Chapter 3:

Whenever Hailee was in town there always came a point where something happened that re-hooked Zac to the point of no return. In the past that moment has been either a look, a conversation, a smile, or an intimate moment, among others. This time around it was a tattoo.

When Hailee got out of the shower she headed into Zac's room. She typically just shared his room with him. There was an extra bedroom in the house, but she preferred to sleep next to Zac. He was in the room on his computer checking e-mail and Hailee went over to the drawer she took over in his dresser. She slid some underwear on under her robe and then turned her back and dropped the robe to put her bra on. That's when he saw.

"Whoa, what's that?" Zac asked.

"What's what?" Hailee asked hooking her bra on.

"That tattoo… when did you get that?" he got up from his chair and walked over to her to get a closer look. There were words scrawled across her ribs. While she had a handful of other tattoos they were typically in popular places like her ankle, foot, and wrist. This one was a lot bigger than her others.

"Oh… I don't remember… like 4 or 5 months ago," she said turning around once her bra was hooked.

"What does it say…" he looked closer, "I love you too much to say goodbye, nothing can keep us apart..." Zac recognized those words before he even finished reading. He had been saying those words to Hailee for a few years now every time they had to leave each other.

Zac hated the word goodbye. It was too final. He would never say goodbye to Hailee. He refused.

"I wanted a part of you with me all the time… to remind me what's waiting here for me," Hailee said simply.

"Wow… I don't even know what to say," Zac said. He was truly speechless. He had always questioned how much he actually meant to her with her always coming and going, but now he knew that he was always with her and the reality was he always had been with her. He just never knew it. Now all those unreturned calls and emails didn't matter as much, because every time she looked down she was reminded of him.

"I know I'm a spastic friend, but you are what keeps me grounded. I wanted a daily reminder of that," Hailee said with a smile.

"Come here," Zac said grabbing her arm and pulling her into him wrapping his arms around her tightly, "That means a lot to me. Thank you."

"Well, you mean a lot to me," she said into his chest.

* * * * *

"I've hit that spot with Hailee," Zac said to his brothers the next day. Hailee was off visiting some family in town. The boys were in their office getting a little work done even though they were technically "on vacation" which usually just meant they cut down their work load from sixty hours a week to about ten for a couple weeks, letting their employees run most of the business.

"What spot is that?" Blake asked and he idly clicked through some photos on his computer.

"That spot where I fall in love with her all over again," Zac said carefully, preparing himself for the onslaught of criticism he knew was coming.

"What about Cara?" Christian asked knowing perfectly well that this was going to happen.

"I don't know… I guess I have to break up with her…"

"Zac you need to think about this first," Chris advised.

"Yeah, Cara is awesome and who knows how long Hailee will be around," Blake added looking up.

"Guys it's different this time," Zac said.

"How so?" Chris asked spinning around in his chair to fully face Zac. He knew this was going to turn into a long talk.

"Because I know that she really cares about me now," he defended.

"But she has always told you how much she cares about you," Blake argued.

"Yes, but now she has it tattooed on her body," Zac said, "There's something I say to her every time we separate, and she got it tattooed on her side so that a part of me is with her everywhere she goes. Now you can't say that doesn't show how important I am to her."

Chris and Blake looked at each other. True that was something different, but that didn't mean things exactly changed. That wasn't going to prevent her from getting up and leaving tomorrow. It just meant that Zac was important to her. It didn't make a relationship. Everyone already knew that Zac was important to her.

"Zac you guys are close, there's no denying that. You guys have something special, but that doesn't mean a relationship will work. Her constant jumping around crushes you over and over. That's not done. She'll do it again and again. So even though she cares enough about you to get a tattoo for you, that doesn't mean you guys will survive as a couple," Christian lectured.

"Why can't you just stay friends?" Blake added.

"Because I love her. I always have, you guys know that."

"You love a girl you see twice a year, but you won't even consider possibly falling in love with a girl who you see all the time who is crazy about you and who you have an amazing connection with," Chris pointed out. He was still team Cara.

"I don't love Cara. I can't help that."

"You haven't even opened yourself up for the possibility," Blake pointed out.

"Have you ever talked to Hailee about a relationship between you two?" Chris asked.

"Not directly, no."

"Maybe you should do that first. She may not even want it"

* * * * *

Hailee and Zac cuddled on his bed together watching a movie later that night. His mind was racing a million miles a minute. He knew his brothers had a point, but he couldn't deny his own feelings. Cara was going to be back in just a few short days and he had to know what he wanted before he faced her.

"You're quiet tonight," Hailee broke the silence pulling Zac out of his thoughts.

"Sorry… I have a lot on my mind," he said running his fingers through his hair. Hailee sat up and turned to face him.

"Anything I can help with?" she asked.

Sitting in front of him like that, Hailee made up his mind for him. She was so raw and natural looking. She didn't have any makeup on and her long brown hair was loose and wild. She was wearing shorts and one of Zac's t-shirts, her favorite one that she always stole from him to sleep in when she was in town. He loved her like that. He wanted her and only her, but would that decision be the same in a week? A month? When she was gone and Cara was there?

"I love you," he eventually said looking her straight in the eye.

She smiled. "I love you too," she said without hesitance. They always said that they loved each other, it was nothing new.

"No Hailee," he shook his head, "I'm in love with you. Truly in love with you."

Hailee didn't know what to say. She had never thought that Zac would fall in love with her, and not because she didn't want him too, but because their relationship was so far beyond that kind of love. It was an unbreakable bond of something larger than friendship. Hailee didn't think that people got both. They either got to be in love, or they got to just be happy with their best friend. She had not been exposed to a life where people fell in love and were happy with their best friend. She grew up in a world where people got married on a whim and then divorced a year later.

Zac sat up and leaned over to her pressing his lips against hers firmly. She was quick to reciprocate. They fell back on the bed, lips passionately entwined. Zac's lips were fueled by a desire she had never felt from him. They were rough and demanding, yet soft and heartfelt. Zac held Hailee tight as he lips trailed from her mouth, down her neck, across her shoulder, and back again.

It didn't take long for articles of clothing to be thrown on the floor. This wasn't the first time Zac and Hailee had sex, far from it. They had actually lost their virginity to each other. The thing about it was it was always just about sex, especially as they got older. The two were more compatible sexually than they had been with any other partners and so typically it was always bout how many times they could get off in one session. It was hard and rough and all about the end result.

This time it was different. Very different. Zac had finally opened up his heart to Hailee and now all he wanted was to make her happy. He wanted to make her feel good. He savored the taste of her sweet lips and the smell of her skin. He kept his eyes on hers the entire time watching every expression that crossed her face, gauging what he needed to do to satisfy her. He couldn't help but smile with satisfaction every time she moaned his name. He wanted to make her feel absolutely amazing and in return it made him feel more satisfied than he had ever been.

"Please don't leave me again," Zac whispered as they slowly rocked together. He brushed some sweat soaked hair out of her face, "I need you with me."

"I need you with me too," she whispered back.

Zac pulled her lips to his and held them captive for a moment. She pulled away with a deep gasp and arched her back. She entwined her fingers with his and used him for support as her body shook in pleasure. She couldn't help but yell out his name again as he thrusted himself up once more, the tingles washing over his body. She collapsed on top of him and he held her there until she fell asleep.