It had been a week and I didn't tell anyone. Not even my best friend Jasmine, who I saw everyday as I interned at the animal hospital.
I tried not to think about Anthony Lowery and what we did. Instead, I thought of Peyton. He didn't text me or call me, anger rising in me each day. It was easier to focus on that. How did he not need closure? Ten seconds was all it took to undo four years.
Unless this was a game to him. Maybe he was waiting for me to call. Maybe I've been avoiding it because of what I did with Anthony. What would happen if I told him? The relationship between them was okay, but not great. I didn't want to wedge them apart. I needed to stay away from both of them. All it would do is cause pain for everyone.
On Saturday, after 2 weeks, I texted him.
Riley: Are we going to talk about this?
Peyton: talk about what?
Is he for fucking real? I wasn't going to get into everything via text.
Riley: What I said in the pool. What are you doing right now????
Peyton: playing Call of Duty.
Of course. That's all he does. Riley: is your dad home?
I needed to do this. Get in and get out, even though the thought of not seeing his father again brought on pure pain.
Riley: can I come over?
Peyton: You dtf?
He thought I was asking about this father being gone so we could fuck? UN-FUCKING-REAL! Was this how he's handling the breakup?
Peyton: yeah i'm serious. you can come over now.
I drove to Peyton's as my stomach twisted and turned. As I parked in the driveway, I put my game face on. You can do this Riley. Like last time, I opened the door without knocking. Peyton wouldn't hear me in the basement anyways. My sneakers pounded on the wooden floor as I went through the living room, and headed toward the basement. I was so focused, the movement didn't digest until he spoke. "Riley?"
Fuck. "Peyton said you weren't here."
Anthony's face contorted into a strange expression. Guilt, confusion, and hurt. Perhaps fear as well. "I just got home."
"What are you doing here? I thought you and Peyton..."
"We did. I'm just hear to talk to him." And clarify we're over.
"You haven't told him," he said in a low voice, "about what I did."
"What we did," I corrected him, "and I'm not going to. I haven't told anyone."
"Why?" Wasn't he supposed to be relieved?
"Because it won't change what happened. All it's going to do is hurt him, and the way things are between you guys... I don't want to ruin this."
"I appreciate that, but..."
My phone went off and I looked at it. Peyton: I think my dad's home. I heard the garage door.
Great fucking time, Peyton. I put my phone away and shot his father a determined look. "I don't want to hurt him. And telling him?" I shook my head. "I can deal with it if he hates me. Not you."
Before he could respond, I opened the door knob to go to the basement. Sounds of gunfire echoed from the room and grew louder as I hurried down, passing photos of us hanging on the wall.
When I went to the bottom of the steps, I stopped.
Peyton wasn't alone. His friend Erik sat on one side and Isaac on the other, all three playing. Why the fuck didn't he tell me his friends were over? Erik glanced at me and flashed a smile. "Hey, Riley."
Peyton was too focused to pay any attention to me. "What's up?"
"We need to talk."
"Okay, give me a minute to finish this level. I'll be right there.
What the fuck is wrong with him?!
"Fuck!" Isaac groaned and his annoyed gaze rolled to his friends.
Peyton stood up and dropped the remote on the couch. "I'll be back in a few."
"Only a few? Poor Riley." Erik snickered.
"Shut up, dude."
I stayed silent as I followed him into his bedroom. I barely closed the door before his hands were on me, and I spun away.
"What are you doing?"
"Come on baby, they're playing. They won't bother us."
"Have you lost your mind? We broke up."
"You were serious about that shit?"
"As a heart attack." My gaze left his and moved across his messy room, and looked everywhere, seeing another painful memory. The poster tacked to the wall was a large photo of us at a concert from last summer.
Peyton looked at me in confusion then turning to irritation. "You're ending this with me just because I didn't drop everything for you?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"You asked if you could come over and I said yes. Erik and Isaac were here since ten this morning when you texted me. What was I supposed to say? Riley wants to finally hang out with me and to get lost? The world doesn't revolve around you."
"Are you fucking kidding me right now, Peyton? I know it doesn't revolve around me, because it obviously revolves around you!"
He rolled his eyes, and put his hands on his hips. He wasn't only an arrogant asshole, but a spoiled, selfish version and the opposite of the man upstairs. I couldn't stay in this room for another second. "Goodbye, Peyton."
I flung the door open and went through the living room, keeping my head up and ignoring the two guys playing on the couch. But Peyton went after me, grabbing my shoulder and turning me to face him. "This is stupid, calm the fuck down."
"Don't fucking touch me."
"You know what? Call me when you've calmed down."
If Peyton wanted to wait for a phone call, he wasn't going to get one. Not from me. I wiped my eyes and turned away from him, stomping up the stairs. He never gave a fuck about me, so why should I care about him? I'm done wasting my time.
Anthony was loading the dishwasher, and when he heard me at the top of the steps, he looked at me over his shoulder. His eyes widened and stepped toward me. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." As much as I wanted to stay, I couldn't.
"That was fast."
"Yep. Four years and no big deal. He's playing video games so he's fine."
I was wrapped in his arms so quickly, it took my breath away.
"Don't. It's not your fault."
"I'm sorry anyways."
We fell silent. The only sound was the faint ticking of the clock in the kitchen. I turned my head and pressed my cheek onto his chest. I was greedy. I knew it was selfish and wrong to want this, but I did regardless. It felt like I belonged here. With him.
Each second built in my body like a ticking time bomb and anxiety took over. I lifted myself on my toes and tilted my head, moving to hover my lips underneath his. I caught him by surprise, but only for a second, and then his mouth softened to welcome my lips.
My arms wrapped around his waist tighter, holding on as his dominating mouth pressed against mine.
"Wait, wait," he said, quickly yanking his head back and breaking off the kiss. "I've been waiting here, hoping to talk to you. We need to, Riley."
"I can't stop thinking about what would have happened if I didn't get that phone call."
The way he said it made it almost impossible to tell if he regretted or was relieved.
"Me too." The memory played in my head over and over again since it happened. They were dirty and wrong. More fantasies, ones that slid my hand down my pajama pants during the night just to relieve the ache.
"We have to stop."
"We can't do this."
His cologne was intoxicating. The struggle in his eyes made it clear he was losing what he was fighting.
"Fuck. I don't know which is worse. How wrong this is, or the fact I can't stop." He sighed. "I shouldn't but..." in a low tone, he whispered, "I want you."
I needed his lips on mine despite the anger and hurt at Peyton. I didn't care it was wrong. I didn't give a fuck how Peyton was only one floor below us and could come upstairs at any time.
I pressed into him, like I could bury myself inside of him. "Dr. Lowery."
His embrace tightened. "Anthony. Say it."
I looked up at him. Saying his name would be permission. It'd break the appropriateness. I swallowed and finally said, "Anthony."