Having Cassidy in my arms was torture. In all honesty, the entire night was torture. It felt like we were truly together and we could forget about all of our drama. Like we were an ordinary high school couple. Her parents approved of me and I even went through the protective dad talk, but nothing seemed to be good enough for her. Holding her, comforting her, made me wish it was real. She didn’t even know we had kissed, which made it so much more awkward for me. I ached for her touch, to be near her at least. I had a taste of all sides of Cassidy now, and I wanted seconds. I needed her. She made me feel alive and invincible. Oh God, I wish she was mine.
To think that she thought she wasn’t perfect drove me to insanity. She was the definition of perfect, and she couldn’t see it at all. The ridiculous standards set by her mother were a clear indication of why she had such negativity in her mind. She never did tell me about her mother. She was too consumed in being angry at herself for our kiss.
“I’m so, so sorry Justin, I can’t believe I did that. I forced myself on you, I’m not normally like that, I’m sorry.” She cried after I had confirmed her memory.
“Don’t apologize, you were drunk.” I mumbled to her. All I really wanted to tell her was that I was glad she kissed me.
“That’s not an excuse. I cheated on my boyfriend and –“
“Hey, hey. It’ll be okay. We don’t have to tell Nate. No one else has to know. It was such a silly kiss, like those ones in elementary school. You were extremely drunk for the first time ever, you had no concept of anything you were doing or saying.”
Heat rose up my neck threatening to become visible on my cheeks as I remember Garrett telling me she called me her boyfriend. It definitely was not a ‘silly kiss’. I hadn’t felt that alive and awake for years.
She sniffled and rubbed her eyes, “Thank you Justin. You’re amazing.” Her hands found their way around my waist, pulling herself closer to me. I rested my chin on the top of her head, my nose buried in her hair.
“You smell like vanilla.” I blurted.
What. The. Fuck. Was. That.
She giggled in her gorgeously adorable way, “Um, thank you?”
I squeezed my eyes shut in repulsion of myself. Was I high? Had I been drunk in the last hour? Did I have an excuse?
“Sorry, you just smell nice.” I mumbled, completely ashamed. All laughter dropped from her face, looking like she was recalling a memory. I decided to be a jerk and checked my watch as a ‘subtle’ hint. “Ah, I better get going. I’ll see you at school on Monday, right?”
She nodded, “Sure. Can I walk you home?”
I snorted but agreed, letting her lead the way through her apartment. God, she looked amazing in that dress.
“Mom, Dad. Justin’s going home now.”
Her dad stood and firmly shook my hand. “Nice to meet you son, you’re a good influence on this one.” I felt my neck heat up and I prayed for it to stay there. “Hopefully we’ll meet again.” He leant in closer “With any luck under different circumstances, you seem to be better for her than this Nate boy.” He leant back again, my neck on fire with embarrassment from his words.
“Thank you, sir. Bye, Mrs. Ellen.” I kissed her politely on the cheek as she stood, all traces of that horrible woman from Cassidy’s room gone. I waved to her auntie before Cassidy shoved me from the house.
That night was a small glimpse of what life could be like with Cassidy, even the bad parts. Normally, that sort of baggage drove me away from a girl as fast as possible. However with Cassidy, it drew me to her. I felt it my priority to take care of her and protect her.
“JUSTIN?” interrupted Abby.
“I’m going out, you have the place to yourself. Don’t sit there moping alright? I don’t know what happened in this past week but you’re like, brooding. Its strange. Please, stop it ok?” I nodded, barely listening. “Call Cassidy or something. I’m sure she’ll cheer you up.” She smirked, before leaving the apartment.
“Or make me a thousand times worse.” I mumbled. Abby knew about my crush now, her and Noah had reveled in it once Cassidy went home. I was filled with self-hatred, she would never want me. Never like me back. Why was I like this? Why was I so… broken?
I knew why. But I still hated myself because of it. I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the curveballs of life, and now I was paying for it. That's how I saw it.
All the deaths and pain that I had to experience at 16 years old fucked me up. Ever since, I had been one massive unsolved problem. Too many thoughts, too many problems and shit entangled together in my mind. I had never spoken about any of it to anyone, I had only bottled it up within me, knotting up my problems even worse.
This past week has been one of the worst in a long time. I’ve been restless and considerably more antisocial than usual. Cassidy and I have been awkward, mainly on my part. Every time I see her I remember the kiss, her crying and stupidly enough, Nate. I can’t focus on anything when she’s around, except for her. The gorgeous different shades of her eyes, the way her hair is always so fucking perfect, her laugh, the lines of her beautiful body… She takes my breath away, makes me forget how to think and walk and talk. I’ve been sent out of class too many times to count for not listening. For talking to Cassidy… for talking about Cassidy.
Hey I just met you
And this is crazy
But here’s my number
So call me maybe-
I growled at the ring tone Ashton had set for himself on my phone.
“What.” I answered, the song already stuck in my head.
“You know, you could change that ring tone you know.” Ashton replied.
“Yeah, and let you tell Cassidy the way I feel about her? No thanks.”
Ashton had told me the minute he heard me change that stupid song he would run to Cassidy. No way was I going to let her find out about my stupid crush on her. I heard two separate laughs in reply to my statement. “Who else is there?”
“Noah. We’re coming over.”
I snorted, “Who invited you?”
“Abby. She said you were brooding over Cassidy, so we’re going to talk it out. You need to be ready and on watch for Halloween, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We can’t take a risk like that.”
“What’s the risk?”
“We’ll explain when we get there.”
And with that he hung up on me.
“You’re fucked. She’s fucked. We’re all fucked, really.” Ashton groaned, rubbing his hands over his face in what looked like an attempt to calm down. “You’re fucking in love with this chick.”
Heat rose to my cheeks before I could stop it, and the two guys in front of me snickered. They had barely walked in the door and they were already accusing me of being as common to have fallen in love.
“I’m not in love with her. I didn’t believe in love before Emily, and I don’t believe in love after her. She was the only girl I could ever be in love with.”
Ashton ignored me and continued to pace. “See, this is the risk. We can’t let you be so messed up by her that you won’t be on your game, protecting her.”
I agreed, she was, unintentionally of course, fucking me over. But I wasn’t in love with her, I barely knew her.
“Dude, face it. Whether you like it or not, soppy feelings shit or not, its obvious you love her. You look at her like she’s a goddess and if you could you would kiss the ground she walked on.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m in love with her. You should watch how you use that word.”
“I know this shit when it comes to you, Justin. We’ve both known you for a long time. I can see you look…hopeful when it comes to Cassidy. We’ve all had a crush, hell, after Emily you started hooking up with any girl with blonde hair to remind you of her. You aren’t like that with her.” Ashton defended.
I sighed. What the hell was I supposed to think? What was I supposed to do?
“Do you think you love her?” Noah asked. I wanted to avoid answering it straight up like that. Denying, I could do. But this gave me time to actually think about my feelings and I didn't want to do that. I didn’t want to love her, I couldn’t love her. I had only known her for a few months. It couldn’t be possible to fall in love with someone that fast. It took me years to fall in love with Emily.
“Talk Justin. Say something other than ‘no’. If you can’t talk to us, who can you talk to?”
I glared at Noah. “This isn’t some chick flick, don’t make me punch you in the face.”
“Dude shut the fuck up, he’s helping you. Be fucking grateful.” Ashton cut in. “Tell us about her. Preferably something you dislike so we can use that against her and stop this shit from happening.”
Noah and I both punched Ashton in each arm. “What? We all know Nate is going to fuck up, Cassidy will come crawling to you, you’ll be happy as hell and jump into her arms and run off into the sunset together. We can’t let that happen.” He teased.
I rolled my eyes. “Nate won’t fuck up in a way that won’t effect me. He’s Nate… he somehow has a way to make sure that whenever something good happens to me its taken away.”
“That won’t happen dude. We’ll stop it. He’s a bitch, but he isn’t that great.” Noah snorted.
I sighed, petrified of the fact that I could actually be in love with her.
“She’s brilliant. She’s like… an angel.”
“Well duh, she’s hot as fuck.” Noah cut me off. I clenched my hands into fists, feelings of possessiveness and jealousy overwhelming me and triggering my anger.
She’s mine! I wanted to scream.
“Shut the fuck up you idiot.” Ashton growled.
I hesitated but continued. They were right, who else could I tell? “She’s hot, sure. But she’s an angel in the sense that she’s so fucking pure and perfect. She is like that one person that can make me do anything…” I trailed off. “The one person that can make me truly happy. Every time she smiles its like I fucking lose myself in happiness that I have no reason for. She makes me happy, man. Even when we’re fighting, part of me is enjoying it because I’m with her. Before I met her I was so full of hatred and anger at everything and everyone that crossed my path, but she was so, so beautiful when we met. She was so innocent and even when we hated each other I felt like I should protect her.”
I stopped talking to look up at Ashton and Noah.
“Keep going man, we’re listening.”
I took a deep breath, “That day she ran off and came back with Nate, I waited for all those hours outside her apartment to make sure she was home safe. I disturbed her aunt 6 million fucking times to make sure I hadn’t missed her and she was actually in there while I was waiting for her to show up outside. I don’t even understand it, it’s different this time. It’s not like it was with Emily, it isn’t like anything I’ve felt before and I feel like clawing my fucking brain out because I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I want her all the time, to be around her all the time…fuck.”
Noah was silent, but Ashton began as soon as I stopped. “Listen. Love isn’t all the same. You don’t feel the same thing as you did with Emily because she’s a different fucking person. You’ve always said that, now you have to realize that. They may be similar, but you were 16 when you were with her. Being in love at 16 is different. You may have a bunch of fucked up emotions and your mind may be covered in shit from your past but love is still able to survive all of that-“
“I’m not in love with her.” I cut him off through my gritted teeth. The truth was, I wasn’t sure if I was or not.
“Okay, fine. Whatever. She’s your angel, your savior. But you love her.” He held up a hand to silence me when I began to protest. “You love her, like she loves you. You can deny that you’re not in love with her all you want but you can’t deny you love her. We love her, Abby loves her and on some level, Nate does as well. We all want her safe, to protect her. Nate isn’t in love with her, that's kind of fucking obvious-“
“What’s the difference?” Noah asked carefully, like he was scared Ashton would blow up.
“Loving someone means caring for them, wanting the best for them and making sure they’re happy and safe. The feelings you have for friends. Being in love with someone means well, what it means. You can see a future together, you’re desperately obsessed with them.” Ashton snorted at his own words. “C’mon, you know I’m shit at feelings.”
We all laughed, but mine was as fake as the ‘love’ Nate had for Cassidy. After Emily died, I had never thought about settling down with anyone and having a future. But my mind couldn’t, wouldn’t stop producing images of a little girl with Cassidy’s dark curly hair and golden eyes. My eyes. She was laughing and screaming as someone, as I, chased her around. I felt a wave of nausea wash over me, wanting to tear up these thoughts into millions of pieces and never see them again. How could I possibly be good enough for her? I wasn’t boyfriend material. I was fucked up inside, I would just hurt her. Seeing her cry kills me, how could I treat her well enough? I did not want a future with Cassidy. No.
You’d be able to see her every day. Wake up next to her, fall asleep with her…be with her in every possible way.
“I, I have to-“ I stumbled out, bolting to the bathroom. I reached out to grip walls, walls that looked like they were moving. Everything was fucking spinning, the feeling of nausea rising higher and higher within me. The thought of a future with someone fucking scared the shit out of me. I grasped the toilet bowl desperately, my eyes shutting of their own accord, before I couldn’t stop it any longer. Bile rose in my throat, and soon enough my entire stomach content was being emptied. My body heaved desperately even after there was nothing left to come up. I laid back against the wall, exhausted. Tears ran down my face, my breathing coming out in rickety sobs as I continued to heave.
“WHAT THE FUCK?” I screamed, hitting my head against the wall behind me. I clenched my fists tightly, feeling the old need for pain growing internally.
The door was crashed open with a bang, Ashton tumbling inside.
“Don’t give in Justin, come on. You’re better than this.” He mumbled, looking me over. My entire body shook, caused by anger or revulsion or fear of my own feelings, I don’t know. All I did know is that I would never fall in love with Cassidy Ellen, no matter what.
“I don’t love.” I managed to get out, choking on my words. “I don’t love anyone.”
A/N: Heeyyy! Sorry for the late update, it was my birthday yesterday and i didn't have the time to upload the chapter, sorry!! Comment your thoughts on this chapter, i love all your support. happy reading lovelies! xx