Falling for Matthew Ch. 03byicyblue©
My Saturday consisted mainly of helping mum around the house for a bit and waiting for Matt to come over. Once he was in the door, it was obvious he'd missed hanging out here. As usual my reaction was an urge to pull him in for a hug, along with self-loathing for letting him down and anger at his parents for neglecting their only son for something as trivial as work. Mom waived off our offer to help out with dinner and we went into the backyard to enjoy one of the first summer days of the year. We spent some time catching up on the things that didn't naturally come up when we were hanging out at school. Before long, however, the subject of Jane could no longer be ignored and I wondered aloud at how I would go about dumping her. She hadn't done anything wrong and though she deserved an explanation I wasn't prepared to give her the real one. I'd only brought it up in the hope that Matt might have some helpful insights. Instead, he looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"What is it?" I asked.
"I don't know if I should tell you this." After a slight pause, he seemed to decide that he couldn't keep it from me after all. "I ran into Ashley while I was jogging this morning. You know what she's like; painfully obvious and so desperate to please me. I think she was just running out of things to keep talking to me about, but she said that she heard that Jane was seeing someone else." His words started tumbling out towards the end, like he was trying to spare me pain by telling me as quickly as possible.
"What?! Who?" The pain I was sure was coming hadn't registered yet, I was only shocked and fairly certain it wasn't true.
"She didn't say."
"I don't believe this. How would she possibly know if Jane was cheating on me? They're not exactly best friends."
"No, but Ashley is friends with Emma. Apparently Jane and Emma had a massive fight a couple weeks back and Emma no longer felt obliged to keep Jane's secrets." He looked like he was having a Sherlock Holmes moment.
"Jane never told me they had a fight. I did notice they weren't really talking to each other anymore though." I admitted; to my surprise the story was making sense so far.
"Think about it. Emma is one of the most easygoing girls we know, and Jane has been her best friend since they were four years old. Wouldn't you agree that Emma is more upset with Jane than the other way around?"
Not liking where this was heading, I simply said "Yes?"
"Think about it, what's the one thing that would get Emma so worked up that she wouldn't forgive Jane for weeks afterwards?"
"Well, I don't know!"
"It's obviously to do with Steven!" Matt was still waiting for it to click in my head.
"Yes! Emma's been pining over that guy ever she met him at Jane's dad's wedding."
"Are you seriously saying that Jane's secretly seeing her own step-brother?" I was back to feeling disbelief now.
"Yeah, well... It's not like it's illegal, just very inconvenient if and when they break up. Except..." he looked hesitant again.
"What?!" I was losing my patience now, if Matt knew the full story why wouldn't he just tell me?
"Emma wouldn't resent Jane this much if she had just fallen for him. Emma would probably just conclude that Jane would have to feel pretty strongly about him if she was willing to date someone that inconvenient."
"So, are you saying you don't think they're together?" sensing a window of hope and feeling hopelessly left out of the loop. I was now so worked up I thought I might puke.
"I'm saying I think they're just sleeping with each other." Studying his hands closely, Matt gave me a minute to take all this in.
"But she's a virgin." My uncertainty made the statement come out as a barely audible whisper.
"We don't know how long it's been going on, if I am right about this. It makes sense though. Their families would never go along with the two of them dating. Him being almost five years older than her is the least of their issues. What if she had you both to serve separate purposes?"
"I guess that makes sense, except for the fact that you've obviously forgotten that this is Jane we're talking about! She would never do that." The bile was rising in my throat and I knew I'd have to make a run for it to the bathroom soon if it didn't stop.
"Hey, you know I like Jane, but people cheat all the time and it's not like it's stamped on their foreheads. I'm not saying that she definitely did sleep with Steven, just don't assume that she didn't."
"I need a minute." I said before rushing to the bathroom to retch.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The rest of the day passed in a blur of emotional turmoil; I felt angry, but I was less sure who I was angry with. Matt tried to distract me from my noticeably bad mood by planning for the trip to the cabin. It cheered me up marginally, but it felt a bit tainted now. Life hadn't been smooth sailing for the past few months, but at least I'd felt like I was the one in the wrong. Now, one of the people closest to me had upset me, only time would tell who it was; Jane for cheating on me or Matt for making horrible and unfounded allegations. I was on edge and more eager to talk to Jane than I had been for ages. What would I say to her though? So, I hear you've been screwing your step-brother silly, any truth to that? Hardly.
I let out a distracted sigh and Matt seemed to realize he wasn't going to succeed in cheering me up. He didn't stay long after dinner, and once he left the now familiar feeling of guilt was back. Today was supposed to be about us getting back to normal. Instead I'd been totally distracted by the potential infidelity of a girlfriend I'd admitted I wasn't overly keen on keeping around anyway.
I texted him to let him know that I had taken his words on board, that I would try and look into it and that I was sorry for letting it ruin the day. He replied ten minutes later: "It's fine, you're allowed to be upset when someone says something like that about your girl, even when you're about to dump her..."
Matt might be giving me an out, but I didn't feel justified to take it. It was only 8.30, so I decided to pull myself together and ask him if it was okay for me to come over. I didn't have to wait long for him to reply; "Sure, if you feel up for it."
Grabbing a couple of DVDs on the way, I was out the door less than a minute later. I had my own toothbrush in the en suite of my usual guestroom, so I was pretty much set even if I decided to stay over.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When Matt opened the front door for me, I noticed that he looked like he'd aged several years in just a few months. He looked tired and even a little sickly, his skin was paler than usual and his eyes a little dull. While I may not have noticed before, I felt certain he'd looked that way for a while.
"Are you okay? You don't look well." It had only been about an hour and a half since he left my place, so apparently I didn't feel the need to greet him before fretting over him.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just haven't been feeling great lately. I'm sure it's nothing." He shrugged it off and simply started walking towards his room.
I wasn't convinced that he was telling me the full story, but lately there so many things had been going unsaid between us that I felt like I had to let it go. "I brought a couple movies, but I thought we could plan for the trip some more."
"I'm kinda tired, maybe we could just watch a movie tonight. We have all week to make plans."
"Sure, pick one." I said as I jumped on his bed. "I thought you said you were going to get a couch in here."
"Why? Is my bed not comfy enough for watching movies? Mom and dad don't want to buy any new furniture right now, apparently they wanna sell the house and move into an apartment closer to town once I move out." He was facing the TV, but I could hear the strain in his voice even without seeing his facial expression.
"They'll still keep a bedroom for you, won't they?" The fact that I even had to ask says a lot about what his parents are like. My own parents would never lay plans for the future that didn't involve me as much as possible; his were a completely different story.
"I'm sure they'd like a pretty big apartment, but if they find one they like that doesn't have enough room, I'm not sure they'd pass it up just to keep a spare bedroom for me." His shoulders slumped a little at the sting of potential parental abandonment. The fact that his parents didn't love him enough for him to be sure they'd want him around must be more painful than I could ever properly comprehend.
"I'm sorry, man. You know you can always stay with us when we both head home for the holidays if you need to."
"Thanks," Matt shrugged, slipped a DVD into the player and came to sit next to me on the bed. While he fiddled with the remote, trying to find some way to skip the annoying previews and piracy warnings, I decided to stop being a coward.
"Are you sure you're okay? What's been going on?" I felt genuinely worried.
"It's nothing, I've just been getting a little dizzy lately. I'm sure I'm just tired, I haven't been sleeping well."
"And you haven't seen a doctor about this?"
"No, it's really not that bad. I don't need a doctor to tell me that I need to go to bed earlier."
"But you haven't been staying up later than usual, have you?"
"No, I just wake up a lot. Besides, I don't see you going to the doctor about your exhaustion. You look even more tired than I feel."
"Thanks a lot. But the difference is that I know why I can't sleep properly."
"Because you're crushing too hard to relax?" He looked like it took a lot of effort not to tease me.
"Yeah, pretty much." This was getting embarrassing quickly.
"I think I'm a little jealous. I haven't felt like that for a while" The DVD menu finally appeared on the screen and he started the movie. We'd seen it before though and I wasn't about to let the conversation die out.
"What's up with that? You haven't shown much interest in anyone for ages. Did Amy mess you up that bad?"
"She didn't mess me up, I dumped her! It's got nothing to do with that. I sort of fell for someone way out of my league and no one's been able to measure up since. I don't really see the point in dating someone just for the sake of it." He said it with no agenda, even though I'd basically admitted to doing just that with Jane, and for years too.
I didn't know what to say, he noticed. "Hey, I didn't mean to imply that there's anything really wrong with that. You made the best out of the situation you were in and you've been a good boyfriend to her. You don't need to feel bad."
"I haven't been a good boyfriend to her though, not lately."
"And yet, you've probably been far nicer than she deserves..." he retorted gently.
"I don't want to talk about that till I know more." I said and returned my attention to the movie. I heard Matt sigh and couldn't tell if he was frustrated with me or just the situation. We watched the movie in silence. Eventually the tension slipped away and I could finally relax.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep. I woke up feeling groggy and realized my head was resting on Matt's shoulder. His cheek was resting against the top of my head and his deep breathing indicated that he too had fallen asleep. Too comfortable to move, I gently snuggled a little closer and just reveled in the moment until I fell asleep again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A slamming car door woke me early the next morning. For a minute I was disoriented and a little confused. It was a first for me, waking up with my head resting on Matt's shoulder, curled up next to his warm, solid body.
It was an immensely pleasant start to the day, and it only got better when I realized that Matt must have woken up at some point; the TV was off, but he hadn't woken me and told me to head down the hallway to my usual bedroom. Instead he must have helped me lie down so I wouldn't get a stiff neck. His bed may not be very narrow, but it certainly wasn't big enough for the two of us to sleep on it without touching. The faint possibility that he had somehow had a hand in my current position made my heart give a squeeze. Still wearing my jeans, I didn't need to worry much about him noticing my morning wood even if he did wake up. I simply smiled happily and snuggled a little closer.
Despite it being early in the morning, I felt more rested than I had in a long time. Daring a quick glance at Matt's face, I thought he looked as if he was deeply asleep. Perhaps he'd gotten a better night's sleep than he usually did as well. I almost chuckled when I thought I could offer my services as a bedwarmer for him if it meant that he'd get some rest. The fact that I'd get to snuggle up to him was of course only an added bonus that couldn't be helped.
I was yanked out of my playful train of thought when he stirred. Please don't wake up, not yet! Thankfully, he didn't. He simply put his arms around me and let out a, to my hopeful ears, contented sigh. It was the single happiest moment of my life, only tainted by the knowledge that it would only last as long as he remained asleep and unaware. Joy seemed to radiate through my body to my very bones and I ached to run my hands over his body. An hour or so of blissful torture later, I fell asleep again.
When I woke up, I could hear the shower running and Matt was no longer next to me in bed. Hoping things wouldn't be awkward now, I decided I would just pretend I'd slept through the night. Just as I was starting to worry about what he thought about how we'd spent the night, I heard him singing to himself in the shower. I smiled and relaxed back against the pillows, if he was singing in the shower he couldn't have minded too much. Deciding it would be easier if he didn't catch me cuddling his pillow, I headed downstairs and poured myself some cereal.
I'd barely sat down at the table when Matt joined me. As he grabbed his own bowl of cereal, I noted that he looked like he had indeed gotten a good night's sleep. It pleased me immensely. Feeling daring, I said; "You look like you slept well."
"Yeah, I did." he replied simply, giving me a small smile as he sat down across from me. "So, Jane's back in town today. Are you gonna go talk to her?"
His question prompted the abrupt departure of my appetite. I pushed my bowl away, sighed and said; "I suppose I should just get it over with."
"Are you gonna ask her about Steven?"
"I don't really want to, but I know it's gonna bug me if I don't. And what if she is sleeping with him, and I dump her because I'm into someone else, and then I'm the bad guy. I'm not sure I could deal with that if I was wondering if she cheated on me."
"I wish there was something I could do to help."
There wasn't much left to say after that, and I got ready to go home after we tidied up our breakfast things. At the door, Matt gave me a quick hug and told me it would work out one way or another.