Endings Ch. 06byingarlm©
* * * * * *
It took me two hours of dwelling on the conversations I had over the last week to realise it came down to one thing. I loved Paul and he loved me. I had to talk to him for the sake of both of us, even if that conversation was the end of all my dreams of the future. I tried to delay things further by working through what I would say, and how he might react, but there was no preparation I could really do, I just needed not to let myself get distracted by him before we had chance to talk.
My heart was pounding as I got to his door, scared of seeing him and what I needed to do, but he didn't reply anyway. There were lights on and I was pretty sure he was home, so hoping he would forgive me for it, I used the key I hadn't given him back although he no longer had mine. The sounds of the shower running were clear and at least that explained why he hadn't heard the door.
Probably taking advantage of the situation I grabbed a beer from his fridge and settled down on the sofa, putting my key down on his coffee table. If I walked out of here without him I would never need it again. I shuffled in the seat, unable to sit still when I was on the edge of my nerves.
My fears mounted when I heard the shower stop and the sounds of him moving around in his bedroom. I thought to call out to him but my voice seemed to stick in my throat, so I just waited for him to come out and find me.
It was probably a good thing he had got dressed, because as soon as I saw him I was affected by the sight. He looked a little thinner maybe, and his face was pale, but he was gorgeous and I wanted him. Steeling myself to stay strong I waited another moment as he dried off his hair, and it was only when the dropped the towel that he saw me sitting there.
He looked stunned, not sure I was really there, and I couldn't start talking, I was just looking at his face and realising the sparkle was gone from his eyes. It marred his usual features, and it made me sad to see it.
"Max, you're here," he choked out, still staring at me in disbelief.
He kind of sank to the floor in front of me, looking up at me with hope, and I didn't know if I could give him any right now, it still hurt. The state of him though made me realise I was not the only one who felt that way, he looked tired and as though he hadn't been eating.
"Nathan persuaded me. I think we need to talk, I can't leave things like we did and we can't end on an angry conversation, we need to find a way forward."
"Together?" he asked, the desperation clear.
"I don't know."
This was harder than I had anticipated, because him being there and looking so sad was breaking my heart. I guessed I hadn't thought about the fact that if this was the end of everything my last memory of us would not be anger but the pair of us in tears.
"I'm so sorry Max. I can understand why you wouldn't want me back, but I really hope you can forgive me. I don't want to be without you. I've missed you so much, and I know it's all my own fault but that just makes things worse. I can't believe I said that stuff, or hit Cam."
I needed an explanation from him at the very least, because although I was pretty sure why he had reacted like that the first thing I had to know was that he recognised his problem.
"So what happened? I knew you had an issue with it, but Cam and I are over, were over before you met me. I don't know what hurt more, hearing that you two had some kind of competition going to share men, or that you called me cheap."
"I don't know what happened. I came in and saw you two laughing, and I heard the last thing he said about you being gorgeous, and I just saw red. I was so angry that you were defending him and questioning me that I lashed out at you too, but when I calmed down I knew why you did."
He looked embarrassed more than anything at that moment.
"Yes. I was the one being an idiot. You two were just talking, I know there's nothing going on, but I reacted like I was marking my territory or something. You aren't my possession, I'm just amazingly lucky that you chose to be with me, and now I've fucked that up. It's just him, Max, and I really am trying, but seeing you together so happy made me mad. No matter what you say about whose fault it was, you were still hurt after things ended. I feel so bad that being angry over you hurting then made me hurt you now."
"You did. We should have been able to deal with this without the insults and the fight, but you've always hated me mentioning Cam. Maybe I should have tried harder to persuade you it shouldn't matter to you and me."
He looked up at me, still clearly upset and trying not to get his hopes up, and I resisted the urge to take him into my arms and try and make things better. It wouldn't solve anything, it would probably just lead to sex and us not talking, and then nothing would be resolved. Knowing how good it would feel though, it did cross my mind to do that anyway.
"I'm sorry for not dealing with things right. I should have talked to you, but I was afraid to admit what I was feeling. You need to know, this wasn't about making Cam suffer even in the slightest. Those other guys, it was only a couple, we never did it by design, but it happened and we found it funny. I was never jealous, not even over Steve. That was pretty much over anyway, it was just confirmation."
"So why fall out with Cam now, over nothing?"
I saw a flash of something in his eyes, thinking for a moment that it was anger, but it softened instantly and his eyes locked with mine.
"You are not nothing. I'm jealous, okay? It's the stupidest thing in the world, but I'm jealous of Cam because he met you first. I wanted to persuade you that he used you so you would keep him away, and I warned him off so I could have you all to myself. I hated seeing him in your flat and you two getting on so well, it scared me thinking I could lose you to him."
"Idiot," I muttered, drawing a surprised expression from him. "I would never go back to Cam. I would never go back to what I had with him either. I couldn't settle for occasional sex with some cute guy when I know what it's like to make love with someone who really cares about me."
"No, I love you," he told me, braving taking hold of my hand and pulling it up to his lips to place a soft kiss on my palm.
I shuddered despite my intentions, just that little connection reminding me of how good we were together. The way he was looking at me, so hopeful and desperate at the same time was getting to me as well. I slid my hand out of his slowly, seeing his upset when I broke the link between us, but it took a lot of strength on my part to separate even that far.
"I love you too, but it's not enough. I can't be with you if every time we fight you are going to throw my past with Cam in my face."
"I won't. I promise, I can't lose you again."
I wondered if he really believed that, or even thought it was possible. Perhaps he was just telling me what he knew I wanted to hear, and I would have liked to believe him but it wasn't that simple even though he looked so determined.
"It's very easy to say that Paul, it doesn't mean you'll be able to. You've proved you tend to say the first thing you think of. Christ, now I think of it, you even said I didn't know what 'too fast' was the day we met, and that was because of Cam too."
He looked truly ashamed, and he deserved to be. I was just amazed I hadn't realised before this point that the signs were there from that early on. Perhaps I'd just been too desperate to be with the man who was the new and improved version of the one I had loved and lost. Now I knew he was so much more than that, but it would be fair to say I had been thinking more with my dick right then.
"I'm sorry. It's not fair on you, but I guess you're right, I was kind of upset from the beginning that you had been with him. I wanted someone who was all mine."
I meant that to sound reassuring, but the words came out with a kind of finality I hadn't intended and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. He turned from me and sniffed a little and I knew he was trying to hold them back. His eyes were too pretty to be reddened with tears and I broke my own rule, leaning forward to ruffle his hair a little to comfort him.
"Is there nothing I can do to change your mind?" he got out, although I could tell he was having trouble speaking. He was still turned away from me, fighting his feelings.
"You need to make up with Cam."
Those words had him swiftly turning back to me, my hand coming away from his hair with the sudden move.
"That's what you have to do for me. You two were so close, and you've wrecked that with your jealousy. I need to know you can forgive him if I'm to believe you won't keep punishing me for what I did."
His expression was shocked, but otherwise unreadable and I didn't know what he was going to say next. It made sense to me, and I was pretty sure he would see my logic at some point even if he didn't right now.
"What if he won't forgive me Max? There's not just what happened in your flat, I got into another row with him afterwards trying to make out it was his fault you broke up with me. You have no idea what I did."
"You shouted and screamed at him about how he'd hurt me, so loud that Emily heard every word and threatened to call off the wedding because Cam lied to her about his past lovers," I replied.
The look of surprise his face might have been comical in any other situation.
"He told you?"
"No, she did."
I heard him exhale sharply.
"Was she okay? We never knew she was there Max, I wouldn't have said that stuff if I'd known."
"But you could say those things to me? You'd keep Cam's secret but you'll keep punishing him for it as well? She was upset, but not with me, do you know that? She doesn't blame me for any of it, she was just angry with Cam for not telling her about me or the others."
"She talked to you though? I didn't think you two really knew each other."
"We didn't. We kind of bonded over you two and your idiotic fighting. We're thinking of setting up a support group."
I actually saw a dim shadow of his grin at that idea.
"The fact remains, that when Cam realised that she heard us he went crazy. He's not going to want to talk to me even if I get down on my knees and beg. If it's what you want, I'll try, but I can't promise you that it will work."
"Leave it to me and the support group."
* * * * * *
I got Emily's number off Alison and checked out how she was doing, relieved to hear that she had talked to Cam and now knew everything and accepted it. When I told her about what I had asked Paul to do she willingly agreed to help get the two of them talking again, because she recognised that they needed their relationship back as well. They were family and used to be close, and she knew that not having Paul at their wedding would upset Cam and other people who didn't know what had gone on.
I talked to Paul as well, but nothing was easy like it had been, and I missed that every time I was with him. I so wanted to take him in my arms and into my bed, but I knew that we needed to fix other things first, and then maybe we could move on and find the future we both wanted.
A few times I saw him looking at me and I could tell exactly what he was thinking, or hoping for. He wanted and needed me, but he was holding himself back too, knowing I wouldn't be open to any advances just yet. I think he was as glad as me that we were at least building some kind of bond again, even if it was far less than it should be.
Thank god that Emily managed to organise our meeting for the next Saturday, else I might have gone crazy. If Paul tried, even if this attempt failed, it would be enough for me. Having him so near and yet not be able to touch him was more frustrating than I could ever have realised. He was so beautiful, made me want him every time he moved or spoke, almost made me forget why I was waiting.
His eyes had their sparkle back, and once or twice we caught each others gaze and there was want there, from both of us, but neither of us would take a step closer to make something of it. The moment would pass with obvious disappointment and the tension mounting. There was no way I could resist the man I loved for much longer.
* * * * * *
"Are you sure he's going to come?" Paul asked as we headed to the Italian restaurant.
"Yes. Emily has him sorted. Just relax and do your best."
"Easy for you to say. I nearly wrecked his relationship."
"You both did that. If he'd told her in the first place she wouldn't have been upset. You just shouldn't have been rowing with him."
He looked scared, and I wasn't far off that. Although I was sure we would all be there, and I didn't have any apologising to do, a lot rested on this evening. We were only doing it in public in the hope that they would have to keep their voices down and there would be no fists this time. Emily didn't want Cam to get another black eye, and neither did I, Paul needed to keep control.
I knew we were early, but Cam and Emily were already there, and I took a deep breath, hoping that this would go well, even if it was only a first step. We had a square table, and they had arranged themselves opposite each other so Paul and I would have to do the same. It meant I would be beside Cam with no Paul between us, and I wondered if Emily had planned it that way. I also wondered if it was going to push Paul's buttons in a bad way.
There was instant tension, which was hardly surprising, but it didn't bode for a happy evening. Paul and Cam just about managed to say hello, but it was pretty much through gritted teeth. There was still evidence of a shiner around one of Cam's eyes, and they didn't shake hands. Great, this was going to be so much fun.
We were immediately asked for our orders, which just prolonged the agony, but since we all ate there often we knew our favourites and soon the waiter was off and we were left alone, and the silence was pretty obvious. I thought to spark a conversation up with Emily just to break the tension, but Paul cleared his throat first.
"I'm sorry for hitting you Cam. That whole situation got out of control. I've never acted like that before, but I was jealous and angry."
That was a good start, and Emily and I glanced at each other before waiting for Cam's reply.
"And I wound you up deliberately," he admitted.
"It turns out I have lost my sense of humour, when it comes to Max."
"I'm not a total shit you know. There's no way I would cheat on Emily, I love her. There's definitely no way I would try it on with Max when I know you love him."
"Yeah, I do."
The silence that fell then was not uncomfortable, it was just that we were all lost in grinning across the table at our respective loves. There wasn't a person at that table without a goofy grin on our face, and if the waiter hadn't come back with drinks we might have stayed like that for a long time.
"Emily, I also owe you an apology for the whole thing at your house," Paul continued once we were alone again. "I was blaming Cam for Max throwing me out, but it was me being possessive and insulting him that caused that, not him."
"I should probably be thanking you, in a strange way, else Cam would have lied to me for a lot longer. I didn't like finding out that way, but I think I needed to know."
"It wasn't good Paul," Cam told him, "but actually, I agree with her. I should have told her anyway, but you know I've always kept that part of my life secret. I also know you were just pissed at me, with good reason after what I said, and you didn't know Emily would hear you."
"No, I didn't, and I never intended anyone else to know. I never understood your reasons, but you're family and I respect them. Just maybe not so much when it involved Max."
This whole conversation going on around me was positive, but I was beginning to feel a little like I was being talked about without anyone remembering I was there, and I didn't quite feel comfortable with it.
"You do realise I'm still here right? All this stuff about what you both did to me, it's in the past. Part of the reason for this meeting is to stop dwelling on that. I've explained to Paul how I feel about it, by the sounds of things Emily knows what she needs to know, can't we just forget it."
"If that includes forgetting that I've been a complete idiot and hurt you, then I'm in," Paul told me, smiling nervously.
"It does," I told him, the stupid grin back on my face.
Why did I say that? Okay, I meant it, but the blaze in his eyes and his grin made me not want to be sitting here and having to be social when I'd much rather be somewhere private getting naked. He knew it too, and I was glad I couldn't tell what was going on in his head because that would have driven me even more crazy with desire.
After that moment things were both easier and harder. The conversation wasn't stilted and Paul and Cam even shared a laugh, and I enjoyed chatting to them and Emily, but it was a lot harder to maintain my calm when I felt my cock twitch every time Paul looked at me. Memories of all the times we had been together crowded my mind and only made things worse, and it was pretty obvious how distracted I was at times.
One particularly heated stare had me heading for the toilet to calm down a little, just needing to get away so I could breathe properly for a few moments. I washed my face with some cold water, feeling like I was overheating just from the looks I was getting and the increasingly lurid thoughts I was having as a result. On my way back out I bumped into Emily coming out of the ladies and smiled at her.
"Are you sure leaving them alone is a good idea?"
She laughed. "The ultimate test. If we get back and no-one got thumped, I think we can count this as a success. Cam is on a promise if he behaves himself, and that should help. It looks like Paul is too!"
"Maybe," I mumbled, not really sure I wanted to admit how much I needed him right now.
"See, they're fine," she told me as we got back into the restaurant.
They were smiling at each other, having a quiet conversation but obviously not fighting. Perfect, really, even if it took a lot of effort and heartache to get them talking again. As they saw us they stopped talking, and I guessed there was some stuff they wanted to resolve on their own, but I didn't really mind about that so long as all the stupid fighting was over.
"Can we swap seats?" I asked Emily as we walked back.
"Okay, but only if you promise to behave. I've seen the looks you're giving each other, and if this is just about wanting to molest him under the table there will be trouble," she replied quietly.
I looked at her in surprise, but she was just grinning at me. Right then I didn't care if she knew how badly I wanted to touch Paul, and I was almost certain I could limit that to something appropriate for being in public. When Paul and Cam saw what we were doing they grinned almost identically, and I wasn't so sure that I could keep Paul at bay for as long as I needed to. Just pudding and coffee, I told myself, I can do that.
It was only seconds before I got some contact with him, but I did limit it to taking his hand in mine and giving it a little squeeze. He looked happy just at that and intertwined our fingers so I couldn't let go, not even when I needed to eat again. I shot him a look when I had to use the wrong hand for my spoon, but he didn't seem too bothered by my attempt at looking displeased. I obviously wasn't a good actor, he knew I liked the intimacy of it just as much as he did.
He only released me after we were finished and paid, and possibly only then because we couldn't stand and leave without separating as the table leg was in the way. I dug my hands in the pocket of my coat as soon as I could, needing a little time apart when everyone else could see, not that Cam and Emily were any less engrossed in each other. It was really cute, I thought, until I realised I had the same loved-up look on my own face.