Everything changed after that night.
I banned myself from thinking about a potential future with him, but it always seemed to disappear the moment I see him. But I knew it would be hard to get through this whether if it's his busy work schedule, the age difference between us and most of all, Peyton. I never thought shit would be this hard in my life.
We saw each other as much as we could during the final week while Peyton was out of town. Anthony made me watch all of his favorite movies while I tried to teach him how to use Snapchat, but that was merely impossible for him. He told me he couldn't figure out the damn thing and that the filters were dumb.
On Wednesday night, he texted me saying that he was leaving for the hospital and invited me over for a late dinner.
Riley: Of course :) I'll see you soon.
I was halfway through the door when I heard my mom's voice coming from the kitchen.
"Where are you going, Riley? To Peyton's?"
Shit. I forgot to tell her that we broke up.
"I saw Dr. Lowery yesterday."
"I took my car to get an oil change and he was there, getting something for his car, maybe? I don't know exactly."
"Did you say hi?"
"Of course. Well, kind of. He was on the phone at first and I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I heard him asking for restaurant recommendations to take his girlfriend, so I told him about that seafood place we went to last month."
My heart dropped to my feet and I gasped. "Girlfriend?"
"He gave me a really odd look."
"What do you mean?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, but I think he was kind of rude."
It hurt to even speak, and I had no idea what to say.
"I'm surprised he has time to date. I hope it doesn't bother Peyton."
"What?" I didn't understand what she meant, but my heartache when I heard her say that Anthony has a girlfriend, that hurt me the most. How was it even possible? Every free second he has, he spends it with me.
My mom shrugged. "You said you hardly ever see Dr. Lowery. Now it sounds like Peyton has to share his father's limited time with someone else."
"I didn't know he had a girlfriend." The only thing I could think about was getting answers from him. "But I gotta go."
"Okay." My mom smiled. "Have fun."
I drove to his house in both shock and complete pain. Should I mention the meeting with my mom and see if he'd tell the truth or do I go in, guns blazing without letting him explain?
I nearly slammed on the brakes when I pulled up to the vacant house down the street from Anthony's. The 'For Sale' sign in the yard had a large red sticker across it, making it clear that the house is now sold. I can't hide my car in the backyard anymore. I had no choice but to park in Anthony's driveway, where I knew Judy would see it.
I parked, went inside without announcing myself, and found Anthony in the kitchen. He took one look at me, and concern swept through his facial expression. He was setting the table for our fucking dinner. "What's wrong?"
I slammed my purse down on the counter and glared at him. "You ran into my mother yesterday."
"Oh. Yeah, I did." He left the plates on the table and walked towards me. When I took a step back, his concern grew even more.
"She said you were rude to her."
"If I was, I'm sorry. She completely caught me off guard. As soon as I got off the phone, she was right there, and I didn't know what to say. I don't think she realized she was giving a restaurant recommendation on where I take you."
"What? She told me you have a girlfriend."
He noticed the pain in my face and tried to step closer but I kept the distance between us.
"Is that... you?"
What? Me?! I felt thrilled but extremely scared at the same time. Putting an official label on us meant it was serious, and I wanted that, but I didn't want the consequences that came with it.
"I'm forty years old," he sighed. "Honestly, I don't have time for games anymore. I like you, and you like me, and what we've been doing... whatever it is, we've been doing for over a month now." he put his hands on his hips, and looked at me in confusion. "I know it's complicated, but I'd like to keep doing it. Don't you?"
I did, but I was scared. Peyton was the only real boyfriend I had. Was I really ready for another one so soon? Especially with his father?
"Talk to me."
"I do, but..." Fuck. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to. "We have to tell Peyton."
"We do." He walked up to me and wrapped his arms around my waist, making my heart melt all over again.
"I thought I was going to have to fight you over that one."
He turned me around to face him. "You what."
"I can't say it."
I shook my head.
"I think we should tell him next weekend. You'll both be heading back to school, so it will give him time to think."
I looked down at the floor and felt a tear slide down my cheek.
"Hey. What's wrong?"
"W-when we leave, what's going to happen to us?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. I'm scared we'll end up splitting our ways when I'm gone, or at least you wi..."
I looked up at him. "What?"
"I have no other woman who I want more than you. It's going to be tough, but I want to make this work. If I lost you, it would be truly devastating."
"God, I don't know how to say this."
"Anthony, I love you."
"Riley, guess what?"
"I love you too, more than anything in the world."
"Shouldn't I be the one to tell Peyton?" He was my ex after all.
Anthony shook his head. "No. I'd like to explain it to him alone. That way he can focus on me instead of you."
He wanted to spare me from Peyton's anger and take the blame, but that wasn't fair. We didn't plan on getting involved, Anthony and I just... happened. I didn't like him having to do this on his own, but he was older and wiser, not to include the fact that he's Peyton's dad. Their relationship was the most important thing in Anthony's life. I had to trust him to know what was right.
"Are you sure?" I asked, reluctantly.
"Yes, Riley. I'm positive."
"Okay," I said. "I don't like it, but if you think that's best then... okay."
He gave a small smile. "Good. I'll feel better when it's done. No more hiding."
"Who's hiding? You told someone you have a girlfriend. Who were you talking to?"
"Chief of surgery. I was asking him to clear my calendar for Thursday."
"Someone's birthday." He bent down and lightly kissed my lips. "I should add that twenty-one is the worst birthday."
I was shocked. Peyton was terrible at dates and usually forgot. Even when he remembered, it felt like a total last-minute thing. He wasn't one to look ahead in his calendar. But Anthony? He probably had alert notifications on his phone, and the idea of one of the events included my birthday, it made me smile.
"Do you have plans?" he asked.
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and pulled him close. "I do now."