Chapter 39: Beach House Memories

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[A/N: Song for the chapter:
- Britt Nicole // Still That Girl]

I had been dreading this day since Tyler messaged me that he was ready to finally do this. The dread had been gnawing my insides and transforming me into a nervous wreck. Who would have thought that I was capable of becoming even more grumpy than I already was? I mean, it's not that I didn't want to help him - I was happy to be the friend he needed, but clearing out my best friend's room after two years of setting foot inside was going to emotionally destroy me. I knew that I had to be strong, if not for myself then I sure as hell as had to keep my shit together for Tyler. That was the least I could do for him. I did make a promise that I wouldn't give up him after all.

Hovering on the Miller's white porch, the icy air chilled my bones forcing me to rub my hands together in an attempt to bring some warmth back into my numb fingertips. Puffs of my breath hung around my mouth in a white cloud every time I exhaled heavily to calm my hammering chest but it was no use; I was one second away from hyperventilating, sprinting back home and breaking down.

"Stop being a pussy," I muttered darkly to myself, lightly pressing my forehead against the door. "Deep breaths, in and out."

Coldness seeped through the wooden door and cooled my burning skin until I straightened myself and pushed my shoulders back. With newfound courage, I finally pressed my forefinger to the doorbell. After several seconds, the door swung open to reveal a sleep-deprived Tyler - sporting hollow eyes, chapped lips and a crease between his brows. A week-old, scruffy, golden shadow lined his strong jawline yet he still managed to look exceptionally handsome with his favourite aqua soccer jersey and his usually tattered but snug black jeans.

"You're early," Tyler commented in a exhausted tone, scanning my bland outfit.

Self conscious that I had thrown on an oversized hoodie underneath my coat, I sidestepped him so I could be wrapped up in sweltering warmth of his house. Hiding behind my long curls, I nervously rubbed my hands on my skinny jeans when his eyes continued to rake over me and barged past him before he could notice the pinkness creeping onto my cheeks.

"Let's just get this done and over with," I sighed, slipping my fingers beneath my glasses and rubbing my heavy lids.

Tyler stood there watching me, cocking his head to the left slightly before turning around and trudging up the stairs.

"I'm gonna guess you didn't sleep too well either?" He muttered over his shoulder, sparing me a quick glance.

Grunting in response, I nodded and followed after him as he marched up the spiral staircase to the first landing which held the adjacent bedrooms belonging to the twins. We passed his bedroom; the door was slightly ajar and when I stole a quick glance inside, I was genuinely surprised that his room was very clean.

"Whoa," I breathed quietly, giving the spotless carpet one last lingering look before training my gaze on the back of his head.

Tyler really didn't get sleep at all if he resorted to cleaning the usual explosion of clothes off his floor. When we approached his sister's door, his hands shook violently as they reached for the handle. Leaning over, I wrapped my fingers over his and applied the pressure needed to open the door. As it creaked open, he gave me a shaky smile and walked in.

It took me a great deal of effort to plant a foot inside Taylor's room and it took even more of an effort not to choke at how strong her presence was right then. She was throttling me, screaming at me not to do this to her; not to wipe her room clean and tear it apart but this was the only way. This was the only way that Tyler could start letting go.

"I'm so, so sorry Tay," I whispered inaudibly under my breath, bringing a hand to my throat as a silent sob threatened to break out.

Edging forward until I was completely inside the room, I let my eyes scan the room effectively. My rib cage protested against my decision to enter the room and decided to squeeze my lungs until I had to gasp for air. Or maybe it was Taylor's presence that made me feel like I was suffocating.

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