Hunter carries me all the way down to the beach. I know I have to be getting heavy for him but when I glance at his face, his eyes remain fixed forward showing no sign of struggle. I can hear the ocean waves lapping up against the shore and shiver when a cool breeze tickles my cheeks and nips at my shoulders.
Hunter finally sets me down, and I take off my heels so I can squish my toes beneath the soft sand. He watches me while I do this, his serious face only making me more nervous. My eyes scan the beach around us and I realize we're the only two people here.
Yea, that's because it's probably illegal to come here at night.
Hunter finally takes a seat on the sand next to me, stretching his legs out and resting his weight on the palms of his hands.
"So….," I venture in the awkward silence. "You wanted to talk?"
Hunter gives a clipped nod. "When Elliot left he told me I had to do two things while he was gone. One was to look out for you if we threw any parties."
"Ok….? And the other?"
Hunter sighs and runs a masculine hand through his thick brown hair. "And the other was to try to become - friends - with you."
I nod my head in silence, little butterflies tiptoeing around my stomach with hopeful anticipation.
"I know we had an…interesting start, Jessie. Becoming roommates as practical strangers and then making out right before you start dating my brother doesn't exactly lead to a healthy friendship. Of course he doesn't know we made out so -"
"Wait wait wait," I interrupt him and hold my hand in the air to try to prevent him from continuing. "You just said Elliot was your brother. I thought he was your cousin."
Hunter lets out a gravely laugh within his throat, but it doesn't match the cold look emitting from his features.
"Yea, we tell people we're cousins," Hunter admits. "To prevent a lot of questions. But we're not."
What the hell??
"And normally I wouldn't be the one to admit the truth, but since you and my brother are dating now, I figured it would come up down the line."
"So - you two are brothers?" I ask in disbelief.
"Well, half brothers," Hunter says with a sad smile. "See, my dad died a few months before I was born. I never even knew the guy."
"I'm….I'm so sorry," I say softly.
Hunter shakes his head and frowns. "Don't be. It's not like my mom even cared. See, the last year my dad was alive, my mom was cheating on him with this other guy. When my dad died, I think she was kind of relieved knowing she could start her life with the man she truly loved. So after I was born, the two of them started dating, decided to get married, and had a kid of their own. And nine months later, Elliot was born."
"Oh…so then, why wouldn't you just introduce Elliot as your half-brother?" I question. "The story sounds simple enough. Or - is it just too hard to tell it over and over again?"
Hunter shakes his head again and lets out a bitter laugh. "Yea, see, what you don't get is my mom's a bitch. A manipulative one at that. After Elliot was born, she divorced his dad and found a new guy. Since my dad, she's actually been married four different times. And each guy she milked for all they were worth before leaving them high and dry."
I suck in a horrified breath. Hunter sighs and looks away from me, his focus turning to the tantalizing night sky. His voice sounds devoid of emotion, and I bite my lip with guilt thinking how lucky I had it growing up compared to him.
"I think it's sweet that you and Elliot are still so close," I murmur gently.
Hunter shrugs. "Well yea, Jess. He's the only normal family I've got. I consider his dad my own. When my mom divorced him, she made it so I couldn't see Elliot or my dad for years. She wouldn't let me. But you bet your ass that as soon as I turned sixteen, I left that hell hole and got outta town. When I finally got a hold of my dad and Elliot, they flew me over to them and took me in."
Hunter is quiet for a moment and I wonder what's going through his mind. I don't want him to stop so I remain quiet, my body tense with anticipation.
"When I turned twenty, I got a phone call from my lawyer letting me know my mom had died of a drug overdose. All the money she had was immediately passed down to me, which let me tell you - wasn't much. So that left me with one last thing to inherit: my dad's bar."
Hunter shifts his body weight next to me, allowing his eyes to once again meet mine.
"That's why I moved here a few months ago. As soon as I turned twenty-one, I packed up my shit and came here- to take over my dad's bar. And Elliot, being the kind brother he is, decided to take an internship that was close by so he'd have my back if I needed him."
I'm so taken aback by Hunter's raw emotions that it takes all of my inner strength not to lean forward and kiss him. I can tell by the uncomfortable look on his face that I am one of the very few people that he's opened up to about his past. The thought leaves an odd and unsettling feeling of sadness swimming within me.
Hunter's voice drops to an almost inaudible whisper.
"I don't mean to bore with you with my past. But I'm sure you can understand why I tried so hard to stay away from you now, Jessie. When Elliot told me how serious he was in trying to date you, I knew I should just let you be. But then I kissed you…"
Hunter runs a frustrated hand through his hair, his brows furrowing together and his lips thinning into a single line.
"And fuck - after all that kid's done for me, I knew I shouldn't have interfered. I meant what I said in that text. I don't regret the kiss. But I can't hurt him Jessie, not after all he's done for me. And if that means moving on and trying to see you as just a friend….than I guess that's what I have to do."
Hunter's words leave me speechless and yet a million and one questions begin to tumble through my mind. Like the fact that he just implied he had feelings for me. What was that all about? Did he really have feelings for me? Does he still?
The sound of Hunter clearing his throat draws me out of my own thoughts and back to reality. His eyes sparkle when they gaze into mine, and I realize in that moment what I knew to be true all along.
I chose the wrong brother. But now?
It's too late to go back.
It feels like my heart is sinking into my stomach when Hunter stands and wipes the sand away off from his clothes. If anything, I should feel relieved that we got our issues out into the open. And I should be happy he's trying to move on and just be my friend.
So why do I feel like I'm about to cry?
As the party winds down, I find myself too emotionally drained to stay up and drink with my roommates. Plus, from the looks of it Kelly and Rex are in the middle of some very heated and drunken debate. I know from experience that can lead to one of two things: angry sex or a vicious fight.
Neither of which I'd like to be around for.
I climb up the stairs and push open my bedroom door, only to be startled at the sight of Hunter making out with a girl on his bed. My heart pounds inside my chest as I stand frozen inside the doorframe. My eyes zero in on them and I'm slightly relieved when I see they both still have their clothes intact.
I tiptoe to my side of the room, trying to keep my eyes away from them. I can hear the girl in his arms moaning softly and I cringe.
Don't get jealous, Jessie. He's just your friend - remember?
When I reach my night stand, I pull my phone out of the drawer. It's already three o'clock in the morning! I check to see that I have one missed call and two missed text messages from Elliot. I open them quickly, doing my best to ignore the slutty moans coming from the woman only a few feet away from me.
Elliot: Hey baby. Just got back to my hotel. I tried calling but I guess ur busy 2night. I'm thinkingabout u!
Elliot: I'm heading to bed Jess. I'd love to hear from you whenever you get this. I miss you.
From the corner of my eye, I see a frilly pink bra being tossed through the air and landing soundly on the floor. And that's when I glance over and see that Hunter is way too involved with his woman to even notice that I've entered the room.
I tuck my phone into my pocket and silently move towards our room's makeshift divider. I just need to close it without them seeing me and then I'll be in the clear. My fingers clasp around the divider. But right when I'm about to tug it closed, my foot catches on a random article of clothing on the floor.
My awkward body attempts to save itself, but before I know it, my body tips forward and I'm brought down to all fours. Immediately the kissing and moaning sounds stop. My face turns a deep shade of scarlet as I attempt to pick myself up and move the divider into place.
But just as I'm closing it, my eyes narrow in on the large pair of bare breasts now bouncing up and down as the woman scrambles to hide her nakedness behind Hunter. My voice catches in my throat as my eyes move up from the pair of big breasts to the beautiful face I have seen so many times before.
"Thanks for putting me up for the night," I say as I attempt to gather my things Saturday morning.
My other best friend, Brad, glances back at me. He watches me as I fumble my way through his room to find all my articles of clothing, my cell phone charger and my car keys. Aside from my family, Brad is the friend I have known the longest. His parents were friends with mine, so from the age of six and up, Brad and I were pretty much inseparable.
When Kelly and I found out we'd be getting the condo, I begged Brad to move in us. But since he attends a different college, he said the drive would be too much for him to handle every day. I was hurt at first but told him I understood. So even though we're still an hour apart, I know whenever I need Brad, he'll be there for me. And last night only proved how true that was.
"Aha!" I say when I finally find my keys under one of Brad's many blankets. "I knew they were somewhere around here."
Brad just shakes his head and turns his attention back to the TV. He's watching E! News and I can't help but love him for it.
"You got plans for the day, pretty lady?" Brad asks with a grin. "I mean, don't get me wrong Jess. A drunken night with you is always fun. But since you haven't seen me since you moved into your condo, I expect at least an hour of shopping and boy gossip before you head back."
I toss my hair into a sloppy ponytail and sigh with defeat. When it came to Brad, I knew I had no choice but to cave. He argued fiercer than anyone I knew - Kelly included.
"I'm off for the weekend, so that's fine," I say with a smile.
Brad claps his hands together, setting his coffee down and skipping his way to the closet. I watch the way his cleanly polished finger nails filter through the many clothes in his wardrobe.
"What are you doing, B?" I ask curiously. "You're already dressed."
Brad just rolls his eyes. "Girl I know I am. And I look good too. But if we're going shopping, I can't be seen in public with you wearing that smelly, slutty outfit you were wearing last night. That's just terrible."
I frown at his insult and cross my arms over my chest. "So I take it you're selecting an outfit for me to wear?"
A sly grin spreads across his face. "Precisely. We're about the same size. And I have much better taste in clothes than you do. So if anything darling, you should be flattered. So choose your color for the day, love - purple or red."
I groan into my hands. "Ugh. Red is fine."
Oh just one of the many perks of having a flamboyant, gay best friend.
A/N: Ok my adorable cuties! Give me your thoughts, feedback and comments! I am dying to hear them all!!! And just as a heads up - next chapter will be in HUNTER'S POINT OF VIEW!!! Eeeep! Thank you all for reading and commenting! It means the world to me! XOXO