I was moving before I realized it. Anthony hurried me toward the kitchen, dragging me along on my sluggish legs. We had fifteen, maybe twenty seconds before Peyton would come through the door to the garage. He would know I'm here, because my car was parked in the driveway. What the hell were we going to do?
I stared up at Anthony, finding his face a calm, emotionless mask as he left me and hurried around to the other side of the counter. "It's okay," he said quickly. "Let me do the talking when...."
The door swung open, and Peyton walked in. He was searching the room, noticing his father on one side of the kitchen and finally looked at me. "Riley?" he looked confused as hell. "What are you doing here?"
I opened my mouth to speak, but Anthony's deep voice cut me off. "She left her hoodie in your bathroom and asked if she could stop by and pick it up." He motioned to the sweatshirt folded on the counter as proof. "You're home early."
Peyton didn't notice the strain in his father's voice and shrugged. "The restaurant was dead, so they let me leave." His attention turned to me. "Why didn't you text me?"
Was he serious? Putting aside everything related to Anthony and treating Peyton as my ex, it was weird as hell seeing him. What was I supposed to say? That being in the same room with him made me uncomfortable, and this was easier?
Better was the most accurate word to use, because I came over tonight with a bigger goal than just avoiding my ex or getting m favorite hoodie. When I looked at Anthony, I tried to hide the disappointment in my face since we'd been interrupted.
Shit, what a selfish thing to think about.
He must have thought I was looking to him for help because he answered for me. "I think Riley felt more comfortable if you weren't here, since the break-up."
Peyton stiffened and glared at me. "The what?"
Oh my God. He still didn't think we broke up?! My focus went from Peyton to Anthony, and I could see Anthony's jaw muscle tense. He looked hurt, maybe angry.
He thought I'd lied to him.
"We broke up." I might have said it too loud because I was nervous, but also because I needed both of them to hear. "Like, several times."
Peyton unbuttoned the white dress shirt of his uniform and glared at me. "We had a fight. You were mad, and I told you to call me when you were over it."
"No, that's not what happened. I told you we were over."
His confidence cracked, and there was a short glimpse of the boy I'd fallen in love with. "You're breaking up with me?"
Was I about to break up with him for a third time, with Anthony watching?
As his face twisted with pain, I felt my heart doing the same thing. Anthony stood still, even though his expression said he'd rather be anywhere else. Perhaps he thought if he'd stay motionless, we'd forget he was there.
Not fucking likely.
"Why?" Peyton demanded. I answered the question so many damn times, but I felt speechless. "Is there someone else?"
I couldn't help how my eyes looked at Anthony's, but he wasn't looking at me. He stared at the counter, frowning. There was guilt there, I understand. I felt it too. It was a thick, hard shell trapping everything into a confusing mess of emotions.
I ignored Peyton's second question. "It's not working anymore."
"Yeah, I know these last few weeks haven't been the best, but I've..."
"It hasn't been working for a while," I said flatly. "Even when we were still in school."
He came closer and put his hand on the counter next to me, fully invading my space and I sighed. He was too close. I needed to step back, but I don't want to look weak. I need to hold my ground and get through this.
"We're not the same people anymore," I said.
"That's not true."
"Yeah? You would have gone to my grandfather's funeral with me when I asked."
"I had to work. I told you."
"It's not just that. Before, you would have been there for me. But now you aren't." I got both sad and angry at the memory. "We've barely seen each other this summer. I'm not your girlfriend. I'm an afterthought."
Peyton's gaze hardened, and something like embarrassment came across his face. He didn't turn or look away from me, but it was clear his raised voice was directed at his father. "Is there some reason you're still here?"
Tension in the room increased, making it uncomfortable for everyone, and even worse when Peyton started up.
Anthony straightened. "Don't use that tone with me. This is my house."
Annoyance flashed in Peyton's eyes. "Let's go downstairs and talk about this."
"No," I snapped grabbing the hoodie and squeezing it in my hands. "There's nothing to talk about. It's over, and I'm leaving. Goodbye, Peyton."
"Thanks..." I nearly said his first name but caught myself just in time, "Dr. Lowery."
He looked torn about letting me go but nodded.
I only made it a few steps before Peyton followed me. "That's it?" He was hurting but covered it anger. "You're gonna throw four years out the window just because I couldn't go to one funeral with you? That's stupid as hell."
Hot, angry tears slid down my face, but I didn't stop moving. I needed to get out of this house and away from him before I said something I'd regret. He only heard what he wanted to, meaning he could blame me for all this. As long as he was crystal fucking clear we were done, he could think whatever he wanted.
"You know what?" he yelled at me as I flew out the front door. "Fuck you, Riley."
"Peyton," I head Anthony snarl, but I didn't look back. I ran so fast, one of my shoes almost caught the edge of one of the bricks and I nearly fell but managed to stay on my feet. I scrambled into my car, started it and took off before more tears started sliding down my face.
My phone chimed with a text message as I got home, but I ignored it. I came in through the kitchen and went immediately upstairs after waving to my mom. She was talking on the phone, but waved. I moved so quickly, it didn't give her a chance to see I've been crying.
Max, our rescue German Shepard, followed me up the steps. Once I was in my room, Max jumped up in my bed and laid next to me as I drew my knees up to my chest and looked at my phone.
Dr. Lowery: are you okay?
I pulled my arms into my hoodie, wiping the tears off of my face as I typed a message back:
Riley: Yeah. How is he?
Dr. Lowery: Upset. I tried to talk to him, but he took off.
Peyton left? Before I could ask, 3 dots popped up on the screen.
Dr. Lowery: He's staying at Erik's tonight. Maybe he'll figure out he was an asshole and apologize.
That'd be nice, but it wouldn't happen.
Riley: How are you? I'm sorry you had to watch that.
Dr. Lowery: Don't worry about me, I'm fine.
I tipped my head back against the bed and pet Max's head which was resting on my lap. What would have happened if Peyton had come home 5 minutes later? He would've caught us.
Jesus, what's wrong with me? Peyton was hurting, and I couldn't stop thinking about his dad and how I wished we didn't stop. I wanted to hear about all of his fantasies and see how many of them matched mine.
My phone chimed again, causing my eyes to open.
Dr. Lowery: Do you want to talk about it?
Memories of him were everywhere as I looked around my bedroom. It was amazing how much he'd been a part of my life in high school, and the room was like a shrine to him. Even my bed was a memory of Peyton and I having sex for the first time.
The picture of us at our senior prom was on my bookshelf, and I glared at the smiling version of us. I felt powerless against my memories. Fuck me? Peyton. No fuck YOU.
I looked down at my phone, wondering if I should answer Anthony's question.
Riley: No, it's fine.
Dr. Lowery: Riley... please.
Fuck me. I got out of bed and kissed Max on his nose before I went back downstairs to get in my car to go back to his house. What in the actual fuck am I doing? I parked my car in the driveway of the vacant house for sale and walked down the sidewalk and into the trees bordering the Lowery property. Get your shit together Riley.
Was I really being this stupid to hide and sneak around this? Yes. But I was too focused right now on getting rid of Peyton's voice in my head.
Anthony must have seen me making my way up because the side door to his bedroom swung open and he welcomed me inside. His gaze dropped down to the tote bag in my hands, and he scowled.
"Peyton's stuff you're returning?"
I tossed the bag onto a chair and shook my head. "I lied. I don't want to talk about it."
I closed the distance between us, gripped his face in my hands, and pulled his lips down to mine. Today was a long, hard day. My arousal had been interrupted by anger, and the emotions twisted, creating irritation I've never experienced. I liked the combination though for whatever reason.
Anthony's reaction told me he did too.
His lips didn't resist as I stuck my tongue in his mouth to meet his, eager to resume where we left off. Just the connection to him was enough to quiet thoughts in my head. Maybe it was wrong to use him like that, but I couldn't help it.