“I don’t care about Tyler, not anymore,” I breathe, pressing my body impossibly close to Jason’s. “You changed my mind.”
He kisses me again, his fingertips pressing into the small of my back to hold me tighter. The tingling sensation is everywhere, consuming me and overwhelming my senses. We’re a tangled mess of limbs on his mattress, touching everywhere we can.
“You’re not sure,” Jason says against my lips. “Even now, I can tell you still love him.”
“I don’t,” I almost plead with him to understand. “Jason, it’s you. You gave me a way out, and I’m taking it.”
He shakes his head, turning it to the side so my mouth only brushes his cheek, decorated with scratchy stubble. My chest tightens, willing him to hear me. I want him — need him — so badly it hurts. How can he still believe I think about Tyler when he knows he does this to me? My fingers reach for his jaw, turning his eyes to face mine, begging him to allow a kiss.
“It’ll never work, Phoebe,” Jason says, and I feel like I’m tearing in two. How can he say this? “Not with everything that’s happened. Look at all I’ve done, and all you haven’t done. If we go through with this, everything about your life will change.”
My lip quivers. “Not you. You won’t change, Jason.”
A darkness falls over his eyes and I blink back tears. Jason can protect me, make me feel things that Tyler never could. What’s holding him back?
“I don’t know if I can…” he trails off, searching for words. His bottom lip is taken between his teeth and I wince.
“Just say it,” I tell him, preparing for the worst. What can he not handle? Jason has been through the worst. Does he not feel the same way I do? Am I just another girl he’s seduced and cast aside?
He closes his eyes. “I’m afraid.”
I take in a sharp breath. Afraid? “Of what?”
Jason’s expression softens noticeably and for a moment I think I’ve gotten through to him. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I hope silently that he’s trying to work out ways for us to be together. We have to be.
Slowly, his beautiful brown eyes open and stare impossibly deep into mine.
I squeezed my eyes tightly, straining against the ripping feeling in my chest. My hands closed around the fabric of Jason’s shirt and pulled him closer to me, wanting nothing but to feel him. He was warm, comforting to the coldness in my extremities. But where was the sensation I always had while pressing my lips to his?
My eyes shot open as Jason groaned groggily, turning in a sleeping state. I nearly gasped, realizing everything I’d just felt was a dream. It couldn’t have been — why did I feel so empty? But then again, when would I ever have said those things to Jason?
With a sharp intake of breath, it finally registered in my brain that I’d told Jason I didn’t love Tyler anymore — at least, I had in the dream. I scrambled to search for the part of me that knew my dream-self had been wrong, and was ashamed to find that I had to wait more than a few seconds to finally feel the warmth in my chest I experience when thinking of Tyler. This was wrong, and I knew it. I couldn’t let two years of loving an amazing boy go down the drain.
Look at all I’ve done.
I stared at my hands, still balled in Jason’s shirt. Slowly, I let the material go. What had Jason done? A lot. Why hadn’t I thought about everything he’d done to hurt me in the time I’d spent with him up to this point? I should still be in the basement at night; I should still glare at him every time he walks in the room; I should still remind him every day of how much harm he’d caused, in hopes of breaking through his stony surface. But as I tried to work up the will to push away from him, I couldn’t.
My eyes lingered on his sleeping features, relaxed and soft, though defined and portentous. He was beautiful on the outside, but on the inside I thought I knew he was a monster — but was he really? Everything I thought I’d known about him had come from my brother, someone who’d hated him from the moment he laid eyes on him. How skewed was it? From what Jason had shown me, Sam hadn’t even been close to right. But would feeling drawn to Jason in the way I’d felt in the dream be betraying my brother and Markus and everyone else I cared about?
I nearly smacked myself. Tyler. Whenever I thought of hurting people by my involvement with Jason, Tyler was last on the list of people I worried about. How had I gotten so far off kilter?
The only answer was that I’d been in this house too long. I hadn’t gotten fresh air in almost a month, and the fact that I’d seen the same people without reprieve for that long was intimidating. Maybe I was beginning to go crazy, forced by my own subconscious to overthink every single detail of my life in Jason’s house. Maybe the feeling Jason gave me when we kissed was a figment of my imagination.
I shook my head. The second theory seemed just as unlikely as the first. I wasn’t going crazy, and Jason made me feel almost high. Both were true, but the dream had been just that — a dream. I still loved Tyler, and I wasn’t blubbering over wanting to be with Jason.
Because I am with Jason.
Another sharp intake of breath coming from my mouth stopped my thoughts. I wasn’t with Jason. There wasn’t anything emotional between us.
“Phoebe,” Jason mumbled, reaching out for me after I’d inched away from him. Sleep was laced throughout his voice and his eyes were barely open, searching for my touch.
A spur of butterflies in my stomach acted up and I scooted back toward him, despite everything I’d just thought about. How was it that in the week since I’d decided to try to learn a few things about him, he’d figured out more than a few ways to make me forget about what I was thinking? I didn’t understand the pull I had toward him.
His arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me tighter to his warm body. My face pressed into his chest and I breathed in his scent, my hands gripping his shirt again. Our legs tangled and Jason took in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. We were in a pocket of warm air under the duvet, comfortable beyond belief.
“I have to leave in half an hour,” he told me, sounding half asleep. “Some people don’t know how to follow through on deals.”
I nodded, the dream I’d had long forgotten. “Xander was talking about it last night. He says you’re taking more guys than usual to deal with it.”
He shrugged. “Grant is gone and I need Leo at the warehouse. I’ll have Lucas, Xander, and Carter with me.”
My forehead pulled together in confusion. “I’ll be alone,” I said, more to myself than to Jason.
He smiled a little. “I trust you can entertain yourself for a few hours.”
I nodded, a little surprised. I hadn’t been alone in the house since last week, when I’d found the hollowed board in the room downstairs. Jason didn’t usually leave me unattended, since he knew I was smart enough to get out. What he didn’t know was that I’d actually found where he was keeping my gun and phone. Why I hadn’t gone to get them sooner, I didn’t know. It wasn’t only the fact that there was someone in the house stopping me from going after them, I knew that.
Would Jason be leaving me alone if he knew? Of course not. I had to use the time he’d be giving me wisely. But what was the reason I was being left alone? Had Jason begun to trust me? No, he trusted his alarm system more than he did me. That I knew for sure.
“I should shower,” Jason sighed, moving to get up.
I pulled him back, placing a kiss to his clothed chest. “Stay for a little longer. We just woke up.”
A deep chuckle vibrated through his torso, tickling my lips. “I’d love to, but I have to knock some sense into a couple idiots.”
“They’ll probably remember you better if they catch a whiff of you,” I teased. Jason actually smelled great, like a mix of cologne and laundry detergent.
A long kiss was placed to my forehead, leaving behind a tingling sensation. I smiled reflexively. Jason reached his hand to my chin and tipped my head up, allowing a better angle to press another prolonged kiss to my lips. My mouth began to move with his and I snaked a hand up to the back of his neck, tugging lightly on the hair at his nape. Jason’s fingers traced down my sides and pressed into the bare skin of my thighs. My shorts had ridden up, but I was too distracted to pull them back down.
“Phoebe,” he mumbled against my lips. “I have to shower.”
“Mmm,” I hummed, relishing the feeling I received when touching Jason. A cry of protest left my mouth as he forced himself away, squeezing my waist before turning to walk to the bathroom. He closed himself in, and soon I heard the water running.
Jason was leaving me alone. The fact that he was letting this happen showed that he was beginning to trust me, at least to a certain extent. He knew that I probably wasn’t going to try to leave — but what he didn’t know was that I didn’t necessarily have to leave the house to start my escape. A deep breath of air was taken into my lungs. Escape. The word sounded almost foreign, washed away by a month of being in Jason’s custody. It hadn’t hit me until then that I’d began losing faith in the boys I used to live with. Granted, I had no way of communicating with them, so I didn’t know how hard they’d been trying for me, but it couldn’t have been a priority for them; they knew where Jason’s place was, and all they really had to do was storm in to get me out.
My heart fluttered at the thought of just stretching my legs on the sidewalk, breathing fresh, unfiltered air and feeling the sun on my skin. I was overjoyed at the thought of just being outside, free; the addition of seeing the boys I’d missed made it all the more alluring. But a sick feeling settled in my stomach when I thought of facing Tyler after what I’d done with Jason. I couldn’t possibly look Tyler in the eye the same way after the way I’d let myself feel about Jason — but another part of me said I couldn’t possibly abandon whatever it was that Jason and I had.
But did we really have anything? I had yet to figure it out. The logical part of me said no, but everything else screamed yes. It couldn’t be like one of those stories where the hostage ends up loving her captor — of course not, because I could hardly imagine loving Jason. But I — that is, the sensation of butterflies in my stomach — couldn’t help but feel something more.
I pushed up from the mattress, wanting to distract myself from my thoughts. My feet carried me out into the hall and down the stairs, and came to rest in front of the stove. I’d sliced tomatoes and bits of bacon and thrown them into a pan with eggs, and a few minutes later had breakfast made. I scooped it into a bowl and shoved a fork into the mix just as Jason came down, smelling like body wash.
I pushed the bowl toward him on the island and he caught it, smiling slightly. “Is this for me?”
“I thought I’d make something to keep you until you get back,” I grinned, leaning against the edge of the counter.
Jason came to stand in front of me, legs on either side of my crossed ones. He stood several inches taller, looking down at me. I breathed deeply, able to smell the scents of aftershave from where I was resting. His eyes flashed to my lips and he dipped to kiss me. My hand reached up to cup the back of his neck, gripping the hairs the grew at his nape.
A door downstairs slammed and I heard footsteps on the stairs. Reflexively I went to pull away from Jason. We’d been fairly conserved about sharing kisses if front of the guys, but this time Jason put his hand to my back to hold me in places. He bit my lip playfully and I laughed lightly, aware of the form now standing in the kitchen with us.
“I’ll pretend I’m not confused,” Blondie’s voice said, “and just go get a jacket.” He walked through the kitchen quicker than necessary, and soon was in the living room. “We’re ready by the way, Jason. We’ll leave when you’re done here.”
I rolled my eyes and managed to pull away from Jason. “Finish eating and go. Some idiots need to be taught a lesson.”
He nodded, picking up the bowl I’d made for him. “It might be better if we’re on time — puts a little more threat into our words.”
Blondie jogged back through and hardly stopped before going downstairs and into the garage. Jason finished his breakfast and gave me a long kiss before making his way down as well. I thought about what he’d be doing today, and was surprised when a bit of anxiety made its way into my chest. It was the kind of feeling I always got when Sam or Tyler left on runs, like I was worried they’d be hurt in the process.
“Don’t die,” I blurted after Jason. This was also what I always said to them, showing what little I could of my worry for the boys I cared most about. Why had I said it to Jason?
“Not planning on it,” he laughed back up the stairs. I stayed quiet, and a few seconds later the garage door slammed behind him.
I was alone in the house, and I could feel myself begin to get attacked by my own thoughts.
•• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• ••
I bit my lip as I stood in front of the storage room door three hours later, bobby pins in hand. I’d been avoiding it for that long, for a reason I didn’t know. Maybe it was nerves of what having power back meant for me in this house. But inside, under a hollowed board, was my phone and my gun. The realization that I was so close made my heart speed up, primed with anticipation.
I stopped so I was eye level with the knob and shoved one of the pins into the keyhole. Jiggling the other until it made its way to the end, I twisted the knob and pushed the door open. The bobby pins dropped to the floor and I hesitated only a moment before stepping into the room.
My feet tapped around where I’d felt the hollowed board a week ago. It took me about thirty seconds to locate it, and I bent down beside the section of floor to search for a notch. I found one in the corner and immediately reached for it, not pausing before throwing it up and letting out a long breath as I looked down.
My automatic thought was that this couldn’t be the only loose board in the room. There had to be more, with the amount of weapons I knew Jason had. All that was below me were five hand guns and a phone — my phone. I lunged for it, but stopped myself short.
What was holding me back? Jason. What if Tyler had replied to the text I’d sent him almost a month ago, saying he was trying as hard as he could to save me? I should’ve been overjoyed, but I couldn’t bear to see something like that after everything that’s happened since then. The guilt would attack me more than it already had. Worse yet, what if there wasn’t a single message from Tyler? What if he’d realized when I left that he’d been exhausted by my presence and had been enjoying the time I’d been away? What if he’d fallen out of love with me and had been with another girl all the time I’d been worrying about cheating on him?
I told myself to shut up, shocked by my thoughts and jumping to conclusions. None of those things were true, except the part where I’d been cheating on him. I was being irrational. The most crazy thing of all had been my questioning Tyler’s love for me. Why had that even been a doubt of mine?
Because that’s what’s happening to you.
My jaw went slack as the thought flashed across my mind. That wasn’t true, not in the least. I still loved Tyler, contrary to what my mind had just told me and the dream I’d had this morning. I couldn’t fall out of love with someone in a month; it wasn’t possible, nor would I let it happen.
Now angry with myself, I reached for my phone. After taking it into my grasp I pressed the power button, heart racing and anticipation killing me as it took a good minute to start. When it did, a weight as heavy as a bus dropped in my stomach. My chest heaved and I let the phone drop in my lap.
Not one single message from Tyler. Everything I feared came rushing back into my mind. What if Tyler was relieved by having me gone? His efforts to get me back hadn’t been noticeable at all. Maybe it was because he was sleeping with someone else, so he didn’t have the time or the care to think about me. The thought felt like a hole blown in my chest.
He couldn’t have even sent me a message to let me know he had gotten the one I’d sent him? Or a reason why he couldn’t come get me? My fists clenched, shaking with anger. My hurt had a way of doing that; turning from pain to anger quicker than I could control. But I had a reason to be angry this time — either Tyler was cheating on me, or he didn’t care. But what was the difference?
If nothing was stopping Tyler, what was to stop me? I could do whatever I wanted, no matter where I was. Besides, if just kissing Jason had such a great effect on me — something Tyler could never hope to do — what would doing more feel like?
Hardly reluctantly, I shut my phone off and dropped it back into the hollow space. The board fell back into place and I stood, anger fueling me forward. It didn’t matter that I’d found my gun. My purpose upon finding it had been to get out, but that’d changed after I’d seen my phone. Why would I have gone back to place where even my own brother hadn’t missed me enough to send a text? At least at Jason’s, I’d been purposely taken into the house.
Making sure the knob was locked, I all but slammed the door. I could get back in whenever I wanted — and I didn’t want to then. What I wanted — needed — was for Jason to be home.
As if thinking it made it a reality, the garage door kicked to a start underfoot. My fists unclenched as I waited for the guys to come up. It was a long two minutes I sat in the bean bag chair, still steaming from realizing I hadn’t gotten one message from Tyler or Sam.
Jason came into the living room first, eyes landing on me and a grin making its way onto his face. I rose almost immediately, meaning to put a smile in my expression, but I didn’t know if I succeeded. Before he had the chance to question me, I took his hand and began tugging him toward the stairs — toward his room.
“What are you–“
“How was the run?” I interrupted as we began climbing the stairs. I didn’t want to be asked what I was doing, because I had no idea.
It wasn’t until we reached the top that he answered. “Good,” he said, obviously confused. “We talked some sense into them, at least.”
I didn’t reply as we swept into Jason’s room and I kicked the door closed. He stopped in front of me and I flung myself at him, connecting our lips and already tugging at the black shirt he wore. His hands found my waist after shucking it off, and pushed me away.
“What’s going on?”
“Don’t ask questions,” I breathed, and walked us back so Jason came to sit on the edge of his bed.
I pushed my lips to his again, pressing my fingers into his abdominal muscles before hooking them in his belt loops. His lips moved against mine and I became almost light-headed, overwhelmed with the sensation of Jason. Before I knew it, my shirt was on the floor and I was straddling his waist. I felt his hands exploring my middle, sending goosebumps all over my skin. I let my own search him, finding the button of his jeans and tugging at it.
They were on the floor in seconds, and Jason hooked his arms under my legs. He carried me to the head of his bed and pressed my back against the mattress, his hips falling between my thighs and his palms pressing to the clasp of my bra. I was breathless, but couldn’t stop touching him. It was obvious he couldn’t keep his hands off either — no matter where they went, his hands were always flush to my skin. It wasn’t until his touch shifted to the waistband of my sweatpants that an anxious feeling settled in my stomach.
“You’re sure?” Jason mumbled against my lips, as if he could sense my apprehension. His thumbs pressed against my hip bones, sending a chill up my spine.
Was I sure? I hadn’t done this before, and I didn’t know if I wanted to learn while I was angry. After all, it might have been anger fueling me; who was I kidding? Of course I was being driven by anger. I was frustrated that I’d been withholding from Jason with the thought that I couldn’t betray Tyler like that. But his lack of communication with me was evidence enough that he had no care. I was doing what felt right to me; Jason felt right.
I barely managed to answer Jason between breaths. “Yes.”
This one's up a week early. Hope you enjoyed, I officially chose this over homework. Oops.