’s okay with Beth.” I hoped my mom would say no, just because I didn’t think she was a fan of Layla either.
My mom sighed. “Well, I guess Noelle and Loki could see her home.”
Layla smiled at Loki. “Then I guess I’ll be sticking around a bit longer.” I rolled my eyes again. Christie got up and said her goodbyes to us, giving me a hug. My mom walked her to the door while the three of us sat at the table. Layla giggled and batted her eyes.
“I’m still here you know.” I pointed out while Layla started to get closer to Loki. “This isn’t a date.”
Layla rolled her eyes at me just as my mom walked in. I got up, and started to do the dishes with her, giving Loki a pointed look. I heard a chair scrape back.
“I’m going to the washroom. Loki, could you show me where it is?” Layla asked sweetly. I heard another chair scrape back, and assumed that Loki agreed. I gritted my teeth as they l left, scrubbing a roasting pan.
“They seem to have taken a liking to each other.” My mom commented. I shrugged, trying to brush it off. I didn’t want to think about that. I liked Loki. I really did. I’ve never liked something this much before. And lately, it seems like he might have feelings for me. I wanted that to be true.
I finished the dishes quietly beside my mom, while she chattered on about James. It didn’t really make me feel better about the fact that Layla and Loki still hadn’t returned from the kitchen. Why did I have to be alone? “Do you want me to do anything else?” I asked, hoping she said no so I could go see what was taking Loki and Layla.
“No, you’re dismissed.” My mom said. She picked up the portable phone from the jack in the wall. “I’m going to call James. You go have fun.” She waived me out of the kitchen. I left the kitchen, looking in to the living room. It was empty.
My anger spiked. Where the hell could they be? I walked through the living room, looking down the hall that led to the front door. Nothing. Layla’s shoes were still here, so they didn’t leave the apartment. I heard a high pitch giggle, and turned to look down the hallway that led to my room and the bathroom. And I though I found exactly who I was looking for, the sight in front of me made my anger and jealousy boil over.
Outside the bathroom entrance, Layla looked as if she had tripped and was clinging to Loki, looking up at him, laughing. Loki had caught her and was holding her up, laughing with her. I could see Layla’s V-neck shirt was low, her lips puckered and getting closer to Loki every minute I stood there. Her hands slipped to his waist, and I snapped.
“Am I interrupting here?” I asked, my voice shaking a little with the anger I felt. Loki had the decency to look embarrassed, letting Layla go, taking a step away from her. Layla, however, put her hands on her hips.
“You know, it’s rude to interrupt.” She flipped her hair. I wanted to pull it from her head. “We were kind of busy.” She stepped closer to Loki.
“Then you can be busy elsewhere. This is my house.” I retorted. “And you-” I turned to Loki, who looked alarmed. If he thought Layla was getting all my anger, he was wrong. “Should know better as well.”
“Noelle-” I shot Loki a look to quiet him.
“If you and her-” I pointed towards Layla. “Want to hook up, go right ahead. But don’t do it in my house, while I’m here. I don’t want to know about it, and I don’t need to know about it. If that’s all you stayed for, you can get out.” I couldn’t believe how angry and jealous I felt. Loki had the audacity to hook up with this chick outside of my room. The chick that I really didn’t like. What the hell? I thought we were friends? Don’t friends have rules about this sort of thing?
It also hurt to think that Loki was actually hooking up with someone. I mean, I understand him being a guy and having needs. But come on. I thought Loki was different. I didn’t think he would be the type of guy who randomly hooked up with people. He was an adult and mentally I guessed we were only a few years apart. He could’ve been discreet, or just not done it at all. I wasn’t surprised Layla was going along with this. She kept flipping her hair and giving me death glares while I fumed at them.
I felt like Loki disrespected me. It didn’t matter that we had nothing going on romantically between us. I felt I deserved the decency of him either not hooking up with someone while he was here, or doing it discreetly.
“Well, I’m out of here. I’m not dealing with this crazy chick.” Layla said to me. “This place is lame anyway. Why don’t we go somewhere more private?” Layla offered to Loki, her eyes glinting.
“I think I will remain here.” Loki said politely.
“Alrighty then. Walk me out?” She left his side without waiting for an answer, pushing past me. I stood my ground, even when Loki walked by me and tried not to bump shoulders. I walked to my room and pushed open the door. Layla could call a cab or take a bus home. She could walk for all I cared. Trying not to slam it shut, I changed into my pajamas and glanced over at Loki’s cot. I pushed it against my closet door, far from my bed. If I had my way, Loki would be sleeping on the couch, or on the living room floor. But then my mom would ask questions, and as angry as I was with Loki, I wanted to protect his honor.
I heard a knock and opened the door, not bothering to look at Loki. I shut the lights off, pulled the covers back from my bed and got in, turning away from Loki to face the wall. He said nothing, and I didn’t hear him moving around.
“Layla gave me this.” Loki said. I didn’t reply. “It has numbers on it. She said to call her.” I shrugged. Loki just sighed impatiently.
“What do you want me to say?” I said to him, closing my eyes. Did he want me to congratulate him?
“What does it mean?”
“It means she wants you to contact her to continue what you were doing in the hall.” I said.
After that I heard the rustle of clothing and the creak of the cot. Then we were quiet. I didn’t fall asleep like I wanted to though. I kept running what had happened through my mind. What the hell was Loki doing, hooking up with a Midgardian? It pissed me off to have been the one to see them in each other’s arms. Okay, well, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But still, why me?
I felt jealous, angry and hurt. Jealous of Layla, who obviously had something Loki liked, even if it was just her willingness to put out. I was hurt that Loki hadn’t considered how I would feel if he just played along with Layla. Then again, Loki didn’t know that I liked him. But still, I was his friend. Friends don’t hook up in friend’s houses and put them in awkward situations.
And I was angry. Not only at Loki and Layla, but at myself for the way I felt. I felt so possessive of Loki, like I had a claim to him. And I didn’t. I was acting like a scorned girlfriend, when Loki and I had nothing going on. And I hated that I felt that way, like Loki was mine when he wasn’t. And in a way that wasn’t fair to him.
Loki had as much right as anyone else to go out and hook up or date everyone else in the world who was single. And I couldn’t stop him. It was unfair of me to feel cheated on when that wasn’t the case, and blame it on Loki. Friends didn’t do that either.
My thoughts quickly turned to self-pity. What is wrong with me? Why can’t Loki like me? Or find me attractive the way he found Layla attractive? Why didn’t Loki see me? I felt like my feelings were so one-sided and were forever unfulfilled.
“Why are you upset?” Loki’s voice was a whisper, but it seemed louder since the room had been quiet for so long.
“I am not upset.” I said.
“Don’t lie to me. You can lie to everyone else, but not to me.” He said calmly. “I know you are blocking your thoughts. But you cannot mask your feelings very well.”
“Maybe I’d like a little privacy.”
“Are you angry with me?” I opened my eyes and turned to face him.
“Yes.” I glared at him. “I am very angry with you.”
“Then why are you also upset?” Loki shifted to his side to face me, his arm propped up to hold his head. I did notice the covers slip a bit and expose more of his chest to me. I tried to ignore it.
“Because I feel disrespected, that’s why.” My voice was low and venomous. “If you wanted to hook up with Layla, you could’ve just left. I didn’t have to walk in on it. I thought we were friends.”
“We are.” Loki said simply. “I had no intentions of disrespecting you. Layla fell, and I caught her.”
“Then why were you laughing with her? Was it terribly funny that she fell?” I retorted.
“She made a comment about falling and thought it was hilarious. I was laughing because of how stupid she was. She seemed to think she was being quite seductive. Why are you so accusatory towards me?”
I shook my head. “I am not.”
“Yes you are.”
“I am not.”
“Believe what you must then.” He sighed.
I wanted to scream out to him ‘Because I like you’. Instead, I said: “So are you planning on contacting her?” As much as the whole situation bothered me, I wanted to know.
“I do not want to contact her. She was quite entertaining, thinking herself to be a unique catch. But, she is not. I do not want anything to do with a woman like that.”
“A harlot. A woman who shares her bed with more men than she can remember. I believe I am a man of taste.” He said stiffly.
I nodded. Turning around, I closed my eyes. “I’m still mad at you.”
“Please don’t be.”
“Make it up to me tomorrow then. I’m tired of you at the moment.”
And those were the last things I said before I fell asleep.
I lay in the dark for hours. Sleep was evading me once again. I kept running over the hurt and angry expression on Noelle’s face when she said she was tired of me. Those words hurt more than I cared to admit.
I watched Noelle’s sleeping figure. She was turned away from me, but I knew she was sleeping peacefully. I wished I could join her in sleep, to be close to her while she dreamed, letting her know she was not alone. But I doubted she would be fond of the idea. She was terribly upset with me. Though I had not planned for her to see me catching Layla, I wished she hadn’t. She assumed things that were not true, such as any feelings I may have towards Layla.
Though the woman had been willing, I didn’t not want her. I had been with a few woman of that sort, and nothing good ever came from it, save a pleasure that lasted a short while.
No, if I could have any woman now, it would be Noelle. Not only because her body was tempting, but because she was kind, caring and generous. She was easy to be with. She would not only satisfy my physical needs, but my mental needs as well. I wanted a woman of substance, who could challenge my brain and appreciate the art of knowledge.
But I was not going to let myself give in. I could not take another woman on. Perhaps one day, when the hole in my heart subsided from a sharp memory to a dull one.
I took one more look at the beautiful sleeping woman. Some of her covers had slipped off, and her shirt had risen slightly, exposing her pale skin to the moonlight shining through the window. How tempting…how utterly tempting.
And she deserved better. Better than a second born son. Better than a man who was unwilling to love again. I just prayed to Bor that the pain I felt when she met that better man would be brief.