View Full Version : When Trains Collide (Chapter 5)

March 17th, 2013, 06:01 AM
Morning came, then the early afternoon. Warren had been up for hours by now and was getting restless, Jade hadn’t even stirred yet. He wanted to get up, make some coffee, grab a cigarette, but he couldn’t bring himself to disturb her. She laid there, totally engulfed in him, her head still on his chest. She looked so content and peaceful. He had seen a similar expression on the other girls he’d been with. But hers was different. He could tell by her maturity and knowledge about the world that she’d endured a lot in her young life. It really became apparent when she slept. She looked like someone who’d been fighting a constant battle, finally able to catch a bit of rest. Like a beautiful disaster, and he just couldn’t look away.

Jade started to stir, he couldn’t tell if she was waking up or just moving around. Without opening her eyes she slurred, “Morning.”

“It isn’t exactly morning, doll. But good morning anyways.” He laughed.

“What time is it?”

Jade started rubbing her eyes, still not moving from where she fell asleep. “Good, I have another half hour.”

“What? Come on, get up, lazy.”

She smacked him on his chest. “I don’t get up til 1 on days like today.”

“Well, you’re getting up now, I’m getting restless.” He laughed and pulled her blankets off. “Come on, I’ll open the blinds in a minute, bright as hell out there today too.”

“Alright, alright. Ass.” She started feeling around under the blankets, looking for something and continued, “you know, I normally don’t talk to anyone until I’ve had my morning..”

He held out her cigarettes and lighter before she could finish. He got his own out and they smoked together, both sitting up against the headboard. Jade closed her eyes again, Warren nudged her with his shoulder. “Oh no, you’re not going back to sleep, wake up.”

“You‘re really poking the bear aren‘t you? Push me again, watch what happens.”

“Man, you’re even sweeter in the morning. I didn’t think that was possible.” They both knew she really wasn’t being mean even though she wasn’t happy about being awake. He thought to himself that he’d hate to see someone she didn’t like messing with her in the morning the way he was. But he knew he could get away with anything with her.

“Shut the hell up.” She laughed and shook her head at him. It was way too early for a witty comeback.

“You’re cute when you’re cranky.”

She looked at him, exhaled her cigarette. “Yeah? Well I’m about to get real adorable if you don’t knock it off.”

“What’re you gonna do? Little thing like yourself.”

“Ask me in a half hour, you’re too far away.”

“I’m 6 inches away from you, doll. You really are lazy aren’t you?”

“My limit is 4 inches.” She smiled and put out her cigarette.

Warren put his out too and started to get up, wearing the beater and sweats he slept in. It was dark when he put them on, but Jade got to really look at him in something other than a dress shirt for the first time. He had wider shoulders than she thought, the first thing she looked at in deciding whether a man was attractive or not. He caught her staring.

“Want something to eat?”

“I don’t usually eat in the mornings, mornings make me nauseous.” She said as she laid back down, cuddling up next to Bronco.

“You won’t be saying that when you see what I’m about to make.” He looked at Bronco, “You wanna come eat boy? Come on let’s go.” He patted his leg, Bronco hesitated for a minute. Jade started scratching him behind the ears.

“I think he’s happier with me.”

“He normally eats around 10, this is late for him.”

Jade gave him a little nudge. “Go on! Go get daddy.” Bronco jumped up and ran into the kitchen, Warren followed.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes, try to stay awake”

Jade pulled the blanket over her head. “No promises.”

Warren quietly pushed open the door to his bedroom twenty minutes later, holding a tray of food. He noticed Jade was still sleeping. He set the tray down and looked down at Bronco with a devious smile. “Go get in bed, go on.” He nodded towards the bed. Bronco jumped up and started pushing on Jade with his nose. She groaned and turned over.

“You realize if this were anyone else jumping on me, they would’ve lost their head by now, including you.”

“I had a feeling you hate being woken up suddenly, even if it is after 1 in the afternoon.”

“You’re lucky your damn dog is so cute. And leave me alone, I had a rough night last night, and I’m sure I look it.” She covered her face with the blanket.

Warren walked over with the food and pulled the blanket back. “Oh stop, you look beautiful.”


“Always, doll.”

“Liar. What’d you make?”

“Eggs and hash browns. I realized I forgot to ask how you liked your eggs. When I came back in to ask you were already sleeping, so I made one over-easy and scrambled the other one.”

She smiled at him and took the plate. “I like both, thank you. I don’t deserve all this.”

“Why? Cause you’re a bear in the morning?”

“Bear? No, I’m a werewolf.”

“I like it.”

“You do?” She was shocked. Most guys complained about her moods in the morning. That seemed to be the most ideal time for them to try to start an argument with her too.

“Yeah, you’re kind of amusing when you’re agitated. You’re not the greatest at hiding whatever you’re feeling in your body language, kid.”

“What do you mean?”

“I could always tell what kind of mood you were in when you walked into my class.”

She rolled her eyes. “Bullshit, I’m great at hiding things.”

“Maybe when it matters. But when you don’t think anyone’s watching is a different story.”

“Give me an example.”

“Somewhere in the middle of the quarter, you came to class in an average mood. You looked tired, but content. I was lecturing about something I could tell you either already knew or didn’t care to learn and you were texting a lot. Normally you made an effort to hide it, but as time went on you just stopped trying. You were showing Sydney your phone every now and then, so I assumed you were arguing with someone.”

Jade knew exactly what he was talking about. “I know where this is going.”

“You sat down initially, elbows on the table, chin resting on your hands. Pretty relaxed. Then your leg started to shake. You showed Sydney a few texts, and then you read one. You started laughing, which, I have a feeling, means you’re really pissed at how stupid someone can be. And then you read another one and your eyes just..I don’t know, I could see them just change.”

She was so intrigued, he was dead on. “How so?”

“If looks could kill, someone would’ve locked you up for good.”

She laughed. “Go on, mister ‘I think I know everything’.” She wasn’t going to tell him how right he was.

“You tossed your phone on the desk and sat back and widened your shoulders. You looked like you could’ve jumped up and killed the next person to look at you wrong. It was actually really attractive. Then I told the class to take a ten minute break. I barely finished my sentence before you were up and taking your cigarettes out of your pocket. You didn’t even wait for the girls. You were the last one in, I thought about making a smartass comment, lighten your mood. But the look you had on your face, the way you were walking, I decided against it.”

“Why? Did I scare you?” She laughed.

“No, you just looked like you didn’t give a damn if I cared that you were late or not.”

“That’s because I didn’t. I’m glad you didn’t say anything. I would of fired off some shitty comment and gotten myself in trouble.”

“I wouldn’t have gotten mad. I understood. Whatever it was, it was bad.”

She remembered back to that day. “Yes, very bad.”

“May I ask what happened?”

“My ex and I broke up.”

“In the middle of class, over texts?

She nodded but she wasn’t looking at him anymore. “Yep.”


“He had a really close friend while we were together, Lacey. He was constantly telling me how she wanted to be more than friends and was always hitting on him. He always swore up and down that he didn’t like her. He was the type of guy that just couldn’t be mean to girls or upset them, out of respect. Which was good for me, but he wouldn’t tell her to back off. So I had to. Multiple times, and I wasn’t the nicest about it. A few months went by and they didn’t talk. But she started coming around again. She told him she loved him, as more than a friend or a brother.”

“And what’d he do?” He was hanging on her every word.

“I’m not a controlling girlfriend. I never told him he couldn’t have friends that were girls. But knowing how she felt about him just didn’t sit right with me. So I told him he had to stop talking to her or we were done.”

“Which is understandable given how she felt about him. Just too close for comfort for you, right?”

She was amazed at how understanding he was being. She had told other guys this story and they always responded by telling her she was being too controlling. “Exactly. So that day in your class, they’d been hanging out. I asked if he told her he couldn’t be friends with her. He told me he just couldn’t do that to her, couldn’t hurt her like that. So, I told him I couldn’t be with him anymore.”

“Wow, he really picked her over someone like you. Stupid guy if you ask me. How long were you two together?”

“Two years.”

“Wow, long time for someone your age.”

“I wanted to marry him, Warren. He was going into the Army Reserves, and he was going to propose when he got back 6 months from the time we broke up. I was going to say yes.” She couldn’t believe she was being this open with him. She wondered if she should have said that or not. She continued, “so that was that. Two weeks later, guess what? They’re dating.”

“Jesus. What a little prick.”

“It gets better. Not only were they dating. They were all over Facebook saying how in love with each other they were, how right it felt. He was talking to and about her they way he did with me for two years, two weeks after we broke up. Guess I was stupid for believing there was nothing going on, right?”

“Aw kid, of course you’re going to believe him. You weren’t stupid. You were in love.”

“It just pisses me off that two weeks later he’s got the same feelings. What’d I miss? How did they get so close so soon if he wasn’t responding to her having feelings for him? I’m not some dumb kid, I’m better than that. I should’ve seen it.” She started getting worked up.

“Do you think he did anything with her?”

“No. He was cheated on by his first love, it killed him. But I know he had the same feelings she had for him. Well, now I know it anyways. Even if he didn‘t act on it. It‘s still messed up.”

“It is, you’re right. But you’re better off. If he couldn’t see what he had right in front of him, he’s not smart enough for you.”

“Not much to see apparently. This always happens to me. He wasn’t the first, but he screwed me up the most after the fact.”

He put his arm around her and pulled her into his chest. “What do you mean not much to see? First off, you’re absolutely stunning and you don’t even have to try. Secondly, you’re mind, it’s just…you’re so different. You know so much for your age. You’re so sharp and quick and intelligent. I can literally look at you while you’re writing or making a decision and see the gears turning behind your eyes. It’s phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

She stared at him for a second. “You really think all that?”

“I do.” He kissed her on her forehead. “And I know a good thing when I see it. There are some benefits to hanging around an older guy, you know.”

“I’m starting to figure that out more and more. I mean, I always thought about it.”

He looked at her, a little surprised. “You have?”

“Does that surprise you? I just can’t date guys my age, Warren. I can’t tell you how many times a guy has told me he’s mature for his age like I am and then two weeks in I find out he’s just another little boy. I can’t stand it. I always get let down.”

“I guess I just have trouble figuring out how someone as beautiful as you could be attracted to a guy my age. Most 20 year olds think 32 is way too old.”

She smiled. “You’re right. When I told the girls how attractive I thought you were they all thought I was weird. They were showing me pictures of these 20-something year olds that they were talking to. These pretty boys with a 6 pack, blonde hair, blue eyes, you know the type.”

“And you don’t find that attractive?”

“I don’t, I never have. You’re really worried that your age bothers me, aren’t you?”

“A little, yeah. I’ve seen some of the guys at school checking you out. Guys like you said your friends like. I thought you liked that kind of guy too.”

“Trust me, you’re exactly my type.” She assured him in as sincere a tone as she could. He looked at her with questioning eyes. She continued. “Dark hair, light eyes. Broad shoulders, little shorter than most. You don’t have to look like a model to get my attention. That’s actually a turn off.” Once again, she was shocked at how bluntly she was laying out her feelings to him so soon. These kind of conversations typically made her feel awkward.

He made it a point to ruffle the hair on the back of his neck, flexing his shoulder. “Well, that’s good to know. I still don’t see it but…”

She cut him off. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Don’t flex your shoulders like that, trying to look all big and bad. I know they’re big.” She laughed and punched him on the arm.

“I don’t know what you mean.” He slipped a sly grin at her.

“You know exactly what you’re doing, idiot. God, I thought I was cocky.”

“Me? Cocky? Never.”

She threw a pillow at his face. “Shut the hell up.”

He threw it back but she caught it before it could hit her. “Oh, so you’re starting this now huh? I may be small, but I don’t think you wanna mess with me old man. Might throw your back out.” She smacked him on his arm.

He grabbed her wrist and threw the blanket over her. “You’re such a little brat, you know that? Someone’s gonna have to teach you when to shut that big mouth of yours.”

They wrestled on the bed for a few minutes. Warren couldn’t remember the last time he played around with a girl like this. He couldn’t remember the last time he really laughed with a girl either. Not just a chuckle every now and then, really laughed. He was having the time of his life and he’d keep it that way for forever if he could. He pinned her down by her shoulders on the bed and stared into her eyes as their laughter died down. He kissed her again, this one having much more passion in it than the night before. He pulled back, hovering over her.

Jade leaned up off the bed and kissed him back, matching the passion of the first. She wasn’t the type to move so fast but she couldn’t help herself. For a minute, she thought she’d be the one to try for more. Warren climbed off her before she could, she wasn’t disappointed. She wondered if he realized how much she wanted him and got embarrassed. She changed the subject.
“So I told you about my ex. What about you? What happened with your last relationship?’

Warren hesitated. “I don’t know if I should get into all that.”

“No, no, I told you. I open up, so do you. Talk.” She wasn’t letting him get away that easily. It was hard enough for her to be so open and honest about her past relationship. It was his turn to be uncomfortable. She wanted to test just how much he could confide in her.

“I haven’t been in a real relationship in a long time, so my most recent ex, or the women before don’t really count.”

“How do they not count?”

“No connection, nothing more than a fling.”

“So what about the most recent one that does count?” She was really pushing her limits. He was giving right into it, he didn’t fight her at all.

“I haven’t been in a serious relationship since I was 26, kid. It’s been a long time.”

“Well how serious was it? What happened?”

“I met Rachael in college. When I was 20. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, so I was just taking general classes. We met in one of my psychology classes, I can’t remember which one. But we just hit it off one day. I asked her to go get lunch with me between classes and we talked. I mean we really talked, like no one ever had to me before. She got it. She got me. Everything I was, everything that usually went over everyone else’s head, she saw it. Not only did she see it, she liked it. I was always the weird kid, too creative, too dark, too intelligent. Always using too big of words and reading books too ‘old’ for me. She was that kid where she grew up too. So we started hanging out more. Neither of us really tried to make anything official, it was just kind of a known thing that we were together. We did everything together.” He wondered if he should be telling Jade all this. “You sure you want me to keep talking about this?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Keep going, it’s alright.”

“She became my everything. I worshipped the ground she walked on. She was so intelligent and creative. I never met anyone like her before and I wasn’t going to let her go. My family loved her. We had all these plans to move to New York and become writers. I worked a shit job day and night at a gas station and put every penny away to get us out of here. So one day, I proposed.” He stopped and waited for Jade’s response.

“Wow, really? So what happened? Did she say no?”

“Not at all. She said yes. I couldn’t have been happier. In that very moment I can promise you I’d never felt so much joy and love over anyone or anything, I thought I was going to explode.”

“So if everything was going so well, what went wrong?”

“She started acting weird. Being really distant. Then one night, I came home late from the gas station and caught her in bed with another guy.” He looked down.

“Are you kidding me? What’d you do?”

“I couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t that easy, kid. I should’ve kicked his ass, but being who it was, I just couldn’t. I walked out of the room and waited for him to leave.”

She got a little confused. “Who was this guy?”

“Matt and Bryson and I were best friends in college, like we are now. Only Matt’s brother, Josh, was part of our group. He was just as close to me as the other two. He slept with her. I thought in the back of my mind Rachael had a thing for him, but I got over it once she said she’d marry me. Once Josh left she started crying and begging for me to stay. I wouldn’t look at her, I couldn’t even talk. I just sat there like the pushover I am when I love a woman. She started in on the whole ‘sleeping with him made me realize how much I want to be with you thing’ and I forgave her.

Jade was shocked. “That doesn’t seem like you, Warren. I figured you would’ve kicked his ass and told her to get the hell out.”

“Any other situation I would have.”

“Did you tell Matt? What’d he do?”

“I didn’t plan on telling him initially. I didn’t want to screw anything up between them. I couldn’t let something as stupid as that ruin the bond they had. I couldn’t break up a family like that. I had forgiven Rachael and Josh was avoiding me, so I kept quiet. But one night we were all together and we were drinking. I was sitting off by myself, a lot more drunk than the rest of the guys. As the night went on, I started getting more and more pissed off that I had to sit there in the same room with Josh as if nothing happened. He made some small comment and it set me off. I got in his face, ready to mess him up. Matt stepped between us asking what happened and I told him. I was a mess, crying, yelling, throwing stuff. He put me to bed and stepped outside. I woke up the next day to find out Matt kicked Josh’s ass and told him never to speak to him again.”

“Matt disowned his own brother for you?”

“He did. I know he gives me a lot of shit and doesn’t seem like anything more than a friend who’s just around to party or whatever. But he’s a good guy. He talked me into breaking up with Rachael and moved me into his apartment. He wouldn’t let me be alone. He even took a couple days off work. I was really tore up over the whole thing. Me and Bryson are close, but nothing like Matt and I. I’ll never forget that as long as I live.”

“Wow. I can’t believe she’d do that to someone like you. I mean I’ve only known you personally for about a week and I already know you’re way too sweet for that.”

He looked at her. “Way too sweet apparently. She’s not the first woman to walk all over me. I don‘t get it. I don’t get how I can be so confident one minute then I’d look in her eyes and turn to dust. That goes against my nature in every way possible. I don’t fold for anyone. ”

She put her hand on his. “There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a difference between being confident and being an asshole. There’s nothing wrong with having a soft spot for the woman you’re with. You just need someone who won’t take advantage of that.”

Olly Buckle
March 17th, 2013, 09:33 AM
A small nit right at the beginning "Morning came, then the early afternoon. Warren had been up (awake) for hours by now and was getting restless, Jade hadn’t even stirred yet. He wanted to get up, make some coffee, grab a cigarette, but he couldn’t bring himself to disturb her."

I like your dialogue, but I felt the in between bits could do with a little tightening up, look,

She laid there, totally engulfed in him, her head still on his chest. She looked so content and peaceful. He had seen a similar expression on the other girls he’d been with. But hers was different. He could tell by her maturity and knowledge about the world that she’d endured a lot in her young life. It really became apparent when she slept. She looked like someone who’d been fighting a constant battle, finally able to catch a bit of rest. Like a beautiful disaster, and he just couldn’t look away.

Take away those words in bold and you will not change the meaning much, but there is truth in the old adage "Less is more". Of course you can't eliminate everything, but if you start by taking it all out it what you need becomes apparent, and I sometimes discover that the surplus was hiding the fact it wasn't there, though that may not be the case for you of course.

You can apply the same principle in other ways, make "He had seen a similar expression on the other girls he’d been with" indefinite by removing 'the', 'He had seen a similar expression on other girls he’d been with' and you remove the chance of the reader being distracted "Does that always happen? Have I ever noticed it?".

Smoking in bed in the morning strikes me as a bit passée, fewer and fewer people smoke, when I was young everyone did, now it seems like a minority even in my own age group, and it doesn't fit the reasonable attitudes.