I wanted to defend myself again, but what was the point? I’d just woken up to Trish. I shook my head, not understanding anything. She’s gay; she has a girlfriend! And what the hell happened last night? “I know she does,” I admitted softly.
“For a while, I thought I hated you for taking her from me. She was happy with you, though, so I couldn’t. But now, all I can think of is destroying you for hurting her. Again.”
Tears fell silently. I had destroyed her. Destroyed us. And I’d pushed her right back into Brandon’s arms. He’d never hurt her—all he ever did was take care of her. “Please . . . please bring her back to me.”
Brandon sighed heavily. “When she’s ready to see you, I will.”
“Keep her safe.”
I ended the call and shut my eyes as tears continued to fall.
What the hell have I done?
By the time I got to my parents’ house, Harper still wasn’t there, and I still couldn’t remember all of last night. I remembered Zach’s hitting on Trish when I walked back with fresh bottles of water until she dismissed him by saying she was happy with her girlfriend. Not that he’d let it go that easily, but by the time he walked from where Trish was leaning up against the island and I was sitting on the counter a couple feet away, everything started to blur. I vaguely recalled a fight breaking out in my living room, and Derek and Brad rushing toward the fight. But I did not remember their breaking it up, and not a thing after that.
Walking into the living room, I found Konrad and Bree on the couch opposite where my mom and dad were sitting. Bree and Mom were crying, and all of them looked like they wanted to beat my ass.
I knew the feeling.
“HARPER?” BREE CALLED, and rushed to the entryway.
All the air left my body, and I struggled to take in a breath. It’d been over nine hours since I had gotten off the phone with Brandon, and though Bree had been texting him most the day, I was terrified Harper wouldn’t be coming. But she did; she’d come back. Thank God. Bile rose in my throat, and I forced it back down as flashes of waking up next to Trish flew through my mind.
God damn it.
I heard Harper and Bree make their way into the living room and was somehow able to lift my head to look at my world—and what I saw made me want to die. Her eyes were red, her cheeks splotchy, and she looked like someone had ripped out her heart.
Me. I did that. I’m the one who put that look on her face.
I started to stand, but Dad pushed me back down, and I couldn’t even try to fight against him. It felt like someone had shot me in the chest, and with the pain radiating through my body, I didn’t know how I was alive—let alone breathing. I watched as Harper hugged Mom tightly for a few moments and wanted to yell at everyone to leave, I wanted to be the one holding her. Needed to be the one holding her. Her eyes flashed over to me quickly when the others started leaving the room, and in the split second they held mine, I felt all of my pain mixed with hers. What have I done?
“Don’t. Call. Me. That.” Her eyes flattened out as she spoke through a clenched jaw.
“Harper, please, I messed up,” I choked out, and didn’t care about the tears falling down my face anymore. There was no point in trying to stop them now. “I don’t remember anything, you have to believe that I wouldn’t do that to you.” My voice gave out again, and I forced the lump back down. I’d hurt her so many times before, but all of that had been to save her from me. Not now, though—not this time. I wouldn’t do that to my princess.
“Why her, Chase? The one person I hate! How could you do this to me? How could you do this to our baby?”
I flinched back as if she’d slapped me. “I didn’t. I mean—I don’t know, I don’t remember anything!” God, why can’t I remember the rest of last night? “I was at the party and the next thing I know I’m waking up to Breanna and Konrad screaming at me, and Trish is in my bed with me. But I swear I wouldn’t touch her, I wouldn’t touch anyone. I love you!” Didn’t she see that? After all this time, couldn’t Harper see how much I loved her and all I’d do for her?
One of Harper’s eyebrows rose shakily, and even through her pained expression, I could see the disgust in that look. “You really expect me to believe this? You know how I feel about her, Chase, then you invite her to a party I just happen not to be at? Everyone thinks you came back to me last night, and yet she walks out of your room this morning wearing your shirt, and you were practically nak*d in the bed?”
God, I would never have touched that woman—any woman—but especially not Trish. “I didn’t invite her, she invited me over again, and I told her no, with the excuse of the party. I didn’t know she was going to show up.”
“Why did you have to have the party as an excuse? Why can’t I be excuse enough? You should have told her a long time ago that she needed to stop, that you were in a relationship and going to be a father, and her flirting with you wasn’t okay! Instead, you let her continue to flirt with you and invite you over to her place in the middle of the night. When I was around, she would be hanging off your arm, and you think I’m going to believe that you didn’t sleep with her when I wasn’t around?”
“I thought she was gay! But I wouldn’t sleep with her, baby, you have to believe me!”
“You’re still sticking with that?” She looked expectantly at me as if waiting for another answer, and scoffed when she didn’t receive one. “That is exactly why I don’t believe you—you can’t even tell me the truth when you know I’ve seen the pictures.”
My body froze. Pictures. There are pictures? “What pictures?” She didn’t respond, just continued to sit in the large chair staring at me. My body shot off the couch, and I was yelling before I could stop myself, “What pictures, Harper?”
“Come on, Chase, they were taken with and sent to me from your phone.”
I struggled with getting my phone out of my pocket and began scrolling through my pictures, and checking the texts to Harper when I didn’t see anything new. All I could see was what I’d sent her this morning, after waking up, and normal stuff before that. “I don’t see anything.”
Princess sighed and started messing with her phone, and I swear I stopped breathing as I waited for her to be done doing whatever it was she was doing. Her phone repeatedly chimed, and once it died down, her shaky hand held it out to me. I didn’t want to see whatever was on that phone . . . I didn’t want to, but I had to. I reached forward to grab it and flipped back and forth between the two pictures a few times to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. My stomach tightened, and I thought I was going to throw up right there. I gasped for air, and my legs gave out on me; the pain from hitting the ground was welcomed as the worst nightmare of my life became a reality.
“Oh God. No. No, no I wouldn’t have.”
“Well, you obviously did.”
I couldn’t have! “I don’t remember this, I wouldn’t do this to you! You know I love you!”
“Maybe you were just that drunk.”
Drunk? She knew better than anyone that I hadn’t had anything to drink since the end of August. “I didn’t drink last night, I swear! Ask Bree!”
“Chase”—her voice came out soft and so calm it broke my heart more—“just stop lying to me.”
“I’m not lying!” I moved closer to her and put my hands on her thighs, forcing them not to grip her too tight. “Please believe me!”
She took my hands off her, and it felt like another shot to the chest. “Chase, if you still want to be in the baby’s life, I would love that. But I can’t continue to be in this relationship. Besides, we both know it was doomed from the beginning.”
No, no, no—“No it wasn’t!”
“I can’t trust you, Chase. Especially after this.”
“Harper. We. Are not. Breaking up. I was going to propose to you after graduation tomorrow!”
She looked at me with a pained expression. “We need to. You obviously still want to live your old life, and I need to not have to worry about what you’re doing when I’m not with you.”
The f**k I do! “I don’t want my old life! I don’t want anything without you! You are my everything, Harper. You and our baby are my everything.” She was leaving me, my world, my heart—was leaving me. Sobs tore from my chest, and my head dropped into her lap as my body shook violently.
“Maybe sometime later, after you’ve had a chance to think about what you really want, we can give us a shot again.”
My hands tightened into fists around her shirt in a pathetic attempt to somehow keep her with me. “Princess please, please don’t do this. I can’t lose you.”
“You don’t have to,” she whispered. “We can remain friends, you can be at all the appointments, and I will continue to live here if that’s what you want. But, Chase, you have just shattered my heart over what will probably only be one night with Trish. Because of that, I can’t be yours right now. I can’t be the naïve girlfriend at home with a baby while you’re off with other women.”
“I won’t be, I only want you.” God, if I had a selfless bone in my body, I would have told her she’s right and let her live a life she deserved. She needed someone like Brandon, someone who would take care of her even after we screwed him over. Not me. Even without trying, all I do is hurt her. She deserves so much better than me, but fuck, I can’t lose her.
“It’s going to take a lot for me to believe you again, Chase, but I’m willing to give you the opportunity to earn my trust again. We’re going to have to start over as friends, though.”
“I don’t want to be your friend, Harper!”
“It’s that or nothing, Chase.”
“Baby, I’m so sorry. I promise, I wouldn’t have done that to you, I don’t remember anything from last night.” Even with the pictures, I could hardly remember anything after Trish showed up.
“I told you, I’ll give you a chance if you want it. But I need a few days before we can try to be friends. I really—I’m hurting, Chase, I feel like you just confirmed every fear I’ve ever had of being in a relationship with you. And I’m still not sure how to begin to deal with this.”
I was at war with myself—part of me was yelling to let her go so she could be happy, the other was dying inside at the thought of not having her to myself. I cupped her cheeks and kissed her deeply. “I will get to the bottom of whatever happened. I love you, Harper, more than you can ever imagine.” I caught her lips again with my own and prayed that this wouldn’t be the last kiss we shared.
System of a Down came blaring through my phone, and I went to hit ignore, knowing it was someone from work. When I caught sight of the name, I did a double take and took the call, standing up and storming off into the kitchen as I yelled into the phone, “What the hell did you do to me? Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”