Thursday, 24 May 2018

AFTER ROMANCE Episode 91-95

"The lease will be in both of your names correct?" The man asks and looks at me. I get the feeling he is silently asking if I am sure about this.
"Yes." Harry answers for me and signs his name on the bottom of multiple pages before sliding the packet over to me.
I grab the pen and sign before thinking about it again. I am ready for this, we are ready for this. Yes we are young and we haven't known each other very long but I know that I love him more than anything and he loves me, as long as that is certain the rest will fall into place.
"Alright, here are your keys." The man who's name I assume is Robert because that name appears on multiple pages hands Harry and I each a set of keys and leaves.
"Well.. welcome home?" Harry says when the man leaves.
I laugh and step closer to him so he can wrap his arms around me.
"I can't believe we live here now. It still doesn't seem real." My eyes scan the living room.
"If someone would have told me I would be living with you, let alone dating you two months ago I would have either laughed in their face or punched them.. either one." He smiles and takes my face between his hands.
"Well aren't you sweet?" I tease and put my hands on his sides.
"It's a relief though, to have our own space. No more parties, no more roommates and community showers." I say.
"Our own bed." He adds with a smug smile.
"We will need to get a few things, dishes and such. Do you like the bedding in the bedroom? Everything is new but if you don't like the colors we can get a new one." He says.
"Are you feeling okay?" I touch the back of my hand to his forehead. "You're being awfully cooperative today." I smile.
"I just want to make sure you are pleased with everything here. I want you to feel at home.. with me.":
"And what about you? Do you feel at home here?" I ask him and he nods.
"Surprisingly enough, yes." He answers and looks around the room.
"We should go get my stuff, I don't have much but a few books and my clothes." I say.
"I already got it."
"What?" I ask.
"I brought all of your belongings from your room, they are in your trunk." He explains.
"How did you know I would sign? What if I hated the apartment?" I smile. I do wish I would have said goodbye to Steph and the room that I called home for three months but I am sure I will see her again soon.
"Because if you wouldn't have liked this one, I would have found one that you did." He answers confidently.
"Oh. Well what about your stuff?"
"We can get it tomorrow, I have clothes in my trunk."
"What is with that anyway?" He always has so many clothes in his car.
"I don't know really. I guess you just never know when you will need clothes." He shrugs.
"Let's go to the store and get all the shit we need for the kitchen and some food." Harry says.
"Okay." My stomach has been full of butterflies since I stepped into the apartment.
"Can I drive your car again?" I ask when we get down to the lobby.
"I don't know.." He smiles.
"You painted my car without my permission, I think I have earned the privilege." I hold out my hand and he rolls his eyes before dropping the keys in them.
"So you like my car then? It drives nicely doesn't it?" He brags.
"It's okay." I lie. I love the way it drives.
The location of the apartment building could not be better, we are close to multiple stores, coffee shops, and even a park. We end up going to Target and the cart is full of dishes, pots and pans, cups, and other things I didn't know we would need but seem useful. We agree that we will have to go grocery shopping another time because the cart is already full. I volunteer to go after my internship tomorrow if Harry makes me a list of things he likes. The best thing so far about living together is all the small details about Harry that I would have never known. Even spending almost every night together I am finding out things that I have never noticed like he likes cereal with no milk, even the idea of mismatching cups drives him insane, he uses two different types of toothpaste one in the morning and one at night and he doesn't know why he just does, and that he would rather mop the floor a hundred times before having to load the dishwasher. We agree that I will always do the dishes as long as he mops the floor. We bicker back and forth in front of the cashier when it comes time to pay. I know he had to put a deposit down for the apartment and he refuses to let me pay anything except cable and electricity, which he declined to tell me was already included in the rent.
Harry glares at the woman when she takes my debit card and I give her props because she swipes my card without even acknowledging his attitude. I want to laugh at him but he is already irritated and I don't want the night to be ruined.
Harry sulks until we get back to the apartment and I stay quiet because I find it amusing.
"We might have to make two trips down here to get all the stuff." I tell him.
"That's another thing, I would rather carry one hundred bags than make two trips." He says and finally smiles.
We still end up having to take two trips because the dishes are just too heavy. Harry's irritation grows as does my humor. We put all the dishes away into the cabinets and Harry orders a pizza. I can't help but offer to pay for it which earns me a glare and a middle finger. I laugh and put all the trash into the box the glasses came in. They weren't joking when they said the apartment came furnished it has everything we could need, a trash can, even a shower curtain.
"The pizza will be here in thirty minutes. I am going to go down and get your stuff." He says.
"I will come with you." I offer and follow him out. He has put my things into two boxes and a trash bag which makes me cringe but I stay quiet.
He grabs a handful of t-shirts out of his trunk and a pair of jeans, shoving them into the trash bag with my clothes.
"Good thing we have an iron." I finally say and look in the trunk before he closes it.
"You never got rid of those sheets?' I ask.
"Oh.. yea. No, I was going to but I forgot." He says and looks away.
"Okay?" I feel a little uneasy about his reaction.
"Let's go back up before the pizza gets here." He says.
We eat at the table and it is strange but nice to be eating dinner with Harry in our place.
"I love you." He says as I put our plates into the dishwasher.
"I love you." I respond and my phone vibrates against the table.
Harry reaches across and taps the screen to stop the vibration.
"Who is it?" I ask him.
"Noah?" He declares and questions at the same time.
"Oh." I know this isn't going to go well.
"He says it was nice talking to you today?" His jaw clenches. I walk back over and grab the phone from his harsh grip. I could have sworn he was going to crush it in his hand.
"Yea, he called me today." I tell him with false confidence. I was going to mention it to him I just haven't found the right time.
"And.." He raises his eyebrow.
"He was just telling me that he saw my mother and he was just seeing how I am doing."
"I don't know.. just to check on me I guess." I shrug and sit down in the chair next to him at the table.
"He doesn't need to be checking on you." He growls.
"It's not that big of a deal Harry, I have known him half my life."
"I don't give a shit." His eyes are cold.
"You're being ridiculous. We just moved in together and you're worried about Noah calling me?" I scoff.
"You have no reason to be talking to him, he probably thinks you want him back since you answered the call." He runs his hands over his hair.
"No he doesn't. He knows that I am with you." I try my best to fight my temper.
"Then call him right now and tell him not to call you again."
"What? No! I am not doing that. Noah hasn't done anything wrong, I have already hurt him enough, we both have so no. I will not say that to him. There is no harm in me being friends with him."
"Yes there is. He thinks he is better than me and he will try to take you from me! I'm not stupid Tessa. Your mom wants you with him too. I won't let him try to take what is mine!" He raises his voice.
"Would you listen to yourself? You sound like a lunatic! I am not going to be hateful to him just because you feel like you have some insane claim on me!" I storm out of the kitchen.
"Don't walk away from me!" He booms from behind me. Leave it to Harry to start a fight with me after the amazing day we have had.
"Then stop acting like you own me, I will try to compromise with you and listen to you more than I do but I will not listen when it comes to Noah. I would immediately stop talking to him if he tried to make a move or say anything inappropriate but he didn't." I am holding my ground on this.
"I don't like him." He says.
"Okay? I get that but you have to be reasonable. He is not plotting to take me away from you, he isn't like that. This is the first time he has even tried to contact me since I ended things with him."
"And the last." Harry snaps. I roll my eyes and head into the small bathroom.
"What are you doing?" He asks.
"I'm going to take a shower and when I get out I hope you're done acting like a child." I say. I am proud of the way I am standing up to him but I can't help but feel bad for him. I know he is just afraid to lose me to Noah, he has a deep jealousy towards Noah because of the way Noah and I "look" together. On paper Noah is better for me and Harry knows it but I don't love Noah, I love Harry.
He slams the bathroom door on his way out and I roll my eyes. I take a quick shower and when I get out Harry is laying across the bed in only his boxers. I stay quiet as I open the drawers to find pajamas.
"You're not going to wear my shirt?" His voice is low.
"I.." I notice that he folded it and put it on the table next to the bed. "Thanks." I pull it over my head. The familiar minty scent almost makes me forget why I am supposed to be mad at him.
"Well this way a great night." I huff and take my towel back to the bathroom.
"Come here." He says when I get back into our bedroom.
I hesitantly walk over to him and he sits up at the end of the bed, pulling me to stand between his legs.
"I'm sorry." He looks up at me.
"Acting like a caveman." He says and I can't help but laugh. "And for ruining our first night here together." He adds.
"Thank you. We have to discuss these things instead of you blowing up at me." I twirl the hair at the nape of his neck in between my fingers.
"I know. Can we discuss you not talking to him anymore?" He half smiles.
"Not tonight." I sigh. I will have to find a middle ground with him.
"Look at us working our problems out." He laughs.
"I hope our neighbors won't miss their quiet evenings." I tease.
"They wouldn't have gotten any quiet anyway." I ignore his perverted remark.
"I really didn't mean to ruin the night." He says again.
"I know, it's not ruined. It's only eight." I smile.
"I wanted to take that dress off of you." He states. His eyes darkening.
"I could always put it back on." I say in what is an attempt to be sexy. Without a word he stands up and lifts me over his shoulder. I squeal and try to kick my legs at him.
"What are you doing!" I scream.
"Going to get that dress." He laughs and carries me over to the laundry hamper.

"Too bad we didn't make it to me being able to remove the dress." Harry breathes into my ear as he pushes me further into the bed. As soon as I slid his t-shirt over my head he practically tackled me onto our bed and slid the condom on faster than I thought possible.
"Mhhmm.." Is the only words I can manage to form as he slides in and out of me. This is the first time we are making love that there is no pain, only pleasure.
"God baby.. you feel so good." He groans and rocks his hips against mine.
My nails rake down his bare back and his eyes roll to the back of his head. I love to see him this way, so out of control, so primal. Watching him pushes me to the limit, my toes curl and my legs stiffen as I moan his name repeatedly.
"That's it baby.. come for me. Show me how good.. fuck.. how good I make you feel." He stutters and I feel him twitch inside of me. He finishes a few seconds before me and continues to move until I am turned into a pool of boneless mush. My body is completely relaxed and he collapses on top of me. We lay in silence just enjoying the feeling of being so close to each other, within minutes soft snores fall from Harry's lips.
The next morning I wake up and decide to take another shower just because I can. It is still foreign to be in my own place with my own shower, to make my own coffee in my own kitchen. Sharing all of this with Harry only makes it that much more enjoyable. I decide to wear my navy blue eyelet dress with white heels, I am getting better at wearing them but I still pack my trusty toms in my purse just in case. My hair is curled and pinned back and I even put on a little eye shadow and liner. I am really liking this having my own space thing.
He refuses to wake up when I try to wake him before I leave, only sitting up to kiss me goodbye. I wonder how he manages to work and do all of his schoolwork, I have yet to see him do either. In a brave move, I grab his car keys and take his car to Vance. If he is skipping classes, he surely won't miss it. I have to remember to thank Harry for getting an apartment closer to Vance even though he has to drive further to campus now, I can leave later and not have to drive forty minutes which makes my day much better.
When I reach the top floor Kimberly is standing at the table placing donuts in neat rows.
"Woah Tessa! Look at you!" She playfully whistles.
I flush and she laughs. "Navy is definitely your color." She looks me up and down again. I feel slightly self conscious but her smile soothes my thoughts. I have been feeling much more confident and sexy lately, thanks to Harry.
"Thank you." I smile back and grab a donut and a cup of coffee. The phone rings on her desk and she rushes over to answer it.
When I get to my office I have an email from Christian Vance telling me how excellent my notes were on the first manuscript and looks forward to the next one. I dive right in and get to work.
"Anything good?" Harry's voice startles me out of my work.
"It must be since you didn't seem to notice my arrival." He smiles.
He looks incredible. His hair is pushed up in the front as always but the sides are flatter than usual, and he has a plain white V-neck on. The shirt is tighter than usual making his tattoos even more visible underneath. He is so incredibly hot, and all mine.
"So how was the drive?" He asks with a smirk.
"Really nice." I giggle.
"So you think you can just take my car without my permission?" His voice is low and I can't tell if he is joking.
"I..well.." I stammer.
He doesn't say anything he just walks over behind my desk and pulls my chair out. His eyes move from my shoes up to my face and he pulls me to stand up.
"You look so sexy today." He says against my neck before gently pressing his lips against the skin.
"Why.. why are you here?" I shiver.
"You aren't happy to see me?" He smiles and lifts me onto the desk. Oh.
"Yea.. of course I am." I tell him. I am always happy to see him.
"I may have to consider coming back here after all, just so I can do this every day." He says and puts his hands on my thighs.
"Someone could come in here." My breath is shaky.
"Nope, Vance is at a meeting for the rest of the afternoon and Kimberly has agreed to call if she needs you." He explains.
The idea of Harry hinting to Kimberly what we could be doing in here makes my cheeks heat but my hormones take over. I glance at the door.
"It's locked." He answers my thoughts.
Without thinking I pull Harry closer to me and immediately put my hand over his crotch, palming him through his jeans. He groans and unbuttons his jeans, yanking them down along with his boxers.
"This is going to be faster than usual, okay baby?" He says and slides my panties over.
I nod with anticipation and lick my lips. He chuckles and pulls me by my hips to the edge of the desk. My lips attack his neck and I hear the foil packet being ripped open.
"Look at you, three months ago you would blush at the mention of sex and now here you are letting me fuck you on your desk." He whispers and slams into me.
Harry clamps his hand over my mouth and takes his bottom lip between his teeth. I can't believe I am actually letting Harry have sex with me on a desk, at my internship, with Kimberly less than a hundred feet away. As much as I hate to admit it, the idea actually drives me crazy. In the best way.
"Are you going.. to be.. quiet.." He says in short spurts and moves even faster. I nod and pant, grabbing onto his biceps so I don't fall off of the desk from his assault.
"You like it this way don't you? Fast and hard?" He says through his teeth. I cover my mouth with my own hand and gently bite down on the skin on my palm to keep quiet.
"Answer me or I will stop." He threatens. I lower my eyes at him and nod, too overwhelmed with sensation to actual speak.
"I knew you would." He says and flips me over so my stomach is on the desk. Oh god.
He thrusts back into me and moves slowly before wrapping my hair around his fist and pulling me up so he can kiss my neck. The tension grows in my stomach and movements grow sloppier and I know we are both close. With his final thrust he kisses me shoulder before pulling out of me and helping me off the desk.
"That was.." I try to say and he silences me by kissing my lips.
"Yea.. it was." He finishes my thoughts before pulling his pants back up. I run my fingers through my hair and wipe under my eyes to make sure my makeup is in place before looking at the clock. It's almost three. The day has escaped me once again.
"You ready?" He asks.
"What? It's only three." I point to the clock.
"Chirstain said you can leave early, I spoke to him an hour ago." He explains.
"Harry! You can't just ask him if I can leave early, this internship is important to me." I whine.
"Babe, relax. He mentioned that he would be out all day and he was the one who brought up you leaving early."
"I don't want anyone to think I am taking advantage of this opportunity."
"No one thinks that. Your GPA and your work speak for themselves." He compliments.
"Wait.. so why didn't you just call me and tell me I could come home?" I raise a brow at him.
"I have wanted to bend you over that desk since your first day here." He gives me a smug smile and grabs my jacket for me.
I want to tell him how crazy he is just to come here to have sex with me on the desk, but I can't deny that I loved it.
"I was thinking we should go get whatever we are going to wear to that dreadful wedding." He says as we walk outside.
"Good idea." I agree. "But I am driving your car back home and we can leave my car then go." I smile and climb into his car before he can protest. He just shakes his head and smiles at me before getting into my car.
After we drop my car off we go to the mall to find something to wear Saturday. Harry whines and complains like a child the entire time and I literally have to force him to get a tie. He ends up getting black dress pants, a black jacket, a white dress shirt, and a black tie. Simple but it is perfect for him. He refuses to try it on so I hope it actually fits him. He would take any excuse not to go to the wedding but I refuse to let that happen.
"The white one." He says and gestures to the short white dress in my hand. The other option is a long black dress. Since Karen mentioned that the color scheme was black and white, I figured I would stick to it. Harry seemed to really like the white dress I wore yesterday so I decide to listen to him. Much to my annoyance Harry pays for my dress and shoes before I realize what he is doing. The young girl smiles and shrugs as if to say "What do you expect me to do."
"I have to do some work tonight so I won't be home for dinner." He tells me as we walk out of the mall.
"Oh. I thought you worked from home?" I ask.
"I do, but I need to go to the library for a little bit." He explains. "I won't be gone too late." He adds.
"I will just go grocery shopping while you are gone." I tell him and he nods.
"Be careful and go before dark." He says.
He makes me a list of things he likes to eat and leaves as soon as we get back to the apartment. I change into jeans and a sweatshirt and go to the grocery store down the street. When I get back home I put away all the groceries, catch up on some homework and make myself something to eat. I put a plate of food in the microwave for Harry to heat up when he gets home and lay on the couch to watch television until he gets home. I text him an hour ago but haven't heard anything back yet. I feel myself falling asleep to an old episode of Friends. I check my phone, its after eleven and Harry still hasn't replied.

When I wake up it takes me a few moments to realize I am still on the couch.
"Harry?" I call out, untangling myself from the blanket and walk to our shared bedroom hoping that he will be in there. The room is empty and there is no answer. Where the hell is he?
I go back to the living room and snatch my phone off the back of the couch. Still no messages from him and it's seven in the morning. I call him but reach his voicemail and hang up. I storm around the kitchen and turn on the coffee pot before heading to the bathroom to take a shower. I am lucky I woke up on time because I fell asleep waiting on Harry last night and didn't set my alarm. I never forget to set an alarm.
"Where are you?" I say aloud and step into the shower.
As I blow dry my hair, I go over the possible explanations for his absence. Last night I thought he just got caught up with his work since he has a lot to make up for or maybe he ran into someone he knew and the time slipped away from him. The most likely explanation is that he went to a party, I somehow know this is what happened. I was worried for small amount of time, worried that maybe he was in an accident. The thought alone hurts too bad to even entertain. But no matter what excuse or story I conjure up in my mind, I know he is doing something he isn't supposed to. Everything was good between us last night and then he goes and stays out all night?
I put on one of my old black pencil skirts and a soft pink button up shirt, I am in no mood to wear a dress today.
By the time I get to Vance I am infuriated. Who the hell does he think he is to stay out all night without even telling me? Kimberly raises her brow at me when I walk past the donut table without grabbing one but I give her my best fake smile and walk to my office. My morning passes in a daze, I read and reread the same page over and over without comprehending any of the words.
There is knock on my door and my heart stops. I desperately hope it is Harry regardless of how pissed I am at him. It's Kimberly.
"Do you want to go get lunch with me?" She asks sweetly.
I almost decline her offer but sitting here obsessing over my boyfriends whereabouts is not helping me one bit.
"Sure." I smile.
We walk around the corner to a small cantina style Mexican restaurant. We re both shivering my the time we get inside and she asks to be seated close to a heater. The small table we are given is directly underneath a heater and we both raise our hands in the air to warm up.
"This weather is unforgiving." She rattles.
"I almost forgot how cold the winter is." I tell her. The seasons have blended together, I barely noticed fall slipping away.
"So.. how are things with Mr. Bad Ass?" She asks with a laugh.
The server brings us chips and salsa and my stomach growls. I am not skipping my donut anymore.
"Well.." I debate whether or not to share my personal life with her. I don't have many friends, none really excluding Steph whom I never see anymore. Kimberly is at least ten years older than me and she my have some good insight into the mind of men, something I certainly lack in. I stare at the ceiling covered in strings of beer bottle shaped lights and take deep breath.
"Well, I am actually not sure how things are at the moment. Yesterday things were fine but then he stayed out last night. All night. It was our second night in the apartment and he just never came home." I explain.
"Wait.. wait.. back up. Okay so you two live together?" She gapes.
"Yea.. as of Tuesday." I try to smile.
"Okay, so then he just didn't come home last night?"
"Nope, he said he had to do some work and go by the library but then he didn't come home."
"And you don't think he's hurt or anything right?"
"No, I really don't." I feel as if I would somehow know if he wasn't okay, like we are tied together in some way that I would immediately feel it if he was hurt.
"He hasn't called?"
"Nope. Or text." I frown.
"I would have his balls if I were you. This is unacceptable." She states.
"Your food will be out shortly." The server tells us and disappears after filling up my water.
"I mean it, you have to make it clear that he can't behave this way otherwise he will keep doing it. The problem with men is that they are creatures of habit and if you let this be his habit, you'll never be able to break it. He needs to know from the start that you won't put up with this shit. He is lucky to have you and he needs to get his shit together." She states.
Something about her pep talk gives me more confidence in my anger. I should be pissed, I should "have his balls" as Kimberly so subtly put it.
"How do I do that?" I ask and she laughs.
"Let him have it. Unless he has a damned good excuse which I am sure he is plotting right now, you let him have it the second he walks through that door. You deserve to be respected and if he isn't resecting you then you need to either make him or kick him to the curb."
"You make it sound so easy." I laugh.
"Oh it's far from easy but it has to be done." She laughs with me.
The rest of our lunch is filled with stories of her college life and how she has had her fare share of terrible relationships. Her blob bob sways back and forth as she shakes her head during almost every story. I find myself laughing so hard I have to dab the corners of my eyes. The food is delicious and I am glad I came out to lunch with her instead of sulking alone in my office.
By the time I leave I have gotten literally no work done so I take the manuscript home with me in hopes to make up for my lack of motivation today.
When I arrive back at the apartment Harry's car isn't in the lot. My anger returns and I call him and cuss him out on his voicemail which surprisingly makes me feel a little better. I make myself a quick dinner and get my things ready for tomorrow. I can't believe tomorrow is Friday, the wedding is Saturday. What if he doesn't come back before then? He will. Won't he?
I somehow manage to get a good amount of work

"Tess.." I feel Harry's breath on my cheek.
"Go away." I groan and roll over to bury my head in the couch.
"Tess...please. I can't sleep." He whines.
I don't look at him, I can't keep letting him treat me this way. I know I should have left earlier but in all honesty, where would I go?
He sighs and I feel his presence leave. I grab my phone and check the time, it is a little after midnight so I try to force myself to go back to sleep.
"No!!" I hear Harry scream from the other room. I jump off the couch without thinking and rush to our bedroom. He is thrashing in the thick blanket and covered in sweat.
"Harry, wake up." I say gently and shake his shoulder, moving a soaked curl from his forehead with my other hand.
His eyes snap open and they are full of terror.
"It's okay.. shh.. it was just a nightmare." I do my best to soothe him. My fingers play in his hair and then brush over his cheek.
He is shaking as I climb into bed behind him and wrap my arms around his waist. I feel him relax as I press my face against his clammy skin.
"Please. Stay with me." He begs. I sigh and stay quiet, tightening my grip around him.
"Thank you." He whispers and within minutes he is asleep again.
The water doesn't seem to get hot enough to relax my tense muscles no matter how high I turn it up. I am exhausted the lack of sleep I got last night and the frustration that comes from dealing with Harry. He was asleep when I got into the shower and I pray he stays that way until I leave for my internship.
Unfortunately my prayers go unanswered and he is standing by the kitchen counter when I get out of the bathroom.
"You look beautiful today." He says calmly.
I roll my eyes and walk past him to grab a cup of coffee before I have to leave.
"So you aren't speaking to me then?" He questions.
"Not right now, no. I have to go to work and I don't have the energy to do this with you right now." I snap.
"But you.. you came to bed with me." He pouts.
"Yea, only because you were screaming and shaking. That doesn't mean you are forgiven. I need an explanation for everything, all secrets, all the fights, even the nightmares or I'm done." I surprise him and myself by saying.
"Tessa.. it's not that simple." He groans and runs his hands over his hair.
"Yea, it is actually. I trusted you enough to give up my relationship with my mother and move in with you so soon, you should trust me enough to tell me what is going on."
"You won't understand. I know you won't." He says.
"Try me."
"I.. I can't." He stutters.
"Then I can't be with you. I'm sorry but I have given you a lot of chances and you keep.." I begin.
"Don't say that. Don't you dare try and leave me." His tone is angry but his eyes are hurt.
"Then give me some answers. What is it that you think I wouldn't understand? About your nightmares?" I ask.
"Tell me you aren't going to leave me." He pleas.
Standing my ground with Harry is proving to be much harder than I imagined, especially when he looks so broken.
"I have to go. I am already running late." I tell him and go to the room to get dressed as quickly as I can. Part of me is happy that he didn't follow me into the room but part of me wishes he did.
He is still standing in the kitchen, shirtless, and gripping his coffee mug with white and busted knuckles when I leave.
My conscious is mewling over everything Harry said this morning. What could I possibly not understand? I would never judge him for something that causes him to have nightmares. I hope that is what he was talking about but I can't ignore the feeling that I am missing something very obvious here.
I feel guilty and tense almost all day but Kimberly emails me the link to one too many funny YouTube videos to keep up with my sour mood. By lunch, I almost forget the problem at home.
* I'm sorry for everything, please come home after work.* Harry texts me while Kimberly and I eat off of a muffin basket someone sent Christian Vance.
"Is that him?" She asks.
"Yea.. I stood up to him but I feel terrible for some reason. I know I am right but you should have seen him this morning." I tell her.
"Good, hopefully he learns his lesson. Did he tell you where he was?" She asks.
"Nope, that's the problem." I groan and eat another muffin.
*Please answer me Tessa. I love you.* He sends minutes later.
"Just answer the poor guy." Kimberly smiles and I nod.
*I will be home.* I respond.
Why is it so hard for me to hold my ground with him? Mr. Vance lets everyone go a little after three so I decide to stop by a salon on the way home and get my hair trimmed and a manicure for the wedding tomorrow. I hope we can work this out before the wedding because the last thing I want to do is take an already angry Harry to his father's wedding.
By the time I get home it is almost six o'clock and I have multiple texts from Harry which I have ignored. When I get to our door I take a deep breath to mentally prepare for what is to come. we will either end up screaming at each other which will lead to one of us leaving, or we will actually talk through it and work it out. Harry is pacing back and forth across the cement floor when I enter. His eyes shoot up to my figure in the doorway and he looks relieved.
"I thought you weren't coming." He says and steps towards me.
"Where else would I go?" I retaliate and walk past him into the bedroom.
"I.. well I made dinner for you." He says. He is totally unrecognizable right now. His hair is down across his forehead instead of pushed up and back like it normally is. He is wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and black sweats and he seems nervous, worried and almost afraid?
"Oh.. why?" I can't help but ask. I change into sweats of my own and Harry's face falls further when I don't put his shirt on that he has clearly laid on the dresser for me.
"Because I am an asshole." He answers.
"Yea.. you are." I respond and walk back into the kitchen.
The meal looks much more appetizing than I thought it would even though I am not sure what it is, some sort of chicken pasta I think.
"It's chicken Florentine." He answers my thoughts.
"You don't have to.." His voice is small.
This is such a different scene than usual and for the first time since I met him I feel like I have the upper hand.
"No, it looks good. I am just surprised." I tell him and take a bite. It tastes even better than it looks.
"Your hair looks nice." He compliments. My thought travel back to the last time I had a haircut and Harry was the only one to notice.
"I need answers." I remind him.
"I know, and I am going to give them to you." He breathes.
I take another bite to hide my satisfaction with myself for holding my ground with him.
"First, I want you to know that no one, I mean no one except my mother and father know this." He says and picks at the scabs on his knuckles.
I nod and take another bite.
"Okay.. well here goes..." He says nervously before continuing. "One night, when I was around seven my father was out at the bar across the street from our home. He went there almost every night and everyone knew him there which is why it was a terrible idea for him to piss anyone off there. This night, he did just that. He started a fight with some soldiers who were just as plastered as him and he ended up smashing a beer bottle over one of their heads."
I have had no idea where this is going but I know it won't be pleasant.
"Keep eating please.." He begs and I nod and try not to stare at him as he continues.
"He left the bar and they came across the road to our house, to pay him back for smashing the guy's face I guess. The problem was that he didn't come home they just thought he did and my mum was asleep on the couch, waiting up for my dad. Sort of how you were last night." He says and meets his green eyes to mine. "So when they found my mum first.." He trails off and stares at the wall.
"Harry.." I whisper and grab his hand across the table.
"When I heard her screaming I came downstairs and tried to get them off of her. Her nightgown was ripped open and she just kept screaming for me to go.. she was trying to keep me from seeing what they were doing to her but I couldn't just leave. You know?" He says.
When he blinks back a tear my  heart breaks for the seven year old curly haired boy watching those horrendous things happen to his mother. I climb onto his lap on the chair and put my face against his neck.
"Long story short, I tried to fight them off but it didn't do any good. By the time my father stumbled through the door, I had put an entire box of band aids all over her body to try to.. I don't know.. fix her or something. How stupid is that?" He says into my hair.
I look up at him and he frowns. "Don't cry.." He whispers but I can't help it. I never imagined his nightmares were from something so terrible.
"I'm sorry I made you tell me." I sob.
"No.. baby it's okay. It actually felt good to tell someone." He assures me.
"After that, I would only sleep downstairs on the couch so if someone came in.. they would get to me first. Then the nightmares came.. and they just kind of stuck. I went to a few therapists once my father left but nothing seemed to help, until you." He gives me a weak smile.
Now that I have a few more pieces of the puzzle that is Harry, I can understand him more.
"I'm sorry I was out all night, I don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be him." He says and hugs me tighter.
My opinion of Ken has changed drastically in the last five minutes. I know people change and he obviously has but I can't help the anger bubbling inside me. Harry is the way he is because of his father, because of the drinking, the negligence, and the terrible night that his father wasn't there to protect his wife and son. I didn't get all the answers I wanted but I got much more than I ever expected.
"I won't do it again... I swear.. Just please tell me you won't leave me?" He mutters.
"I won't leave you." Every ounce of anger and entitlement I felt has evaporated.
"I love you Tessa, more than anything." He says and wipes my tears.

"Can I eat now?" Harry says and I lift my head up. We haven't moved from our spot in the chair for at least thirty minutes.
"Yes." I give him a weak smile and climb off his lap but he pulls me back.
"I didn't say for you to move, just slide my plate over." He smiles.
I get the feeling Harry doesn't want to discuss his confession further so I slide his plate over and reach for mine across the small table. I am still reeling from this new information and now I feel a little uneasy about going to the wedding in the morning.
"You are a much better cook than I expected, I hope you know that now I expect you to cook often." I tell him as I take the last bite off my plate.
"We will see." He says with his mouth full.
"Are you still mad?" He asks after I load the dishwasher.
"Not exactly, I am still not happy about you being out all night and I still want to know who you fought and why." I tell him. He opens his mouth to speak but I stop him.
"But not tonight." I add. I don't think either of us can handle anymore tonight.
"Okay." He says softly. Worry flashes in his eyes but I choose to let it go.
"Oh, and I didn't appreciate you throwing my internship in my face either. That really hurt my feelings."
"I know, that's why I said it." He answers a little too honestly.
"That's exactly why I don't like it."
"I'm sorry."
"Don't do it again, okay?" I tell him and he nods.
"I'm exhausted." I groan in a small attempt to change the subject.
"Me too, lets lay down for the rest of the evening. I got the cable turned on."
"I was supposed to be doing that." I scowl at him.
"You can just give me the money for it.. if you wish."
"I do wish. I refuse to live here and not contribute." I remind him.
"I know.. I know." He rolls his eyes and sits next to me on the bed.
"What time are we leaving here tomorrow for the wedding?" I stare at the wall.
"Whenever we feel like it."
"It starts at three so I think we should be there by two." I explain.
"An hour early?" He whines and I nod. "I don't know why you insist.." He says but is cut off by my phone ringing.
The look on Harry's face as he leans over and grabs it tells me immediately who it is.
"Why is he calling?" He huffs.
"I don't know Harry but I think I should answer." I grab the phone from his hand.
"Noah?" My voice is soft and shaky as Harry watches with a glare.
"Hey Tessa, I'm sorry to call you on a Friday night but..well.." He sounds panicked.
"What?" I push, he takes longer than necessary to explain stressful situations.
When I look over to Harry he mouths, "speaker." I roll my eyes but put Noah on speaker phone so Harry can eavesdrop.
"Your mom got a call from the dorm supervisor about your final bill being paid for the room so she knows you moved out. I told her I have no idea where you live now, which is the truth but she refused to believe me and she is coming there."
"Coming here? To campus?"
"Yea I guess. I don't know but she said she is going to find you and she is really pissed off. I just wanted to warn you, you know that she is coming."
"I can't believe her!" I shout into the phone and thank Noah before hanging up.
"Great.. now my mother is coming. What an excellent way to spend tonight." I lay back on the bed.
"She won't be able to find you. No one knows where we live." He assures me and rubs my fringe from my forehead.
"She may not find me but she will sure ask every single person she sees and make a huge scene." I cover my face with my hands. "I should just go find her."
"Or you could call her and give her our address and let her come here. On your territory so you have the upper hand." He suggests.
You're okay with that?" My hands move from my face.
"Of course, she is your mother Tessa."
"I will call her." I conclude and dial her number.
I don't give her any details about the apartment or where I live, I only tell her the address and hang up.
"She is still about a half hour away." I sigh and climb out of bed to straighten up.
"The apartment is already clean. We have barely touched anything." Harry says.
"I know but it makes me feel better."
After I fold and put away the few items of clothing that were on the floor, I light a candle in the living room and wait at the table for my mother to show. I shouldn't be as nervous as I am because I am an adult and I make my own choices but I know her and she is going to lose it. I am already overly emotional from the small look into Harry's past I was granted an hour ago and I don't know if I have it in me to go to battle with her tonight. I am glad that it is only eight so hopefully she won't stay long and we can get to bed early enough to not be tired tomorrow at the wedding.
"Do you want me to stay out here with you or give you two some time to discuss everything?" Harry asks.
"I think we should have a little time one on one.' I tell him. As much as I want him by my side, fighting my mother with me I know that his presence will make things worse.
"Wait.. I just remembered something Noah said. He said my final bill was paid for my dorm." I look at him questioningly.
"Yea.. so?"
"You paid it didn't you!" I half shout. Not really out of anger, just surprise and annoyance.
"So.." He shrugs.
"Harry! You have got to stop spending money on me it makes me uncomfortable."
"I don't see what the big deal is. It wasn't that much." he argues.
"What are you like secretly rich or something? Are you selling drugs?" I half laugh.
"No, I just make a lot of money and don't spend it. I lived for free the entire last year while I worked so my paychecks just kept piling up. I never really had anything to spend money on.. but now I do and I like to do it so don't fight me over it." He smiles.
"You're lucky my mother is on her way and I only have time to go to war with one of you." I tease and he chuckles.
I don't like Harry spending his money on me but I don't want to fight him over it right now, and I can tell he gets some weird enjoyment out of doing it.
A few minutes later there is a knock.. well pounding at the door.
"I'll be right in the other room. I love you." Harry says and gives me a swift kiss before exiting the room.
I fill my lungs with the deepest breath I can manage and open the door. My mother looks eerily perfect, as always. Not a single smudge around her heavily made up eyes, her red lipstick smooth and silky, and her blonde hair sitting neatly in a halo around her head.
"What the hell do you think you're doing moving out of that dorm without telling me!" She shouts and pushes past me into the apartment.
"You didn't give me much of a choice." I counter. I focus on breathing in and out to stay as calm as I can.
"Excuse me? How did I not give you a choice?"
"You threatened not to help me pay for my dorm." I remind her and cross my arms.
"I gave you a choice but you made the wrong one." She snaps.
"No mother I didn't."
"See, look at you. You aren't the same Tessa that I dropped off at college three months ago." She waves her arms to gesture up and down my body. "You are defying me, even yelling at me! You have some nerve! I have done everything for you and here you are.. throwing it all away."
"I am not throwing anything away! I have an excellent internship which pays me very well, I have a car, and a 4.0 grade point average. What more could you possible want from me?" I shout back.
"Well for starters, you could have at least changed your clothes before I came. Honestly Tessa, you look like hell." Her voice is full of venom as I look down at my pajamas. "And what is this.. you wear makeup now? Who are you? You're not my Theresa that is for certain. My Theresa wouldn't be hanging out in some devil worshiper's apartment in her pajamas on a Friday night."
"Do not speak about him that way, I have already warned you." I say through my teeth.
She lowers her eyes and cackles. Her head falls back in laughter and I fight my urge to smack her across her dolled up face.
"And another thing.. this isn't just his apartment. It is our apartment." I say and she immediately stops laughing.

To be continued..


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