Saturday, 9 June 2018

AFTER ROMANCE 2 Episode 26-30

My phone buzzes on the dresser breaking me out of my laughter. Harry is closest to the obnoxious device and he stands up to retrieve it for me.
"Liam." He says and places the phone in my palm.
"Hello?" I answer.
"Hey Tessa, my mother insisted I call you to see if you were going to come over for Christmas?"
"Oh.. yea I am. What time?" I ask.
"Noon, she has already started cooking so if I were you I wouldn't eat anything until then." He laughs.
"I won't, I will start fasting now." I joke.
"Is there anything I should bring? I know Karen is a much better cook than me but I could make something, like a desert maybe?" I offer.
"Yea, you can bring a desert.. and also.. I know this is awkward and if you aren't comfortable with it then that's okay.. but they want to invite Harry and his mum." His voice lowers.
"Yea, but if you and Harry aren't getting along.."
"We are. Sort of." I interrupt. Even when Harry and I were at our best we still didn't get along. Harry raises his brow at my reply and I give him a nervous smile.
"If you could just pass the invite along they would really appreciate it."
"I will." I assure him.
I am not sure how well that would go over, with Anne and Harry at Ken's home for the holiday but I will surely ask Harry.
"What should I get them, like gift wise?" I ask,
"Nothing! You don't have to bring gifts."
I keep my eyes on the wall and try not to focus on Harry's steady gaze on me.
"I am bringing gifts, what should I get?"
"Well, get my mum something for the kitchen and Ken would go for a paperweight or something."
"A paperweight? That's a dreadful gift." I snort and he laughs.
"Well don't get him a tie because I did." He says.
"Okay, no tie."
"Well let me know if you need anything between now and then, I have to help clean the house." He groans before hanging up.
"You are going there for Christmas?" Harry asks when I place my phone on the nightstand.
"Yea.. I don't want to go to my mother's."
"I don't blame you." He rubs his chin with his index finger and continues. "You could stay here?"
"You could come with me." I pick at my fingernails on my lap.
"And leave my mum here alone?" He scoffs.
"No! Of course not, Karen and your dad want her to come.. you too, Both of you."
"Yea right."
"Really, Liam just told me that. He wanted me to ask you if you both would come."
"Why would my mum want to go there with my father and his new wife?"
"I.. I don't know but it could be nice to have everyone together."
I am not sure how exactly that would go because I don't know what type of relationship Anne and Ken have now, if they have one at all. It's also not my place to try to 'bring everyone together" I am not part of their family, I am not even Harry's girlfriend.
"I don't think so. Thanks though." He frowns.
Despite everything going on between Harry and I, it would have been nice to spend Christmas with him but I understand why he doesn't want to go. It would have been hard enough to convince Harry to go to his father's house for the holiday anyway, let alone with his mother. I am happy that Harry went to talk to Liam today, that is something I did not think he would do again. I hope that sometime in the future they could maybe be friends. Harry could use a friend like Liam.
I need to get gifts for the three of them, maybe something for Anne as well. I have no idea whether or not I should be buying something for Harry, actually I am pretty sure I shouldn't. That would be awkward to give him a present when we are in this strange in between place. I need to go today, now really because its already five and the mall's will be closed tomorrow for Christmas Eve.
"What?" Harry asks of my silence.
"I have to go to the mall, again." I groan.
"Now? Do you have any idea how packed it's going to be?"
"I know but that's what I get for being homeless on Christmas." I tell him.
"I don't think bad planning has anything to do with you being homeless." He teases.
His smile is small but his eyes are bright, is he flirting with me? I laugh at the thought and roll my eyes.
"Bad planning is not something that I do, ever."
"Except right now." He mocks and I swat my hand at him.
He grabs my wrist and wraps his fingers around it to stop my playful assault. A familiar warmth floods through my body and I lock eyes with him. He lets go quickly and we both look away.
The air fills with tension and I stand up to put my shoes back on. I am going to wear the sweatshirt and jeans I have on from my shopping with Anne this morning.
"You're going now?" He asks.
"Yea.. the mall closes at nine." I remind him.
"You're going to go alone?" He shuffles his feet awkwardly.
"Would you like to come?" I know this probably isn't the best idea but if I want to at least try to move forward then going to the mall together is fine. Right? I know we have so much to talk about and I have so much to say but not today.
"Shopping with you?"
"Yea.. if you don't want to that's fine too." I ramble.
"No, of course I do. I just ..I don't know I wasn't expecting you to ask."
I grab my phone and my purse and walk out of the room.
"We are going to the mall for a while." Harry tells Anne.
"Both of you?" She smiles and he rolls his eyes.
"Yes. Both of us." He groans and walks out of the apartment.
"If you want to leave him there I wouldn't mind." She laughs.
"I will keep that in mind." I smile and follow him out.
He is almost to the end of the hall by the time I exit the apartment.
"Do you want me to drive?" He asks and I nod. I drove in the snow all morning with Anne and I really don't want to again.
When Harry's car starts a very familiar piano melody fills the car. He hurries to turn the volume down but it's too late.
"They grew on me, okay?" He says when he notices the smug look I am giving him.
"Sure." I tease and turn the volume back up.
If only things could go this way forever. If only this flirty getting along, nervous median that we are in could last forever but it won't. It can't. We have to actually discuss what has happened and what will happen from here on. I just can't decide when this should happen, if it happens today and it goes badly it will ruin the Christmas holiday. However, I am going to Liam's house for Christmas anyway so maybe we should talk about it tonight and if it blows up in my face, which I suspect that it will, I can go to Liam's and stay until I get into a dorm.
Most of the drive is spent in silence, the music saying all of the things I wish we could say to one another.
"I'll drop you off by the door." He says and I nod as he stops the car in front of Macy's. Harry chasing me through this store last month flashes through my head as I walk inside. I stand under the vent to warm up while Harry parks the car.
After nearly an hour of looking at baking dishes of all shapes and sizes, I decide to get Karen a set of cake pans. I know she probably has more than enough but her only hobby besides gardening seems to be cooking and I don't have time to think of anything better.
"Can we take this to the car and then finish shopping?" I ask Harry and struggle to keep the large box in my hands.
"Here, I will take it. Stay here." He says and takes the box from me.
He walks away and I walk over to the men's section, hundreds of ties are displayed in large cases and I remember Liam's claim on them and keep browsing. I have never bought a 'dad gift' before so I have no idea what to get. I will ask Harry if Ken likes any sport teams when he returns. I glance back towards the door, I hadn't realized how far I have strayed from where Harry left me so I begin to make my way back.
"It's so fucking cold out." He shivers and rubs his hands together.
"I'd say wearing a t-shirt in the snow isn't a good idea." I say and he rolls his eyes.
"I'm hungry, are you?" He asks and I nod.
We make our way to the food court and he instructs me to sit down while he gets us some pizza from the only decent chain in the food court. Minutes later he joins me at the table with two plates piled full of pizza. I grab a slice and a napkin and take a small bite.
"How elegant of you." He teases when I wipe my mouth after I chew.
"Shut up." I say and take another.
"This is.. nice. Isn't it?" He asks.
"What? The pizza?" I foolishly ask even though I know he isn't talking about the food.
"Us. Hanging out. It's been a long time."
"It hasn't even been two weeks." I remind him. It does seem like so long.
"That's a long time.. for us."
"Yea.." I chew.
"How long have you been thinking about moving forward?" He asks.
I finish chewing and take a drink of my water.
"A few days I guess. There is still so much to talk about." I want to keep this conversation as light as I can in order to avoid a scene being caused.
"I know there is but I am so.." His green eyes go wide as he focuses on something behind me.
When I turn around my stomach drops at the sight of red hair. Steph, and next to her is Tristan.
"I want to go." I tell him and stand up, leaving the tray of food on the table.
"You haven't gotten any other gifts. I don't think they even saw us."
When I turn back around her gaze meets mine and the surprise on her face is evident. I can't tell if she is more surprised to see me or she is surprised that I am with Harry. Probably both.
"Yea she did."
Steph and Tristan walk toward us and my feet seem to be bolted to the floor.
"Hey." Tristan says uncomfortably when they reach us.
"Hey." Harry says and rubs the back of his neck.
I don't say anything, I look at Steph then grab my purse from the table and begin to walk away.
"Tessa wait!" Steph calls after me.
I hear the thick heel of her shoe tapping the hard tile as she catches up with me.
"Can we talk?" She asks.
"Talk about what Steph? How my first and basically only friend here went behind my back and let me be humiliated in front of everyone?" I snap.
Harry and Tristan look at each other, obviously unsure whether they should intervene.
"I'm sorry okay! I know I should have told you, I thought he would tell you!"
"So that is supposed to make it okay then?"
"No, I know it won't but I am really sorry Tessa. I know I should have told you."
"But you didn't." I cross my arms,
"I miss you, I miss hanging out with you." She says.
"I'm sure you do miss having me as the center of all of your jokes."
"It wasn't like that Tessa. You are.. were my friend. I know I fucked up but I am sorry."
Her apology catches me off guard.
"Well I can't forgive you." I say and she frowns.
"So you can forgive him? He's the one who started it all and you forgave him but you won't even consider forgiving me? How fucked up is that?" She says angrily.
I want to snap at her, cuss her out even, but I know she is right.
"I haven't forgiven him, I am just.. I don't know what I am doing." I whine and put my hands over my face.
"Don't you miss me? And Tristan? I was your first friend here after all." She shrugs.
"I don't expect you to just let it go but at least think about it, we could hang out. Just the four of us now that the group is all fucked."
"What do you mean?"
"Well Jace has been an even bigger dick since Harry beat the shit out of him so we have been keeping our distance from everyone."
"Harry beat the shit out of Jace?" I look over to where Harry and Tristan are watching us and then look back at Steph.
"Yea..last Saturday. You didn't know that?"
"No..why did he?" I want to ask her as much as I can before Harry walks over and stops her from spilling.
"Because Molly told Harry that Jace planned the whole.. you know telling you in front of everyone thing.." She says quietly.
"Why would Harry beat him over that?" I know it doesn't take much to make him mad but still.
"Because Jace was saying some shit about you.. things that Harry didn't like. Honestly he had it coming and the look on Molly's face when Harry basically pushed her off of him was priceless. I mean seriously I should have taken a picture!" She laughs.
Harry turned down Molly and beat up Jace Saturday before he came to Seattle?
"Ladies." Tristan says as a warning when Harry begins to walk towards us.
"Just think about it okay? I miss you." She says and I nod as they walk away.

"You okay?" Harry asks when they disappear.
"Yea..I'm fine." I tell him.
"What did she say?"
"Nothing.. just that she wants me to forgive her." I shrug.
I need to process everything that Steph just told me before I bring it up to Harry. I can't believe that he beat up Jace on Saturday. He must have been at one of their parties before he came to Seattle and Molly must have been there. I can't deny the massive relief that overcame me when Steph said Harry turned Molly down when she came onto him. It's almost humorous that he had said he slept with Molly that same night but he was really denying her. The relief is quickly overshadowed by my guilt for kissing that stranger at the club while Harry was pushing away Molly.
"Tess?" Harry waves his hand in front of my face.
"What's going on?" He stops walking.
"Nothing, I was just thinking about what to get your dad. Does he like sports? He does right? You two were watching that football game remember?" My voice is more rushed than I wanted it to be,
"The Packers, he likes the Packers." He informs me and we find the sport-themed store in the mall. I am positive that he wants to ask more about Steph but he stays quiet.
I stay fairly quiet as well and Harry chooses a few things for his father, he refuses to let me pay for them so i grab a key chain off the display case in front and pay for it myself just to annoy him.
He rolls his eyes and I stick my tongue out at him.
"You do know that you didn't get the right team's keychain right?" He tells me when we exit the store.
"What?" I reach in and grab the small object.
"That's the Giants, not the Packers." He smirks and I shove the keychain back into the bag.
"Well.. good thing no one will know the good gifts are actually from you."
"Are you done shopping yet?" He whines.
"No, I have to get something for Liam remember."
"Oh he mentioned that he wanted to try a new shade of lipstick. Maybe coral?"
"You leave him alone! And maybe I should be getting you the lipstick since you seem to know the exact shade." I tease. It feels good to be bickering with Harry in a playful way instead of an 'I want to kill you' way.
He rolls his eyes but I see a small smile appear before he speaks. "You should just get him hockey tickets. Easy and not too expensive." He suggests.
"That's actually a good idea."
"I know." He says. "Too bad he doesn't have any friends to go with him."
"I would go with him." I defend.
The way Harry is teasing about Liam makes me smile because it is so different than before, there is no malice behind his tone now.
"I wanted to get your mom something too." I tell him.
"Because it's Christmas."
"Just get her a sweater or something."
"I am terrible at buying gifts for people. What did you get her?" I ask him.
The nook he got me for my birthday was so thoughtful so I imagine the gift for his mother is equally just.
"A bracelet and a scarf." He shrugs.
"A bracelet? Like a personalized bracelet?" I ask.
"No, I meant a necklace anyway. It's just a plain necklace that says 'mom' or some shit."
"How nice of you." I say as we walk back into Macy's.
"I will find her something here, she likes those track suits." I tell him.
"Oh god, please no more track suits. She wears them every day."
"So.. all the more reason to buy her another one." I smile at his sour expression.
I really want to know what Jace said to Harry to make him finally snap. I vaguely remember Harry's knuckles being busted last week, but then again they are always that way. Even now the scabs are still present. A sort of resolve has taken over my frantic thoughts when it comes to Harry now that I know he wasn't actually sleeping with Molly while I was in Seattle.
"We need to talk tonight." I say suddenly.
The cashier looks at Harry then to me as I place the mint green tracksuit on the counter. I can see the confusion in her eyes as she looks back and forth between Harry and I. I want to tell her it is rude to stare but Harry speaks before I get the courage.
"Yea.. after we put that tree up that your mom brought home."
"Talk about what though?"
"Everything." I explain.
"Oh." He looks terrified.
"I will get the car." He says and leaves me at the register as the woman bags Anne's gift.
I agree with Harry that these track suits aren't exactly 'in' but who am I to say anything about anyone's sense of style when I have none. Also, Anne looks very good for her age, can pull off a track suits and it's not like she wears them everywhere. Next year I will make sure to get everyone amazing gifts to make up for my terrible gifts this year. Next year? I don't know where that thought came from.
Both of us stay silent during the ride back to the apartment, me because I am trying to think of everything I should say, and him..well I get the feeling he is doing the same.
"Wait I forgot wrapping paper!" I say when he pulls into the parking lot.
"My mum bought a bunch yesterday."
"Oh thank god. Can you help me find the hockey tickets for Liam so I can print them out tonight?"
"Yea." He says and pushes his hair back over his forehead.
Everything would be so simple, so easy if we could just go on like this forever, never bringing up the problems we have but this is reality and we can't do that. Easy or not.
I grab the bags, except the baking set for Karen and rush into the lobby to avoid the freezing rain coming down. I'd take the snow over this freezing rain any day. Harry jogs through the sludge and joins me inside within minutes.
When we step into the elevator my stomach grumbles.
"I'm hungry." I tell Harry when he looks down at me.
"Oh." He looks like he wants to say something sarcastic but decides against it.
When we get inside the smell of garlic takes over my senses and instantly makes my mouth water.
"I made dinner, how was the mall?" Anne asks.
Harry grabs the bags from my hands and disappears into the bedroom.
"It wasn't too bad, it wasn't nearly as crowded as I had thought it would be." I explain.
"That's good, I thought maybe we could put that tree up? I doubt Harry will want to help but the two of us could do it if you don't mind?"
"Yea of course." I smile.
"You should eat first." Harry's voice commands as he walks back into the kitchen.
I scowl at him and turn my attention back to Anne. Harry and I are going to have our dreaded talk tonight after assembling the small tree with his mother so I am in no rush. I also need to wrap the gifts I bought and get online to purchase Liam's hockey tickets. I hate being unprepared, I never wait until the last minute to do things and this is beyond stressful. I also feel rushed because of the impending discussion with Harry, I need at least an hour to muster up enough strength to be able to say everything that I want to say. It's probably not the best idea to have such an important talk with his mother here but I can't wait any longer, everything that is going to be said needs to be said, now. We can't stay in this easy in-between place much longer.
"Are you hungry now?" Anne asks me.
"Yes she is." He answers for me.
"Yea, I am." I tell her, ignoring her obnoxious son.
The dish she made for dinner is some sort of chicken casserole with spinach and garlic. It smells delicious and looks even better. I make myself a plate and sit down at the table.
"You could take the pieces out of the box for us, make it a little easier." Anne tells Harry.
"Sure." He says and walks over to the small box. He tears the top open and dumps the contents onto the floor.
"I got a few ornaments too." She smiles.
Harry has the branches slid into the slots and the tree assembled before I finish eating.
"That wasn't so bad was it?" Anne asks Harry and he grabs the box of ornaments and opens it.
"We will help with those." She tells him and I stand up from the table.
Putting together a Christmas tree with Harry and his mother in an apartment that was ours is something I would have never thought I would be doing. Ever. The ornaments are randomly hung on the miniature tree and Anne seems very pleased when we finish.
"We should get a photo in front of it!" She suggests.
"No, I don't do pictures." Harry grumbles.
"Oh come on Harry, it's the holidays." She bats her lashes and he rolls his eyes at her for the hundredth time since she arrived in America.
"Not today." He replies.
"Just one?" I ask him, knowing that this isn't fair of me but I feel for his mother.
"Fine, fuck. Just one." He stands next to Anne in front of the tree and I grab my phone to take a picture of them.
Harry barely smiles but Anne's bright smile makes up for it. I am relieved when she doesn't suggest that Harry and I take a picture together, we need to figure out what exactly is going to happen before we start taking family pictures in front of a Christmas tree.
I get Anne's phone number and send a copy of the picture to her and to Harry. He walks back to the kitchen and makes himself a plate of food.
"I'm going to go wrap some gifts before it gets too late." I announce.
"Okay, see you in the morning sweetie." Anne says and hugs me before I leave the room.
Harry has already placed the box full of wrapping paper, bows, tape, and everything else I could possibly need for wrapping the gifts in the bedroom. I hurry and get to wrapping so we can get to 'the talk' sooner rather than later. I really want to get it over with but at the same time I am afraid of how it will go, I know that I have made my mind up but I am not sure if I am ready to admit it. I know how foolish it is of me but I have been a fool since I have met him and that hasn't always been a bad thing.
I hear some clanging around in the kitchen so I assume Harry will be entering the room any minute. I finish writing Ken's name on the gift tag just as the bedroom.
"Done?" He asks.
"Yea.. I need to get those tickets printed for Liam before we talk."
"Because I need your help and you're not helpful when we are fighting."
"How do you know we will fight?" He asks.
"Because it's us." I half laugh and he nods in agreement.
"I'll get the printer from the closet." He walks away and I turn my laptop on.
Twenty minutes later we have two tickets to the Seattle Thunderbirds printed and wrapped in a small box for Liam.
"Okay.. so any other distractions before we.. you know, talk?" Harry asks.
"No." I reply.
We are both sitting on the bed, him against the headboard with his long legs stretched in front of him, and me with my legs at the end of the bed. I have no idea where to start or what to say.
"So.." Harry begins.
This is awkward.
"So.." I pick at my nails.
"What happened with Jace?" I ask.
"Steph told you." He states.
"Yea, why did you fight him? I thought he was your friend?" Then again Harry beat up Zayn who I know he is closer to than Jace.
"Because he is a dick and I told you before that he isn't my friend."
"Well what happened that made you fight him?"
"He was running his mouth."
"Harry, you have to talk to me or this isn't going to work."
"I am talking now."
"Okay. Okay. He was planning to try to hook up with you." He says and my stomach turns at the thought.
"So? You know that would never happen."
"That doesn't make a difference, even thinking about him touching you.." He shudders and continues, "and he is the one who, well Molly too, who planned to tell you in front of everyone. They all said they wouldn't say shit then the those two fucks had to go and fucking ruin it."
"You ruined it, they just told me about it." I remind him.
"I know that Tessa." He is getting annoyed.
"Do you? Do you know that though because you haven't really said anything about it."
"Yes I have, I was crying the other day for fuck's sake."
"You need to stop cursing at me so much for one thing, and two that was one time. That's really the only time you have said anything."
"I tried in Seattle but you wouldn't talk to me and you've been ignoring me so when was I supposed to?"
"If we are going to even try to move past this I need you to open up to me, I need to know exactly how you feel." I tell him.
"And when do I get to hear how you feel Tessa? You're just as closed off as I am." He makes eye contact with me.
"No.. No I am not." I defend.
"Yes you are! You haven't told me how you feel about any of this. You just keep saying you are done with me but here you are." He waves his hands toward me.
I need a moment to think about what he just said. I have had so many thoughts, jumbled and confusing thoughts, in my head that I have forgotten to say any of them to him.
"I have been so confused." I say.
"I'm not a mind reader Tessa, what are you confused about?"
"This. Us. I don't know what to do." The lump in my throat grows. We have just started this conversation and I am already on the verge of tears.
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know."
"Yes you do." He calls me out.
"What do you want me to do?" There are a lot of things that I need to hear him say before I can be sure of what I want to do.
"I want you to stay with me. I want you to forgive me and give me another chance. I know I have asked you too many times but please just give me one more chance, I can't be without you. I've tried, and I know you have too. There isn't anyone else for either of us, if it's not us, its nothing and I know that you know that too." His eyes are glossy when he finishes and I wipe my tears away.
"You hurt me, so terribly."
"I know baby, I know I did. I would give anything to take that back, actually I wouldn't. I wouldn't change anything, well I would have told you sooner obviously." He says. I snap my head up to look at his face.
"I wouldn't take it back because we wouldn't have been together if I wouldn't have done such a fucked up thing. Even though it has destroyed by life, without it I wouldn't have had one at all. I'm sure that makes you hate me even more but that's the truth."
I don't know what to say because when I think about it, really think about it, I don't think I would change anything either.

Harry's POV.
"How will I know that you won't hurt me again?" She cries.
I could tell she was trying to hold her tears in but I am glad she isn't anymore, I want everything to be out on the table. I need to see some emotion from her, she has been so cold lately. So unlike her. I used to be able to tell what she was thinking by her eyes alone. There is a wall there now, blocking me from reading her the way only I can. I pray to god that the time we spent together today will work in my favor. I
"You don't, and I can assure you that I will hurt you again. You will hurt me too, but I can also assure you that I will never keep anything from you or betray you again. You may say some shit that you don't mean and god knows that I will but we can work through our problems because that's what people do. I just need this one last chance to show you that I can be the man you deserve me to be. Please Tessa." I beg.
She stares at me with red eyes, chewing on the inside of her cheek. I hate to see her this way, and I hate myself for making her this way.
"You love me, don't you?" I ask, afraid of her answer.
"Yes. More than anything." She admits with a sigh.
I can't hide my smile. Hearing her say that she still loves me brings the life back into me. I have been so worried that she was going to give up on me, stop loving me and move on. I don't deserve her and I know that she is aware of that.
"What can I do then? What do I need to do to so we can get through this?"
My mind is reeling and she is being too quiet. I can't handle the distance.
"I said the wrong thing didn't I? I knew I would, you know I am not good with words." I bring my hands to my face and wipe the moisture from my eyes.
I have never been this emotional in my entire life and it's the most uncomfortable place for me to be. I have never had to or even cared to express my emotions to anyone but I will do anything for this girl. I always fuck everything up but I have to fix this, or try as hard as I can.
"No.. I am just.. I don't know. I want to be with you, I want to forget everything but I don't want to regret it. I don't want to be that girl, the one who gets walked all over and treated like shit and just puts up with it." She sobs.
"To who? Who are you worried will think that?" I ask her.
"Everyone, my mother, your"
I knew that is what it was, I knew that she was more worried about what she should do rather than what she wants to do.
"Don't think about anyone else. Who gives a shit what anyone else thinks? For once just consider what you want? What makes you happy?"
"You." She says and my heart leaps.
"I am so tired of keeping everything in, I am exhausted by all of the things I haven't said and wanted to say." She adds.
"Then don't keep it in anymore." I tell her.
"You make me happy but you also make me miserable, angry, and most of all you make me insane. "
"That's the point isn't it? That's why we are so good together Tess, because we are terrible for each other." I tell her. She makes me insane too, and angry but happy. So happy.
"We are terrible for each other." She says with a small smile.
"We are." I repeat and return her smile.
"I love you though. More than anyone ever could and I swear I will spend the rest of my life making this up to you if you allow me."
I hope she can hear the desperation in my voice for her forgiveness. I need it, I need her like I have never needed anything before and I know she loves me. She wouldn't be here if she didn't. I can't believe I just said 'the rest of my life' that probably will freak her out.
"I am so sorry Tessa, I love you so much." I says softly when she doesn't respond.
She catches me completely off guard when she moves across the space between us, closing it, climbing onto my lap.
I bring my hands to her beautiful face and she takes a deep breath, leaning her cheek into the palm of my hand.
"I need it to be on my terms. I won't be able to make it through another heartbreak." She tells me.
"I will take whatever I can get, I just want to be with you. Whatever it takes." I tell her.
"We have to take it slow, I shouldn't be doing this at all."
"I know." I do know that and I still can't believe it's happening.
"If you hurt me again I will never forgive you, ever." She threatens.
"I won't. I swear it." I would rather die than hurt her again.
"I really have missed you so much Harry." Her eyes close and I want to kiss her, I want to feel her lips hot against mine but she just told me she wants to take it slow.
"I missed you too." She rests her forehead against mine and I let out a breath that I didn't know I was holding.
"We are really doing this then?" I ask her, trying not to sound as desperately relieved as I feel.
She sits up and I look into her eyes. The eyes that have haunted me every time I close my own for the last week.
"Yea.. I guess we are." She smiles and nods her head.
My arms wrap around her waist and she leans into me once more.
"Kiss me?" I practically beg.
She doesn't try to hide her amusement as she touches my forehead, brushing my hair back. God I love when she does that.
"Please?" I say and she silences me by pressing her lips against mine.
Tessa's POV.
My mouth immediately opens and he doesn't miss the opportunity to slip his tongue into my mouth. The familiar taste of him ignites me, just as it used to. No matter how hard I fight it, I need him. I need to be close to him, I need him to comfort me, to challenge me, to annoy me, to kiss me, and to love me. My fingers tangle themselves into his hair and I tug at the soft strands when his grip on my waist tightens. He said everything I wanted and needed to hear to feel better about my reckless decision to allow him back into my life, even though he never actually left. I know I should have held out longer, tortured him the way he tortured me with his lies, but I couldn't. This isn't the movies, this is real life, my life and my life isn't complete or even tolerable without him. This tattooed, rude, angry man has gotten under my skin and into my heart and I know that no matter how hard I try I can't get him out.
His tongue skims my bottom lip and I am slightly embarrassed when a moan escapes my throat. When I pull away we are both out of breath and my skin is hot and his cheeks are flushed.
"Thank you for giving me another chance." He pants and pulls me into his chest.
"You act like I had a choice."
"You do." He frowns.
"I know." I lie. I haven't had a choice since I met him, I have been completely gone for him since the first time I kissed him.
"Where do we go from here?" I ask him.
"That's up to you. You know what I want."
"I want to be like we were before.. well how we were without all the other stuff." I tell Harry and he nods.
"That's what I want too baby. I will make this up to you, I promise."
Every time Harry calls me baby my stomach flutters. The mixture of his raspy voice, his accent and the gentleness behind his tone makes for the most perfect combination.
"Please don't make me regret this." I beg him and he takes my face into his hands once more.
"I won't. You'll see." He promises and kisses me again.

"Should we go out there with your mother?" I ask him after a few beats of silence.
"No.. let's just stay like this for a minute." He says.
"Okay." I happily oblige.
I know that Harry and I still have things to sort out but I feel so resolved now, so calm, so right. I am worried about everyone's reaction, especially my mother's but I will deal with that when the time comes. I hope the fact that I am not spending Christmas with her for the first time in eighteen years will overshadow her anger over Harry and I being together again and honestly if it doesn't I don't care. Well, I care but I am tired of the constant battle between her and I. I can't keep going to war with her over my choices, and I it's impossible to make her happy. I am done trying.
I lean my head against Harry's chest and he takes the end of my ponytail into his hands and twirls the hair between his fingers. I am glad that I got all of the gifts wrapped, it was stressful enough to get them at the very last minute. Shit. I didn't get Harry a gift! Did he get me one? Probably not, but now that we are together again.. or sort of for the first time.. I am afraid that he did and I didn't get him anything at all. I should have gotten him something before. What would I even get him?
"What's wrong?" He asks and moves his hand to my chin, tilting my face to his.
"Nothing.. "
"You aren't .. you're not .. you know.. changing your mind?" His voice is slow and unsure.
"No.. no. I just.. I didn't get you a gift." I admit.
His face breaks into a smile and his eyes meet mine.
"You're worried about getting me a gift for Christmas?" He laughs.
"Yea.. I should have gotten you something but I didn't know.."
"Tessa, honestly you have given me enough. You worrying about a Christmas gift is ridiculous."
"You're sure?"
"Positive." He laughs again.
I still feel guilty, maybe I will get him something when the malls open back up after Christmas. I will be at Liam's for Christmas anyway. I wish Harry would reconsider.
"I will get you something really good for your birthday?" I shrug and he moves his hand back to my face. His thumb runs along my bottom lip causing them to part and I expect him to kiss me again.
Instead, his lips touch down on my nose and then my forehead in a surprisingly sweet gesture.
"I don't really do birthdays." He tells me.
"I know.. I don't either." This is one of the few things we have in common.
"Harry?" Anne's voice calls as a light tap is heard on the door.
He groans and rolls his eyes as I climb off of his lap.
"It wouldn't kill you to be nicer to her, she hasn't seen you in a year."
"I'm not mean to her." He says and I know he honestly believes it.
"Just try to be a little nicer, for me?" I bat my eyelashes dramatically and he smiles.
"You're the devil." He teases but agrees.
"Harry?" She repeats and knocks again.
"Coming!" He says and climbs off of the bed.
He opens the door and I cross my legs on the bed.
"Do you two want to watch a movie?" She asks him.
He turns to me and raises his brow.
"Yea, we do." I tell her and climb off of the bed.
"Okay good because I am a little bored here." She smiles and ruffles her son's hair as he passes through the doorway.
"Actually, let me change first." He says and walks back into the room.
"Come on Tessa, let's make some snacks." Anne holds her hand out to me and I follow her into the kitchen.
It's probably not a good idea for me to watch Harry change anyway, I want to take things slow. Slow. With Harry, I don't know if that is possible. I wonder if I should tell Anne that I have decided to forgive Harry, or least try to.
"Cookies?" She asks me and I nod and open the cabinets.
"Peanut butter?' I ask her and grab the flour.
"You're going to make them? I was okay with break and bake but if you can make them homemade that's even better!"
"I'm not the best cook but Karen taught me an easy peanut butter cookie recipe."
"Karen?" She asks and my stomach drops.
I didn't mean to bring up Karen. The last thing I want to do is make Anne uncomfortable. I turn away from her to turn on the oven and hide my embarrassed expression.
"You've met her?" I can't read her tone as she asks.
"Yea.. her son Liam is my friend.. my best friend really."
"Oh.. what is she like?"
I level off the flour in the measuring cup and add it to the large mixing bowl and try to avoid eye contact with Anne. I don't know how to answer her, I don't want to lie to her but I don't know how she feels about Karen and ken.
"You can tell me." Anne says.
"She's lovely." I admit.
"I knew she would be."
"I didn't mean to bring her up, it just slipped out." I apologize.
"No honey, don't worry about it. I have no hard feelings towards that woman at all. Granted, I would love to hear that she is a dreadful troll." She laughs and relief washes through me.
"But I am glad Harry's father is happy. I just wish Harry would let go of his anger towards him and move on."
"He has.." I begin but stop abruptly when Harry enters the kitchen.
"He has what?" She asks.
I look to Harry then back to Anne, it's not my place to tell her if Harry hasn't.
"What are you guys talking about?" He asks.
"Your father." She answers him and his face pales.
I can tell by the look on his face that he didn't intend on telling her about his budding relationship with his father.
"I didn't know.." I try to tell him but he puts his hand up to silence me.
I hate how secretive he is, this is a problem we will always have I assume.
"It's fine Tess. I have been..sort of spending a little time with him." Harry's cheeks flush.
Without thinking, I walk over to stand next to him. I had expected him to be angry with me and lie to his mother but I am glad that he proved me wrong.
"You have?" Anne gasps.
"Yea.. I'm sorry mum. I didn't go near him until a few months ago, I got drunk and crashed his living room.. but then I stayed the night a few times and we went to the wedding."
Oh god. I am not emotionally capable enough for all of this.
"You've been drinking again?" Her eyes begin to water.
"Harry please tell me you haven't been drinking again?"
"No mum, only a few times. Not like before." He promises.
Not like before? I know Harry used to drink way too much but she makes it sound worse than I was led to believe.
"Are you mad that I have been seeing him?" He asks her. I put my hand on his back to try to comfort him.
"Oh Harry, I would never be upset with you for having a relationship with your father. I am just surprised that's all. You could have told me." She says and blinks rapidly to avoid tears.
"I thought you would be upset."
"No, I have wanted you to let go of that anger for so long. That was a dark time in our lives but we got through it and it's in the past. Your father isn't the same man he was then and I am not the same woman."
"It still doesn't make it okay." He says quietly.
"I know it doesn't but sometimes you have to choose to let things go, to move on. I really am happy that you have been seeing him. It's good for you. The reason I sent you here, well one of the reasons was for you to forgive him. I knew you were doing what you were doing because of him."
"I didn't forgive him."
"You should." She says sincerely. "I have."
Harry leans his elbows onto the counter and I rub my hand up and down his back. Anne notices the gesture and gives me a knowing smile. I admire Anne so much, even more than I already did. She is so strong and loving despite the lack of emotion from her son. I wish she had someone in her life, the way Ken has Karen.
Harry must have been thinking the exact same thought as I was. "But he lives in this big ass house and has expensive cars. He has a new wife, and you're alone." He says.
"I don't care about the size of his house or how much money he has." She assures him.
"And what makes you think I am alone?" She smiles.
"What?" He raises his head.
"Don't sound so surprised! I am quite the catch son."
"You're seeing someone? Who?"
"Robin." She blushes and my heart warms.
"Robin? Your neighbor?" Harry gapes.
"Yes my neighbor. He is a nice man Harry, and it's convenient having him live just next door." She laughs.
"For how long? Why didn't you tell me?" His voice curious.
"A few months, it's nothing serious.. yet. Besides, I don't think I should be asking you for relationship advice." She teases.
"Robin though? He's sort of a.."
"Don't you say a bad word about him, you are not too old for a spanking." She scolds and he laughs.
"Fine.. fine.." He raises his arms playfully.
I can tell he is much more relaxed now than he was this morning, I feel it too. The tension has disappeared between us, mostly, and watching him laugh and joke with his mother makes me so happy.
"I'm going to go pick the movie, don't come in there unless you bring cookies." Anne smiles and leaves us alone in the kitchen.
I walk back over to the bowl of ingredients and finish mixing the cookie dough.
"I don't think that's very sanitary." He says when he catches me licking a glob of dough off of my finger.
I dip my finger back into the bowl, collecting the sticky dough and walk over to Harry.
"Have some." I tell him. I hold up my hand and try to transfer the dough to his fingers but he opens his mouth and wraps his lips around my finger. I gasp at the contact and try to remind myself he is just removing the cookie dough, regardless of the way he is looking at me with dark eyes. No matter how he is flicking his warm tongue over my finger. No matter how many degrees the temperature of the kitchen has seemed to rise. No matter how my heart is beating out of my chest and my insides are igniting.
"I think that's enough." I croak and pull my finger from his mouth.
"Later then?" He gives me a wicked smirk and I nod.
(I am so glad everyone is happy that Hessa is back :) I didn't want to rush it because that is not realistic and I didn't want to drag it out too long so I am thrilled that everyone agreed with my timing! lol. Also, everyone has been asking if the story will end soon. I am not sure yet when it will end but it won't be too soon. I want to see how Tessa and Harry get past all of this(if they are able to) and how they navigate their relationship from this point, so it won't be ending soon. Well not too soon at least, there are still some loose ends and things that I want to happen so I hope that is okay. xo)

The plate of cookies are demolished within the first ten minutes of the movie and I have to admit I am proud of my newly acquired baking skills. Anne praises me and Harry eats over half of the batch, which is a praise itself.
"Is it bad that these cookies are my favorite thing about America so far?" Anne laughs as she takes the last bite.
"Yes, very sad." Harry teases her and I giggle.
"You may have to make these everyday until I leave." She informs me.
"Sounds good to me." I smile and lean into Harry.
One of his arms snakes behind me at my waist and I fold my legs up so I can move even closer to him.
Anne falls asleep towards the end of the movie and Harry turns the volume down on the remote so we can finish the movie without waking her.
I am a sobbing mess by the end and Harry doesn't try to hide his humor at my despair. That was one of the saddest movies I have seen in my entire life, I have no idea how Anne fell asleep.
"That was terrible, amazing but terribly sad." I sob.
"Blame my mum, I requested a comedy yet somehow we ended up with The Green Mile, I warned you." He says and moves his arm to my shoulder, pulling me closer and placing a gentle kiss on my forehead.
"We should have watched a comedy." I whine and wipe my nose with my hand.
"We can turn on Friends when we get to the room to get your mind off of him dy.."
"Harry! Don't remind me!" I groan and he chuckles before standing up off of the couch and pulling me by the arm to join him.
When we get to the room Harry switches the lamp on and then the television. I watch him lock the door and my insides quiver.
Harry's POV.
"I'm going to change." She tells me and swipes a tissue across the nose.
Her eyes are red from her breakdown during the movie. I knew it would upset her and I have to admit that I was looking forward to her reaction. Not because I want her to be upset, but because I love how emotionally invested she becomes in things. She opens herself so fully to these fictional forces, whether a movie or a novel, she allows them to pull her in and it's so captivating to watch.
She emerges from the closet in only shorts and her white lace bra. Holy shit. I don't even try to be subtle with my gaping.
"Do you think you could wear .. you know my shirt?" I ask her.
I am not sure how she will feel about that but I miss her wearing my shirts to bed.
"I would love to." She smiles and pulls my used shirt off the top of the clothes hamper.
"Good." I state, trying not to seem too excited.
I watch the way her breasts spill out of the top of the lace as she lifts her arms into the air. Stop staring. Slow, she wants to go slow. I can go slow.. slowly .. in and out of her. Jesus what the fuck is wrong with me? Just when I consider looking away she reaches under her shirt and pulls her bra through one of the loose sleeves and places it in the hamper behind her.. Christ.
"Something wrong?" She asks and climbs onto the bed.
"No." I gulp and watch in awe as she pulls her hair out of the ponytail it was in. It falls down onto her shoulders in a beautiful blonde wave and she shakes her head slowly. She has to be doing this on purpose.
"Okay.." She says. She lays on top of the duvet. I wish she would get under it so she wouldn't look so.. exposed.
"Are you coming to bed?" Her expression confused.
I hadn't realized that I was still standing by the door.
"I know this is a little strange right now, you know getting used to being together again but you don't have to be so...distant." She says nervously.
"I know." I respond and join her on the bed, trying to conceal my lower region.
"It's really not as strange as I thought it would be." Her voice is almost a whisper.
"I agree."
I am relieved to hear that she isn't uncomfortable around me, I was worried that it wouldn't be the same as before. That she would be guarded and not the Tess that I love so much. It has only been a few hours but I hope it stays this way. It's so easy with her, so damn easy yet difficult at the same time.
"You are being so weird. Tell me what's on your mind." She requests.
Her small hand lays on mine and she leans onto my chest.
"I am glad you are still here, that's all." And I can't stop thinking about making love to you. I add silently. It's not just about getting off with Tessa like it always was before, it's much more. So much more, it's about being as connected and tied to her as I possibly can be. It's about her trusting me fully. My chest aches when I think about the trust she had for me but I shattered.
"That's not all." She calls me out and I shake my head.
Her hand raises and her index finger draws a line against my temple and down to the metal in my eyebrow.
"It's terrible what I am thinking." I admit. I don't want her to think that she is an object to me, that I just want to use her. I really don't want to tell her what is on my mind but I can't continue to keep anything from her, I need to be honest with her now and always.
"Tell me." Her worried expression pains me.
"I.. well I was thinking about.. fucking.. I mean making love to you."
"Oh." She says softly, her eyes wide.
"I know, I am a dick." I groan, wishing I would have lied.
"No.. no you're not. I was sort of thinking about the same thing." Her cheeks color red and she takes her bottom lip between her teeth, taunting me further.
'You were?" This woman never ceases to surprise me.
"Yea... I mean it has been a while.. well not including Seattle which I was belligerently drunk during."
I search her face for the judgment at my lack of control when she came onto me last weekend, but there is none there. I see the embarrassment as she recalls the events in her mind. My boxers are growing uncomfortably tight as I do the same.
"I don't want you to think that I am using you.. because of everything." I explain.
"Harry, out of all the things I am thinking right now that isn't one of them. Granted, it probably should be but it's not."
I was afraid, so afraid that our intimate moments would be forever tainted by my foolishness.
"You're sure? Because I don't want to fuck up again." I tell her.
She answers me by taking my hand and placing in in between her thighs. Fuck. I grab her waist with my other hand and pull her towards me. Within seconds I am hovering over her body, with one knee between her legs. I kiss her neck first, my mouth feverish and quick against her soft skin. She tugs my t-shirt up and lifts her back enough for me to pull it off.  My tongue leaves a wet trail behind as I kiss over her collarbone and over the swell of her breasts. Her hands pull at my shirt and I help her remove the fabric and my sweats simultaneously, leaving me in only my boxers.
I want to touch every part of her body, every inch of skin, every curve, every angle. God she is beautiful. As I lower myself to kiss her stomach, her fingers disappear into my hair, tugging at the roots and I nip at her skin. Her panties and shorts are tossed onto the floor and my tongue caresses the skin over her hips.
"Harry...please.." She rushes me along as I explore her body as if it's the first or last time.
I bring my mouth to her most sensitive area and slide my tongue across her slowly, savoring her taste as it consumes my senses.
"Oh god." She pants and pulls harder on my hair.
Her hips buck up off of the bed and she presses herself against my tongue. I pull back and she whines. I love that she is as desperate for me as I am for her. I quickly lean up and open the drawer on the nightstand, grabbing the foil packet and tear it open with my teeth.
She watches me and I watch her. I watch the way her chest rises and falls in anticipation. My boxers are pushed down by my own hands and I lean over to plant a small kiss on her cheek before I slide it on.
"Lay down." I instruct.
She obliges and I climb back between her legs. The anticipation is exhilarating. I am so hard that it hurts.
"You are always so ready for me baby." I muse, collecting her moisture on my fingers before bringing them to her mouth to have her taste. She is shy but doesn't protest as he laps her tongue around my finger. I take this opportunity to ease into her. The feeling is exquisite and I have missed it so much.
"Christ." I curse as she moans in relief.
All of my previous heartache dissolves as I bury myself into her, filling her up completely. Her eyes roll back in her head and I deliberately circle my hips slowly before pulling out and pushing back in repeatedly.
"More.. please Harry." Fuck I love to hear her beg.
"No baby.. I want to go slow this time." I tell her and she nods, a moan escaping as I circle my hips again.
I want to savor every second of this, I want it to be slow and I want her to feel how much I love her, how sorry I am for hurting her, and how I am willing to do anything for her.
I bring my mouth to hers and caress her tongue with mine. I groan when her fingernails dig into my biceps, sure to leave crescent marks in their wake.
"I love you.. I love you so much." I tell her and increase my pace slightly. I know I am torturing her with my teasing, slow movements.
"I..I love you." She moans and her legs begin to shake. She is almost there.
I would love to see what we look like in this moment, molded together yet so separated. The contrast of her smooth clear skin to the black ink covering almost every inch of mine as she runs her hands up and down my arms is quite the sight. It's dark meets light, it's chaotic perfection, it's everything I fear, want and need.
Her moans become louder and I bring my hand to her mouth.
"Shh.. let go baby." I instruct, keeping her silent.
My thrusts quicken as her soft body goes rigid under mine and she tries to call my name into my hand. Within seconds I am joining her, getting high off of her. She is the perfect drug.
"Look at me." I breath. Her eyes meet mine and I am done for. I spill into the condom and her body relaxes, leaving us both a panting mess.
When I move to climb off of her she grabs my arms to stop me. I smile down at her and stay still. I use my elbow to prop me up and keep most of my weight off of her. Tessa's hand touches my cheek, she uses the pad of her thumb to draw small circles against my damp skin.
"I love you Harry." She says quietly.
"I love you Tess." I respond and lay my head against her chest.
My eyes are heavy as I feel her breathing slow and I fall asleep listening to the steady strum of her heartbeat.
(One of the girls from instagram suggested that I do an interview book where you guys can ask me questions and I will answer them there. I think it's a really cool idea and I would love to do it. I have no idea if anyone has any questions for me haha but if you do, you can ask them here on this chapter and I will begin to answer them in a separate book. It could be fun so ask away! Lol. It doesn't have to be about the book, it can just be random things as well. I would love to get to know you all even better! )

To be continued.. 


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