Monday, 4 June 2018

AFTER ROMANCE 2 Episode 16-20

"I was fucking Molly. I was fucking Molly. I was fucking Molly." His words repeat themselves over and over as I try to calm myself down before meeting my co-workers in the lobby. After having a slight breakdown, I dot the corners of my eyes with a tissue and grab my purse. I should have known he was toying with me, I should have known that he was still messing around with Molly. Hell, he was probably sleeping with her the whole time he was "dating" me. How could I be so stupid to force myself upon him after all the things he has done to me? I almost believed him last night when he said he loved me, why else would he drive all the way to Seattle? Because he is Harry and he does things like that to mess with me. He always has and always will. I can't help the guilt I feel for blurting out that I kissed that guy, or the way I basically blamed Harry for last night when I know I wanted it just as much as he did. I just don't want to admit that to him or myself.
Thinking of him and Molly together makes my stomach churn. If I don't eat something soon, I will vomit. Not only from my hangover but from Harry's confession. I know I am not being completely rational, I kissed another man, a random man at a club but he slept with someone. Molly out of all people, I despise her. I can picture her now with her stupid smirk, knowing that her sleeping with Harry again would torture me.
"Tessa!" Trevor calls from the other side of the lobby. I don't remember the trip down here, I was too distracted by my thoughts to be aware of my surroundings but luckily I managed to arrive in the lobby on time.
"Good morning." He says and hands me a cup of coffee.
"Thank you. I am so sorry for Harrys behavior last night." I say quietly.
"It's okay really. He's a little ... intense..?" Trevor says and I almost laugh.
"Uhm yea.. intense." I mumble and take a drink of my coffee.
"Kimberly and Christian will be down in a few minutes, she is running behind." He smiles and tucks his phone back into his pocket.
"Is Harry still here?" He asks.
"No, he left. He won't be coming back." I try to sound like I could care less.
"Did you sleep well?" I ask in attempt to change the subject.
"Yea, I was worried about you." He says.
Trevor's eyes travel to my neck and I move my hair to make sure my mark isn't showing.
"Worried? Why?" I question.
"Can I ask you something? I don't want to upset you." His voice cautious.
"Yea.. go ahead."
"Has he ever.. you know.. he hasn't ever hurt you right?" He looks at the ground.
"What? We fight a lot so yea, he hurts me all the time." I answer him.
"I mean physically." He mutters.
I snap my head to the side to look at him. He didn't just ask me if Harry puts his hands on me?
"No! Of course not. He would never do that." I cringe at the thought.
"I'm sorry.. he just seems so violent and angry." I can tell by the look in Trevor's eyes he doesn't mean to offend me.
"Harry is angry, and sometimes violent but he would never, ever hurt me. Not physically at least." I feel an odd wave of anger towards Trevor for accusing Harry of such a thing. He doesn't know Harry. Then again neither do I.
We stand in silence for a few minutes until I spot Kimberly's blonde hair coming toward us.
"I really am sorry. You should be treated much better." Trevor says as our company joins us.
"I feel like shit. Absolute shit." Kimberly groans.
"Me too, my head is killing me." I agree and we walk outside.
"You look so good though. I on the other hand, look like I just crawled out of bed." She says.
"You do not." Christian tells her and leans down to kiss her on her forehead.
"Thank you babe, but your opinion is quite biased." She laughs and then rubs her temples.
"Looks like we won't be going out tonight." Trevor laughs and everyone agrees.
When we arrive at the conference I go straight to the breakfast bar and grab a bowl of granola. I eat it much faster than I should I can't seem to shake Harry's words from my mind. I wish I would have at least kissed him once more.. no I don't. I must still be drunk. The conference goes quickly and by noon my headache is almost completely gone. Kimberly sits at one of the tables almost all day and I can't help but laugh when she groans as the keynote speaker's voice booms through the room.
Harry will be back home now, probably with Molly. He probably drove straight to her just to spite me. Did they sleep together in our room? I mean our old room? In the bed that was meant for us? When I think about the way he touched me and moaned my name last night, my body is replaced by hers. All I can see is Harry and Molly. Molly and Harry.
"Did you hear me?" Trevor smiles as he takes a seat next to me.
"Sorry, I was out of it." I smile apologetically.
"I was wondering if you want to grab dinner tonight since we aren't going out tonight." He asks and I look into his shining blue eyes.
"If you don't.. want to that's okay too." He stutters when I don't answer him.
"Yea.. I would love to actually." I tell him. His nervous smile grows into one that reminds me of a picture in a dentists office. What? The alcohol certainly hasn't completely left my system.
"Really?" He breathes. I can tell he thought I would turn him down, especially after Harry's behavior towards him.
It warms my heart that Trevor would still want to take me out even after being threatened by Harry.
"Thank goodness that is over, I need sleep." Kimberly groans as we get into the car.
"Looks like you're just not as young as you used to be." Christian teases her and she rolls her eyes and leans against his shoulder.
"Did Harry ever find you last night?" Kim asks and the knife that is permanently lodged in my stomach turns.
"Yea, he left though." I say and stare out the window.
"He called me about ten times." Mr. Vance shakes his head.
"Tomorrow we will go shopping in the morning while these two are at meetings." She says and closes her eyes. I will thank her later for taking the attention off of me. A nice quiet evening in Seattle and dinner with Trevor sounds amazing after my wild night with Harry. I am a little uneasy about my behavior this weekend already, kissing a stranger, basically forcing Harry to have sex with me, and now going to dinner with Trevor but at least I know there wont be any kissing or sex tonight. Not for you, but for Harry and Molly. My subconscious throws in. She is getting on my nerves.
By the time we get to the hotel it is past four o'clock.
"I will come to get you at six thirty is that okay?" Trevor asks and I answer him with a smile and a nod.
 I was going to try to take a small nap before my dinner with Trevor but I end up taking another shower. I feel dirty from the events of last night and I need to rewash Harry's scent from my body. This time two weeks ago I had thought everything would be so different right now, Harry and I would be getting ready to go to London to see his mother for Christmas. Even though I hadn't given him a sure answer, I think we both knew that I would say yes. I still have no where to live, which I need to call my mother back. She called me multiple times last night.
After I get out of my shower, I dial her number while I reapply my makeup.
"Hello Theresa." She says in a clipped tone.
"Hey, sorry I didn't call you back last night. I am in Seattle for that digital publishing conference, remember?"
"Oh that's right. Is he there?" She asks and I immediately know who she is talking about.
"No, he's not." There is no need for her to know he was here last night.
"Hmm.." She says.
"Why?"
"Because he called here last night trying to find out where you were. I don't appreciate you giving him this number, you know how I feel about him Theresa."
"I didn't give him the number." He must have called her in between his ten calls to Christian.
"I thought the two of you ended things?" She huffs.
"We did. I did. He was probably just trying to get ahold of me about the apartment or something." I lie.
He must have been desperate to get ahold of me if he called my mother's house. That thought hurts and pleases me at the same time.
"Speaking of the apartment, we can't get you into a dorm until Christmas break is over but since you will be off of work and school for the week you can just come here.."
"Oh.. okay." I agree. I don't want to spend my Christmas break at my mother's but since I am temporarily homeless I don't have a choice.
"If you know what is good for you, you will stay away from him. I will see you Monday." She says and hangs up the phone.
Spending a week at my mother's house will be hell, I don't know how I lived there for eighteen years. Honestly, I never realized how bad she was until I got a taste of freedom. Maybe since Harry is leaving the country Tuesday, I can stay in that hotel for two more nights and go to the apartment while he is gone. As much as I don't want to ever go there again, it is still in my name as well as his, so I am entitled to stay there when I please and it's not like he would ever know.
I have no new messages or calls from Harry, I somehow knew that I wouldn't. I can't believe he would sleep with Molly and throw it in my face like that. The worst part is that if I wouldn't have blurted out that I kissed someone else, he would have never told me. I finish getting myself ready and decide to wear a plain black dress. My days of woolen, pleaded skirts seem so long ago. I apply another layer of concealer to my neck and wait for Trevor to come. True to his nature, he knocks on the door at exactly six thirty.
Harry's POV.
I can't decide whether or not to go inside as I stare at my father's massive house. Karen has decorated the outside with too many lights, mini Christmas tree's and what appear to be dancing reindeer. The blow up Santa seems to be mocking me as I climb out of my car. Pieces of the ripped up airline tickets blow around the seat before I close the door. I will have to call and make sure I can get a credit for the unused tickets otherwise, I just destroyed two grand worth of damn plane tickets. I probably should have just went alone and escape this dreadful state for a while but for some reason, going home to London doesn't sound as appealing with Tessa not coming along.
I am grateful that my mum was okay with coming here instead and she seems excited to come to America.
As I ring the doorbell I try to come up with an excuse as to why the hell I am here but before I can come up with one, Liam opens the front door.

Harry's POV.
"Hey." I say as Liam opens the door for me to come inside.
"Hey?" He questions.
I dig my hands into my pockets, unsure what to say or do.
"Tessa isn't here." He tells me and walks towards the living room.
"Yea.. I know. She is in Seattle." I say, following a few feet behind him.
"So.." I know he wants to know why the hell I am here.
"I.. uhm.. well I came to talk to you.. or my dad, I mean Ken. Or your mum." I ramble on.
"Talk? About what?" He takes the bookmark from his book and begins to read. I want to snatch the book from his hands and toss it into the fire but that won't get me anywhere.
"Tessa." I say quietly. My fingers fiddle with my lip ring as I wait for him to burst into laughter.
He looks at me and closes his book.
"Let me get this straight.. Tessa doesn't want anything to do with you so you're here to talk to me? Or your father or even my mother?" He says.
"Yea.. I guess that is what I am doing." He is irritating me.
"Okay.. and what exactly do you think I can do for you? I don't think she should ever speak to you again and I honestly can't believe you are still trying, I figured you would have moved on by now."
"It's only been a week." I snap.
"Yea, a week of her moving out of that apartment and hiding from you in a hotel room."
"She wasn't hiding from me." I say through my teeth.
"Well she sure wasn't running to you." He scoffs.
"Stop being a dick. I know I fucked up but I love her Liam. And I know she loves me, she is just hurt right now."
He takes a deep breath and rubs his chin with his fingers.
"I don't know Harry, what you did is pretty unforgivable. You humiliated her and she trusted you."
"I know.. I know. Fuck, don't you think I know that?"
"Well seeing as you showed up here to ask for help I'd say you get how messed up this whole situation is." He sighs.
"So what do you think I should do? Not as her friend, but as my.. you know, my father's stepson?"
"You mean step-brother? Your step-brother." He smiles.
I roll my eyes and he laughs.
"Well, has she talked to you at all?" He asks.
"Yea.. I actually went to Seattle last night and she let me stay with her." I tell him.
"She what?" He is clearly surprised.
"Yea, she was drunk. I mean really drunk and she practically made me fuck her." I notice his sour expression at my choice of words.
"Sorry.. she made me sleep with her. Well she didn't really make me because I wanted to, I mean how could I say no.. she is just.."
"Okay!! Okay! I get it geez." He waves his hands in the air.
"So anyway, then this morning I said some shit that I shouldn't have said because she told me she kissed someone else."
"Tessa kissed someone?" Disbelief is clear in his voice.
"Yea.. some guy at a fucking nightclub." I groan. I don't want to think about that again.
"Wow. She really is pissed at you." He says.
"I. Know." I bark.
"What did you say to her this morning?"
"I told her that I fucked Molly yesterday." I admit.
"Did you? You know... have sex with Molly?"
"No, god no." I shake my head.
What the hell is going on here that I am having some twisted heart to heart with Liam out of all people?
"Then why did you say that you did?"
"Because she pissed me off." I shrug. "She kissed someone else."
"Okay..so you said that you slept with Molly, who you know Tess despises, just to hurt her?"
"Yea..."
"Good idea." He rolls his eyes.
"Do you think she loves me?" I ask him and he snaps his head up.
"I don't know.." He is a terrible liar.
"Tell me. You know her better than anyone, except me."
"She loves you. But she has never had to deal with this type of betrayal before. She is convinced that you never loved her. It will be hard to change her mind." Liam explains.
"What can I do? Will you help me?" I can't believe I am asking for his help.
"I don't know what I can do, but I guess I can try to talk to her. Her birthday is tomorrow you know that right?" He asks.
"Yea of course I know that. Do you have plans with her?" I ask him. He better not.
"No, when I talked to her a little while ago she said she's going to stay at her mother's house."
"Her mother's house? Why? When did you talk to her?"
"She text me about two hours ago and what else is she supposed to do? Stay at a hotel by herself on her birthday?"
I choose to ignore his last question. If I just would have kept my cool this morning she could have possibly let me stay another night with her. Instead, she is still in Seattle with fucking Trevor.
I hear footsteps coming down the stairs and my father's body appears in the doorway moments later.
"I thought I heard your voice.." He says and I look up at him.
"Yea..I came to talk to Liam." I lie. Well it's half the truth, I was going to talk to whoever I saw first. I am pathetic.
"You did?" He questions.
"Yea. Uhm, mum is coming Tuesday morning." I tell him.
"She is?"
"Yea. For Christmas."
"That's great to hear. I know she misses you." He tells me. My first instinct is to think of a comeback, some rude remark about how shitty of a father he is, but I simply don't feel like it.
"Well, I will leave you two to talk." He says and walks back towards the stairs.
"Oh and Harry?" My father says from halfway up the stairs.
"Yea?"
"I'm glad you're here." He says.
"Okay." I state. I don't know what else to say. This whole day is a fucking mess. My head hurts.
"Well...I guess I am going to go.." I say to Liam and he nods.
"I will do what I can." He promises as I walk to the door.
"Thanks." I say and we both stand awkwardly in the doorway.
"You know I'm not going to like hug you or some shit right?" I mumble and walk out the door.
I hear him laugh as he shuts the door. I need to go pick up Tessa's car before she returns from Seattle, even though if I didn't pick it up she couldn't go to her mothers. The thought is tempting but it will only piss her off more.
Tessa's POV.
"Do you have any big plans for Christmas?" Trevor asks.
I raise my finger up to tell him to wait a moment while I chew my food. The food here is excellent and I am fairly certain we are at a five star restaurant.
"No, I am going to my mother's house for the week. You?"
"I am going to volunteer actually, I don't really like to go back to Ohio. There is nothing there, I have a few cousins and aunts but since my mother passed there isn't much there for me." He explains.
"That is very kind of you." I smile and take the last piece of ravioli onto my mouth.
The waitress brings our check and Trevor pulls out his wallet.
"You aren't one of those feminists who demands to pay half of the bill are you?" He teases.
"No, maybe if we were at Mcdonalds." I laugh.
He laughs but doesn't say anything. Harry would have made some stupid sarcastic remark about how my comment set feminists back fifty years.
Trevor tells me to wait inside while he calls a cab which is thoughtful and very considerate of him. He waves at me through the glass a few moments later and I rush to get inside the warm cab.
"So what made you want to get into publishing?" He asks as we head back to the hotel.
"Well I love to read, it's all I do. It's the only thing that interests me so it was just a natural career choice for me. I would love to become an author sometime in the future but for now I love what I get to do at Vance." I tell him.
"That's the same with me and accounting. Nothing else interests me either. I have known from a young age I would do something with numbers and math." He smiles.
I despise math but I just smile as he continues to talk about it.
"So do you like to read?' I ask when he finishes.
"Yea, sort of. I mostly read non-fiction."
"Oh..why?" I can't help but ask.
"I just don't really care for fiction." He shrugs and helps me out of the cab in front of the hotel.
"How can you not? The best thing about reading is to escape from your life, to be able to live hundreds or even thousands of different lives. Non-fiction doesn't have that power, it doesn't change you the way fiction does."
"Change you?" He raises his brow.
"Yes, Change you. If you aren't effected somehow even if it is the slightest change you aren't reading the right book. I would like to think that every novel I have read has became a part of me, created who I am in a sense."
"You are very passionate." He laughs.
"Yea.. I guess I am." I say. Harry would agree with me, we would carry on this conversation for hours, possibly even days.
When we step off of the elevator Trevor follows me down the hall that leads to my room. I am exhausted and ready to go to sleep even though it is only nine.
"I had an amazing time with you tonight. Thank you for accepting my invitation." He smiles when we reach the door to my room.
"Thank you for the invitation." I smile back.
"I really enjoy spending time with you, we have a lot in common. I would love to see you again, out of the work setting." He clarifies.
"Yea, I would like that." I tell him.
He takes a step towards me and I freeze. His hand reaches up and rests on my hip and he leans into me.
"Uhm.. I don't really think this is the right time." I squeak.
His cheeks flame in embarrassment and I feel terribly guilty for declining his advance.
"Oh, I understand. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..." He stutters.
"No, it's okay. I'm just not ready for that.." I explain and he smiles.
"I understand. I will let you go now, goodnight Tessa." He says and walks away.
As soon as I walk into my room I let out a deep breath that I hasn't realized I was holding in. I undress and remove my makeup before laying down to sleep.
I wake up early on Sunday morning and text Kimberly to see what time she wants to go shopping. She responds that she wants to leave at ten, its only nine now so I decide to get dressed in jeans and a t-shirt before heading down to the lobby to get breakfast. I am not bothered to put on makeup and I pull my hair into a ponytail. It feels nice to dress so casually after a week of dresses and heels. I have missed my toms.
The entire day with Kimberly flies by and we do more gossiping than shopping.
"How was your night last night?" She asks me.
The woman filing my nails peaks her head up nosily and I smile at her.
"It was nice, Harry and I went to dinner." I say and she gasps.
"Harry?"
"Trevor. I meant Trevor." I would smack myself in the forehead if I wasn't getting a manicure.
"Hmm.." She teases me and I roll my eyes.
After our manicures we find a department store.
"I think I will get Christian a shirt as well." She tells me and pulls a navy button up shirt off the rack.
"He hates when I spend money on him."
"Doesn't he.. you know have a lot?" I ask, hoping not to sound too nosey.
"Oh yes, Shit loads of money, but I like to use my own money. I'm not with him for his money so I like to buy my own things." She says proudly.
I am glad that I met Kimberly. Aside from Liam, she is my only friend now. Christian calls her to tell her that it's time to go and I am glad. I have had an amazing time here in Seattle but it's been a horrible time as well. I sleep the entire drive back home and have them drop me back off at the hotel. To my surprise my car is there, parked where it was when Harry had it picked up. I had forgotten about my car and I didn't think to mention it to Harry last night. I pay for two more nights at the hotel and text my mother to tell her I am sick, I suspect food poisoning, I tell her. She doesn't respond so I turn the television on after getting into my pajamas. There is nothing, literally nothing on and I would rather read anyway. I grab my car keys and go out to the car to grab my bag.
When I open my car door something black catches my eye. A nook? I pick it up and pull the small post it note off the top.
"Happy Birthday -Harry." It reads. My heart swells then tightens. I never liked the idea of portable reading devices, I prefer to hold the book in my hand but after the conference this weekend my opinion has slightly changed.
I still grab Harry's copy of Wuthering Heights off the floorboard and walk back into my hotel room. When I turn the device on I immediately smile, then sob. On the home screen there is a tab named "Tess" and when I tap it with my finger, a long list of every novel Harry and I have discussed, bickered over, or even laughed about appears.

When I finally wake up it is two in the afternoon. I can't remember the last time I slept past eleven, let alone two o'clock but I also have to take into account that I stayed up until four reading and browsing through the wonderful gift from Harry. It is so thoughtful, too thoughtful, but the best gift I have ever received. I grab my phone off the nightstand and check my missed calls. Two from my mother and one from Liam. A few "Happy Birthday messages clog my inbox, including one from Noah. I am not that into birthdays and never have been but I don't exactly love the idea of being alone on my birthday either. Well, I won't be alone. Catherine Earnshaw and Elizabeth Bennet are much better company than my mother.
I order too much Chinese food and stay in my pajamas the entire day. My mother is irate that I am "sick". I can tell that she doesn't believe me but honestly I don't care. It's my birthday and I can do whatever I choose to do and if what I chose to do is lay in bed with takeout and my new nook then that's what I will do.
My fingers try to dial Harry's number a few times, but I stop them. No matter how wonderful his present was, he still slept with Molly. Whenever I think he couldn't possibly hurt me worse, he does. I begin to think about my dinner with Trevor on Saturday. He is so nice, and so charming. He says what he means and he compliments me. He doesn't yell at me, or annoy me. He has never lied to me. I never have to guess what he is thinking or how he is feeling. He is smart, educated, successful, and he volunteers on holidays. He is so perfect, compared to Harry. The problem is that I shouldn't be comparing him to Harry. Trevor is a little boring yes, and we don't share the same passion for novels as Harry and I do, but we also don't have the damaged past that Harry and I share.
The most infuriating thing about Harry is that I actually love his personality, rudeness and all. He is funny, witty, and can be so sweet when he wants to be. This gift is messing with my head, I need to remember what he has done to me. All the lies, secrets, and most recently sleeping with Molly.
I text Liam back to thank him and within seconds he responds telling me to text him the address of my hotel. I want to tell him not to drive all the way here, but I also don't want to spend the remainder of my day completely alone. I don't get dressed, I just put a bra on and wait for Liam to arrive.
An hour later, he knocks at the door and I open it with a smile. It is so nice to see him, it has been too long. His familiar, warm smile makes me smile in return and he pulls me into his arms.
"Happy Birthday Tessa." He says into my hair.
"Thank you." I say and hug him tighter.
"Do you feel any older?" He asks and sits on the chair.
"No, well yes. I feel like I have aged ten years in the last week." I tell him.
He gives me a small smile but doesn't say anything.
"I ordered takeout, there is plenty left if you want some." I offer and he grabs the white styrofoam container and a plastic fork from the desk.
"Thanks. So is this what you're doing all day?" He teases.
"Yep. Sure is." I laugh and sit cross legged on the bed and pick up the nook.
"You got an e-reader? I thought you hated them?" Liam raises his brow at me.
"Well.. I did but now I love them, thousands of books right at my fingertips! What could be better." I smile and tilt my head to the side.
"Well nothing says happy birthday like buying yourself a nook." He says with his mouth full of rice.
"Harry actually got it for me. He left it in my car when he brought my car back from getting it fixed."
"Oh. That was nice of him." He says.
"Yes, very. He even put all these wonderful novels on there and .." I stop myself.
"So what do you think about it?" He asks.
"It confuses me even more. He does these incredibly kind things sometimes but he doesn't the most hurtful things at the same time. "
'He loves you. Love doesn't always go hand in hand with common sense." He smiles.
"He doesn't know what love is." I sigh and scroll through the list of romantic novels, common sense is not something usually seen in any of these stories.
"He came to talk to me yesterday." He says and my gift falls from my hands onto the mattress.
"What?"
"Yea, I know. It surprised me too. He came looking for me, his dad or even my mother." He says and I shake my head.
"Why?"
"To ask for help."
"Help? With what? Is he okay?" Worry builds inside of me.
"Yea.. well no. He asked for help with you. He was completely distraught Tessa. I mean he came to his father's house out of all places."
"What did he say?" I can't picture Harry knocking on Ken's door to ask for relationship advice.
"That he loves you and he wants me to help him persuade you to give him another chance. I wanted you to know that, I don't want to keep things from you." Liam says.
"I..well.. I don't know what to say. I can't believe he came to you. To anyone really."
"As much as I hate to admit it, he isn't the same Harry Styles that he was when I first met him. He even joked about hugging me." He laughs.
"He did not!" I can't help but join him. I don't know how I feel about Harry being desperate enough to go to his father's house and talk to Liam about me.
"Do you really believe that he loves me?" I dare to ask.
"Yes, I do. I don't know if I think you should forgive him but if there is one thing I am certain of, its that he does love you."
"It's just that he lied to me, he kept this big secret from me while everyone talked behind my back, laughed at me, and even after he told me he loved me he still went and told them all what happened between us. All of this is still new, it literally just happened a week ago. Then, as soon as I begin to think I could possibly consider trying to move past that, he sleeps with Molly." Tears prick my eyes and I grab the water bottle of the nightstand and take a drink in an attempt to distract myself.
"He didn't sleep with her."
"Yes, he did. He told me he did."
"He just said that to hurt you, I know that's not much better but you two are known to fight fire with fire."
Harry is good, he even has Liam believing his lies. But what if he didn't actually sleep with her? Could I move towards forgiving him? I had my mind made up that I never would but I can't seem to shake him.
As if the universe is mocking me, my phone lights up with a "Happy Birthday beautiful" message from Trevor. I thank him and put my phone back on to the nightstand.
"I need more time. I don't know what to think." I admit to Liam and he nods.
"Fair enough, so what are you doing for Christmas?" He asks and grabs the remote.
"This." I gesture to the empty takeout box and nook.
"You aren't going to go home?"
"This is more of a home than my mother's house." I say and try not to think about how pathetic I am.
"You can't just stay in a hotel alone on Christmas. You should come to our house, I think my mother got you a few things before .. you know."
"My life went down the drain?" I half laugh and he nods playfully.
"I was thinking since Harry is leaving tomorrow I would stay at the apartment.. just until I get into the dorms which hopefully will be before he returns and if not then I will come back to this lovely abode." I can't help but joke about how ridiculous of a situation I am in right now.
"Yea.. you should do that." Liam says with his eyes focused on the television.
"You think? What if he shows up or something?"
"He will be in London right?" He still doesn't take his eyes from the screen.
"Yea. You're right, I will stay there. My name is on the lease after all." I conclude.
Liam and I watch television and talk about Danielle leaving for New York. He is considering transferring to NYU next year if she decides to stay in New York. I am happy for him but I don't want him to leave Washington, I don't tell him that of course. Liam stays until nine and after he leaves I curl onto the bed with my nook and read until I fall asleep.
The next morning I take a shower get myself ready for my return to the apartment. I can't believe I am actually going back there but I don't have many options. I don't want to take advantage of Liam and stay there, I definitely don't want to go to my mother's, and I will run out of money if I keep staying at this hotel. I feel guilty for not going to my mother's but I don't want to listen to her snide comments about Harry and I all week. I still may go there for Christmas but not today. I have five days to decide.
Once my hair is curled and my makeup is done, I put on a long sleeve white shirt and dark jeans. I want to stay in my pajamas but I need to go to the store to get some food for the next few days. If I eat whatever food Harry has in the apartment, he will know I was there. I pack my small amount of belongings into my bags and hurry to my car. It is vacuumed and I swear I can smell a hint of mint, Harry. It starts to snow as I make my way to the grocery store. I buy enough food to last me until I decide what I want to do on Christmas. As I wait in line to check out my mind wanders to what Harry would have gotten me for Christmas. My birthday gift was so thoughtful, who knows what he would have came up with. I hope it would be something simple, not expensive.
"Are you going to move up?" A woman's voice barks from behind me.
When I look up the cashier is waiting impatiently with a scowl on her face. I didn't notice the line moving or disappearing in front of me.
"Sorry." I mumble, placing my groceries on the belt.
My heart begins to race as I pull into the parking lot of the apartment. What if he hasn't left yet? It's only noon. I look frantically around the lot, and his car is gone. He probably drove himself to the airport and left his car there. Or Molly drove him.
My subconscious doesn't know when to shut up. Once I decide that he isn't here, I park my car and grab the groceries first. I will have to make two trips to get my bags. The snow has thickened and covers the cars around me in a thin layer. At least I will be in the warm apartment soon. When I reach the door I take one last breath before unlocking the door and stepping inside. I really love this apartment, it is so perfect for us.. for him. Or me, separately.
When I open the cabinets and fridge I am surprised to find them stocked full of food. He must have went shopping in the last few days. I shove the food that I bought wherever it will fit and head back down to get my belongings.
I can't stop thinking about what Liam said. I am floored by the fact that Harry would go to anyone for advice and that Liam seems to think Harry loves me, a fact that I have known but buried and locked away inside of me. If I allow myself to admit that he loves me it will only make all of this worse. I am so confused and thinking about this is giving me a headache.
As soon as I get back into the apartment I lock the door and put my bags in the room. I take out most of my clothes and hang them up so they won't be too wrinkled. The knife inside of me twists once again as I hang up my clothes in the closet that was intended for Harry and I. He only has a few pair of black jeans hung up on the left side. I have to force myself not to hang his t-shirts up, they are always slightly wrinkled but he still manages to look perfect. My eyes travel to the black dress shirt hanging sloppily in the corner, the shirt he wore to the wedding. I hastily finish my task and walk away from the closet.
I make myself some macaroni on the stove and turn the television on. This must be what it is like to live alone. It's not so bad actually, especially in this wonderful apartment. I turn the volume up so that I can hear an old episode of 'Friends' that I have seen at least twenty times. I speak along with the characters as I load the dishwasher, I hope he doesn't notice but I can't stand to have dishes in the sink. I light a candle and wipe off the counters. Before I know it, I am sweeping the floor, vacuuming the couch and making the bed. Once the entire apartment is clean, I do a load of my laundry and fold the clothes Harry had left in the dryer. Today is actually the most peaceful and calm day that I have had in the last week. That is, until I hear a set of voices and watch in slow motion as the lock turns. Shit. He is here, again. Why does he always show up here when I am here! Hopefully he gave an extra key to one of his friends to check on the apartment? Maybe it's Zayn with a girl? Anyone but Harry, please let it be anyone but Harry. The woman that steps through the doorway isn't Harry, obviously but I somehow immediately know who she is. The similarities are undeniable and she is beautiful.
"Wow Harry, this apartment is beautiful." She says, her accent just as thick as her son's.
This isn't happening. I am going to look like a complete psychopath with my food in the cabinets, my clothes in the washer, and the entire apartment cleaned from top to bottom. I stand frozen and panicked as she looks up at me.
"Oh my goodness! You must be Tessa!" She smiles and rushes over to me as Harry steps through the doorway. Her floral print luggage is dropped from his hands and the surprise on his face is beyond evident. I tear my eyes from him and focus on the woman coming towards me with her arms open.
"I was so disappointed when Harry said you would be out of town this week! Now I know he was just fibbing to try and surprise me!" She gushes and wraps her arms around me. What?
She puts her hands on my shoulders and pulls me to look at her.
"Oh you are so lovely, look at you!" She squeals and hugs me again.
I stay silent and hug her once more. Harry looks terrified and extremely caught off guard, just like me.

"Mum, let's give her a little space. She is shy." Harry lies to his mother as she hugs me for the fourth time.
"You're right, I am sorry. I am just so happy to finally meet you. Harry has told me so much about you." She gushes and nods in agreement. I feel my cheeks flame as she steps back. I am surprised she even knows that I exist, I had figured he would have kept me a secret like usual.
"It's okay." I manage to say through my horror.
"Can..I uhm.. talk to you in the bedroom for a moment?" Harry stammers.
I nod and give Harry's mother a small smile before following him into the bedroom that we once shared.
"What the hell?" I say quietly as I close the door.
"I know.. I am sorry. I couldn't tell her what happened. I couldn't tell her what I did." He says and sits on the bed.
"Are you here .. you know to stay?" His voice holds more hope than I can bear.
"No.."
"Oh."
I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, a habit I picked up from Harry I suspect.
"Well what am I supposed to do?" I ask him.
"I don't know.. I don't expect you to go along it or anything.. I just need a little time to tell her." He says with a long sigh.
"I didn't know you would be here." He tells me with pain in his eyes.
"I didn't know you would be here either, I thought you were going to London."
"I changed my mind, I didn't want to go without.." He trials off.
"Is there a reason why you didn't tell her that we aren't together?" I ask him. I don't know if I want to hear his answer.
"She was just so happy that I found someone, I don't want to ruin that for her."
I recall when Ken had told me that he never thought Harry would be capable of being in a relationship, he was right. However, I do not want to ruin Harry's mother's time here with her son. I'm not doing this for Harry necessarily, but for his mother.
"Okay. You can tell her whenever you are ready. Don't tell her about the bet." I tell him. Knowing the details of how her son ruined his first and only relationship would surely hurt her.
"Really? You're okay with her thinking we are together?" He sounds more surprised than he should be. I nod.
"Thank you. I thought for sure you would call me out right in front of her." He lets out a deep breath.
"I wouldn't do that." I say and mean it. No matter how angry I have ever been at Harry I never told any of his secrets.
"I just need to finish my laundry then I will go. I thought you weren't going to be here so I figured I would stay here instead of that hotel." I shrug uncomfortably. We have been in here a little too long.
"You don't have anywhere to go do you?" He asks.
"I could go to my mother's if I want. I just really don't want to." I admit. "But the hotel isn't bad, just a little expensive." This is the most civil conversation Harry and I have had in the past week.
"I know you won't agree to stay here but I could give you some money?" I can tell he is afraid of my reaction to his offer.
"I don't need your money."
"I know, I just thought I would offer." He stares at floor.
"We better go back out there." I sigh and open the door.
"I will be out in a second." Harry says in a soft voice.
I don't like the idea of going out there to face his mother alone but I can't stay in the small space of this bedroom with Harry. I take a deep breath and leave the room.
"He isn't upset with me is he? I didn't mean to crowd you." Her voice is so sweet. A total contrast to her son's.
"Oh no, of course not. He was just.. going over a few things about this week." I lie. I have always been a terrible liar and I always avoiding lying at all costs.
"Okay good, I know how moody he can be." She smiles and I can't help but smile back. She has such a warm and welcoming smile.
I try to ease my nerves by walking over to the kitchen area and pouring myself a glass of water. She begins to speak as I take a drink.
"I still can't wrap my head around how beautiful you are. He told me you were the most beautiful girl he's ever seen but I thought he was exhagerating." She compliments and I spit my water back into my glass.
Harry said that? I want to ask but instead I just take another drink of water.
"Honestly, I thought you would be covered in tattoos and have green hair or something." She laughs and I join her.
"No, no tattoos for me. Or green hair." I laugh and feel my shoulders begin to relax.
"You're an English major like Harry right?" She asks me.
"Yes maam."
"Maam? Call me Anne."
"I actually have an internship at Vance Publishing so I don't go to classes right now. I just bring my work in once a week."
"Vance? Christian Vance?" She asks.
I nod.
"Oh I haven't seen Christian in at least ten years, him and Harry's father were very close. Harry and I actually lived with him for a year after Ken.. never mind, Harry will not want me spouting off at the mouth." She laughs, obviously afraid that she has disclosed too much to me.
I didn't know that Harry and his mother stayed with Mr. Vance but I knew that he was very close with him, closer than he would be if Christian was only his father's friend.
"I know about Ken." I tell to in an attempt to ease her discomfort.
"You do?"
"Yea, Harry has told me.." I stop my sentence when Harry appears in the kitchen.
"Harry has told you what?" He raises his brow at me.
"Nothing son, just some girl talk." His mother smiles and wraps her arm around his waist. He pulls away slightly, as if out of instinct. She frowns but I get the feeling it's a normal thing for him to not want affection.
"So anyway, what is there to do around here?" She asks the both of us.
"Not much actually, not when there is a blizzard outside." Harry answers her.
The tension between us is thick in the air and I wonder if she can feel it too.
The dryer beeps and I take that as my cue to exit the room and finish up my laundry so I can get out of here, fast.
I pull my warm clothes from the dryer and sit on the floor in the small laundry room to fold them. Harry's mother is so sweet and I find myself wishing that I would have met her under different circumstances.
"Tess?" Harry's voice makes me jump.
"Yea?" I look up at him.
"I.. I was just seeing if you were okay." He says and turns around, exiting the room.
I don't feel anger towards Harry, I have been angry long enough. I feel sadness, and a longing for what we could have been. After I have my clothes folded I go into the bedroom to repack my bags. I wish I wouldn't have hung any clothes in the closet or put food in the kitchen.
"Do you need some help dear?" Anne asks me.
"Uhm, I was just getting my things ready to go to my mother's for the week." I might as well just go there because the hotel is expensive and Harry is here.
"You're leaving today? Right now?" She frowns.
"Yea.. I told her I would come for Christmas." For once I want Harry to come into the room to help me talk my way out of this.
"Oh, I was hoping you would stay at least a night. Who knows when I will be able to see you again and I would love to get to know the young woman who my son has fallen in love with."
I don't want to overthink why I am agreeing to this so instead I just nod and smile.
"Really? You'll stay? Only one night, then you can go to your mum's house. You don't want to be driving through that snow anyway." She says and hugs me again.
I guess she is right, I really don't want to go to my mother's or drive two hours in the snow to get there. At least she will be here to be the buffer between Harry and I. We can't fight if she is here, well I won't fight with him at least. I know this is probably..certainly the worst idea but Anne is hard to say no to, just like her son.
"Well I am going to take a quick shower, I had a long flight. I will see you when I get out." She smiles and leaves the room.
I sink down onto the bed and close my eyes. This is going to be the most awkward, painful twenty four hours of my life. No matter what I do I always seem to end up back where I started, with him.
After a few minutes I open my eyes to find Harry standing in front of the closet with his back to me. What is he doing?
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up." He says when he turns back around.
"I wasn't asleep." I tell him and sit up.
He is being so strange, apologizing every other word.
"I see that you cleaned the apartment." He says softly.
"Yea.. I couldn't help it." I smile and so does he.
"I may have told your mom that I would stay tonight. Only tonight, but if that's not okay I will go. I just felt bad because she is so nice and I couldn't say no but if that makes you uncomfor.."
"Tessa, it's fine. I want you to stay." Harry's voice shakes.
I don't know what to say and I don't understand this strange turn of events. I am here at the apartment that was our's, with Harry's mother who believes Harry and I are together, and Harry and I are sort of getting along. This is making my head hurt already.
"Did you have a nice birthday yesterday?" He asks.
"Oh, yea. Liam came to the hotel." I tell him.
"Oh."
I want to thank him for the nook but there is just too much going on inside of my head.
"I don't know how I am supposed to act." He tells me when the bathroom door creaks open.
"Me either." I sigh and we join his mother in the living room.

When Harry and I enter the living room, his mother is sitting on the couch with her wet hair pulled into a bun.
"So what do you two usually do all day?" She asks and I look at Harry.
"Well.. we just watch television." He shrugs.
This couldn't possibly be more awkward.
"We should rent some movies and I will make dinner for all of us. Don't you miss my cooking?" She smiles at Harry and he rolls his eyes.
"Sure. Best cook ever." He remarks sarcastically.
"Hey! I am not that bad." She laughs and I shift uncomfortably.
I don't know how to behave around Harry unless we are together or fighting. This is an odd place for us, for me to be friendly but pay enough attention to him that his mother gets the impression that we are still dating. This is obviously a pattern of ours, Karen and Ken had been under the impression that Harry and I were dating before we actually were.
"Can you cook Tessa? Or does Harry do all of the cooking?" Anne asks me.
"Uhm, we both do." I answer. My chest burns thinking about the few times we prepared meals for one another.
"I am glad to hear that you are taking care of my boy, and this apartment is so nice you too. I suspect Tessa does the cleaning." She teases.
"Yea.. he is a slob." I answer and Harry looks down at me with a small smile playing on his lips. I am not 'taking care of her boy' but I would have if he wouldn't have hurt me the way he did.
"I am not a slob, she is just too clean." He remarks and I roll my eyes.
"He's a slob." Anne and I say in unison.
"Are we going to watch a movie or pick on me all night?" Harry pouts.
I walk to the couch and sit down before Harry so I don't have to make the uncomfortable decision on where to sit. I can see him eying the couch and me, silently deciding how close to sit. He sits down next to me, right next to me and I feel the familiar heat from his close proximity.
"What do you want to watch?" His mother asks us.
"It doesn't matter." Harry answers.
"You can choose." I try to soften his answer.
She smiles at me before choosing 'Fifty First Dates' a movie I am sure Harry will hate.
"This movie is old as shit." Harry groans as it begins.
"Shhh." I say and he huffs but stays quiet.
I catch him staring at me multiple times during the movie while Anne and I laugh and sigh along with the movie. I am actually enjoying myself and there are even a few times when I almost forget everything that has happened between us. It is hard to not lean on him, not touch his hands, not move his hair when it falls onto his forehead.
"I'm hungry." Harry says when the movie ends.
"Why don't you and Tessa cook since I had such a long flight?" She smiles.
"You are really milking this long flight thing aren't you?" He says and she nods.
"I can cook, it's okay." I offer and stand up.
I walk into the kitchen and lean against the counter. I grip the edges of the marble countertop harder than necessary, trying to catch my breath. I don't know how long I can do this, pretend that Harry and I are together, pretend that he didn't destroy everything, pretend that I love him. I do love him, I am miserably in love with him. The problem is not my lack of feelings towards this moody, egotistical boy. The problem is that I have given him so many chances, always dismissing the hateful things that he says and does but this time it's too much. Especially him sleeping with Molly.
"Harry be a gentleman and help her." I hear his mother's voice instruct. I rush over to the freezer to pretend like I wasn't having a mini breakdown.
"Uhm.. I can help?" His voice carries through the small kitchen.
"Okay.." I answer.
"Popsicles?" He asks and I look at the object in my hands. I had meant to grab chicken but I was distracted.
"Yea, everyone likes popsicles right?' I say and he smiles,
I can do this, I can be around Harry in the apartment that is still technically ours. I can be nice to him and we can get along.
"You should make that chicken pasta that you made for me." I suggest.
"That's what you want to eat?" He asks me.
"Yes. If it's not too much trouble."
"Of course not." He says.
"You're being so weird today." I whisper so our house guest doesn't hear.
"No I'm not." He shrugs and steps toward me.
My heart begins to race as he leans into me. As I move to step away he grabs the handle to the freezer and pulls it open. I thought he was going to kiss me. What the hell is wrong with me?
We cook dinner in almost complete silence, neither of us knowing what to say. My eyes watching him the entire time, the way his long fingers curl around the base of the knife to chop the chicken and the vegetables, the way he closes his eyes when the steam from the boiling water hits his face, the way his tongue swipes the corners of his mouth when he tastes the sauce. I know this isn't conducive or healthy in any way but I can't help it.
"I'll set the table while you get tell her it's ready." I tell him.
"I'll just call her name."
"No, that's rude. Just go get her." I say and he rolls his eyes but walks from the room.
Seconds later he returns alone.
"She's asleep." He tells me.
"What?" I heard him but I still ask.
"Yea, she's passed out on the couch. Should I just wake her up?"
"No, don't wake her. She had a long day. I will put some away for her so whenever she gets up she can eat. It's sort of late anyway."
"It's eight."
"Yea.. that's late."
"I guess." His voice is flat.
"What is with you? I know this is uncomfortable and all but you are being so weird." I say as I put food on two plates without thinking.
"Thanks." He says and grabs one before sitting down at the table.
I grab a fork from the drawer and decide to stand at the counter to eat,.
"Are you going to tell me?'
"Tell you what?" He asks and puts the fork to his lips.
"Why you are being so ... quiet and .. nice. It's weird."
He swallows and opens his mouth to answer.
"I just don't want to say the wrong thing." His answer catches me off guard. That's not what I expected to hear.
"Oh." Is all I can think to say.
"SO why are you being so nice and weird?" He repeats my words.
"Because your mother is here and I am done being angry about it. What happened, happened and there is nothing I can do to change it. I can't hold onto that anger forever." I explain and lean my elbow against the counter to support the sudden increase of weight on my shoulders.
"So what does that mean?"
"Nothing. I am just saying that I don't want us to fight anymore. That doesn't change anything between us." I bite my cheek to distract my eyes from tears.
He doesn't say anything. Instead, he stands up and throws his plate in the sink harshly. The porcelain plate splits down the middle and the loud noise causes me to jump. Harry doesn't flinch or even turn back around before stalking off to the bedroom.
I peer into the living room to make sure that his impulsive behavior hasn't woken his mother. She is still asleep with her mouth slightly opened, making her resemblance to her son much stronger.
I am left to clean up the mess that Harry made, as usual. I load the dishwasher and put the leftovers away for Anne before wiping the counter down.
I am exhausted, mentally more than physically, but I need to take a shower and go to bed. Where the hell am I going to sleep? Harry is in the bedroom and Anne is on the couch. Maybe I should just drive back to the hotel. I will take a shower first then decide. I turn the heat up a little and switch off the light in the living room.
When I walk into the bedroom to get my pajamas Harry is sitting on the edge of the bed with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He doesn't look up when I enter so I grab a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and panties from my bag before exiting the room. As I hit the doorway I hear what sounds like a muffled sob coming from Harry. Is he crying? He isn't , he couldn't be.
Just for the slightest chance that he is, I can't leave the room. I pad back to the bed and stand in front of him.
"Harry?" I say quietly and extend my hand to remove his hands from his face.
He resists but I pull harder.
"Look at me." I beg.
The breath is knocked out of me when he does. His eyes are bloodshot and his cheeks are soaked with tears.
I try take his hands in mine but he jerks away.
"Just go Tessa." He says.
I have heard him say that too many times.
"No." I kneel down in between his opened legs.
"This was a bad idea. I am going to tell my mum in the morning." He says and wipes his eyes with the back of his hands.
"You don't have to." I have seen him on the verge of tears before but never full on, body shaking, tears streaming down his face, crying.
"Yea I do. This is torture for me to have you so close but so far. It's the worst possible punishment. Not that I don't deserve it because I know I do but it's too much, even for me." He sobs.
"When you agreed to stay.. I thought that maybe.. maybe you still cared for me the way I do for you. But I see it Tess, I see the way you look at me now. I see the pain I have caused you. I see the change in you because of me. I know that I did this, but it still kills me to have you slip through my fingers." The tears come much faster now, falling against his black t-shirt.
I want to say anything and everything to make this stop. To make his pain go away, but where was he when I was crying myself to sleep night after night.
"You want me to go?" I ask him and he nods.
His rejection hurts, even now. I know I shouldn't be here, we shouldn't be doing this but I need more. I need more time with him. Even dangerous, painful time is better than no time. I wish I didn't love him, that I never met him. But I did, and I do love him.
"Okay." I swallow and stand up.
His hand grips around my wrist to stop me.
"I am sorry. For everything, for hurting you, for everything."  Goodbye is thick is his tone.
As much as I resist this, I know deep down that I am not ready for him to give up on me. On the other hand I am not ready to easily forgive him either. I have been in a constant state of confusion for days but today takes the cake.
"I.. " I stop myself.
"What?"
"I don't want to go." I say so low that I am not sure if he even heard me.
"What?" He asks again.
"I don't want to go, I know I should but I don't. Not tonight at least." I swear I can see the pieces of the broken man in front of me slowly come back together, one by one.
"What does this mean?"
"I don't know what it means but I am not ready to find out either." I say and watch as he wipes his face with his shirt.
"Okay. You can sleep on the bed, I will take the floor." His earlier sobs, no where to be found. My mind entertains the thought that it was all for show but somehow I know that it wasn't.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting story. The best I've read thus far. keep it up. Kindly upload the rest of the episodes.

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