Dave (Bonus Book 4)

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Chapter 45: No Longer Obscured

Maria’s p.o.v.

We worked our way in silence. He only spoke to ask if I needed help with the furniture and stuff too. I only nodded too afraid and shocked to say anything as I kept staring at the bracelet on my arm. It wasn’t like everything was uber heavy, it was just a two person job in my case.

He began moving the furniture not bothering to ask me where I wanted things as I put my groceries away. Once we were done, I was surprised to see he had placed things exactly how I would have anyways. I stared at him shock evident on my face unable to find my tongue.

“Just because we hit a rough patch doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten anything.” he smiled sadly. A part of me itch to go hug him again, but the promise of the talk still lingered in the air. I cleared my throat as I turned and went back into the kitchen. He hadn’t bothered to hide that he was wearing his chain today and a part of me wondered why, but I was too scared to ask.

“Are you hungry? I was thinking of cooking something with steak.” My voice cracked and I cringed. If it wasn’t obvious that I was trying to avoid the emotion he brought at first, it was now.

“I could eat.” he sighed and I pictured him shrugging. He didn’t want to have this conversation as much as I didn’t, but we both knew we needed to. “Is there any other furniture you need help with?” he asked. Was it inappropriate to ask for help with my bedroom? Would it give him ideas? Hell, would it give me ideas to have him in there knowing we wouldn’t be heard? Shaking the thoughts away I decided to just try to go with the flow.

“Um...I bought this beautiful black and silver bedroom set, but the bed frame has been a bit complicated to figure out.” I started giggling at the image of it in my head. “It’s legit a butterfly bed, but if you think you can manage go for it.” I shrugged continuing to get the ingredients out for steak tacos. I had thoughts for something else, but the more I allowed myself to relax with him, the more it felt like the perfect late lunch for us.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it had kind of become our go to. Anything big that happened to us usually included tacos. It was a really weird and bizarre thing to realize,but it was true. The only other thing we shared was my bacon sandwiches I made here and there, but they were to tedious to make when I barely felt like doing anything.

I got to work allowing myself to reminisce as the meat sizzled in the pan and I got to work getting the toppings together.

Dave’s p.o.v.

Being around her like this was harder than I expected it to be. There were still little things that she did that reminded me of the times before it all went to hell. However, with my new knowledge, those times were also tainted. Still, my heart longed for her. I couldn’t just change or ignore how I felt because my ego and pride had been damaged. I wanted to have her in my arms without her having a breakdown. I wanted to be able to kiss her when I wanted too. Be able to laugh at the jokes only she and I would understand. I wanted her and only her.

It took everything I had to train myself not to do what I had become accustomed to. She still smelled like fresh strawberries. It reminded me of the ones you’d get from the farmers market. All plump and red and filled with juice just waiting for you to take a bite, and man I wanted to take a bite of her. Figuratively speaking of course.

It’s been thirty minutes since I first came into her bedroom to fix her bedframe for her and I’ve been hiding out since. She had been correct, it was a bit complicated to put up. Mostly because it was a two person job, but once I had one side fix it wasn’t so hard to do the other. It took me about fifteen minutes to get it all done and rearrange things the way I remembered her telling me. It had also gotten hot in that time. My shirt was off and my hair had slipped from its ponytail, but I was too tired to even attempt to put it back. Besides, the coolness of the metal on my chain felt good laying against my pecs.

Still, my mind kept going back to her and how it used to be.

We had been sitting in her room hiding away from our parents and the chores waiting to be done. The pups were on the bed in between us sleeping peacefully. It wasn’t dark, but the sun wasn’t out anymore either. Her room had a comfortable glow to it though. It felt good to just lay here with her and enjoy the silence.

“Hey Mickey?” she whispered.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for just being lazy with me today. You probably had better things to do and I really appreciate you choosing me.” There was a small sad sigh in her words, that normally someone wouldn’t hear but it was loud too me. For a minute I just stared at her. After all of this time and she still couldn’t see that I was a hundred precent obsessed with her. She already held my heart in her hands and all she did was say hi to me.

I didn’t deserve her. She was beautiful and undamaged and I’d ruin that for her. That was the last thing that I wanted to do.

“No need to thank me Minnie. I already told you, you’re the best part of my day.” I smiled as I scooted closer to her. Well as much as I could without disturbing the pups.

“You’re such a flirt.” she teased as I rolled my eyes. She didn’t get it. No matter how much I stated it and made it clear, she never understood. I wasn’t flirting, I was telling the truth. Just being with her made my day better. Just being around her made me better. “Hey, let’s go for a swim.” she suggested as I smirked remembering the last time we went swimming. “Wipe that look off your face mister, we’re only swimming.”

“I neither said nor thought anything on the contrary.” I laughed as she shook her head. I still wondered when she would get it. When would she understand? How much clearer could I say it? I was in love with her, but I didn’t deserve her and this constant battle was killing me. I just wanted to keep her next to me. Make her mine like I’d always promised.

I sighed as I leaned my head back against the wall. That night felt like forever ago. Hell, the first time I’d kissed her felt like a distant memory. We were so different back then. So unsure of ourselves. Still running away from our demons letting them control us. We were different now. We were older, but we were still dealing with the same crap. Still not really knowing how to deal with all.

I was still head over heels in love with her and I still felt like I didn’t deserve her. I still wanted nothing more than to have her in my arms again and this time I would never let go. I wanted to make her mine, but she was still fighting me on it every step of the way. It bothered me to think she thought I wasn’t good enough for her. I was tiring of trying to prove that I was and I was out of ideas for it.

“Dave your mom is here!” she shouted from the kitchen. Standing up I headed out the room and towards the living room not bothering to fix myself up.

“Mom what’s up?” I asked, sitting beside her on the couch.

“Did you two make up?” she whispered teasingly as I rolled my eyes. I swear sometimes they were like gossiping teenagers.

“No. You and Mr. Anise really are horrible. Worst than teenagers. She’s working me to death in the heat and your mind is in the gutter.” I laughed disbelievingly. “And we’re supposed to be the kids.” I scoffed.

“Oh hush. We both want grandkids.” she slapped my arm as I just gawked at her. What was wrong with them? “Anyways, I have to make a few runs. I need you to watch your sister. She’s in the back with Maria. Have fun and don’t scar my child.”

“Good-bye mother.” I sighed exaggeratedly as she laughed and headed out. By the back I assumed she meant the other room.

My mind was still on the wrong things as I walked to her other room where thankfully the door was still opened. She sat there rocking my little sister to sleep and I couldn’t help my heart skipping a beat. She looked so beautiful holding a child and a part of me wished it had been our child she was holding. That much I agreed with our parents on.

We belonged together and it was time we stopped fighting it. I knew I was being a hypocrite seeing as I just spent fifteen minutes hiding out in her room, but I needed to calm myself. The urge to just plant my lips on hers the way I used to was still there, but it wasn’t as strong. Besides, now I had a reason to keep myself in check. My sister was here.

“Ready to talk.” I whispered not leaving my post from the door frame.

“Um… let me just make sure she’s completely asleep and I’ll be out there. The food is ready also and there’s juice in the fridge.” I only nodded my head as I stepped away. This was really happening. It was time to finally get it all out in the open. To unblur the blurriness of the mess we created.

Maria’s p.o.v.

I would be lying if I said looking down at baby Cleo wasn’t giving me baby fever. She looked so much like Dave and it was killing me. I knew he was in the kitchen waiting to break my heart some more, and I knew I was being horrible using his little sister as a way to delay it a little bit longer, but I wasn’t ready.

I didn’t want to rehash every little detail that had gone wrong. I didn’t want him to realize that I’d been the one to push him away. I didn’t want to see the hate take over his face and I didn’t want to have to relive him walking away from me again. That hurt the most to have him actually walk away from me. As soon as he’d left I’d broken down and cried. I definitely wasn’t taking this bracelet off again, he’d had to fight me for it.

In the final decision of it all, him walking away really helped me to decide to just go away. I hadn’t expected my dad getting into an accident and being forced to come back here though. It was like my therapist had said. When something wants you to stop running away from it, it will block you and you’d be forced to deal with it. There was no doubt that it was time to deal, but that didn’t mean my heart was ready for it.

I would never be ready for him to realize that I wasn’t what he really wanted. I didn’t want him to look at me and realize that he deserved better. I was still in love with him and I knew I was avoiding the inevitable, but I remembered what it was like to be rejected by him and I didn’t want to experience that again.

Looking down at Cleo, I was glad he had her. She was going to drive him crazy when she got older, but at least she’d always have him.

“Guess I have to go talk to your brother now.” I whispered to her before kissing her on her little forehead and placing her in the center of the bed and surrounding her with pillows.

I took my time walking towards the kitchen getting more nervous with every step I took. It didn’t surprise me to see him already sitting at the table eating. I didn’t expect him to wait for me, he never did before. However, I was surprised that he had made a plate for me also. Usually that was something I did.

“Fuck, I’ve almost forgotten how good you can cook.” he moaned talking another bite.

“Well, if you stopped pushing me away you wouldn’t have.” I spat. I don’t know what compelled me to say it, but the words were already out.

“That’s not fair. Especially, since you’re the one always walking away.” he spat back wiping his hands on a napkin.

“It’s not like you tried to stop me.”

“Well excuse me if running behind you calling your name isn’t enough for you. What I was supposed to do Maria?”

“I wasn’t too far to drive.”

“I didn’t even know where you were at first-”

“What stopped you from coming when you did know?” I snapped, cutting him off. I could see that we were riling each other up. The air was loaded with both anger and sexual tension. We were still trying to keep our voices down so as to not wake the sleeping baby, but it was just so easy to get under each other’s skin sometimes. “Why didn’t you come for me Dave?”

“Because I was under the impression that you didn’t want me too,” he sighed walking away from me to the other side putting some much needed distance between us. Was it starting to get hot? “Look, Minnie, I don’t know how to do this with you. Every time I think we have a chance, shit like this happens making me think it’s just not worth it.”

“You don’t think I’m worth it?” she asked, her voice breaking.

“You’re putting words into my mouth Maria and if that’s how it’s going to be then no. No, I don’t think you’re worth it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to convince you that you’re the one I’m into. That you’re the one I love. I don’t have the energy for that and I won’t have the energy for it. So if you want to work this shit out and talk like the adults we pretend we are then let’s do it, but if all you want to do is point fingers and fight, then I’m out. I’ll go home and when you’re ready to be an adult about it, I’ll be waiting.”

I stood there shocked not used to him taking charge like this. I guess he misinterpreted my shock for stubbornness because he growled to himself as he went to go get his sister. I knew if I let him leave now that would be it forever. I didn’t want this to be the last time we ever talked. Rushing behind him I grabbed him by his belt loop since he still wasn’t wearing a shirt.

“Please don’t leave.” I whined. “I’ll talk, just please…” I could feel tears brimming the corners of my eyes and I was disgusted with myself. I hadn’t been this emotional before he came into my life and I hated that he changed me like this.

“Why do you do that?” he sighed leaning his forehead against the wall not bothering to look at me. “Why do you try to push me away and then get pissed when I listen?”

“It’s not intentional Dave. I don’t mean to do it. It just happens.” I cried tears starting to spill down my cheeks.

“But why does it happen? Why do you act like that and towards me of all people?” he questioned and admittedly he had a point. I had been harsher towards him than I had to other people.

“It’s like I told you, I hate my reasoning for being your friend. I feel like you should hate me, but you don’t. Or at least you pretend not too. So I push you away before you can have the chance to hurt me. It’s easier that way. It’s easier to make sure my heart is protected in the end.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, looking a little confused.

“In the beginning you were dead set on being just my friend. You even rejected me unnecessarily before. To make it worse it was because of something Clarissa said paired with your own personal fear. It was never because of something I did. Again she was ruining something for me and you were letting her. To add on to the embarrassment of it all, you were fucking her. I wasn’t good enough for you, but apparently she was. So I tried to move on and when I did you ruined it for me.”

“I told you repeatedly I didn’t like seeing you with him.”

“Because you were jealous! You didn’t want me, but you didn’t want anyone else to have me. How selfish is that?!”

“I’ll never sit back and just let anyone have you Minnie and you know that. You’re mine even when you don’t realize it.”

“I’m not yours anymore Mickey! Can’t you see that?”

“A rough patch doesn’t mean over. We never broke up.”

“You walked away.”

“You told me too. You made it clear that was what you wanted when you put that bracelet in my hand..”

“Why did you listen? Why did you let me?”

“Why did you ask me too? Why would you give it back? How can you expect me to want to stay around when you just told me the only reason that I’m even in your life is because you wanted to make your ex jealous?”

“Yeah make me the bad guy. You were trying to use me to replace Natalie and you know it.”

“You’re wrong Minnie. I fell for you. Your similarities to her was just a coincidence. It didn’t make me want you. I didn’t get jealous of John because of some flashback to when I was too young to comprehend what the feeling meant. I fell because I took the time to get to know you. To understand you on a level that I’ve never understood anyone else. How can you not see that?”

“You were paid to do that! You didn’t spend time with me because you wanted to and you can’t keep saying it like it’s true. You didn’t know me then. You had incentive. Seven thousand dollars worth.”

“Okay fine. I admit it. The money was a big motivation, but that doesn’t change anything that I’ve said. You intrigued me Minnie. One night with you talking about a book of all things was all it took. Like I said, I watched you for a week and I noticed you didn’t have friends. At first I thought there must have been a reason for that, and then I met you. When I met you it made no sense. How could someone like you be alone? I had no idea who Clarissa was or what she’d done when we hooked up.”

“I’ll give you that, but that isn’t what hurt. What hurt is that afterwards, after you knew everything between the two of us you still went back and fucked her? So what she was blackmailing you? You could have come to me yourself and told me what was going on and I would have believed you. We’d been friends for over a year at that point and you still couldn’t trust me enough to tell me what was going on.”

“Like you trusted me? You couldn’t wait to kick me out of your life and it’s been a repeated cycle. You make up this assumption in your head and you run with it like it’s true when it’s not. Yes, sometimes I got tired of fighting for you to realize that I loved you and I took a break but I always came back. I always came back Minnie! I always came back and you were just sitting there waiting to knock me out the air. You were just waiting to break my heart.”

Dave’s p.o.v.

I was getting pissed and the little demon inside me was begging for me to hurt her like she did us, but I was trying to be different. This little spat shouldn’t be what undoes months of growth. We could talk about this no matter how loud or accusatory we got. We both were breathing hard as she stood there trying to reassess the situation. We were getting nowhere fast. The right thing to do was to take a step back to breathe.

We both sat at the table just staring at each other. I took a moment to listen out for Cleo making sure our arguing hadn’t awakened her. I couldn’t keep going back and forth. Clearly we both felt strongly about how we handled things. What we needed to do was talk, not argue.

“Fine. Neither of us are really listening to each other. Can we at least agree that we could’ve handled some things different?” I asked taking a sip of the juice I’d poured before passing it to her. A small smirk plastered itself on my face as she drank from my glass. It wasn’t an actual kiss, but it was close enough.

“I think that’s fair.” she sighed handing the juice back to me. I quickly took another sip from the same spot she’d drunk from.

“So let’s do this. Instead of arguing and accusing back and forth we can ask each other questions and we’ll answer them as honestly as possible. We’ll try to the best of our abilities to listen and not get offended. Can you handle that?”

“Sure.” she shrugged. I sighed relieved that this once she wasn’t going to fight me on it. My fingers still tingled from the slight brush of hers as we passed the cup back and forth. Even when she pissed me off she turned me on more than I knew how to deal with. “Why Clarissa?” she blurted, almost making me choke. So we were going right for it? A warning would have been nice.

“I’m confused. What do you mean?” I asked between gasps of breath.

“Why did it have to be Clarissa? Why didn’t you stop when you knew who she was?” she asked and for the first time I could see how much my little rendezvous with Clarissa had hurt her. I sighed as I tried to grab her hand but she only yanked it away from me the bracelet clattering against the table as she did so. I deserved that.

“When we first moved here, after all that happened with Persephone and the consequences that came with it I was different. I didn’t want another girlfriend. I didn’t want another female friend. I didn’t want the pressures that came with either of it. I wanted to be the kind of guy that could get his rocks off and forget about the girl that same day. I wanted to be everything I wasn’t because to me it was easier. I didn’t want to lose someone again and I didn’t want to become a monster. The first thing I did when I got here was notice you and go against everything that I wanted. This may make me sound weak and all but I don’t care. I started imagining a life with you. Thinking about what it would be like to actually be together and it wasn’t fair. I needed to knock those thoughts away. So I tried to get to know the neighborhood and one day I ran into her. She noticed me and just made everything easier. I didn’t want her that way so it was nothing to flirt with her. I had no intention of hooking up with her, it just kind of happened. Then it happened a few more times, especially after we became friends. The closer we got and the more I learned about you the more I wanted you and she was a good distraction from all of that. Then I saw how the two of you acted in school. Being a good friend I went to break things off and tell her we couldn’t fuck anymore, but she threatened me. She said she would tell you and I’d lose you. She bragged about having done it before and I believed her. I mean I was new here. All I knew was that people feared her for a reason, so I did as she wanted. In hindsight it may have been selfish and yes I should’ve known you better, but I only feared losing you and I didn’t want that to happen.”

“I guess I can understand that.” she shrugged as I smiled at her stubbornness. It did feel good to finally get that off of my chest. It hurt to have her thinking I could just betray her like that. It wasn’t my intention to hurt her. I’d been blinded by my own pain and suffering.

“Why did you choose John? You made it seem like you weren’t interested in him at all.” I asked watching as she tensed up from the name. Maybe there was more to the story than I thought.

“If I’m being honest initially I wasn’t, but there was something about him that just felt familiar. Something that drew me in. I hadn’t made the connection at the time, but it could be that he reminded me so much of Jace at first. I’m not surprised that he knew me. I mean he did kinda sorta save me that night. Or maybe he allowed...nevermind. As I was saying, parts of him reminded me of Jace and I guess that’s what drew me in, but the more we hung out the more those differences became apparent. It didn’t feel like he wanted me. It felt like he wanted to brag about me, and you were right. Even while with him all I could do was think about you. I was so confused I went to my father about it and he even told me to use John to make you jealous. Subconsciously I had done exactly that. I didn’t know you would get so jealous. I didn’t know things would get as far as they did. I wanted you to regret not choosing me in the first place, but things just got messy and I couldn’t hide from them anymore. Everything came out.”

“If it helps I almost broke his leg in practice because I was so jealous.” I said as we both laughed and she shook her head at me.

“It does.” We grew quiet again and I could tell she was debating with herself over whether or not she wanted to ask me her next question. I just sat back and let her debate. It had to be something she really wanted to know. I couldn’t force her. “Why didn’t you just tell me about the money?” she blurted and I went wide eyed. This was one thing I thought we were passed, but it continuously came up proving just wrong I always was.

“Baby,” I sighed holding my head down in shame. It wasn’t something I was proud of and the more she couldn’t let it go, the more ashamed I felt. “Please just-”

“I need to know Mickey.” she sighed making a pouty face and breaking my heart more. I groaned.

“It’s such a stupid reason though. A part of me knew that telling you meant losing you and as I continuously tried to tell you, you’re mine and I’m not letting you go, but you don’t seem to understand that or want to listen. So I kept it to myself. On the other hand I feared that you would’ve enjoyed it. That telling you would awake some dark part of you from the darkest depths of your little monster and you would want to actually embezzle your own mother. Thinking about how alike the both of us could possibly be only scared me more. I was trying to get over you and only stick to being a good friend, but I was falling for the thought of you even more. At that point losing you was equivalent to being afraid to love you. It was a constant battle everyday.”

“Is that it?”

“No. There were a couple of times where I thought I was going to tell you, but none were as powerful as that day when I got into an argument with your mom. I don’t really remember the circumstances surrounding it because I think I had a panic attack, but I do remember barging over there to declare that I was going to tell you about it all and there was nothing she could do to stop me. Then she threatened to tell you that I was a murderer and had murdered my best-friend. At the time I truly believed what happened to Natalie was my fault and I was the one to blame for several reasons, and then there was the fact of what happened with Persephone. I couldn’t have another female I cared for fearing me over the rumors of what happened. So I did what she wanted and I didn’t tell you until you tricked me into believing you’d already known.”

“I didn’t mean to trick you. How was I supposed to know that was what you were hiding?” she asked, bumping her foot against mine.

“I guess that’s fair.” I shrugged. “Did you mean what you said about only wanting me to make Jace jealous?” I asked not being able to hold it back anymore. Hearing her say those words had broken me in ways I didn’t expect. It felt like I had put my heart out there just for her to step on it and crush it. I almost slipped because of it.

“I didn’t mean it the way it came out.” she sighed. “All I meant was that when I first met you I was still stupidly hung up on the guy. I thought he loved me, but I also had questions only he could answer. I tried to talk to him about it, but he always found a way to deflect or just run away. So I started talking to him about you, the new boy in town who wanted my affection. It was just little lies at first, but then those lies became the truth and for a while it worked, but somehow he found out I was lying to him and it started a bigger argument than necessary. I guess now I can say I understand why he spazzed out on me for lying, but back then I didn’t get it. In the end you still won. My feelings for you grew to be more powerful than anything I ever felt for him. I didn’t even know you could feel for someone the way I felt for you, but I have to admit that what I felt were two very different things. I loved you and it shocked me because it was so unexpected and it blossomed out of friendship. What I felt for Jace was a fantasy. It came from the fact that mother had beat into my head that I had to be the best; and being the best meant having the best. At the time Jace was the best. Although what we had was magical for my young mind, older me doesn’t really see it quite like that anymore.”

“What do you mean?” I asked hoping she would just say it aloud, but she just smirked at me and shook her head.

“Let’s just say that now that I’m older, I realize that lust is not magical. Magical is so much more than wondering what the sex would be like. I was infatuated with Jace and I’m woman enough to admit that sometimes I still am.” As she crossed her arms across her chest I knew that was all I was going to get on the subject and not to question it again. “How did I become your obsession? There’s literally nothing special about me to obsess over.” Her words hit me as the truth skyrocketed to the front of my brain. I remembered clearly what made me obsess over her, but it wasn’t something I ever wanted her to know.

“Baby I need you to remember something okay. For lack of a better phrase, I was in fuckboy mode when I first met you and denying hardcore what I felt for you.” I tried to put emphasis on it so that she would be a little prepared for what I was about to say, but there was nothing that could soften this blow. Maybe we were too toxic for each other and that was why things kept coming to a horrible crash in order to stop. “I won’t lie to you. I had every intention of being a fuckboy when I officially met you, but I hadn’t anticipated being able to talk to you so freely. Then I heard amidst the gossip how you had become a hard nut to crack. Someone made a joke about how I’d gotten closer to you than any other guy had in a long time and I loved it. I loved being the only one you trusted enough to open up too. For a year it was just me. I could see that you were starting to feel something for me, but I was already caught up in all that you were. I was sure I was going to be your first. Well, your first after being celibate for so long. Again this was back when I partially believed the rumors. When you told me that you were an untouched virgin that only made me happier, and then John came into the story. I’m sorry, I was the one to tell everyone that you were a virgin. Then again I’m not. Doing that helped people to realize that John and Clarissa couldn’t be trusted. Anyways, my obsession started with me wanting to be the one to deflower you. I was infatuated with the idea of being your first. I thought that maybe if you gave it to me we could be obsessed over each other. Funny how things work out, huh?” I tried to force a smile, but the power behind her smack knocked it right off. I hadn’t even been able to brace myself for it. I could feel her sitting there vibrating with rage before another smack came across my face. She started to go for a third, but I caught her hand midair. “I deserved the first two, but keep your hands to yourself now.” I growled, my face still stinging as she snatched her hand away from me. Her hitting me had pissed me off, but I had a good reason to keep calm. Cleo was awake and crying. I loved Maria and the fact that we were legitimately talking right now, but Cleo would always be my first priority now. I didn’t know how things would end with Maria, but Cleo would always be my baby sister.

Maria’s p.o.v.

Our conversation had been placed on hold. He didn’t want to continue on with his sister still here and honestly, I understood. I was thankful for the distraction. I needed time to think. I had my own questions that I needed to ask. I had my own feelings to determine.

What did I want to come from this conversation?

Well, if I was being honest with myself, I didn’t know. I wanted my friend back, but had we ever truly been friends? It seemed like we’d always been in this kind of toxic competition with each other and it was draining us dry. I could say that doing this, finally talking about it, was a good start to giving us another chance, but after everything that was coming out I doubted it. My feelings were hurt and I was pissed, but I couldn’t be a hypocrite. I knew my words were affecting him as much as his was affecting me.

Who was this hurting the most?

The fact that this was even a question was proof that although this conversation had been deemed important, it was doing more harm than good. We were hurting each other. We were tearing apart each other’s confidence and not really comprehending what the other was saying. It was just too much pain there to be able to see clearly. There were still too many feelings there to really hear what we were trying to say. I don’t even know who was being hurt the most, but I didn’t like that either of us were hurting.

Why were we bothering with this?

It would be easier to say that we were just trying to air everything out, but that would be a lie. These things had been brought up so many different times that we should’ve been over it, but it had never been talked about the way we were doing it now. No filters. No cutting each other off. Just full blown unadulterated truth. I knew we were both hoping that doing it this way would help to fix us and bring us closer together, but it was doing the opposite. It was pushing us apart and making us practically hate each other. We both wanted to defend ourselves while also throwing each other under the bus. It was confusing. I was tired of the push/pull game we found ourselves in, yet it seemed like the only thing we knew how to do.

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. The fact that he kept calling me baby hadn’t gone unnoticed. It was like he didn’t even notice when he was doing it. Almost like it came second nature to him. Each time it made my heart skip a beat and butterflies erupt. I didn’t know it was even possible to even feel such strong opposite emotions at the same time. I wanted to both kiss him passionately and give him a black eye by headbutting his ass. It was confusing to say the least. Another thing I’d notice was that he was finding ways to touch me. Any little excuse there was and somehow our skin was connecting. Again, I wasn’t sure if he noticed what he was doing or if it was just a tick he’d developed. He made it hard to make a decision like this. When you really thought about it, the good outweighed the bad, but the bad was so intense it carried a heavier load than expected.

We were both perfect and completely toxic for each other and it seemed like that was the issue. In order to really be able to be together we’d need a good balance for both, and right now that just didn’t seem like something we could find. Right now it felt best to just go our separate ways, but I was going to hold on for such a drastic decision. The conversation wasn’t over yet.

… … … … … … … …

After what felt like hours of playing with Cleo in a tension filled makeshift apartment trying to ignore that we wanted to kill each other, their mother finally came to pick her up. It felt like a breath of relief not to have to worry about damaging a child, but I still tensed up knowing there was nothing to hold him back now. Not that I believed he was holding back at first, but what would stop him from raising his voice now. The place was sound proof.

“Let’s just get it over with.” I forced out before he could even open his mouth as I sat back on the recliner. I didn’t even remember who turn it was to ask a question. All I knew was that I really didn’t want to do this anymore.

“I can just come back another time.” he sighed clearly frustrated with this talk also. It was mostly the fact that this wasn’t going anywhere near where either of us had expected it to. It was obvious we both thought doing this would help the relationship but it was only hurting it.

“Let’s just get it over with.” I reiterated.

“Fine. Last we spoke you said you had some things you needed to figure out. Some decisions you wanted to make alone. It wasn’t lost on me that you were talking about Jace. So I’m asking even though there’s a chance that the answer will break me. Did you figure it out? Did anything happen with Jace?” his fist was clenched at his sides and I admit, I got scared. I knew he wouldn’t intentionally hurt me, but blackout rage was a thing. I didn’t know if I should be honest or not. I honestly didn’t know what would happen next. Taking a deep breath, I just let the words flow from my mouth.

“I thought about giving it a shot, but the thought made me sick to my stomach. He came to visit me once. It was befroe I started going back to therapy when I was still just floating through life and by no means am I trying to make an excuse. When he got there we talked some, smoked a little bit and then we ended up making out.” I jumped as he punched a hole in the wall. Tears were staining his cheeks and a part of me wanted to just go over and hug him and make it better, but I knew better than to get too close.

“So while I was here crying over you and wondering where we stood, you were out kissing another guy?! For fucksakes Maria we never officially broke up!” he yelled, visibly starting to shake. It wasn’t until I looked closer that I realized he was actually crying and not just mad. My heart broke. I didn’t want to hurt him. “Did you fuck him?”

“Huh?” I answered not really wanting to answer him.

“Don’t play with me Maria. Did you fuck him?” his words were firm despite the tears still sliding down his cheeks. His eyes were pleading with me to say no, even if it wasn’t the truth. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I didn’t want to hurt him anymore than I already had, but I couldn’t lie to him.

Dave’s p.o.v.

I was holding my breath waiting for her to answer. I shouldn’t have asked her, but I needed to know.

“Maria-” I deadpanned looking her directly in the eye. The guilt covering her face already told me the truth, but I needed to hear her say it. I needed to have her break my heart out loud.

“Yes, we had sex. It was only one time. It happened a little after I left. I’m sorry.” I didn’t say anything as I walked towards one of her bedrooms stoically. I didn’t know it was possible to hurt like this. The minute I was in the room I closed the door behind me and locked it before falling to my knees and just letting the sobs take over me.

My body shook as my tears ran down my cheeks. It felt like my heart was being squeezed with an iron grip that just wouldn’t let go. Tiny heated pins were trying to push out of my tear ducts as pain shot through my knuckles. Repeatedly my fists hit the hard oakwood flooring. My heart was breaking and still all I wanted to do was make sure she knew I loved her.

It was pathetic. Not once had I thought about stepping out on her and the first thing she did was sleep with another guy. I didn’t understand it. You shouldn’t be able to do stuff like that to someone you claim you love.

“Dave please,” her voice floated through the door and straight to my ears. She was crying too. She was hurting and felt guilty over her actions. I didn’t want to see her in pain. “Please just open the door and let me explain.” she begged. Clearly she didn’t understand that this door was between us for her protection. I would never hit her, but I didn’t want her beating herself up over feelings she never considered in the first place. Still, I opened the door before sitting back on the floor. I now felt stupid being here. “I’m so sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“Then why did it.” I spat gruffly, my throat feeling like sandpaper from all the crying.

“I wanted to feel something other than like a victim. He came over to tell me about Chase and we talked about that night and I still wasn’t ready to rehash it. I tried to distract him the only way I knew how when stoned. I kissed him. Kissing him felt like such an empowered thing that one thing just led to another. I was tired of just being a victim to him. I shouldn’t have let it get that far.” I watched as she slid down the wall before fixing my lips to ask it.

“What did happen with Chase? Why did you react like that when you saw him? It seems like everyone knows but me, and I want to hear it from you.” my words had a rough edge to them and a part of me felt bad, but couldn’t get the image of them out of my head. I didn’t want to think about anyone else touching her when she was supposed to have been mine.

“Don’t you already know?” she breathed clearly uncomfortable. Well that makes two of us.

“I want to hear it from you.” I reiterated. I had no idea what was going on. No one would tell me after I got arrested for kicking his ass out of fear that I’d kill him.

“That night when Clarissa drugged me, she’d taken me to Jace’s room and promised to stay there with me, but she didn’t. She left out and I stupidly assumed she was going to go get him. A couple minutes after she left the door opened again and in walked Chase. I remember wondering why he was there. He spat some shit about me stealing his best-friend as if that would justify what he was going to do next. He pulled my pants down and proceeded to do what he claimed was warming me up for Jace. A lot of people feel like I overreacted to the situation, but I was out of it. I had been drugged and someone I should have been able to trust had taken advantage of me. It made me feel used and disgusted with myself. I didn’t care that he hadn’t taken my virginity, the way I felt he may as well have.”

“Why did you get mad at me for fighting him then?” I asked confused.

“I wasn’t mad that you kicked his ass. I was elated for the fact and once I was myself again I could appreciate the fact that instinctively you had protected me without knowing all the facts. I’m no fool though, I know some of that was for you, I was just the excuse. You needed to get that aggression out from the shock that came with knowing Natalie was alive. I understood that, but I thought you’d chosen her over me. I’d broken down mentally and needed you, but you weren’t there and neither was she. I thought you said fucked me. No one ever told me you were in jail.” I don’t know why but I laughed. I laughed as if I would never laugh again. All of this was bonkers. It was so clear that we were perfect for each other, but it was just as clear that we needed to be on opposite ends of the globe. It was too much for any normal person to handle, but we weren’t normal.

“This is ridiculous Minnie. All of it is just plain ridiculous.” I sighed holding my arms out for her. She hesitated for a moment before crawling over to me and getting comfortable between my legs. “We’re a mess.” I sighed feeling both content to have her in my arms like this again, but now more than ever I could feel that we needed to go our separate ways. Not even our friendship could withstand this shit storm.

“I’m sorry that I hurt you.” she whispered sniffling. For a moment we sat in silence just holding each other. My fingers had found the bracelet on her arm as she played with the charm on my chain. The events of the day were running rapidly through my head with her nestled in my arms with tears of her own, and the realization that things were truly about to be over had me breaking down once again. Silently we cried together.

I never wanted to lose her and now that was exactly what was about to happen. She would still be around, but it just wouldn’t be the same. We were on the right path right now and maybe someday we’d be ready for each other, but right now it wasn’t it. She looked at me and even I could tell that we were thinking the same thing. She tried to smile, but it looked forced before it fell from her face. Sucking up the last bit of courage I had I pressed my lips to hers.

Kissing her still felt a being in a meadow, but now the flowers were dying. The weather was growing cold and the butterflies were gone. The pond had dried up some and the little bit that was left was starting to freeze over. There were no fireworks, the herd of unicorns had disappeared and all the magic was gone.

Right now kissing her felt like good-bye.

Then we snapped out of it. Although I knew the answer coming, I felt my lips asking the question before I could stop them.

“So where do we go from here?”

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