“No, not really.” I shrug. “Tell me about this wine.” I grasp for a neutral, nondepressing subject.
“This guy? Okay, well, it’s, um, old and aged to perfection?” He laughs and I join him. “I’m good at drinking it, though, not so much studying it.”
“Okay, not the wine, then,” I say. Tipping my cup back, I finish the rest as quickly as possible.
“Um,” he says, looking behind me. My stomach drops at his nervous expression, and I hope Hardin isn’t back to spit more venom at me. When I turn around, Lillian is standing in the doorway, seemingly unsure whether to come out or not.
“What do you want?” I ask her. I’m trying to control my jealousy, but the wine coursing through me doesn’t work in favor of manners. Robert grabs my empty cup just as the wind knocks it over, and begins to refill it. I get the feeling he’s trying to keep himself busy to avoid whatever dramatic or awkward situation lies ahead.
“Can I talk to you?” Lillian asks.
“What is there for us to talk about? Everything is pretty clear to me.” I take a big gulp from my cup, letting the cold wine fill my mouth.
Unexpectedly, she doesn’t respond to my attitude. She just walks over to us and says flatly, “I’m gay.”
What? If Robert’s clear blue eyes hadn’t been focused on me, I’d have spit the wine back into my cup. I look from him to her and swallow slowly.
“It’s true. I have a girlfriend. Hardin and I are only friends.” She frowns. “If you would even call us that.”
I know that look. He must have just told her off.
“Then why . . .” I start. Is she being honest? “But you guys were all over each other.”
“No, he was being a little . . . touchy-feely, I guess you’d say, like when he put his arm around my chair. But he was only doing it to make you jealous.”
“Why would he do that? On purpose?” I ask. But I know the answer: to hurt me, of course.
“I told him to tell you. I’m sorry if you thought something was going on between us. It’s not. I’m in a relationship, with a girl.”
I roll my eyes and hold my cup out to Robert for more wine. “You seemed pretty comfortable going along with it,” I remark harshly.
With honest, pleading eyes, she says, “That wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was doing. I’m really sorry if you were hurt in all this.”
I’m fumbling for reasons to tell this girl off, but I can’t come up with any. Lillian being gay is a huge relief to me, and I wish that I’d known sooner, but it really doesn’t change much with Hardin. If anything, it makes his behavior worse, because he was purposely trying to make me jealous and then upped the ante by saying the most hateful things he could think of to me. Watching him flirt with her didn’t hurt nearly as bad as hearing him tell me that he didn’t love me.
Robert fills my glass, and I take a small sip while watching Lillian. “So what changed your mind and made you tell me? He went off on you, didn’t he?”
She half smiles, then sits down at the table with us. “Yeah, he did.”
“He’s good at that,” I say and she nods. I can tell she’s slightly nervous, and I keep reminding myself that she isn’t the problem here, Hardin is.
“Do you have any more cups?” I ask Robert, and he nods, giving me a proud smile. My stomach flutters lightly; from the wine, I’m sure.
“Not in my pocket, but I can grab another from inside,” he offers politely. “We should go inside, anyway; your lips are turning blue.”
I look up at him, and my gaze goes to his lips. They’re full and pink; they look so soft. Why am I staring at his lips? This is what wine does to me. I want to be staring at Hardin’s lips, but he only uses them to yell at me lately, it seems.
“Is he inside?” I ask Lillian, and she shakes her head. “Okay, let’s go in, then. I have to save Landon from that table, anyway, especially from that Max guy,” I say without thinking, then quickly look at Lillian. “Shit, sorry,”
She surprises me by laughing. “It’s fine, trust me. I know my dad’s an asshole.”
I don’t respond. She may not be a threat to my relationship with Hardin, but that doesn’t mean that I like her, even if she does seem kind of sweet.
“Are we going inside or . . .” Robert rocks on the heels of his black dress shoes.
“Yeah.” I gulp down the rest of my wine and head inside. “I’ll get Landon. Are you sure you can drink here? In your uniform?” I ask my new friend. I don’t want him to get in trouble. My head is fuzzy, and the thought of him getting arrested by his father makes me giggle.
“What?” he asks, his eyes searching my face.
“Nothing,” I lie.
Heading inside, Lillian and I walk over to our party’s table. I put my hands on the back of Landon’s chair, and he turns to look up at me.
“You okay?” he asks quietly while Lillian speaks to her parents.
I shrug. “Yeah, sort of.” I wouldn’t be if I wasn’t borderline drunk from downing several cups of wine. “Do you want to hang out with us? We’re going to hang out here and have some wine . . . some more wine.” I smile.
“Who? Her, too?” Landon glances across the table at Lillian.
“Yeah, she’s . . . well, she’s okay.” I don’t want to blurt out the girl’s personal business in front of everyone.
“I told Ken that I’d watch the game with them at Max’s cabin, but if you want me to stay here, I will.”