"What's going on?" AJ asked, an eyebrow rising in confusion. "Why are we going to Cain's? I thought you and Talen"
"I want to get him back," I interrupted, putting my hands to my temples and rubbing slowly. "I realized how much he meant to me when I left him."
"What were you doing for the past two weeks that kept you from calling or texting me? You could have at least told me you were okay!"
"Nothing," I laughed dryly and stared at my hands. "Literally."
"You don't know how worried I was. I'm serious."
I glanced over at AJ, his blue hair was disheveled and dark bags were under his eyes, making him look older than he really was by a few years. He looked like he hadn't slept in days.
"Why would you worry?"
"Because you're my best friend. I care about you, man."
I turned my head away, my eyes lowering and my cheeks turning a light shade of pink.
"W- Well," I stuttered. "You shouldn't."
"Yes. I definitely should," He laughed a bit, raising an eyebrow at me. "You look anorexic."
"I haven't been eating much," I whispered, putting a hand over my stomach, easily feeling my ribs. "Or sleeping."
"He upset you that much?"
"I- I guess. I thought school was more important. I mean
you know how hard I've been working to get into that college! But you know I would never have the money and my parents said they wouldn't help me with the finances if I stayed with him."
"To be honest, if someone could make me that depressed, I would choose them over anything." My best friend glanced at me from the corner of his eye. "They'd be my top priority. I saw the way you looked at him and I've seen the way he looks at you. This is probably the cheesiest thing I've ever said, but you guys were meant to be. You can find another way to get into the college. Try for a scholarship or something but don't give up on someone you love for a reason like that."
I stared out the window, closing my eyes and exhaling slowly. Why hadn't I thought of that? My stomach twisted in shame. I was so naïve.
"You're right. I'm so stupid."
"You're anything but stupid, Gage. You were just doing what you thought was right."
"But it wasn't right."
"True, but let's not dwell on that. Just worry about getting Talen back. And I forgot to tell you, I've been hanging with Cain a lot lately since you dropped off the face of the world."
I stared at AJ with wide eyes.
"Yeah. We have a lot in common and he invited me out the other night."
"What'd you guys do?"
"We just chilled at his place before Talen came in drunk as hell. I left so Cain could help him and he said he'd text me today but he hasn't."
He was drunk? I'd never seen him even touch alcohol besides serving it. And now that I thought about it, he hadn't been smoking lately either. I looked up as AJ pulled up Cain's drive. My heart started beating hard in my chest. What was I going to say to him? Would he even take me back? No. No second thoughts now. I wasn't going to chicken out. I jumped out of the car and ran up the porch, my fist slamming against the front door.
"Cain! You home?"
I banged on the door until I heard shuffling and muttered curses through the wood. The door flew open and there, standing with a grimace on his face in ripped jeans and a black t-shirt, was Talen. His eyes widened for a moment under his messy bangs and then lowered to the floor.
"What?" He spat, his voice as cold as ice.
"T- Talen," I stammered, swallowing hard and staring at the ground. "I- I
"Spit it out, Gage, I don't have all day. What do you want?"
"I'm sorry!" I cried, dropping my hands to my sides and clenching them into fists. "For everything! I- I made a huge mistake! I want you back, you mean everything to me! I don't know what to do without you in my life
Talen scoffed and slammed the door shut. I stood there in shock, my mouth opening and closing like a fish. My body went numb as I stared at the closed door. Without thinking, I backed up and walked off the porch, passing by AJ to the side of the house. Bending down, I peered into a basement window, pursing my lips. I lifted my leg and kicked in the glass, climbing through the newly made opening.
"Gage!" AJ yelled, as I disappeared into the house. "Gage, what are you doing?!"
I dropped down into the basement and moved robotically toward the staircase once my eyes had adjusted to the gloom. Pushing open the door, I came into the living room to where Cain was asleep, sprawled on the couch. I quietly made my way up the stairs until I heard Talen in one of the rooms. I silently pushed open the bedroom door, my eyes laying on Talen sitting on his bed, his back to me, and his head in his hands. Anger boiled up inside me and I slammed my fist on the dresser, making him jump in surprise.
"Gage?!" The hazel-eyed man stared at me in alarm, standing up from the bed. "How the hell"
"Shut the hell up! God damn it!" I glared intensely at Talen, my body shaking with distress. "You don't know how much I need you in my life! I come back to you and
and you don't even give me a chance?!"
"That's because you left me just to make your fucking asses of parents happy! You don't know how much that hurt! You didn't even think about how I would feel. All you thought about was yourself. You're just another spoiled, rich, brat!"
That did it. I lunged for Talen, tackling him to the ground. His head re-bounded off the hard-wood and he grimaced in pain.
"I'm anything but spoiled!" I screamed, my fists curling around Talen's shirt. "I went two weeks with nothing going through my mind but you! I couldn't eat or sleep and ended up in the hospital because of it! I was just waiting
lying there, hoping you'd call."
"What?" Talen's hazel eyes stared at me in bewilderment. "What the hell? Were you trying to kill yourself?!"
"I thought all hope was lost without you there and knowing you hated me didn't make it any better. I didn't really care if I was going to die. Hell, I didn't care about anything but you!"
I sat back in between Talen's spread legs and stared at my shaky hands on his shirt as tears filled my eyes.
"I- I thought--" my voice cracked and I looked away, swallowing the lump in my throat. "Talen
I'm in love with you. I love you so much, you have no idea. I thought I made the right choice leaving you but now I know being with you was the best choice I've ever made. I- I love you. You don't have to say you love me back
I just want you to forgive me for being so
I leaned forward as I began sobbing, my hands swiping at my eyes. Talen's strong hands wrapped around my small frame and pulled me against his chest. My shoulders shook as I buried my face in his shirt. Damn, I missed that feeling; the feeling of being in his arms, the sensation of warmth and compassion he made swell up in my core. I missed the way he smelled and the way the ends of his hair brushed my cheek when he hugged me. I missed it all; I missed him. To go from him being absent from my life for what seemed like forever and then suddenly being pulled into his arms made this huge weight lift right off my shoulders. I felt like I could move on now, go to college and just
let him go.
My crying slowed and I inhaled shakily, pulling away.
"Thank you, Talen," I whispered, tears still streaming down my cheeks. "I feel much better now, that I was able to talk to you."
Before I could stand up, Talen grabbed my wrist and stared into my blue eyes, a small smile on his face.
"Y'know," He whispered, wiping my tears away with his thumb. "You're really cute when you cry. You're like some kind of adorable puppy."
My cheeks darkened and I glared at him.
"W- What? I'm not cute."
Talen chuckled and slid his arms around my waist, pulling me back against him.
you are. And to give you an answer for that big long confession
I stared at him for a moment, the smile growing bigger on his face as he ruffled my hair.
"I love you too
I looked up in surprise at Talen, a grin slowly sneaking over my face. Wrapping my arms around him, I laughed quietly and pushed my lips against his. He kissed me back, sliding his hands up and down my back. The door suddenly slammed open and Talen and I looked up to see Cain standing in the doorway, glowering at us.
"Gage?" He raised an eyebrow at me. "What are you doing here?"
"He snuck in," Talen said, laughing. "Pretty badass."
"Wait," Cain put a hand up and closed his eyes. "So, I'm confused. Are you guys back together?"
"Yep," Talen said, holding me tighter.
Cain glared at me, crossing his arms.
"So you're letting him get away with this? You're forgiving him after what he did to you?!"
"I didn't mean"
Talen stood up, cutting off my sentence.
"I'm giving him another chance."
"How do you know he won't pull this again?"
"Because I love him," I cut in, climbing to my feet. "It's as simple as that."
"If you really loved him, you wouldn't have left him in the first place. Do you have any idea how long he went without a drink? Because of you, he had a relapse!"
I turned to Talen in surprise.
"You're an alcoholic?"
"No," He hissed through clenched teeth, scowling at his brother.
"Don't lie to him," Cain growled, crossing his arms over his chest. "Tell him the truth
like how you came home drunk the other night and that I caught you doing what mom fucking did!"
"What?" Talen's eyes widened. "How did you
"I saw those fucking needles in the trash! Don't you dare hide it from me! Tell me the truth, right now! Did you use them?!"
I flinched at Cain's yelling and gaped at Talen who was shaking like a leaf, his face showing a wounded expression. He stared at the ground, furrowing his eyebrows in anger.
"FUCKING TELL ME!" Talen's brother screamed, clenching his hands into fists.
"Yes! I did, alright?!" Talen admitted. "I did."
"You fucking idiot!"
Suddenly, Cain ran forward and jumped over the bed toward Talen. His hands gripped the front of the black-haired man's shirt and pushed him against the wall, aggressively.
"How could you?!"
Talen pushed his brother away and brought a fist toward his face, knocking Cain to the ground.
I gasped out and covered my mouth, my eyebrows creased in fear.
Cain pushed himself from the ground and walked forward, kneeing Talen in the gut, making his face fly forward, right into Cain's fist, the impact making a loud cracking sound. I screamed and ran out of the room, down the stairs, and out the door, to the driveway.
"AJ!" I cried, running towards him my eyes still wide. He glanced up from his phone and immediately ran up to me.
"What happened? Is everything okay?"
"No," I shook my head and pointed towards the house in a daze. "Cain and Talen
I put my hands to my face, shaking in fear as AJ turned and ran inside the house calling Cain's name. I didn't want to go back in there. I didn't want to see that side of Talen. Ever again.