Chapter 33: Honesty
1. what everyone wants you to say, but what no one wants to hear.
*Chloe’s Point of View*
My feelings were stirred from the moment my eyes opened in the morning to an hour later when I allowed them to close for more than a millisecond, giving myself a silent second of peace. I leaned against the counter in the kitchen, immediately disturbed over the location I was in and what had happened in it six hours earlier.
As I stared at the kitchen floor, my thighs involuntarily squeezed from the red-hot memory. I shook it from my mind, trying to ignore the throbbing between my legs. I didn’t know how I’d react when Asher came down the stairs.
On a similar note, I didn’t know how he’d react to seeing me either. He’d said he didn’t care what I believed, but I certainly did. And, as of that morning, I didn’t yet know what I believed.
When he rounded the corner at the top of the stairs, my eyes followed him suspiciously, and I brought my mug to my mouth. He strolled in tiresomely, muttered a good morning, and poured himself some coffee. After a very strenuous sip, his eyes clenched together and he yawned.
He took another exhausting gulp of the coffee and dipped his brow in my direction, mumbling, “Let me guess. You’re still pissed at me for something I didn’t do?”
I frowned. I wanted to be angry with him, but another part of me felt I’d practically already forgiven him the night before when I’d let him inside me in this very room. “How am I supposed to know you didn’t go out with Olivia?”
His eyes darted over me a few times and he huffed an irritated breath towards nothing imparticular. “Because I told you I didn't. Why would I lie to you?”
“I don’t know why you do most of the things you do,” I blurted with an impatient breath. “I mean, why did you let last night happen?”
He squinted, his brows knitting together. “What happened last night?”
My eyes narrowed and I looked as perplexed as him. “What do you mean what happened last night?”
My eyes shot down to the kitchen floor. Had I imagined it? Was it a dream? A nightmare? No. There was no way it was a figment of my imagination. I could still feel the pressure at the apex of my thighs. His brow tilted as his eyes followed mine to the tile ground.
“Oh,” he mumbled, looking back at my expression. “You mean when you let me fuck you on my kitchen floor?” My mouth fell into a straight line at his crudeness. He shrugged. “I thought you made it clear it never happened.”
I had no clue how to respond to his comment and I swallowed, wondering how I could stay angry with him over what may or may not have happened with Olivia after what had most definitely happened between him and me.
He continued leading me to my own destruction. “Since you’re pretending it didn’t happen, does that mean you didn’t wash down the countertop? You might want to.” He indicated where I’d sat when I allowed him to take advantage of my body.
I didn’t want to inform him I had wiped it down earlier that morning.
After sending him the most sarcastically, antagonizing laugh I could muster, I greeted Amy who had walked downstairs and into the kitchen.
“Morning, you two.” Asher and I both watched as she turned towards the fridge, grabbing eggs from the shelf. After pulling out the necessities for breakfast, she twisted to face us with a smile. “Are you guys still taking Prim to mini-golf tonight?”
Swallowing the sigh I wanted to express, I nodded, remembering the promise Asher and I made to take his little sister to play tonight. Asher was less secretive about the way he felt. He sighed. “Do we have to?”
Her expression a sad smile, Amy shoved her hands into her back pockets. “Of course you don’t, but Prim would be very disappointed, especially because she couldn’t go the last time either.”
Shrugging as if he didn’t care, Asher sipped his coffee in peace. Seconds after that, he let out a sigh in penitence. “Fine, whatever. We’ll take her.”
“I work till six,” I mentioned, hoping my schedule could help get me out of these sudden plans. Unfortunately, Amy nodded kindly.
“That’s okay, I’d rather you go later anyway. Then Prim won’t need sunscreen,” she explained, nodding at Asher, who’d frowned at her.
Confused, I ignored the urge to ask about Asher’s sudden annoyance in relation to sunscreen and, instead, watched Amy make her way into the living room. She began to search the armchair in an attempt to find something.
“I think I left my bracelet in here a couple of days ago,” she heaved, her back to us. “I can’t find it anywhere.”
She turned away from the chair, her attention singling in on the couch. She pulled apart the cushions in search of this so-called bracelet.
My head bounced in understanding and I set my coffee down to help her search but she paused abruptly, her eyebrows drawing together. She reached downwards and yanked something out of the couch, my eyes going wide as she held it up.
The piece of pink fabric that I immediately recognized as my bra was in her hand and the memory of Asher taking it off me on that couch a few nights before burst into my brain with little delay.
Amy’s face was the opposite of amused as she looked Asher’s way with narrowed eyes. I too let my eyes fall to Asher, who mumbled, “Fuck,” almost inaudibly beside me. From the way his eyes momentarily found mine, he seemed to be fully aware of its owner, but I prayed he wouldn’t say as much.
Amy, with unmistakable vex, shook her head. “Asher, whose is this?”
Asher sipped his coffee as he shrugged nonchalantly. “I don’t know.”
“Asher...” His mom’s voice etched the edge of disaster as she offered him another chance to be honest.
He shrugged a second time, furrowing his eyebrows at the cloth, then glanced at me for a second too long, which drew Amy’s attention.
Her voice was softer than before, less harsh as she asked, “What? Is it Chloe’s?”
She directed her gaze, and the bra, to me but my head had been shaking urgently since the moment she’d said my name.
“It’s not mine.” I coughed awkwardly, still shaking my head. I felt instantly bad for both lying and forcing Asher to take the blame for the incident but there was no way in hell I was admitting aloud what had happened, at least not while Amy was in a fifty-mile radius.
She looked to Asher again, disappointed as she made her way towards him and tossed the fabric into his hands. “I don’t want to see it again. Throw it into the garbage. I’m serious.”
Rolling his eyes, Asher gave her a nod and she sighed, shifting to head up the stairs. When she’d turned the corner at the top, Asher swiftly spun towards me, tossing the bra into my face, leaving me barely enough time to catch it.
“Garbage, meet bra,” he deadpanned.
My eyes rolled to the back of my head as I retorted, “It’s your fault for taking it off of me.”
I watched as he bolted up the stairs, halfway up them before he flipped around to face me. He kicked me an arrogant smirk. “It’s your fault for letting me.”
Standing at my open locker door, I yanked out the binders I’d need for the next period. My search for the essentials was interrupted by the last person I'd wanted to grace my presence this morning.
Though Olivia’s existence had already ruined my week, I didn’t give her so much as a courtesy glance while I yanked out my supplies. Seeing her face would only remind me of my feelings toward whatever (may have) happened with her and Asher the day before and I could barely bite back my anger at the fact I still had no clue what had happened between them.
“Where’s Asher?” was all she said.
I took a few simple glances around the area and returned my attention to my binders. “You have eyes. He's not here with me," I snarked.
Her eyes rolled back and her tone was stricken with annoyance as she mumbled, “Then can you pass on a message?”
My teeth jarred against each other, enraged as I turned to her, my expression conveying the What? I didn’t say aloud.
She smiled cynically. “Tell him thanks for yesterday.”
The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I narrowed my eyes at her. I was a second away from slamming my locker, preferably with her head in it, when I heard her voice again. “Actually, I’ll tell him myself.”
Following her eyes, I looked over my shoulder to see Asher approaching. For the second time in sixty seconds, I made an effort not to explode right there and then. He reached the small party I did not want to be attending, his eyes slitted at Olivia.
“What are you doing?” he asked her once he’d stepped in line with me.
Olivia’s smile reappeared, and she twisted a blond bunch of hair around her finger. “I wanted to see you. You left so fast yesterday.”
Asher expression dropped into a frown while mine had shifted into a scowl at her confession. Asher picking me up from my date would explain his apparent quick departure from theirs. Although he said her words weren’t true, everything she snarked answered one of my endless questions.
The deafening sound of my locker slamming rang loudly as I turned to Asher, muttering, “You were with her yesterday. I knew it.”
His head shook in disagreement. “No. I-” He sighed, then rolled his eyes and nodded once. “Well, yes. I saw her yesterday, for a second. Not last night.”
He gestured to the light pink scarf around her neck, which looked similar to whatever I’d seen him give her the day prior from his trunk, and I looked to Olivia for either confirmation or denial. She tossed on an expression of bewilderment.
“You told her you weren’t with me last night?” She frowned, but her lip caught a smirk as her eyes connected with Asher’s. “It's one thing to hook up with both of us, but you shouldn't lie about it."
I glanced at Asher, whose expression was growing heated but he shook his head and looked to me in disbelief, his face falling when he noticed the faint dampness of my eyes. I sniffed in hopes that the tears would dissipate, but they only continued to grow until a tear had fallen from the rest and I’d reached up to strike it quickly.
Asher muttered something but I could only hear Olivia, who had also, unfortunately, noticed she’d brought me to slight tears.
She gave me a harsh smile. “Oh, what a mess I’ve made,” she insisted with a pout.
It took a lot out of me to not re-open my locker and set Olivia’s head into it like I had wanted. I went with option number two, the less appealing of the choices. Letting out one more shuttered breath, I turned and ran in the other direction.
My hands hit the hardwood of the bathroom door as I pushed it open and sheltered myself inside. Grabbing a paper towel from the holder, I pressed it into my eyes and hoped that would be enough to stop the tears.
The ploy only worked for a second, my heart tugging back and forth in my chest. Taking a long shaky breath did nothing to stop my sadness as another bundle made its way out of my eyes.
I felt like a child, crying over a toy that wasn’t mine.
Another paper towel was in my hands a second later as I turned away from the sink towards a stall. The last thing I wanted was for someone to walk in while I was in such a state. I didn’t make it more than two steps when the door flung open, revealing a familiar face.
“What are you doing!?” I yelled, my sadness momentarily wiped away by shock.
Asher genuinely cringed as he glanced around the forbidden chambers known as the girls bathroom. “Don’t ask me because I have no idea.”
“You’re not allowed in here.”
“I’ll take the detention if it means you stop crying.” He stepped up to me, tearing one of the paper towels from my hands and gently dabbing my eye with it. As another few moments of silence went by, his eyes slid past me. “Why is there a couch in here? The guys bathroom doesn’t have a couch.” He twisted in a half-circle, pointing at the box on the wall. “And what the hell is that? Why do guys get a candy dispenser?”
I wiped my blurry eyes with my sleeve, trying to decipher what he was talking about. When I had, he received my strictest look of disbelief. “Candy? Asher, that’s a tampon dispenser. Why would we have candy in here?”
Looking back at me, he gave me a perplexed grin. “You have a couch.”
My despaired emotions conceding with a small smile, I sniffed, shaking my head in an attempt to get rid of any forgiving thoughts. I frowned. “Why are you in here?”
His grin melted as he remembered his mission and he shot me a stern, but sympathetic look. “Chloe,” — Uh oh, he meant business — “I have never lied to you, and I wouldn’t start now over something so stupid. You really think I was with Olivia last night?”
I blinked, shrugging and gesturing towards the bathroom door as I grumbled, “She said-”
“I don’t give a fuck what she said. Do you really think I was with her?”
I shrugged again, looking away. He didn’t allow that, instead grabbing my chin and angling my face back to him. I swallowed hard, looking into his eyes as he stared at me with utter determination.
My thoughts had been running rampant for twenty-four hours and I’d hardly had a single moment to stop, breathe, and think. The three tasks in unison were something that took an effort to complete, and it was too often I let my anxious thoughts take over because I had no control over them.
I inhaled, never drawing my eyes from Asher’s, then recounted Olivia’s mess of a story, and the last few weeks of my roommate’s behavior towards her. After a silence that lasted too long, my gaze softened, as did my already-wavering-supposed-unforgiving exterior.
I blinked, relaxing against his hand. “Why didn’t you tell me yesterday that the date you were going on wasn’t her? Before I left, it’s all I was angry about. Why didn’t you tell me I was mistaken?”
With little tolerance, he sighed. “I didn’t know why you were so upset, Dol. You started yelling at me without an explanation.” With a forced laugh, he shrugged. “We’re always yelling for no reason.”
Puzzled, my brows pulled together. “Why?”
Though I was more confused than anything, Asher only shrugged, sending me his coy half-smile. “Cuz’ we don’t hesitate in telling the other when they’re being a pain in the ass.”
My mouth fell open in mock offense. “You think I’m a pain in the ass?”
Laughing gently in a way that was damaging to my stability, he nodded. “Yeah, and I’m not afraid to tell you. You’re only upset for about ten seconds before you’re a pain in the ass again.”
I swung my hand forward, playfully striking his bicep with my wrist. I laughed, but the humor from the situation was gone as quickly as it had come.
The darkening mood switch apparent immediately, Asher moved in a step closer to me. His voice was halfway between murmuring and whispering as he shared, “I would never lie to you, Dol.”
I let myself smile tentatively. “Really? Because you convinced me for two months that you didn’t have feelings for me.”
“More like convinced myself,” he mumbled hesitantly, studying my reaction. “And look where that got us.”
“Crying in a girl’s bathroom.” I laughed. And Asher did too.
I leaned down to grab the paper towel from his grasp, but when our hands connected, the contact lingered. I watched as he slowly intertwined our fingers and the act made my heart thump and my stomach drop all in one swift movement. I didn’t know what the hell we were doing with one another, but I understood he would have never tried to jeopardize whatever it was for a night with Olivia.
I felt foolish, and I scrunched up my nose with guilt. “I’m sorry for not believing you,” I admitted as I pulled my hand from his.
He put his hand to his ear, leaning in, joking, “What was that?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m sorry! Asshole.” He punched the air in victory, and I chuckled lightly at his excitable state, tossing him a small smile, hoping to distract him from my ignorant mistake of believing Satan’s spawn over him. “Are we still going to mini-golf tonight?”
My distraction worked and his ecstatic eyes brightened at my question. He nodded, punching the air a second time. “Hell yeah! And I’m going to kick your ass too.”
The glowing appreciation on his face shone even brighter than the sun shining through the window.
Narrowing my eyes, I squinted. “No, you most certainly are not. I have a strategy.”
He laughed again, lifting his chin in playful defiance. “Oh, and what is that strategy? Crass language and abuse?”
“It’s a secret.” I shrugged, because I had no strategy and was quite bad at mini-golf, although I couldn't let him know that.
He smiled. “I’m starting to realize you have lots of those.”
I chuckled, playing off his accurate observation with humor instead of honestly. After a moment, I signaled towards the door. “Word of advice, you might want to leave the girls bathroom before anyone sees you.”
His eyes flickering with a second of worry, his face relaxed into an impish smile. “That’s okay. We’re both going to leave this bathroom at the same time and, well, people are going to make assumptions about what happened in here.”
With eyes wide in his direction, I made my way over to the door. “Nevermind, you have to stay in here forever.” I left the bathroom, peaking my head in once to send him a desperate pout. “Or at least until the passing period ends. Please?”
He maintained eye contact with a straight face, clearly unhappy with the idea of staying in the girls bathroom any longer than he had to. But with a testy sigh and an eye roll, he nodded, taking a step back and collpasing on the couch against the wall, making himself comfortable. “Fine, but you owe me one.”
“All I’m saying is you could have just said the bra was yours.”
My head fell backward as I watched Prim take off in the direction of the little golf clubs, listening to Asher rant for what felt like twelfth time.
I swung my head to look at him in disbelief. “Why would I tell her it was mine? So she could find out you took it off me on the couch?”
Asher exhaled as he leaned against the front desk, collecting our tickets to play mini-golf. “She would have thought you took it off yourself and forgot to bring it up to your room. Now she thinks I hooked up with someone on the couch.”
Using one hand to gesture up and down my body, I looked over at him. “You did.”
Sending me a tight grin, he nodded. “Yes and I definitely wanted my mom to know that. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll let her know we had sex in her kitchen.”
Detecting his sarcasm, I yanked his sleeve to pull him into the big, outside arena, dragging him over to his excited little sister, trying my hardest to hide my surely red face. He seemed so nonchalant about our activities the night prior. I guess we both had to be if we wanted to continue being friends at this rate.
I sighed. “Okay, Ash, the next time you take off my bra on the couch and your mom finds it, I’ll take the blame.”
The sarcastic look on his face changed as a wicked smirk shuffled onto his lips. “The next time?”
“I hate you.”
“Didn’t appear that way when you were making out with me," he sang. Throwing me a wink, he stepped up to Prim, grabbing a purple golf club off the shelf and handing it to her. I narrowed my eyes at him, mirth flashing in his as he handed me a blue club. “Why are you glaring at me?” he asked with a chuckle.
Yanking the club from him, I stalked towards a table. “I’m hoping you’ll spontaneously combust.”
An hour and a half later, we had been through sixteen courses out of twenty-five. Taking a break, Asher and I sat at a table, watching Prim twenty feet away running around the small playground near the course. It was the first time in days Asher and I were alone around each other without wanting to rip the other person’s head, or clothes, off.
We were just... friends. It felt the same as if the last couple of days hadn’t happened, but at the same time, it was different. There was something there that hadn’t been before and I wasn’t even close to figuring out what it was.
I smiled as I watched Asher, his eyes following his sister to clarify she was safe on the play structure, my gazing coming to a jarring halt when he looked over at me.
“You should learn to stop staring. It’s really not an appealing quality,” he shared, his tone full of mockery.
I crinkled my nose. “You’re really not an appealing quality.”
Asher smiled, giving me a small head shake as he sipped his soda. “Yeah, whatever Otter.”
Before I could question the new sea-related nickname, he gave me an addled stare. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” Upon my head nod, he continued. “Why did you ask me to come pick you up from Hayden’s?”
Cringing, I internally swore at him for asking. I’d been hoping I could escape that entire conversation without having to explain how uncomfortable I had been with my date.
I lifted my shoulders. “I was tired.”
“Liar.” Not surprisingly, he saw right through my feeble attempt to keep the topic a secret. “You know how much I hate lying, Starfish.”
At his second venture at calling me a sea creature that wasn’t Dolphin, I gave him my kindest smile, leaning forward on my elbows. “I’m going to try and say this so it doesn’t hurt your feelings: You annoy the ever-living hell out of me.”
He shrugged. “Sorry, Sealion.”
“Dolphin,” I corrected with a pout. I took a bite out of the pizza in front of me, looking over at Prim who looked ecstatic about going down the slide, before connecting gazes with Asher. “And I don’t know why you care so much about what happened between Hayden and me.”
His features fell into an untainted mask of curiosity and I could tell my answers were only egging him on further. “I need to know, Dol.”
At least he called me the right name.
I swallowed once, letting my shoulders rise and fall. “I wasn’t comfortable.”
“How so?” he questioned, confused.
I brought my soft sleeve up to my face, lightly rubbing from the brim to the tip of my nose as a more pleasing distraction than jabbing my nail into my hand. “If I tell you, you can’t go kill him.”
He gave me a patient, but worried expression, pausing with a fry in his hand. “Now you’re making me feel like I have to.”
Expressing a hesitant sigh towards me, his voice dropped a notch. “Okay, I won’t kill him. What did he do?”
“He just had a goal for the end of the night and was frustrated that I didn’t want to help him reach it,” I said vaguely. Asher squinted at me, giving me a hand gesture to indicate I add more details. I sighed. “It took me asking, and swearing, a couple of times to actually get his hands off of me.”
Dropping the fry that never actually made it into his mouth, his eyes were narrowed as he seemed to weigh the pros and cons of the various and creative revenge tactics.
“Are you serious?” He watched my slow nod, looking away from me and back at his meal on the table. “I'm backing out of this 'no killing' agreement. I'm going to fuck up his face with a bat."
He looked somewhere between semi-rational and positively homicidal.
I laughed lightly at the expression. “No fighting. You promised, don't you remember?”
“Even if they deserve it?”
I brought the greasy slice up to my mouth again, simultaneously sending him a shrug. “Even if they deserve it.”
He frowned after a stretched silence. “Are you okay?”
My cheeks dimpling at his caring nature, I bit into the crust of my pizza, teasing, “Yes, Mom.”
He chuckled but tossed a fry in my general direction, missing. “I prefer Dad,” he declared in mock annoyance.
“Right, sorry daddy.” If saying the words didn’t bring me to the brink of laughter, the disgusted look on Asher’s face did and soon enough, I was huddled over in the loud, unsmothered sound of joy.
Getting over his initial distaste, Asher’s face landed on an entertained smile. “I think it’s safe to say I’ve really corrupted you.”
I didn’t even bother denying it.