Thursday, 14 June 2018

AFTER ROMANCE 2 Episode 41-45

"I think the bedroom is clean enough." Harry says as I put his shoes in the closet.
"If you weren't so messy I wouldn't be cleaning so much." I arch my brow.
"Sure. You would still be cleaning." He smiles and holds his hands out to me.
"What you said about moving back to England.. you meant that?" I ask and he pulls me onto his lap.
"Yea?" He answers like it shouldn't surprise me.
"When were you going to tell me?"
"I don't know.. I didn't think about it I guess." He shrugs.
"Okay.. well you only have two years left of college and I have three."
"Okay?" He obviously doesn't get where I am going with this.
"So you are just going to go to England and I will stay here? Then what?"
"I don't know.. I haven't really thought that far ahead."
"Oh." I guess I am the only one thinking of our future together.
"You will just come with me."
"I don't want to move."
"Ever?"
"Only to Seattle, I have a plan. I have always planned to live in Seattle."
"Plans change."
"Not mine."
"I wasn't part of your plan." He points out.
"I know.. but I am not moving to England."
"Yes you are." He says and I stand up from his lap.
"No, I am serious. I am not moving across the world. I will be moving to Seattle. I am not going to uproot my entire life to move somewhere that I have never been."
"What life? You don't have anything or anyone here anyway. Only me."
"My mother is here and my.. well Noah is here."
"Noah?" He scoffs.
"Yea.. he's the closest thing I have to family besides my mother."
"You and your mum don't get along and you aren't going to be seeing him anyway." He threatens. I choose not to argue over Noah at the moment.
"That doesn't mean that I am going to just move away.. I don't want to move. Why do you just assume that I would be the one to move, and so easily?"
"Because I am not American, I am not going to stay here forever."
"Well I am American and I don't want to leave here for no reason."
"No reason? Being with me isn't a reason?" He stands with me, his voice louder than before.
"Not a reason to leave everything that I know. I don't like that you just assume I will be the one to move when you won't even consider staying here."
"You're right."
"Thank you!" I run my fingers through my hair.
"Let me finish.. I was saying you are right because I am not going to consider staying here."
"Wow." I somehow knew the conversation would go this way, I knew he would try to call the shots but I am not the same girl I was when he met me.
"Even if I was going to move with you, I still have a year longer than you before I graduate."
"Do we really need to discuss this right now? Today has been shit and I don't want to fight with you." He says.
"We don't have to fight, we can discuss this like adults."
"Well can we please discuss it tomorrow, jesus it's not like we are talking marriage here."
I agree with him but I can't ignore the small sting from his dismissal.
"I know that." I snap.
"Harry! Tessa!" Anne calls.
"Thank god." He sighs and walks out of the room.
We spend the remainder of the Christmas from hell watching television with Anne. I fall asleep on the couch and wake to Harry shaking my shoulder before picking me up and carrying me into the room.
"I set my alarm." I tell him before rolling over to face opposite of him, scooting at least two feet away and closing my eyes again.
He ignores my attitude and hooks his arm around my waist to pull me to his chest.
"You won't be away from me. Ever." I think I hear him say. I can't decide if I should feel threatened or safe.
As he softly presses his lips against the back of my neck, I decide to go with safe.
My eyes burn from lack of sleep when my alarm goes off at four -thirty. I wake Harry up and force myself out of bed to get dressed.
"You should just stay home, I can take her." He says, his voice thick.
"No, I can go. I'm fine." I say.
"Babe, you just took your sweats off and put them back on twice." He laughs.
"Oh." I look down and notice he is right. I had meant to put jeans on.
"Stay, I won't be gone long." He assures me.
"Okay, I am going to say goodbye to your mother."
"You can say mom, you know."
"I know.."
"Why don't you?"
"Because my mother finds it disrespectful." I explain and he nods.
"We have to leave soon so go say goodbye to her." He says.
I leave the bedroom to find Anne to say goodbye. I have only known her for a few days but it seems like much longer.
"I am sorry that this week has been this way, it was supposed to be better." She says and pulls me into a hug.
"We were in the middle of a mess anyway, you actually made it better." I tell her.
"I doubt that, but I am so glad that I got to meet you and I can not wait until you two come visit. Please make it soon." When she pulls away she has tears in her eyes.
"We will, I will make sure it is soon." I tell her, unsure if I am telling the truth.
She looks behind me and then back into my eyes.
"He told me he loved me, you know? Because of you, it's all because of you."
"He did?" My chest throbs and I can't help the tears that fall immediately down my cheeks.
Harry did not mention this to me.
"It means so much to me to hear him say that after all this time." She cries with me.
"What the hell?" Harry groans at the sight of Anne and I crying in one another's arms.
"Nothing, we are just being women." Anne says, wiping her eyes and pulling away.
"I will see you again soon." She smiles and Harry rolls his eyes as he lifts her bags from the floor and heads towards the front door.
"Go back to bed, I will be home soon." He says and they leave the apartment.
I go back into the room and lay down but sleep doesn't seem to come. All I can think about is Harry telling Anne that he loves her. It sounds so simple but I know the weight that those words hold for him.
Harry's POV.
"You just missed the turn." My mum complains.
"I know, I am about to turn around." I try not to be annoyed since she is leaving and I don't know when I will see her again.
"Tessa didn't know that you were planning on moving back home did she?" She asks when we reach the airport.
I had been waiting on her to bring this up since Tessa did last night.
"No, we hadn't talked about it before."
"You're going to stay here in America aren't you?"
"No, I am not." I state.
"You're not?" Disbelief is clear in her voice.
"No, I just said that didn't I?" I am getting annoyed.
"So then she is going to come to England? I would love to have both of you close."
"She doesn't want to come to England mum."
"One of you has to compromise Harry."
"We are talking years from now anyway, who knows what will happen before then." I groan and park in the drop off lane and turn the heat up.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means we may not even be together."
"I thought you wanted to spend your life with her? You don't see yourself with her?"
"Yes, of course I do. But I don't know if she.. never mind. It's fucking stupid, I don't want to talk about this shit." I groan. My head is throbbing, it is too early to be having a conversation like this, especially with my mum.
"She what?"
"Nothing, fuck." My mum frowns and I sigh.
"Fine, she may not want me then that's all." I look out the window.
"She loves you Harry."
"Yea now.. but that doesn't mean she will always. What if this is a phase of hers? Rebelling against her mum." That thought has been haunting me and it feels like shit to actually say it aloud,
"I don't believe that. She is still here after all of the things you have done to her. I wouldn't be with you if I were her."
"Thanks mum." She really isn't helping. Personal conversation is not our thing.
"I am just saying. If this was a phase she wouldn't have put up with all of your...baggage. You need to allow yourself to be happy. Stop doubting her love for you." My mum says. It sounds good in theory but it isn't that easy.
"Okay." I simply answer. I don't want to say anything else.
Tessa and I are so different. We only have a few things in common. Yea, it works for us now, but barely. When she brought up the future last night it honestly scared the shit out of me. I don't think that I can give her a future, not the one she wants anyway. I don't want to be married, never have and never will. I don't want children, I don't even like children. I don't want to live in America, I want to go back to England. The problem will all of this is, I don't want to lose her either. I can't lose her so I have no fucking idea what I am supposed to do.
"I have to go or I will miss my flight. Promise me you will do your best to treat her right. She is good for you." My mum says and we both get out of the car.
I walk over to her side and rock back and forth on the heels of my boots.
"I love you Harry." She says, crying and hugs me tight.
"I.. I love you too mum." I say back and hug her back. I almost correct myself and take back the "too" but that is a special thing only for Tess and I.
"I will call you when I land." She promises me and I wave her off before climbing back into the car. My chest feels one hundred pounds heavier as I drive home thinking about what type of future I could possibly provide the girl I love.

When Harry returns from dropping Anne off at the airport I am still awake. I hear him drop his clothes onto the floor and climbs back into bed wearing only boxers. He wraps his arms around me once more. I am still a little irritated with him from our earlier conversation but his arms are cold and I missed him during his absence from our bed.
"I go back to work tomorrow." I say after a few minutes, unsure if he is awake or not.
"I know." He is awake.
"Is something wrong?" I ask, his tone sounds off.
"No, just tired." He says.
Okay.. I am excited to get back to Vance."
"Why?"
"Because I love it there and I have had the week off, I miss working."
"You're quiet the over-achiever." He mocks, I know he is rolling his eyes even though I can not see his face.
"Sorry that I love my internship and you don't like your job." I smile.
"I do like my job, and I had the same job you had but I left it for something better." Harry brags.
"Do you only like it more because you get to do it from home?"
"Yea, that's the main reason."
"What's the other reason?"
"I felt like people thought I only got the job because of Vance."
This is not a huge revelation but it's a much more honest answer than I expected from him. I expected a word or two about how the job sucked or was annoying.
"Do you think people thought that?" I roll onto my back from my side and Harry leans up on his elbow to look down at me.
"I don't know, no one said it but I felt like they were thinking it. Especially after he hired me on as an actual employee not just an intern."
"Do you think he was upset when you left to work for someone else?"
"No, I don't think so. His employees were constantly complaining about my supposed attitude anyway." He smiles. His smile appears especially bright in the half lit bedroom.
"Supposed attitude?" I tease.
He cups my cheek beneath his hand and drips his head down to kiss my forehead.
"Yes supposed, I am very charming. No attitude at all." He smiles against my skin.
I giggle and he smiles, pressing his forehead against mine.
"What do you want to do today?" He asks.
"I don't know, I was thinking of calling Liam and going to the store."
"For what?"
"To talk to him and see when he can meet up with me. I would like to give him those tickets."
"The gifts are at their house, I am sure they already opened them."
"I don't see them opening them without us being there."
"I would."
"My point exactly." I tease him.
"Do you think.. what do you think about me apologizing.. well not apologizing.. but what if I called him, you know my dad?"
"I think you should call him. I don't expect you to apologize and I am sure he doesn't either but I do think you shouldn't let what happened yesterday ruin the beginning of a relationship you were forming with him." I know that I need to tread lightly when it comes to Harry and Ken.
"I guess.." He sighs.
"After I hit him, I thought for a second that you were going to stay there and make me leave."
"You did?"
"Yea, I did. I am glad you didn't but that's what I thought."
I lift my head off the mattress and plant a small kiss on his jawline instead of answering. I have to admit that I probably would have done what he assumed I would do if he wouldn't have came clean about his past, that changed everything for me. It changed the way I look at Harry, not in a negative way, or positive, just a more understanding way.
"I can call him today I guess."
"Do you think that we could go to their house? I really want to give them their gifts."
"We could just tell them to open them while you are on the phone, that's basically the same only you won't have to see their fake smiles at your terrible presents."
"Harry!" I whine.
He chuckles and lays his head on my chest.
"I'm teasing, you give the best gifts. That keychain with the wrong sports team was killer." He laughs.
"Go back to bed." I swat at his messy hair.
"What did you need from the store?" He asks. I forgot that I mentioned the store.
"Nothing."
"You said you needed to go to the store, what do you need plugs or something?"
"Plugs?"
"You know to ..plug yourself." What?
"I don't get it." I tell him.
"Tampons."
"Oh..no." I flush.
"Do you even have a period?"
"Oh my god Harry, stop talking about it."
"What? Your embarrassed to talk about your period with me?" When he lifts up to look at me, a huge grin is plastered on his face.
"I'm not embarrassed. It is just inappropriate." I defend, highly embarrassed.
"We have done quiet a few inappropriate things Theresa." He smiles.
"Don't call me Theresa, and stop talking about it!" I groan and cover my face with my hands.
"Are you bleeding now?" He asks. I feel his hand travel down my stomach.
"No.. " I lie.
I have gotten away with him not noticing before, usually because we are always on and off. I have been lucky enough to never have him take pay attention when it was that time of month. Now that we are going to be around one another more steadily I knew this would happen, I just was hoping that it wouldn't.
"So you wouldn't mind if I.." His hands slips into the top of my panties.
"Harry!" I squeal and remove his hand.
"Admit then, say I am on my period." He taunts.
"No, I am not saying that." I know my face is solid red by now. I have managed to make it this far without him even thinking about it and I was hoping it would continue that way.
"Come on, it's just a little blood."
"You are disgusting."
"I think I am bloody amazing." He smiles, obviously proud of his ridiculous joke.
"You're obnoxious."
"You need to lighten up, learn to go with the flow." He laughs harder.
"Oh my god! Okay, if I say it will you stop with the menstrual jokes?"
"I am not making jokes. Period."
His laugh is contagious and it feels great to be laying in bed laughing with Harry, despite the subject of conversation.
"I am on my period, I just started right before you got home."
"Why are you embarrassed by it?"
"I'm not, I just don't think it's something that women should discuss."
"It's not a big deal, I don't mind a little blood." He presses himself against me.
"You're gross." I scrunch my nose.
"I've been called worse." He smiles.
"You're in a good mood today." I point out.
"Maybe you would be too if it wasn't that time of month."
I groan and grab the pillow from behind me to cover my face.
"Can we please talk about something else?" I say through the pillow.
"Sure.. sure.. someone's bloody panties are in a twist." He laughs.
I pull the pillow from my face and hit him in the head with it before climbing off the bed.
I hear him laughing as he opens the dresser, to put pants on I assume. It is early, only seven in the morning but I am wide awake now. I start a pot of coffee and open the cabinet to make myself a bowl of cereal. I can't believe Christmas is over, in a few days the year will be over.
"What do you usually do to celebrate the new year?" I ask Harry when he sits down at the table wearing white cotton drawstring pants.
"Go out, usually."
"Go where?"
"Parties, or club. Or both. Last year was both."
"Oh." I hand Harry a bowl of cereal.
"What would you like to do?"
"I'm not sure. I want to go out I think." I answer.
"You do?"
"Yea.. don't you?"
"I don't really give a shit what we do but if you want to go out that is what we will do." He brings the spoon full of cheerios to his mouth.
"Okay." I have no idea where we will go or what we will do but I do want to go somewhere.
"Are you going to ask your father if we can stop by today?" I ask him and take seat next to him.
"I don't know.."
"Maybe they could come here?" I suggest. Harry's eyes narrow.
"I don't think so."
"Why not? You would be more comfortable here right?"
He closes his eyes for a moment before opening them again.
"I guess. I will call now."
"It's too early you will wake them."
"And?"
"Just wait until nine. It's rude to wake them up this early." I say and stand up from the table.
"Where are you going?" He asks.
"To clean obviously."
"Clean what? The place is spotless."
"No it's not, and I want it to be perfect if we are having guests over." I rinse my bowl and place it into the dishwasher.
"Of course you do." He smiles.
"You could help clean you know? Since you are the one making the mess." I suggest.
"Oh, no. You are much better at cleaning than I am."
I roll my eyes but I don't mind honestly because I like things a certain way and Harry's version of cleaning is not actually cleaning, he shoves things wherever they will fit.
"Don't forget you need to go to the store to get your plugs." He laughs.
"Stop calling them that!" I throw a dish towel at his face and he laughs harder at my embarrassment.

After the apartment is clean to my standards, not Harry's, I go to the store to get tampons and a few things in case Ken, Karen, and Liam come over. Harry tried to accompany me but I knew he would be teasing me about the tampons the entire time so I made him stay home. He made sure to embarrass me up until I walked out the door.
The small grocery store down the street from our apartment, Conner's, is usually empty but today it is packed with customers. The elderly woman at the counter seems annoyed as I place my items on the belt. After she scans my things I swipe my debit card.
"This lane is cash only." She huffs.
I look up to the small sign above her head that clearly reads 'cash only'. Great.
"Do you think you could just let me pay with my card just this once?" I plea. I just stood in line for twenty minutes, I really do not want to wait in line again.
"I can't, sorry." The gray haired woman replies.
"Oh come on Gloria, it's only once." A young man with tanned skin and black hair says from the next register. He shoots her a charming smile and she sighs.
"Only this once." She gives in and I thank her before swiping my card again.
I turn to thank the raven haired boy but he isn't at his register anymore.
When I step outside the cold air hits me and I shiver. I can not wait for spring, I hope winter isn't long this year.
"She takes her job a little too serious sometimes." A voice says, I turn to find the guy from inside. His name tag says Jonah and he is now wearing a thick black jacket.
"I can tell." I laugh. "Thank you for that, I would have been in line all day."
"No problem. Glad I could help." He smiles and lifts a helmet onto his head.
"Thanks again." I tell him and watch as he climbs onto a motorcycle.
I don't know how smart it is to be riding a motorcycle in this weather but at least it is not snowing. His bike starts with a loud roar and I climb into my car.
When I return he is sitting on the couch with his work binder on his lap and a pen between his lips. I love to see him this way, something about him working is so appealing. Everything about Harry is appealing, but this is towards the top of the list.
"Is that all or are there more bags?" He asks, removing his binder from his lap and placing it on the side table.
"This is all of it." I walk to the kitchen to put the groceries away.
"Have you called your father yet?" I ask from the kitchen.
"No.. I was waiting for you." He says back.
He appears in the kitchen moments later and sits down at the table.
"I'll call now." He sighs.
I nod and sit across from him while he presses his phone to his ear.
"Uh..hey." Harry says into the receiver.
He sets the phone to speaker and places it on the table between us.
"Harry?" Ken's voice is surprised.
"Yea..uhm, look I was wondering if you wanted to come over or something."
"Come over?" Ken asks.
Harry looks up at me and I can tell that his patience is already wearing thin. My hand moves across the table to lay on his and I nod in encouragement.
"Yea.. you Karen and Liam. We can exchange gifts since we didn't yesterday. Mum's gone." He says.
"You're sure that is okay?" Ken asks his son.
"I just asked didn't I?" Harry says and I squeeze his hand.
"I mean.... yea that's fine." He corrects himself and I smile at him.
"Okay, well let me talk to Karen but I know she will be thrilled. What time will be good for you?"
Harry looks at me. I mouth "two" and he tells his father.
"Okay, well we will see you at two."
"Tessa will text Liam the address." Harry says and hangs up the phone.
"That wasn't so bad right?" I ask Harry.
"Sure." He rolls his eyes.
"What should I wear?"
"That." He gestures to my jeans and WSU t-shirt.
"Definitely not. This is our Christmas."
"No, it's the day after Christmas so you should wear jeans." He smiles and his fingers tug at his lip ring.
"I'm not wearing jeans." I laugh and head to the room to decide what to wear.
I am holding my white dress to my chest in front of the mirror when Harry walks into the bedroom.
"I don't know if wearing white is the best idea." He smiles.
"For god's sake, stop it!" I whine.
"You're cute when you are embarrassed." He teases and I grab my maroon dress from the closet.
This dress holds a lot of memories for me, I wore it to my first frat party with Steph. I miss Steph despite all the anger I feel.. felt towards her. I feel betrayed by her but at the same time she was right when she said it wasn't fair for me to forgive Harry but not her, he was the one who did the most damage.
"What's going on in that mind of yours?" Harry questions.
"Nothing.. I was just thinking of Steph."
"What about her?"
"I don't know.. I miss her, sort of."
"Oh."
"Do you miss your friends?" I ask. He hasn't mentioned any of them since the letter.
"No, I would rather spend my time with you than them." He shrugs.
I am enjoying this honest Harry.
"You could still spend time with them too." I tell him.
"I guess. I don't know, I don't really care either way. Do you even want to be around them.. you know after everything?" His eyes focus on the floor.
"I don't know.. but I would be willing to try at least and see how it goes. Not Molly though." I scowl.
"But the two of you are such great friends." He smiles.
"Ugh, enough about her. What do you think they will do on new year's eve?" I ask, I don't know how it will be to be around everyone but I miss having friends, or what I thought were friends.
"There will probably be a party. Louis is obsessed with New Years, are you sure you want to go out?"
"Yea.. if it blows up in my face then we will stay in next year." I smile.
Harry's eyes widen when I mention next year but I choose to ignore it. I need today to be peaceful considering we are attempting Christmas again and the original was a massive disaster.
"I need to make something for everyone to eat. I should have said three, it's already noon and I am not even ready." I rub my hands over my makeup free face.
"Go ahead and get ready, I will make something.. just make sure you only eat what I put on your plate." He smirks.
"Joking about poisoning your father, lovely." I tease and he shrugs before leaving the bedroom.
I wash my face and apply light makeup before pulling my hair out of it's ponytail and curling the ends.
By the time I finish getting ready and get myself dressed I can smell garlic coming from the kitchen. It smells delicious. I grab the box of tampons from the dresser and cringe at the odd nickname Harry gave them.
When I join him in the kitchen he has the trays of fruit and vegetables that I bought at Conner's set out on the table along with plates and silverware. I am impressed by the way he has set the table and fight the urge to rearrange a few things. I am so glad that Harry was willing to invite his father over to our apartment and even more relieved that he seems to be in a really good mood today. Our company will be here in thirty minutes. I clean up the small mess Harry has made while cooking and now the apartment is spotless again.
"Thank you for doing all of this." I wrap my arms around his waist as he stands in front of the oven.
"It's nothing." He shrugs.
"Are you okay?" I ask and unwrap my arms from his waist, turning him to face me.
"Yea.. I'm fine."
"Are you sure you aren't a little nervous?" I ask, I can tell he is.
"No.. well just a little. It's just weird as fuck to have him coming here, you know?"
"I know, I am really proud of you for inviting him." I press my cheek against his chest and his hands move to my waist.
"You are?"
"Of course I am ba.. Harry."
"What were you going to say?"
"Nothing." I hide my face. I don't know where this sudden urge to call him pet names comes from but it's embarrassing.
"Tell me." He coos and lifts my chin to force me to come out of hiding.
"I don't know why I almost called you babe again." I bring my bottom lip between my teeth and his smile grows.
"Go ahead, call me it." He says.
"You'll make fun of me." I smile weakly.
"No I won't. I call you baby all the time."
"Yea.. but it's different when you do it."
"How so?"
"I don't know.. it's like sexier or something.. more romantic. I don't know." I flush.
"You're awfully shy today." He smiles and plants a kiss on my forehead.
"I like it though so go ahead and call me it." He tells me.
"Okay." I hug him tighter.
"Okay what?" I know he is smirking at me.
"Okay.. babe." The word tastes strange rolling off of my tongue.
"Again."
I let out a surprised squeak as he lifts me onto the cold counter top and he stands between my legs.
"Okay babe." I repeat.
His cheeks are a deeper shade of pink than usual.
"I really love that. It's.. what did you say? Sexy and romantic?" He smiles.
A sudden bravery makes me speak again.
"Is it babe?" I smile and bite my lip again.
"Yes.. incredibly sexy." He presses his lips against my neck and I shiver as his hands trail up my thighs.
"Don't think these will keep me out." His fingers draw circles on my black tights.
"They may not but the.. you know will." I say referring to my period.
A knock at the door makes me jump and Harry smiles.
"Oh baby.. that won't either." He winks and walks towards the door.

I climb off the counter to find Liam walking through the door first followed by Karen and Ken. I gasp when I take in Ken's face. A deep purple bruise is clear on his cheek and his bottom lip holds a small cut right down the center. I fidget with my hands, twirling the heart charm on my bracelet between my fingers.
"Hey." Harry says, looking away from his father's injured face.
"Your place is so lovely." Karen smiles and the three of them stand by the door, unsure what to do.
"Come on in. You can put those by the tree." I tell Liam, gesturing to the bag of gifts in his arms.
"We brought the gifts you left at the house as well." Ken says.
The air is thick with tension, not an angry tension necessarily, but an awkward tension.
"Thank you." I smile.
Liam walks to the kitchen first, followed by Karen and Ken. Harry is standing so close to me that I can practically feel his nerves shaking.
"How was the drive?" I ask, trying to start conversation.
"It wasn't too bad, I drove." Liam answers.
"Are you excited to get back to classes? I miss them, doing the work at home isn't the same." I tell him. Sometimes I forget that I am still a college student. that is until I have a ten page essay to write without being present all week. Everyone awkwardly fills their plates with food, I get the feeling that Liam and I will be doing most of the talking today.
"Yes, very. I have been bored out of my mind all winter break. So when the semester starts will you still be gone everyday? I don't want to be stuck in all my classes alone."
"No, I will be at Vance three days a week and on campus the other two. I am excited for new classes." I explain.
"Our religion professor is young, only twenty four I believe."
"Really? She must be fresh out of college." I say.
"He." Liam corrects me.
"Oh." I smile and take a bite of a cherry tomato from the vegetable tray.
"What are your other classes?" Ken asks.
"Well Liam and I are taking world religion, an American Literature class, and I am taking yoga and French alone."
"Liam you didn't want to take yoga?" Karen smiles and Liam shakes his head with a smile.
I feel Harry's eyes on me and I turn to glance at him. I can't tell what he is thinking but he doesn't look happy.
"The food was excellent." Karen compliments me.
"I didn't make it, Harry did." I smile and place my hand on his thigh.
"Really? It was delicious Harry." Karen smiles.
"Thanks." Harry replies simply. He offers her a small smile to soften his short answer.
No one seems to know what to say so I stand up and place my empty plate in the sink before filling Harry's empty glass with sweet tea.
"Thank you." He quietly says to me.
"Should we open the gifts?" Liam asks.
"Yes." Karen and I say at the same time.
Silent Harry is almost as uncomfortable as irritated Harry.
We walk into the living room and Harry sits on the chair. Ken, Karen, and Liam sit on the couch. Just as I am about to sit on the floor Harry grabs me gently and pulls me onto his lap. I feel my cheeks redden at his public display of affection and Karen tries to hide her smile.
Liam gets up to grab the bag of gifts and hands each of us our gifts, I probably should be the one doing this but I appreciate Liam doing it. Everyone opens their gifts at the same which is nice because the attention isn't on me or Harry at the moment. Harry's arm rest comfortably around my waist as I tear open the small box marked From: Ken and Karen . A jewelry box is revealed and I gasp when I see a blue box. Tiffany & co is written in silver scroll on the front.
"What is it?" Harry asks me quietly.
I remove the lid and find a thin chain link bracelet with a silver bow and a small name plate tab that reads "Tiffany & Co."
"A bracelet." I whisper back.
"Of course it is." He rolls his eyes.
I knew the second that I saw what was in the box from Karen and Ken that Harry would not be pleased with the idea that they got me a similar.. and more expensive gift.
"Its beautiful thank you both so much." I smile at them.
"She already.." Harry starts to say but I silently plead with him not to start a fight.
He sighs and sinks back into the chair, tightening his grip around my waist.
"What is in yours?" I ask Harry, planting a kiss on his forehead before I realize what I am doing.
Luckily he doesn't say anything or move away from the kiss. It's strange the way we have been the last few days, it feels like we finally have a real relationship.
"A watch." He says and tilts the box towards me.
I don't know anything about watches but it is sleek, black, and looks very pricey.
Harry's POV.
"I have been wanting this set all season!" Karen beams over the box of pans from Tessa.
Tessa thought I didn't notice that she added my name on the small snowman shaped tags, but I did. I just didn't feel like crossing it out. She would let me have it if I did.
"I feel like a jerk because I only got you a gift card when you got me these tickets." Liam says to Tessa.
I have to admit that I am happy for his impersonal present of a gift card for her to purchase more books on the Nook that I got her for her birthday. If he would have gotten something more thoughtful it would have annoyed me but with Tessa's caring smile you would think he bought her a fucking first edition Austen novel. I still can't believe they got her an expensive bracelet, what show offs. What If she wants to wear this new one instead of mine?
"Thank you for the gifts, they are great." My dad says and looks at me, holding up the keychain Tessa mistakenly chose for him.
I feel a little guilty for his busted face but at the same time it's slightly amusing. I want to apologize for my outburst, well I wouldn't say want to, but I need to. I don't want to go backwards with him. It was sort of okay to spend time with him, I guess. Karen and Tessa get on pretty well and I feel obligated to give her the chance to have a motherly figure around since it's my fault her and her mother are on such bad terms. It is good for me in a fucked up way because it's one less person in the way of us being together.
"Harry?" Tessa's voice says into my ear.
I look up at her and realize that one of them must have been talking to me.
"Would you want to go with Liam to the game?" She asks.
"What? No." I say quickly.
"Thanks man." Liam rolls his eyes.
"I mean I don't think Liam would want that." I correct myself.
Being decent is much harder than I thought it would be. I am only doing this for her, well a little for myself because my mum's words keep repeating in my head that my anger will only give me busted hands and a lonely life.
"Tessa and I can go if you won't." Liam says to me.
Why is he trying to annoy me when I am trying to be nice for once?
"Yea, I will go with. I don't know anything about hockey but I will tag along." She smiles.
Without thinking I wrap my other arm around her waist and pull her against my chest.
"I will go." I give in.
Amusement is clear on Liam's face and I know if Tessa's back wasn't to me she would share the same expression.
"I really like what you guys have done to the place Harry." My father speaks.
"It came decorated mostly, but thanks." I reply.
I have came to the conclusion that it is less awkward when I am punching him than when we are trying to avoid an argument.
"It was really nice of you to invite us over." Karen smiles at me.
My life would be easier if she was a hideous bitch but of course she is one of the nicest people I have ever met.
"It's nothing really.. after what happened yesterday it's the least I can do." My voice sounds strained and shakier than I wanted it to.
"It's okay, it happens." Karen assures me.
"Not really, I don't think that violence is a regular holiday tradition." I say.
"Maybe it will be from now, Tessa can punch me out next year." Liam makes a lame attempt to lighten the mood.
"Maybe." Tessa sticks her tongue out at him and I smile slightly.
"It won't happen again." I say and look at my dad.
"It was my fault, I should have known it wasn't going to go well but I hope now that you let some of the anger out we can get back to trying to develop a relationship." He says to me.
Tessa puts her small hands over mine to comfort me and I nod.
"Uh yea.. cool." I say timidly.
"There is a classic car show next weekend..maybe we could go?" He asks me.
I notice the look his new wife shoots him and I know she is telling him to chill the hell out.
"Sure.. we could go I guess." I will never forget what he did or who he was but I need to try to move on from it.
"Cool." He lamely says to hide his surprise.
"Yea.." I chew on the inside of my cheek.
"Let me know if you really want to go to the game." Liam says before they leave.
A hockey game with Liam and a car show with my dad, what the fuck have I gotten myself into?
Tessa hugs the three of them as I lean against the wall. I was nice enough today there is no way that I am hugging anyone., except Tessa of course but after my politeness today she should be giving me more than a hug. I stare at the way her loose dress hides her beautiful curves and literally have to talk myself down before I drag her to the bedroom. I remember the first time I saw her in that hideous dress, well then it was hideous to me, now I sort of adore it. She came out of the dorm looking like she was getting ready to sell bibles door to door. She rolled her eyes at me when I teased her and climbed into the car, I had no idea that she would make me fall in love with her.
I wave once more as our company leaves and let out a deep breath that I hadn't realized I was holding.
"That was so nice, you were so nice." She praises me and immediately kicks off her high heeled shoes before lining them neatly by the door.
"It was okay, I guess." I shrug.
"It was better than okay." Tessa beams at me.
"Whatever." I grumpily state and she giggles.
"I really love you, you know that don't you?" She asks as she walks around the living room picking up after everyone. I tease her about her cleaning habits but the place would be trashed if it was only me living here.
"So the watch? You like it?" She asks me.
"No, it's hideous and I don't wear watches."
"I think it looks nice."
"What about your bracelet?" I hesitantly ask her.
"It's beautiful."
"Oh.." I look away. "It's fancy and expensive." I add.
"Yea.. I feel bad that they spent all that money on it when I won't really be wearing it. I will have to wear it when they are around once or twice."
"Why won't you wear it?"
"Because I already have a bracelet." She rocks her wrist back and forth making the charms hit one another.
"Oh. You like mine better?" I can't hide my stupid smile.
"Of course I do." She assures me.
I try to hold on to some of the dignity I have left but I can't help but scoop her up by the back of her legs and when she screams I laugh loudly. I don't remember ever laughing this way in my entire life.

My alarm sounds and Harry groans at the obnoxious noise.
"Tess.." He whines, rolling back over and covering his head with his pillow.
I quickly shut it off and climb out of bed to get ready for my first day back and Vance. When I get out of the shower I wrap a towel around my damp body and head to the kitchen to start the coffee pot. I am a little nervous to see Kimberly, I do not know what her reaction to Harry and I getting back together will be. She is not judgmental but I don't know what my reaction would be if it were her going through the same thing with Christian. She doesn't know all of the details but she knows they are bad enough for me to keep them from her.
I am also not looking forward to seeing Trevor, in a way I am because he is very nice and we get along great but I have a feeling he won't be too thrilled that I am taken, once again. Honestly, I always have been since the day he met me. With my steaming coffee mug in my hand I walk over to the large window in the living room. The snow is falling in thick clusters, I wish it would stop snowing already. I hate driving to work in the snow because I have to take the freeway most of the way to Vance.
"Morning." Harry's voice startles me from the hall.
"Morning." I smile and take another drink of my coffee.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" I ask him as he wipes the sleep from his eyes.
"Shouldn't you be dressed?" He retaliates.
I smile and walk past him towards the bedroom to get myself dressed, he tugs on the towel and pulls it from my body making me shriek and rush to the room. I hear his footsteps behind me and I lock the door. God knows what will happen if I let him in the room. My skin flames at the thought but I do not have time for that right now, I have to get ready.
"Nice, very mature." He says through the wood.
"I never claimed to be mature." I smile and pad to the closet.
I decide to wear a long black skirt and red blouse, not my most flattering outfit but it's my first day back and it's snowing.
After I put light makeup on in the full length mirror in the closet all I have left to do is dry my hair. When I open the door Harry is no where to be found. I quickly half dry my hair before pulling back into a secure bun.
"Harry?" I grab my purse and phone.
No answer. Where is he? My heart begins to pound as I walk through the apartment in search for him. The front door clicks open and he steps inside, covered in snow.
"Where were you? I was getting nervous."
"Nervous of what?" He asks.
"I don't know really, that you were hurt or something?" I sound ridiculous.
"I was just starting your car for you so it's warm when you get down there." He shrugs and removes his soaked boots leaving a puddle of slush on the concrete.
"You were?" I can not hide my surprise.
"Yea.. "
"Who are you?" I laugh.
"Don't start that shit or I will go back down and slice your tires." He says.
I roll my eyes and laugh at his empty threat. "Well thank you, I hate driving in the snow so at least the car will be warm." I smile.
"I..I can drive you?" His eyes meet mine.
Now I really don't know who he is. He was polite for the most part yesterday and now he is heating my car and offering to drive me to work, not to mention the way he laughed so hard last night that his eyes were brimming with moisture. Honesty really does look good on him
"Or not." He adds when I take too long to reply.
"I would love if you could." I tell him and he puts his boots back on.
"Good thing your car is such shit or someone could have stolen it while it was down here running." Harry says as he drives out of the lot.
"It is not shit." I defend, looking at the small crack on the passenger window.
"Anyway, I was thinking next week when classes start back up we will drive to campus together right? Your classes are around the same times as mine so it makes sense. Then the days that I go to Vance I will just take my car and meet you back at home." I suggest.
"Okay.. " He stares ahead out the windshield.
"What?"
"I just wish you would have told me what classes you were taking."
"Why?"
"I don't know.. maybe I could have taken one with you instead of you and Liam signing up for the same classes."
"You have already taken French and American Lit and I didn't think you would be interested in World Religion."
"I'm not." He huffs.
I know this conversation isn't going to go anywhere so I am thankful when we arrive at Vance. The snow has slowed but It is still present. Harry pulls my car close to the front door to minimize my exposure to the cold.
"I'll be here to get you at four." He says and I nod before leaning across the small space to kiss him goodbye.
"Thank you for driving me." I whisper against his lips, touching them once more.
"Mhmm.." He mumbles and I pull away.
When I step out of the car Trevor appears only a few feet away, his black suit speckled with white snow. My stomach churns as he gives me a warm smile.
"Hey, long time no.."
"Tess!" Harry calls my name and shuts the car door to walk around to my side.
Trevor's eyes go to Harry then back to me and his smile disappears.
"You forgot something.." Harry says, handing me an ink pen.
What the hell?
"A pen?" I raise my brow.
He nods and wraps his arms around my waist, pressing his lips forcefully against mine. If we weren't in a parking lot and I didn't feel like this was his sick way of marking his territory, I would like the aggressive manner in which is tongue parts my lips. I pull away and his face holds a smug expression. I shiver and rub my hands over my arms. I should have warn a heavier jacket
"Nice to see you. Trenton was it?" Harry mocks.
I know damn well that he knows his name. He is so rude.
"Uh.. yea. Nice to see you too." Trevor mumbles and disappears through the sliding doors.
"What the hell was that?" I scowl at Harry.
"What?" He smirks.
"You are such a pig." I groan.
"Stay away from him, Tess. I mean it." Harry commands, kissing me on the forehead to soften his harsh words.
I roll my eyes and stomp inside the building like a child.
"How was your Christmas?" Kimberly asks as I grab a donut and coffee. I probably shouldn't drink another cup but Harry has annoyed me by acting like a caveman and the smell of the coffee beans alone calms me.
"It.. "
Oh you know, I took Harry back then found out he made a sex tape with multiple girls and ruined one of their lives, then I took him back again. My mother showed up at my apartment and caused a scene, now we aren't speaking. Harry's mother was in town and we had to pretend we were together even though we weren't which basically brought us back together and was smooth until my mother told his mother about him taking my virginity for a bet. Oh and Christmas was lovely Harry beat the shit out of his dad and punched his hand through a glass cabinet. The usual.
"Was great. How was yours?" I decide to go with the shorter version.
Kimberly dives into her amazing Christmas with Christian and his son. The little boy cried when he saw the new bicycle that "santa" brought him, he had even called Kimberly "mommy Kim" which made her heart warm but she felt slightly uncomfortable at the same time.
"It's strange you know, thinking of myself as someone's guardian or whatever I am. I am not married, even engaged to Christian so I don't know my place with Smith." She says.
"I think Smith and Christian are both lucky to have you in their lives, whatever title it may be." I assure her.
"You are wise beyond your years, Ms. Young." She smiles and I rush to my office after glancing at the clock.
The morning flies by, the manuscript that I am reading is slightly boring, I feel terrible for thinking that because I know how much time was put into writing it but I just don't see it being published. The only "rule" Mr. Vance have me when I started here was, "If you think of anything else while reading the first one hundred pages, toss it."
I can't stop thinking about anything except this book and I am only on page seventy-five. I cringe as I mark the cover page with a large red stamp and put it in the "out" bin.
By the time lunch comes around Kimberly is not at her desk. I need to start packing a lunch so I don't have to get lunch alone. I could always order in but I would rather just walk next door and grab something small. I dial Harry's number as I ride the elevator down to the lobby but he doesn't pick up.
When the elevator stops at the third floor I silently scream as Trevor steps onto the elevator.
"Hey." I say, my voice small.
I don't know why this is so uncomfortable, it's not like I was dating Trevor or anything. We went on one date and I had a nice time. I enjoy his company and he enjoys mine. That is all.
"How was your break?" He asks, his blue eyes shining under the fluorescent lighting.
"Nice. You?" I hope no one else asks me today.
"It was nice. We had a huge turn out at the shelter downtown, fed over three hundred people." He proudly beams.
"Wow, three hundred people? That is incredible." I smile. The tension between us is almost diminished.
"It was really great, hopefully next year we will have even more resources and we can feed five hundred." He is so kind.
"Are you going to lunch?" He asks as we both step off the elevator.
"Yea, I am going to walk over to Firehouse since I didn't drive myself." I say, not wanting to discuss Harry and I at the moment.
"You can ride with me if you want, I am going to Panera but I can run you by Firehouse first, you shouldn't walk in the snow." He politely offers.
Stay away from him Tess, I mean it. Harry had warned. Well Harry isn't here and I am not a child, getting lunch with a friend is perfectly fine. Mostly because Harry isn't here, if he were I can't say I would have the same defiant opinion.
"Panera is fine." I smile and we head to his car.
The heated seats in his BMW warm my body before we are even out of the parking lot.
Trevor and I stay mostly silent while we order our lunch and sit down at a small table towards the back.
"I'm thinking about moving to Seattle." Trevor tells me as I dip a cracker into my broccoli soup.
"Really? When?" I ask loudly trying to speak over the many voices of the lunch crowd that decided on Panera Bread today.
"March. Christian has offered me a job there, a promotion to head of finance at the new branch and I am strongly considering taking it."
"Congratulations. That is really great news." I tell him and mean it.
"Thank you, I would love to run the entire finance department and even more I would love to move to Seattle." He wipes the corners of his mouth with a napkin.
Why can't Harry feel the same about Seattle?
When we get back to Vance the snow has turned to freezing rain and the two of us rush into the building. I am shivering by the time we reach the elevator. Trevor offers me his suit jacket but I quickly decline.
"I need to go to your floor to speak with Christian." He says and I nod.
"So you and Harry are seeing each other again?" He finally asks. I had been waiting for him to ask.
"Yea.. we are working through things." I chew on my cheek.
"Oh.. you're happy then?" He looks down at me.
"Yea."
"Well I am happy for you." He runs his hands over his black hair and I know he is lying but I appreciate him not making this anymore awkward than it already is.
When we step off of the elevator Kimberly's face holds a strange expression, I am confused by the way she is looking at Trevor and I until I follow her eyes to Harry leaning against the wall.

To be continued..

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