Wednesday, 23 May 2018

AFTER ROMANCE Episode 66-70

When I wake up it takes me a moment to remember that I am not in bed with Harry. The sun is shining through the bay window and I sit up quickly. As my eyes adjust I am convinced that I am going mad.
"Harry?" I say quietly and wipe my eyes again.
"Hey." He says back. He really is here.
"What the hell are you doing here?" I snap. My heart aches already. He is sitting in the chair with his elbows on his knees.
"Tessa, we need to talk." He says, the bags under his eyes prominent.
"Have you just been watching me sleep?" I ask.
"No, of course not. I just came in here a few minutes ago." He says. I wonder if he had nightmares without me in bed with him. If I hadn't witnessed them myself I would think those were part of his games as well, but I remember holding his sweaty face between my hands and seeing the fear in his green eyes.
I stay silent. I don't want to fight with him. I just want him to go away. I hate that I don't actually want him to go away, but he has to.
"Can we talk?" He repeats and I shake my head. He runs both hands through his hair and takes a deep breath.
"I have to go to class." I tell him.
"Liam already left, I turned your alarm off. It's eleven already."
"You what!"
"You were up late and I thought you.." He begins.
"How dare you even.. just go." I am beyond angry that he would turn off my alarm, he knows how I am about missing classes, but the pain from his actions yesterday is still fresh and it overshadows the anger from him turning off my alarm but I can't show any weakness or he will pounce on it. He always does.
"You're in my room." he points out. I climb out of the bed, not caring if I am only in a t-shirt, his t-shsirt.
"You're right, I will go." I say, the lump in my throat is growing and the tears are threatening behind my eyes.
"No, I meant.. I meant you are in my room.. Why?" His voice bleak.
"I don't know.. I just.. I couldn't sleep.." I admit. I need to stop talking. "It's not really your room anyway, I have slept here just as many times as you have. Actually more now." I point out.
"Your shirt didn't fit?" He asks, his eyes focused on the white shirt. Of course he is making fun of me.
"Go ahead, tease me." I say, the tears pooling at the bottom of my eyes.
He makes eye contact with me but I look away.
"I wasn't teasing you." He stands up from the chair and takes a step towards me. I back away and raise my hands to block him. "Just hear me out, okay?"
"What else could you possibly have to say Harry, we always do this. We have the same fight over and over, only worse each time. I can't do it anymore. I can't." I breathe.
"I said I was sorry for kissing her." he defends.
"That isn't what this is about, well that's part of it but there is so much more. The fact that you don't get that proves that we are wasting our time. You will never be who I need you to be, and I am not who you want me to be." I wipe my eyes as he looks out the window.
"You are who I want you to be." He says.
I wish I could believe him, I wish he wasn't so incapable of feelings.
"You're not." Is all I can say. I know he is aware that I am crying but I can't seem to stop myself. I have cried so many times since I met him and if I get tangled back into his web, this is how it will always be.
"I'm not what?"
"Who I want you to be, you do nothing but hurt me." I walk past him and cross the hall to the guest room to grab my bag. I hastily pull my pants up my legs and gather my things. Harry's eyes follow my every move.
"Didn't you hear what I told you yesterday?" He finally speaks. I was hoping he wouldn't bring this up.
"Answer me." He says.
"Yea.. I heard you." I tell him, avoiding looking in his direction.
"And you have nothing to say about it?" His voice hostile.
"No." I lie. He steps in front of me. "Move." I beg.
He is dangerously close to me and I know what he is going to do as he moves in to kiss me. I try to back away from him but his strong hands pull me closer, holding me in place. His lips touch mine, his tongue tries to push through my lips but I refuse.
"Kiss me back, Tess." he demands.
"No." I push at his chest.
"Tell me you don't feel the same and I will go." His face inches from mine, his breath hot on my face.
"I don't." I tell him, it hurts to say the words but he has to go.
"Yes you do. I know you do." His tone desperate.
"I don't Harry, and neither do you. You can't possibly think that I bought that?" I say and he lets go of me.
"You don't believe that I love you?" He gasps.
"Of course not, how stupid do you think I am?" I spit, he stares at me for a second before he opens his mouth and closes it again.
'You're right." he says.
"You're right, I don't. I don't love you, I was just adding to the drama of the whole thing." He laughs lightly. I knew he didn't mean it, but that doesn't make his honesty hurt any less. A part of me, a larger part that I am willing to accept, hoped that he actually did.
He stands against the wall as I walk out of the room, my bag in hand as I reach the stairs.
"Tessa sweetheart, I didn't know you were here!" Karen smiles from the bottom of the stairs. Her smile fades as she notices my distressed state. "Are you okay? Did something happen?" She asks. The concern in her voice evident.
"No, I am okay. I was locked out of my room last night and I.."
"Karen." Harry's voice says from behind me.
"Harry! " Her smile slightly returns. "Would you two like something to eat, some breakfast? Well lunch, its noon." She smiles.
"No thank you, I was just going back to the dorms." I tell her.
"I will eat." Harry says. She looks surprised as she looks at me and then back at Harry.
"Okay great! I will be in the kitchen!" She tells him.
After she disappears, I head for the door.
"Where are you going?" He grabs my wrist. I struggle for a second before he releases it.
"The dorms, like I just said."
"You are going to walk?"
"What is wrong with you? You act like nothing is happening, like we haven't just been fighting, like you haven't done anything. You are seriously insane, I'm talking mental institution, medicated, padded walks insane. You say horrible things to me and then try to offer me a ride?" I can't keep up with him.
"I didn't say anything horrible actually, all I said was that I don't love you, which you claim you already knew. And secondly, I wasn't offering you a ride I was simply asking if you were going to walk back." His smug expression makes me dizzy. Why would he even come here to find me if he doesn't care about me? Doesn't he have anything better to do than torture me?
"What did I do?" I finally ask, I have been wanting to ask this for a while but I was afraid of his answer.
"What did I do to make you hate me? You can have practically any girl you want and you continue to waste your time, and mine to find new ways to hurt me. What's the point? Do you dislike me that much?" I try to keep my voice down so Karen doesn't hear me.
"No, it's not that. I don't dislike you, Tessa. You just made yourself an easy target, its all about the chase right?" he smirks. Before he can say anything else Karen calls his name and asks if he wants pickles on his sandwich. He walks to the kitchen and answers her, I walk out the door as I hear his boots against the hard wood floor.
I walk down the street to the bus stop, I have already missed so many classes lately I might as well miss the rest of the day and get a car. Luckily the bus pulls up minutes later and I find a seat in the very back.
"It's all about the chase right?" his words echo through my mind as I slump down in the seat. I think back to what Liam said about heartbreak, that if you don't love the person, they can't break your heart. Harry repeatedly breaks my heart, even when I don't think there are any more pieces to break, I love him. I love Harry.

I take the bus to the center of town where I know there are car lots. I wanted to wait and go further away from campus but I can't go another day without my own car. The salesman is a creep and he smells like stale cigarettes but I can't be picky any longer. After an hour of negotiating, I write him a check for the down payment and he gives me the keys to a decent 2010 Corolla. The white paint is chipped in a few places but I managed to talk him down low enough that I am willing to let it slide. I call my mother before I drive out of the lot to tell her I got a car, of course she says I should have gotten a bigger car and lists the reasons why. I end up pretending to lose service and shut my phone off. I glance in the mirror once and cringe at my tired appearance. I look terrible, my hair is tangled, my eyes puffy and my cheeks are still splotchy from crying earlier.
It feels amazing to drive my own car, I no longer have to depend on public transportation and now I can drive myself to my internship. I hope my cutting ties with Harry doesn't effect it, I don't think it will but what if he is bored with just simply making me cry and does something to ruin it? Maybe I should talk to Ken and try to explain that Harry and I are no longer.. dating? He thinks we are dating so I will have to come up with something besides, your son is the cruelest person in the world and he is toxic to me so I can no longer be around him.
I turn the radio on and turn it up louder than I would usually like but it does what I need it to. It drowns out my thoughts and I focus on every lyric to every song. I ignore the fact that every song seems to remind me of Harry. Before heading back to campus I decide to go buy some more clothes, it is getting colder and I need some more jeans. I am growing tired of wearing my long skirts all the time. I end up buying a few new outfits to wear to Vance and a few pair of jeans, they are tighter than usual but they look good on me, and a couple plain shirts and cardigans. Steph isn't in the room when I return and I am glad. I really think I may need to look into changing rooms, I do like Steph but we can't continue to live together if Harry is around. Depending on how much I will be making at my internship, I could get my own apartment and live off of campus. That would be ideal for me, my mother would lose it but it isn't up to her.
I fold my new clothes and put them away before grabbing my toiletry bag and head to the showers. When I return, Steph and Zayn are sitting on her bed. Great.
"Did Harry ever find you last night?" She asks and I nod.
"So did you work it out then?"
"No, well yea I guess. I am done with him." I tell her. Her eyes go wide, she must have assumed he would sink his claws back into me.
"Well, I for one am glad." Zayn smiles and Steph swats his arm. Her phone beeps and she looks down.
"Tristan is here, we gotta go. Wanna come?" she asks.
"No thanks. I got a car today!" I tell her and she squeals.
"Really!" She says and I nod. "I will have to see it when I get back." She says and they head for the door.
Steph walks out but Zayn lingers in the doorway.
"Tessa?" His voice is as smooth as velvet. I look up and he smiles at me.
"Did you think about our date?" He asks, staring into my eyes.
"I.. " I am about to reject him but why? He is very attractive and seems sweet. He didn't take advantage of me when he easily could have. I know he would be better company than Harry, anyone would be honestly. "Sure." I smile.
"Sure as in you will let me take you out?" His smile grows.
"Yea, why not?" I reply.
"Tonight then?" He asks.
"Yea, tonight is good." I don't think tonight is a good idea seeing as I have studying to make up for but I am still ahead despite the fact that I have missed a few classes this week.
"Awesome, I will be here at seven, yea?"
"Okay." I tell him and he brings his lip between his perfect teeth.
"See you tonight beautiful." he says and I flush, waving goodbye as he leaves the room.
It is four now, I have three hours until he will be back. I blow dry my hair and curl the ends and to my surprise it looks really good. I apply light makeup and put one of my new outfits, a pair of dark jeans, a white tank top and a long brown cardigan. My nerves are getting the best of me as I stare into the mirror. Maybe I should change? I put on a blue tank top and a button up shirt. I can't believe I am going on a date with Zayn, I have had one boyfriend in my entire life and now I am going on a date with Zayn after all this mess with Harry. Maybe guys with tattoos and piercings are my new type?
I pull out my old copy of Pride and Prejudice and begin to read to pass the time. What seems like just minutes later, there is a knock at the door. I know it must be Zayn because Harry wouldn't knock. he would rudely barge in and throw my stuff all over the place.
When I open the door I can't help but gape at Zayn. He is dressed in tight black jeans, white sneakers, and a t-shirt with a cut off jean jacket on. He looks so hot.
"You look beautiful Tessa." He greets me and hands me a flower. A flower? I am surprised and flattered by his simple gift.
"Thank you" I smile and bring the flower to my nose.
"Are you ready?" He asks politely.
"Yes, where are you taking me?" I ask him as we walk outside.
"I figured we would just go to dinner and a movie, just a casual date, no pressure." he beams. I reach for the passenger door handle but he stops me.
"I was going to do that for you." He says.
"Oh. Thanks." I am still nervous but not my nerves are fading. When we get into the car he keeps the radio off and makes small talk, asking about my family and my plans after college. He tells me how he is going to WSU for environmental science, which surprises but intrigues me. We arrive at a casual café style restaurant and we sit out on the patio. We order our meals and we continue chatting until the food comes. Zayn eats all of his food and begins to steal fries off of my plate.
"If you take another fry I will have to kill you." I tease. He gives me a mock innocent look and laughs with his tongue between his teeth. I find myself laughing for what seems like ages, and it feels great.
"You have an adorable laugh." He compliments and I roll my eyes.
We end up going to see a cheesy comedy that fails to entertain either of us. We make small jokes to each other during the movie and he puts his hand over mine towards the end. It's not uncomfortable like I had assumed that it would be but it doesn't feel the same as when Harry does it. I made it hours without even thinking of him and I am glad. He consumes my thoughts every day, all day. When Zayn drops me off back at my room is it eleven, I am glad it is Wednesday, only two more days until the weekend. He gets out of the car and walks over to me as I adjust my purse on my waist.
"I had a really nice time, thank you for agreeing to come out with me." he tells me.
"I had a nice time too." I smile.
"I was thinking..remember when you asked if I was going to the bonfire?" I nod. "Do you mind if I come along?" He asks.
"Yea that would be fine. I will be going with Liam and his girlfriend though." I don't recall Zayn joining in on the group teasing Liam but I just want to make sure he knows that is not okay.
"That's fine, he seems nice." he says and I smile.
"Well its settled then. I will meet you there?" I suggest. There is no way I am taking him to dinner at Liam's house.
"Sounds good. Thanks again for tonight." He takes a step closer. Is he going to kiss me? He wraps his hand over mine and brings it up to his mouth. He places one single kiss on the top of my hand, his lip ring is cold against my hot skin but his gesture is very sweet.
"Have a good night, Tessa." he says and gets back into his car.
I am relieved that he didn't try to kiss me, even though he was good at kissing, I just don't think the timing is right. Now, I just have to think of a way to explain my companion for Friday to Liam.
Steph is curious about my time with Zayn tonight but I keep the details to myself. After I wipe my makeup off I finally climb into bed and sleep. The next morning Liam is waiting at the coffee house for me and I tell him about Zayn.
"Does Harry know about this?" Liam asks.
"No, he doesn't need to. It is none of his business." I say a little too harshly. "I'm sorry, its just a touchy subject"
"Obviously": he smiles. "They must not be too close of friends if Zayn is taking you out to dinner right after everything with Harry."
"Well no one actually knows that anything happened with me and Harry, he kept it all a secret from his friends, remember?"
"Yea, I guess you're right. Just be careful." He warns me sweetly and I promise him that I will. The rest of the day zooms by and Liam doesn't bring Harry or Zayn up again. Finally, it is time for Literature, I hold my breath as Liam and I walk in the room. Harry is sitting in his usual seat. My chest aches at the sight of him. He glances over at me but turns back to the front of the room.
"So you went out with Zayn last night?" Harry asks as I sit down. I was praying that he wouldn't talk to me.
"That's none of your concern." I tell him quietly. He turns in his seat and brings his face close to mine.
"Word travels quickly in our group Tessa, remember that." he smirks. Is he trying to threaten to tell his friends the intimate times we have had? The thought makes bile rise in my throat.
I turn away from him and focus my attention to the professor. "Okay everyone, let's start off where we left off yesterday discussing Wuthering Heights." he says ands my stomach drops.
We aren't supposed to be discussing Wuthering Heights until next week, this is what I get for missing class. I feel Harry's eyes on me. Perhaps, like me he is thinking about the first time I was in his bedroom and he caught me reading his copy of the novel.
"So as we know Catherine and Heathcliff had a very passionate relationship, their passion was such a force in the novel that it ruined essentially every character's life around them. Some argue that they were terrible for each other and some argue that they should have married one another instead of fighting their love from the beginning." The professor says. "What do you think?" he asks us. Usually, I would raise my hand immediately, proud to show off my expert knowledge on classic novels, but this one hits too close to home.
"I think they were terrible for another, they fought constantly and Catherine refused to admit her love for Heathcliff. She married Edgar even though she knew she was in love with Heathcliff the entire time. If they would have just been together in the beginning everyone would have been a lot less miserable." A voice from the back of the room answers. I feel my cheeks heat up as Harry looks at me before speaking.
"I think Catherine was a selfish, pompous, bitch." gasps are heard through the room and the professor scold Harry before he continues. "sorry, but she thought she was too good for Heathcliff and maybe she was, but she knew Edgar could never compare to Heathcliff yet she married him anyway. Catherine and Heathcliff were just so similar that it was hard for them to get along, but if Catherine wasn't so stubborn they could have lived a long and happy life together." He says. I feel foolish as I begin to compare Harry and I to the characters in the novel. The difference is that Heathcliff loved Catherine tremendously, so much that he sat by idly as she married another man, before finally marrying some else. Harry does not love me that way, or at all so he has no right to compare himself to Heathcliff.
The entire class seems to be looking at me, waiting for my reply. They are probably hoping for an argument like last time, but I stay quiet. I know he is trying to bait me, and I will not fall for it.

After class I say goodbye to Liam and walk straight to the professor to explain my absences. He congratulates me on my internship and explains that he moved the syllabus around a little. I try to keep our conversation going until Harry exits the room.
I make my way back to my dorm and sit out all my notes and textbooks on my bed. I try to study but I am edge waiting for Steph, Harry or one of the many other people who are always in and out of my room, to show up. I pack my study materials into my bag and head to my car. I will find a place to study off campus, maybe a coffee shop. I drive towards town and see a small library on the corner of a busy street, there are only a few cars in the lot so I pull in. I walk all the way to the back of the library and sit next to the window, I pull all of my books and notes out and get to work. For the first time, I can study in peace, no distractions. This will be my new sanctuary, the perfect place to study.
"Miss, we are closing in five minutes." The elderly librarian informs me. Closing? I look out the window and it is dark out, I didn't even notice the sun going down. I will definelty have to come here more often.
"Okay, thank you." I reply and pack up my things. I have one new text from Zayn.
* I just wanted to tell you goodnight, I can't wait for Friday.*
*That is very sweet, thank you. I am looking forward to it as well.* I reply.
Steph isn't in the room when I get back so I change into my pajamas and grab Wuthering Heights. I fall asleep quickly, dreaming of Heathcliff and the moors.
Thursday goes smoothly and Harry ignores me during class and I do the same. I spend my evening at the library until it closes again and go to bed early, preparing for the bonfire Friday. I am really looking forward to meeting Liam's girlfriend tonight, and seeing Karen and Ken, I have grown quite fond of them.  When I wake up on Friday I have a text message from Liam telling me that he won't be on campus at all today because Danielle will be arriving earlier than he thought. Skipping literature crosses my mind momentarily but I decide against it, I can't let Harry ruin anything else.
I take a little more time to get ready today and braid the front of my hair back before curling it. The weather is supposed to be warm today so I wear a purple sleeveless fleece jacket and jeans. I still go to the coffee house before class, Louis is in front of me in line. Before I can walk away unnoticed, he turns around.
"Hey Tessa." he smiles.
"How are you?" I ask politely.
"I'm good, you coming tonight?"
"To the bonfire?" I ask.
"No, the party. The bonfire is going to be lame, it always is."
"Oh, I am going to the bonfire." I laugh lightly and he chuckles.
"Well if you're bored at the bonfire you can always come to the party." he offers and grabs his coffee.
I thank him as he walks away. I am relieved that Harry's group of friends seem to be uninterested in the bonfire which means I won't have to deal with any of them tonight. When it is time for Literature I walk right to my seat without a single glance in Harry's direction. The discussion continues on Wuthering Heights but thankfully Harry stays silent. I wish this ever present ache in my chest would go away, instead of shrinking it seems to get larger every moment of every day. I shouldn't have admitted to myself that I love him, if I would have kept ignoring the truth, maybe it would hurt less. As soon as we are dismissed, I gather my things and practically bolt to the door.
"Tessa!" I hear him call behind me but I just walk faster. Without Liam here I feel more vulnerable. I feel a light touch on my arm. I know it is him from the way my skin tingles.
'What!" I shout. He takes a step back and holds out a notebook.
"You dropped this." He tells me. Oh. Relief and disappointment battle inside me.
"Oh thanks." I mumble and grab the notebook from him. His eyes catch mine and it takes me a few seconds to remember that we are standing on a crowded sidewalk, just staring at one another. He shakes his hair out and pushes it back before he turns and walks away.
Without going back to my room first, I head to my car and drive straight to Liam's. I wasn't going to go until five and it's only three but I can't sit in my room. I really have gone mental since Harry has came into my life.
When I arrive Karen answers the door with a huge smile and invites me in.
"It's only me here right now, Dani and Liam are at the store fetching a few things for me and Ken is still at work." She tells me and I follow her into the kitchen.
"That's okay, sorry for coming so early."
"Oh, don't be sorry. You can help me cook." She laughs. She hands me a cutting board and a few onions and potatoes to chop and we talk about the weather and the upcoming winter.
"Did you still want to help me get the greenhouse going? It is climate controlled so we don't have to worry about the winter." She tells me.
"Yes, of course! I would love to."
"Great, maybe tomorrow? Next weekend I will be busy." She laughs. Her wedding. I try to smile back at her.
"Yea, I'd say that" I laugh. I wish I would have been able to get Harry to agree to go, but it was impossible then and it's even more impossible now. She smiles and puts the chicken into the oven.
"Is Harry coming to dinner tonight?" She seems a little nervous when asking.
"No, he won't be coming." I tell her and look down.
"Are you guys okay? I don't mean to be nosy."
"It's okay." I might as well tell her. "I don't think we are okay."
"Oh, I am sorry to hear that. You two really had something, I thought. But i understand you can't be with someone who is afraid to show their feelings." She says. What?
"What do you mean?"
"Well I don't know Harry as well as I wish that I did, but I know he is very closed off, emotionally. Ken used to stay awake all night worrying about Harry. He has always been an unhappy child, he wouldn't even tell his mum he loved her." She says, her eyes glossy.
"What?" I say again.
"He just won't say it, I am not sure why. Ken can't recall a single time when Harry said he loved either of them. It's truly sad, for Harry as well." She blots her eyes. For someone who refuses to tell anyone, even his own parents that he loves them, he sure was quick to use the words against me in a hateful way.
"He is... he's very difficult to understand." Is all I can think of to say.
"Yes, yes he is. I hope you'll still come around if you two don't work things out."
"Of course." I tell her. Liam walks into the kitchen followed by a beautiful girl with curly hair. I knew she would be beautiful, but she is even more beautiful than I imagined.
"Hi, you must be Tessa" She smiles and hugs me. I immediately like her.
"I have heard so much about you, it's nice to finally meet you." I tell her and she smiles again. Liam's eyes follow her as she walks past and takes a seat at the counter.
"We passed Ken on our way here, he was getting gas down the street so he should be here any minute." Liam tells Karen.
"Great, Tessa and I have already set the table." She tells them. I am beginning to wish I had invited Zayn even though it would have been extremely awkward, having dinner with two deeply in love couples may be worse. Liam puts his arm around Danielle's waist as he leads her to the table. I take my seat across from them and glance over at the empty place setting next to me, in another life Harry would be sitting next to me, holding my hand the way Liam holds Danielle's, and I could lean into him without fear or being rejected. Ken enters, saving me from my thoughts. He walks over and kisses Karen on her cheek before sitting down.
"Dinner looks great honey." He tells her and places a napkin on his lap. "Danielle, you get more beautiful each time I see you." He smiles at her. "And Tessa, congratulations on your internship at Vance, Christian called me and told me. He really had a wonderful first impression of you."
"Thank you again for calling him, it's such an amazing opportunity." I smile and take a bite of chicken. It's delicious.
"Sorry I'm late." I hear from behind me and my fork falls out of my hand onto my plate.
"Harry, I didn't know you were coming!" Karen says nicely and looks at me. I look away. My pulse is already quickening.
"Yea, remember we talked about it last week Tessa?" He smiles his menacing smile and takes the seat next to me. What is wrong with him? Why can't he just leave me alone? I know it is partly my fault for letting him to get me, he enjoys playing cat and mouse with me.
Everyone's eyes are on me so I nod and pick my fork up. Danielle looks confused and Liam looks worried.
"You must be Delilah?" Harry says to her.
"Danielle." She corrects him sweetly.
"Yea, Danielle. Same thing." he mutters and I kick him under the table.
Liam glares at him but Harry doesn't seem to notice. Ken and Karen go back into conversation, as well as Danielle and Liam. I stay focused on my food and think of an exit strategy.
"How's your evening so far?" Harry asks in a casual tone. He knows that I won't cause a scene so he is trying to annoy me.
"Fine." I answer quietly.
"You're not going to ask me how mine is?" He smirks.
"Nope." I mumble and take another bite.
"Tessa, was that your car outside?" Ken asks and I nod.
"Yea, I finally got my own car." I laugh and Harry raises his eyebrow at me.
"When?" Harry asks.
"The other day." I answer. You know, the day that you told me you enjoyed the chase?
"Oh. Where did you get it?" He asks.
"A car lot." I answer. I see Danielle and Karen both try to hide their smiles.
"So Danielle, Liam told me you were thinking of going to New York for a ballet school?" I direct the attention off of me. She tells us all her plans to move to New York and Liam looks genuinely happy for her despite the distance that will stay between them.
"We should get going soon, we are going to the bonfire tonight." Liam announces.
"Okay, at least take some of the dessert with you" Karen asks. Liam nods and helps her put some into a Tupperware container.
"Are you going to ride with me?" Harry says. I look around to see who he is talking to. "I'm talking to you." he states.
"What? No, you're not going." I tell him.
"Yes, I am. You can't stop me from going so you might as well ride with me." he smiles and tries to put his hand on my thigh.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I say under my breath.
"Can we talk outside?" He asks and looks towards his father.
"No." I say quietly. Every time Harry and I 'talk" I end up crying.
He stands up and grabs my hand, pulling me to my feet.
"We will be outside." Harry tells Liam and pulls me through the living room and out the front door.
"Stop touching me!" I say harshly as we step outside.
"Sorry, but you weren't going to come with me." he shrugs.
"Because I didn't want to." I spit.
"I am sorry. For everything, okay?" He says.
"You're sorry? You're not sorry Harry, you just want to mess with me. Just stop. I am exhausted and drained from fighting with you all the time. I can't do it anymore. Isn't there anyone else that you can mess with? I will even help you find someone, some poor innocent girl for you to torture as long as is isn't me."
"That's not what I am doing. I know I am back and forth a lot with you, I don't know why I do it. But if you give me one chance, one more chance I will stop. I tried to stay away from you but I can't. I need you.. " he says.
"Stop! Just stop. Aren't you tired of this? If you needed me you wouldn't treat me the way you do. You told me yourself it was all about the chase remember? You can't just show up here after everything and act like nothing happened" I keep my tears in check this time, he has seen them enough times.
"I didn't mean that, you know I didn't ."
"So you admit you just said it to hurt me?"
"Yea.." he looks down. I'm so confused by him, he says he wants more then he kisses Molly, then he tells me he loves me and takes it back, and now he is apologizing again?
"One more chance? Please, Tess. I will explain everything to you." He pleas. I almost believe the pain in his eyes as he looks down at me.
"I can't, I have to go."
"Why can't I come with you?" He asks.
"Because.. because I am meeting Zayn there." I admit. I watch as his expression changes and seems to crumble in front of me. It takes everything in me to not comfort him. He did this to himself. If he actually does care, it's too late.
"Zayn? So are you guys like.. dating?" His tone is full of disgust.
"No, we haven't even talked about it. We are just.. I don't know, spending time together I guess."
"You haven't talked about it? So if he asked you, you would?" He breathes.
"I don't know.." I honestly don't know if I would. "He is nice and polite and he treats me well." I don't know why I am explaining myself to Harry but I am.
"Tessa you don't even know him, you don't know.." He begins and the front door opens.
"Ready?" Liam asks and I nod. His eyes dart to Harry who for once, looks unguarded and even.. heartbroken. I force my feet to my car and follow Liam as he pulls out of the driveway, I try not to look back at Harry who is still on the porch, staring back at me, as I drive away.

I follow Liam to the stadium, I decided earlier to drive on my own so I could leave when I wanted without disrupting Liam and Danielle's night. I park my car in the spot next to Liam and text Zayn to tell him that I have arrived. He tells me to meet him at the far left corner of the field.
"Zayn is going to meet us in the back." I tell Liam as him and Danielle walk up.
"Sounds good." Liam says, he seems less than thrilled.
"Who's Zayn?" Danielle asks.
"He's my.. friend. " He is just my friend.
"Harry is your boyfriend right?" She asks. I look over at her. She doesn't seem to be implying anything, she just seems confused.
"No babe, neither of them are her boyfriend." Liam laughs.
"It's not as bad as it sounds." I laugh too. The school band begins to play and the field becomes more and more crowded, I am relieved when I spot Zayn leaving against the fence.
"Oh." Danielle squeaks. I can't tell if she surprised by his tattoos and piercings or his good looks, maybe both.
"Hey beautiful." Zayn beams and hugs me. I smile at him, returning the hug.
"I'm Zayn, it's nice to meet you both." He nods towards Liam and Danielle. I know he has met Liam before but he is just trying to be polite.
"Have you been here long?" I ask him.
"Only about ten minutes, there are a lot more people here than I expected." he tells me. Liam leads the way to a less crowded area by the enormous mound of wood and we sit on the ground. Danielle sits between Liam's legs and leans back against his chest. The sun is going down and the breeze is picking up, I should have worn long sleeves.
"Yea, have you been to one before?" I ask and he shakes his head.
"No, this isn't my typical scene" he laughs. "but I am glad to be here tonight." he adds.
I smile at his compliment and someone begins to speak into a microphone talking about lighting the fire. Less than a minute later, the fire ignites and swallows the mound of wood fiercely. It's actually quite beautiful being this close to the flames.
"So how long are you here?' Zayn asks Danielle.
"Only the weekend, I wish I could be here for the wedding next weekend." she frowns.
"What wedding?" Zayn asks. I look at Liam and he answers.
"My mother's wedding." He tells him.
"Oh.." he seems to be thinking about something.
"What?" I ask him.
"Nothing, I'm just trying to remember who else is going to a wedding next weekend. Oh yea, Harry I think. He was asking us what he should wear to a wedding." he says. My heart stops. "It's probably a different wedding though, right?" He asks. Harry hasn't told any of his friends that his father is the chancellor or that he is marrying Liam's mother.
"No, they are.." Danielle begins.
"I'm sure it's a different wedding" I interrupt her and Liam says something in her ear. Harry was actually considering going to the wedding? Why else would he ask his friends what he should wear to a wedding?
"I can't imagine Harry at anyone's wedding anyway." Zayn laughs.
"Why not?" My tone is a little harsher than I meant it to be.
"I don't know, because he is Harry. The only way to get him to go to a wedding would be if he knew he could have sex with all the bridesmaids." He says and rolls his eyes.
"I thought you and Harry are friends?" I say.
"We are I am not saying anything bad about him, that's just how Harry is. He has sex with a different girl every weekend, sometimes more than one." he informs me. My ears are buzzing and the fire feels too hot on my skin. I stand up before I realize what I am doing.
"Where are you going? What's wrong?" Zayn asks.
"Nothing, I just.. I need some air. Some fresh air." I mumble. I know how stupid that sounds but I don't care. "I will be right back, I just need a second." I walk away quickly before any of them can follow me. What is wrong with me? Zayn is sweet and he actually likes me, he enjoys my company and I can't stop thinking about Harry. I take a few deep breathes and walk back over to them.
"Sorry, the fire was just.. to hot." I lie and sit back down. Zayn has his phone out and turns the screen away from me as he slides it back into his pocket.
Zayn tells me it's fine and we make small talk with Liam and Danielle for the next hour.
'I'm getting sort of tired, I had an early flight." Danielle tells Liam and he nods.
"Yea, I am tired too. We are going to get going." Liam stands up and helps Danielle to her feet.
"Do you want to go too?" Zayn asks me.
"No, I am okay. Unless you want to go?" I ask and he shakes his head.
"Cool." he smiles. We say goodbye to Liam and Danielle and watch as the disappear into the crowd.
"So what is the reason behind the bonfire?" I ask Zayn, I am unsure if he will know but I am curious.
"I think it's like to celebrate the end of the football season." he tells me. I look around and notice a lot of people are wearing jerseys. He must be right.
"Oh." I say and look over at Zayn. "I see it now." I laugh.
"Is that Harry?" He says and I snap my head in the direction that he is looking. Sure enough, Harry is walking towards us with a short brunette wearing a skirt.
I scoot closer to Zayn. This is exactly why I didn't listen to Harry on the porch, he has already found some girl to bring here just to spite me.
"Hey Zayn." The girl says in a high pitched voice.
"Hey Emma." Zayn says and hooks his arm around my shoulder. Harry glares at him and takes a seat.
I know I am being rude by not introducing myself to this girl, but I can't help but dislike her already.
"How's the bonfire so far?" Harry asks.
"It's almost over I think." Zayn replies. There is tension between the two of them, I can feel it. I don't know why there would be, Harry made it clear to his friends that he doesn't give a shit about me.
"Do they have food here?" The girls voice is annoying.
"Yea, they have a consession stand." I tell her.
"Harry, come with me to get some food." She demands and he rolls eyes but stands up.
"Bring me back a pretzel, yea?" Zayn smiles and Harry clenches his jaw. What is up with them?
As soon as Harry and Emma disappear I turn to Zayn. "Can we go? I don't really want to hang out with Harry, we sort of hate each other in case you forgot." I tell him. I try to laugh but it doesn't happen.
"Yea, sure we can go." He says. We both stand up and he reaches for my hand. We hold hands as we walk, I find myself looking around for Harry and hoping he won't see.
"Do you want to go to the party/" He asks as we reach the parking lot.
'No, I don't really want to go there either." That is the last place that I want to go.
"Okay, well we can just hang out another.." he begins.
"No, I still want to hang out. I just don't want to be here or that frat house." I say quickly. He looks surprised as his eyes meet mine.
"Okay.. well we can go to my place? If you want, if not we can go somewhere else? I don't really know where else to go." he laughs and I join him.
"Your place is fine. I will follow you there." I tell him.
During the drive I can't help but picture Harry's face as he returned and we were gone. He brought a girl there with him so he has no right to be upset. Zayn's apartment is right off campus and it is small but clean. He offers me a drink when I get inside, but I decline since I plan on driving back to my room tonight.
"You can have the remote, I don't know what you like to watch." he laughs and hands me the remote.
"Do you live alone?" I ask him and he nods. I feel a little nervous as he sits next to me and puts his arm around my waist but I hide my nervousness with a smile. Zayn's phone buzzes in his pocket and he stand up to answer it, holding a finger up to tell me he will be back.
"We left." I hear him say from his small kitchen area.
"So.." "Fair." "Too bad." Are a few of the snippets of his conversation that I catch. None of it makes sense to me. Except 'we left' Is that Harry on the phone? I stand up and walk towards the kitchen as he hangs up on who ever it was.
"Who was that?" I ask.
"No one important." He assures me and leads me back to the couch. "I am really glad we are getting to know each other, you're different from the rest of the girls here." he says sweetly.
"Me too." I tell him. "Do you know Emma?" I can't help but ask.
"Yea, her girlfriend is Niall's cousin." He tells me.
"Yea, they have been together a while. Emma is pretty cool." He says. So Harry wasn't there with her, not in that way at least. Maybe he actually came there to try to talk to me again instead of hurting me by bringing another girl.
I look over to Zayn and he leans in to kiss me. His lips are cool from his drink and taste like vodka. I know he isn't drunk, its his first drink. His hands are careful and smooth against my arms then my waist. Harry's heartbroken face from earlier pops into my mind, the way he begged for one more chance and I didn't believe him, the way he watched me drive away, the outburst in class about Catherine and Heathcliff, the way he always shows up when I don't want him to, the way he never tells him mother that he loves her, the way he said he loved me in front of everyone, the hurtful way he took it back, the way he breaks things when he is angry, the way he came to his father's house tonight even though he hates it there, and the way he asked his friends what to wear to the wedding, it all makes perfect sense but no sense at the same time. He loves me. In his own damaged way, he does love me. The realization of this hits me like a truck.
"What?" Zayn says and pulls away from the kiss.
"What?" I repeat his words.
"You just said Harry."
"No I didn't." I defend.
"Yes, yes you did." He stands up and steps away from the couch.
"I have to go.. I am sorry." I say and grab my purse and rush out of the door before he can say anything else.

As I drive away from Zayn's apartment I take a second to think about what I am doing. I know I left Zayn to go find Harry, but I really need to think about what will happen next. Harry will either say terrible things to me, curse at me and make me leave or he will admit that he has feelings for me and that all these games he has been playing are just his way of not being able to deal with his feelings and express them in a normal way. If the first situation happens, which I mostly expect it to, I will be in no worse of a state than I am in now. But, if the second happens am I ready to forgive him for all the terrible things he has said and done to me? If we both admit the way we feel about each other will everything change? Will he change? Is he capable of caring for me the way I need him to and if so, am I capable of putting up with his mood swings?
The problem is, I can't answer any of these questions, not a single one. I hate the way he clouds my thoughts and makes me feel unsure about myself. I hate not knowing what he will do or say. I pull up to his house, this damned fraternity house that I have spent way too much time at. I hate this house. I hate a lot of things right now and my anger towards Harry is almost to its boiling point. My car is parked on the street and I rush up the steps and into the crowded house. I head straight for the old couch Harry is usually perched on but I don't spot his mop of hair, I duck behind a heavy set guy before Steph or anyone else spots me and I rush up the stairs to his room.
I bang my fist against the door, annoyed that once again he has his door locked.
"Harry! It's me, open the door!" I yell and continue to pound again. No answer. Where the hell is he? I don't want to call him to find out, even though that is obviously easier than trying to find him but I am angry and I want to stay angry so I can say what I mean and not feel bad about it.
I call Liam to see if Harry is at his fathers, but he isn't. The only other place that I know to look is the bonfire but I doubt he would still be there. I don't have another option right now so I drive back to the stadium and park my car. I repeat the angry words I have saved for Harry over and over to make sure I don't forget any of it in case he actually is here. Almost everyone has left by now, the field is nearly empty and the fire is almost out. Just as I decide to stop looking, I see him leaning against the fence by the goal post. He is alone and he doesn't seem to notice me walking towards him as he takes a seat on the grass, he wipes his mouth with his hand and when he removes it, it is red. Is he bleeding? His head snaps up as if he can sense my presence, the corner of his mouth is bleeding and the shadow of a bruise is already forming over his cheek.
"What the hell?" I say and kneel down in front of him.
"What happened to you?" I ask him. He looks up at me and his eyes are so haunted, my anger dissolves like sugar on my tongue.
"Why do you care? Where is your date?" He growls. I roll my eyes and move his hand away from his mouth, examining his busted lip. He jerks away from me but I bite my tongue.
"Tell me what happened." I demand. He sighs and runs his hand over his hair. His knuckles are busted and bloody. The cut on his index finger looks deep and very painful.
"Did you get in a fight?" I ask.
"What gave you that idea?" He snaps.
"With who? Are you okay?"
"Yea, I am fine now leave me alone."
"I came here to find you." I tell him and stand up, wiping the dead grass off of my jeans.
"Okay and you found me so go."
'You don't have to be such an asshole, I think you should go home and get cleaned up. You might need stitches on your knuckle."
He doesn't respond to me but he stands up and walks past me. I came here to yell at him for being such an idiot and tell him how I feel and he is making it very hard, I knew he would.
'Where are you going?" I ask and follow him like a lost puppy.
"Home, well I'm going to call Emma and see if she will come back and pick me up. She drove."
"She left you here?" I don't like her at all.
"No, well technically but I told her to."
"Let me take you home." I say and grab his jacket. He shrugs me off and I want to slap him. My anger is returning and I am more pissed off than before. The tables have turned, our..whatever this is has shifted. I am usually the one running from him.
"Stop walking away from me!" I yell and he turns around. Eyes blazing.
"I said let me take you home!" I scream. He almost smiles but he frowns instead and sighs.
"Fine. Where is your car?" He asks.
He follows me to my car and climbs into the passenger seat as I start the car. I turn the heat on and rub my arms to warm up. His scent immediately fills the car, only now there is a hint of metal mixed in. It is still my favorite smell in the entire world.
"Why did you come here?" He asks as I pull out of the parking lot.
"To find you." I try to remember everything I had planned to say, but my mind is blank and all I can think about is kissing his busted mouth.
"For what reason?" He asks quietly.
"To talk to you, we have so much to talk about." I say, I feel like crying and I have no idea why.
"I thought you said we didn't have anything to talk about." Why is he making this so difficult?
"Do you love me?" The words come out rushed and strangled, I had not planned on saying them.
His head snaps to the side to look at me. "What?" His tone shocked.
"Do you?" I repeat, my heart might pop right out of my chest.
"You are not seriously asking me this while we are driving down the street." His eyes are focused forward.
"What does it matter where or when I am asking, just tell me." I practically beg.
"I.. I don't know.. No, I don't. You can't just ask someone if they love you when they are trapped in a car with you. What the hell is wrong with you?" He says loudly. Ouch.
"Okay." Is all I can manage to say.
"Why do you even want to know?"
"It doesn't matter." I say.
"Tell me why you asked me that, now." He demands.
"Don't tell me what to do!" I shout back. I pull up to his house and he looks towards the crowded lawn.
"Take me to my dad's." He says.
"What? I am not a damn taxi."
"Just take me there, I will get my car in the morning." His car is here so why not just drive himself?
I don't want our conversation to end yet so I roll my eyes, but drive away towards his father's house.
"I thought you hated it there?" I say.
"I do. But I don't feel like being around a lot of people right now." he says quietly.
"Are you going to tell me why you asked that? Does this have something to do with Zayn? Did he say something to you?" He seems nervous. Why does he always ask if Zayn said something to me?
"No.. it has nothing to do with Zayn. I just wanted to know." I lie. It doesn't really have to do with Zayn, it has to do with the fact that I love him and I thought for a second, he may love me too. The longer I am around him, the more ridiculous that seems.
"Where did you and Zayn go when you left the bonfire?" He asks as I pull into his fathers driveway.
"Back to his apartment." I admit. Harry's body tenses and his bloody fists clench, tearing the skin on his knuckles further.
"Did you sleep with him?" he asks and my mouth falls open.
"What? Why the hell would you assume that? You should know me better than that by now! And who do you think you are to even ask such a personal question? You made it clear that you don't care about me so what if I did?" I shout.
"So you didn't?" He asks again.
"God Harry! No! He kissed me, but I wouldn't have sex with someone I barely know!"
He leans over and turns my car off, clenching his bloody hand over the keys and pulling them out of the ignition.
"You kissed him back?" His eyes are hooded as he seems to look straight past me.
"Yea.. well I don't know, I think I did." I don't remember anything except Harry's face in my mind.
"How do you not know? Have you been drinking?" His voice is louder now.
"No, I just.."
"You what!" He shouts and turns his body to face me.
"I.. I just kept thinking of you." I finally admit. His stone features soften tremendously and he brings his eyes to mine.
"Let's go inside." He says and opens the passenger door. What? "Come on." He says again, I climb out of the car and follow him up the sidewalk.

To be continued..


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