Saturday, 30 June 2018

AFTER ROMANCE 2 Episode 71-75

Nine days.
Nine days have went by without hearing a single word from Harry. I didn't think it was possible for me to go a single day without speaking to him, let alone nine. It feels like one hundred honestly but each second hurts less than the prior. It hasn't been easy, not even close to that. Ken made a call to Mr. Vance asking for me to take off until Monday, meaning I would only miss one day anyway. I would have toughed it out, tried my hardest to get through the day without cracking.
I know I am the one who left, the one who walked away but it kills me that he hasn't even tried. I have always given more in the relationship and this was his chance to show me how he truly feels. I guess in a way he is, it's just the opposite of what I had thought and desperately wanted. Needed.
I know that Harry loves me, I do. However, I also know that if he loves me as much as I thought he does he would have made it a point to show me by now. He said he wasn't going to let this go, but he did. He let it go, and he let me go. The part that scares me the most is that the first week I was walking around completely lost. I was lost without Harry. Lost without his witty comments. Lost without his crude remarks. Lost without his assurance and his confidence. Lost without the way he would sometimes draw circles on my hand while holding it between his, the way he would kiss me for no reason and smile at me when he thought I wasn't looking. I don't want to be lost without him, I want to be strong. I want my days and nights to be just the same whether I am alone or not. I am beginning to suspect I may always be alone, as dramatic as the thought seems, I wasn't happy with Noah yet Harry and I didn't work. Maybe I am like my mother in that way, I am better off alone.
I didn't want to be over this way, so cut and dry. I wanted to talk about everything, I wanted him to answer my calls so we could come to some sort of mutual agreement. I just needed space, I needed a break from him to show him that I am not his door mat and that I won't put up with him treating me this way and lying to me repeatedly. It backfired on me because he obviously doesn't care as much as I thought he did. Maybe this was his plan all along.
During the first day I did expect a call, text, or hell I really expected Harry to come bursting through the door screaming at the top of his lungs and causing a scene while we were sitting in the dining room in silence, no one quite sure what to say to me. When that didn't happen, I lost it. Not crying in the corner, feeling sorry for myself lost it. I mean I lost myself. Every second was lived in anticipation of Harry coming back to grovel for my forgiveness. I almost gave in that day, I almost went back to the apartment. I was ready to tell him to hell with marriage, I don't care if he lies to me every day and doesn't respect me, as long as he never leaves me. Thankfully, I snapped out of that and had some respect for myself.
Day three was the worst. Day three was when the realization really began to hit me. Day three was when I finally spoke after three days of near silence, only muttering a simple yes or no to Liam or Karen during the previous days. The only sounds that actually came out were a strangled sob and choppy explanation through tears of why my life will be better, easier, without him that even I didn't believe. Day three was when I finally looked in the mirror at my dirty and bruised face, my eyes swollen to the point of barely opening. Day three was when I fell to the floor finally praying to God to make the pain disappear. No one can handle this pain, I told him. Not even me. Day three I called him, I couldn't help myself. I told myself that if he answers we will work it out and both come to a compromise, apologizing profusely and promising to never leave one another again. Instead, I got his voice mail after two rings, proving that he ignored the call.
Day four, I slipped and called him again. This time he had the courtesy to let it ring to voice mail instead of pressing ignore. Day four was when I realized how much more I actually care for him than he does me. Day four was when I spent the entire day in bed reliving the few times he actually told me how he felt about me. I began to realize that most of our relationship and how I portrayed his feelings for me in my mind, was just that, in my mind. I began to realize that while I was thinking we could do this, we could make this work forever, he wasn't thinking about me at all.
This is the day I decide to join the ranks of normal teenagers and had Liam show me how to download music onto my phone. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Over one hundred songs were added and headphones were put in my ears and barely removed for almost twenty four hours and every time I felt weak after that. The music helps a lot. To hear about other people's pain reminds me that I am not the only one to suffer in life. I'm not the only one who loved someone who didn't love them enough to fight for them.
Day five was when I finally showered and attempted to go to class. I got myself back in yoga, hoping that I could handle the memories it would produce. I felt strange walking around in a sea of cheery college students. I used all the energy I had to hope that I wouldn't run into Harry on campus. I was past the stage of wanting him to call. I managed to drink half of my coffee that morning and Liam told me I was gaining the color back into my cheeks. No one seemed to notice me and that was exactly what I wanted. Professor Soto assigned us to write down our biggest fears when it comes to life and how they relate to faith and God.
"Are you afraid to die?" He asked us.
"Aren't I already?" I answered silently.
Day six was a Tuesday. I began to speak in sentences, broken sentences that usually didn't relate to the subject at hand but no one had the heart to call me out on it. I returned to Vance, Kimberly couldn't meet my eyes for the first part of the day but finally attempted to have a conversation which I couldn't bring myself to participate in. She mentioned a dinner and I remind myself to ask her again when I can think straight. The day was spent staring at the first page of a manuscript that no matter how many times I read and re-read the first page, it wouldn't soak in. I ate this day, more than rice or a banana like the days before. Karen made a ham, I only noticed because it reminded me she made one for the dinner Harry and I had here in the beginning. The images from that night, the picture of him sitting next to me and holding my hand under the table send me back into my tragic state, making me spend the night in the bathroom vomiting up the small bit of food I consumed.
Day seven my car was ready to be picked up. I signed a few pages and was handed the keys. If I were them I would have been concerned to give car keys to the zombie girl with matted hair on top of her head and a ratty t-shirt from the drawer in her lovers old bedroom that he never spent time in.
As Liam followed me out of the mechanic's parking lot I began to imagine what would have happened if I had been hurt worse in the accident. If I had died perhaps..wouldn't that have been easier? The thought terrified me, not of my death but that my mind was capable of going to such a dark place. That thought snapped me out of my downward spiral and brought me to the closest thing to reality my mind can handle. I changed my shirt and vowed to never step foot in that bedroom again, no matter what happens. I began to look up apartments that I can afford close to Vance and online classes at WSU. I enjoy academics too much to close myself off and take online classes so I decided against it, but I found a few apartments to look into.
Day eight I smiled, briefly, but everyone noticed. day eight was the first morning that I grabbed my usual donut and coffee when I arrived at Vance. I kept it down and even went back for more. I saw Trevor that day, he told me I looked beautiful despite my wrinkled clothes and hollow eyes. Day eight was the shift, day eight was the first day that only half of my time was spent wishing that things had went differently between Harry and I. I heard Ken and Karen discussing Harry's birthday in a few days and I was surprised to only feel a slight burn in my chest at the sound of his name.
Day nine is today.
'I'll be downstairs!" Liam calls through the door of 'my' bedroom.
No one has made a point to discuss or even mention me leaving or where I will go after. I am grateful for it but at the same time I have no idea where to go and my presence will eventually be a burden. Liam keeps assuring me that I can stay as long as I need to and Karen reminds me how much she enjoys my company multiple times a day, but at the end of the day, they are Harry's family. I want to make a move forward, decide where I should go and where I should live and I am no longer afraid.
I can not, and refuse to, spend another day crying over a boy with tattoos who doesn't love me anymore.
When I meet Liam downstairs he is taking a large bite of a bagel, a dab of cream cheese rests in the corner of his mouth and his tongue darts out to retrieve it.
"Morning." He smiles, his cheek full and eyes wide.
"Morning." I repeat and pour a glass of water.
He continues to stare at me while I sip my water.
"What?" I finally ask him.
"You.. well.. you look beautiful." He says.
"Thank you, I decided to shower and come back from the dead." I joke and he smiles slowly as if he's unsure of my mental state.
"Really, it's fine." I assure him and he takes another bite of his bagel, finishing it.
I decide to put one in the toaster for myself and try not to notice Liam staring at me like I am an animal in a zoo.
"I'm ready when you are." I tell him after finishing my breakfast.
"Tessa you look so gorgeous today!" Karen praises when she enters the kitchen.
"Thank you." I smile at her.
Today's the first day that I have taken the time to get ready, really ready and presentable. The last eight days I have gone far away from my usual neat appearance. Today I feel like myself. My new self. My After Harry-self. Day nine is my day.
"That dress is flattering." She compliments again.
The yellow dress that Anne got me for Christmas fits well and it's very casual. I'm not going to make the same mistake as last time and attempt to wear heels to classes so I wear my toms of course. Half of my hair is pinned back away from my face with a few loose curls tapered over my face. My makeup I subtle but flattering as well. My eyes burned slightly as I drug the brown liner underneath my eye, makeup surely wasn't on my list of priorities during my spiral.
"Thank you so much." I smile again.
"Do you need me to do anything before we go?" I ask Karen and she shakes her head.
"No dear, just have a great day." She smiles, clearly surprised but very pleased at my return to the real world.
This must be what it's like to have a caring mother, someone to send you off to school with kind and encouraging words. Unlike my mother's, "Your hair is a bit sloppy, you need to iron that dress Theresa."
My mother, I have dodged all calls from her and thankfully so. She was the last person I wanted to speak to but now that I can breath without wanting to rip my heart from my chest, I actually want to call her. She was tolerable, if not actually pleasant the day I saw her, nine days ago.
"Oh Tessa, will you be riding with us to Christian's house on Sunday?" Karen asks just as I reach the door.
"Sunday?"
"The dinner they are having to celebrate their move to Seattle?" She tells me as if I should know what she is talking about.
"Kimberly said she told you about it? If you don't want to come I know they will understand." She assures me.
"No, no. I want to go. I will ride with you." I smile.
I am ready for this. I can be in public in a social setting without cracking. My subconscious is mute for the first time in nine days and I thank her before following Liam outside.
The weather mirrors my mood, sunny and somewhat warm for the end of January.
"Are you going on Sunday?" I ask him once we get in the car.
"No, I'm leaving tonight remember?" He replies.
"What?"
"I'm going to New York for the weekend, Danielle is moving in her apartment there. I told you a few days ago."
"I'm so sorry, I should have paid more attention to you instead of making it all about me." I tell him and mean it.
I can't believe how selfish I have been to not even pay attention to him telling me about Danielle's move to New York.
"No, its okay. I only briefly mentioned it anyway, I didn't want to rub it in your face when you were... well you know."
"A zombie?" I finish for him.
"Yes, a very scary zombie." He jokes and I smile for the fifth time in nine days. It feels nice.
"When will you be back?" I ask Liam.
"Monday morning, I will miss religion but I'll be there right after."
"Wow, that is exciting. New York will be incredible." I would love to escape, to get our of here for a while.
"I was worried to go and leave you here." He tells me and guilt fills me.
"Don't be! You already do way too much for me, it's time I do things for myself. I don't want you to ever think about not doing something for yourself because of me. I'm so sorry that I made you feel that way." I tell him.
"It's not your fault, it's his." He reminds me and I nod.
My headphones go back into my ears and Liam smiles.
"You look like an actual college student." He told me on day seven when I walked down to get some water with music blasting in my ears.
In religion Professor Soto chooses the subject of pain. For a moment I swear he did it on my behalf, to torture me, but when I begin to write about how pain can cause people to turn to or away from their faith and God, I am thankful for his torture. My entry ends up being filled with how pain can change you, how pain can make you much stronger and in the end you don't need faith as much. You need yourself. You need to be strong and not allow pain to push you or pull you into anything.
"Ms. Young?" My professor calls my name as I pack my things to leave.
Liam watches carefully as I approach his desk.
"I'm glad you decided to join us today." He smiles.
So he had noticed my lack of participation in everyday life.
"Yeah, I had enough of solitary." I reply.
"I'm glad to hear it, there is no good that can come from solitary." He reaches for his tie and loosens it, tugging the checkered print and my mind travels to him in loose jeans while singing on a small stage.
"Anyway, we are playing again tonight if you want to come out and bring your friends."
I take a second to think over my response. My friends are Harry's friends so they most likely won't come and Liam is leaving right after classes today.
"Sure. I will come. I don't know how many friends I can bring but I would love to come." I finally answer.
If I'm going to go to that dinner on Sunday, I need to refresh my memory on how to behave in social settings, not that that has ever been a comfortable place for me.
"Great! I will see you tonight." He beams and I walk back to Liam.
"What did he want?" Liam asks.
"He invited me back to Canal Street." I tell him, slinging my bag over my shoulder.
"Tessa.."
"I will be fine."
"I don't think you should go alone, it's so inappropriate."
"I'm going to ask Steph to come." I tell him and take out my phone to do just that.
I end up going to back to the coffee house before yoga in hopes to acquire more energy. On my way back to yoga I pass the environmental studies building and my mind goes to Zayn. I wonder if he's in there now? I assume he will be but I don't have a clue about his schedule.
Before I can over think it, I go inside. I have a little time before my class begins and it's less than a five minute walk from here.
I look around the large lobby of the building. Just like I had expected large trees fill most of the room, and sticking to the theme, the ceiling is constructed of sky lights giving the appearance that the ceiling is none existent.
"Tessa?" I hear him.
When I turn to look at him he is wearing a lab coat and has thick safety goggles on top of his head, pushing his hair back.
"Hey.."
"What are you doing in here? Did you change your major?" He smiles.
I adore the way his tongue hides behind his teeth when he smiles, I always have.
"I was looking for you actually."
"You were?" He seems astounded.
"Yeah, I was wondering if you wanted to go to Canal Street again tonight. My professor invited me again and like last time, I said I would bring friends." I explain.
"Rebecca can come too of course." I add.
"Yeah, sure I'll come. Rebecca's in California for the week but I'll bring Niall with me or something." He says.
"Cool." I shift back and forth on my toes.
"Cool." He repeats.
"Well, I better go." I say and we both attempt to walk away and end up bumping into each other.
"Sorry." We say in unison before parting ways.


Nine days.
Nine days have went by without speaking to Tessa. I didn't think it was possible for me to go a single day without speaking to her, let alone nine fucking days. It feels like one thousand and each second hurts more than the prior.
When she left the apartment that night I waited and waited to hear her footsteps rush through the door and I waited for her voice to begin screaming at me. It didn't come. I sat on the floor waiting and waiting. It never came, she never came.
I finished the beer in my fridge and smashed the evidence against the wall. The next morning when I woke up and she was still gone, I packed my shit. I packed a bag and got on a plane to get the fuck out of Washington. If she was going to come back it would have been that night. I needed to get out of there and get some space. With alcohol on my breath and stains on my white t-shirt, I left for the airport. I didn't call my mum before I got there it's not that she had anything going on anyway.
If Tessa calls me before I get on the flight I will turn around but if not then too bad, I kept thinking. She had her chance to come back to me. She does every other time, no matter what I do so why is this time so different? It's not like I did anything really, I lied to her but it was a small ass lie and she overreacted.
If anyone should be pissed off it's me. She brought Zayn to my fucking house to pack her shit. On top of that Liam comes barging in like the fucking Hulk and slams me into the wall? What the actual fuck.
This whole situation is utterly fucked up and it's not my fault. Well maybe it is but she can come crawling back to me, not the other way around. I love her but I'm not making the first move.
Day one was spent mostly on the airplane sleeping off my hangover. I got many dirty looks from snobby ass flight attendants and assholes in business suits but I could give a fuck less. They don't mean shit to me. I took a cab to my mum's and nearly choked the driver. Who charges that much for a fucking ten mile cab ride?
My mum was shocked and happy to see me. She cried for a few minutes but thankfully she stopped when Robin appeared. Apparently the two of them have began to move her things into his house and she plans on selling her house just next door. I don't give a shit about that house so it's no skin off my back. That house is full of shit memories with my drunk asshole of a dad.
It's nice to be able to think these things without Tessa's influence. I would feel slightly guilty being rude to my mum and her boyfriend if Tessa were here with me. Thank god she isn't.
Day two was exhausting as shit. I spent the entire afternoon listening to my mum talk about her plans for the summer and dodged her questions of why I am home. I kept telling her if I wanted to talk about it I would. I came here for some god damn peace and all I get is more annoyance. I end up at the pub down the street by eight. A pretty brunette with the same color eyes as Tessa smiled at me and offered me a drink that night. I declined somewhat politely, my kindness only coming out because the color of her eyes. The longer I stared at them the more I realized they aren't the same as Tessa's. They are dull and hold no life behind them. Tessa's eyes are the most intriguing shade of grey that appears blue at first glance until you really look at them. They are nice, as far as eyes go. Why the fuck was I sitting at a pub thinking about eyeballs? Fuck.
I saw the disappointment in my mum's eyes when I stumbled through the door after two in the morning but I did my best to ignore it, mumbling a shit apology before forcing my way up the stairs.
Day three was when it started. Small thoughts of Tessa kept sneaking in at the most random times. While watching my mum hand-wash the dishes, I thought of Tessa loading the dishwasher constantly, making sure there is never a single dirty dish lying in the sink.
"We are going to the fair today, would you like to come?" My mum asked.
"No."
"Please Harry, you are here visiting and you have barely spoken to me nor spent any time with me."
"No mum." I dismiss her.
"I know why you are here." She said and I got up from the table and stormed out of the kitchen.
I knew she would catch on that I was running, hiding really from reality. I'm not sure what type of reality there is without Tessa but I'm not ready to deal with the shit so why does she have to pester me about it? If Tessa doesn't want to be with me then to hell with her. I don't need her, I am better off alone, the way I had planned to be all along.
Seconds later my phone rang but ignored the call as soon as I saw her name. Why did she call me? To tell me she hates me or she needs her name off the lease, I was sure.
God damn it Harry, why did you do that? I kept asking myself. I didn't have a good enough answer.
Day four began the worst way possible.
"Harry go upstairs!" She is begging. No not this again.
One of the men slap her across her face and she looks at the staircase, her eyes meet mine and I scream.
Tessa.
"Harry!! Wake up Harry! Please wake up!" My mum screamed and shook me awake.
"Where is she? Where's Tess?" I choked, sweat soaking my skin.
"She isn't here Harry."
"But they..." It took me a moment to collect my thoughts and realize it was only a nightmare.
The same nightmare I have had my entire life, only this time was so much worse. My mother's face was replaced with Tessa's.
"Shh.. it's okay. It was only a dream." My mum cried and tried to hug me but I gently pushed her arms back.
"No, I'm fine." I assured her and told her to leave me alone.
I lay awake for the rest of the night trying to get the image out of my head but couldn't.
Day four continued just as it started. My mum ignored me all day which I thought I would want but turns out I was sort of..lonely. I began to miss Tessa. I kept finding myself looking next to me to talk to her, to wait for her to say something that was sure to make me smile. I wanted to call her, my finger traced over that green button over one hundred times but I couldn't bring myself to. I can't give her what she wants and that isn't going to be good enough for her. It's better this way. I spent the afternoon looking up how much it would cost me to move my shit back here to England. This is where I will end up anyway so I may as well get it over with and do it now.
We would never work, I always knew we wouldn't last. We couldn't. It wasn't possible for us to be together always. She is too damn good for me and I know it. Everyone knows it. I see the way people turn to stare at us everywhere we go and I know they are wondering why that beautiful girl is with me.
I had been staring at my phone while downing a half bottle of whiskey for hours before I turned off the light and fell asleep. I thought I heard the buzzing of my phone on the nightstand but I was too drunk to sit up and answer. The nightmare came again, this time Tessa's nightgown was soaked in blood and she cried for me to go away, to leave her there on that couch.
Day five I woke up to a flashing red light on my phone indicating that yet again I missed her call only this time wasn't intentional. Day five was when I stared at her name on the screen before looking at picture after picture of her. When did I take so many? I hadn't realized how many pictures I have snapped without her paying any mind.
While looking through the pictures I kept remembering the way her voice sounds. I never liked American accents, they bore me and they are annoying but Tessa's voice is perfect. Her accent is perfect and I could listen to her speak all day, every single day. Will I ever hear her voice again?
This one is my favorite, I thought at least ten times while looking through them. I finally settled on a picture of her laying on her stomach on the bed, her legs crossed in the air and her hair was down, tucked behind her ear. She had her chin rested on one of her hands and her lips slightly parted as she took in the words in front of her on the screen of her nook. I snapped the picture the moment she caught me staring, the exact moment that a smile, the most beautiful smile, appeared on her face. She looked so happy to be looking at me in this picture. Does..well did she always look at me that way?
That day, day five is when the weight appeared on my chest. A constant reminder of what I have done, and most likely lost. I should have called her that day while staring at her pictures. Did she stare at my pictures? She only has one to this day and ironically I found myself wishing I would have allowed her to take more. Day five was when I threw my phone against the wall in hopes to smash it but only cracked the screen. Day five is when I desperately wished she would call me. If she called me then it would be okay, everything would be okay. We would both apologize and I would go home.
If she was the one to call me then I can't feel guilty for coming back into her life. I wondered if she was feeling the same way I was. Is every day getting harder for her? Does every second without me make it harder for her to breathe?
I began to lose my appetite this day, I just wasn't hungry. I missed her cooking, even her simple meals that she would make for me. Hell, I missed watching her eat. I missed every god damn thing about that infuriating girl with kind eyes.
Day five was the day that I finally broke down. I cried like a bitch and didn't even feel bad about it. I cried and cried. I couldn't stop. I tried desperately but she wouldn't leave my mind. She wouldn't leave me alone, she kept appearing, she kept saying she loved me, and she kept hugging me, and when I realized it was my imagination, I cried again.
Day six I woke with swollen and bloodshot eyes. I couldn't believe the way I broke down the previous night. The weight on my chest had magnified and I could barely see straight. Why am I such a fuck up? Why did I continue to treat her like shit? She is the first person who has ever been able to see me, inside of me, the real me and I treated her like shit. I blame her for everything when in reality it was me. It was always me, even when I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was. I was rude to her when she tried to talk to me about things, I yelled at her when she called me out on my bullshit, and I lied to her repeatedly. She has forgiven me for everything, always. I could always count on that and maybe that's why I treated her the way I did, because I knew I could. I smashed my phone under my boot on day six.
Day six I went half the day without eating again, my mum offered me oatmeal but when I tried to force myself to eat it, it nearly came back up. I hadn't showered since day three and I was a fucking wreck. I tried to listen as my mum told me the few things she needed me to get from the store but I couldn't hear her. All I could think of was Tessa and her need to go to Conner's at least five days a week.
Tessa once told me I ruined her, now as I sit here trying to focus, trying to just catch my breath, I know that she was wrong. She ruined me. She got inside me and fucked me up. I had spent years building those walls, my entire life really and here she came in and tore them down, leaving me with nothing but rubble.
"Did you hear me Harry? I made a small list in case you didn't." My mum said, handing me the paper printed with paw prints.
"Yes." My voice was barely audible.
"Are you sure you are okay to go?" She asked.
"Yeah, I'm good." I stand up and tuck the list into my dirty jeans.
"I heard you last night Harry, if you want to.."
"Don't mum. Please don't." I nearly choked on my words. My mouth was so dry and my throat was aching.
"Okay." Her eyes were full of sadness as I walked out of the house to head to the store just down the road.
The list only consisted of a few items yet I couldn't remember any of them without digging the damn paper out of my pocket.
I managed to corral the few things, bread, jam, coffee beans, and some fruit. Looking at all the food in the store made my empty stomach turn. I took an apple for myself and began to force myself to eat it. It tasted like cardboard and I could feel the small pieces hitting the pit on my stomach as I paid the elderly woman behind the counter.
I walked outside and it began to snow. The snow made me think of her too. Everything made me think of her. My head was aching with a headache that refused to go. I rubbed my fingers over my temples with my free hand and crossed the street.
"Harry? Harry Styles?" A voice called from the other side of the street.
No. It couldn't be.
"Is that you?" She asked again.
Natalie.
This couldn't be happening, I kept thinking as she walked towards me with her hands full of shopping bags.
"Erm.. hey." Is all I could say, my mind was frantic, my palms already beginning to sweat.
"I thought you moved?" She asked.
Her eyes were bright, not lifeless like I remembered as she cried and begged for me to let her stay at my house when she had no where to go.
"I did.. I'm only visiting." I told her and she sat her bags on the sidewalk.
"Well that's good." She smiles.
How could she be smiling at me after what I had done to her?
"Uh.. yeah. How are you?" I forced myself to ask the girl who's life I ruined.
"I'm good, really good." She chirped and ran her hands over her swollen belly.
Swollen belly? Oh god. No wait.. the timeline doesn't add up. Holy shit that scared me for a second.
"You're pregnant?" I asked, hoping that she was so I hadn't just insulted her.
"Yeah, six months along. And engaged!" She smiled, holding her small hand up to show me a gold ring on her finger.
"Oh."
"Yeah, it's funny how things work out isn't it?" She tucked her brown hair behind her ear and looked into my eyes that were circled with blue rings from lack of sleep.
Her voice was so sweet that it made me feel a thousand times worse. I couldn't stop picturing her face as she caught all of us watching her on the small screen. She screamed, literally screamed and ran from the room. I didn't follow her of course. I just laughed at her, laughed at her humiliation and her pain.
'"I'm really sorry." I blurted.
I expected her to call me names, to tell me how fucked up of a person I am, to punch me even. What I didn't expect was for her to wrap her arms around me and tell me she forgives me.
"How can you forgive me? I was so fucked up. I ruined your life." I said, my eyes were burning.
"You didn't, well you did at first but I should thank you actually." She said and I nearly vomited on her green sweater.
"What?"
"Afteryou.. well you know.. I had nowhere to go so I found a church, a new church since mine exiled me and that's where I met Elijah." Her face instantly lit up at the mention of his name.
"And now here we are nearly three years later, engaged and expecting. Everything happens for a reason I guess? Sounds cheesy huh?" She giggled.
She was always such a sweet girl, I just didn't give a shit. Her kindness made it easier to prey on her.
"I suppose it does, but I'm really glad you found someone. I have been thinking about you lately.. you know what I did and I felt like shit about it. I know you're happy now but that doesn't excuse what I did to you. It wasn't until Tessa that I ..." I cut myself off.
"Tessa?" She questioned and I nearly passed out from the pain.
"She's uhmm.. well.. she's.." I stutter.
"She's what? Your wife?" Natalie's words cut straight to the core as she searched my fingers for a band.
"No, she was.. she was my girlfriend."
"Oh. So you date now?" She half teased, she could sense my pain I was sure.
"No.. well only her."
"I see. And now you're not?"
"Nope." I brought my fingers to my lip ring.
"Well I'm sorry to hear that. I hope things work out for you, the way they have me." She said.
"Thank you. Congratulations on the engagement and.. baby." I said uncomfortably.
"Thank you! We expect to marry this summer."
"So soon?"
"We've been engaged for two years." She laughs.
"Wow."
"It was fast, soon after we met." Natalie explains.
"Aren't you too young?" I felt like an asshole for saying that as soon as the words left my mouth but she just smiled.
"I'm nearly twenty-one and it doesn't make sense to wait. I have been fortunate enough to find the one I want to spend my life with at a young age, why waste anymore time when he is right in front of me asking that I do just that. I am honored that he wants to make me his wife, there is no greater expression of love than that." As she explained her words came to me in Tessa's voice.
"I guess you're right." I told her and she smiled.
"Oh, there he is! I have to go. I'm freezing and pregnant, not a good combination." She laughed before picking her bags up off the sidewalk and greeting a man in a sweater vest and khakis. His smile when seeing his pregnant fiancé was so bright that I swore it lit up that dreary day in England.
Day seven was long. Every day has been long. I kept thinking of Natalie and her forgiveness, it couldn't have come at a better time. Sure, I looked like hell and she knew it but she was happy and in love. Pregnant at that. I didn't ruin her life the way I thought I had and I thank God for that.
Day seven I spent in bed. I couldn't even bring myself to open the damned blinds. My mum and Robin were out all day so I was left alone to sulk in my misery.
Each day got worse. I constantly thought about what she was doing, who she was with. Was she crying? Was she lonely? Had she returned to our apartment to find me? Why hadn't she called me again?
This isn't the pain I had read about in novels. This pain isn't just in my mind, this pain isn't physical. This is a soul aching pain, a pain that is ripping me apart from the inside out and I don't think I can survive it. No one could.
This must be how Tessa feels when I hurt her. I can't imagine her fragile body withholding this type of pain but she is stronger than she appears. She has to be to put up with me. Her mum once told me that if I really cared about her I would leave her alone, I would hurt her anyway, she said.
She was right. I should have left her alone then. I should have left her alone from that first day she walked into that dorm room. I promised myself that I would rather die than hurt her again.. this is what this is. This is dying, this is worse than dying. It hurts worse. It has to.
I spent day eight drinking, the entire day. I couldn't stop. With each drink I prayed that her face would leave my mind but it wouldn't. It couldn't.
You have to get your shit together Harry. You have to. I have to. I really do.
"Harry.." Tessa's voice sends chills down my spine.
"Babe.." She repeats.
When I look up at her she is sitting on my mum's couch with a smile on her face and a book in her lap.
"Come here please." She whines as the door opens and a group of men step inside.
No.
"There she is." The short man who torments my dreams each night says.
"Harry?" Tessa begins to cry.
"Get away from her." I warn them as they close in on her, they don't seem to hear me.
Her nightgown is ripped off as she is thrown to the floor. Wrinkled and dirt stained hands travel up her thigh as she whimpers my name.
"Please.. Harry help me." She looks to me but I am frozen.
I am immobile and unable to help her. I am forced to watch as they beat her and violate her until she is lying on the floor silent and bloodied.
My mum didn't wake me, no one did. I had to finish it, all of it and when I woke up my reality was worse than any nightmare.
Day nine is today.
"Did you hear about Christian Vance moving to Seattle?" My mum asks me as I push the cereal around the bowl in front of me.
"Yeah."
"That's exciting isn't it? A new office in Seattle."
"I suppose it is."
"He is having a dinner party on Sunday, he thought you would be there."
"How do you know?" I ask her.
"He told me, we talk time to time." She looks away and refills her coffee mug.
"For what?"
"Because we can, now eat your cereal." She scolds me like a child but I don't have the energy to come up with a snappy remark.
"I don't want to go." I tell her and force the spoon to my mouth.
"You may not see him again for a while."
"So? I barely see him now anyway."
She looks as if she has something else to say but she keeps quiet.
"Have you got any aspirin?" I ask and she nods before disappearing to retrieve it.
I don't want to go to a stupid fucking dinner party celebrating Christian and Kimberly going to Seattle. I'm tired of everyone always talking about Seattle and I know Tessa will be there. The pain at the idea of seeing her tackles me and nearly knocks me out of the chair. I have to stay away from her, I owe it to her. If I can stay here for a few more days, weeks even, we can both move on. She will find someone like Natalie's fiancé, someone much better for her than me.
"I still think you should go." My mum says again as I swallow the aspirin, knowing they won't help.
"I can't go mum.. even if I wanted to. I would have to leave first thing in the morning and I'm not ready to leave."
"You mean you aren't ready to face what you left." She says.
I can't hold it in any longer. I bury my face in my hands as I let the pain take over, I let it drown me. I welcome it, and hope it kills me.
"Harry.." My mum's voice is quiet and comforting as she hugs me and I shake in her arms.


I was going to change into jeans before going to Canal Street Tavern but I decide against it. I like the way I feel in my yellow dress. I pull a cardigan over it and almost wear tights underneath to mask my legs from the cold January air but I put them back. I have come a long way fashion-wise since my first month at WSU. I won't ever be a trendsetter but I don't dress the way that I used to. I'm right in the middle of my old style and the normal nineteen year old style.
The moment Karen leaves to take Liam to the airport I instantly feel it. I feel the loneliness creeping in but I have to ignore it. I have to. I am fine by myself. After re-lining my eyes I walk downstairs to get a glass of water before I leave to meet everyone at Canal Street.
Ken is leaning against the kitchen counter tearing back the foil wrapper on a light blue frosted cupcake.
"Hey Tessa." He smiles, taking a small bite.
"Grab one." He says to me and I do just that.
"Cupcakes are good for the soul." My grandmother used to tell me. If I need anything, it's something for my soul.
"Thank you." I smile before licking a strip across the top.
"Don't thank me, thank Karen."
"I will." This cupcake tastes incredible. Maybe it's because I have barely eaten in the last nine days, or maybe it's because cupcakes truly are good for the soul, regardless of the reason I finish it in less than two minutes.
"Are you going somewhere?" Ken asks.
"Yeah, I'm going to watch ..someone I know play with his band." I have no idea why I just lied to Ken and I instantly feel terrible but I can't backtrack now and admit that I just lied.
I didn't lie, I just didn't tell him. There's a difference. Right?
Ken is the chancellor at the college, he is literally the highest person in charge at this campus so he's technically Professor Soto's boss but there is nothing wrong with going to watch his band play so I should have just told him. But I didn't. I'm overthinking this.
"That's fun. I was in a band once." He tells me.
"You were?" I gape, for a moment I look next to me and expect a sarcastic comment from Harry.
The pain is still present, steady as my heartbeat but it is no longer overtaking me, no longer pulling me under.
"Yeah, back in college. Christian and I, along with a few of our other friends formed a band. We only lasted for a week, no one liked our style I suppose." He laughs and I smile at the thought of Ken and Christian in a band, it doesn't seem possible.
"Your style?" I ask.
"We were sort cheesy and dorky." He laughs before taking a drink of milk to wash down the cake.
"You?" I tease and he laughs again.
I almost join him in laughter but I can't. I don't have it in me to laugh. I feel as if I may never laugh again.
"I hope you have a nice time tonight, you deserve to." Harry's father tells me.
"Thank you, I really hope so too."
"It will get easier, and you will find someone that is capable of loving another person besides themselves." He speaks and my stomach churns.
I don't want to back track, I want to move forward.
"I treated Harry's mum terribly. I know I did, I would leave for days at a time, I would lie, I would drink until I couldn't see straight. If it weren't for Christian I don't know how Anne and Harry would have even made it through..."
I remember my anger towards Ken when I heard the origin of Harry's nightmares. I remember wanting to slap him right across his face for ever letting anything hurt Harry in that way, so when he says this it stirs my stored anger.
"I will never be able to take any of that back no matter how hard I wish that I could. I wasn't good for her and I knew it. She was too good for me and I knew that too, so did everyone else. Now she has Robin who I know will treat her the way she deserves to be treated. There is a Robin for you too, I know it." He tells me.
"My son hopefully will be lucky enough to find his Karen later in life when he grows and stops fighting everything and everyone along the way."
At the mention of Harry with 'his Karen' I swallow and look away, I don't want to imagine Harry with anyone else. It's way too soon. I do wish that for him though, I would never wish for him to be alone for the rest of his life. I just hope he finds someone who he loves as much as Ken loves Karen so that he can have a second chance to love someone more than he loved me.
"I hope he does too." I finally say.
"I'm sorry that he hasn't contacted you." Ken says quietly.
"It's okay.. I stopped expecting it a few days ago."
"Anyway, I better get upstairs to my office I have some phone calls to make." I'm glad he's excusing himself before we get any deeper into the conversation. I don't want to talk about Harry anymore.
"Be careful tonight and if you need anything give us a call." He smiles before walking out of the kitchen.
I close my eyes and take a few breaths but it doesn't calm my racing mind so I reach for my phone and dig my headphones out of the pockets of my sweater. The Fray blasts through the small buds and I am calm by the chorus and I check my text messages while I walk upstairs to grab my purse.
*Tristan's sick we can't come, sorry babe!* Steph sent.
Great. I hope Zayn and Niall can come. Maybe they will bring other people too so I am not the only girl, just not Molly I hope.
*Can you still come tonight?* I send to Zayn and wait for a reply.
"I will be your guardian when all is crumbling, I'll steady your hand.." The lyrics pour into my ears and I skip the rest of the song.
*Yea, can I catch a ride with you? Truck won't start* Zayn replies.
I text him back and tell him that's fine and I will be there at six. It's five thirty now so I may as well make my way to Zayn's place. If he needs to ride with me does that mean it will only be him and I tonight? I'm not sure how I feel about that but I don't want to overthink it, the way I do with every aspect of my life.
When I pull up in front of Zayn's apartment building he is waiting outside with a cigarette behind his ear.
"You smoke?" I ask and crinkle my nose.
He seems puzzled as he climbs into my small car.
"Oh, yeah. Well sometimes, I haven't smoked in a while but I found this one in my room."
"So not only do you plan to smoke, you plan to smoke an old cigarette?"
"I guess so. You don't like cigarettes?"
"No, not at all. But hey, if you want to smoke you can. Well, not in my car obviously." I tell him.
His fingers move to the door and he presses one of the small buttons. When the window is half down he takes the cigarette from behind his ear and tosses it out the window.
"Then I won't smoke." He smiles and rolls it back up.
As much as I despise smoking I have to admit there was something about the way he looked with his hair styled nearly straight up, his dark sunglasses, and leather jacket that made that cigarette look stylish.
"Niall isn't coming?" I ask him and pull out of the parking lot.
"Nah, he has a date or something. What about Steph? I heard Tristan's sick or something?"
"Yeah, they aren't coming."
"Is that okay with you? I mean.. that it's just us?"
I think about his question for a moment, is it okay with me? It is. Should it be okay with me?
"Yeah, it's okay." I answer and he smiles.
"You sure because if not that's fine, I don't want you to feel like.."
"It's fine, it really is." I assure him.
"So what time does it start seven?" Zayn asks me.
"Nine." I inform him.
"Nine? Why'd you come so early?"
"I don't know.. I just didn't want to sit in the house. I'm sorry." I tell him.
"Don't apologize, it's cool. You hungry?"
"A little."
"Do you want to get dinner or something?"
"Sure. We do have two hours and forty five minutes to kill." I smile, glad that he isn't annoyed with me for picking him up so early.
"Where do you want to go, you're the driver." He asks me.
"I don't know.. what's close?"
"Applebee's?"
"I've never been there." It was Noah's favorite restaurant and he always talked about how great the food was but I never went out to eat much.
"What do you mean you've never been there? Everyone has been there."
"Not me." I smile and stop at the red light.
"Well we have to go then because you'll love it. It's my favorite place to eat." Zayn tells me.
"Well it's settled then."
He gives me directions, well he attempts to. He is terrible with directions and we have to turn around a few times before we finally see the big apple shaped sign just after seven.
Harry's POV.
"Here you go." My mum says when she walks into my old bedroom.
She hands me a small porcelain cup on a saucer and I sit up from the bed.
"What is it?" I ask, my voice hoarse.
"Warm milk and honey. Remember when you were little and I used to make it when you were sick?" She asks as I take a sip.
"Yeah."
"She will forgive you Harry." She tells me and I close my eyes.
I finally moved on from sobbing to dry heaving to numbness. That's all it is, is numb.
"I don't think so.."
"She will, I saw the way she looked at you. She forgave you for much worse remember?" She brushes the matted hair away from my forehead and I don't flinch away for once.
"I know but this time isn't like that mum. I ruined everything that I spent months building with her."
"She loves you."
"I can't do it anymore, I can't. I can't be who she wants me to be. I always fuck everything up. That's who I am and always will be, the guy who fucks everything up."
"That's not true and I happen to know you are exactly what she wants."
"I know you are only trying to help but please.. just stop mum." The cup shakes in my hand and I nearly drop it.
"So what then? You are just going to let her go and move on?" I sit the cup down on the side table before answering.
"No, I couldn't move on if I wanted to but she has to. I have to let her move on before I do anymore damage." I sigh.
I have to let her end up like Natalie. Happy, happy after everything I did to her. Happy with someone like Elijah.
"Fine Harry. I don't know what else to say to convince you to step up and apologize." She snaps.
"Just go. Please." I beg.
"I will. But only because I have faith in you that you will do the right thing and fight for her."
The small cup and platter are thrown against the wall and shattered into small pieces as soon as she closes the door behind her.
Tessa's POV.
"It was good huh?" Zayn asks after he pays for our dinner.
I offered to split it but he wasn't having it, sort of like Harry.. Don't go there Tessa.
"Yes, very. It may just be my favorite place now too." I smile.
When we arrive at Canal Street Tavern it's only eight thirty so we take a seat near the front.
"Do you want a drink?" He asks.
"No, thank you though." The last thing I need is to drink right now. I have just come back to sanity today and alcohol makes me too emotional, this would be a terrible mix.
I spot Professor Soto on stage and he waves to Zayn and I. He is wearing a light blue shirt and black jeans, I can't get over how young and casual he looks.
"I still think it's weird that your professor is in a band." Zayn says, pulling me from my thoughts.
"I do too." I agree with a smile.
"Does anyone else in your class come?"
"I don't know, I would think so but I haven't seen any of them." I have no idea if he invited the rest of the class, or anyone else in the class for that matter.
I'm glad the two of us are making more conversation now. Zayn seemed incredibly nervous during dinner and neither of us spoke much, except to praise the delicious food.
Even with the awkward silence at times, I am having a nice time. If I would have stayed home.. well not home, at Liam's house, alone I would be miserable. This is what I should be doing, I am a nineteen year old college student. I should be having fun and going out with my friends.
Is Zayn my friend?
I think he is, I don't know what else he could be. We have kissed, a few times actually, but only one of those times wasn't a dare. The kiss was nice, until I moaned Harry's name into his mouth.
"What?" He says and I blink.
"Nothing." I was just remembering the way your mouth always tastes like cherry vodka sour.
"Okay.." He chuckles and I sit up straight, adjusting my cardigan that has begun to fall from my shoulders.
"How's Rebecca?" I blurt.
"Oh.. uh, she's good."
"She seems..nice." I say, wishing I had a drink now.
"Yeah, she's really nice. We get on really well."
"You guys have already had sex?" I say, way too loud.
"What? Yes..but I meant we get along really well." He looks horrified and I know I wear the same expression.
"Oh. Sorry. I didn't mean to.." I stutter.
"It's okay." He chuckles.
"She thinks you don't like her." Zayn adds.
"What? Why does she think that? I'm always nice to her." It's true though, that I don't like her.
I can't put my finger on an exact reason but there is just something about her that I don't like.
"She has this idea in her head that you're a threat to her or something. She really wants you to like her though."
"I do like her." I lie.
"No you don't. I can tell!" He laughs, it's a wonderful sound really.
"Okay! Okay, I don't but I really tried to!" I laugh.
I laugh for the first time in nine days and it feels great. It feels refreshing and I feel free, no longer pains prisoner.
"Well at least she isn't here tonight." He says before correcting himself.
"I mean since you don't like her."
"I will still be nice to her, I won't ever make anything awkward, promise. Where is she again? California?"
"Yeah, she's on a ski trip."
"Oh. Well I hope she's having fun."
"She is, well last time I talked to her she was, it's been a day or so since we've talked but I know she's busy there."
"Yeah, Noah.. my ex boyfriend, his family goes to California every year to ski and he always got terrible reception." I tell him as the music starts.
The Reckless Few's performance is even better tonight than it was the last time. He really should look into making this a full time thing, they could surely do it.
Zayn and I leave before he can approach us, I don't want to explain who Zayn is or seem like I am easy, hanging out with someone so soon after a breakup. Is this a breakup? It has to be, I have went through the stages of it. The sadness, the crying, the hole in my chest, the vomiting, the phone calls, the hours of staring at the phone waiting for him to call, the prayers that the pain will end, and finally the healing. I am not, and most likely never will be over him, over this, but I can't live in that state of sadness.
"Thanks for inviting me tonight, the music was awesome." Zayn shivers and places his hands over the vent to warm them.
"Thanks for coming, I really needed to get out of the house."
"Where are you staying? You don't have to answer."
"It's okay... I'm staying at Liam's house for now but I am going to look at apartments next week. I found a few that I can afford."
"Oh..so you and Harry are.."
"Yeah, we are."
"For good?"
"I think so." I sigh.
"Does he know this?"
"Yeah, he watched me leave and didn't even try to come after me. He hasn't even tried to call me and he ignored my calls. We haven't spoken in nine days. He knows, he just doesn't care." I bite the inside of my cheek to avoid having a breakdown.
I am past this, past the darkness that threatens to pull me back under.
"I'm really sorry Tessa." I can tell by the sympathy in his eyes that he means it.
"Don't be. It's for the best." At least that's what I am telling myself.
"Can I ask you something?" I break the silence a few minutes later when we pull up to his apartment building.
"Yeah sure."
"What do you think would have happened if you would have won?" I finally ask the question that I have always wanted to.
"I don't know, I've thought about that a lot."
"You have?" I turn to look at him and his caramel eyes meet mine.
"Of course I have."
"What did you come up with?" I tuck my hair behind my ear, waiting for his answer.
"Well..I know I would've told you about it before I let it get that far. I always wanted to tell you. Every time I saw the two of you together I wanted you to, you have to know that." He gulps.
"I do." I barely whisper and he continues.
"I think that you could have forgiven me since I would have told you first and I think that I would have taken you out on dates, proper dates. Like the movies or something and we would have had fun. You would have smiled and laughed, and I wouldn't have taken advantage of you. And I like to think that you would have eventually fallen for me, the way you did him and when it was right we would have.. and I wouldn't have told anyone. I wouldn't have shown anyone anything or even given them a single detail about it. Hell, I wouldn't have even hung around any of them anymore because I would have wanted to spend every second with you, making you giggle the way you do when you think something is really funny, it's different than your regular laugh. That's how I know when I'm really entertaining you or you're faking it to be polite." He smiles and my heart begins to race.
"And I would have appreciated you and not lied to you. I wouldn't have mocked you behind your back or called you names. I wouldn't have cared about my reputation and.. and.. I think we could have been happy. You could have been happy, all the time, not just sometimes. I would like to think.." I cut him off by grabbing the collar of his jacket and bringing my lips to his.


Zayn's hand immediately moves to my cheek making the skin on the back of my neck raise and he pulls my arm to bring me to him. I hit my knee on the steering wheel as I climb across and mentally curse at myself for nearly ruining the moment, but he doesn't seem to notice as he wraps his arms around my back, bringing me flush to his chest. Our mouths move in sync and my arms latch around his neck.
His mouth is foreign to me, it's not like Harry's. .his tongue doesn't move the same, it doesn't trace mine and he doesn't trap my bottom lip between his teeth the way Harry does.
Stop it Tessa. You need this, you need to stop thinking about Harry. He is surely in bed with some random girl, Molly even. Oh god, if he's with Molly..
"You could have been happy all the time, not just sometimes." Zayn just said.
I know he is right, I would have been much better off if he would have won. I deserve this, I deserve to be happy. I have suffered enough and dealt with enough of Harry's bullshit and he hasn't even tried to talk to me about it. Only a weak person would run back to someone who has trampled on them repeatedly. I can't be that weak, I have to be strong and move on. Or try at least.
I feel better right now, in this moment than I have in the last nine days. Nine days doesn't sound like a long time until you spend it counting every single second of misery waiting for something that didn't come. With Zayn's arms around me I can finally breathe, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Zayn has always been so kind to me and he's always been there. I wish he would have won, I wish he would have been the one I fell for instead of Harry, none of this would be happening.
"God Tessa.." Zayn moans and I tug at his hair.
I kiss him harder.
"Wait.." He says into my mouth and I pull away slowly.
"What is this?" He looks into my eyes.
"I..I don't know?" My voice is shaky and I am out of breath.
"Me either.."
"I'm sorry.. I'm just emotional and I have been going through a lot and what you said to me just now made me.. I don't know, I shouldn't have done that." I look away from him and climb off of his lap back to the driver's seat.
"It's nothing to be sorry for.. I just don't want to get the wrong idea you know? I just want to know what this means to you." He tells me.
What does this mean to me?
"I don't think I can answer that, not yet. I.."
"Thought so." His voice slightly angry.
"I just don't know.."
"It's fine, I get it. You still love him."
"It's only been nine days Zayn, I can't help it."
I keep managing to make an even bigger mess than the last.
"I know, I'm not saying that you can or will stop loving him I just don't want to be your rebound. I just started dating someone, I haven't dated anyone since I met you and I finally met Rebecca then when I saw the way you reacted to me dating someone I started thinking.. I know I'm an idiot but I started thinking you didn't want me to move on or something."
"You aren't my rebound.. I wanted to kiss you just now, I just don't know what I'm thinking or doing. Nothing has made sense to me for the last nine days and I finally stopped thinking about him when I kissed you and it felt amazing, I felt like I could do this. I could get over him but I know that it's not fair for me to use you that way. I'm just confused and irrational, I'm sorry for making you cheat on your girlfriend, that wasn't my intention I just.."
"I don't expect you to move on already, I know how deep his claws are into you."
He has no idea.
"Just tell me one thing." Zayn says and I nod.
"Tell me that you will at least try to allow yourself to be happy. He hasn't even called you, not once. He has done so much shit to you and he hasn't even tried to fight for you. If that were me, I would be fighting for you. I would have never let you go in the first place. I don't need an answer right now, I just need to know that you are ready to try to be happy. I know you aren't ready for any type of relationship with me but maybe someday you will be."
My mind is racing, my heart is racing and aching all at once and the air has been sucked out of the car.
I want to tell him that I can try and I will try to allow myself this but the words won't come. That small smile that Harry has on his face in the mornings when I finally get him to wake up after he complains about my alarm clock, the way his raspy morning voice says my name, the way he tries to force me to stay in bed with him and I end up squealing and running from the room, the way he likes his coffee black just like me, the way I love him more than anything in the entire world and I wish he could be different. I wish he could be exactly the same only different, it doesn't make sense to me and I know it won't make sense to anyone else but that's the way it is.
I wish I didn't love him as much as I do, I wish he wouldn't have made me fall in love with him.
"I get it. It's okay." Zayn says and tries his best to smile but fails miserably.
"I'm sorry.." I say and mean it more than he could ever know.
He climbs out of the car and shuts the door behind him and I am left alone, again.
"Fuck!" I scream and hit my hands against the steering wheel, reminding me of Harry once again.
Harry's POV.
I wake up soaked in my own sweat again.
I had forgotten how miserable it was to wake up this way nearly every night. I had thought the sleepless nights were a thing of the past, but now the past haunts me yet again.
I glance at the clock, it's six in the morning. I need sleep, real sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. I need her, I need Tess. Maybe if I close my eyes and pretend that she is here I can go back to sleep..
I close my eyes and try to imagine her head on my chest as I lay on my back, I try to remember the way her hair always smells like vanilla, the way she breathes heavily in her sleep. For a moment I feel her, feel her warm skin against my bare chest.. I'm officially going fucking crazy.
Fuck.
Tomorrow will be better, it has to be. I have been thinking that for the last.. ten days now.
If I could just see her one more time, it wouldn't be so bad. Just once. If I saw her smile one more time I could live with myself for letting her go. Will she be at Christian's party tomorrow? It's likely seeing as she works for him and Kimberly is her friend.
I stare at the ceiling and try to imagine what she will be wearing if she was to go. Would she wear the white dress that she knows I love so much? Will her hair be curled and tucked behind her ear or will she pull it back? Will she wear makeup even though she doesn't need to?
God damn it.
I sit up and get out of bed. There is no way I can go back to sleep. When I get downstairs Robin is sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper.
"Good morning Harry." He says to me.
"Hey." I mumble back and pour myself a cup of coffee.
"Your mum is still asleep." My mum's boyfriend says to me.
"You don't say.." I roll my eyes.
"Your mum is really happy to have you here."
"Yeah sure. I've been a dick the entire time."
"Yes, that's true but she was glad to have you open up to her. She is always so worried about you, until she met Tessa then she wasn't so worried anymore."
"Well she will have to be worried again." I sigh, why is he trying to have a fucking heart to heart at six in the fucking morning?
"I wanted to bring something to your attention." He says.
"Okay?"
"I love your mum and I intend to marry her."
I spit my coffee back into my cup.
"Marry her? Are you mad?"
"Why would my intention to marry her be mad?"
"I don't know.. she's already been married.. and you're our neighbor.. her neighbor."
"I can take care of her the way she should have been taken care of her entire life. If you don't approve I'm sorry but I thought I'd let you know that when the time is right I will be asking her to spend her life with me, officially."
I don't know what to say to this man, the man who has lived next door to me my entire life, the man who I have never seen angry, not even once. He loves her I can tell but this is too weird for me to comprehend right now.
"Okay then.."
"Okay then." He repeats and looks behind me.
My mum walks into the kitchen with her robe wrapped tight around her and her hair in a mess on her head.
"What are you doing up? Are you going back home?" She asks.
"No, I couldn't sleep."
"And this is home." I tell her.
This is my home.
"Hmm.." She sleepily replies.
Tessa's POV.
I'm getting sucked back in, back under. The memories that I shared with Harry tug at my feet, attempting to pull me under the current.
I roll the windows down in an attempt to get some air. Zayn is so sweet to me, he is understanding and kind. He has dealt with a lot for me and I have always brushed him aside. If I could just stop being foolish, I could try with him. I can't even imagine being in a relationship right now, or really any time soon but maybe with time I could. I don't want Zayn to break up with Rebecca because of me if I can't give him an answer, or even a hint of an answer.
As I drive back to Liam's house, I am more confused than ever.
If I could just talk to Harry, just see him once more, I could get closure. If I could hear him say that he doesn't care, if he could be cruel to me just one last time, I could give Zayn the chance, give myself the chance.
Before I can stop myself, I grab my phone and press the button that I have been avoiding since day four. If he ignores me, I can move on. We are officially over if he doesn't answer my call. If he tells me that he's sorry and that we can work on it..no. I put the phone back on the seat. I have come too far to call him again, to break down again.
But I need to know.
I grab my phone again and call him. I can't stop myself. The line goes straight to voicemail.
"Harry.." The words leave my lips at a frantic rate.
"Harry.. it's Tessa. I.. well I need to talk to you. I am in my car and I am so confused.." I begin to cry, again.
"Why haven't you even tried? You just let me leave and here I am pathetically calling you and crying into your voicemail. I need to know what happened to us? Why was this time different, why didn't we fight it out? Why didn't you fight for me? I deserve to be happy Harry." I sob and hang the phone up.
Why did I just do that? Why did I break down and call him? I am such an idiot, he is probably going to listen to it and laugh at me. He will probably show whatever girl he is hooking up with the message and they will laugh together at my expense. I pull into a deserted parking lot to gather my thoughts before getting into another accident.
I stare at the phone and breathe in and out to stop crying. Twenty minutes go by and he still hasn't returned my call, or even text me.
Why am I sitting in a parking lot at ten at night crying and calling him? I have fought myself for the last nine days to get to this point and here I am again. I can't let this happen. I pull out of the parking lot and drive.
Harry's POV.
"I need something to sleep." I tell my mum and Robin.
"I haven't got anything Harry, I'm sorry."
"I don't know what else to do." I rub my temples.
"Yes you do." She continues to pester me.
"It's nearly five in the evening, even if I left now I wouldn't arrive for at least twelve hours." I groan.
"Well if you don't leave at all, you'll never arrive." She fires back.
I don't want to go back to Washington, I have to stay away from her. I have to make sure she can have a happy life without me. I love her too much to ruin her like I once promised to.
I go back up to my old bedroom and stare at the ceiling again. I should have answered when she called or called her, I should have chased her to my father's house and forced her to talk to me so we could get past this. I should have told her that I can't live without her because it's true. I am dying without her. Why did I fight her so much over talk of the future when I should have been happy that she wanted a future with me at all?
What the fuck am I doing here?
Tessa's POV.
As I race up the stairs I am at peace with myself.
I bang on the door, shifting back and forth waiting for it to open. What if I am too late and he doesn't answer the door? I will get what I deserve I suppose, I should have known better than to kiss him in the middle of all of this.
When the door opens I nearly stop breathing. Zayn is wearing only black gym shorts, his inked chest exposed.
"Tessa?" He gapes, clearly surprised.
"What are you doing here?"
"I.. I don't know what I can give you but I want to try." I tell him.
He runs his hand over his black hair and takes a deep breathe. He is going to reject me, I know it.
"I'm sorry I shouldn't have came.." I can't handle anymore rejection.
I turn towards the stairs and take two at a time before a hand hooks around my arm and Zayn turns me around to face him.
He doesn't say anything at all, he just takes my hand in his and leads me back up the stairs and inside his apartment.
The next morning when I wake up my neck is killing me, Zayn's old couch isn't the most comfortable but I slept well considering.
"Hey." He says when he walks into the living room.
"Hey." I smile.
"Did you sleep okay?" He asks me and I nod.
Zayn was incredible last night. He didn't even blink when I asked to sleep on the couch, he listened to me talk about Harry and how it had all went wrong. He told me how he cares for Rebecca but now he doesn't know what to do because he has always cared for me more. I felt guilty for the first hour while crying to him but as the night went on the tears turned to smiles which shifted to laughs. My stomach literally hurt by the time we decided to go to bed.
It's nearly two in the afternoon now, the latest I think I have ever slept but that's what happens when you stay up until seven in the morning.
"Yes, you?" I stand and fold the blanket he lent me to sleep with. I vaguely remember him draping the blanket over me while I drifted off to sleep.
"Same." He grins and sits on the couch.
His hair is wet and his skin is glistening like he just got out of the shower.
"Where should I put this?" I ask him referring to the blanket.
"Wherever, you didn't have to fold it." He laughs.
My mind goes to the closet in the apartment and how Harry shoves random things in there just to drive me insane.
"Do you have anything going on today?" I ask him.
"I worked this morning so no."
"Already?"
"Yeah from nine to noon, I basically only went in to fix my truck." He smiles.
I forgot that Zayn worked as a mechanic, I don't really know much about him at all.
"Environmental prodigy by day, grease monkey by night?" I tease and he chuckles.
"Something like that, what are your plans for the day?"
"I don't know, I need to get something to wear to my boss' dinner party tomorrow." For a moment I think about asking Zayn to come along but that would be wrong.
I would never do that, that would make everyone uncomfortable, including myself.
Zayn and I had come to an agreement that we weren't going to push anything, we are going to spend time together and see where it goes. He isn't going to push me to move on from Harry, we both know that I need more time before I can consider dating anyone.
I have too much to figure out, I have to find somewhere to live for starters.
"I can come along if you want? Or maybe we could see a movie later?" He asks nervously.
"Yeah, either one is fine." I smile and check my phone.
No missed calls. No text messages. No voicemails.
Zayn and I end up ordering pizza and hanging out for the majority of the day until I finally leave to go back to Liam's to take a shower. On my way back I stop by the mall right before it closes and find the perfect red dress with a square neckline that rests just above my knees. It's not too conservative but not too revealing either.
By the time I get back to Liam's there is note on the counter next to dinner that Karen put aside for me. Her and Ken went to dinner and a movie and they will be back soon, it says.
I'm relieved to have the place to myself even though when they are there I don't really notice because the house is so large. I take a shower and put pajamas on before laying down and forcing myself to catch up on my sleep.
My dreams shift back and forth between green and golden eyed boys.
Harry's POV.
When I step inside the apartment it looks different. It's still a mess from my idiotic behavior, but it's not that. It's something else.. it's the fact that she isn't here and by the looks of it, she hasn't been since I left.


Eleven days.
It has been eleven days since I have heard from Harry and each second certainly hurts much less than the last. Zayn's company has surely helped.
Tonight is the dinner party at Christian's and I am afraid that being around the familiar faces that will surely remind me of Harry will knock at the walls that been building. All it will take is one small crack and I will no longer be protected.
I have less than fifteen minutes to get myself dressed for the party. My hair is the same way it always is, down and curled in loose waves but my makeup is darker than usual. I slide my bracelet over my wrist even though I know I shouldn't be wearing it, I feel naked without it. It is such a part of me now, the way he is.. was.
The dress looks even better today than yesterday and I'm grateful that I have gained the few pounds back that I lost during the first few days of barely eating.
 " I just want it back the way it was before and I just want to see you back at my front door." The music plays as I grab my small clutch purse and pull the buds out of my ear to place them inside.
When I met Karen and Ken downstairs they are dressed to a tee. Karen is in a long blue and white patterned gown and Ken is wearing a suit and tie.
"You look so lovely." I smile at Karen and her cheeks flush.
"Thank you dear, so do you." She beams.
She is so sweet. I am going to miss seeing them this often when I leave but I can't stay here forever, I have to find an apartment on my own.
"I was thinking that sometime this week we could go out to the greenhouse and work a little?" She asks me as we walk to the car, my nude heels clank loudly on the concrete driveway.
"I would love to." I tell her and climb in the backseat of their Volvo.
"This party will be so much fun, we haven't been to a party like this in a while." Karen takes Ken's hand into hers and places it on her lap as he pulls out of the driveway.
Their affection doesn't make me envious, it reminds me that people can actually be good to one another.
"Liam will be home from New York late tonight, I will be picking him up at two a.m." Karen says.
"I can't wait for him to be back." I say and mean it.
I have missed my best friend, his words of wisdom and his warm smile.
"Me either, I will miss him when he moves." His mother says and I nod in agreement.
Christian Vance's house is exactly how I had imagined it would be. It's an extremely modern house, the entire home is nearly transparent, beams and glass appear to be the only thing securing the house on the hill. Every decoration and detail are styled into the perfect theme throughout the entire space inside, it reminds me of a museum in a way because nothing looks like it's even been touched before.
"Thank you guys so much for coming." Kimberly smiles and pulls me into her arms.
"Thank you for inviting us. Congratulations on Seattle." Ken shakes Christian's hand.
I lose my breath at the sight of the water just out the back windows. Now I understand why most of the house is glass. The house sits on a large lake, the water seems endless and the sun is setting at the moment, making it even more breathtaking as the reflection shines on top of the lake, nearly blinding me. The fact that the house itself is on a hill and the yard is slightly sloped gives the appearance that the house is floating on top of the water.
"We are all in here." Kimberly leads us to their dining room which like the rest of the house is perfect.
None of this is my style, I prefer old fashioned themes but its exquisite really.
Two elongated rectangle tables fill the space, each table full of multicolored flowers and small bowls with floating candles inside. Kimberly really has gone all out for this party. It's lovely.
Trevor is sitting at the table closest to the window along with a few other faces I recognize from Vance, including Crystal from marketing and her soon to be husband. Smith is seated two chairs down and he has his face buried in some sort of handheld video game.
"You look beautiful." Trevor smiles at me and stands from his seat to greet Ken and Karen.
"Thank you, how are you?" I ask.
His blue tie is the exact same shade of blue as his eyes.
"Great, ready for the move." He beams.
"I bet!" If only I were able to move to Seattle now.
"Trevor, its nice to see you." Ken shakes his hand and I look down when I feel a slight tug at my dress.
"Hi Smith, how are you?" I ask the little boy with shining green eyes.
"Okay." He shrugs.
"Where's your Harry?" His voice is quiet.
"He's uhm.. he's not here right now." I don't know what else to say and the way Smith called him 'my harry' stirs something in me. The stone wall is already beginning to chip away and I have only been here for ten minutes.
"He's coming though?" He asks.
"I don't think he is." I admit.
"Oh."
"I could tell him you said hey?" I offer, knowing I am lying to the quiet boy.
"Okay. I like your Harry." He half smiles and sits back down at the table.
Me too, but he's not mine.
Within fifteen minutes, twenty more people arrive and Christian has turned on his high tech stereo system. With only a click of a button, a soft piano melody spreads through the house. Young men in white collared shirts begin to circle the room with trays of appetizers and I help myself to something that looks like a small piece of bread topped with tomatoes and sauce.
"The Seattle office is breathtaking, you should see it. It's right on the water, it's two times larger than our office here. I can't believe I'm finally expanding." Christian speaks to a small group of us as and I try to appear as interested as I can as a waiter hands me a glass of white wine.
I am interested, I'm just distracted. Distracted by the mention of Harry and the idea of Seattle. As I stare out the glass wall and onto the water I imagine Harry and I moving into an apartment together and the excitement of a new city, new place, and new people. We would make new friends and start a new life there, together. Harry would work for Vance again and he would brag all day and night about how he makes more money than me and I would fight him to be able to pay the cable bill.
"Tessa?" I am brought out of my pointless daydream by the sound of Trevor's voice.
"Sorry.." I stutter and he begins or finishes his story that I wasn't even aware he was telling.
"My apartment is close to the new building and it's right in the middle of downtown, you should see the view." He smiles.
"That sounds incredible, the Seattle skyline is so beautiful." Trevor tells me and I smile.
Harry's POV.
What the fuck am I actually doing?
I keep pacing back and forth in this driveway. I should just leave, this was a stupid fucking idea to begin with. What am I expecting to happen, she will run into my arms and forgive me for all the shit I have done to her?
She probably isn't even in there and I will look like an idiot going in there if she isn't. Actually, I'll look like a dumbass either way, I should just leave.
This shirt is fucking itchy and I hate dressing up. I didn't make too much of an effort anyway, I only threw on a black button up shirt but still.
When I walk closer to the house I approach my father's car, in the backseat sits that hideous purse that Tessa always brings along to every single function she attends. She is inside, she's in there. My empty stomach flutters at the idea of seeing her, of being close to her.
What would I even say to her? I don't know but I need to see her. I have to tell her how my days have been complete hell without her and how I need her, I need her more than anything. I have to tell her that I'm an asshole and I can't believe that I fucked up the one good thing in my life, her.
I will go inside and get her to leave with me so we can talk. I'm nervous, fuck am I nervous, and I feel like I may throw up. If there were food in my stomach I'm sure I would. I know I look like complete shit, I wonder if she does? Not that she ever could but I wonder if it's been as hard for her as it has been for me.
I finally reach the door but then turn back around again. I hate being around people as it is and there are at least fifteen cars in this driveway. Everyone will stare at me and I will look like a god damned fool, which is exactly what I am.
I turn around again and ring the doorbell.
This is for Tessa. This is for her, I keep reminding myself when Kim opens the door with a surprised smile.
"Harry? I didn't know you would be here." She says, I can tell she is trying her hardest to be polite despite the anger I know she feels towards me for Tessa.
"Yeah.. me either." I reply.
I see the pity in her eyes when she takes in my appearance and I fight myself to keep quiet. I have to keep my cool tonight and bite my tongue if I want Tessa to listen to me.
"Well.. come inside, it's freezing out." She offers and opens the door further to let me walk past her.
This house is decorated like a fucking work of art, it doesn't even look like anyone lives here. It's cool and all but I like older things, simpler things.
"We are just getting ready to eat." She tells me and I follow her into a dining room with glass walls.
That's when I see her.
My heart stops and the pressure on my chest is overwhelming, nearly choking me, as she smiles and slides her hand across her forehead to push her hair back. The reflection of the setting sun behind her makes her glow, literally, and I can't move.
I hear her laugh and for the first time in ten days I can breathe. I have missed her so much and she looks phenomenal, she always does, but the red dress she is wearing and the sun hitting her skin, the smile on her face... why is she smiling and laughing?
Shouldn't she be crying and shouldn't she look like hell? She giggles again and my eyes move to the source.
Fucking Trevor.
I hate that bastard so fucking much, I could walk over there and throw him through that glass window and no one would be able to stop me. Why the fuck is he always around her? He's a fucking twit and I'm going to fucking kill him.
No. I need to calm down, if I hurt him right now she will never listen to me. She doesn't like when I act out in that way, she hates it.
I close my eyes for a few seconds and talk myself down. If I stay calm she will listen to me and she will leave here with me and we can go home and I will beg for her forgiveness and she will tell me she still loves me and we will make love and everything will be okay.
I continue to watch her as she begins an animated story. The hand that isn't holding the glass of wine moves around as she talks and smiles. My heart races as I spot the bracelet on her wrist. She is still wearing it, that's a good sign, it has to be.
Fucking Trevor watches her intently, his expression holding an adoration for her that makes my blood boil once more. He looks like a love sick puppy and she is feeding right into it. Has she moved on already? With him?
It would make sense if she did, I couldn't blame her really. I haven't returned her calls, I haven't even bothered to purchase a new phone yet. She probably thinks I don't care, that I have moved on already.
My mind travels back to that quiet street in England, to Natalie's swollen belly, to Elijah's adoring smile for his fiancé. Trevor is looking at Tessa the same way Elijah looked at Natalie.
Trevor is her Elijah, he's her second chance to have what she deserves. The realization hits me like a ton of bricks. I need to leave, I have to get out of here and leave her alone.
It now makes sense to me why I ran into Natalie that day. I saw the girl I hurt tremendously so I don't make the same mistake again with Tessa.
I have to leave before she sees me.
The moment I admit this to myself, she looks up and her eyes meet mine. Her smile vanishes and the glass of wine slips from her hand and shatters on the hardwood floor.
Everyone turns to look at her but she stays focused on me. I look away, to Trevor and he looks at her. She blinks a few times and her eyes travel to the floor.
"I'm so sorry." She says frantically and bends down to try to gather the broken glass.
"It's okay! I will grab a broom and some towels." Kimberly calls as she leaves the room.
I need to get the fuck out of here.
"Thought you weren't coming." A child's voice says from below me.
"Yeah.. I was just leaving." I look down to see Smith.
"Why?"
"Because I shouldn't be here." I tell him.
"I don't like it either." He groans and I nod.
Trevor helps Tessa gather the glass and toss it into a small trash bag. There has to be some symbolism behind this, behind watching him help her pick up the pieces.
"Stay?" Smith asks me and I look back and forth between Tessa and the kid.
I don't feel as annoyed with him as I once did, I don't think I have the energy to be annoyed with him.
"You should listen to him." Christian butts in and puts his hand on my shoulder.
"At least stay until after dinner, Kim has put a lot of effort into tonight." He tries to persuade me.
I look over to his girlfriend in her simple black dress as her nervous smile as she wipes a towel across the mess Tessa made because of me.
"Fine." I agree and walk over to take a seat at one of the tables.
If I can make it through this dinner, I can make it through anything. I will just swallow the pain that comes from watching Tessa be so complacent without me. She appeared unaffected until she saw me and sadness took over her beautiful face.
I will act the same, act like she isn't killing me with every blink of her eyes. If she is under the impression that I don't care she will be free to move on and finally be treated the way that she deserves.
"I'm really sorry, I will buy you a new glass." I hear her voice behind me.
"Honestly, don't worry about it. It's only a wine glass." Kimberly assures her.
I'm glad she is being so cool about it, otherwise Tessa would surely torture herself over it if she upset Kimberly in any way.
"I didn't expect to see you here." My father and Karen greet me.
"Everyone keeps saying that." I sigh as Karen takes the seat next to me.
I don't allow myself to look up from the table to find Tessa.
"Have you spoken to her?" Karen asks me almost silently.
"No." I reply.
"If everyone could please be seated, we will have dinner begin in just a moment." Kimberly calls above the light noise of her guests chatter.
I stare at the small printed swirl pattern on the table cloth and wait for the waiters to bring out the food. Finally, I can't help but look up to find her. I am surprised to find that she is sitting almost directly across from me, next to fucking Trevor of course. She is absentmindedly pushing an asparagus spear across her plate repeatedly. I know she doesn't like them but she is too polite to not eat something that someone else prepares for her. I watch her as she closes her eyes and brings the vegetable to her mouth and I almost smile when she tries her best to not appear disgusted as she washes the bite down with water then pats her lips with a napkin.
She catches me staring at her and I immediately look away. I can see the pain behind her blue-grey eyes. Pain that I have caused and pain that only I can heal by staying away from her and letting her move on.
I can feel the tension, all the unspoken words float in the air between us as she directs her attention back to her plate.
I don't look up again during the four course meal that I barely took five bites of. Even when I hear Trevor talking to Tessa about Seattle I keep my eyes away. For the first time in my life I wish I was someone else. I would give anything to be Trevor, to be able to make her happy, and not hurt her.
She answers in short sentences and I know she is thankful when Karen begins to talk about Liam and his long time girlfriend in New York.
"If I could have everyone's attention please.." Christian stands up and jokingly taps his fork against his glass.
"I better stop before I break it." He chuckles and looks at Tessa.
Her cheeks flush and I have to press my hands down against my thighs to hold myself in the chair and not tackle him to the ground for embarrassing her. I know he is teasing but it's still a dick move.
"Thank you all so much for coming, it means the world to me to have everyone that I love here in this room. I am beyond proud of the work that everyone in this room has done and I couldn't possibly be doing this without you. Maybe next year we will be opening an office in Los Angeles or even New York." He beams.
"Don't get ahead of yourself." His blonde lover teases.
"And you, especially you Kimberly. I wouldn't be anywhere without you." His tone changes drastically and the air in the room changes. He takes her hands in his as he stands in front of her in her chair.
"After Rose died I was living in complete darkness. The days came and went in a blur and I never thought I would be happy again. I didn't think I was capable of loving anyone else, I accepted that it would just be Smith and I. Then one day this bubbly blonde crashes into my office ten minutes late for her interview with the most hideous coffee stain on her white blouse and that was it for me. I was captivated by your spirit and your energy, you gave me life when I had none left in me. No one could ever replace Rose and you knew that, you didn't try to replace her, you welcomed her memory and helped me get my life back. I only wish I had met you sooner so I wasn't miserable for four years." He laughs and I know he added the humor to mask the emotions but he failed.
"I love you Kimberly, more than anything and I would love to spend the rest of my life repaying you for what you have given me." He bends down on one knee.
Is this some kind of fucking joke? Is everyone I know suddenly deciding to get married or is this some fucked up cosmic joke on my behalf?
"This wasn't a celebration party, this was an engagement party." He smiles at her and she squeals.
"If you say yes that is." He adds and she begins to cry.
I look away from them as she practically screams her acceptance.
I can't help but look at Tessa as she claps her hands and does her best to smile in this gleeful moment for her friend. I watch as she blinks away her tears and pretends to be happy when Kimberly just heard everything that she once wished she would hear from me.

To be continued .

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