A/N: Okay, I'm going to try and make this short and sweet.
First, I've edited much of this story over the past week and a half. So a lot has been cut out and I tried to correct the typos and grammar mistakes though it is still far from perfect. The story itself is pretty much still the same, I think the only change is the timeline. To clarify: Halley was 18 when she met Gavin and is now 25. Gavin was 20 at that same time and is now 27. I tried to make it all as clear as possible as far as past/present but I know some parts may still be dicey. If there's any inconsistencies, feel free to bring them to my attention.
I'm hesitant to post this only because I don't know how different it is in tone and writing as the previous chapters but I've tried to not veer too far off the original style.
I hope you guys enjoy the new chapter. I've gotten a kick out of writing this again. I'd love you know what you think!
- Present Time -
"Hi," I said hesitantly, my eyes glued to Alex's face, I wasn't sure if it was relief or dread that filled me. I looked back at Gavin, who was looking at Alex too. I walked over to him and smiled. I could see in his eyes how tired he was but he returned my smile and looked to Gavin, unsure.
"This is Gavin," I nodded over to him.
While Alex held his hand out to shake good-naturedly, Gavin seemed near reluctant. A moment longer pause and it would have been an outright insult. But Gavin half-suppressed a laugh and shook Alex's hand. I was unsure what, or whom, he was laughing at.
Alex gave me a quizzical look. I opened my mouth to explain but Gavin beat me to it.
"You must Halley's fiance," he cocked his head; he was all condescension. "I'd offer congratulations but…"
I automatically scoffed in irritation. Alex wasn't sure whether the comment was in jest or not, which Gavin was obviously taking advantage of.
"I'm kidding, man," Gavin's expression rested somewhere between a smirk and scowl. "Hal and I go way back, right?" His dark eyes danced dangerously.
I had an inkling of his game and wanted none of it. I realized my hands were fists at my sides and my ire was rising, I started to speak again but Gavin cut me off. "Well, it's been really great catching up Hal," his words were all suggestion– a hint at something indecent. "I really should get going. But you're right; we should do this again." He touched my arm as he moved past me to the door. He was so obvious in his intention I nearly laughed.
He stopped at the door. "Good to meet you–" he paused and I hated what he was trying to do. "Sorry, I'm blanking out."
"Alex. His name is Alex." I snapped. I opened the door angrily. "Goodbye, Gavin." He had the gall to looked pleased. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked out, casually shrugging at me. I couldn't help but slam the door at his back. I turned back to Alex who was good enough to look baffled and nothing more.
"I'm sorry, he's so rude. He tries to be like that - no, he doesn't even have to try, he just is that awful."
"I can tell. Why was he even here though?" Alex's light brow was furrowed with uncertainty not suspicion. Which was a relief considering Gavin's insinuation.
"It's a whole thing," I nodded toward the living room where we settled so I could fill him in on the night before. He reclined on the couch and I sat at the edge. He'd get the abridged version, I decided. "I met up with Rett and Jules, Rett had invited Gavin, he was a jerk so I left, I forgot my purse and–" I stopped short, realizing he still had my purse. I went to the window, but, of course, he was gone. I sighed.
"What?" Alex propped himself up on his elbows.
I crossed my arms and paused. "Nothing. Gavin here because he was supposed drop off my purse but didn't."
"Oh." I watched Alex was he laid his head back down and closed his eyes, unfazed. I was thankful again at the ease of us, everything was so effortless.
But I couldn't help but feel embarrassed for Gavin's purposeful heavy-handedness. "Sorry, again, for how he was. He just wanted to aggravate you."
"Why are you apologizing? He's not your problem."
I bit my lip at that. "I know."
But he still had my purse.
I tugged at my ponytail, edgy. I shouldn't be, I told myself.
Nothing to worry about. I was at an address that was supposedly Gavin's to collect my purse. Which, like him, had been very difficult. It had been a chore enough to get a hold of him, let alone pin down a time when I could get my stuff. It was four days after I'd left it in the cab and I was tired of being sans phone and wallet.
I took in the place before me; it was nice. And quite a step up from the run-down places they used to rent before. Before money. Before importance.
The sun was rapidly setting behind me and with it all the warmth dissipated. Cold, I hastily rang the bell and crossed my arms. A minute passed before I rang again. And another. And again. I groaned, frustrated. I rang one last time determined to leave if there was still no answer. I pulled at my gathered haired again in aggravation. I briskly walked down the steps, my feet just touched the sidewalk when I stopped.
"Hey wait," before I turned at his offhand greeting, I made a conscious effort to wipe away any signs of irritation - which was just what he wanted, I reminded myself.
"Do you have my purse?" I said up to him from my spot below, on the sidewalk. Looking up at him in the doorway, I saw his dark ruffled hair that had his, now distinct, imperfectly perfect style.
"Yeah, it's in here, somewhere." He muttered the last part I noticed. He motioned behind him, inside.
I was firm on not going inside though. "Okay," I walked back up the stairs. "Can you grab it? I have to be somewhere and I–"
He ran his hand through his hair and half smiled, lazily. "Come on in, I'll get it for you."
I shook my head, absentmindedly noticing a few days worth of dark stubble on his face. I didn't object to it which only annoyed me all the more because I should have. I crossed my arms again as a shield to more than just the cold.
"I don't have time to come in. Just get it, please."
"It's gonna take me a minute, just come in. It's getting cold out." I didn't know if he was keeping score but it was a small victory for him as I walked in, I noted.
He shut the door behind me and I tried to remain impassive as I quickly noticed how impressive his place was. I was all indifference, which I knew he hated. Emotion and anger wasn't a weapon I could use against him. The same was true of me.
"Like I said, I don't have much time, so," I tilted my head. My intimation wasn't lost on him but he sauntered off to get my purse slowly enough to irritate me. Once gone, I couldn't help my curiosity and peaked around the corner of the entryway.
I could've sworn the living room was about the same size as the apartment all four of the guys used to share. It was nearly empty though; like someone was in the process of moving in, or out. The only furniture was a baby grand piano, a glass table that looked like it was being used as a desk, and a large round ottoman.
"It's a work in progress - just got the place," I hadn't noticed him walk up beside me.
"A step up from that place you guys had on Division."
"I know. Do you remember that one apartment, the one above the awful Chinese food place?"
I smiled at the memory, "yes– with all those cats always hissing in the alley. You know, you almost had me convinced they actually served cat at that place because of that." I laughed at the ridiculous memory, "that was awful! You were so adamant, I believed you."
He nodded and laughed a little. "I know."
I was uneasy at the unexpected moment of pleasantness, and I knew it was time for me to leave. I saw my purse in his hand and made a move to take it but he stepped back. I looked up at him, expecting a playful look and a snide taunt. Instead, he watched at me strangely; he frowned looking both intense and perplexed.
I was apprehensive at his look. There was conflict in his eyes.
He was doing exactly what I knew not too. A quirky little memory was enough to pull him back in, it seemed. I wasn't going to go where he was because I knew nothing could come of it.
I knew not to give it this much thought. But he looked serious and sincere. It made me shrink. I looked down because I knew what I'd have to do to get him to stop. Give him nothing; no sign of hate. Because hate would mean caring. Caring in the wrong way, about the wrong things, but caring nonetheless.
I reached for my purse again, but Gavin wouldn't relinquish it.
"Please don't be a jerk." I murmured.
He handed it over to me. "I'm not. Halley,"
"I'm gonna go." I said to stop the precarious situation from developing any more. I went to the door anxious to leave but he got there first.
"Can you just wait for a second, please?"
You can fight this, I wanted to yell at him. I had. "I can't because I think anything you say now you might regret." I looked down at my feet, irritated at myself; I'd have to be crueler than that to get him to off this path he was set on.
"God damn, Halley," he swore. I watched him run his hand through his hair again.
"Stop, I don't want to hear it!" I cried out.
"I'm sorry that I'm having a reaction to seeing you! All right? I see you, and I know it's been a long time but, I don't know, it's not like a switch I can just turn off. Like you, apparently."
"So you're just putting it out there? What, so it's on me now?" So many emotions coursed through me I couldn't even distinguish them.
"I don't know," he said dolefully.
I shook my head at him. "You don't get to say something like that and expect it to not affect me."
"Fine," he said. "How does it affect you then?"
My eyes searched his face and I wanted to feel nothing so badly it almost hurt. "It doesn't." I lied.
He knew. I let him take two steps closer and I let him hold my face in his free hand, his thumb lightly tracing my cheeks, my lips.
"Why did you run away back then?" His intensity had made me mute. His nearness made me sure.
I swallowed and found my voice. "I wanted you to want me as much as I wanted you. I was scared. That made it easy to leave." I could've lingered but I wouldn't it had been too long. It was long over. I pulled away and broke the spell. Then I did just as I had done before.