“Taylor, we need to talk.” Matt’s angry face glared at me, his fingers digging hard into my shoulder. Vincent stood up and quickly switched his victorious smug grin to an upset frown.
“Is there a problem here?” he asked, trying to play it cool-yet-slightly-ticked-off.
“I need to talk to Taylor. Stay out of it.” Matt snapped at Vincent.
I cringed in pain because Matt was gripping me too hard and Vincent’s gaze dropped to his grip on me. “It seems like you’re forcing him to go. I advise you to get your hands off him, Mathew, or there will be... consequences,” Vincent said, a warning very clear in his voice.
Matt’s jaw ticked and his eyes narrowed in a deadly glare. He slowly removed his hand from my shoulder, but his eyes never left Vincent’s as he spoke.
“There. Are you happy? I asked nicely. No one’s forcing anyone here.” He spat out and then turned to me. “Taylor. I need to talk to you. Now.”
“Okay,” I said nervously. “Vincent, can you wait for me here? I’ll be right back.”
Matt stomped up the stairs to the second floor while I hurried after him. He walked into the first empty room he found and closed the door after me, eyes burning with anger.
“Are you really doing this, Taylor?” he asked as soon as he clicked the door shut, while the sound of music from downstairs drifted muffled through the door.
“Doing what?” I asked, confused.
“Are you really hooking up with that guy?” he asked, upset. “Seriously?”
“So what if I am?” I said, defensively.
“It’s so obvious you’re going to get hurt, Taylor! Why can’t you see this? He’ll use you and toss you out like yesterday’s trash. And I’ll be the one left to pick up the pieces after he’s done with you.”
“Why is he going to toss me out, Matt? Do you think it’s inconceivable for someone like Vincent to actually like me? I’m that worthless, is that what you’re saying?”
“No, Taylor!” he shouted. “That’s not what I said! I’m trying to protect you here. I’ve heard some stories about him in the hallways, you know. He treats people like things that he gets to play with, until he loses interest and discards them. Is that what you want? To be disposable? You deserve better than that!”
“You don’t know if he’s going to do that, Matt! You don’t even know him!”
“And neither do you!” he said, exasperated.
“All I know is that he enjoys spending time with me and he treats me like I’m important. Is that so horrible? He has done nothing to make you hate him this much!” I argued.
“You just met this guy and you think you have him all figured out? You think you can trust him? I’m telling you, he’s bad news! Even Jesse thinks he’s no good. He’s a player, Tay. Nothing that comes out of his mouth sounds true.” He passed a distressed hand over his hair. “You rather trust a guy you barely know over me, Tay?” he accused in a hurt tone.
“This is not about me picking him over you, Matt. Why are you making it sound like I’m choosing him instead of you?”
“Because you are!”
“No, I’m not! You’re still my best friend, Matt. Nothing will ever make that change, nothing!” I said, glancing sadly at the floor because it was true, he was never going to be more than a friend and this was exactly what was slowly killing me inside.
“Why are you sad, Tay? Being my friend makes you sad?” he asked quietly.
“No, Matt... I just don’t understand why you can’t be happy for me. Why can’t you accept I found someone? I’m tired of being alone, you know? I don’t want to feel lonely anymore.”
“You’ll find someone, Tay. But don’t settle for just anyone, you deserve a guy who can see how awesome you are, a guy like… like…” he tried to find the right words, but couldn’t finish his sentence, so I finished for him.
“Like you?” I raised my head and we locked eyes.
I cringed inside when I realized what I had let slip out. He was still processing what I had confessed and he hadn’t reacted to my words yet, but I knew it was coming. I knew I was going to have to explain to him what I meant by that. So instead of explaining, I decided to let my action speak for itself.
I walked towards him, cupped his face in my hands and kissed him on the lips.
He froze in surprise, his blue eyes wide in shock and when the shock was over, he pushed me away. “W-what are you doing?” he stammered in confusion.
“I’m being honest with you, Matt. Why don’t you be honest with me too? Isn’t this why you hate Vincent so much?”
“Y-you think I’m jealous of him?”
“Aren’t you? You said it yourself, you want me to pick you over him.”
“No, Taylor.” His voice was so cold that it cut through me like an ice blade.
He meant a lot of things with that ‘no’. It wasn’t only a ‘No, I’m not jealous of you’. It was a ‘no’ to us, to the possibility that something romantic could ever happen between us.
It was a rejection.
I had poured my heart out and handed to him on a platter and he had crushed it so hard with that one small word.
Oh, God. What had I done?
He slowly stepped back, like he was scared of me. That alone hurt like hell. We stared at each other in mind numbing silence for a few seconds, his ice blue eyes holding no mercy to my breaking heart, before he turned around and left the room.
The only sound I could conjure up was a sad sobbing, as I collapsed on the floor with my head buried in my hands in despair.
What had I done?