Damien had answered the phone without looking at the caller id and was shocked when he heard Taylor’s voice on the other side of the call. “What’s over?” For a brief panicked moment, he wondered if Aidan told her not to talk to him anymore.
She sobbed. “Aidan and me. We are over.”
“Why?” He could think of nothing else to say. Why was she phoning him anyway? She had never phoned him before.
She hiccuped, “I just realized he is bad for me. He is forcing me into doing things I don’t want to do. I thought I had everything under control, but I feel as if everything is slipping away from me.” There was a moment of silence and he heard her sniff. “I am sorry for phoning you, but I thought I was phoning Brianna, and only realized it was you when I heard your voice. I better go.”
Hurriedly he said, “No wait, Taylor. You can talk to me.” He did not want her to go.
As if she was eager to lift the heaviness off her chest and to share her burden, she said softly, “We used to be so happy and we could talk about anything, now all we do is argue. Do you think I should try again and that maybe I am being too stubborn? Should I give in to him?”
“No to all your questions. I know you are feeling hurt now and you feel as if your heart is breaking, but don’t ever regret a decision you made for yourself. Do you really want to continue in a relationship with him anyway?”
“I don’t know.”
“I have known you for six months and all the two of you have ever done is fight.”
“We were also happy like you and Brianna in the beginning.” Damien hated himself for the lie he was living and for making her think that he and Brianna had the perfect relationship. She continued, “And that’s why I keep going back to Aidan because I see you and Brianna together and I wish I could have what you two have.”
Damien felt his heart speed up, and he wanted to tell her he could give her all of it and even more. He wanted to tell her how he believed with all his soul they were meant to be together, but he knew it was sappy and silly. Nobody believed in souls and destinies anymore. “Do you want me to come over?” He hesitated. “We could talk.”
“I’m not sure. I look awful.”
“Impossible.” He laughed nervously. “I have never once seen you look anything but beautiful.”
“Do you really think so?”
“Yeah, I do,” he said softly. The conversation suddenly felt intimate.
She laughed apprehensively. “Do you want to know something very senseless?”
“Okay?” He felt unsure.
“You remember your first day at school?”
“I do. Why?”
“Remember how our eyes met?”
He hesitated before he replied, “Yes, I remember.”
Her voice trembled. “I felt as if we were connected that day. It was such a quick look, it only lasted a second, yet I felt it vibrate in my soul. It was as if I knew you.” She laughed. Her voice still husky from shedding too many tears. “Stupid, isn’t it?”
“Not at all.”
“Bring your guitar,” she suggested. “When you play I always seem to feel better.” She sounded embarrassed when she said, “Your music seems to bring out the colours around me.”
He could not wait to get to her. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
He did not want to end the call. He was scared once he ended it, it would be as if it never happened, but she took the choice away from him as she ended the call.
He grabbed his guitar from off his bed and swung the strap across his shoulder. Stopping in the lounge he said goodbye to his foster mother, “I won’t be back late.”
“Okay, Damien.” She smiled up at him. “I’ll keep your dinner in the micro.”
“Thank you.” He smiled at her in return. She was the kindest and nicest foster mother he had ever had, and he wondered why she had not come into his life when he was younger.
Walking fast, he reached Taylor’s house within fifteen minutes. Was he acting desperate running to her house as soon as she and Aidan broke up? When he knocked at her door, he wondered if she had phoned Aidan by now and if they were back together again.
As she opened the door, she smiled widely. Her eyes looked bluer and her eyelids were a faint pink colour, although he could see she tried to hide the evidence of her sadness with make-up. “Come in.”
He looked up at her unsure. He still had the chance to turn around and go back the way he came. He was sure he could learn to be happy with Brianna, but he felt as if this was where he belonged.
She stepped aside as he walked into the house and he followed her to the kitchen after he waited for her to close the front door. “Do you want something to drink? A cold drink or something warm?”
“I’ll have coffee if you’re making.”
“I’ll make some.”
He leaned against the counter as she switched on the kettle and pulled two cups from the cupboard. Again and again, his gaze drifted to Taylor as if he was assuring himself she was really there.
Each glance they shared set off a happiness in her, filled her with a gladness that she had phoned him by accident. On her phone Damien’s name was straight after Brianna’s and in her rush to speak to someone she must have phoned him.
She handed him his mug. “We can go up to my room. My mum doesn’t mind, as long as we keep the door open.”
He followed her up the stairs to her room. Her room was a decent size. It was very girlie and was decorated in every shade of pink ever invented. She put her mug on the bedside table and sat down crossed leg on her bed. “Sit,” she invited.
He sat down on the edge of the bed, his feet on the floor.
Interested she asked, “Tell me about yourself. You’re so mysterious. You just arrived one day and nobody knows anything about you.”
He looked at her unsure. He felt a strange compulsion to tell her everything, things he had never told anybody before. “I used to live in Cork and when I was eight my dad kicked me and broke my arm.”
Taylor gasped shocked. “I am so sorry,” she whispered.
“I ran out of the house into the rain to the park. I did not know where I was going to go, but I knew I never wanted to go back to that house again. I sat in the rain for hours until a woman came jogging past. She stopped and kept asking me why I was sitting there alone in the rain. She kept asking me where my house was, but I refused to tell her. She phoned Social Services, I was taken to hospital and then after a very short investigation, I was placed in foster care.”
“Do you ever see your parents?” Her face was filled with concern and sympathy.
“No,” he replied harshly. There was a long moment of silence, until he said nervously, “It feels as if it was supposed to happen this way. I am very happy with my new foster parents; they are very kind. Imagine if I stayed where I was, I would still be in Cork and not here.”
Taylor tried to lighten the mood. “Yeah, we would never have met otherwise.”
He turned to look at her. “Exactly.” He smiled slowly and he seemed lost.
He had to be so strong emotionally to talk about his parents so casually as if it did not matter. She moved closer to him. He stiffened, and he seemed ready to pull away from her, but then relaxed into her embrace, burying his face in her hair.
She was happy for the chance to give him comfort. She wanted to whisper ‘I think I love you,’ in his ear so close to her lips, but she was afraid that he did not feel the same way as she did and once she said the words, they would be out there.
She moved her head and cupped his face in her palm. He looked into her eyes, trying to determine whether it was only pity she felt for him, but she closed her eyes.
Softly he touched his lips to hers and they were just as soft and warm as he had always imagined.
He pulled away from her. “We shouldn’t.”
“You are rebounding?”
She sat back. “And you are with Brianna.”
She furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”
“We are together, but we are also not together. She is just a very good friend.”
“That’s not what she thinks, and you are right, it’s wrong for you to be here.” She straightened her legs and slid past him off the bed.
As he followed her down the stairs, he had a horrible feeling that when he left she would go back to Aidan.
At the door, he turned to her and he had to use all his self-control to avoid grabbing her and pulling her into his arms. He made a focused effort to regulate his breathing as he wiped his damp palms on his jeans.
After she opened the door, she felt his hand on her arm. She looked up to see him gazing down at her, his expression was unreadable.
Then his arms were around her, holding her close.
She hesitated. His warmth was soaking into her and his hands were spread across her back. Then she wrapped her arms around him, absorbing his strength. Tears pricked her eyes at the loss of a two-year relationship and the fact that nothing ever worked out the way she expected it to, her throat tightened and his comfort washed over her.
When he backed away, his gaze dropped to her tear stained eyes. Gently he brushed the tears aside with his fingertips. His hand lingered on her cheek. “Aidan does not deserve you, don’t give him another chance,” he begged softly before he turned on his heel and started walking away.