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

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15. Everything Changes

Martin’s POV

I have no idea what I’m doing, where do I go from here? I have been in denial for the past decade and when I finally gather the courage to do something about it, he storms out. I have tried so hard to deny the fact that I’m attracted to men, it feels like a long time coming for me to be true to myself.

Going on those dates this past months have felt like true freedom. I have not had one person give me a dirty look or make a mean comment, I felt truly happy for the first time in maybe my whole life. Even though I knew I was not in love with the guys I went on dates with, that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their company and finding this new part of myself.

I never knew how much sharing the burden was going to set me free, telling Hope my true feelings was one of the best things I have ever done. She took it so well but then I never thought she would be any different. She is the gentlest and most kind soul I have ever met, I knew telling her first was the right thing to do.

Sometimes she would even cover for me when I had a date or she was my phone light up before me. It does feel kind of strange to an extent that I was and still am so attracted to her, love her in fact, but at the same time I am drawn to someone else completely. There is just a long list of things that I’m confused about right now, but my feelings for him are not one of those things; I just wish he felt the same.

“What’s wrong?” Hope asks in front of me and she looks quite worried, I don’t know whether it’s because of me or the fact that Mark has once again stormed out after an argument with me or the fact that I look as if I have seen a ghost, at least that’s how I feel.

I know that she felt like something more was going on than what I told her, and the truth would be that she was right. I have been keeping this secret for the past couple of months and I’m just tired, I don’t want to keep it anymore. I have no idea if telling Hope is the right thing this time but I find myself short of people I could talk to.

“I need to talk to you.” I force the words through my dry throat and I feel as though I have run a marathon when in fact I don’t think I’ve moved from this same spot for the last hour or more. I no longer have any concept for time and how it passes.

“Did you have another fight with Mark?” She asks and I would love to know what is going through her head right now, what she must be thinking. I think it must be obvious what just went down between us but even though I lived it, I have no idea what it means.

“That’s one way to put it.” I say as the adrenaline starts wearing off and I fear my legs are going to give out under me. I move to collapse onto the couch, my head beginning to pound as I think about everything that has happened in the past 15 minutes.

“Do you want me to make you some tea?” She asks like always when someone has a headache, and judging by the fact that I am clutching my head in my hands is kind of a dead giveaway.

“No, I’m okay. I guess it’s time that I told you everything, right?” I ask without looking at her. I feel her take a seat next to me and her hand covering mine on my knee, her silent support helping me come together right now.

“You can tell me as much as you want to.” She replies and of course she knows just the right thing to say, at the right time. A small part of me is mad that I’m in love with him, why couldn’t I be in love with Hope? Then everything would have been a lot more straightforward and there would be a lot less heartbreak.

“I’m in love with Mark.” I say while staring into her eyes, for the first time saying the words out loud. They have been floating around my head for the past couple of years, since meeting the guys, but just now I have gathered the courage to voice my feelings.

I’m in love with a straight guy.

The silence grows thicker around us as she tries to understand the bomb I just dropped on her. The funny thing is that she looks so confused about what I just told her and then some sort of understanding dawns on her as she smiles at me in a very satisfied way.

“Did he just kiss you?” She asks with a massive smile on her face as he links her fingers through mine. I have no idea why she is so happy about the whole thing, while I’m here miserable and questioning why I even started anything to begin with.

“Yeah, I think so.” Is my confused answer even though the moment keeps playing over and over in my head, I have to keep convincing myself that I didn’t imagine everything? He did kiss me, but then he stormed out looking as if I just killed his puppy.

“What do you mean, you think? Your lips are swollen and your hair is all messed up, must have been one hell of a kiss.” She smiles once again and I don’t even have the energy to try fixing my hair, must be a real mess for her to be able to tell right away.

“You saw him storm out of here, clearly didn’t mean the same thing to him.” I complain as lean back and close my eyes, suddenly the lights too bright here in the living room.

“He kissed you, didn’t he? Must mean something!” She stresses the point as he pries my hand from over my eyes, staring at me as if to make her point.

“It doesn’t mean anything to him! He even said so himself, I’ve been an idiot. Who the fuck falls for their best friend? Even more when their best friend isn’t into your gender?” I ask with a bitter laugh, feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet.

“You know the statistic that people who marry their best friend have a higher chance of staying together for longer and not divorcing.” She replies calmly to my outburst but I fail to see how her words relate to my problems.

“He doesn’t even want to kiss me or hold my hand and here you are talking about marriage?” I ask because it seems like quite a big jump to go from me calling myself an idiot and Hope starting to plan out wedding, don’t even go there.

“Have you talked to him properly? Find out why you’re constantly arguing and why he kissed you today?” She asks but this time I can tell that she is once again serious, maybe feeling the desperation I’m feeling.

“He’s been avoiding me for the past month and a half, the last time I saw him was when he got arrested and since then he has been avoiding me. He hasn’t sent me a single text or called once, not had a single drink with me and didn’t even say anything during the holidays. Today was the first time I’ve had any kind of contact with him since then, and now I’m even more confused than before.” I ramble out loud as I try to sort through the mess in my head. I have heard how writing things down or saying them out loud helps you work through things, worked last time when I spoke to Hope and I have nothing to lose right now, so fuck it.

“That does sound complicated.” She agrees, the smile now gone from her face. “But it also doesn’t sound like Mark. You guys have been friends if nothing else for years so the fact that he is avoiding you must mean something is going on with him and maybe he needs someone to talk to, the way you did.” She continues and even though the thought did cross my mind, I guess I was too selfish to actually do something about it.

“I don’t even know where to find him.” I confess which is weird in itself, I used to know everything about the guys. Including where they would go to hide when they needed some time to think, where they love to eat or have a drink. I still know these things about Mike but Mark has suddenly become such a mystery and a complete stranger in a way.

“I’m sure you have a couple of places in mind.” She smiles gently and squeezes my hand. “Now go find him and talk to him.” She tries to pull me up from the couch and I don’t offer her much resistance, that’s not to say that I am suddenly filled with hope and energy to chase after him but what good am I going to do if I spend another day moping about in my room staring at the wall that we share.

“If this ends really badly I am going to blame you.” I say as I put on my winter coat, grabbing an extra scarf because I didn’t see him grab anything warm before he stormed outside.

“But if it goes well, I deserve all the credit.” She smiles and winks at me as she pushes me out of the door. I can’t help but laugh, feeling much better now that I’ve had a little bit of time to cool down and somewhat gather the thoughts running through my head.

As she shuts the door behind me, I have no idea where to look. It feels as though my brain has been fried but no amount of thinking is going to give me the right answer. I don’t even know where I’m going but my feet seem to have some kind of idea. So, when I find myself standing in front of the university coffee shop I guess that I need a hot drink before I try to find Mark, because he could be anywhere.

I feel a small smile on my face as I enter the coffee shop and have a couple of flashbacks to my first year when I started working here. Living on campus and getting a job here, where I met so many people, including the guys.

Before I can walk up to the counter and greet my old workmate, something makes me look to the side in the back to the table where I have spent countless hours stressing in the first year. I don’t expect to find Mark sitting right there, almost as if he was waiting for me. Maybe, he was just too cold and since he didn’t bring his jacked this is the closest place to the house where he could keep warm.

I have no idea what to say to him or if he even wants to see me, but I have been lucky to have found him so quickly and Hope is right, I have to speak to him if I want to find out anything. I take a deep breath and wave to a few people along the way but there must be something in my face because where people would normally stop for a quick catch up, they barely say two words to me today.

“Fancy finding you here.” I say as I stand behind him and I hate how I see him tense as he recognises my voice. You never want to see the person you’re in love with tense like this and that he can’t stand to be around you.

“How did you know I would be here and not at the park?” He asks but doesn’t turn around to look at me, just slides his half-finished coffee to the other side of the table. Given that we drink the same drink, I find it hard not to be at least a little bit affected by this little gesture.

“Would you believe that I wanted to buy us a couple of hot drinks before trying to find you?” I ask because I knew he wouldn’t be properly dressed and that if he did go to the park or the dock then he would be freezing.

“Guess we had the same train of thought.” He replies as he nods towards the cup of coffee, he sounds a lot calmer than he looked when he stormed out of the house. I think we have both resigned to the fact that this talk has been a long time coming now.

“You ready to talk now?” I ask as I squeeze into the seat facing him, taking a sip of the lukewarm coffee. He must have gotten here maybe 10 minutes before me, which means he must have been wondering the streets for a lot longer than I was when I left the house.

“We kind of have to talk after everything that has happened, but I think you owe me an explanation.” He says while staring into my eyes, he looks determined and a little hurt. I have no idea the reason behind either of those emotions.

“What kind of explanation?” I ask confused because I thought we were going to talk about the kiss, and the fight. I didn’t think that for some reason he thinks I owe him an explanation, if anything he has a lot to explain.

“Well we can start with why you were on a date with that guy, why you never came and spoke to me and why you’ve been avoiding me ever since we all slept with Hope?” He whispers at the end but it doesn’t take away from the anger I am sensing from him. I have no idea why he is angry at me when I have been in emotional turmoil these past couple of weeks, if not months.

“I didn’t think I owe you an explanation about going on a date, I only told Hope I’m bisexual because I didn’t know how to say it to you. How do I tell you that I have been attracted to men for the last decade, after I was so close to you?” I ask quietly because that might have been a mistake, having such an intimate conversation in a crowded coffee shop.

“You come and talk to me for god’s sake, I’m supposed to be your best friend!” He shouts at me, his voice rising and his arms waving around, nearly hitting people near us. We are now the most interesting thing to be happening in the room, I would give a shit but right now I need to find a way to see what’s really bothering him.

“It’s complicated!” I reply in an equally heated tone but I don’t shout, knowing that I am going to have to admit my feelings to him is scaring the shit out of me. I have absolutely no idea how he’s going to react to the news that I am in love with him.

Back at the house this morning when I confronted him about ignoring me, we only shouted a couple of words at each other. I don’t even remember what it was exactly that were arguing about but I’m glad that we never touched on the topic of my feelings, I have no idea what I would have said when I was that angry. Yet, here we are again and he is the angry one this time.

“Then explain it to me simply.” He lowers his voice, noticing the extra attention we are gathering.

“As you know by now, I’m bisexual. I was only ready to admit it to anyone about a month ago when I spoke to Hope, after that I started going on dates to see how it would feel. I have known about being bi for years, but I never acted on it because I was also attracted and slept with girls which was confusing. I had no idea if it was phase or how I could be feeling this way so I just forced myself to ignore it.” I start off, staring at the cup in front of me. I don’t know how I’m going to put everything into words but I have to try.

“Then I started working here and met you guys, we became fast friends that I never even thought about anything more than friendship. Fast forward a year and Hope was living with us, and we both know what happened. You made that stupid joke with Mike about me wanting to fuck you and I couldn’t get the image out of my head.” I continue, not looking at him. I can’t believe that I’m even admitting any of this to him.

“It wasn’t a joke, at least not for me.” He whispers but it takes me a little while to gather the courage to look up at him. I don’t want to get my hopes up that he is being anything but nice right now, I really don’t want him feeling sorry for me.

“Then everything sped up and I could no longer ignore my feelings, my feelings for you. I wasn’t ready to speak to you guys about everything and how that could change things in the house and between us. So, the last thing I expected to see on one of my dates was you in the same bar, or in a fight with my date.” I continue explaining, choosing to ignore his little interruption, since I don’t know what to say to that.

“He got off easy.” He mutters under his breath, his old anger coming back. I am now really curious as to what he could have said to anger Mark like this, he is just surprising me all the time recently. I never thought that I would see him in a fight but it more and more sounds like it has something to do with me as well.

“What did he say that made you so angry? You don’t get angry very often.” I ask confused because of course he will get angry when his favourite team loses or he walks into the sofa but nothing to start a fight over.

“He made some very rude comment about you that I didn’t like, next thing I know people have gathered around us and are pulling us apart. Then you know the rest, we got thrown out and he had me arrested.” He shrugs as if everything makes sense in his head.

“You didn’t have to start a fight over whatever he said, you could have just told me and I would have handled it.” I reply, suddenly feeling guilty that he now has a record because of something my date said.

“There was no way I wouldn’t hit him for what he said, also I couldn’t repeat what he said and like I said, I don’t remember much of the fight except how good it felt to knock him down.” He smirks at the memory and I have to convince myself that what he is saying is not hot or attractive, I have to somehow tune out how sexy he looks right now talking about it all.

“Nothing he said would have been bad enough for you to start a fight, now you have a record because of me.” I whisper as the guilt comes flooding back, I don’t this little stupid thing to be something that holds him back in the future.

“It’s not that serious, I’m not in jail so one little fight is not going to ruin my future Martin.” He reassures me as he leans over the table to lay his hand over mine. It still surprises me to this day how easy he can read my emotions and know just what to do, well he hasn’t been very good at that for the past couple of months but then I haven’t really been giving him the chance to read me.

“I still don’t like that this is something that could affect your future.” I continue because when you love someone, the last thing you want to do is hurt them in any way.

“I’m not worried about it, so you shouldn’t be either. Anyway, that fight is not the event that’s going to be changing my life.” He smirks my way and damn is it good to have him smiling again, now I know the real power behind his smirk. I might be going crazy but it feels like he might be flirting with me, but I’m sure that I’m just imagining things.

“Are you setting yourself up to say something smooth right now?” I ask with a laugh because I have been around enough to know how he flirts with women and I just have this feeling that one of his lines is coming my way.

“You know me too well.” He laughs a little as he leans back in his seat. I take the time to notice that the coffee shop is starting to empty, the lunch rush starting to pass and my guess is that everyone is either in a lecture or in the library.

“So, what were you going to say?” I say after a couple of silent moments, he seems like he’s in a good mood right now so I don’t want that to end but curiosity is getting the best of me.

“I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me kissing you this morning but I can’t get it out of my head. I have no idea how to say this because I’m confused as fuck but when I saw you on that date with that guy, I felt jealous.” He stares down at the table, his hands fisting as he takes deep breaths.

“Why would you be jealous of him?” I ask and hold my breath, there is no way that I can squash the building hope inside of me, I just hope I’m not too disappointed in his answer.

“Because he could be open about his feelings for you, he can take you home and fuck you. I can’t do any of that stuff.” He finally says, looking determined as he is no longer staring down at his hands but right at me. It’s safe to say that I have never been this surprised at the words coming out of his mouth, I feel like this is some sick joke someone is playing on me, because what are the chances that he means it?

“What are you saying?” I manage to whisper as I gather the courage to ask that question, this is the point where everything changes.

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