“Why didn’t you tell me you were with Aaron?” I ask.
“We agreed not to talk about relationships.” Peter says.
“What’s he got on you?” I ask.
“Nothing, it’s not like that.” Peter says. I’m not convinced.
“If it’s real you wouldn’t have kissed me.” I say.
“You’re with Jay and you kissed me back.” Peter says.
“Jay and I are in a fight. But you started this.” I say.
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to see if kissing you was like I remembered.” Peter says.
“Was it?” I ask.
“A thousand times better.” Peter says as he runs out the door.
By the time I’ve grabbed my bag and gone outside he’s gone.
I let Jay know he can have the car and jog home trying to clear my head.
Harry is there when I get in.
“Is Eric around?” I ask.
“He’s just in the shower. Are you okay?” Harry asks.
“Kind of. Just had a bit of a shock, could do with talking to Eric about it.” I say.
“He won’t be long.” Harry says.
I pace around the kitchen, tidying and cleaning things that don’t need doing.
“Can I help?” Harry asks.
“Not really. I really need Eric.” I say.
Eric walks in drying his hair with a towel.
“Did you know Peter was back with Aaron and they’re living together?” I ask.
“Holy shit. Of course I didn’t know. I would have told you.” Eric says.
“I thought it was why you hadn’t told me he’d moved out.” I say.
“No, I didn’t know that Jay held of telling you. I had no idea. Shit, fuck. What the fuck is he thinking?” Eric says.
“Did anything else happen. You really don’t look good.” Harry says.
“I’ll be fine. I just, I don’t know, it’s a shock. I’m really shocked.” I say and head up to my room to shower.
Once I dry off I put on clean underwear and lie on my bed trying to study. I soon zone in to my books. Peter is obviously playing on my mind. My fight with Jay at lunch feels like forever ago. I can’t believe I’ve cheated on him over such a small argument.
Arrrgh I really, really need to apologise when he gets home. Nothing else will happen with Peter. Not now I know who he’s with so I think I’m okay not to tell Jay. It was just a stupid slip.
I stop thinking about it and get on with working. Jay comes in shortly after.
“I’m really sorry for running off at lunch. I’m sorry for what I said.” I say.
“I’m sorry too. I know you’re a good guy, I’m sorry if I’ve been too full on. I forget it’s only been a few weeks and we’re not a year in to this.” Jay says.
We hug and make out for a while. It feels good. I let my thoughts of this afternoon fade and concentrate on Jay.
We double date with Harry and Eric the next night to a movie. During previews the trailer for our Zombie movie is shown, there is a really good shot of Eric in it. Not that either of us is recognisable but we clap and cheer anyway not caring. It’s a real thrill for Eric to see himself on a massive screen for the first time.
After the film we go for food. All in a jubilant mood with Eric replaying the trailer a few times on his phone and sending it to everyone he knows. Jay is kind of quiet though. I guess it’s not exactly the romance he was after.
“Whats up honey?” I ask Jay once we’re alone in our room.
“I don’t know. I guess I was thinking about us being apart soon when the movie promotion kicks off and I could have a pretty lonely summer.” Jay says.
I immediately feel bad that I’d misjudged him.
“Sal will have you at parties and events all the time. John and Mart will have their social events, you won’t be working with assholes this time, anyone in Sal’s office will be nice. And you can always hang out with Max.” I say laughing.
“Not the same though.” Jay says.
“Better than plane, 50 hotel room interviews, red carpet, early tv show, plane repeat and no normal conversations unless I catch my boyfriend on FaceTime.” I say.
“Ah yes poor, poor Alexander travelling the world for the summer.” Jay laughs and throws a pillow at me. I jump on him and pin him to the bed.
We fuck joyfully.
The weekend everything is good. Jay and I spend a lot of time together. I feel like I’m getting somewhere with my studies. Jay is very loving and much more fun to be around. I feel like maybe we can relax together finally.
Monday comes too soon and too early the alarm goes. I kiss Jay goodbye and head in to school. We have lunch together and it feels less forced than last week. Maybe we’re finally on the right track. We catch up with Jamie and Felix which helps. Less pressure. The two of them are still going strong together. A bit annoyed with dorm life.
“You should come visit for the weekend.” I say.
“Maybe we should have a pre-spring break party next Friday.” Felix says.
“Sounds like fun.” Jay says.
“Okay. Why not.” I say.
After some time in the library I head to class a bit apprehensive about seeing Peter. I know I won’t be being physical with him now. I don’t know why he ran off and I don’t know why he’s with Aaron, if it’s through choice or coercion.
I get to class before him. I know something is wrong when he arrives, he’s moving strangly and winces as he takes off his coat. I try and help.
“Rough weekend?” I ask.
“Very.” Peter says quietly.
He leans forward and I can see his t-shirt is discoloured in patches and stuck to his back a little.
“Come on let’s go.” I say.
“What?” Peter asks.
“Let’s go and get you cleaned up. Does Aaron not think of aftercare?” I ask annoyed.
Peter looks down.
“You shouldn’t miss class for me.” Peter says.
“Come on lets go now before it starts. I won’t be able to concentrate anyway.” I say.
We walk to the car in silence, I message Jay to let him know he needs to make his own way back. I drive to the pharmacy to pick up some supplies then on to the house. We don’t talk. I’m too mad.
We head up to my room.
“Is it okay if I shower? I think I need to wet my t-shirt to get it off.” Peter says.
I nod not trusting myself to speak. While he’s in the shower I find other first aid stuff, put a towel on the bed and find some clean clothes for Peter. I still have some of his tshirts.
He comes back into the room drying himself off.
“Come and lie down.” I say.
He nods and does so, not able to look at me. I start cleaning him off with antiseptic wipes, he winces when it stings but doesn’t say anything.
It isn’t as bad as I thought but his skin is brokwn in a few places.
“You need to set limits babe. You don’t need to end up such a mess. You have to agree beforehand.” I say calmly, trying not to show my anger.
He has a lot of bruising on one side, old and new. As I’m looking at it Jay comes in. For a second I panic at having a nude Peter on our bed. But then I see Jay’s face and he is just as concerned as I am.
He comes over and kisses me hello and sits next to me.
“Hey Peter. You can stay here as long as you need to. I’m sure you can borrow clothes from Alexander if you don’t have any of yours still here. We’ve all missed having you around.” Jay says.
I squeeze his hand as thanks and give him a quick kiss. He gets up to leave, bending to kiss me again before he goes.
I finish working on Peter and help him up.
“I meant it. I get that you’re exploring and pushing yourself. You don’t need to go so far. You certainly shouldn’t be putting bruises on top of bruises like this. I show him his side in the mirror, tracing the different shades of bruising. Surely you can all get off without it going this far?” I say trying desperately to stay calm.
Still he doesn’t say anything and doesn’t look at me.
“Let’s get you dressed.” I say.
I help him into underwear and he puts his shorts on himself.
“Do you want to have dinner?” I ask, hoping a normal question might wake him up.
He shakes his head.
“Please talk to me, what is going on with you? Why do you keep running off?” I ask pleading with him.
Peter still just sits shaking his head.
“Will you stay with us for a few days? You could move back in.” I say.
“I need to get going. Thanks for looking after me. Can you give me ride? Peter asks.
“I can. But I don’t want to. Please babe just stay tonight.” I plead.
“I really need to get going. Please.” Peter says quietly.
“If you’re sure. Leave your t-shirt I’ll wash it for you. Call or come by any time. I still care about you so much.” I say sadly.
“I know. I love you too.” Peter says.
We walk slowly downstairs.
“I’m just dropping Peter home. Shall I pick up dinner on the way back?” I ask Jay.
He looks at me puzzled and nods.
“Want to drive?” I ask.
“I best not, quicker to get out if I don’t.” Peter says. I’m in shock, he always wants to drive.
“Okay. Just give me directions.” I say.
He does and it isn’t far.
“Thanks baby. I’m sorry about all of this. You shouldn’t have to clean up my messes any more.” Peter says.
“I’ll always owe you for taking care of me last year. This was nothing. Just don’t let it go this far next time. Give it a rest for a bit, heal up. Can I see you tomorrow?” I ask.
“Probably not. I’ll see you Thursday.” Peter says.
“We’re having a party a week Friday, a get ready for spring break party. Please come.” I say.
“I’m guessing I can’t bring Aaron.” Peter says.
“No. You could stay over, we’re on the same flight, so we can go to the airport together.” I say.
“I’ll let you know. Thanks for the ride. See you Thursday.” Peter says, then just before getting out he turns and kisses me, I grab his hand.
“Be careful baby.” I say.
He nods and leaves. I watch him walk back quite a way to his block, clearly didn’t want to be seen getting out my car.
The next evening we are all studying at the dining table, I need to grab a book from upstairs, Jay asks me to grab one of his notebooks out of his bag. As I’m pulling it out a letter comes out with it. I’m too curious not to read it. It’s an acceptance to transfer to a college in California. I’m both upset and relieved at the same time.
I go back down and carry on without saying anything. After we make-out on our bed for a good long time. I sit up and look at Jay.
“This isn’t going to work is it?” I say.
“No, it’s not.” Jay says a little sadly.
“Why didn’t you ask me to transfer with you?” I ask.
“You saw the letter?” Jay asks.
“Yeah, what’s the plan?” I ask.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know if I’d get in and I didn’t feel like I could ask you. I’m going to live with Mart and John and work for Sal part time, it’ll be an official internship so school recognise it. I hate the weather here and I love you but I couldn’t make the decision based on you.” Jay says.
“I’m really proud of you. I’m pleased you put yourself first. I’m kind of relieved we’re over. I love you but this isn’t what I want.” I say.
“I’m relieved too. I was thinking when we talked about being me lonely, I realized any friends I make this summer I will be able to see year round. Makes me feel settled already. I just have to keep my grades up this semester.” Jay says.
“I hope you don’t feel too disconnected from school living with Mart and John.” I say.
“I’ll join in with clubs or something. Don’t worry.” Jay says.
“This is why you insisted on keeping our spring break plans, in case it was your last one here.” I say.
“Yes. I’m really sad Eric and Harry won’t be there but I know I’ll see Eric again. He’s going to get work I know it. Hopefully he’ll be my client in the future.” Jay says.
“And me.” I say.
“I don’t know that Sal will let you go once you officially sign. How’s everything going with that?” Jay asks.
“Mart’s team have been working with my lawyer here and it should all be sorted soon. Blair isn’t being difficult.” I say.
“Are you and Mart speaking again?” Jay asks.
“Kind of, my lawyer here is going back into practice, in Chicago this time, at the end of semester and given Mart is sort of retiring and won’t be so hands on I figured his team was the best place for me to go.” I say.
“Oh did she break up with Prof?” Jay asks.
“Not yet but it’s not looking good.” I say.
“Poor guy. He’s so hot. I totally would.” Jay says.
“I’m happy for you to carry on sleeping in here. Until one of us finds someone else.” I say.
“Sounds good. Oh I’m so pleased we’re having an easy breakup this time. I love you so much I didn’t want to hurt you.” Jay says.
“I’m only hurt that you’re not hurt.” I say laughing.
“Sorry should I beg you to stay.” Jay says laughing.
“I need the ego boost.” I say.
“Uh we just saw you on the big screen mr, name above the title, was that not enough for your ego for one day?” Jay jokes.
We make-out again, so much happier as friends with benefits than we ever were.
Jay sleeps on my chest as if nothing is changed and I love it. I’m finally fully relaxed. I don’t know what the future means for relationships. I should probably take some time out anyway. I’m obviously still not over Peter and in my rush to replace him I keep fucking up.
I’ve long accepted that I’m not right for Peter but it’s much harder to accept that he’s not right for me.
As the week runs on Jay and I become firm friends. I love this amicable breakup. Eric keeps telling me he told me so and he’s right.
In our final class together before break Peter and I sit together as we have in the last couple of classes, close but making sure not to touch. We keep stealing looks at each other though. This is like the worst crush ever. He gives so much hope but I know nothing can ever happen again.
As soon as class ends I grab his arm.
“Are you coming tomorrow?” I ask.
“Yes. Aaron is going away with his parents and they come to town Friday so he’ll be out with them.” Peter says with a smile.
“Oh good. Where is Aaron off to?” I ask.
“He is going to Paris. They asked me to go but I explained I’d already paid for the trip with you guys.” Peter says.
“You turned down Paris for a week of getting drunk at the beach?” I ask.
“Being with you for a week is always going to be my choice.” Peter says.
“How can you say that when you won’t even see me outside of class? What has he got on you?” I ask quietly.
“We can talk next week. I have to go. I’m sorry things are so weird. I miss you and would love to see you more, I really would.” Peter says.
“Okay. Well come over as soon as you like tomorrow. Do you want me to come and get you, as you’ll be bringing your bag for the trip?” I ask.
“I can drive, can I leave my car at yours for the week?” Peter asks.
“Of course. When did you get a car?” I ask.
“My parents gave it to me for Christmas.” Peter says.
“Wow. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” I say.
“Yeah.” Peter says.
“Oh and even though we don’t talk about relationships, Jay and I are done.” I say and walk out before he can respond.
I’ve kept out of the party planning. As I finish early on a Friday I can get the house ready. The cleaner was in on Thursday so the place looks good. I make sure all the beds are made up as people are staying over. Not too many people are coming, just those going on the trip plus Harry and Eic who don’t leave until Sunday.
Felix and Jamie arrive early with the drinks and I help them stack the fridge and coolers. We chat a bit about the week. We’re all looking forward to some sunshine.
Soon everyone starts arriving. We all start drinking and chatting. It’s pretty chill. Jay comes in and we kiss hello and catch up quickly.
“Wait where’s the drama?” Shouts Felix.
“No drama here, just two friends having a chat.” I say.
Felix sighs dramatically.
“I’m hoping for a drama free week. Just sun and relaxation.” I say.
“And sex darling.” Barley says.
“Ahh if only. Sun and drinking for me.” I say.
“Am sure we’ll come to some arrangement.” Says Jay kissing the top of my head. I pull him onto my lap and kiss his face until he squirms away.
After he gets up I head into the kitchen to grab a drink. Peter, Brian and Blondie are there.
“I’m going to miss you.” Brian says to Blondie.
“Are you not coming?” I ask them.
“I’m going to Paris with a friend.” Blondie says.
“With Aaron?” I ask.
I look at Peter confused.
“Yeah his family offered to take me as Peter wasn’t able to go.” Blondie says.
“So I’m all alone for the week.” Brian pouts.
“Peter and I will keep you company. Bit weird you2 going away with each other’s boyfriends.” I say.
“I wish I was showing my boyfriend Paris but I can hardly make him turn down a free trip.” Brian says sadly.
“Could you not have gone too?” I ask.
“Nah too expensive for just a week and someone needs to keep an eye on Peter.” Brian says laughing.
Peter isn’t laughing, just looks uncomfortable.
I motion to him to go but he shakes his head. I head back to the others.
It’s good to see everyone getting along and my attitude towards the trip improves. After a while Peter finally comes in to join us. Brian and Blondie pop in to say goodnight, they obviously want some alone time before being apart. As soon as they are out the door Peter comes in looking more relaxed and sits on the arm of my chair.
“So are you two back on now you’re finished with Jay?” Felix asks stirring.
“Peter isn’t single.” I say.
“I’d not be okay with Jamie sitting with you like that.” Felix says.
I’ve been resting my head against Peter and his arm is round me.
“We’re still friends. I have sat this close to Jamie without you complaining. Stop trying to stir up shit.” I say.
“You two should get back together.” Jay says looking at us smiling.
“Not going to happen.” Peter says sadly squeezing my shoulder.
“Why not, you’re still in love. Alexander forgave me for what happened last year and I was much worse to him than you were. It’s clear you want to be with him.” Jay says.
I can feel Peter tensing beside me.
“Peter has a boyfriend. We’ve both moved on. We’re not in love we just care about each other.” I say.
Eric and Harry quickly change the subject to their upcoming trip. I slip outside to get some air.
It’s cold, I take a big drink and breathe.
“I’m sorry for saying that in front of everyone.” Jay says coming out the door.
“It’s okay. You’ve been drinking.” I said.
“No, I meant it, I’m just sorry for not saying it in private.” Jay says.
“I’m not going back there.” I say.
“Why not when it would make you happy?” Jay asks.
“I’m not the right guy for him.” I say sadly.
“Yes you are.” Peter says walking towards me.