“Cole had his friends from Texas move into his apartment with him. They’re twin brothers. Ellie, and they are so hot!” She giggled at my excitement.
“Well, which one caught your eye, and please don’t say both… I can’t handle that,” she asked.
“Of course they both caught my eye! Did I mention that they’re identical twin brothers?”
She shook her head and smiled at me. “Which one has you running back home though?”
“Okay, okay. So Jaxon is the one that seems to be turning my world upside down. I’ve never cared if I hurt someone. With him, I feel like I’m doing everything to avoid hurting him, but then that’s all I end up doing.”
I lay back down with my palms on my eyes and groaned, “I’ve already done too much damage now. He hasn’t said anything to me all week, and even his brother Jace has texted me daily to check up. I wouldn’t want to talk to me either after how I treated him though.”
“Honey, have you ever thought that his brother, is checking up on you for Jaxon’s benefit?”
I thought about that for a second. “It’s possible, but Jace is also just a really nice guy.”
“You just need to go back there and let him know you’re truly sorry, and you want to give him a shot.”
“I can’t do a relationship though. I don’t know how to act or what to do. I know I’ll end up ruining it somehow.”
“If this guy knows you, then I’m sure he’ll be willing to grade you on a curve,” she said while winking at me.
“I know, but it’ll be worth it. I promise,” she replied, sliding her sunglasses back down over her eyes and laying back on the lounger.
I pulled out my phone to text Quinn.
Me: I’m coming back tonight. I need to make things right with Jaxon.
Quinn: Err… Call me before you do anything Jaxon-related.
Me: Ok? I’ll just talk to you when I get home.
I pulled up to the apartments and parked the car. As I was hauling my bag out of the trunk, I saw Jace jogging down the steps toward me.
“Hey, stranger, I missed you.” He smiled and pulled me into a bear hug.
“I think I kind of missed you too,” I confessed. He grabbed my bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Is Jaxon here?”
“Uh... yeah, but I think he’s busy right now,” he replied awkwardly and walked up the stairs with me to my apartment.
“Why is everyone being so weird when I mention Jaxon?”
When we got down the hallway, a tall brunette in cute little pajamas walked out of Cole’s apartment and I heard Jace sigh under his breath.
“Is she here for you?” I asked him in a whisper.
“Oh,” was all I could say.
That could only mean one thing, because I knew she sure as hell wasn’t here for Cole. My stomach hit the floor along with my heart. It figures though, right when I decide that maybe I can try this relationship thing on for size, the person I wanted is already taken. It serves me right for being such a bitch to Jaxon in the first place. He finally went off and found someone that actually wanted him.
“You must be the golden girl, Em, all of my boys are talking about,” she said to me icily when we approached her.
“Audrey, we aren’t your boys, so turn around and walk back inside,” Jace seethed at her.
Before either of us could say anything else, Quinn whipped our door open and pulled me inside. Jace squeezed in behind me before she could slam him out.
“Ugh! I was hoping you wouldn’t come across the she-devil,” Quinn said.
“Who is she?” I asked softly, not sure I wanted to know the answer.
“Audrey,” Quinn said in her high-pitched sing-songy voice that I knew meant she didn’t like someone.
“Well I got that much, but what’s going on?” I asked.
Jace put my bag down on the dining room table and went to join Cole on the couch. Both of them looked at me apologetically; that’s when I knew this wasn’t good.
“These guys won’t help out. Trust me, I’ve been drilling them all week.”
“It’s not for us to tell. It’s Jaxon’s business, baby,” Cole claimed looking defeated.
She ignored them and dragged me down the hallway to my room. I placed my bag on the bed and opened it up to unpack. I decided to bring back a couple of outfits I had previously forgotten from home, and some more that Ellie had bought while we were out shopping. Going home was so relaxing and I’m thankful I was able to get Ellie all to myself. I’d only been back here for two minutes, and I feel like all that relaxation and reassurance was flying out the window faster than I could catch it. Quinn sat down in a blue wing chair that I had at my desk while I sat on the edge of my bed.
“She’s the worst, Emmy. I refuse to even step foot into their apartment as long as she’s there.”
“I’m so confused. I have no idea what is going on. You have to remember when I left, Jaxon was asking me out!” I responded.
“I don’t know who she is, just that she showed up here earlier this week. Cole said that she went to high school with all of them and she has history with Jaxon. Their stupid bro-code is stopping them saying anything. I can’t hold Jaxon down long enough to ask him. It’s so frustrating. I’ve barely talked to Cole all week.”
“Okay, first of all Quinn, you were supposed to enjoy this week of having the apartment all alone with Cole!” I hollered at her. “I don’t care what kind of drama Jaxon has; you need to make up with Cole.”
I jumped off the bed and shouted for Cole down the hallway. I heard Quinn groan from behind me, but knew this was for the better. Cole made his way down and into my room; he looked really overwhelmed. Quinn had not gone easy on him.
Jace poked his head in, “Mind if I join, or am I interrupting something private?”
“Get over here, gorgeous.” I patted the spot next to me on the bed and he hopped on right beside me. I appreciated when he slid his shoes off so they weren’t on my white comforter.
Cole stood leaning against the doorframe. “Ems, I’ve already said this to Quinn a thousand times. It’s not my place to tell you all of Jaxon’s business, and I have no idea why she’s here now.”
“Let’s get this straight. I may have had a different assumption of what would happen when I came back here and could finally talk to Jaxon. But, right now, I just can’t worry over any of that. You and Quinn are being silly. Quinn, don’t get upset over what’s going on with Jaxon and respect that Cole’s not going to gossip,” I begged her.
Cole beamed like I had just lifted a huge weight from his shoulders. He came over to Quinn and picked her up to place her in his lap in the chair. I fell backward onto my bed and sighed. Jace scooted back, lying down on his side and looking over at me with his hand propping his head up.
Cole had started roaming Quinn’s body with his hands. Clearly, he hadn’t gotten much this week with a stressed-out Quinn. I snapped my fingers to get them to stop.
“No way, that’s not happening right in front of me.” I pointed to my door.
“Sorry, Emmy, we’ll talk more later,” she smiled at me and I nodded.
“I freaking love you, Ems! I knew I should have gone and brought you back,” Cole said, walking out the door with Quinn in tow.
“Hey! Shouldn’t you be saying that to your girlfriend instead of my best friend?” she fake pouted. He continued to push her out the door and we heard him sweet talking her all the way into her room.
“Oh God, did you have to listen to that all week?” I looked over at Jace, giving him my best sympathetic look.
“No, it was worse. I had to listen to them fight and get all sexually frustrated with each other. It was better than hanging out next door though,” he groaned.
I didn’t know how to respond to that last part. What was going on next door? Have those two been alone in that apartment all week? If this was someone from Jaxon’s past and he was letting her stay with him all week, I couldn’t compete with a past love.
The way Jace was lounging on my bed, I could see down his shirt through the open collar. I noticed familiar black intricate lines touching his collarbone. I slipped my finger onto the collar of his shirt and tugged it across his shoulder.
“You have the same tattoo as Jaxon? Is that a requirement, if one twin gets a tattoo the other must as well, so they can remain identical?” I asked, shocked.
He laughed at my stunned face, “No, I don’t think it’s a requirement. We just got them together after our dad died. If you look closely, they aren’t the exact same, but from afar, they appear that way.”
“I had no idea that your dad passed away.” This was difficult territory for me.
“I suppose you didn’t. Jaxon never talks about it.”
“When we were seventeen, he went on a business trip to Colorado and his plane had engine failure and went down. Jaxon went a little wild after that; our mom kind of let him get away with murder because she knew he was grieving. He’s gotten a lot better though. He seemed really happy when we got here, a lot happier than I’ve ever seen him. I can’t help but wonder if it had anything to do with a certain frustrating blonde though,” he laughed and nudged me.
“My parents died when I was fifteen. I can understand going wild after something like that,” I replied morosely.
He ran his hand through his hair like I’d seen Jaxon do a million times. “Shit, Em, I had no idea, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, it wasn’t your fault.”
I shook my head and continued to stare at the ceiling.
“You guys really need to talk more,” he replied.
“Has she been staying there?” I knew that I didn’t need to clarify whom I was talking about. It wasn’t any of my business, but I was hoping Jace could help me out.
“Em, earlier you said you had some assumptions of what would happen when you got back here, and those obviously didn’t pan out,” he said, ignoring my question. “Did you come back to make up with Jaxon?” His voice had taken on a serious tone, but his face didn’t look upset at that prospect.
I rolled over onto my stomach to hide my face in the crook of my elbow. I just wanted to forget this whole Jaxon thing ever happened. I wish that I could ignore the fact that I had developed all these feelings for him, that I had decided to let down my guard and now the door was being slammed in my face. I knew Jace wasn’t going to let it go.
“It’s okay if you did,” he said, interrupting my thoughts. “I think you need to talk to him; he really needs to hear what you have to say.”
“Like you said earlier, he’s busy,” I replied in a clipped tone.
“Call him, text him, meet up with him somewhere. Please just tell him. I don’t know why Audrey’s here, but she’s bad news, and he doesn’t need her in his life again.”
“We live right next to each other and we have classes together. I’m sure I’ll run into him at some point. In the meantime, promise me you won’t tell him I’m back? That’s if he even noticed I was gone in the first place.”
“Oh, he noticed.” He collapsed onto his back and his arms shot up in the air. “I don’t understand girls. I thought I did, but California girls are on a whole other level it seems,” he grumbled.
“I don’t think we understand ourselves either. I sure as hell don’t know what to do about myself.” I patted his chest and sat up.
“He asked about you every day.”
I nodded my head, “I figured that’s why you texted me.”
“I texted you because you’re my friend, Em, but he also needed some peace of mind.”
“Mind if I hang out over here for a little longer? I need to study and Audrey’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard for me.”
“Of course, we don’t mind. Sleep on the couch if you want to.” I didn’t like the idea of Jaxon having the whole apartment alone with her, but I couldn’t throw Jace to the wolves.
Somehow I managed to avoid Jaxon for three more days. I didn’t know if I just knew how to evade well, or if he was just busy with Audrey; I hoped it was the first one. I showed up late to our classes and managed to snag a seat in the back. I always had my bag packed and ready to leave before the class was over so I could sneak out without him seeing me. I had no idea if he knew I was back or not. Jace never told me if he asked.
As I was walking across the courtyard toward the cafeteria on Wednesday after biology, I noticed Jaxon sitting alone under a giant oak tree. Seeing him reaffirmed how much I’d missed him the last week and a half. He was so striking lounging in the shade of the tree. He had on blue jeans with a long-sleeved red shirt that made his skin look bronzed. His dark hair was poking out from under his black ball cap that was placed haphazardly on top of his head. He hadn’t noticed me yet because he was reading one of his textbooks.
I walked up next to him under the shade. I saw that he finally noticed me when his hand just slightly slid off the page of the book. His eyes trailed up my legs to my denim skirt, and I swear they left a trail of goose bumps as they roamed upward to my face.