Truce

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Chapter 16

Ada Beck

I looked in the mirror, running a hand through my thick hair.

“You look like shit,” I muttered to myself, unable to take my eyes off the deep shadows beneath them. I needed to sleep. I always needed sleep.

When I was little, I slept in a room with my big brother and when he grew out of sharing a room, I struggled. I couldn’t get to sleep without the comfort of someone else in the room.

That never really went away. Not until Hayden.

A small smile lifted my lips at the thought of him. Everything with him was a blur, going so fast I wanted to scream for it to slow down. I wanted to remember every bit of this, of him, of us.

It hadn’t been long since we became a thing but it felt like I had never been without him. I felt so comfortable around him, a feeling which I wasn’t used to.

Which is why I could sleep with him, in the most innocent way possible because as of today, I was fifteen and not ready for that. But ever since the first night he had climbed up to my window and realized I struggled to sleep, he has stayed with me until I’m unconscious. He still didn’t know the reason behind it and I wasn’t about to tell him. It made me sound even younger and as much as I wanted to say I was totally, one hundred percent fine with our age difference, I wasn’t. I was trying, but I felt too young for him.

Then again, he was a complete immature idiot so I felt I was older than him. I think that’s why we worked.

I turned away from my mirror with a sigh and jumped a little, gasping.

“Happy to see me?” Speak of the devil. Hayden.

I struggled to even contemplate my response as I looked him up and down.

He was in his slacks, a nice dress shirt he had buttoned at the cuffs with his light hair gelled for once, sitting perfectly instead of in it’s usual cute mess.

I couldn’t handle how insanely handsome he looked. Especially with his smile. It wasn’t the huge goofy grin he usually had plastered on his face when he caught me by surprise – which was more often than it should have been – or the smirk he got when he teased me. It was peaceful. Content.

Without taking my eyes off him, I realized the window was open, meaning no one else knew he was here. Jay didn’t. He was all mine.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in a quiet voice, taking small sluggish steps towards him. If I wasn’t so tired I would have run and jumped on him, but my legs were struggling to hold me up already.

“Seeing my girlfriend on her birthday. Is that a crime?” He closed the distance between us in two strides and slid his arms around my waist, pulling me towards him. I rested my head against his chest and closed my eyes, taking a deep breath.

“Yes,” I mumbled and he chuckled, his body shaking mine. I bit my lip to stop the smile that was about to consume my face and took a step back, but not before he could place a kiss on my forehead.

“I’ll already be going to jail so it’ll just add more time to my sentence,” he joked, but I didn’t find it so funny. He was referring to us, that we were breaking the law by dating. He was three years older than me when we started going out. He said as long as I didn’t mind, he didn’t either, but I’d never been okay with breaking the rules, even if no one knew.

I didn’t want to start this conversation again so I just turned back to my closet and rifled through my dresses.

“You’re tired,” he observed and I could hear him making himself comfortable on my bed. He was observant like that, which I loved and hated. It meant he noticed when I wasn’t okay and he would worry, but sometimes I didn’t want him to worry.

“I didn’t get to sleep last night.” I’d told Hayden not to come over. He was tired too and needed his sleep when he wasn’t getting enough of. But that meant I couldn’t sleep.

“How is it that you manage to sleep when I’m here but when I’m not, you don't? Are you just missing me too much?”

I chuckles and pulled out a dress, holding it against myself and looking in the mirror. “Yes, Hayden. I can’t go fourteen hours without you. It’s just too painful,” I said with heavy sarcasm, hanging my dress on the door handle and padding across to where he was lying. He looked like a Greek God; and he was all mine.

“Hey,” he reprimanded, his lip jutting out into a pout. “Do not mock my feelings because you think they’re stupid.” Then he opened his arms and I crawled into them, praying to god no one from my family would decide it the perfect time to barge into my room. Especially Jay. That would not be fun to explain.

“You’re such a girl,” I teased and he pinched my waist. I squealed and wriggled out of his grip but he was already up and looking at me with those mischievous eyes that made me knew I was in trouble.

“Don’t you dare,” I warned from the other side of my bed. His mouth just quipped up into a smirk and he lunged for me.

“No!” I squealed as he chased me around my room, but really, what chance did I have? He was fast and in no time he grabbed me around the waist and slung me to the bed and started to tickle me.

“Stop!!” I tried to exclaim through the laughter, tears streaming down my face. I was trying to kick out of his grasp but he was sitting on my legs. Oh, also don’t forget the fact that he was a seventeen year old tall muscly boy. I had no hope.

“Hmm…” He trailed, his hands drifting from my stomach to my hands, linking his fingers through mine. “What do I get in return?” He asked, laying me back on the bed. My cheeks flushed and I bit my lip, hating how he affected me. this shouldn’t be possible, to like someone so much. My chest actually contracted when he inched his fact closer.

My mind flittered back to the fourteenth of February, to Valentine’s Day. He had climbed up my window when I was reading late at night, coming back from a party he was attending with my brother. He had squeezed through my window and fell onto the floor, causing me to erupt into a fit of laughter, but I was immediately silenced when he blurted, “I don’t care how you feel about me, I just need you to know that I love you.” Ad then after I didn’t say anything for a minute he said, “okay that first part was a lie, I really really do care how you feel about me.”

I felt bad, but I didn’t love him. I knew my feelings weren’t that strong so I didn’t say it back, but now the emotions hit me like a train and I just smiled up at the idiot. “I love you.”

His mouth popped open and I let out a light laugh, lifting my hand to his face. “You’re a moron, but I do.”

“Say it again so I know it’s real,” he whispered, holding himself above me.

“I love you.”

“Again?”

“Hayden Dean Porter,” I said, lifting my head to press a kiss to his cheek, letting my lips linger there before moving them to his ear where I whispered, “I love you.”

And then I looked at him and barely had time to smile before he kissed me, but it was different from before. Before he would have started off soft, slow, making sure I was ready and letting me be in control.

But now, he just kissed me like he wasn’t scared of breaking me, like he wasn’t scared I’d disappear. He kissed me like he loved me and I loved him.

Of course someone took that perfect opportunity to knock on my door and Hayden’s lips were of mine in a flash and my heart was racing a million miles an hour and I had to not think about it.

“Who is it?” I asked, my voice weak. You couldn’t really blame me; Hayden was stil lying in between my legs, his arms folded on my stomach where his chin was on them.

“Jacob. Can I come in?”

Hayden’s eyes went wide at the sound of my brother’s voice and he got off me, letting me sit up.

“Uh,” I said, trying to think of something to say. Fudge. “I’m getting changed.” Yes, that would work.

“When you’re done can you come to my room? I have no fucking clue what to wear.”

I forced a laugh at that and I head Jay’s on the other side of the door. But then I thought about how I was hiding something huge from him and it made me stop laughing. He deserved to know that I was dating his best friend, regardless of his reaction. Surely he wouldn’t want us to stop seeing each other.

I had to tell him.

“I’ll be there in five,” I said and I heard his footsteps retreat to his room.

Hayden ran a hand through his hair, slightly messing it up. He just looked into my eyes and nodded, a crease in his forehead that made me know he was thinking the same thing. “We’ll talk about it later. I only have a few minutes to do what I came here for.”

I raised my eyebrows but his messed up hair was hind of bugging me so I got off the bed and stood in front of him, reaching up on my tip-toes to fix it back into place.

“So you didn’t come here just to see your girlfriend on her birthday! Liar!”

He laughed, shaking his head at the same time as he pulled something out of his pocket.

“I did, but I also wanted to give her this,” he said and opened the black box.

On the velvet cushion lay a thin, rose gold chain. A bracelet. A charm bracelet.

My breath caught in my throat as I saw what was hanging off it.

“The music note is for your musically inclined brain,” he said, lifting it out of it’s cushion and holding it up. “The world if for all the languages you speak because you are so god damn smart,” he continued, undoing the clasp. I held out my wrist. “And the heart, well, that was mine-“ he fixed the clasp and let his hand drop. “It’s now yours.”

I gently put my fingers to it, making sure it was real almost. Was Hayden really that thoughtful? That amazing? That lovely?

He course he was. It was just a side of him that didn’t surface often.

“I love it,” I whispered, looking up into his eyes which smiled down at me.

“I love you,” he whispered and quickly pressed his lips to mine. “But you have to go help Jacob.”

“We should tell him…” I trailed, and Hayden just nodded, kissed my forehead again, said “Later,” and climbed out of my window, disappearing into the dusk light.

I sighed but all my exhaustion was forgotten. It was like I’d had caffeine, my whole body buzzing with life and energy.

I quickly changed into my black dress which was clung to my waist and flared out at the skirt and padded down the hall in my bare feet, knocking lightly on Jay’s door.

“Come in,” he called and I opened the door to his room which quadrupled the size of mine. He was sitting on his couch with a book in his hand, slacks on but just an ordinary t-shirt covering his top half.

“You need help?” I asked and he looked up from his book, smiling when he saw me.

“You are a lifesaver. I need to know what shirt to wear.”

“To impress Kaia?” My brother may not have been observant, but I was.

His eyes narrowed but only slightly and I rolled mine. “You don’t have to pretend. I know you like her.”

“Do I though?” he sounded unsure of himself. I headed to his walk in wadrobe and spoke from in there.

“Yes. She’s perfect for you and I think you need to stop denying it.” I pulled out a dark blue shirt that would look nice and handed Jay the coat hanger.

“Thanks,” he said, acknowledging the shirt. I took a seat on his couch as he changed his shirt, struggling with buttons on the cuff and instead decided to roll them up.

“Are you going to say anything about Kaia?”

“There’s nothing to say.” He looked conflicted himself, as if he didn’t know if he liked her of not, so I wasn’t about to push it. I picked up the book he had been reading and flicked through the pages, the book in my favourite language.

The doorbell for the front door rang and my heart spiked, knowing exactly who it was going to be.

So did my brother. “That’s Hayden. I’ll be back in a minute.” And then he jogged out of the room. I had to work so hard to keep the smile off my face as I peered down at my charm bracelet.

I realized if I was in a room with Hayden right now, Jay would notice something was up between us. I wanted him to know but I wanted to tell him, not for him to notice. I had to leave.

I pinched the book knowing Jay wouldn’t notice it was gone and stepped around the jigsaw that was his floor. I was almost at the door when the boys walked in. I muttered a curse under my breath and paused. They were joking about something or other, both of them laughing.

“Hey, where are you going?” My brother asked but my eyes were on Hayden who was looking me up and down with a raised eyebrow and an impressed expression. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that.

“Back to my room. I need to finish getting ready.”

“Oh, good point,” he chuckled but then looked at Hayden and punched him on the arm. “Quit staring at my sister.”

“It’s not my fault she’s gorgeous.” My cheeks flushed and I so badly wanted to hit him. What the hell was he thinking?? Jacob wasn’t that unobservant, was he? Of course he didn’t care, he just winked when Jay wasn’t looking.

“You’re a creep,” he said and then turned to me. “Ignore him.”

“Don’t worry,” I just brushed it off and then left without another word. I would have said I will to ignoring him but there was no way I was pretending he didn’t say that. Hayden wasn’t about compliments, as in, he rarely gave them. Especially about how I looked, so I had no idea what he thought. Whether he liked my personality or appearance or both. That confirmed that it was both and it made me kind of happy.

Okay, I was practically skipping back down the hall to my room. I closed the door behind me and leant against it, sliding down to the ground with the stupidest smile toying with my lips.

The things that boy reduced me to.


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