Author's Note: Hello everyone! Yes, I am back and trying to get back into the swing of updating again. With university starting very soon, things will probably go slowly for a while but I promise, you will get your updates.
It took me a while to recover from Leo; I'm not too proud to admit that. I knew that essentially, the ending of our relationship had been my fault, due to my mistakes. I'd slipped up, I'd ruined it, and he had ended it. Of course, as I wallowed in my all-consuming grief, my presence became but a burden to Julian and Garrett. I honestly don't know what I would have done without them. I stayed with them for a few months, until my tenant moved out and I could have my place back to myself. Julian practically supported me at work, picking up my slack and covering my sorry ass every time. Garrett mothered me when we were at home, tutting and fussing over my sudden weight loss. Together, they made me feel loved again. But it was still lonely, sleeping in the single-bed of their guest-room and watching the shadows of flickering street-lights striping the white-plaster ceiling. Some nights they'd let me up into their bed, just to lie there between the heat of their two bodies, wrapped up in comforting sheets like a child after a nightmare, protected from the monsters in their mind by two parents. After ten months of not sleeping in bed alone, their presence was welcome even if I couldn't help but feel guilty for invading upon their time whenever morning came around.
They never really objected, though I could only guess the amount of pressure I was asserting on them by having suddenly moved in on their 'married' bliss. Really, if it hadn't been for Garrett, I'd probably still be living with them. With a lot of gentle coaxing and hugging, Garrett finally lured me out to a club with he and Julian in an attempt to get me dating again. Of course, all that happened was that I wound up in a bathroom stall with some twink, which I'm pretty sure wasn't their intention. Even though Julian kept grinning the entire drive back home, casually dropping comments about me 'releasing my tensions' which only resulted in Garrett continually hitting him in the arm. Perhaps screwing out my pain and frustration hadn't exactly been the wisest move on my part, but it didn't matter to me. Little did anymore. But time went on and I moved back into my own place, my cold, empty apartment. Garrett and Julian still continued to coddle me, setting me up on dates and cooking me dinners and generally making sure I didn't fall further than I already had. They never did tell me how Leo was doing.
After a few short-lived pseudo-relationships that only lasted a few weeks each, I finally struck gold again. With Garrett and Julian on my case yet again, I'd found myself dragged to a club with some work colleague of Garrett's. Not that I was particularly interested in him- sure, he had a nice ass- but it was getting hard to argue with Garrett when he'd done so much for me. When stuck with a boring guy with no redeeming qualities other than a pert rear end, I really couldn't be blamed for resorting to drink as a means of getting through the long night ahead. In all honesty, I barely acknowledged the bartender as anything other than the wonderful man plying me with the drinks I'd ordered. Unfortunately though, I seemed to continue my terrible habit of getting ridiculously drunk at the worst opportune moment, all but slumping over the bar counter as my ignored date sulked and griped beside me, leaving the beloved bartender to start siphoning water down my throat and prop me up in my stool until Garrett and Julian came to the rescue. By then my date had long gone and I swear, there were hearts in Garrett's eyes when he saw the hapless bartender supporting me in my stool.
Reading about Marc's unnerving descent scares me. I hate the idea of him reaching that level of dark desperation and I'm so glad that it didn't go any further. However, it only goes to further show that the Marc in this book is not the Marc that I know. He isn't the pulled-together, confident, committed man that I am with now. I don't really know the man in this book. To an extent it's still the Marc that I love, but in so many more ways he isn't anything at all like my Marc. I know that everyone has a past and that its stupid to think otherwise but this book has presented me with a whole hidden side of Marc that I never even knew existed. Why has he felt the need to hide all this from me?
Garrett was right to be as enthralled by Bransen as he was for finally, after months of suffering and heart-break I'd inadvertently stumbled upon the next man that was to open up a new chapter in my life. I didn't even find out that Garrett had slipped him my number until I was awoken from a drunken stupor by the shrill trilling of the phone on my nightstand and greeted by Bransen's mild baritone. Of course, since most of what I 'remembered' from that night of our accidental meeting had been recounted to me by Julian and Garrett, I wasn't exactly forthcoming in conversing with 'Bransen, the bartender from the other night' and wrapped up with the curt exclamation that he should never call me again. After watching me being thoroughly swatted over the head with a rolled up newspaper by the fiery Garrett, Julian handed me the phone and I called him back to apologise and set up a date. With Garrett on the verge of planning our wedding and Julian casting me apologetic looks, I was able to sink back and just wait until the fateful weekend when I'd meet the man I couldn't remember.
Bransen didn't sweep me off my feet. He was attractive and sweet but romance just didn't seem to be on the cards. The night ended with some of the best sex I'd had in a while and a swift departure afterwards but I curled up to sleep with a smile on my face that night. I hadn't expected him to call the next day though, stunned by his cheery greeting and the offer of breakfast. Of course I couldn't refuse, caught off-guard in the still semi-comatose state of having just woken up, and soon found myself wandering around my bedroom in a confused daze, trying to figure out what to wear, with Bransen on the way over to pick me up. He finally arrived on my doorstep, an easy smile gracing his lips before he leaned forward to peck my cheek. I hadn't felt that easy around someone new in a while.
Breakfast merged into lunch, which then carried on to dinner, three more dates, a one-month anniversary, and eighteen months of dating. It went by in a whirlwind that carried me away, floating on a cloud of surprising bliss that seemed without loopholes. Really, there probably were none but I just couldn't believe that. After all, my history with relationships were mostly less than glossy. I didn't want to doubt Bransen and the words of love he whispered in my ear at night, but it had become instinct. He knew, of course, about the string of disasters and mistakes that made up my previous experiences and I knew that he could tell what I was thinking, even if he never mentioned it. He'd squeeze my hand that little bit longer when our fingers were twined together, touch my cheek a few times more than usual and watch me when he didn't think I was looking. I knew it. There were the signs; it was happening. The downfall. The guilt. The end. I waited for it patiently, waiting for the talk that would come and the look in his eyes that told me I was a fool for letting myself feel. I wore my mask as he sat me down and looked at me, eyes hiding a quavering of emotion that flitted briefly through his expression as he began to speak. My ears deceived me, dashing my expectations and fears when he handed me a newspaper clipping of the apartment he wanted us to buy together. For us to live in, for us to commit to as a couple. For us.
I hate this. Why won't Marc share this with me? I've been reduced to learning about him through the pages of a book, studying him through a documentation of the life he has hidden from me. That past which has made him who he is today has been put out of my reach, hidden from me like a dirty secret I don't deserve to know about. I hate it. I'm angry, I've been betrayed, deceived by the hood he has pulled over my eyes. I'm overreacting. It isn't a big deal. We all have secrets. I have secrets. Marc has secrets. It's just that the secret he's keeping from me happens to be his entire life.
Time was no longer a factor in our lives. The months just merged and bled into each other, weaving together in a tapestry adorned by the moments we spent together. Being with Bransen, loving Bransen, became as instinctive and automatic to me as breathing or thinking or brushing my teeth in the morning. It hadn't reached that point of the mundane, but things had grown comfortable and perhaps too much so. I'd look at Julian and Garrett and see the spark that was never lost, evident in every lingering kiss or fleeting touch that was shared between them. Watching them would sprout a dull ache in my chest that I would push away as Bransen's hand reached for mind, our fingers folding together the everyday grip that we had grown used to.
It wasn't that I didn't love him anymore- I did. I thought I did. I wasn't sure. I cared about him with every ounce of my being, but that spark of love that we'd started off with had been blown out by the time we'd forgotten. Three years was a long time to try to ignore, but could we really settle for comfort when love was what we both needed? I knew that love wasn't everything, but I'd long since learnt that it helps. Love helps a lot. Bransen loved me, there was no doubt in my mind about that. Or at least he did, at one point. There was still a tenderness in his touch, but whenever I looked into his eyes all I could see staring back at me were his glassy orbs. I'd stopped being able to read the words written in his expressions. I'd always thought you were meant to get closer after being with someone for so long, but it was almost as if we'd hit an invisible wall. We'd reached the end, as far as we could go together, and we would have to step apart.
We sat in silence in one room, together in proximity but so very far apart when you looked at it any other way. I wanted to speak out, wanted to say the words that could let us each step forward, but I couldn't. I'd open my mouth and all I'd be able to see were the three years we'd shared. But even then, the want quivered in my throat like a caged bird waiting to escape, eventually turning into a need that could no longer be ignored. He'd looked at me, sadly, acceptance welling just beneath the surface of his otherwise solid demeanour. He had spoken softly; he knew it was no longer working. I wanted so badly to scream out a denial, to wrap my arms around him and know that I'd never have to leave, but I knew I had to take a step. I had to move forward if either of us was going to be able to go through with this. So I nodded, dashing our hearts against the rocks as he wrapped his arms around me and held me to him one last time.
I don't know why I feel so numbed by this. It's just…three years? Three years and he failed to tell me about him? Three years is such a very long time. And especially when you consider the rest of the relationships that make up Marc's collection of failures. Yes, failures… After all, isn't that what they are? Failed relationships. The ones that didn't make it. Here they all are, lumped together in the book he hides underneath our bed. I wonder if he's ashamed. May be he is. You'd think so, what with the way he's kept all of this hidden away. Hidden away from me.
May be I shouldn't take this all too personally. May be Marc just…didn't think it was important. Not that I'd believe that excuse for a second. A relationship that lasted three years just screams importance, though it apparently wasn't important enough to tell me about. Or perhaps it was just too important.
Author's Note: I think that last chapter got far more reviews than usual for this story so thank you all so much! I love reviews…
Keterah – Well, actually, I haven't written out the ending yet. Not entirely anyway. I do know exactly what is going to happen though…
princess max – Yeah, I always did feel sorry for Leo… I rather liked him; it wasn't nice having to hurt him.
America's Dream – Aww, your reviews haven't sucked. I'm just grateful that you've taken the time out to review at all! Ah, yes, my new rock fic. It's in progress, chugging along… I could start posting it but I still can't think of a title and it's driving me nuts. Fingers crossed though, it shouldn't be long until it's up. Keep an eye out for it… ;)
Dancer431 – Thanks for your review!
SarryMatts – 'scream continuously forever' LOL Well, no promises…you're going to have to be patient and wait to see. I might change my mind about things and who knows where that'll end up?
Mage Dudette – Yes, it's definitely getting very close to the present. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing this fic.
lunisa – I'm so glad that you're still enjoying this. Thanks for the kind review!
StarDustRocker – Ewww, shots. I hate getting shots…
The-Tricky-Candlesticks – And once again, I love your name! Lol Yes, I'll update 'Between the Pages' next, I promise. As for what you said about the interlude chapter…yeah, I get what you mean. That's one of the reasons why I started 'Between the Pages', so we'd be able to see the characters outside of the book.
Kitsune Lover - /blushes furiously/ Oh, wow… Right, after that review I'm going to be beetroot for a while. I'm so glad you like Marc and Ryan; I'm growing very fond of those two. …Do I still get cookies?
Fim – Haha, patience m'dear… It'll happen in due time…
Drazuki – Lmfao Wow, thanks!
narcissenoir – Ah, everyone seems to love Ryan. I suppose you can't help but love the silly thing, can you?
Prof. Delusional – I am so, so honoured that you read some of my work. I love your stuff, so…yeah… Thank you so much for your truly lovely review and your kind words.
Shikaido-Yuki – Thank you for your review!
countrygurl – Thank you so much for the compliment; it's really very sweet of you to say so.
Lidyah – I'm really glad that the style has appealed to you; I've been having fun playing with it the entire time that I started this fic. I'm so glad that someone thinks it has worked out as a fic.