A/N: Alright ladies and gents! Here is the chapter *most* of you have been waiting to read! The final blow-out between Elliot and Hunter! I hope you all enjoy. XD I'm excited to get your feedback! After this chapter, there are only three left…and for those of you wondering, Rex WILL be in next chapter! XD Thanks for reading everyone - it means so much to me!
I follow Jessie back to the condo, a hard knot nestled in the pit of my stomach. I take a deep breath. And then another. How in the hell was I supposed to tell my own brother that I slept with his girlfriend?
I look to the car ahead of me and can see small glimpses of Jessie's blonde hair slapping against the morning wind. My hands itch to touch that soft hair again. But for as much guilt as I have, I can't say that I regret any of my actions over the past twenty-four hours.
Well, except letting Raelynn kiss me.
Sure, practically forcing Jessie to stay with me was a hit to my pride. But damn had it been worth it. As soon as I got a taste of her soft lips, felt her creamy skin against my fingertips, and saw her beautiful eyes staring back into mine…all seemed right with the world once again.
Jessie pulls her car into the condo's driveway. Instead of parking directly behind her, I decide to park on the street. This is the first time I've been here since I moved out. A myriad of emotions kick into motion as I think through the time I spent living here - all the parties, all the fights, all the laughs, hanging out with friends, and most importantly, falling in love with Jessie.
When Jessie gets out of her car, she turns toward me, a sad smile tugging at her lips. She waits for me, and when I reach her I slide my arm across her shoulders. She nuzzles into my touch for the briefest moment before pulling away. She bites her lip and her face becomes masked with worry.
"Are you sure you don't want me to be the one to tell him?" Jessie asks.
I nod. "I want you to be there with me, Jess. But no, I need to be the one that tells him."
I press a soft kiss against Jessie's temple and we walk up to the front door hand in hand. She pulls out her key and unlocks it. I follow her inside and am surprised to see that most of the furniture has been removed.
"We're -uhm - all moving out," Jessie says quietly from over her shoulder.
I reach out my arm and place it on her shoulder to stop her from walking foward. She doesn't turn towards me, but simply waits until I ask the question she knows is coming.
"Where are you gonna' live?" I whisper.
Jessie shrugs. "I think I'm moving back home. Either that or I may try to shack up with Brad for a while."
I want to ask her to move in with me, but I know timing is everything with these types of questions. And right now is definitely not the right time.
"Jessie? Is that you?"
My brother's voice emerges from the staircase and I reflexively remove my hand from Jessie's shoulder. Elliot walks over to us, giving me a clipped nod before turning his attention to Jessie. He pulls her in for a hug, telling her how worried he was while she was gone. Jessie gives him an awkward hug in return and I force myself to look away.
"God, I was so afraid something happened to you," Elliot says softly. "You weren't with Hunter this whole time….were you?"
Jessie clears her throat. "Well, uhm….that's actually what we want to talk to you about."
Elliot straightens his posture, looking from me to Jessie, and then back to me again. "What do you mean, 'we'?"
This time, I step forward.
"Elliot," I say and look him straight in the eye. "Before I get into anything else, I just want to tell you how much you mean to me. And that for what it's worth, I'm sorry."
Elliot nods stiffly. I watch as he slowly snakes a possessive arm around Jessie's waist but am beyond surprised when she steps away from his touch. The action doesn't go unnoticed by Elliot. His face flickers with anger and the tightness in my stomach rises to my throat.
Fuck. He knows.
I half-expect him to stop me, to step in so I won't have to admit what a shitty brother I am. But instead he remains silent, his hands curling into white-knuckled fists at his sides.
"Elliot," I try again slowly. "Please. Hear me out. I can't say I went about this the right way, but you deserve to know the truth. When…when you were gone last month…Jessie and I ended up sleeping together."
A muscle ticks in Elliot's jaw and I can see a tempest storm rising in the depths of his eyes as they widen. A swell of color hits the tips of his cheeks and I can't decide if he's more angry or more shocked.
"We both should have told you when you got back," I rush out. "I know we should have. And I'm sorry we didn't. But I thought if I moved away and just gave myself some separation that it would all go away. My feelings, I mean. I thought the feelings I had for Jessie would all just disappear."
I close my eyes and run my hand down the side of my face. I let out a soft, humorless chuckle and rub at the back of my neck.
"But you know just as well as I do, Elliot, how impossible it is to get over this girl once she gets under your skin."
Elliot turns his lethal stare from me and his eyes move to Jessie. He's silent for a moment and then takes a step toward her. The angry façade he's trying to keep intact starts cracking at the seams when he looks into her eyes.
"Why are you doing this to me, Jessie?" Elliot asks, utter bewilderment in his voice.
Jessie bites her lip, looking from me to Elliot.
"I'm - I'm so sorry, Elliot," Jessie says. "I never meant to hurt you. And, and if I'm being honest, I shouldn't have gotten back together with you when you came home."
She pauses and frowns.
"Actually, if I'm being really honest, I shouldn't have agreed to go on a date with you in the first place. The first time I laid eyes on Hunter I developed feelings for him."
"And in knowing I had feelings for Hunter, I should have never agreed to go out with you…or anyone else for that matter," Jessie mutters under her breath.
Jessie's admittance has me biting back a smile, but mostly because I feel the same way. The first time I saw Jessie at her diner, I had been a goner. I knew I wanted her to be mine and for months after that I couldn't get her out of my head.
Elliot's focus turns back to me. There's a crazed look in his eyes and I brace myself for a punch as he gets close to my face. I stand a good two inches above Elliot so his attempt to physically intimidate me is useless. I look down at him confidently, refusing to back down.
"You're my brother, Elliot," I say keeping my voice steady. "And I will always respect you and be here for you. But Jessie is my girl. And I'm afraid until she says she's done with me, there's no way in Hell I'm letting her go."
Elliot's jaw works its way open and closed as he stares back at me. I can see his mind turning as he tries to process all of this.
"You're a real piece of work, you know that?" Elliot snarls at me, his voice like liquid acid. "You fuck every girl that has a pulse since the age of sixteen. And all the while I defended you, telling all our friends that you were a good guy underneath it all. And now that I finally find a girl I want and what do you do? You fuckin' steal her away from me!"
I try to steady my breath as all of Elliot's accusations and insults settle into my brain. I can see Jessie shift her weight from the corner of my eye and know she must be feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I narrow my eyes on my brother, my prior guilt now being replaced by undiluted anger.
"Don't you DARE say that ever again," I say slowly. "Because you know damn well who wanted her first."
Realization dawns on my brother's features. When I first drove Elliot to the condo warming party so many months ago, I was the one who told him about Jessie. It was like I couldn't stop talking about her. I told him how smart she was, how kind she was, how gorgeous she was…
He knew I wanted her to myself.
But he ended up going after her. And I tried to let him have her; I really did. Because I knew just as well as anyone else that as soon as I'd had Jessie, I wouldn't want her anymore. After all, that's how it had been with every other girl before her. That was why I had given up Jessie to my brother in the beginning. I truly felt he could treat her better than I could, and I knew she deserved better than me.
But then I fell in love with her…and that's when everything changed.
Elliot gives me a hard shove, forcing my body a few feet back. I regain my footing and stand tall, waiting for him to make the next move. Elliot brings his fists up, his eyes narrowing on me, his target. I tell Jessie to get back as Elliot approaches me. I watch as his fist comes forward and close my eyes in preparation of the hit.
The dull ache of Elliot's punch resonates under my left eye and I stumble back in pain. I can hear Jessie suck in a horrified breath. Elliot's jaw is still clenched, his eyes raging with fury. He remains in a fighting stance, but this time I bring my fists up too.
"Alright, Elliot," I say coldly. "I gave you one free punch. I deserved it. Hit me again though, and I will defend myself."
Elliot's face reddens at the challenge and he swings at me again. I easily block his hit and shove him away. But my self-defense only spurs him on further. Elliot runs towards me, his body lunging into mine and his fists assaulting every inch of my face.
It takes a few hits for me to regain my focus, but when I do, I wind up and punch Elliot as hard as I can in the jaw. Instantly his violence ceases and I hear him wince as he pushes his body off of me. Blood trickles out of my nose and I wipe it away with the end of my sleeve.
Silence radiates the room. Elliot gingerly holds his jaw, his face paling from the impact of my hit. But when he looks at me, I see glistening tears in the corners of his eyes.
"Stay the fuck away from me, Hunter," Elliot snarls with a shaky voice.
I wipe more blood away from my nose and mouth, but give him a single nod so he knows I understand. The last thing I want is to hurt him further. And then Elliot's attention snaps to Jessie and I can see a single tear escaping from his eye and trickling down his cheek.
"And you," Elliot grumbles toward Jessie, and I wince when I hear the hurt in his voice. "When my brother breaks your heart, don't expect me to be here waiting."
Elliot hastily wipes the tear from his face and then shoulders past me. He opens the front door and slams it closed behind him. More guilt and anger tumble through my veins and I struggle to keep them controlled. I turn my attention to Jessie and her hazel eyes are staring back at me. I straighten myself and open my arms to her. She walks into them without hesitation.
My arms fold around her petite body, my head dipping down to place a soft kiss against her delectable lips. I can feel her shaking in my arms and pull back a bit. The frightened look on her face makes me feel so guilty.
"Shhhh, it's over," I whisper into her ear. "It's all over."
"He's going to hate you forever," Jessie chokes out. "And it's all my fault."
"Hey!" I scold, tipping her chin up with the pads of my fingertips. "This is not your fault. Ok? I had a big part in this too. And I'll handle Elliot. Honestly, once we give it some time and he sees how happy we are together, I truly believe all his anger will go away. He and I will be fine, I promise. Just give it time."
Jessie sniffles, wiping her nose with the end of her sleeve. I chuckle at how adorable she is and pull her into me once again.
"I'm sorry, Hunter," Jessie whispers. "For everything."
"I'm sorry too."
I hold Jessie in my arms for a beat of silence, my face nuzzling into her soft, silky hair.
"Do you work tonight, Jess?"
"No. Thank God."
"You wanna go visit Rex?"
Jessie smiles at my idea and nods her head.
"Yea, that sounds good. We probably need to go to the hospital anyway," Jessie says, her eyes lingering on the blood trickling down my nose.
I wipe it away and try to give her a reassuring look. "It's not so bad. Looks worse than it feels," I say, trying my best to comfort her.
Jessie bites her lip and nods. "Well…ok. Oh! And I promised Brad I'd have dinner and drinks with him tonight."
I smile when she mentions Brad. For being so flamboyant and pushy, the guy really isn't so bad.
"You think he'd mind if I came along?" I ask.
Jessie gives me a half-hearted grin. "I think he'll be more than happy to see you."
"Good. And then we can tell him we're officially together. That'll be at least one person happy with the news."
Jessie stiffens with my statement, craning her neck back to look at me.
"We're officially together?" she asks and I smile at the hopefulness I see in her eyes.
"Oh yes, we're officially together," I whisper softly. "And now that I have you, Jessie, I'm never going to let you go."