Waiting for Ryan to get home was like waiting for paint to dry. It was painfully long, incredibly frustrating and it gave you one hell of a headache. Natalie’s brain just went round and round in circles, asking her over and over again if she was really about to do this? Was she really going to end a three year relationship with Ryan because of one stupid kiss with Scott?
She’d already packed a suitcase, and it was ready and waiting for her once she broke the news to Ryan. She probably should have used the time to think of a plan. Right now she had a total of two steps, first leave Ryan, second, drag herself to her mother’s. She didn’t know what came next. Did she run into Scott’s arms? Pick up where they’d left off eight years ago? Did he even want that? He had to want it right? He’d just explored every inch of her mouth, that meant something didn’t it?
She wanted to be sick. Her stomach twisted with nausea as her brain ran around in circles. This was insane. How would it even work? She and Ryan shared a house, they still had mortgage payments to make, he’d asked her to marry him.
Should she do this? Should she really go through with this? Was it the right thing to do?
No. The right thing to do was to stay, marry Ryan and spend the rest of her life with him. That was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t what she wanted. What she wanted was the life she’d almost had with Scott. She’d given up on her epic love fantasy because she’d thought her chance had come and gone. Now it was back, and the right thing may have been to walk away, keep Ryan happy, but she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t walk away from Scott, she’d never been able to.
Natalie heard a car pull into the driveway and her stomach dropped as she peered through the window and saw Ryan step out and head to the house.
“Shit.” She muttered to herself, jumping up from where she sat on the bed and rushing to meet him in the hall. She couldn’t do this in the room, with the suitcase filled to the brim with her things staring back at them.
Although what did it matter how she told him. There wasn’t a good way to say, I’m leaving you. It would still suck just as much if she said it with a hundred yellow daisies. And yes, that was from Gilmore Girls, sue her, the show was bloody good.
Was she really doing this? Did she really want this? Did she want to turn down a lifetime with Ryan for a maybe with Scott?
“Hey Nat.” He said, smiling when he saw her and using the nickname she absolutely despised. Yes, she was doing this.
“We need to talk.” She said, motioning him toward the kitchen.
“What’s up?” He asked, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. He had no idea. None. “This about your mother?”
“You didn’t come home last night.” He explained. “I called your mom to ask if she knew where you were and she admitted you were with her. She explained she was upset after seeing Henry with his new wife, and you were comforting her.”
Anger bubbled in the pit of her stomach. She needed to calm down. She couldn’t be angry right now, she couldn’t do this angry. But how could she not be angry? There her mother was, getting involved in her life all over again. Natalie knew her mom suspected something was going on with Scott, she knew the woman had probably figured Natalie had been with him, and in an attempt to save her daughter’s relationship with the perfect Ryan she’d lied. She’d told a whopping big one too. Not only had Natalie not spent the night at her place, she’d definitely never cried over Henry, her latest ex-boyfriend, moving on. Elena gobbled up men like a viper, sticking her poisonous fangs into them and churning them out until she had them completely digested.
Natalie opened her mouth to spill the truth, tell him everything, the night she’d spent high, waking up in Scott’s arms, the kiss. Then she stopped as another thought occurred to her. She didn’t have to explain anything. If she wanted an out this was it. Things didn’t have to change. She could stay with Ryan. She didn’t have to ruin her life.
Was this ruining her life though? Or would staying with Ryan ruin her life? When he’d asked her to marry him she’d panicked. For a moment she’d felt like she was being smothered. You weren’t supposed to feel like that at the prospect of marriage. You should feel elated at the idea of spending your life with the person you love, not terrified. She just hadn’t wanted to admit it because then she’d have to start all over again, chase someone else when the only person she’d ever really wanted to chase was Scott.
“Ryan. I wasn’t with my mom last night.” She said.
“Then where were you?” He asked, his tone suddenly serious as he began to run through all the possibilities in his head. She knew it the moment he landed on Scott. She saw it in the way he narrowed his eyes, clenched his jaw and stiffened his back.
“I was with Scott.” She admitted, both of them needing her to say it.
“Did you sleep with him?” Ryan demanded.
“Did you kiss him Natalie?”
“What does it matter?” She asked.
“Then yes, I kissed him.”
“Why Natalie? Why would you do this to me? To us?”
“Because it’s Scott.” She said, the epiphany hitting her like a smack to the face. It was Scott. It had always been Scott. “He’s…I don’t know how to say this.”
“Then don’t.” Ryan said. “I know what he meant to you. Its normal for you to feel confused. You just had to get it out of your system, and you did, it was just a kiss, we can move on from this.”
“I don’t want that.” She admitted, her voice soft, firm.
“Natalie don’t do this. You’re confused. You need time to think this through. You can’t just end this on a whim.”
“This isn’t…” The objection died on her tongue. She was ending things on a whim wasn’t she? A couple of moments with Scott and one incredible kiss and she was suddenly throwing her whole life away. She was confused, and she couldn’t make sense of anything. A huge part of her was telling her to do this, end it and run to Scott. Another part, just as big, was telling her she was being an idiot. Scott had left her. If he’d wanted her he had eight years to come for her.
That’s what she kept forgetting. That it had been eight years. When she was with Scott it never felt like eight years. It felt like they’d been together the whole time. It felt right. It felt like she belonged with him. He was her home. But it had been eight years. What if they were both just confusing everything now? What if everything they were feeling wasn’t real? What if it was just past memories they were clinging onto?
Why was this confusing? Why was she making this confusing? Why was she asking herself so many questions? She needed to stop. She needed answers. She needed to figure out what she wanted. Right now she thought she wanted Scott, but what if it was just the idea of him she wanted, that epic love she still hadn’t given up on?
“I don’t know what to do.” She told Ryan. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I want.”
“No.” She said firmly, interrupting him. “I don’t want you to tell me what you think I want. I need time.”
“I can give you space.” He said. “I can clear out for a couple hours, I can…”
“I’m going to my mom’s.” She said. “I’ll stay there for a while.”
“Ryan I don’t want you to sit around waiting for me.” She said. “I need to figure out what I want and I don’t think its fair to ask you to wait for me. So don’t wait for me. I don’t know if I’ll be coming back to you.”
“How can you ask me not to wait?” He asked. “What if you come back and I’m with someone else?”
“Then you’re with someone else.” She said simply. “We need to take a break, and if we end up in the same place then we can go from there. But don’t wait for me, because if we don’t end up in the same place I don’t want either of us to have wasted time waiting for the other.”
“You mean you don’t want me to waste my life waiting for you.” He stated.
“Yes. I don’t want you to put your life on hold for me. So don’t. I can’t promise I’m coming back, but if I do we’ll go on from there.”
“I’m sorry Ryan.” She said. “I just don’t think it’s the right thing for us to be together right now.”
“Stop saying you’re sorry.” Ryan said. “Just don’t do this.”
“I have to.”
They went on like this for a couple more minutes and eventually he realised he wouldn’t change her mind. They parted amicably, with Ryan helping her put her suitcase in the car and telling her he’d wait for her no matter how much she protested the idea. Then she was gone. Ryan was gone. Everything she’d thought she wanted was gone.
Realising this didn’t make her feel sad like she’d expected it to. In fact she felt nothing. No grief, no regret, no sadness. Nothing. The emotion that formed in her chest was excitement, a thrill of anticipation for what would happen next. She tried to qualm it as she drove to her mother’s. She couldn’t act on anything, not yet. First she needed to figure out what she actually wanted.
“You bastard.” Ryan screamed, pulling his fist back and swinging it toward Scott’s face.
Scott saw it coming this time and easily dodged the blow. Ryan brought his arm back again, winding up for another swing, but Scott dodged it just as easily as the first. He pulled his arm back a third time, and again Scott stepped out of the way.
“What on earth is wrong with you?” Bryce asked from where he’d been standing near Scott at the pool. “You look like you’re having a seizure.”
“You fucking bastard.” Ryan screamed, his eyes blazing with fury.
“Language.” Bryce scolded.
Scott met the angry man’s gaze, he’d be damned if he was going to cower away from this idiot. Somehow he had to know about that kiss with Natalie. She’d told him about it. She had to. She’d told him, begged for his forgiveness and promised it had meant nothing, just a loose end she needed to tie up to get some closure.
It was the only thing that made sense. It had been hours now since it had happened, and he hadn’t heard a word from her. He’d just assumed she was going to pretend like it hadn’t happened, turns out she’d confessed to Ryan.
No, scratch that, it didn’t make sense. She’d kissed him back just as fiercely as he’d kissed her, with just as much hunger. That kind of a kiss wasn’t nothing, it wasn’t closure. That was the kind of kiss that starts something, it didn’t end it dammit.
“You just thought you could waltz into town and win her back didn’t you?” Ryan barked. “You thought you could remind her of how things used to be, flirt with her a little, undermine me and she’d just fall back into your arms.”
Scott stared back at the guy, not saying a word. He had nothing to say, not to Ryan. He didn’t give a crap about Ryan, didn’t care about his precious little feelings. He wasn’t going to apologise for anything, or explain anything. The guy could go jump off a bridge for all Scott cared.
“You think you’re so charming.” Ryan continued. “Natalie’s not that stupid. She’ll realise I’m the one she belongs to, that I’m the one she loves. She’ll come back to me.”
The words caught Scott mid-eye roll. She’ll come back to me. Why would Natalie need to come back to him? Unless, unless she’d left him.
His heart flared with hope and he didn’t even question it as he let the feeling take over. Natalie had left Ryan. Why had she left Ryan? It had to be for him. Please let it be for him.
Stepping away from Ryan he headed toward the door. No way was he going to be able to wait around and see how this turned out. He had to do something. He had to see her.
“Where are you going?” Ryan screamed after him. “Don’t you have anything to say to me?” Nope, he had nothing to say to Ryan. He had plenty to say to Natalie though, and that was exactly who he was going to see.
“You’re supposed to be watching me.” Bryce called.
“There are a million housekeepers buzzing around. You’ll be fine.” He replied as he continued out the house.