B E L L A M Y
The next day, Noah had left early for whatever he does these days. It gave me a little time alone in the house, and to say I enjoyed it was an understatement.
I hadn’t had this much space since I moved out of my parents house, and when I lived alone for a couple of years, it was always in tiny apartments with noisy neighbors, just like the last one I was kicked out of.
But this time, I could blast my music as loud as I wanted, sing along at the top of my lungs, and moan as much as I wanted to while I rubbed myself under the shower.
So that’s what I did.
After my eventful morning, I rummaged through the kitchen cupboards for some lunch. Isaac was still at work, and I couldn’t care less where Noah was, so I turned up the volume of my series on the TV as I waited for my grilled cheese to be done.
I let out a sigh of satisfaction as the smell of melted cheese and toasted bread filled my nostrils and I turned off the stove. I had perfected my grilled-cheese-making over the years I lived alone, especially since I couldn’t really cook anything else.
I was actually happy Noah suggested to order food yesterday evening.
That reminded me...
Grabbing my phone, I placed my half eaten sandwich on my plate, dialing Isaac’s number.
“Hey, Bella,” he answered almost immediately, and I sat back in my chair.
“Hi, am I interrupting?” I asked, hoping I caught him during his lunch break.
“Not at all, what’s up?”
I sighed, thinking of the best way to word my reply. I was definitely being the annoying little sister. “I just wanted to ask if you could tell me beforehand if you aren’t going to eat at home. Noah and I figured it out last night,” —kind of— “but I’d rather eat somewhere else when you’re not here.”
The silence on the other end made me nervous, but I wasn’t about to retract my statement. If I could avoid being alone with Noah, especially during dinner, I would.
“Bella...” he breathed with a slightly annoyed undertone in his voice.
“Yeah, I know, but—”
“Why do you hate Noah, anyway?”
I knew the dreaded question would come some day, primarily because I hadn’t shared any of my struggles with my brother over the years, least of all my past with Noah. Another reason I wasn’t about to open up, since I would only hurt his feelings and jeopardize their friendship.
I really couldn’t do it.
“You know what, let’s talk at home. Noah’s helping Sebastian on the construction site so he won’t be home till late.”
I smiled. Isaac really was the most considerate guy I knew, and though he was very good at the big brother role in terms of teasing, in the end he was always there for me.
“Yes,” I answered, taking a bite of my lunch—which was a little cold now. “Can you bring dinner with you?”
He chuckled. “Sure, see you later, Bella.”
I finished my grilled cheese, making sure to clean up after me before I plopped on the couch. Yes, the weather was nice. Yes, there was a pool for me waiting outside. But I didn’t really feel like going out of the house today.
Isaac startled me awake by dripping water in my face. “What the fuck?”
He chuckled as he sipped the remainder of his glass of water, walking around the couch and slouching into the big armchair next to where I fell asleep.
“You alright?” He smirked, and I wiped the liquid off my face as I sat up.
“I would be if you’d let me sleep.” My voice was a little groggy, and my eyes felt thick with sleep, but the water had, unsurprisingly, woken me right up. “How was work?”
He sunk further into his chair. “Nothing special, I was able to leave early though.”
My eyes shifted to the clock on the wall, and I raised my brows at the time. “It’s only four.”
Isaac nodded, placing his drink on the coffee table in front of him.
“But what’s this about you and Noah?” he asked, and I clenched my jaw, hoping he’d forgotten about the whole thing.
I still didn’t really have an answer for him. What was I going to say? He broke me without even trying? He made me feel so low in myself, I believed my depression when it told me that I was worthless?
No. No matter how much I didn’t like Noah, he was Isaac’s friend, and I knew that my brother would be shattered if they had a falling out.
“He doesn’t like me so I don’t like him.” I shrugged, walking to the kitchen to grab myself something to drink.
My fingers lingered over the half empty bottle of wine in the door of the fridge, but I went with some juice instead.
“Hmm,” Isaac hummed, crossing his legs. “Well, when I told you he lived here—you know, when we were on the phone?”
“Why didn’t you ask mom and dad instead?”
Luckily, I had turned back to the fridge again, because if I had to look him in the eye, I would break down for sure at the question.
I took my time walking back to the couch, and sipped my drink slowly when I had sit down.
Isaac frowned, waiting for me to elaborate.
“Maybe I just wanted to stay with you.”
It was a shit answer, and I was an equally shitty liar, so I decided to just admit it. “I don’t want mom and dad to know that I failed.”
My gaze shifted to my hands and the glass within them, tears threatening to spill from my eyes. Years I had been telling them that I was doing great, had insisted that I was able to move out in the middle of getting my college degree and that it had been the right decision. When in reality, everything was falling apart.
“Oh, Bella...” Isaac scooted closer, placing a hand on my knee and giving me a comforting squeeze. “You didn’t fail.”
I looked up to him with watery eyes. “But I did.”
“You graduated college with honors, always made sure to be there for everyone and don’t forget that you’re still young.”
I nodded. “I don’t know what I want to do with my life, Isaac.”
Somewhere in the distance I heard a door close, but I ignored it, not wanting to break this moment. “Just remember that you don’t have to know just yet.” Isaac mentioned, smiling at me.
“I feel like I do,” I replied, rubbing my hands over my thighs, feeling faint scars under my fingers.
Isaac’s eyes lowered to my legs. “You don’t. Your depression didn’t define you then, and it doesn’t now. You were sick, not lazy.”
Letting out a long breath, I straightened in my seat. “Thank you.”
We gave each other a hug, and I quickly excused myself to go upstairs. Sure, he had seen me cry numerous times, but I didn’t want to look as weak as I was before.
At the top of the stairs, I froze, seeing Noah disappear into his room.
My sadness instantly turned into anger and embarrassment, and before I knew what I was doing, I stormed after him.
“Were you eavesdropping?” I asked, my voice strained and my hands making contact with his back in an attempt to emphasize my anger.
His hard muscles startled me, but I had no time to react, because in a split second he had roughly crushed me against the wall next to the door.
“Don’t touch me,” he hissed, one hand pushing my shoulder back, and the other against the wall next to my head.
The green in his eyes seemed more vibrant as he looked at me wide-eyed, his brows furrowed and his chest rising and falling quickly.
Nerves and tension coursed through me at his expression, the hostile look and stance scaring me a little.
I stared back, equally wide-eyed, feeling like a deer caught in headlights.
I was unable to form words as I stared back, his hand burning into my shoulder, even though he didn’t use much force.
For the first time since I moved in, I felt scared of him. The fact that he had gone to prison still lingered in the back of my mind—though I didn’t know what for, and I felt myself backing into the wall behind me as much as I could. Would he really hurt me?
He seemed in some sort of trance, his eyes slowly trailing down my face, lingering on my lips before they moved to my neck.
No. The air was thick with something else.
Goosebumps spread over my arms when I felt his thumb caress the skin at my collarbones, and I tilted my head back ever so slightly.
What was I doing? And what was he doing?
It was like I had no control over my body anymore, my mind screaming at me to move, abort mission and leave, but my body staying frozen in place, enjoying the feeling of Noah’s fingers on my neck.
I was sure he could feel my heartbeat under the pads of his fingers as he brushed them over the curve of my throat, his brows still furrowed as he looked at my skin.
Our breathing became uneven, and I swallowed hard.
That seemed to jolt us back to reality, and we sprung apart as if we had burned ourselves.
For a second we stared at each other, until Noah looked away.
“Get out,” he said softly, turning his back to me.
He didn’t have to tell me twice, so I quickly made my way to my room without saying another word.
I closed the door behind me with urgency and walked to my bed.
“What the...” I breathed to myself, sinking onto the edge and pushing my fingers into the mattress. To say that I was confused was an understatement.