I was never the type of woman who fell in love easily…especially being a model whose perks of the job are hanging around beyond picture perfect celebrities. I was a small town girl who knew what she wanted and wasn't going to play games to get there. So imagine my surprise of feeling incredibly foolish by walking in on my boyfriend of three years and one of my best friends doing the nasty in my bed?
That was a couple of days ago. Today, I was packing my suitcase for a well deserved two week vacation back home in Wilmington, North Carolina. Don't get me wrong…I wasn't going home because I was deeply hurt and betrayed by a man that I loved and possibly thought I could marry…well, that was most of the reason, but I haven't been home in two years and I missed my family.
I moved to New York as soon as I graduated high school. It took me a few years to actually get my foot in the door from just being a commercial print model from a North Carolina small town. But, I made it. I really liked modeling...most of the time. I was a really quiet kid. My mom always worried about me and how I only had two friends. Which by the way, was completely okay with me. When I was fourteen, my mom brought me to a Barbizon audition and about a week later, I got a callback. It boosted my confidence a little bit, and I really liked modeling, as I've said before, but for a while now, something was just…missing.
When the popular crowd at school found out about my commercial print work, I suddenly got invitations to parties and weekends at beach houses…I never went. I loved to stay at home and read and write short stories. Now here I am, at twenty-six living the glamorous life and still, something was missing. I was placing my clothes in my suitcase when a knock on the door interrupted my train of thought. I abandoned my previous task and headed to answer the door. I already knew who it was…it was Brian coming over to "talk." I opened the door and stepped aside to let him in.
"Hey," he greeted.
"Hi." We stood in the middle of the living room awkwardly. His tan skin looked unusually weathered and he had bags under his normally alert eyes. His mousy brown hair was disheveled and it even looked like this wasn't the first day he was wearing those clothes.
"Tess, I just want to tell you how sorry I am-
"How long?" He looked confused.
"How long, what?"
"How long were you and Hayley sleeping together?" He hesitated.
"Does that really matter?"
"It matters to me."
"I love you. You're everything to me and I don't want to lose you. It was a stupid mistake and it didn't mean anything."
"Stop beating around the bush. How long?" He shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the ground. That only made me angrier. "You claim to love me and you don't want to lose me, but you cheated on me and you don't even have the decency to tell me how long you were sleeping with my best friend?"
"We started sleeping together when you went home two years ago. We continued every time you had a show when you had to spend the night at a hotel." It felt as if every organ in my body was shutting down one by one. I was, however, determined not to let him see me cry.
"Get your stuff. I changed the locks on the door so your key won't work while I'm gone." He raised his eyes to mine and frowned.
"Where are you going?"
"You don't need to know."
"How long will you be gone?"
"When are you leaving?"
"Ali's picking me up in an hour." This time he was emotionally defeated…Brian always wore his emotions on his sleeve.
"It'll never happen again…I promise you."
"It should've never happened in the first place," I retorted. And with that, I retreated back to my room and continued to pack the rest of my things. I heard the door open and close and within a few seconds, Ali appeared next to me.
"So you guys talked?" I nodded and remained silent, zipping up my suitcase and collapsing on my bed. "What did he say?"
"Before I answer that, in the past two years, have you ever heard Hayley mention that she was seeing anyone?" Ali gaped and sat on the foot of the bed.
"You're kidding!" She exclaimed. I shook my head in response. "They've been sleeping together for two years? Ugh. Babe, I'm so sorry."
"He's getting his stuff and then he should be gone. I haven't even talked to her yet…not that I want to…" Actually, what I really wanted to do was yell and scream and maybe even pull her hair a little bit.
"I think she's avoiding us. She won't answer any of my calls or texts. Good thing you're heading out and giving time to cool off. I'm sure once you're back you won't have to deal with this anymore." Yeah. Hopefully. My phone emitted the "tri-tone" for a text message and it was from Brian.
Brian: I'll get the rest of my stuff when you get back. I'm really sorry for everything I've put you through. I hope you have a good trip…
I frowned and didn't bother texting back. "I think I'm ready to go to the airport."
I followed all of the signs to baggage claim and reached the escalator that lead to the conveyer belts. When I could finally see the ground of baggage claim, I could see my older brother Josh and his daughter Bella. When Bella first saw me, her beautiful blue eyes widened and a broad smile crossed her lips. "Auntie Tessa!" I giggled and stepped off escalator and scooped her up in my arms.
"Look how big you are!" I squeezed her tight as Josh came closer and wrapped his arms around us. After letting go, I set Bella down and held her hand.
"I'm happy that you're here and everything, but why the sudden super secret vacation?" I shrugged as we walked to the conveyer belt where my suitcase would come out.
"I needed a break and I wanted to surprise mom. You didn't tell April, did you?" April was our younger sister who couldn't keep a secret. Josh scoffed.
"Are you kidding? If I would've told April, all of Wilmington would be here kissing the ground you walk on."
"I hate that you put it like that. I'm not a big deal nor do I want to be." Josh chuckled.
"What color is your bag?"
"Neon yellow," I replied and then giggled at Josh's sour face. He grabbed my bag and we headed out to the car. The Wilmington air was warm against my skin and I could smell the salty ocean air. We reached the car and strapped Bella in. I got into the passenger seat and Josh began the drive out of the airport.
"So why are you here, really?" I trained my eyes to the scenery just outside my window.
"I needed a break."
"Modeling. New York. Brian cheated on me…"
"Ouch." I concur. We drove to our parents' house in a comfortable silence. I knew mom and dad would still be at work by the time we got home so it was a huge relief that I had some time to settle in before my mother started fussing over me.
We were finally in our housing development and quickly approaching our house. Josh pulled in the driveway and we all stepped out. "Hey Ian!" Josh's voice rang out. I got Bella out of her car seat and she ran to the other side, her blonde curls bouncing behind her. I grabbed my bag and headed in the same direction. A man with dark hair who stood just about six feet, five inches was talking to Josh. As I got closer, the first thing I noticed was his piercing blue eyes. Oh my God. It's Ian Carter.
Ian Carter was three years older than me like Josh. In high school, everyone liked him…in fact, he used to have girls lining up to date him. He was different, though. He had a steady girlfriend all through high school, but right after graduation, they broke up. We had the same lunch and he was always very friendly. Well, maybe just to me since I was Josh's little sister. At the same time though, he was very quiet and kept to himself. He was a mystery to us all. He wasn't the party boy or the drinker. And now he lives right next door to me. His face lit up when he saw me.
"Hey Tess," he chirped. I smiled in reply.
"Hey Ian…did you just move in?" He shrugged.
"I guess you can say that. I actually moved in two years ago near Christmas. It's really good to see you. I think the last time I saw you was when I graduated high school." I nodded in reply. I was more taken by his sculpture like muscles and his ruggedly handsome face. "How long are you here for?"
"Two weeks," I replied. "I wish I could stay longer though."
"Oh that's great…I hate to cut this short, but I ran home to get something for work…we should all get a drink while you're here."
"Sounds like a plan. Shoot me a text when you're free," said Josh.
"Sure thing." We parted ways and we walked to our house.
"And so the chase begins," Josh muttered. I giggled and nudged him in his ribs.
"Shut up." I opened the door and walked inside my childhood home. It was as if time stood still. I set my bag on the foot of the stairs and continued by journey down the hall to the foyer and into the living room. April was lying on the couch, her eyes glued to the TV. I cleared my throat loudly and she turned her attention to me.
"TESS!" She lunged off of the couch and embraced me. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming?"
"I wanted it to be a surprise."
"Please tell me you'll be here longer than three days…"
"I'm here for two weeks," I replied, the smile bursting from my voice. April squeezed tighter, really cutting off my circulation this time. "Hey, I'm gonna go get settled in and take a nap before mom and dad get home."
"Okay! Now that you're home we'll probably go out for dinner!"I rolled my eyes and smiled.
"I'll just be an hour or so…" I walked off and grabbed my bag and headed up the stairs. The door straight down was my room. Walking in, it was just as I left it from when I was in high school. Once more, I set my bag on the ground and closed the door behind me. I lay down and stared at the ceiling. I finally had a moment's peace. I started to think about the last few day's events. Suddenly, the tears came.
I hated Brian for hurting me. I hated him for betraying my trust. I hated him because of all people, he was between the sheets with one of my best friends. I hugged my pillow and let the tears fall…something I haven't done in days. There was one thing that was for certain: I was in my hometown, surrounded by familiar, kind people. I was going to make the most of it and I wasn't going to let Brian and Hayley ruin it for me.
A/N: I really have to apologize for the beginning of this story…I am TERRIBLE at beginnings, BUT I do promise that the rest of the story will be much quicker and more interesting. Anyway, feedback is MUCH appreciated as well as votes ;)