“Yo J. What’s up?”
“I fucked up.”
Nick laughed. “As usual.”
“Knock it off.” AJ spat. “I really messed up this time.”
“Whoa, what happened?” his brother asked getting serious.
“I kissed Sam.”
“Oh shit.” Nick swore. “I take it that it went bad fast.”
“Very fast.” AJ answered and told Nick the whole story.
Sam was pacing back and forth in her room when she heard the sound of AJ talking to someone. She pulled the door open gently so he wouldn’t know that she was listening and sat there on the floor as AJ spoke to Nick. She was so shocked by what he said that she only heard one statement before she darted back into the room.
“It’s too hard having her here Nick. I’m not sure this whole thing is a good idea.”
“So you want her to leave?”
“Hell no!” AJ responded. “I’m just saying that this whole situation is hard and I don’t know how to deal with it.”
“Have you told her how you feel?”
“No because I don’t know how to tell her I love her.”
“Excuse me?” his brother asked. “Did you just say you loved her?”
“Yeah, I don’t think I stuttered.”
“Are you sure J? Maybe it’s just a damsel in distress kind of thing…”
“I’m positive Nick. When we were together before, when she was Max, I felt something strong for her but this is different. I’m finally getting to see who she really is and I realized that the feelings I have for her are so much deeper.”
“Easy boy. I really think you should give this whole love thing a second thought. I know that it’s hard for you to process what’s she’s been through and it’s difficult to get to know her again. Maybe it feels like love but…”
“I’m not stupid and I don’t need to rethink anything. I love her and I don’t care how many different ways you spin it, my feelings aren’t going to change.”
Nick was quiet for a minute. “What are you gonna do then?”
“I don’t know.” AJ replied with a sigh. “I guess I’ll have to figure out some way of dealing with my feelings instead of making things more difficult between us.”
“Good luck with that J. You wear your feelings on your sleeve and anyone who’s around you can tell what you’re emotions are with one look.”
AJ agreed and hung up with Nick; he sat on the sofa for another hour or so just thinking about what was going to happen now. He had obviously crossed a line with Sam and he honestly had no idea how she was going to feel about him now. Her living here was already a walking on eggshells thing and, from her reaction to his kiss, it wasn’t going to get any better.
Picking up the pillows from the floor, he straightened the couch and then dug out the vacuum to clean up all the popcorn that was scattered around. It turned out that it was a smart decision not to put all the butter on it. Just as he was emptying the chamber, he heard Sam making her way downstairs and he hurriedly put the vacuum away before going out to meet her.
Instead of saying anything to him, she reached for his hand and led him over to his easy chair. She motioned for him to sit and then she awkwardly sat down on his lap and leaned in for a kiss. Instead of letting it get that far, AJ pushed her into a standing position, got up and stalked to the other side of the room.
“What are you doing?”
“I was trying to do what you wanted.”
“Why? It was perfectly clear to me that you weren’t comfortable with the whole thing. Why are you pushing it now?”
“I owe you…”
“Whoa!” AJ said getting angry. “You tried to kiss me because you owe me?”
“No Sam, you don’t. You don’t owe me anything and to be truthful, I don’t want anything you’re willing to give out of a sense of obligation. Why would you think that…”
AJ stopped short and realized why she had done it. Being with Ryan had taught her to get along by going along and she had done things out of fear with him. It seemed like that type of behavior wasn’t going to be erased easily.
“I don’t know what the hell happened with Ryan but I am NOTHING like that bastard.” he said, raising his voice. “I kissed you because I wanted to not because I thought you owed me.”
Sam’s eyes started to well up and he felt awful but he was angry that she would put Ryan’s actions on him.
“I don’t want anything from you that you, not someone else, but you don’t want to give. I would never force you to do something that made you uncomfortable or that you didn’t want to do.” He stormed towards the stairs and then turned to face him. “Stop putting me in the same category as that fucking asshole.”
Sam watched as he stomped upstairs and she could hear his door slam. She dropped to the sofa, covered her face with her hands and started to cry. AJ was nothing like Ryan and she knew it but somehow she couldn’t get her past out of her way; she was going to keep doing things like that unless she found a way to deal with everything.
She stayed down there for a while and then made her way back upstairs, stopping by AJ’s door first. Raising her fist to knock, she heard the music volume increase and it was like a sign that he wanted nothing to do with her. Once she got back to her room, she cleaned her face and changed into her pajamas. The minute she laid her head on the pillow she became afraid to fall asleep. AJ had always listened for her nightmares and he became the one person that was her anchor back. He was so angry with her that she knew he wouldn’t be coming that night no matter how bad the night terrors were. In fact, he’d probably want nothing to do with her and she might be back on the run again soon. The whole situation was so overwhelming that she cried herself to sleep and lost herself in some new nightmare.