“Are you watching me sleep?” I whispered.
“I forgot how much I loved watching you sleep,” Pete whispered back.
I smiled and opened my eyes to come face to face with his own.
I lifted my hand and traced his face with my fingers. He closed his eyes and sighed.
“What are you doing?” he asked. His voice was still raspy from the morning.
“Making sure you are really here,” I said continuing to trace his features.
“I’m here,” he said grabbing my hand.
“Here, here?” I asked for affirmation.
“I’m here,” he said with more assertion.
I just smiled and closed my eyes to keep the tears from falling. I’ve wanted him to say that for so long. It actually took my breath away.
I felt Pete lean over and kiss my lips with a force that I had wanted for so long. I kissed him back now allowing tears to slip from my eyes. I felt Pete’s hands wander down to my waist and slip gracefully to the hem of my t-shirt. He pulled off my t-shirt and kissed at my neck. I got chills from the skin on skin contact.
Pete and I jumped apart as the intruder came barging in the bedroom.
“Get out!” Pete yelled shielding me from Patrick who looked shocked.
“Oh shit! Sorry!” Patrick half covered his eyes and ran out of the room.
Pete sighed and looked over at me.
“Opps,” I said quietly.
“Damn it,” he sighed getting out of bed. Pete pulled on his jeans and adjusted himself as best as he could.
“Are you going to talk to him?” I asked timidly.
“Yeah, I better,” Pete shrugged and leaned down to give me a quick kiss.
I sat in his room for a moment and ungracefully got up to talk to Patrick with Pete. I made myself as presentable as possible and slowly but surely got out of Pete’s room.
“I woke up and noticed she was gone. I thought something had happened and I noticed your bag on the chair, so I came in to see if you knew where she was. I didn’t think that you two would be, well, you know,” I heard Patrick say from the kitchen.
I blushed fiercely.
“It’s ok, Patrick. Don’t worry about it,” Pete said quietly.
“Dude, what the hell was up with you going to Vegas?” Patrick asked irritated.
“I broke it off with Kelly,” Pete said simply.
I listened in on their conversation.
“You did what?” Patrick asked shocked.
“For her. I want to be with her,” Pete said.
I silently gasped in. He really wanted to be with me. I waited for Patrick to respond, but he was silent.
“What’s that look for?” Pete asked irritated.
“For real this time? Or am I going to have to clean up your mess once again?” Patrick asked bitter.
“For the first time in a long time I finally feel like I’m making the right decision. I love her,” Pete said sounding as though the only thing he wanted was for Patrick to believe him.
My heart skipped a beat at hearing him say those words.
“What ever man. I’m done though,” Patrick replied.
My heart dropped.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Pete asked getting defensive.
“If you want to fuck with her, fine. I’m not picking up the pieces anymore, so you better be careful with her because I’m not going to be around to fix her,” Patrick said sounding more than upset.
“Would you listen to me? I love her. I don’t want to fuck with her; I want to be with her. Stop talking about her as though she was an object. What the hell has gotten into you?” Pete asked irritated.
I held my breath.
“What has gotten into me? Fuck you, Pete! Put yourself in my shoes. How would you take this news?” Patrick asked.
“I would be happy for my best friend who finally figured out what he wanted,” Pete responded.
“It took you fucking long enough,” Patrick said.
I could hear his footsteps getting closer to me signally he was storming away. I was busted. I couldn’t get away fast enough. I tried to get to the bathroom, but I ended up just stumbling and dropping one of my crutches.
I looked into Patrick’s eyes as he stood in the hallway.
“Were you listening?” he asked still sounding quite angry.
“I didn’t realize that you thought of me that way,” I said quietly.
“Well, I do,” he said shortly.
I just nodded and stood there waiting for him to walk away. I pursed my lips together in hopes that I wouldn’t cry in front of him.
Patrick bent down to pick up my crutch.
“Just leave it,” I said simply.
He stopped halfway and looked into my eyes for the first time. He looked slightly guilty for saying what he did.
“Just leave,” I said again.
Patrick nodded and continued to his bedroom. I put my head down as soon as he was out of eyesight and allowed tears to fall. I grabbed my fallen crutch and went to my bedroom. I didn’t understand why I had to pick either one or the other. Why couldn’t I have Pete as my boyfriend and Patrick as my best friend? Was that too much to ask?
“Babe?” Pete asked after I never showed up in the kitchen.
I laid on my back staring at the ceiling.
“Are you ok?” he asked cautiously.
“Not really,” I said quietly.
“What’s wrong?” he asked sitting down next to me. He instinctively started to brush my hair out of my face.
“I heard your and Patrick’s conversation in the kitchen,” I said trying to keep my tears at bay.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Why are you sorry? He’s the one that said those hurtful things,” I scrunched my face up.
“I’m sorry because if it weren’t for the way I treated you all these years, he wouldn’t feel that way about us. He’s angry at me, not you,” Pete said laying his body next to mine.
“Well, he really hurt me,” I said as my voice broke.
Pete kissed my neck sweetly.
“He’s just angry. We need to let him cool off slightly. He’ll get back to his normal self soon enough,” Pete said and continued to kiss my neck.
I rolled over on my side and face him.
“I need him, Pete,” I stated.
Pete scrunched his face up with confusion.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked.
“He’s my best friend,” I said sounding sad at the prospect of loosing him.
Pete’s face fell slightly.
“What?” I asked at the look on his face.
“I thought we were best friends and companions. Isn’t that how it is supposed to be?” he asked sadly.
“Pete, you have to understand something,” I tried to explain.
Pete sat up quickly and I followed as quickly as I could. I put my arms on his shoulders to hold him in place.
“Patrick is someone who was there for me during the worst times of my life. I can’t deny him of that,” I said rubbing Pete’s shoulders.
I felt Pete relax under my touch.
“I just wish that I was your best friend. I wish I were there for you for those worst times of your life. It should have been me,” he said putting his head in his hands.
“That would have been impossible,” I whispered.
“Why?” Pete asked looking back at me.
“Because you were the cause of most of the worst times of my life,” I said with my head down.
I didn’t look up, but by Pete’s silence, I knew he was thinking, hard.
Maybe this was too much for us. Maybe we would never recover from what happened in the past five years.
“I’m sorry,” Pete said and stood up from my grasp.
Pete started for the door and I saw my world crashing down on me.
“Pete, I swear to God if you walk out that door, that’s it. I’m done forever,” I said loudly pointing at the door.
Pete stopped at the door and without turning around to look at me, he closed it tight.
My breath hitched in my throat. I watched as he turned around to face me.
“I’m not leaving,” he said walking towards me. I felt my pulse quicken.
“What are you doing?” I asked as he kneeled down on the bed and took my face in his hands.
“I’m so sorry, Izzy. The way I treated you was horrible, and you should have left and forgotten about me a long time ago,” he said holding my head tight.
“I just want you to know that I will never treat you that way again. I will never be rough with you and I will never ever hit you again,” he said intently.
I instantly began to cry. He had never said what he had done to me out loud. This was the first apology that I have actually believed because he admitted to what he had done to me.
“I love you,” I cried.
Pete leaned down and kissed me with a passion filled force. I returned the kiss pulling him by the shoulders down on top of me. My tears continued to fall, but I was sure Pete knew they were tears of joy.
Pete’s hands outlined my entire body causing me to shudder with anticipation. He helped me scoot up on the bed and rested between my legs careful to not irritate my leg in the cast. Pete had started his endeavor with much force, but as soon as he looked down at me laying beneath him, he stopped.
“What?” I whispered out of breath.
“I love you too,” he said and I swore I saw a tear in his eye.
I pulled him down in for a kiss and I felt him inside of me once again. My body ached for his touch and even though I was sweating, I got shivers by his hands trailing over my skin. The touch of this boy’s skin was more than I could bear at times.
Pete’s mouth continued to pay strict attention to my own as he moved in a slow rhythmic motion causing me to want to scream out. I arched my back to his body and I felt our heated skin touch.
“I love you so much,” Pete whispered into my ear.
The sound of his vocal chords hitting my ear drum was enough to send me over the edge as I pulled him as close to my body as I could allowing a single moan to escape my lips.
I laid on the bed breathlessly and paid close attention to every sensation that Pete was still giving to me as he half laid on top of me and stroked my arm with his hand.
“Pete,” I whispered with my eyes closed.
“Hmm,” he mumbled back.
“Just checking,” I said and smiled.
“I thought I was dreaming too,” he smiled down at me.
“Can we talk?” I asked Patrick the next day as he sat in the kitchen eating his cereal.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” he said quietly.
“There’s everything to talk about,” I said trying to sit on the stool next to him, but with a cast on my leg it was very difficult.
Patrick just put his head down. He was acting like a wounded animal. I rolled my eyes.
“I love you,” Patrick said quietly.
“I love you too,” I said back.
“But not like you love Pete,” Patrick stated matter-o-factly.
“No, not like I love Pete,” I repeated making the statement true.
“I would die for you,” he said again.
“I’d die for you too,” I said back insulted that he would insinuate that I wouldn’t die for him.
Patrick looked me in the eyes with confusion.
“Patrick, you are my best friend. I need you. I need you in my life or else life wouldn’t be worth living,” I said gushing my feelings out.
“I feel the same way about you,” he said allowing his voice to break slightly.
“I don’t want to choose between you and Pete,” I stated.
“I’m not going to make you choose,” he whispered.
“Then what, Patrick?”
“I guess all I really want if for you and Pete to be happy. If my two best friends are happy and happy together, then I guess I am happy too,” he said shifting slightly in his chair.
“Really?” I asked searching for the truth.
“I’m not going to lie, Iz. I’m scared he’s going to hurt you again. I’m scared that I won’t be strong enough to save you,” he said sighing.
“I can’t guarantee that Pete won’t ever hurt me again, but you don’t have to be strong enough to save me. For the first time in a long time I feel like I can take care of myself,” I said sitting up straighter thinking about the past and what a long haul I had actually been through.
Patrick nodded and smiled at this.
“But it wouldn’t hurt to have you there for me,” I said cautiously trying to look into his eyes hidden under his infamous hat.
Patrick continued to nod and finally looked at me once my hand reached his sitting on the counter.
“I’ll be there, Iz,” he said standing up.
He walked over and gave me the biggest hug that at that moment I felt so safe and comfortable.
Pete laid his head on my bare stomach and I mindlessly played with his hair that he had started to grow longer.
“Do you have to go?” he asked.
I just took a deep breath. My two weeks in LA were to come to end tomorrow. It was indeed time for me to go back to Minnesota.
“I have to,” I whispered.
“How can I keep you here?” Pete asked.
“You can’t,” I laughed slightly.
“Why?” he asked sitting up to look down at me.
“Well, for starters, I have to finish school,” I said looking up at Pete’s face. I wanted to memorize it.
Pete looked off to the side and bit his bottom lip. He was thinking.
“What if you went to school here?” he asked.
“It’s too late to transfer. Besides, what about my friends?” I asked smiling. He reminded me of a little kid trying anything in his power to get his way.
“They can move here too,” he offered.
“Right,” I laughed.
“I don’t want you to go,” Pete whispered as he laid his head down next to mine.
“I don’t want to go either,” I said back.
“Then don’t,” Pete said simply.
I just sighed again. This conversation was going nowhere.
“Pete, I have to go. You have a life here and I have a life there,” I said with more conviction.
“What about me? I want to be your life,” Pete said rubbing my shoulder.
“That’s not fair and you know it,” I said sitting up tired of this conversation.
“What’s not fair?” he asked clueless.
“Pete. I’ve been going to school for far to long to just quit and not pursue my own dreams,” I said in a huff.
“That’s not what I’m asking!” he said frantically.
“Then what is it?” I asked crossing my arms over my chest.
“Izzy, I would never ask you to give up your dreams,” Pete said intently.
“Well, that’s what it sounded like to me,” I was more than irritated.
“Look. Forget I said anything at all. Please let’s not fight. Let’s just enjoy our last night together?” Pete asked rubbing my shoulders coercing me to relax.
“Ok. Sorry I got so snippy. It’s just that my education is really important to me,” I explained.
“Then it is important to me too,” Pete said kissing my neck sending chills down my spine.
I smiled and laid back pulling him with me.
“Izzy? Are you there?” I snapped out of my thoughts and saw Crystal looking at me concerned.
I looked down at my textbook that was open to the same page it had been opened to for about an hour now.
“You ok?” Crystal asked handing me a coffee.
“I’m fine,” I muttered.
I had been sitting in the coffee shop for about three hours trying to study. The boys had finished recording their album and were currently gallivanting around the world promoting it. I had at first thought that I would get used to being away from both Pete and Patrick, but I found that each day got harder and not easier.
It was so nice when they were recording the album. Patrick and Pete would take their turns talking to me on the phone or coming to visit me in Minnesota. I guess I had gotten spoiled. Now they were in some unknown land and had little time to talk to me.
“Girlfriend, you have got to relax,” Crystal said looking into my sunken in eyes.
“I know,” I sighed.
“You have a week of finals and then it is Christmas. I’m sure you will see them,” Crystal reassured my worries.
“I hope so,” I replied.
The truth was, neither Patrick nor Pete would give me a straight answer on whether they were going to be in the states or not during Christmas. It was heartbreaking to think that.
“Maybe you should go to Chicago for Christmas this year. Maybe you should go see your mom,” Crystal offered.
“No. I’ll stay here,” I said pretending to read in my book.
I heard Crystal sigh knowing full well that she was pissed at me for being so stubborn.
“Merry Christmas Baby!” Pete said over the phone.
“Hey!” I said as happily as possible.
“Did you get my gift?” he asked with a hint of a smile in his voice.
“Peter, it’s too much,” I said looking at the bracelet in my hands.
“Nothing is too much for you,” he said with a husky voice.
“When are you coming home?” I asked trying to hide my tears.
“Soon,” he sighed.
I just nodded. I had been hearing ‘soon’ for about a month now.
“Pattycakes wants to talk to you. I’ll call you later,” Pete said back.
“I love you,” I said allowing tears to fall.
“I love you too,” he whispered.
I listened to silence and tried to clear my voice.
“Iz,” he voice made me cry more however.
“Come home,” I cried.
“Iz, stop crying please,” he said quietly.
“I just want you here, Trix,” I said feeling so lonely.
“Soon,” he said back.
I swear if I heard that word one more time I was going to freak out.
“When?” I challenged.
“I’m not sure, but it will be before you know it,” he reassured me.
“I miss you guys,” I cried again.
“Are you getting out video messages?” he asked.
I looked up at the TV where one was playing on mute.
“Yeah,” I said meekly.
“I’m sorry, Iz. Hang in there ok?” he asked.
“Merry Christmas, Trix,” I said quietly.
“Merry Christmas, Iz,” he returned.
“We are going out,” Katy stated pulling open my closet.
“No thanks,” I mumbled.
“That wasn’t a request, it was a demand,” Katy looked over at me with shock.
She was dressed in a cute little black dress and her hair was curled.
“Why are you so dolled up?” I asked.
“It’s New Years Eve, silly. We are going out,” she stated again throwing a black dress at me.
“I don’t want to go out,” I said pouting.
“Nope. I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Now come on. Crystal is going to be here in twenty minutes,” Katy said pulling me off my butt.
I stood there contemplating what my options were and came to the realization that Katy was going to get her way no matter what. I, with as much protest as possible, got dressed and made myself look presentable.
“Come on Izzy! Stop being so poky!” Katy yelled at me.
“For crying out loud, Katy! Chill out! Crystal isn’t even here yet!” I said irritated. Even though Katy was in the other room, I swear I could hear her smiling at me with an evil grin. She loved to raise my blood pressure.
I had just finished putting my shoes on when I heard a knock at the door. I walked over to it and noticed Katy was preoccupied with her phone. I just rolled my eyes. She was the one in such a hurry and now she just sits there.
I opened the door and saw Crystal smiling widely at me.
“Hey Crystal. Come on in,” I motioned.
Crystal walked in with cheer in her step.
“So where are we going tonight?” I asked unenthused as I shut the door, but the door wouldn’t shut. Someone stopped it with their hands.
I looked puzzled at the door and opened it all the way.
“Oh My God!” I screamed when I noticed Pete and Patrick standing there dressed up in nice clothes.
I ran into Pete’s arms and hugged him tightly giving him a kiss.
“I missed you so much!” I said squeezing him.
“I love you,” he said into my ear causing my body to react to him immediately.
I looked past Pete and saw Patrick smiling at me.
I reached my arms for him and gave him a sideways hug still holding on to Pete.
“Well isn’t that just the cutest group hug,” Katy said from the doorway.
“Oh my God, you guys. What the hell are you doing here?” I asked stepping away from them and allowing them to walk into my apartment.
“Well, we wanted to surprise you,” Patrick offered.
“Did it work?” Pete asked holding onto my hand tightly.
I just got tears in my eyes and nodded. I hugged him tightly again.
“Don’t ever leave me again,” I said into his ear.
Pete looked me into the eyes and smiled. I gave him an odd glance back.
He suddenly dropped to one knee and grabbed my hand.
“What are you doing?” I asked out of shock.
Crystal gasped in loudly.
“I tried to do this the night before you left LA, but my words weren’t coming out quite right. Izzy, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be your life. I want to be with you forever,” he said placing a silver, round cut, diamond ring on my finger.
I was trying not to shake as I looked down on Pete. I looked around the room quickly and saw that my best friends, especially Patrick, were standing there with wide smiles on their faces and it was the most reassurance I had ever gotten. I looked down on Pete who looked more than worried about my silence.
“Are you sure, Wentz? Forever is a long time,” I said back.
Pete smiled and stood up to face me. He put his face inches away from my own.
“Forever feels like home.”