"Are you sure you don't need any help? I know how to-" I tried to offer.
"I got this. I'm good. I was in boy scouts."
"Really?" I giggled. " You're serious? Boy scouts? These are some juicy secrets. Never pegged you for a boy scout. Uniform and all, huh?"
"I regret nothing. I learned how to do this, didn't I?" Roman countered, referring to the tent he was assembling. I shrugged my shoulders, focusing my attention on the crackling fire lighting his way through his task. I sat on a stump, warming up in the chilled air. The lake reflected the moon and the shadows of the trees nearby. Leaves crunched under the weight of the small creatures lurking in the night. The mesmerizing fire compelled me into a daze, back to what his mother said to me when she hugged me: "You are the best thing that has happened to Roman. I haven't seen him this happy in a long time. Thank you so much for helping me get my son back."
The way her voice cracked made tears fill my eyes. I hated myself for what I was going to have to do, but Ryan was right. I couldn't do this to myself. I wasn't ready for another relationship, yet here I am, prancing through the woods like little red riding hood with the wolf. Am I selfish for thinking about myself? For putting myself first, for once? I mean, I have gone through so much with these guys to the point where I was willing to leave my whole future behind along with my friends just to escape the heartache they caused. I love Roman. I always have, but I still love Lewis despite what he did. I wish my feelings would disappear, dissipate. I want them just to disintegrate as if I've never felt them, but I don't think this works that way. I don't think it's fair to Roman for me to enter this relationship or whatever this is, knowing I love someone else. At least we have this weekend.
I directed my attention back to Roman. "So, why is this called Mount Danver? I don't see any mountains around here."
For a brief moment, his hands stopped moving before continuing his task. "When I was younger, I used to watch this old western on t.v. that had cowboys that would save people from the thieving bandits. My brother and I use to come up here all the time, so we named it after the town in the show."
"Austen?" There was a significant age gap between them. I didn't think they hung out too much.
"Can you shut up! I can't finish this when you're constantly talking!" Roman snapped.
"Fine!" My anger slowly started to build until it became volcanic. He just kept putting that fucking tent together like he didn't just snap at me. I got off the stump and paced in front of the fire.
"Can you please stop doing that?" He spoke without turning to look at me, which pissed me off even more. He finished erecting the tent.
"What! Is my pacing bothering you?" I scoffed. "Why? Why do you have to do this? You asked me to come out here, for god knows what then snap at me like my questioning you is just so unreasonable. Why ask me to come here with you, have me meet your family if you are just going to act like an ass?" I rambled off so fast I doubt he understood everything I said.
"I'm sorry." The flickering flames lit up his eyes just enough put me into a trance. Regret coated his features. "It's just a sensitive subject for me. That's why I brought you out here."
I huffed my breath and plopped back on my stump. "I just don't understand why we are here. You say that you're going to reveal your secrets, but you're more reserved than ever. Why do we need to come all the way out here to talk?" I asked, waving my hands around the woods to point out just how secluded we were.
"Because of this." He pulled a small black box out of his pocket. I squinted to get a better look at what he was holding. He walked closer to me. "This is what is going to tell me what happened to my brother."
"Okay." My confusion was growing by second. What does this box have to do with anything? "I'm going to need a little more information than that."
He sat beside me on the stump, his eyes never leaving the small black box in his hands as he tossed it between them. I felt the need to comfort him when the air around us suddenly became gloomy. I wrapped my arm around his waist and placed my chin on his shoulder, waiting for him to feel comfortable enough to talk with me. He seems like he forgot I was there like he went off somewhere else mentally. I placed my hand on his, and he looked to me like he just realized I was there. I looked into his eyes, hoping to find out what was going on inside his head. I could feel him trying to shut me out.
"I won't push you to tell me, but I wouldn't mind knowing more about you. I'm not going anywhere."
He exhaled deeply, looking back to his hands. "I know. It's hard to talk about, but I trust you."
"Take your time." I rubbed circles on his back.
"I had a brother named Nathan. He died while he was undercover for the FBI trying to take down some drug dealers. In the coroner's report, it says he died of a drug overdose; heroin to be exact."
I attentively listened as he told the story of his loss. I couldn't imagine losing a sibling if I had any. From what I could tell, they were close. It pained my heart to see him so hurt. "I'm so sorry for your loss."
He nodded and chuckled bitterly. "Funny thing is that he wasn't a drug addict. He's never done drugs. He was adamant about me not doing them, so when the officers told my family and me that they found him on the side of the road with track marks in his arm, I knew something was wrong."
"Did you tell your parents that you felt that way?"
"Yeah, but they went with the facts. They were grieving, and I didn't want to put more on them with my theories that I didn't know for a fact were true. But, I knew Nathan. When I started at Pennbrook, I met an FBI agent, and he agreed to help me do some digging. It all led to this." He held up the black box.
"What is it?"
"It's the surveillance footage from Nathan's hidden body cam the day before he died. The agent said he never sent it to them, so I just figured maybe he put it in our spot. A part of me wished it wasn't here because that would mean that he wasn't trying to hide anything from the FBI and probably just forgot. He left it for me to find someone he trusted."
I entwined my fingers with his. "If there is something on there that could help you find peace and clear your brother's name, I think you should watch. I'll be right here with you."
He looked at me and leaned in, pecking my lips. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I understand. You didn't mean to snap at-"
"No! Not that. I'm sorry for being a jerk to you when we first met."
"It's okay. I wasn't any better. I got to know you, and you're a good guy."
"I'm not a good guy. I'm not the person you think I am. I did so many selfish things." He rubbed his hands down his face. "If you knew who I really was, you'd never forgive me."
"Stop! You were in that hospital with me. You signed off on my treatments that saved my life. You soothed me back to sleep when you heard me screaming in my sleep. When I caught Lewis cheating on me with Ali, you are the one that followed me out that door. What happened before doesn't matter."
"You don't understand." He shook his head.
I caress his stubble cheek so that he could see the seriousness in my eyes. "Nothing else matters." I kissed his lips softly, and soon we found our selves in a heated kiss beside the fire. This was not what I was expected this weekend to be about, but it explains why he was so closed off. Why he was so angry and possessive, it made sense.
That night we made love under the stars. Romantic, right? It wasn't just the usual roughness that I was used to with Roman. Every thrust was filled so much intensity. At that moment, I felt that I would never have this with anyone else. We were chaotic. We fed off each other.
We just laid next to each other under a blanket that he brought and stared at each other. I knew he felt it. The shift in our relationship. The one where we needed each other and couldn't see ourselves without each other. Our love deepened, and our walls were crumbling. We held each other so tight that I thought we'd morph together. The night was no longer chilled. It was filled with a so much heated passion that even with the fire out, we could do without the blanket. Our limbs tangled as I listened to his heartbeat. I loved him. I was in love with him.
I knew it had to end.