Dumpster Diving, Chapter Fourteen: Fall For You
Isabelle drove Simon, Jace and I back to campus, before we broke off into couples.
Simon and Isabelle went one way – for their alone time. As I watched them walk away I wondered the ulterior motive behind Isabelle wanting a relationship with Simon, hoping in the bottom of my heart that it wasn’t a fake front. If anything, it was most likely something she was doing to get on my nerves. Her evil mastermind plan was beginning to get to me.
Meanwhile Jace ushered me back to his room, which I discovered was empty of his roommate. We sat on his bed in silence for a while, as I contemplated why I hadn’t just walked away and gone back to my room. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to ponder it, because bigger issues on my mind kept pushing forefront. It was hard for my mind not to return to the past few times I had been in Jace’s room, when he opened up to tell me about his family and then when he had taken care of me, before Isabelle came in and he changed.
We sat there quietly for a long time as I thought about a lot of things, before Jace reached out and touched my knee. Startled, I looked up into his face, unable to decipher his expression.
“You’re stronger than I thought you were, Clary,” he said.
Though I could immediately tell he was trying to be gentle and intimate, I found that it was hard for me to believe any of his words anymore. He cried wolf too many times before, his split personality making it impossible to trust anything he said.
He had the TV turned on to a football game. I eyed it, pretending to be interested. When I spoke to him, I made sure to never make eye contact.
“I don’t even know why I agreed to this in the first place. First of all, I hate everything about the way you’ve treated me in the past. Second, I would never realistically fall for you, considering the first reason. And third, your plan to foil Isabelle’s plan isn’t going to work. If they don’t end up liking me and you’re telling the truth that you don’t plan to hurt me, they would find you out when you don’t complete your end of the bargain. Or maybe you actually are in on it and you telling me was some sick, twisted way of exercising your full control of the situation. That seems the most likely because there is no real reason for you to want everyone to warm up to me. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
A moment of hesitation passed before Jace responded to my rant. “What will it take for you to believe me when I say I don’t want to hurt you anymore?”
Finally, I looked at him. He wasn’t looking at me, he was watching the game, but I could see his eyes flickering in his peripheral vision, suddenly aware that I was glancing at him.
I sighed. “Jace, a few times now you’ve given me a feeling of hope with your gentleness, right before you crush it again and revert back to your usual ways.” I knew it was only my fault for believing anything he said. He was toxic, I reminded myself.
He met my eyes, his head turned completely in my direction, the game no longer a contender for his attention. “Clary, please don’t deny the undeniable connection that we have. I know I’m not the only one to notice.”
The sincerity in his voice as he spoke about the shockwaves I was used to feeling sent electric spikes of energy through my body, reminding me that he was right. In some sense, we did have an undeniable connection, but I wasn’t sure if it was a romantic attraction. It was attraction, but possibly a negative kind, that only ended in me being hurt. I refused to give in to this notion.
I shook my head. “Even if you were right – hypothetically – that we had a connection, I would never give in to any impulses or feelings I might or might not have about you, based on your track record.” Turning my head, I refused to let myself see his reactions anymore. It was bad enough being stuck in the room, speaking to him about all these things – things that just weren’t right.
“If you can tell me you feel nothing, I’ll promise we can fake whatever we have to in order to keep up with the plan,” he said quietly, then went silent.
Suddenly I felt his hand gripping my elbow.
I met his eyes and saw a hunger in them, the gold captivating and engaging me as I realized I was falling into him. He pulled my body closer to his, as I fell onto his lap, my legs falling on either side of him.
As I straddled his body, I tried to remind my conscious self that it was a mistake coming here and I needed to free myself from the situation, but then I felt his fingers raking into my back, sending a shiver down my spine, all the way through to my legs and my toes. The sensation was freeing and all-engaging, every nerve in my body sending impulses of pleasure and glee as I felt him caressing me.
Any coherence I had left in my brain seemed to have abandoned me, as I found myself staring back into the depths of Jace’s golden eyes, my fingers tanging in his hair, playing with the fact that it made a breathy noise escape his lips when I did.
His lips parted and in the heat of the moment, I stared down at them, trying to tell myself I didn’t want to taste his lips or feel them against my own. I understood that I had lost the battle with my rationale, as I found myself desiring his touch. I wrapped my hands around him tightly, providing him with an answer to his question that he had asked…
It wasn’t true that I felt nothing, because I sure as hell felt more than I ever had before. And that was the problem.
“Jace,” I breathed, slightly pulling back from some of the contact, alarmed at my revelation. I remained on his lap, my arms entangled around him like his were around me.
He lifted a hand to touch my face, the touch gentle and warm, as he waited patiently for me to speak – or as patient as a boy could when he was caught up in the passion of a moment like this.
“Yes, Clary?” he asked, his voice uneven and breathy, like I had never heard it before.
I touched his face in response, pursing my lips as I caressed his cheek. He shut his eyes and smiled slightly. When he opened his eyes, I nearly fell back into their depths, losing myself in them. I tried to hold myself back long enough to say what I needed to.
Having any willpower in a situation like this seemed impossible. How I had gotten into this situation was beyond me.
“Before we go any further, Jace I need you to know that these feelings I have for you are very real…” I breathed out my words in a rush, trying to get past them so that I could return his gaze full strength and lose myself in his eyes again. The way it made me felt was amazing. I shook my head, trying to shake some sense into myself. “Jace I won’t let myself fall for you unless I am absolutely sure you’re willing to catch me.”
He pulled my face closer to his, craning his head down toward mine, until I could feel his breath hitting my lips. My breath caught in my throat at the tingling sensation.
“I’ll catch you,” he whispered. “Kiss me.”
The sudden rush of butterflies swarming my stomach became too much and I felt myself lunging forward at Jace, my lips crashing into his with an intensity and desire I hadn’t foreseen. I hadn’t wanted to do something so badly in my life, regardless of how wrong or stupid it was, and I couldn’t bring myself to stop the feelings in my chest from taking over my body and my senses, from kissing Jace with such intensity.
Jace’s lips were soft, as they moved in sync with mine, his gentle ferocity the perfect match for my intense craving to bring myself as close as possible as I could to him.
We toppled backward, Jace lying under me, and I wrapped my legs around his body, my back arching as he ran a hand up and down my side. He deepened our kiss, an uncontrollably moan escaping me as his tongue caressing mine with a softness I never knew he could contain.
He clutched my body tightly to his, as the uncontainable craving of contact with his skin caused any remaining morsel of logic to part ways with me. I tugged at his shirt and he broke the kiss, his face hovering close to mine, his eyes fluttering open. Their golden depths had changed colors, darkening as I imagined the passion within me darkening, burning hot like the touch of his skin, its sensation addictive.
Within a span of a few seconds, he had rolled me onto my back as he hovered over me now, his breath lingering, my heart chanting and begging him to kiss me again, like before. I ran my hands up his chest under his shirt, feeling his muscular creases, wishing I could feel my bare skin against his.
He just stared at me, his eyes grazing over my face, down my body, and back up again. His cool hand met my face with tender touches.
I moaned, begging him for more, as his lips crashed down on mine one more time, with more insistence and force. My whole body felt warm, heated by the exchange, possibly because Jace’s body was hot like a scorching fire.
I would have never wanted him to stop, would have been content kissing him like that, all too eager to act on my impulses now that I had a taste for his touch. Effectively ruining the moment, however, my phone vibrated in my pocket, as Jace jumped back, startled. He gaped at me in shock, his eyes attempting to take in the situation and understand what had just happened – that he kissed me and I kissed him back.
I fumbled for my buzzing phone in my pocket, my eyes not leaving Jace’s, as I felt my cheeks burning from embarrassment rather than passion. Moment ruined, check. The culprit? My mother.
I answered the phone, attempting to compose myself, my breath still somewhat uneven from the lack of air I had allowed myself when I was kissing Jace with every ounce of desire I had in my body fired up. It felt hard to contain the heat once it had lit my whole being on fire.
“H-hello?” I answered the phone.
My mother never called unless it was important. I pursed my lips, understanding the call must have been significant but yet I almost regretted answering it.
Jace sat back on his heels, kneeling next to me, watching and waiting. I longed to feel the touch of his lips on my skin again.
“Clary! I’m so sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, but Luke was in a car accident…”
My body felt high on ecstasy from being with Jace in the moment, until I comprehended my mother’s words and I felt my body stiffen. Jace’s eyes scanned my face, a concerned expression enveloping him as he noticed my body tensing.
“Is he okay? How badly is he hurt? Can I come home for the weekend to see him?” I asked, all my words coming out at once, as frantic energy overtook my body, replacing the feeling of the all-consuming frenzy I had felt for Jace.
My hands began to shake as I found myself worrying for Luke’s wellbeing. He could have been dead and here I was, kissing Jace like I wanted to be nowhere else in the world but here. All I could feel now was guilt – for letting myself fall for Jace, for letting Simon and Luke down by kissing the enemy, for still wanting to kiss Jace, even with the news from this phone call.
“He’s in the hospital. That’s why I called. Come home, Clary-” Jocelyn stifled a cry to the best of her ability, but the distraught sound of her voice and the manner in which she spoke told me that she wasn’t going to be okay and there was no pretending.
“On my way,” I mumbled in response, before slamming my phone shut in shock. “Oh, Jace,” I said, my emotional floodgate threatening to open.
He seemed to have understood. “Do you want me to come with you? You’re in no condition to go on your own.”
I nodded, not willing to argue. I let Jace pull me from the bed, watched as he rushed to pack a bag of his things for the weekend. He took me to my room, dragging me by my hand as I followed behind in a nightmarish trance. I could barely understand what was happening, so Jace took my room keys and filled a bag of clothes. He snagged a blanket off my bed and grabbed my car keys and then we were suddenly on the road. Jace drove, knowing I wouldn’t be able to coherently put two thoughts together, let alone have the hand-eye coordination to hit the gas on green and the brakes on red.
The drive was silent, as I began to feel guilt seeping into my every thought, tainting the otherwise passionate moment Jace and I had shared before I received the phone call. I was unable to decide what Jace and I had been doing, why we had let ourselves fall into the passion of the moment like that, when it meant we wouldn’t be able to turn off our emotions now.
The worst part about it all was I felt selfish having kissed Jace like I did, especially now that I knew Luke’s life was in danger.
It hurt, having to admit to myself that kissing Jace was wrong, because now all I wanted was for it to be right, but there were bigger things to worry about, like Luke now, and I didn’t have time to spend on Jace.
“That can’t happen again, Jace,” I said out loud. “Not until I am emotionally stable and can decide what to do about what happened.” This stupid double date was supposed to be all for show, not something that would actually cause me to fall for you, I added, silently wishing I could say the words to Jace, but knowing I couldn’t.
He was paying attention to the road, his eyes not daring look at mine. I sensed a tinged sadness as I swiftly dismissed the kiss as if it were nothing to me. But it was everything to me, and that – again – was the problem.
“I know,” he said, his voice soaked in sadness. “And I’ll wait for you, Clary.”
“If I ask to hold your hand, can it come with no strings attached?” I asked, hopeful. I doubted at this point there could be no strings attached in anything anymore, because now Jace and I were in a place we couldn’t come back from. Everything about us felt different now, so different from a few hours before when I had been so reluctant to even look at him. Now I felt like I never wanted my eyes to wander away from his body.
“I can’t promise you that. I can only promise not to act on any of my feelings for you, until you are ready to figure this out,” he said, his voice etched with sadness, as a frown formed at his lips, the sight sickening.
I hated seeing him like this – it physically hurt, somewhere deep inside, and I realized it was in my heart.
A pang of guilt stung me as I kept my eyes on Jace, as he offered me his hand. I took it, understanding what it meant to him for me to take his hand, how it hurt him. He wished it differently, and that hurt me to know I was selfishly asking for a pause, in order to deal with my family issues.
All I could feel was guilt, that I was hurting him. After all this time, I was the one hurting him. Life was sick and twisted in that way.
“Clary, I hope that me coming here and dropping football practice for the weekend proves something to you,” he finally said, his words nagging. I hadn’t considered the possibilities until he spoke of it, and remorse flooded over my body.
I didn’t say anything in response for the rest of the ride because I physically couldn’t. My throat felt so built up with pressure that I thought if I spoke I would pop a lung. Behind my eyes, a stinging sensation teased me, as tears trickled down my face, maliciously burning away at the top of my skin, leaving noticeable tear streaks.
I felt my hands begin to tremble. My hand that held Jace felt much stronger and more secure, so I gripped his hand with both of mine, remembering what it was like to tremble for him with passion as I had wanted to pull his body closer and closer to mine. Now I was trembling from the intensely overwhelming pang of anxious energy, as I thought about Luke, the man I treated as my father, lying hurt in a hospital bed. Jace’s hand squeezed mine in response, his thumb caressing in a gentle sweep over my skin that left my stomach in knots. I wondered how he could focus on driving one-handed with so much tension built up in one simple touch.
The rest of the drive I spent examining Jace’s hand in mine, trying to decide how I felt about holding it and why I felt that way. I pictured his hand in mine in many different situations: holding hands as we walked through campus, holding hands across the table as the minions stared in shock, holding hands just because we wanted to feel the warmth of each other. I felt a sense of comfort touching him in the small way of the touch of a hand and decided that it was a positive emotion. I had assumed anything I felt for Jace had to be negative, but it felt far from that. He made me feel so many positive, uplifting things that I finally had to force myself to think of something other than him to keep from crying about how things were turning out.
When we arrived at the hospital, Jace unloaded our bags and swung both of them over his shoulder. He locked the car after I stepped out, putting the keys in his pocket. On his left side of his body both bags hung from his shoulders and he held a blanket in his left hand, aware I was prepared to spend the night here at the hospital with Luke. I decided not to wonder how he knew that about me, instead graciously accepting his outstretched right hand.
We walked inside, Jace holding the door open for me, and spoke with the receptionist to gain access to see Luke. The receptionist rudely rattled off a room number in a bored tone, leaving Jace and I to maneuver through the maze of hallways to find him ourselves. I bitterly thought about how rude the receptionist was.
When Jace’s arm snaked around my waist to lead me away from the receptionist desk, I had almost forgotten how rude she had been. The light pressure of his hand on my waist reminded me that I wasn’t here experiencing this alone, but I would have him here with me. Just a few days ago, he would have been the last person I wanted here, however strangely after the turn of events that happened today he was the only person I wanted here with me.
Pushing the door open to Luke’s hospital room, I spotted my mother sobbing in the corner, her chair pushed as close as she could get to Luke’s hospital bed. Jace released me and I threw myself forward at my mother, hugging her with a different kind of desperation.
When we relaxed and let go from the hug, I cautiously stepped toward Luke’s bed, my eyes grazing over his body. Luke’s eyes were closed, his face bruised and sore. I noticed that his normally disheveled hair was tousled as usual, and that should have made me smile, but it didn’t. His left leg was in a cast, from the collision with the driver’s side door, Jocelyn explained. His whole left side of his body was casted and stitched up, the idea unbelievably unsettling.
I stared at a fragile version of Luke I had hardly ever seen before. Usually he was a strong individual, with confidence and little that could frighten him. Lying unconscious in the white hospital bed, with monitors and tubes hooked into his skin, he appeared so vulnerable.
Disheartened, I started to sob and wail, my legs giving beneath me as I fell to the ground. I would have fallen backward and landed on my tailbone if Jace hadn’t thrown his baggage to the side and fallen under me, breaking my fall. He moved with incredible speed to catch me, his arms wrapping protectively around my body as he held me up, willing me to stand.
Jocelyn watched us, a look in her eyes that I couldn’t read.
The touch of Jace’s hand at the small of my back almost sent an instant shock through my body and within milliseconds I was falling again, this time into an embrace with him. He wrapped his arms around me, whispering things, as I cried into him.
It took everything in me to suppress a larger flood of tears from escaping, instead allowing one cry of pain to pass my lips, as I wailed into Jace’s chest, which suppressed most of the noise. He cooed in my ear, lulling me into a calmer state, until I was finally able to release from the hug and turn back to Luke.
I apprehensively approached the hospital bed, reaching out to touch Luke’s face as silent tears escaped, my other hand intertwined with Jace’s, as he traced symbols and shapes on my hand, the caressing feeling more comforting that I could have ever dreamed possible.
Dumpster Diving, Chapter Fourteen: Fall For You