Chapter 5 ~ Paroxysm
“I can’t believe my uncle canceled on me! He never has a date," Max complained to Nelson as they drove towards Zack’s house party.
“Hey, maybe it’s fate; you never know man,” Nelson replied, too excited to care. He was just happy that everything had worked out in his favor. “Hey, pull over here to the gas station. I need to get something,” Nelson requested.
“All right.” Max pulled into the gas station and parked next to a gas pump.
“Max, isn’t that Mei…your girl?” Nelson teased, pointing over to Mei. She was standing in front the gas station’s entrance drinking a bottle of water. “She is hot!” Nelson exclaimed.
Mei stood by the entrance of the convenience store. The soft, Florida, night air gently glided through her long wavy hair, creating the perfect frame around her face. She glanced in their direction. Her face looked how an angel’s would. She wore dark, skinny jeans and a tight tank top. Mei had a beautiful hourglass shape and a vibrant golden complexion. Little did she know that her beauty left many men breathless.
Max observed the men walking past her, staring and making vulgar gestures behind her back, as they walked into the convenience store. He unexpectedly became jealous but reminded himself that she was not his girl. “I want her to be,” he whispered.
“Go talk to her man! You can’t just stare at her for the rest of your life!” Nelson pushed, overhearing his words.
“I want to, but man, she makes me nervous! Something about her…”
“I'm behind you! Do it! Come on! Let’s go!” Nelson urged, jumping out of the SUV.
Max reluctantly followed. His heart loudly pounded in his chest as the distance between them shortened.
Mei didn’t notice him; her gaze was fixed on an approaching car.
Is she waiting for someone? Max thought. She is beautiful. She has to have a boyfriend. What am I thinking? She’ll never go for me, Max silently complained to himself.
Mei suddenly switched her gaze to Max as he approached. He realized she was upset, Her eyes appeared puffy; however, he could still see those beautiful, emerald green eyes. She looked sad, more than usual. His nervousness turned to concern, not realizing how much her well-being meant to him. He opened his mouth to ask if she was okay when her name was shouted out. Everyone in the vicinity turned towards the voice of Cora Pennington.
“Mei!” Cora called once more as she walked towards her friend, embracing her.
“Are you okay…did he hurt you?” Cora asked as Max and Nelson continued to walk past.
What did she mean by did he hurt you? Max questioned himself. Did some boyfriend hurt her? Max pondered under his breath. If I ever had the chance to be with her, I would treasure every minute. Why would anyone want to hurt someone that beautiful, he thought.
Max became overburdened with all of his thoughts. “I am getting tore up tonight!” he suddenly blurted out loud.
Everyone turned in the direction of the unexpected outburst. A mixture of disapproving stares were followed by an eruption of foolish laughter. The gas station attendant was among the less amused, shaking his head in disgust.
Nelson picked up a pack of condoms and spearmint gum before heading to the cash register. “What happened out there? I thought you were going to stop,” Nelson teased.
“It looked like a bad time,” Max mumbled under his breath. “I thought you had my back?” Max returned as he waited for Nelson to finish paying.
“Well, I can’t talk to her for you,” Nelson chuckled after collecting his change from the cashier.
They make their way back out of the convenience store, all while Max’s mind was consumed over mysterious thoughts surrounding Mei.
“Well, onto the next!” Nelson exclaimed, jumping into the passenger’s side of the Suburban.
Max said nothing as he entered into the driver’s seat and drove off.
“Okay, girl! What happened?” Cora questioned. “You look pissed!”
Mei had sat quietly for the past five minutes, staring out the car window. “I just can’t deal with this anymore,” Mei sighed. “He was trying to break into my room tonight. Thank God I heard him and could get out before he got in. Cora…I just don’t know what to do…! I'm tired! I can only fight him off for so long,” Mei explained.
“Mei, please tell me you didn’t cut yourself again?” Cora heatedly questioned.
“I can’t handle him anymore!” Mei snapped.
“Honeybee, I know…! But, I love you, and I know your mom would not be able to go on if something happened to you. What if you cut an artery and bleed to death or the doctors couldn’t stitch you back up?” Cora drilled.
“Would it be so bad?” Mei mumbled.
Cora’s mouth dropped, shocked at her friend’s reply. “Yes, Mei!” Cora sternly expressed while holding back her tears.
“I just want to drink,” Mei replied. “Then, I won’t care,” she stated.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Mei…hey why don’t you just sleep at my house tonight? We can buy some junk food and watch some girly movies,” Cora suggested shoving her wants aside for her friend’s needs.
“No, I’ll be fine. Besides, my Mom doesn’t know that I'm out. She thinks I’m locked in my room sleeping. That Chinese woman might be short and tiny, but she will beat my ass anytime,” Mei joked, trying to lighten the air. “Cora you’re a great friend. I wouldn't be here today without you,” Mei smiled, looking over at her.
“Sweet, but I can’t take all the credit,” Cora stated pointing up towards the roof of the car.
Mei just smiled and nodded in agreement. Cora was not your perfect Christian teen, but she loved God and was not afraid to show it. Cora's faith always inspired and intrigued Mei to have a relationship with God, but the anger and contempt she felt in her heart still held her back from thoroughly enjoying that kind of relationship.
“Okay, ready?” Cora asked. She ecstatically pulled up to the curb and parked her car.
“Yep,” Mei whispered, as she nervously unbuckled her seat belt.
Cora was already jumping out of her car and closing the door behind her before Mei could open the passenger side door. Mei slowly stepped out, suddenly feeling a rush of butterflies in her stomach. She shyly looked around. She began to follow Cora up the driveway to the open garage door. It was as if the whole school had come out. Carefree teens ran around in a mania. Although just minutes after ten, many were already definitively drunk.
“Don’t worry; I'm not drinking, but I don’t want to see you passed out somewhere just because I’m not,” Cora warned to Mei as they entered the party.
Mei began to have second thoughts about drinking, but then recalled Thomas’ earlier attempt. I’d rather be drunk than stay with these thoughts in my head. She kept Cora’s words at the back of her mind. She knew that her friend was right, but maybe just one cup of the hard stuff would be enough to take the edge off.
Mei casually made her way to the makeshift bar next to the pool and poured herself a Patron and Coke. She hated hard liquor but needed to forget. She hoped that the Coke would hide the strong taste of the alcohol. It didn’t; yet, she quickly swallowed the large, red, plastic cup of alcohol and cola while walking by a large pool packed with out of control teens, who probably shouldn’t have been in the pool while intoxicated. She continued to push her way through the horde, trying to find a quiet place to escape the debauchery.
It was a lavishly decorated, beautiful home. Mei discovered a cement bench in a garden to rest. A heavy breath escaped her soft lips as her body eased onto the bench. It was dark, with only a few outdoor solar lights to highlight the captivating flowers planted in an artful design. She indeed began to relax as she felt the effects of the alcohol taking over her mind and body.
Her peace was soon interrupted by an energy she had felt earlier that day, those familiar eyes on her, engulfing her with a sensation unknown to her. It didn’t feel evil; just different, intriguing. Mei spun around to see who was there.
It was he. Again, she recognized his arousing masculine shape, his sculpted arms and that rippled stomach that she confidently knew was lying beneath his white shirt. The moonlight behind him didn’t help to suffocate the rising emotions she hid so well from him, so far. He stood at the entrance of the garden holding a red cup, swaying ever so gently.
Obviously, he’s already tipsy, Mei thought.
He stood in the shadow for a while longer finishing his concoction. Mei began to feel a little anxious as he stepped closer to her. Now she could see in the light what she already knew; it was Max. Somehow she found herself relieved that it was he and not someone else. She had heard her share of drunken stories and misidentification tales to make her second guess herself.
Feeling his familiar gaze, she was now convinced that it was he who was staring at her earlier today. Why? Mei thought.
“Can I help you?” she lightly questioned aloud, watching him slowly move towards her.
Max’s grey eyes seemed to shine in the darkness. If I didn’t already believe in God, I would now…Only God could make something that beautiful, Mei thought as a slow, seductive smile appeared on her face.
“Yes, you can tell me why it’s so hard to get your attention,” he finally answered.
“What are you talking about?” Mei asked, giggling while beginning to stand.
“No, don’t get up. I will come to you; relax,” he said putting his free hand up as he made it to the cement bench on which Mei was seated.
She smiled. There was something about Max, something deeply familiar.
“So what are you doing here? I didn’t know this was your scene, your thing,” Max questioned as he sat next to her.
“It’s not my thing,” Mei replied, looking down and over to some flowers across from them.
Max followed her gaze to the flowers. He searched his mind for what to say to her. He did not want to lose her attention. Having her eyes on him, even for a moment, felt serene.
“You know, not one of those flowers is as beautiful as you.”
“Wow, what a weak line...you’re drunk!” Mei laughed, abruptly standing to her feet and walking over to one of the rose bushes.
“Please, I am sorry; I know I sound cheesy,” Max apologized with an amused expression on his face. He quickly stood and walked over to her.
“Mei,” he gently called as he touched her elbow. Max quickly gulped down the last of his drink and then threw the cup in the rose bush.
“Oh, charming, Max! Real gentlemen like,” Mei sarcastically responded, turning to face him.
Max peered into her eyes. Mei felt as if he could see straight through to her soul. She swiftly looked away. She didn't want him to see her and everything she was trying so desperately to shove down.
“Who would want to hurt you?” he mumbled.
“What…! What?” Mei questioned, sternly stepping away from him, startled by his words.
“Nothing,” Max quickly replied as he turned his back. I’m so stupid! he thought.
She started to take a step forward, needing to get away from him, but stumbled. Max heard her feet shuffle and quickly turned in time to catch her.
“Are you all right?” Max asked, guiding her to the bench.
“Too, much Patron,” Mei slurred. Her body instantly felt like a brick. Her mouth became heavy, and she could feel her mind drifting out of consciousness.
“Wow…what’s bothering you?” Max questioned.
She held her head. “Oh man, what am I thinking?” she mumbled, just before passing out.
Unexpectedly, Nelson came running into the rose garden. “Max, we got to go! A fight broke out, and the police showed up!” Nelson yelled, out of breath. “Okay, what did you do?” Nelson looked at his friend who appeared bewildered as he tried to hold onto Mei.
“It's not what it looks like! She’s drunk,” he explained.
“Oh, no she’s just fallen for you, man.”
“What?” Max yelled back. His adrenalin began to pump through his veins as he saw people trying to escape the police. He had no intention of getting caught in this mess. Lucky for him, he lived just a few houses away. He looked down at Mei. She appeared to be knocked out, and he was not about to leave her behind. Max began to pick her up when Cora Pennington ran into the garden, screaming for her friend. Mei groaned as her head rolled back onto Max’s arm while he slipped his other arm under her legs, picking her up.
“What did you do to her?” Cora angrily yelled as she stomped towards Max.
“Nothing! I swear! She had Patron,” Max desperately explained. “We need to get out of here, now! I can bring her to your car,” he offered.
Cora reluctantly agreed, not sure of what his original intentions were. They begin to head towards the pool area when Nelson observed cops coming towards the garden area.
He grabbed Cora’s arm. “Look we can walk out of here, but your friend can’t. If the cops see her like that, we are all in trouble,” Nelson quickly explained. He motioned for them to step further into the garden.