Living With The Boys (Journey to Love, #1)

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14. Swollen Lips

Hope’s POV

“My bitch is back!” I hear someone shout behind me before I have to right my footing because someone has jumped onto my back. I don’t need three guesses to know who it is that has tried to climb my back.

“You do love your theatrics Lily.” I laugh as she gets off my back and goes to hug me properly. Everyone around is of course looking at us all weird because we are either getting in their way or annoying them with how loud we are. This isn’t a damn airport for us to be having these emotional and loud reunions, but to be fair we haven’t seen each other in over a month so it does feel like a reunion.

“Well where is the fun in life if you’re not a little dramatic.” She replies with that grin of hers as people push past us to get into the building, as we chose this very uncomfortable spot to meet. I hug her close and it’s as if the last month never went by.

A lot has happened since I last saw her and even though we have been texting and in touch, it just isn’t the same as grabbing some coffee or a drink and gossiping for a couple of hours. I know that she is dying for me to properly fill her in on my unusual holiday break. I did go home with Mike and Mark during the holidays and spent my birthday with them, well mainly Mike because Mark just wasn’t himself during the whole holiday.

“We have like two minutes before he starts.” I lean back and roll my eyes, as we both have our least favourite module this morning and it’s really the last place we want to be on a 9am on Monday. Yes, we are the very unlucky ones to have an early Monday, and the one we hate the most at the same time.

“It’s not like we’re going to miss much, he doesn’t teach us anything that is actually useful. I have never once done an essay that is on his lecture and actually used his lecture notes to write it.” She complains and to be fair it’s something that we have been saying for months now. Some lectures just feel like a big old waste of time, which I know I shouldn’t think like this as I am paying so much money to be here but I can’t help that some professors bore me out of my mind.

“You know we have to go, if anything we’re just going to sit there and catch up quietly in the back.” I reply because that is what we normally do during these 2 hours, we sit where he isn’t always looking at us and take notes for the first 20 minutes but after that we just count down the time until our break.

“I did get some Christmas money so I can do a little bit of shopping while he tried to teach.” She smiles and is once again excited about going to the lecture. Sometimes you have to improvise and try to somehow make these breakdowns inducing days seems like some kind of fun.

“I don’t have the money for shopping but I will help you shop while we’re in there.” I say, excited as well because even though Christmas and my birthday have just passed everyone that did get something, they were well thought out presents and not money. So, I don’t really have any extra money to spend. That should be taken as a good thing because I’m not very good at saving money when I have a lot of it, well more than normal that is.

I’m very good at budgeting and saving when I have nearly nothing, try to figure out the logic in that.

“I hope you didn’t think that I forgot about your birthday present but my Christmas present from you is going to be to give me all the gossip you help back on in our texts.” She brings it up once again, she really thinks my life is much more exciting than it actually is.

“I told you most of it already.” I reply since I couldn’t help myself and if something happened during the holidays, my first reflex was to grab my phone and text her.

For the next hour and a half, we just browse through websites trying to find Lily some new outfits she can wear to the clubs this year. Of course, I had to persuade her on a couple of things and convince her that now that I am 18, I am not going to be clubbing every week.

I have yet to make it to a club and she wants to be the one to introduce me to the sesh. I am going to have to take her up on it soon because with all the drama that’s come into my life these past couple of months, I would love to see if clubbing really does make you forget about some of those things and just have fun.

“You have to tell me everything that happened on your birthday.” She pulls me out of the lecture hall and into the canteen right in front of it. I know it’s a little early for lunch and we just had a snack like half an hour ago, but I’m already starving.

“I literally spent the whole day in bed with Mike.” I reply as on my birthday I didn’t have my phone with me or speak to anyone other than him. It was so weird being so isolated from everyone while knowing there were three other people in the house at that time.

Mike’s parents were so amazing and welcoming that I really don’t know how any Christmas from now on is going to rival these last couple of weeks I spent with them. I have never so suddenly clicked with other people like that, they are his parents and it was supposed to be awkward and forced, it was for like the first couple of hours.

Now I really see where they both get it from. There is no way that with parents like theirs, they would have turned out any other way than amazing. I am now even more confident in the fact that I am completely in love.

“You didn’t go out for dinner or a drink? Wasn’t it a bit weird being bed all day and fucking while his parents were in the house?” She asks because honestly there were a couple of moments where I was worried about this same thing.

“They were at work and in the evening, they went to dinner to leave us alone, they are literally so amazing that I can’t really put it into words how easy everything was. I expected them to be very defensive as the last girl he brought home went and fucking cheated on him.” I confess as this is the first time in a while I feel like I have sat down and been able to get all of my feelings off my chest.

I didn’t take my diary during the holiday so even though I have been talking and meeting all sorts of different and new people, I haven’t had my trusty diary to sort through things. Nothing in my head is in perspective right now and that is one of the most important things to me.

“I hate to day this but even though Alyssa cheated on him, that doesn’t make her a bad person. She did a bad thing and hurt a lot of people, but she could have also hurt herself in the process.” Lily suggests slowly, as if she is worried that I might blow up at her about kind of defending Alyssa and what she did to Mike.

“If you were saying this before she had that talk with him I would have been mad at you for even suggesting this, but I get where you’re coming from. I have a lot of respect for her and what she is about to do, and it does take a lot of courage and guts to confront your mistakes.” I admit and even though I mean it, I am a bit torn saying something nice about the girl who broke his heart.

We are all kind of taught to hate on the people who cheat, and there is no way you can justify or somehow explain cheating but at the same time it doesn’t make it right to make that person’s life hell, even more than the one they’re already living in. I’m not saying to be supportive from the get go but you’ve got to realise people make mistakes and this one just hurts that much more.

“Anyway, she is not in the picture now, so I want to hear about everything else. Is Mark still disappearing all the time?” She fishes for some more information. I did confide in her that Mark has been pretty absent during the whole holiday but then again, I don’t know all of his friends and I have no right to question every move he makes. I just wish I saw a little bit more of him during the holidays because after all I was there to spend it with him as well.

“Well I don’t know if we can call it disappearing as he is a nice guy and could just have a very busy social life.” I defend him because that could be all he is doing. When you’re at university I have learnt that you have to enjoy yourself at every moment and he is doing just that, I can’t judge him just for the fact that he is not spending all of his time with me.

“That could be true but you know I love the drama.” She says as she sips her coffee.

“You think my life is way more interesting than it actually is.” I say pointedly because sometimes I think she expects these crazy stories from the house, when in reality she is one that is always surprising me with her nights out.

“Well I want it to be interesting, I mean you have to have fun. If you don’t then what’s the point in being at university, and don’t you dare say to get a degree.” She points a finger at me because I have been known to say that exact thing in the past.

“Fine I’m not going to say it because you did. Do you think it’s weird that I’ve fallen in love with a guy I met a couple of months ago?” I ask because sometimes it really does feel all so rushed and like there is no way this could be real.

“I wouldn’t call it weird but lucky. I mean things could have gone a lot worse or differently, just enjoy the moment. You have enough things to worry about and will do in the future, and also, you’re going to have to make up your mind soon enough. You keep going back on your feelings and saying you’re confused but I think deep down you know exactly what to do.” She once again reminds me, she is the kind of person to go for something 100% and she doesn’t exactly that I’m not doing exactly that.

“It’s not easy being your friend when you’re this brutal.” I whine but mean none of it, if she wasn’t here then I wouldn’t have this constant kick on the backside to move forward and stop dragging things one. So far, her advice has not led me wrong.

“I’m just voicing what you’re scared to say.” She says confidently and sadly it is the truth, there are a lot of things I don’t want to accept or voice out loud, they feel safer inside my head where no one can know about them.

“I got a reply that I have an evaluation next week with the counsellor.” I change the topic because I have been dying to tell her this. I have yet to tell the guys the full story behind my diary and why I wasn’t dying to see my family during the holidays. I have told them part of everything but Lily knows everything and she was the one who encouraged me to at least try with the university counsellor.

“That’s so great! Are you looking forward to it?” She asks and for the next half an hour or more, we chat about what we have heard about the counsellor. You can never plan ahead with what you’re going to say while in the sessions so I try to keep my mind off the fact that I am going to have to start from the beginning, kind of.

“Do you think I should give him a chance?” She asks as we get ready to leave, I don’t know why she didn’t say anything before when we were talking about my love life but I guess she just managed to get the question out now.

“Only you know that babe, he makes you happy and if you think things could go further then why not take a chance?” I ask while trying to hide my excitement, over the holidays she told me she met this guy at a party and they have been speaking ever since, but of course she isn’t sure if this could be something serious.

“What are the chances of us being something serious when we met at a party and we’re so young?” She asks one of the hardest questions when you’re young. When so many people are telling you, something isn’t going to last because you’re both young, you even doubt the feelings you know you have.

“It really doesn’t matter where you meet just as long as you do. It doesn’t have to be anything romantic or dramatic, you’ll feel the connection no matter how you meet so I think this time you should trust your gut.” I say truthfully and try to subtly convince her to give the guy a chance without pushing her into the deep end myself. This is something she has to be willing to do herself and I know that in the same way I sometimes ask for her advice when I know the answer, she is trying to use me as an excuse to do it or run.

“Maybe I’ll give it a couple more weeks.” She replies as she throws her cup into the bin, and as quickly as she brought up the topic she has buried it again. I guess now is not the time to push her, from what she has shown me and told me about the guy, she is not going to be able to resist him much longer.

“Whatever you feel is right, but if he is as amazing as you have painted him to be then he might not stay single for a very long time.” I feel bad for planting that seed of doubt into her head but I’ve never seen her this smitten over anyone else she has slept or talked about, it’s only best friend duty to push her in times like this.

Judging by the sour look on her face I know she doesn’t like the idea of him dating someone else. Now I just have to wait and see if she will actually do anything about it. I am sure that once she sets her mind on something then she is going to do anything she can to make it happen.

“Why am I obsessing over him?” She asks after a couple of minutes of silence, as we walk out of the building. I can see that this is something that’s really weighing on her, from what she has told me, she is not exactly waiting for the perfect guy or ready to settle down. Having strong feelings is very much out of her comfort zone and like me she doesn’t know exactly how to process everything.

We both use the good old form of denial.

“Maybe because you haven’t felt like this before and it’s scaring you?” I ask because I know exactly what she is going through, she is not letting herself believe in this guy and make the whole thing real.

“I’m not scared of him.” She comments but of course she’s not going to admit it, our good friend denial is going to make sure of that, at least for the near future. In the same way that when we met she was rooting for something to happen between me and any of the guys, just happens that I had something with all of them.

“Just like I wasn’t going to date or fall for any of the guys I moved in with.” I reply with a look her way that lets her know that I know she is all bullshit right now. I have pushed enough for today and maybe a little bit too much for it being a Monday, the first day back.

“We’re going around in circles, this is all pointless.” She complains quietly as almost everyone around us is rushing to get to their afternoon lectures. It seems that everything has calmed down now that we’re in the second term, I have never been happier to be forgotten and old news.

“Maybe you should do something and then it won’t be so pointless.” I say to end everything because I might end up pushing her to do something drastic like stop talking to him altogether.

“I like the way things are right now.” I guess she wants to be the one with the last word. “Anyway, I have to get back to the flat and deal with the drama. There have been a lot of breakups during the holidays and as always I’m the shoulder to cry on.” She continues as we reach the point where we have to split up.

“You love it.” I reply, she really does love being there for people and even if she doesn’t sometimes you can never tell. She will always help you in any way she can, I hope that all the good karma comes back to her in spades.

“Yeah, I do, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She leaves with one last hug before going our separate ways.

Given that we have just come back we don’t have much to do yet, everything was given for during the holidays and it’s all done now. Meaning I don’t have any pressing essays to do or research but I should probably do some lecture notes as I really wasn’t paying attention this morning.

I’m expecting the house to be empty because ironically everyone has a busy Monday with either work or lectures. Every morning in this house is interesting as none of the guys are morning people, while I have my days I’m nothing compared to their moody asses. Their most hectic periods are starting now so I don’t expect to spend a lot of time with them, add to the mix that there are so many things that are not still solves I don’t know where anyone stands.

It’s not common knowledge that Mark got arrested before the holidays or that Martin is now dating guys as well as girls. I’m sure that someone must know from the campus but for some reason the rumours haven’t been spreading around, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

In a weird sense of déjà vu as I near the house I once again hear something crashing inside and door opens to reveal Mark storming out of the house with a red, angry face. He pushes past me with a barely there greeting, the same way as a couple of weeks ago when I came back from my date with Mike. I can almost predict that Martin is somewhere inside the house, pacing or throwing a tantrum like the one Mark just did.

Unlike last time I don’t wait frozen outside waiting for something to happen but walk inside in search for whoever it is that had an argument with Mark. He seems so different to the laid-back guy that I met all those months ago and had one of the best day of my life with, I don’t even know long it has been since I had a proper conversation with him.

It doesn’t take me long to find Martin in the living room staring at the wall in front of him as if he has just seen a ghost with his hair all messed up and his lips swollen as if he has been biting them for a long time. It takes my heavy bag dropping on the floor for him to notice me standing right in front of him. Like last time it takes him a couple of moments to focus on my face and once again I feel as though I am reliving the same moment over again.

Before I can say or ask him anything he opens his mouth and asks me in such a broken voice that I can’t help the tears that spring into my eyes, not because of what he asked me but how helpless he looks as he utters the words.

“I need to talk to you.”

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