Derek got out of his car and walked with me up to the front desk. I still couldn’t speak so he told the woman in the business suit behind the counter that I needed a room for the night. When she asked for a card to go on file he pulled out his wallet. Grabbing his arm, I shook my head quickly and the tears started falling.
“I already can’t believe I’m about to leave you here, Princess. Give me some peace of mind knowing that I didn’t make you pay for a room because of what just happened.” He handed his card to the woman who was shooting daggers at Derek. Once I had the keycard in my hand, he hugged me awkwardly and stepped back, “Let someone know if you need anything.”
I heard the woman mutter “Asshole.” under her breath when he walked out the doors. It wasn’t until I was in the elevator I realized how that must have looked to her. With my tears and what he said, that definitely made him look awful. Poor Derek.
As soon as I was in the room, I curled up onto the large bed and let my heart break once again for the man I had a feeling I would always love. He called an hour later, but I was already devastated with what I knew he was going to say, so I ignored the call and turned my phone off. Maybe he would take that as my acknowledgment of what he no longer wanted. Me.
Loud pounding woke me some time later and I had a momentary freak-out when I didn’t realize where I was at first. The pounding started again and I looked at the door, I had no idea what time it was, but Brandon had called right before ten, so I knew it was really late now. Was there some drunk trying to get into what they thought was their room?
“Harper, baby open the door.”
My eyes widened and I scrambled off the bed. God, I should have just answered the phone. Break up over the phone would have been much easier than face to face. Taking a few deep breaths, I unlocked the door and cracked it open.
Brandon stepped in and pulled me into his arms, roughly bringing his mouth to mine. “What the hell are you doing here sweetheart?”
Me? What was he doing, and why was he kissing me?
“I’ve been going out of my mind, why’d you turn your phone off?
“I–I didn’t want to talk to you.”
His face and arms fell.
“I couldn’t, I couldn’t handle you breaking up with me.”
“Whoa, wait…what? Break up with you? Why the hell would I break up with you?”
I floundered for a minute trying to remember everything that he and Derek had said, “Because you…isn’t that…wasn’t that why you wanted me to leave?”
“No!” He hunched down and cupped my face, “I thought I scared you with that fight, I thought you wanted to get away from me.”
A sob escaped my chest and hot tears streamed down my cheeks again as I shook my head.
“Baby,” he crooned and wrapped his arms around me again, “are you insane? How could you think I wouldn’t want to be with you? Seeing your face in the bedroom, you looked terrified and I hated that you saw that. I shouldn’t have lost it like that in front of you.”
“So we’re not breaking up?”
A huge wave of relief washed through me, “I was scared in your room, but it was because I thought you were mad at me. I thought you were mad that you got into another fight because of me. And I hated that everyone had to get in on it.”
“Harper, I would fight anyone, anytime for you.” He kissed me softly and moved back to the door, “I’ll be right back, alright?”
Before I could say anything, he was out the door and jogging down the hall. When he came back a handful of minutes later, he picked me up and without breaking our kiss laid me down on the bed.
“Where’d you go?” I asked breathlessly when his lips moved across my jaw.
“I rented the room until Sunday morning.” He grinned impishly and I hurried to pull his shirt off his body.
“Princess, stop walking and just talk to me.”
“Why? So you can let me know again how much of a slut you think I am?”
“I don’t,” he let out a half-growl, half-sigh, “I don’t think you’re a slut. You just caught me on a bad day.”
“Let me guess Chase, you hurt me because you were just so damn mad…am I right?” I threw his line from a month ago back in his face and he paled.
His hand came up and brushed my hair back, holding it away from my face as he stared into my eyes, “This is why I told you I would never be good enough for you, all I do is hurt you Princess.”
“This isn’t about you being, or not being good enough for me. I just want to be your friend, and you’re making that impossible.”
Friend, he mouthed and scratched his head before grabbing a fistful of hair, “Okay, fine, we’re friends. But I need you to stop approaching me around my house and at school.”
“What? Then that puts us exactly where we’ve been the last three weeks, that doesn’t change anything.”
“It needs to be that way.” He released both his hair and mine at the same time and turned away for a second before facing me again, “Sundays are the only day I get you. Those are the only days when you’re here with me.” I opened my mouth but he stopped me, “No, I know you’re not here for me…but you’re here. And he’s not.” He bent his knees so we were eye to eye, “I need these days with you Harper. But every other day, you’re his and it’s not a good idea for us to be around each other then. So stay away. Please.”
“If you think acting like you don’t exist isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done, you’re wrong. I hate not talking to you, I hate not bickering like we’re an old married couple and I hate not spending every day right next to you. But this is how it has to be, Brandon hates me, and Princess trust me when I say he has every reason to. So if after everything I’ve done to you, you’ll still even consider being my friend, then it has to be Sundays only.”
“Brandon won’t care if we’re friends.” Okay I wasn’t entirely sure that was true.
He smiled and shook his head, “I know you’re not that naïve. Now go have lunch with Mom and Bree, then get your ass back here so I can have my few stolen hours with you.”
I walked toward the entryway but stopped after a few feet, “Chase?”
Looking over my shoulder, I held his gaze, “Will you please stop hurting me…in every way?”
Chase closed the distance and pulled me into a tight hug, “Go eat sweetheart.”
That wasn’t a yes, or no. But I wasn’t going to press the issue further.
The last three months had flown by in an amazing blur. I had three A’s and one B last semester and was actually excited for my next classes to start. Bree was the best roommate I could have ever asked for; she showed me everything in the San Diego area, helped me ease into college life and welcomed me into her family. She was like the sister I’d never had, and I loved her dearly. We still spent every Sunday with her parents and Chase, and although it was my day away from Brandon, being part of a family was amazing, and Sunday’s soon became my favorite day. It hurt knowing I’d missed out on this growing up, but I was extremely appreciative of how quickly Robert and Claire took me in and grateful for my time with them.
As I had suspected, I only heard from Sir about once a month, and even then it was by e-mail. I tried to call him once a week, but he never answered and never returned the calls. It didn’t bother me too much, even when I’d lived at home, I only talked to him if I absolutely needed to. Carter and I almost never talked now, I still missed the way we had been, but ending our friendship was most likely for the best. He still texts me every now and then when he’s wasted, usually telling me about whatever strip club he’s at, or what girl he slept with recently. And last I heard before his unit left for Afghanistan, he’d eloped with a girl he met the day before they married. I had worried that I’d pushed him into his new lifestyle, but Bree and Claire quickly pushed that worry out of my mind.
Chase and I still had our different kind of friendship. We continued to not speak during the week, and when Sunday hit, he never let me out of his sight unless I was having a girl’s day with Bree and Claire. I found out quickly that he hated those days. No matter how much I wished for it, my feelings for him never seemed to go away. Actually, the sexual tension between us seemed to grow each time we saw each other, rather than dwindle to nothing like I wanted. The week of Thanksgiving break, we had run into each other in the hall of his parent’s house and he stopped me so he could run his hands across my cheek and jaw, then down my throat. He gently pressed me against the wall and leaned in. Through the hammering in my chest and quick breaths, I’d somehow managed to ask him not to kiss me, and that was the last time our bodies ever came closer than a few feet of each other. I didn’t understand my unwanted feelings towards him, but I was glad we seemed to find a happy medium with our friendship, and as far as I knew there had been no more fights between him and Brandon.
Brandon is…amazing. He treats me like I’m the only person in the world that matters and we’re practically inseparable. Our “weekend only” sleeping arrangement hadn’t lasted past mid-October and most nights were now spent in his bed, but we only ever slept. There have been quite a few more times where things had gotten hot and gone a little too far, but he always stopped us before we went there, and I loved him for it. He had told me to let him know when I was ready, and even when caught in the heat of the moment, I still hadn’t said anything and he never pushed me. Bree and I went to almost all of his fights, and he had yet to lose. Every time it was over, Scarecrow would hand him a wad of cash, and every time he would shove it in his pocket without counting it. I was itching to know how much he was making, but figured if he wanted me to know, he would tell me. There were no more cracked ribs, but sometimes he would come home with a busted lip or a cut brow. I preferred the cut brow, the busted lips got in the way too often.
He had taken me to Arizona with him for Christmas, and I was completely taken with his mom and brother, Jeremy. His mom was thrilled that he was actually bringing a girl home, and to not have to be surrounded by boys for another holiday. I helped her cook, we went to get our nails done together and had a night of romance comedies after we’d sent the boys away. I could easily see myself in his family, and though that thought after only four months into our relationship scared me, it kind of exhilarated me too. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to talk about marriage, but eventually, I think I’d like to head down that road with him.
Brandon planned on staying in Arizona for the entire winter break, but I’d promised Bree I would bring in the New Year with her, so I’d flown back to San Diego the day of and was currently walking out of the airport. I grabbed my phone to call my boyfriend and my heart ached at the thought of not seeing him for the rest of break. Since Brandon and I had met, we had spent at the very least a few hours with each other every day. These two weeks were going to suck.