I hate exercise. But my astrological sign or whatever said that a good playlist and a jog will relieve a portion of your stress. So I was jogging around my neighborhood. As I stopped to catch my poorly regulated breathe I saw a pair of feet in front of me bouncing from one side to the other. I looked up to see Mr. Greene smiling at me.
"Mr. Greene," I said breathlessly. "Hey."
"Peyton Elizabeth, I didn't know you took jogs. I never see you." He says taking a drink of water from his work belt looking thing.
"Oh, no. I just read somewhere that I should get more exercise. But honestly I'm probably going to go eat at the diner down the block." I chuckled.
"Well, allow me to join you. I could always go for a good omelette." He smiles.
"Um, sure." I smiled jogging down the street. Mr. Greene was obviously jogging at a slower pace to make me feel better. God, if only everything was as easy as Netflix and food.
"Table for two." Mr. Greene said to the waitress. She looked him up and down and scoffed.
"You sit wherever. C'mon." I smiled pulling him towards a booth. I had school in 2 hours. I hadn't thought this through.
"Well, how's Stephanie Quinn? I hope you don't mind Asher informed me on the situations of your household." He says apologetically. I chuckled.
"Of course he did. Uh, I'm not sure. Everything so far has been oddly confusing and Asher doesn't make it any easier. But I need him." I muttered.
"Can I start you two off with any drinks?" An older woman asks us.
"I'll have a coffee. Black." Mr. Greene orders.
"I'll have a vanilla milkshake." I smiled. The lady nodded and walked off.
"He really likes you. When his parents died, I didn't think he'd ever talk about something like he talks about you. He's a lot like his mother." I gasped softly.
"His parents died?" I asked softly. I made Asher happy and I was a total bitch to him.
"Oh, he didn't tell you?" Mr. Greene asked furrowing his brow.
"No, he never mentioned anything about them. I assumed you were them. Well not them but his parents."
"No, we are his grandparents. We had Ashleigh at a young age and she had Asher at a young age also. Ashleigh was an amazing person. Asher was absolutely infatuated with her. She cared about him. There have been many girls since Ashleigh. Ones to help black the pain. His 'conquests' if you will."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know." I muttered.
"Asher blames himself. I blame myself. Gracie blames herself. Gracie and I got over it. We realized that she lived as long as she would. Asher didn't quite understand. He had all these girls that cared about him and then you. He'd talk about you like you blessed the ground he walked on. Gracie, didn't like you. You cared nothing about Asher. We could tell. But Asher didn't care. He wanted to make you care. He wanted to make you feel how he felt when he was around you."
"We didn't see eye to eye. Maybe it was his need to be right about everything." I mumbled. The waitress set our drinks down and smiled.
"Can I get y'all something to eat?" She asked pulling a pen from her bun.
"I'll take a bacon omelette."
"I'll have a sausage biscuit plain with a side of pancakes and waffles and hash browns." I ordered. Mr. Greene chuckled and shrugged. The lady nodded and was about to walk away when I stopped her.
"Also could you get and orange juice and a chicken biscuit with nothing but bacon. And put it to the side?" I asked. The woman nodded and walked away.
"Are you going to eat all of that?" Mr. Greene asked.
"Well, Asher will be hungry when he comes to get me for school." I shrugged.
"That's considerate." Mr. Greene smiles.
"I don't want to pry but could you show me a picture of Asher's mom? I'm just curious." I said sipping my shake.
"Absolutely." He says pulling out his wallet. A picture of a young boy holding the hand of a young woman was handed to me. The woman had piercing blue eyes and the perfect complexion. She was perfect. I assumed the younger boy was Asher. He looked different. He looked genuinely happy. Part of me lusted to see him that happy. To be able to make him smile and have his eyes light up like they did those many years ago.
"She's gorgeous." I mumbled handing the picture back.
"She was exquisite. I couldn't have been happier to hear she was having a child."
"How did she die?" I asked shutting my eyes embarrassed.
"I'm sorry that was so incredibly rude of me to ask." I apologized frowning.
"It's alright, um she was murdered on her college campus. She had returned to talk to some professors about a teaching job and there was a high level of gang violence." He said stirring his coffee.
"That, that's horrible. I can't imagine." I muttered. Mr. Greene sighed.
"Asher was only 8. He was at our house waiting. Waiting for his mom to come back. Then, he was waiting for his mother to be buried and now he's waiting to be happy again." Mr. Greene explains. I nod. I can only sympathize with the Greene's. Death is a horrible thing to go through. Asher has his own problems and he's being buried with my own.
"I feel so incredibly selfish. Asher has his own problems. And now he's dealing with mine."
"He enjoys it. You're much nicer to him when your sad. As sick as that sounds. He enjoys something that doesn't remind him of his own life. Asher is a politicians kid. Those are oddly rare. But you're life and his are somehow similar. He just wants someone to go through this with."
Asher was as alone inside as I felt outside.
I sat in the school's parking lot with Asher fixing my hair as he ate his breakfast. He gulped down the last bit of orange juice. Before placing all his trash neatly back into the bag.
"Why didn't you tell me your mom was dead?" I asked. I gave up on my hair when the huge question burned my brain.
"Godddamn." He mumbled sitting back in my car.
"Asher, you talk about truth and being with me but you didn't tell me about you mom? Or that you have a lot of sex?" I asked.
"Which one are you more worried about?" He smirked at me running a hand through his dark hair. Honestly it was the sex.
"So am I. I'm guessing it's the sex, don't worry about that."
"I don't care about the sex I care about you." I said angrily. His emotions softened but he still looked smug.
"It's not important, plus I already told you I can't be totally honest with you."
"Then what am I doing here? Why am I the only one trying to make this work? Asher you say one thing and then you fuck Hayley. You can't like me and have sex with someone else. I can't trust you if you don't trust me."
"I do trust you, you are already so stressed out. You've got stuff going on."
"Asher you do too! You're mother died."
"10 years ago. I spent 10 years looking for my reason, and on the day that I'm sitting alone about to run away or kill myself or whatever we go to dinner. This dinner was at a trying political figures home. He had three kids and a wife. At the dinner was a girl who seemed absolutely disgusted with the idea of politics."
"It's not your job to protect me. I have parents. Plus I don't want to be another conquest."
"You really think that's what you are?"
"It doesn't matter what I think I am. Asher, I like you. I think about you at least 3 times a day. I like the way you say my name and the way you smirk at me. My stomach does this weird turning thing when you touch me. And thinking that when you're not with me you're inside of Hayley, utterly disgusts me." I admitted.
"But I refuse to be a conquest. I refuse to be something you can just drill through."
"Fine?" I asked. He seemed rather okay with this entire conversation.
"I'm upset that you think Hayley is on the same level as you in my mind. I'm also upset my grandfather said conquest. I'd hoped he'd be a tad more professional. I'm upset that I didn't get to tell you about my mother. And furthermore I am furious that I can't kiss you." He says.
"Is that it?" I ask.
"Should there be more?"
"Only if there's something you aren't telling me." I said. I hadn't realized how close we were.
"No more secrets." He said honestly.
"I'd hope as much." I muttered.
"Any other burning questions?"
"Not at the moment. I'll keep you posted." I joked.
"Please do." He said grabbing his bag and my own getting out of the car. We walked in to the school and immediately caught the attention of many of the students. Asher didn't say much in school. He watched and assessed based on others. There were girls in here that would throw their virginity at him if the chance was available.
"Everyone's staring." I whispered self consciously. Asher looked around boredom dulling his eyes down.
"They're looking for drama." He whispered back smiling at me.
"I think you give them enough drama with your mystery ego going on."
"Mystery ego." He snickers shaking his head. My hand awkwardly finds his interlacing our fingers. I took my seat and my bag sifting through my bag looking for pen and paper to take notes with.
"I can only imagine we are moving forward with our feelings." He whispers smiling. I could feel his grin against my ear. As awkward as that sounds.
"Aren't we too old to play hard to get?" He asks.
"Good thing I'm not playing then, huh?" I ask smirking. He rolls his eyes leaning back in his chair. Skylar and Cathy walked in frowning. They both hated that Asher liked me and not them. I always felt kinda bad.
"Hey Asher." Cathy and Skylar smiled seductively.
"Catherine, Skylar Ray." Asher smiled nodding to both girls.
"We are throwing a party tonight, maybe you'd like to show up?" Cathy asked rubbing Asher's shoulders.
"Oh? Well, I'm sure I can. I'll but I might have to bring a few friends." He smiles.
"Oh, well, it's invitation only." Skylar said to me directly.
"It's okay, Ash, just go to the party." I whispered untangling our fingers.
"Actually, I just remembered some of my friends are throwing a party too." He smiled. Both girls sighed and looked away not turning back. I frowned.
"We will talk about this later." I said.
"No we won't, there's nothing to talk about."
"Why won't you go to the party?" I asked angry.
"I don't want to go." He said following behind me.
"Is it because of me?" I questioned. He sighed. It obviously was because of me.
"No, it's not about you."
"God Asher! I've known you for months and you still can't tell me the truth? You don't want to go to the party because you think I'll be upset." I laughed humorlessly.
"You already are upset." He said calm.
"Because you aren't! You are never upset!"
"Why should I be? Then no one is thinking sensibly."
"Asher, you aren't going to the party because of me."
"Of course I'm not going to the party because of you. If I go then there'll be another issue and another. Because you don't fix your problems Peyton. You brush them under the table and wait for them to explode and then you walk away."
"I'm trying to fix my problems now!"
"No! You're trying to make me do what you want. What do you want?! Hm? What do you want?!" He shouted stopping the car.
"I want myself to not want you! I want to not care about you, not to feel the inside of my stomach every time we talk. Every time you touch me. I want to not care because if I care to much I'm going to love you. Asher, I'm going to love you and if I love you I'm going to hurt. Nothing good comes out of love. If I love you then I will be endanger to fall way to hard and if that happens and you hurt me I will break. I will break and disintegrate into oblivion. Because I love too hard and I fall even harder. That's why I was so cruel to you. I can't endanger myself. I love myself too much." I said sobbing. My eyes were opened but blurred by the tears.
"Shh, it's okay." He says caressing my face.
"Stop! Stop saying it's okay! Everyone is always saying it'll be okay!" I shouted pulling away from him. We sat there for a second tears running down my eyes. My face stained with water. Who knew water could be so unimaginably sticky. My hands were moved from my lap and placed into Asher's larger ones. He didn't say anything, he just sat quietly. I began to shake as my tears slow down and I attempted to maintain my breathing. I looked over to Asher who was staring back intently.
"I didn't say it'll be okay to make you feel better, I said it because it will. It will feel better. Whether I'm here or I'm not you'll feel better. It will be better, better for you and for myself. And one day. One day soon when all of this mess is the past you can look back and say, it's okay."
My eyes were dry and my heart was full. If I'd ever in my life thought that this moment in time would exist I'd had thought it was a dream. A figment of my oddly specific imagination. But Asher was here, now, telling me it'd get better. And I believed him. I believed it'd get better. It'd be fine. Just fine.
Okay so the next few chappies are slowing down. But I needed to get this big one out of the way. Plus I lied. Little sad next chappie