Author: MyDearestAdalia PM
"I've loved you since we were kids! I want to make this relationship work as much as you, if not more. But not if you're going to cheat on me with some whore!" With lovers like Nathan, it's no wonder she had friends like Nick.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 2,413 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-06-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2968190
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I thought you'd be glad," Nathan muttered, turning away from her. Rose's jaw dropped.
"Glad? Glad that you cheated on me?" she sputtered incredulously.
"No! Glad that I'm being honest!" Nathan cried. "God, Rose, I'm really trying to make this work!"
Furious, Rose stood up sharply. "Oh, now that has to be a joke. How long have you been seeing her, huh? How is that honest? How many times have you lied to me because you're with her? I can't believe I fell for your shit."
"Rose, come on."
"Me?" she shrieked. "I've loved you since we were kids! I want to make this relationship work as much as you, if not more. But not – not – if you're going to cheat on me with some whore!"
"I told you I left her."
"But not before you slept with her, I'll bet."
"But Rose -"
"It's the fact that you cheated on me at all – the very idea of it!" Rose said.
"You mean like the way you're always with Nick Orsino?" Nathan shot back.
Rose's eyes practically popped out of her head.
"Nick Orsino. You're kidding."
"You think I don't see what's going on between you two?" Nathan accused. "You think I don't see it, Rose, but I see everything – you wanna fuck him, don't you? Have you done him yet? When you're alone together playing your music, are you fucking him, really? Because if we're going to be honest, let's be real fucking honest here! I told you about my mistakes, babe, and if we're in a relationship based on honesty, I'd really appreciate it if you told me just what the fuck you're doing with him!"
"Nick Orsino is my friend, Nathan! Aren't I allowed to have a friend of the opposite sex who isn't you?"
"It's not a friend if you're fucking him!"
"I'm not hearing this!"
"You're not denying it either!"
"I don't have to deny something that isn't true in the first place! You're acting like a child."
"Then why are you always with him?"
"Because you are never around!" Rose shouted, pounding her hands on the couch. "Don't you think I get lonely? Yes, I have a regular 8-5 job just like everybody else, but you – you're gone before I wake up and you come back after I'm asleep -"
"Because I'm protecting my damn country -"
"And yes, I love you. God, Nathan, I love you so much! But I'm all by myself, and suddenly I find someone who I feel like I've known my entire life, who loves music as much as I do, and he truly is my best friend. And I'm supposed to pass that up?"
Nathan froze completely, jaw set.
"That, Rose, is exactly why I think you're fucking him."
"I told you I'm not."
"Listen to yourself! You feel like you've known him your entire life? He's your best friend? Don't you understand that that's supposed to me?" he says, heartbroken. "Rose…words can't explain how much I love you. I'd do anything for you to look at me the same way you look at him."
"You can't compare yourself to him."
"And why shouldn't I? We're competing for the same girl."
"There is no competition."
"Because you've already chosen the winner?"
Rose sat down and slumped against the couch, tears pricking her eyes. Nathan nodded slowly.
"I see," he said. "So I've lost."
Suddenly, Nathan's phone lit up on the coffee table. Nathan reached for it, but Rose beat him, flipping it open.
"Desiree Fowler," she muttered. "'Hey soldier, are we still on for tonight?'"
Nathan ran his hands over his shaved head, defeated.
"Wow, what a joke. You know, for a minute, you almost had me convinced that I was the one who should be apologizing," she said lividly, thrusting his phone at him. "You and your little slut can go straight to hell."
Rose grabbed her keys off the coffee table and flew out the door, neglecting her coat. Nathan called after her but she would have none of it, and tears flowed freely down her cheeks now. His betrayal cut her deeper than she knew how to explain. And there was only one person who would understand.
She knew that if Nathan found out where she was going, the accusations would fly faster and harder and more spiteful than before, but she didn't care.
Maybe he was right; maybe Rose looked at Nick like she should have looked at Nathan. Maybe she cared for him more than she should. But could she help it? It was Nick who was there for her when Nathan was too busy, too drunk, too absent for her.
She felt guilty, everyday. Nathan had spent a year in Afghanistan and had seen thinks that he refused to tell her, not that she wanted to know in the first place. He had asked her jokingly before he left if she would wait for him, and she told him she would; he held her to it. But the man who returned from overseas was different, far different, than the kid she fell in love with. She knew she would always care about him, but she found it difficult to continue a relationship with a person she hardly knew anymore. She couldn't just leave him, though…he had been protecting his country and could have easily died in a foreign land. How could she even think of leaving him? She didn't want to, really, but would things always be this different? She asked herself that every day. Things got better as they both learned how to deal with the newness; but he adapted to darker places, too.
She told Nick about these things. It was Nick who could get her to talk when all she wanted to do was shut out the world. It was Nick who suggested Nathan's affair in the first place, an idea that was so repulsive and ludicrous that Rose had stormed out of Nick's house and hadn't come back since.
She had been playing piano on one of the new models at the local music store on the day they met. Caroline needed new guitar strings, and Rose sat and played while she waited for Caroline to pay. Nick recognized the sonata and approached her, two minutes of casual talk that would later change her life. Their meeting had been chance, and they could have easily never seen each other again.
But he recognized her at the concert; twenty thousand faces, all blending together, and he found her at the front, just about to touch the lead singer's hand. Nathan didn't like their sound, so she went by herself. They left the venue half deaf but happy with Nick and they talked longer than she ever talked to anyone. She crawled into bed four hours after the concert ended; she lied to Nathan that night, with the excuse that technical difficulties and a fervent encore had been the culprit. Nathan had been drunk and believed her. Maybe that was the first night he had been with Desiree. How ironic if it turned out to be true.
They both loved music. They both played music. Rose didn't have a piano and missed it; Nick had one and didn't play it. They enjoyed each other's company. Rose was thrilled to finally have music, her escape, back in her life. They talked about music, listened to anything and everything they could get their hands on. Old favorites, new experiments. She returned to piano and he to guitar. He told her about his students and how he loved to teach music. She began to understand how talented he really was, and he began to grasp her loneliness. They were each other's drug.
Rose began to have second thoughts the second she knocked on his door. She had come to him about her suspicions before, but now that it was real, she really didn't know what to say. She had that about what it would be like to leave Nathan before, but this was the first time that she actually wanted to. Sure, she and Nathan weren't married, but they were as close as possible without at license.
She hoped he wouldn't answer. She even began to walk away, until she heard the lock switch. She froze in her tracks as Nick opened the door. How confused he must be; here she was at his apartment in the middle of the night, a complete mess.
"What happened?" he asked softly.
Rose didn't know how she formed the words. She didn't even know how she got there.
"I'm sorry," she whispered shakily. "I'm so sorry, Nick. You were right about everything. Nathan, he…I should have believed you. Or at least listened to you."
Nick stared at her as if he didn't know what to do.
"I sided with that cheating son of a bitch. And here I am, wanting forgiveness. You must think I'm crazy."
Nick tried to speak again, but a noise from inside the apartment caught Rose's attention. She craned her head, and to her surprise, a woman appeared in the doorway behind him.
"Nick?" she called, nursing a glass of wine in her hand.
He turned, jumping at the sound of her voice. He looked back at Rose helplessly.
"Oh," she murmured, backing away. "I'd better go. I'm sorry, again. I'm just…sorry."
Of course that's what would happen. Nick was a man – an attractive man – who had female acquaintances. She would be dumb to think that he spent his nights as alone as she did.
She climbed into her car, her face hot, and sped off. As if in a trance, she didn't know where she was going, and she didn't care. She didn't know how long she drove or for how far. But she found herself at the park. Leaving her car in the lot, she strode along the path, ignorant of the cold wind and how it chilled her unprotected skin. She followed the sidewalk along the river until she came to a bench and sat down at her favorite spot, exhausted. She stared at the water, dark and mysterious. Even more, deadly. But it possessed a peace that she could never know, and for that she was envious.
It was there that he found her, sitting by herself on her bench by the river. He stood behind her, consumed by her beauty and reveling at how one so sad could hold such a magnetic aura. Finally, he walked around the side of the bench at sat down next to her, saying nothing.
"Nathan," she whispered.
From the trees, Nick watched him plead with her. He had arrived just seconds too late; if he hadn't hesitated to dismiss the cheap substitute for company in his apartment, maybe he wouldn't have to be the one watching from the shadows. He didn't deserve this woman, but Nathan deserved her even less. But despite who deserved who and all other things concerned with love, one thing was blatantly true: he couldn't stand to see Nathan sit there with her, holding her hand and trying in vain to make the tears go away. Only Nick knew how to do that, as he had done countless times before when she was upset. He would be damned if she took that bastard back.
Nathan stood up to leave and offered his hand, and she took it. He wrapped her in his arms and placed a kiss on her forehead. They stood there for what felt like ages, staring at the river, and then Nathan broke their embrace and began to lead her away. Eyes wide, Nick stood perfectly still, even as they passed him amongst the trees that he blended so well against. But he couldn't help himself, and reached out for Rose's trailing hand. His fingers brushed her skin and her head snapped to him immediately, her eyes longing for him, but she couldn't break her hold on Nathan. She followed him anyway, and left Nick standing alone in his darkness.
He stared at the river. He felt silly and foolish, rooted in the middle of the foliage during this dark, cold night, defeated and weak. Who was he that could compare to Nathan? He could protect her and provide for her, and had known her since they were kids. But despite all that, Nick still knew her better. He loved her more. But that wasn't enough, and it never would be. He was just a musician, and Nathan was a decorated soldier. He could never compare.
Sighing, his breath fogged in front of his face and he realized for the first time that he was freezing. He was ready to go home, even though he knew that when he walked through the door, nothing would be the same. He wouldn't see her as often, if not at all, and that piano in the corner – that damn piano – would probably never be played again.
When he turned around, she was there.
"I'm an idiot," she said, smiling sadly.
All he could do was stare at her. She looked ethereal, the glow of the moon shining in bits across her face and illuminating her eyes.
"Nick, say something," she said softly.
He parted his lips, almost afraid that the words wouldn't come.
"This is too much," he replied. Rose watched him carefully, his body language unsure yet determined at the same time.
In a few strides, he was there. He pushed her up against a tree and kissed her hard, sick of all of the months it had taken just to get to this moment. Too many complications and repressed lust had pushed them both to a point that was beyond frustrating, and finally, it was resolved. He felt her smile against his lips and he fought the urge to laugh himself.
Such beauty, he supposed, could only come from such disaster.