TWENTY-FIVE

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 Not long after my dad and Daniel left, Wesley and Kurt walked through the front door with their bags. They'd taken Brandon and Ralph home.

My bags were still in the foyer, having been abandoned with everything going on. Wesley met my gaze as I walked out to greet him, and he immediately asked what had happened. I explained everything, skipping briefly over who Daniel had been in the past—he didn't need to know that. I just told Wesley he was a family friend who helped my dad when I went missing off their radar.

After everything had been explained, Wesley offered to help me take my bags to my room. We lugged everything up the stairs, and the minute my eyes landed on my bed a sense of relief and familiarity came over me. It was like a heavy weight had been lifted.

"I've never been so happy to see my room," I admitted, dumping my bags by the closet and falling back onto the mattress. I took a moment to pause, covering my hands with my eyes. I knew Wesley was still by the door, and I didn't mind... but I wanted a moment of peace.

"Are you okay?" he asked, and I heard footsteps approaching. A soft weight settled next to me, and I looked over to see him sitting there.

I sighed softly.

"It's just been so much," I replied. "The scandal, getting sued, my dad showing up out of nowhere—not to mention jetlag is catching up with me."

I let out a groan of frustration.

"And I still have to go talk to Brielle and get my passport properly replaced, too!"

"Oh yeah," Wesley hummed, remembering. He seemed to pause, but then he gently rested a hand on my shoulder.

"Everything is going to be okay," he promised. I studied his face for a few moments. This was the most intimate moment we'd had together since the bathroom in Japan... and he'd been so confident that night. But everything since had seemed... gentler. Distant, even.

"Why are you so hesitant?" I asked suddenly.

He frowned.

"What?"

"You couldn't keep your hands off of me the other night... and now you barely hold my hand."

I then realised how clingy that sounded.

"Not—not that I'm trying to pressure you. We don't have to go so fast. I'm just saying... it's a little off-putting, is all."

He ran a hand through his hair sheepishly.

"Sorry... I'm not used to being romantically involved with someone. It usually...doesn't work out."

I cocked an eyebrow.

"Why?"

"People say I come off too intense. That I'm cold one-minute, and then the next..."

He trailed off, like he couldn't find the words. But I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had these moments where he seemed to come out of his shell. Maybe only for a second, but I'd seen it numerous times. When I started crying in his car while drinking frappes and he panicked. When we were hiking to the Hollywood sign and I slipped and he caught me, concerned. It's like he wears a poker face until I'm able to break through.

"So, people didn't understand you in the past?" I offered. He nodded slightly.

"And I don't want to mess things up... because I really like you. I don't want to intimidate you... I'm afraid that if you knew just how much..."

He didn't need to fully explain himself. It clicked now, how he'd lost control that night. Like he couldn't contain it any longer when he realised the feelings were mutual.

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