Staring at Gavin, I can’t help but imagine how amazing he’s going to look in his tux. Waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Our friends and family standing, staring at me, as I walk toward him. Toward our future.
Marrying Gavin has been something I’ve been dreaming about for almost a year now. After two years of dating, who wouldn’t? If you’re not looking to the future, you’re living in the past.
Only a small part of my past includes Gavin but my future… he’s all I can see.
Our family. Our children. Growing old together. Watching our grandchildren being born.
It’s picture-perfect. We’re happy. Still in love.
“Would anyone like dessert tonight?” Our waiter asks as he presents a tray for us. There’s cheesecake, carrot cake, and mini pies. But what do my eyes fall on? The giant piece of chocolate cake I’m very well aware comes served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Looking to Gavin, I expect him to order the chocolate cake, knowing it’s what I’d want. Instead, he hands the waiter his credit card and dismissed him.
What the hell?
Leaning across the table, I assume he’s going to take my hands, that this is the moment I’ve been waiting for all night, but again he catches me off guard.
“We need to talk.”
I felt my smile fall, my excitement dying inside me.
“You know I’ll always love you, Gabs,” he continues before I can find my voice. “It’s just we seem to be headed in two different directions in life. We want different things. With graduation coming soon, I think it’s best if we go our separate ways now. That way, we can still be friends.
“I know this probably isn’t what you were expecting tonight, but I think it’s for the best. Our paths in life used to be parallel to one another but I feel like they’ve taken a turn in different directions lately.”
He keeps going.
Telling me how he feels like we’ve drifted apart. That the vision he once of our future has changed.
All I can think about are all the warning signs I’ve missed over the last six months.
We haven’t drifted apart. He has been slowly backing away.
And the anger begins to slowly build inside me as I realize there can only be one reason his “vision” has changed.
“You know what,” I state loudly, cutting him off. “You’re right. Things have changed.”
Sitting back in his chair, Gavin looks around the room before looking back at me. There’s a look of shock on his face that tells me more than he’ll ever know.
The crowded restaurant, the fact that we’re in a very public place… he was counting on those things to keep me from making a scene. What he didn’t factor in was the deep-seated anger I feel right now. Or the fact that I’d figure out the real motive behind the break-up.
“You,” I say, raising my voice again as I toss my napkin on the table and stand, “are an asshole. You are the one that changed our direction. You are the one that decided to ruin our future. I may not know her name, but I know she exists. I hope she’s worth it because you just destroyed the best thing you ever had.”
To punctuate my statements, each louder than the last as our break up drew the attention of everyone in the restaurant, I grabbed his untouched glass of red wine and threw it in his face.
But that didn’t feel nearly satisfying enough so I slapped the look of shock off his face after setting the glass back on the table.
“Go fuck yourself, Gavin.”
Snagging my purse off the back of my chair, I stormed out of the eerily silent restaurant, the soft music playing through the overhead speaker the only sound. All conversations had come to a halt and as embarrassed as I was that our break up was so public, the only thing I felt at that moment was my heartbreaking.
I knew it wasn’t real. There was no way he would fall for her. She wasn’t his type. I mean, she’s just… her.
There’s nothing special about her. Not even in the slightest. She’s a spoiled princess.
Sure, she’s pretty, there’s no denying that. Your average perky blond with a nice body. She’s always put together, not a hair out of place. Well-spoken. Prime and proper in public.
She’s a rich bitch.
That’s what we use to call them in high school.
I should know.
I was one. My parents are both lawyers. They throw money around like it’s glitter.
If I mentioned wanting a new car, there would be one waiting in the driveway when I got home from school. I didn’t have to ask to go shopping, I had my own platinum card.
Money can’t buy you the things in life you want most. Friendship. Love. Affection.
My parents thought throwing money at me would make me happy, and it did, but what would have made me even happier was to spend time with them. To feel like they cared about me, even a little. To be reassured they wanted me.
So I tried to stand out. I dyed my bleach-blond hair jet black. Painted on my makeup as dark as I could. Started wearing leather and bought a motorcycle with the credit card.
They didn’t even blink. Nothing I did caught their attention so eventually, I stopped trying. I left for college and haven’t looked back. I make the standard bi-weekly call, checking in with them. Most of the time, I’m leaving a voicemail.
Fine by me.
I don’t need them anyway.
I reinvented myself long before I came to college and once my time here is done, I’ll reinvent myself again if I have to.
No one knows about my past and I plan to keep it that way. If they knew I came from money, that I used to be the head cheerleader dating the star football player, they’d all laugh. Hell, I shake my head in disbelief when I think back on my high school days.
So, in a way, I’m a lot like Gabby, only I’m hiding that part of myself from the world. And I knew there is no way in hell Quinn is attracted to that arrogant bitch.
Lover, not a chance.
And the piece of paper I just found on the floor outside his bedroom confirms my suspicions.
Who makes a list of when they plan to kiss their ‘girlfriend’? Or hold her hand? Compliments to give her?
People who are faking it.
People who are being deceitful.
People who are attempting to make others jealous.
And I know exactly whose skin they’re trying to get under… Gavin’s. Her ex-boyfriend. It’s no surprise she’s trying to win him back.
All the frat parties. The making out on campus. The sudden interest in each other after being friends for so long.
It all makes perfect sense now.
And they probably would have gotten away with it if Quinn hadn’t been so careless but putting his plan on paper.
Tess is going to want to see this.
She’ll get a kick out of it. Spread the news far and wide the way she always does.
But first, I need to get to the costume shop. If anyone is going to be dressed as Harley Quinn for Halloween, it’s not going to be that bitch.
Let’s see what happens when I throw a wrench in his plans…
This is not what I signed up for.
All I was missing was a rock band playing.
Sure, helping clean up after the party wasn’t going to be fun but when the guy from my Economics class, Chris, asked me to stay I couldn’t say no. He was hot and the entire reason I had come here tonight. Kara was less than enthusiastic when I told her where we were going but being the good roommate she was, she came with me.
And the party was fun.
Neither of us drank, afraid to become a statistic. Drunk freshman girl. Older frat boy. You wake up the next morning without an ounce of recollection of where you are or how you got there. You’re missing your clothes and it’s more than apparent that you had sex with someone the night before.
Whether you consented or not.
We didn’t want that so we sipped water all night.
And I flirted with Chris. He was sweet and nice and I felt comfortable talking to him. Which, for me, was a first. I was the awkward girl in high school. The one who sat in a corner and read books instead of socializing. I didn’t have many friends, by choice.
People only let you down.
But when I moved into the dorms at the start of the year, I promised myself I would make at least two friends. Kara, my new roommate, was going to be one of them. We lived together, spent almost all our time together. If we weren’t friends, things would be awkward.
The other was going to be a guy. I needed it to be so I could hopefully get past the awkwardness I was still holding onto. I wanted to be stronger, more confident.
And tonight I felt I was.
So when Chris asked if I wanted to go for a walk, I agreed.
I didn’t think it would turn into a makeout session. I didn’t think I’d get so swept up in his words and actions that I’d agree to everything he wanted.
I wasn’t the kind of girl who slept with a guy on a first date. I’d only ever kissed one person. I’d only slept with one person. And that person was a part of my life for years before we even began dating, let alone moved past first base.
Yet, as I stepped back into my jeans, quickly tugging them over my hips, I pushed the shame aside. I held my head high and tossed Chris a seductive smile.
Because I didn’t want him to see how upset I was with myself. I wanted to exude confidence and strength. And it worked. He pulled me close to him, kissing me deeply, making promises of what he thought would come next.
Little did he know I planned to drop Econ first thing Monday morning so I never had to see him again. So that I wasn’t constantly reminded of the mistake I’d made. But my first priority was finding Kara and getting the hell out of that place. I never planned to see the inside of another frat house if I could help it.
But Kara wasn’t in the kitchen where I left her.
She wasn’t in the bathroom down the hall. Or the living room.
When I finally found her in a small, dark bedroom at the back of the house with ten other people crammed in it, I almost lost my shit.
She was sitting on the edge of the bed, next to a skeezy looking guy. He’s smiling at her, flirting, while mixing her a drink and there are a handful of little white pills on the table. Pills I can’t identify.
No. Fucking. Way.
This is not how tonight is going to end. It was bad enough I let myself fall victim to a stereotype tonight. I wasn’t about to let Kara as well.
Those pills could end up in her drink. He could take advantage of her or worse. I’m not a fan of putting drugs in my own body but I don’t judge those that enjoy the high. To each their own. But right now, Kara getting high is a bad idea.
She doesn’t know this guy or the others in the room. This isn’t a safe environment for her to experiment in. So I do what any good roommate and friend would do in the situation.
I lost any popularity points I had earned when I practically drug her out of that room by the collar of her shirt. Not only with her, but with the frat brothers that were waiting their turn to snort a line.
I didn’t care.
She could be mad at me. She could hate me. I may have lost the only friend I had at that moment but I wasn’t about to let something bad happen to her. Not when I had the ability to stop it.
One Drunk Night
“What’s she doing here?” Tess whispers to me as we peak between the slots of the shades.
When we heard a knock at the door, we ran into the dining room where it was dark to see who it was. Quinn was passed out in bed, having drunk an entire fifth of rum while he wallowed in his room.
We tried to get him to hang out with us but he wasn’t interested. He’s been an asshole since Gabby ‘broke up’ with him on Halloween. He’s treating everyone like shit, me especially.
He should be thanking me.
I could have outted both of them that night. Told everyone their little plan. Hell, I could have done it the day I found his little list, but I didn’t. I let him stir. Held it over his head.
I was waiting for the perfect moment to crush that little bitch but it never arrived.
And now she’s on the front porch, knocking on our door, probably here to see Quinn. The real question… why?
Why would she want to see him now?
I know she’s been avoiding him.
I’ve heard the voice messages he’s been leaving her, begging her to call him back. To at least let him know she’s okay.
I came home yesterday and found two random people here trying to comfort him. The girl eventually started yelling, telling him how stupid he’d been. The guy sat there, watching and listening but never saying a word.
And then this afternoon, I found him in only his underwear, drinking rum straight from the bottle on the couch.
The look he gave me was murderous.
It wasn’t my fault she broke up with him, or whatever actually happened.
I hadn’t done a damn thing wrong.
I was about to tell him that when he stormed up to his room and slammed the door shut. Tess came home an hour later and tried to get him to come down and eat the pizza she brought with her but he never even acknowledged the offer.
“She looks sad. Maybe she’s here to see him? To apologize?”
“I’m not going through this again. He’s acting like a prissy, heart-broken little bitch. Living with him has been hell. If we let her in she’s only going to make things worse. I say let’s leave her out there.”
Tess isn’t wrong. He’s been unbearable lately, but she’s not going to go away without a fight.
“I have a better idea,” I say, releasing the shades and stepping back. “I’m going to go upstairs and crawl in bed with Quinn then you can let her in. If she thinks he’s moved on maybe she’ll stay the hell away from him.”
“Are you sure-“
“Just, give me thirty seconds.”
Dashing up the stairs, I hear Gabby knock again as I let myself into Quinn’s room.
His light is still on but he’s passed out with the empty rum bottle in his hand. Carefully but quickly taking it from him, I slide it under his bed and out of sight before shutting off the light, removing my yoga pants and tank top, and then crawling in next to him.
“Gabby,” he mumbles, rolling toward me and pulling close.
This was perfect. Any second she was going to come through that door and see us together.
She’ll assume we’re sleeping together and hopefully leave him alone. As soon as she’s gone, I’ll slip back out of his room and he won’t remember a thing.
Closing my eyes, I hear the door to his room open, the hinges squeaking slightly. I focus on keeping my breathing even and remaining as still as possible until I’m sure she’s gone.
But I don’t hear the door close. And Tess never comes up to tell me she’s gone.
So I stay perfectly still.
Focused on my breathing.
And the warmth coming from Quinn’s body.
“What the fuck!”
Startled, I shoot straight up, knocking my head against the headboard. But I don’t have a headboard which can only mean one thing.
I never left Quinn’s bed last night.
I fell asleep.
And now I’m screwed.
“Quinn,” I start but don’t dare finish after I see the look on his face. If I thought he was angry at me before, I was wrong. No one has ever looked at me with such anger in their eyes before.
“Get. The. Fuck. Out!” He screams.
Scrambling out of the sheets, I leave all my discarded clothes and practically run out of his room, not stopping until I’m safely in mine, the door closed and locked behind me.
The plan was perfect. I’m sure it had the desired effect on Gabby. If I hadn’t fallen asleep, we would have gotten away with it.
The last thing I want to do is sit through an hour of Jade nagging me while I attempt to change the subject. Since my fallout with Gabby, every lunch meeting with her and Nathan has gone the same.
I show up late, not wanting to be there any longer than necessary.
Jade proceeds to yell at me for being late.
Informs me that Gabby isn’t going to show up.
Big surprise there.
She then lurches into how I need to fix things with her, giving me ideas and promising to help me.
That’s what I call it.
Because if she would listen to anything I had to say, she would stop.
There is no changing Gabby’s mind at this point. She made her decision. The worst-case scenario came true.
Not only did I lose my best friend but I lost the love of my life. There was no way to win her back if she refused to talk to me, to see me, to acknowledge my presence.
But Jade has it stuck in her head that it’s not over yet. That Gabby’s still in love with me and just being stubborn.
Well, I can be stubborn too.
So today’s lunch isn’t going to go like the last five have. I’m not going to sit quietly and listen as Jade rattles on. I’m not going to send Nathan pleading looks from across the table only for him to shrug his shoulders and eat his sandwich in silence.
It’s. Not. Going. Down. Like. That.
So I arrive first. I request a table in the back corner, away from the rest of the customers. When our waitress comes over I hand her a twenty dollar bill, apologize for sitting in what appears to be a closed part of the restaurant, and explain that I’m about to piss off a friend and didn’t want to disturb everyone else.
She throws me a flirtatious smile as she pockets the money and returns a few minutes later with my drink.
I wanted something from the bar. Something strong. Something that would help me erase the last few months of pain I’ve been suffering through, but I stopped drinking.
Gave it up completely the morning I woke up and couldn’t remember how Kara ended up in my bed. Naked. Cuddle in my arms.
I was certain I hadn’t invited her. No matter how drunk I’d gotten. But I doubted my willpower so I gave up drinking that morning and haven’t touched a drop since.
“Forget to take a shower or something?” Nathan jokes as he approaches the table, Jade following closely behind him with her eyes focused on her phone.
“I requested to sit over her actually. I want to talk to you two about something and one of you,” I pause, looking to Jade who is still oblivious, “isn’t going to like it.”
“I’m sure I won’t,” she mumbles, tapping her screen quickly before putting her phone face down on the table in front of her. “Hey. How are you?”
When I raise my eyebrow at her suspiciously, she only smiles which makes me worry more.
“What? What are you thinking? Because I can guarantee I’m not going to like it.”
“Oh, nothing. Just a solution to all your problems.” Her reply is flippant as she browses the menu, never making eye contact with me.
I look to Nathan for answers but he only smiles as well.
They’re in on this together. Great! Two against one. I’m never going to win this battle.
“Listen guys, as much as I wish there were a clear solution to all of this, there’s not. So, in the spirit of moving on, I respectfully ask that you both drop the subject. Let it go. Get the idea out of your head that Gabby and I will ever be more than people who once called themselves friends.”
Standing my ground, I thought I’d sound more sure about what I wanted. All I heard were lies. Because I’m not ready to give up yet. I don’t want to. Ever. But I’m not being given a choice in the matter.
“If that’s what you really want.”
Jade’s voice trails off. She’s baiting me and I know it but I can’t help myself.
“Well, you see. Gabby and I are going on vacation the weekend after graduation. You know, girl time. Get away and relax. I was thinking it would be fun to go back to the island. I even rented our old house for three nights.
“The season won’t be in full swing yet so the ferries won’t run all day. She’ll basically be trapped on the island. Unable to escape. Forced to confront the things she’s been avoiding for months now. You could do the same, ya know.”
She’s a damn genius.
It feels wrong, though. To trick Gabby into thinking she’s escaping the real world for a relaxing weekend of fun only to throw me in her face and stir up the pain she’s bottled up.
“No,” I hear myself say before I can change my mind. “I don’t want to force her to see me. It’s a choice she should be given.”
“Dude,” Nathan starts learning forward and planting his elbows on the table. “She wants this as much as you do. She loves you but she’s afraid. It’s the only way to get her to face this. The only way you two get back together.”
“Or this ends for good,” I state firmly. “Because we all know that if Gabby gets pissed off she’d going to run the opposite direction. She won’t talk to me. She’ll slip even further away and I will have broken her even more.”
“You bet on her before. You bet on your friendship. You took the risk to get what you wanted. What happened to that guy? To the one that bet it all on Gabby? Knowing how strong and resilient she was. I want that guy back and so does she.”
Jade’s words are meant to get under my skin and she is successful. I’ve been a pansy lately. I’ll be the first to admit it. I tried to talk to her in the beginning, practically stalking her, but then I gave up.
“It won’t work,” I state, continuing before Jade can cut in, “but I’m willing to try. We may have fucked up but it’s not something we should regret for the rest of our lives. What we found, in the end, was a love that can’t be matched. It can’t be broken. I just need the chance to remind her of that.”
“So…” Nathan’s voice trails off but Jade’s right behind him to ask the question he’s not.
The moment the words slip past my lips I feel the regret deep in my soul. The last time I played a dangerous game like this, I lost Gabby. I can only hope this time my actions help to win her back. Because if they do, I’ll do everything in my power to make it up to her. For the rest of my life. I’ll never let her go again.
There was so much going on behind the scenes in For All The Wrong Reasons that I hope these bonus scenes gave you a little insight into the why’s of what people did and said. But don’t forget, Nathan and Jade have their own story to tell in For All The Right Reasons. And they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret for longer than you can imagine.