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3

“That’s what I’d like, Doctor. That’s what I’d really like.”


I don’t want to know how often he must’ve listened to that recording, in order to know exactly how long to hold the fast forward and rewind buttons to skip over or get to certain parts…

Six Months

Then

I flipped through the channels mindlessly, pushing the forward button even before I had time to register what I was watching. I was nervous and in dire need of a distraction. The systematic channel surfing was enough to keep my hands busy, but my head was too preoccupied to focus on a program. The inconsistent sounds and flashing lights were giving me a headache, so I put the remote down at the next channel. To my dismay, it seemed like my plan backfired. The random channel I had landed on showed a young woman sat in front of an intimidating male. I had turned on the TV to get my mind off the interview. It was bad enough that it wasn’t distracting; the last thing I needed was the scene sprawled in front of my eyes when it was already always on in my head. Within seconds, the screen flashed black and I set the remote down once more, not to be picked up again that night.

Moving on to the next gadget, I grabbed my phone off the coffee table and hastily swiped at the screen. I felt butterflies pool in my stomach when I saw that a Good Luck message from Harry was waiting for me. My cheeks flushed and I tucked my bottom lip in between my teeth to prevent my lips from spreading into an embarrassingly wide smile.

I liked Harry. A lot. And even though we were only friends—for now—I couldn’t help but imagine a time when we would be much more. A time when it would be my lips he would be kissing and my hips his hands would settle on. I didn’t know if Harry reciprocated the feelings. He was just so naturally flirty that it was always hard to tell with him. But in the few years that we had been friends he had never been in a serious relationship. I held on to that fact with my life.

There was a light knock on my door, and I was grateful for the distraction from my wishful thinking.

“Harry, come in,” I welcomed in a flustered tone as I shut my apartment door behind him.

“Hey, love, how are you?” he asked, placing a kiss on my cheek. “Sorry I didn’t tell you I was coming by. We just finished at the studio and I thought you could really use a friend right now.”

“No, no it’s totally fine,” I assured him. “It’s been a quiet night. Just me, alone, freaking out for tomorrow. The usual.” I laughed, although it didn’t sound convincing, even to my own ears.

“Here, I brought you your favourite, extra-large peppermint tea, no sweetener,” Harry said, handing me a steaming paper cup.

“Thanks, I really needed this.”  I pressed the liquid to my lips.

Harry sat next to me on the couch. His slender body was angled towards mine and he was leaning in with his elbows resting on his knees. His hair was down and in particularly defined curls. A black shirt lay slightly open and his gold chain lay perfectly on the tanned planes of his chest. His lips were a beautiful shade of pink and his nose was slightly red from the wind. He was so beautiful and perfect that it almost hurt to look at him.

“So, this interview,” Harry began. “How are you feeling?” His eyes were wide as they bore into mine, patiently waiting for my response. The field of accounting paled in comparison to Harry’s work, yet he still seemed genuinely interested.

“I’m nervous as hell. Warner Inc. is a huge accounting firm. Once you’re in, you’re in and your career is set for life. But there’s just so many reasons why I probably won’t get it, I feel like I’m going in there at a disadvantage.” I let out a deep breath. It was both scary and liberating voicing my concerns on the matter.
Harry’s eyes narrowed as he studied me. “Name one reason why you won’t get it.”

I sat straighter and stared at the wall opposite us, trying to gather the words to express my insecurities.

“Well, for one thing, I’m only a third year student. Most fourth years don’t even land a job there. I only got an interview because Zach Warner, the president’s son, is in a couple of my classes and pulled a few strings.” I paused. “And I have no idea what he’s doing in school for accounting. He could save his money and learn so much more from his dad,” I added as an after-thought.

Harry’s full eyebrows arched and his mouth opened to form an “O” with a light popping sound.

“Wow, look at you. This bloke must really like you to do that.” Harry let out a low whistle.

My heart sank. Was that what this was? This guy Zach liking me? With that possibility I felt even more incompetent and nervous.

“Oh my God,” I said to Harry. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before. Here I was thinking that I might actually have a shot. I thought he would have recommended me because I deserved it.” The stress being too much, I buried my head in my hands. “I should just call and cancel,” I said, my hands muffling my voice.

“Oh no you’re not,” Harry decided, scooting closer to me and gently prying my hands away from my face. “Listen to me. You are the smartest person I know and if anyone can do this, it’s you. I just said he likes you because he probably does. You’re just that type of girl, Y/N.”

I felt my entire chest flush and pressed my lips together. If I opened them, a squeal of delight might come out.

“Thanks Styles, not so bad yourself,” I said teasingly, even though I meant the words more than Harry will ever know.

“Now when you’re in there tomorrow, I want you to think of me, and your parents and your brother and all the people in your life who love and support you,” Harry said in a serious yet excited tone. My rock star life coach. “That’s what I do before I go on stage every night. And do you know when I think of you?”

“When?” I asked, leaning in. He officially had my attention.

“Last,” Harry answered. “Know why?”

“Because I’m lowest on the totem pole?” I responded playfully, my head cocked to the side.

“Noooo,” he said, drawing the word out. “Because you bring out the best in me. Gotta save the best for last, right?” He paused, licked his lips and shifted his body so that our thighs were touching. “You’re one of the most important people in my life, Y/N. You make me a better person.”

His eyes fluttered closed as his forehead rested on my own. I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from grabbing his face and finally getting a taste of his pink pillowy lips.

When I opened my eyes, the moment was gone. Harry was sitting farther away and seemed shaken up.

“Anyway,” he said, “I should get going. It’s getting late. Knock em’ dead tomorrow.”

I walked him to the door and as he hugged me one last time, I breathed in the scent of his cologne and cherished the way his inked arms felt so certain around my body.

Alone in my apartment, any feelings of nerves were replaced with the best kind of butterflies. I made a promise to myself that if I got the job, I would tell Harry how I felt about him. Because I knew that if I was hired, it would be because of him and the way he made me feel so sure about myself. I would take it as a sign that we brought out the best in each other and would only be stronger as a couple.

Then—One Week Later

After raking the brush through my hair for what felt like the hundredth time, I decided to run my fingers through the roots to give it a more tousled look. I read somewhere that guys like that messy, sexy vibe. But would Harry like it? I shook my head at my brief moment of insecurity. I was a strong, confident woman who just so happened to nail her interview and land the job at Warner, so why did I feel the need to style my hair the way a boy might like? Because, my subconscious reminded myself, that boy was Harry.

I pinched my cheeks to give them a natural flush of colour and to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I still couldn’t believe I got the job. Zach had called me this morning with the news—turns out he’s actually already pretty up there in the company—and another non-business request. I pushed that thought to the back of my mind. I had more important things on my plate at the moment.

I owed it to myself to come through on my promise and tell Harry that I wanted to be more than friends. I cringed at the cheesy cliché. But it was true. When you’re friends with someone for so long, somewhere along the road the lines blur between like and love. And although Harry and I had never been more than platonically physically intimate, we had always trusted and confided in each other, which meant more to me anyways.

The knock on the door startled me, and my nerves seemed to magnify tenfold.

I opened the door to reveal Harry with a large bouquet of flowers in his hand. My heart warmed at the gesture. He was wearing a simple white t-shirt over black jeans, and for an outfit that basic, he looked way better than he had the right to.

“Sooo?” Harry asked.

“I got it,” I said, excitement lacing through my speech. It felt so good finally saying it to someone in person. My parents were happy when I called them this morning, but it wasn’t as good as seeing their expression.

Harry seemed even happier than I was with the news. His arms were stretched above his head and he wore that goofy grin that made him look like a big kid.

“Oh my God, that’s amazing!” he said. There were stars in his eyes as he lifted me in the air and twirled me around like the romantic comedies I’ve made him watch during our movie nights. “Here, these are for you,” he said as he handed me the flowers.

“I figured this much. But how did you know I got the job?”

“Because I believe in you, Y/N,” Harry said easily. “And even if you didn’t, they just would have been “fuck it” flowers.”

Harry and I laughed in unison and I decided that it was my new favourite sound. Harry could record an entire album of his laugh and I would listen to it religiously.

It was time to bite the bullet.

“So, it turns out you were right on both accounts,” I started, gesturing for Harry to sit down.

“What do you mean?” Harry’s brows furrowed and I found myself distracted by how much I wanted to kiss the little wrinkle away. I shook my head to rid myself of the dangerous thought.

“Umm…When Zach Warner called me this morning, you know, the president’s son…”

“I remember,” Harry cut me off. He really wasn’t making this easy on me.

“He asked me out on a date this Friday. You were right that he liked me.”

Harry’s eyes locked on my own and his posture stiffened.

“And what did you tell him?”

“I told him that I would get back to him.”

Harry seemed confused by answer, not relieved like I was hoping.

“And why would you do that?”

“Because,” I said, taking a deep breath, “There may be a reason why I shouldn’t?” I said, making the statement sound like a question. “Date him, I mean.”

“Such as…?” Harry goaded, not following me.

“There’s someone else I’m interested in, Harry,” I confessed.

“Ooh, who?” Harry asked, like the news was juicier than ripe peaches.
I glanced around the room, then back at Harry. He was waiting patiently and looked quite calm considering the intensity of the conversation we were having. I guess it was only intense for me.

“You, Harry, you,” I said finally, certainly, confidently.

I guess I had to do it. I guess I just had to go and ruin just about absolutely everything.

I waited desperately for something like “Oh, Y/N, I feel the same way,” or “I want more, too,” but it never came. Hell, even a “thank you” would have been better than what he gave me.

You like me?” Harry asked, as if the idea was so ridiculous he needed help spelling it out. I nodded meekly as I could feel a tiny piece of my heart chip off.

“Wha— I mean, I don’t get it. We’re friends, Y/N,” Harry said, as if he was talking to a small child. There went another piece.

“I know we are, we’re really good friends. But don’t you feel something more?” I asked, hoping that if I asked the question directly, the answer I wanted would leave his lips.

Harry looked like he was in pain. His face was contorted into a grimace and he was looking everywhere but at me.

“I don’t know how to say this…” Harry said softly, as if that maybe will ease the blow.

“Say it, Harry, just say it,” I said in an equally low voice. Inside I was screaming.

“I just don’t feel the same way. And I didn’t want to tell you before because I didn’t want to jinx it, I guess, but I’ve started seeing someone and I really like her,” Harry said, a small smile playing on his lips as he thought of the mystery woman. Okay, so my heart was officially in two pieces at this point.

“We’ve been friends for so long, Y/N, I thought you knew how I felt. If I wanted more, don’t you think I’ve had plenty of time to let you know?” Harry pointed out.

Just stop talking, I wanted to scream at him, just stop fucking talking.

But he spoke the truth, I couldn’t get angry at him for that. Harry wasn’t the type of guy to sit around when something he wanted was right in front of him. And I guess I just wasn’t what he wanted.

Angry, humiliated and hurt tears fell as I hurriedly swiped at them.

“Oh my God, sweetheart,” Harry said as he sprang up to comfort me. For the first time in my life, I rejected Harry’s touch like it was poisonous. The hurt look on his face gave me an odd sense of confident anger.

“What about last week? What was the point of spewing all that bullshit if you didn’t even mean it?” I asked in a hoarse voice.

“It wasn’t bullshit,” Harry countered. “Look, I’ve meant everything I’ve ever said to you. But I’ve said it coming as a friend. You’re the one who’s been dishonest, probably giving a double meaning to everything!”

I couldn’t believe that he was turning the tables on me. Like it was my fault that I stood here absolutely broken and humiliated in front of him. I looked at Harry, and I so desperately wanted to see a different person. I wanted that man to not be the one I loved, but he was. Despite how hurt I was because of him, he still was.

“Hey, I’m sorry, that wasn’t fair…” Harry apologized.

“Go Harry,” I shouted.

He wore a worried expression. I must have looked like a madwoman, sitting on the floor with permanently wet cheeks. I didn’t feel too sane either.

“Okay, I’ll leave, but I’m having my sister stop by later to check up on you. You shouldn’t be alone like this, but I don’t think me being here is helping.” Harry said as he headed towards the door.

I didn’t look at him as he walked out of my apartment, but when the door clicked shut, I knew he was gone for good.

When his sister came by later, torn rose petals littered the floor. They were in as many pieces as my heart.

Now—6 Months Later

“Tell me why we have to go on this trip again?” my boyfriend Zach asked as he watched me stuff the remains of my beach wear into the suitcase.

“Because,” I said, placing my hands on my hips, ready to fight to the death for this vacation, “you and I work way too hard and we’d be crazy to give up a weekend in a California.”

Zach sighed dramatically but didn’t appear to be in disagreement, which I was thankful for.

“And how many people are going to be there? It would be nice if I could do some relaxing, so I hope it won’t be too noisy there,” he huffed.

I stopped myself from rolling my eyes at his complaints. Going with the flow was not Zach Warner’s forte.

“Well,” I began, “its Harry’s house and I know his parents and sister will be there, but I don’t know who else they’ve invited.”

Zach was wearing a small frown, not pleased with my answer. Of course he wasn’t.

“But don’t worry, from what I hear it is a big house, so you’ll get lots of alone time.”

Zach nodded a few times in response. I had won the battle for now. But at the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think that I shouldn’t have to try this hard to make my boyfriend happy.

“Come on, Zachary, turn that frown upside down,” I teased, then stopped, immediately realizing my mistake.

“Y/N! What have I told you about me calling me by my full name?” Zach seethed, an overreaction in my opinion.

I know, I know. Only his dad calls him Zachary and it is not to be used by anyone else. As unwarranted as Zach’s reaction was, I had to admit I’d hate my name too if it was always spoken in the same condescending way ‘Zachary’ was.

“Zachary, the Steeles case is due next week and you’re behind. Don’t tell me you can’t handle it.”

“Zachary, don’t make me look outside the family for someone to take over the business.”

“Zachary, you could learn a thing or two from Y/N.”

The last one was the worst. Zach’s interest in me was responsible for the interview in the first place, so when I got the job, I made sure to work my absolute hardest to truly earn my place there. And it was paying off for me. Zach, on the other hand, had a case of sour grapes. I didn’t take it too personally. He was a competitive guy by nature and was facing a lot of pressure.

“So, speaking of your dad,” I began, “How are things going with him?”

Zach sighed and lifted his chin so that he was facing the ceiling. He exhaled sharply before he answered.

“Same old, I guess. He’s just so hard on me, all the damn time. I feel like I can’t do anything right in his eyes. I mean, in a way I get it. My dad built the company from scratch, and he can’t just leave it to anyone. But I thought as Warner Inc. became bigger, he’d relax more, quite the opposite,” he scoffed.

My heart ached for Zach’s situation. When Zach was a child, Robert and Candace Warner were having a tough time financially. Robert had been let go from his firm and Candace was staying home to raise Zach. Starting up Warner Inc. was no small feat and Robert was so stressed that Zach’s mom actually stayed at her parents’ house alone until the company was up and running. To this day, that move bothered Zach and I think it’s part of why he feels so loyal to his dad despite the immense pressure; he’s always been there for him, even when no one else was.

“You know, Zach, you’re his son before employee, don’t be afraid to tell him to ease up a little bit,” I suggested.

“Like that’s going to do anything,” Zach dismissed me. “I need the Browns case to go well in order to get him off my back for a bit.”

I nodded. Browns was a huge client, make or break really, and the best deserved to handle him.

Zach looked up at me with his handsome blue eyes. His dark brown hair was combed to the side and the colour contrast was striking.

“Come here,” he whispered, beckoning me to sit on his lap.

I padded over to him and draped my arm around the back of his neck as he tightened his grip around my waist. It wasn’t painful; he didn’t do it to hurt me, more like he wanted to make sure I was safe and secure.

He ducked his head and his lips nipped at the skin on my shoulder.

“I swear, Y/N, you’re like the only thing in my life that makes things bearable. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he whispered.

His confession shocked me. Zach wasn’t a liar by any means, but he wasn’t exactly open with everything. And on the rare moments when he was, I was reminded that he was just a young man, a boy really, who needed my help. Whether or not I loved him became irrelevant; he needed me and I just couldn’t ignore that.

“Don’t worry, I’m here,” I whispered. His arms seemed too tight all of a sudden. Was what looked like a loving embrace really a trap?

I was pretty sure I had seen the Styles’ house in a home magazine at some point in my life. It was almost too perfect to be real. The beige brick structure with clay roofing was old enough to have character but was also updated with all the latest hands-free amenities. Green palm trees lined the property and a large pool took centre stage in the backyard.

“Shit, and I thought my family had money,” Zach said as he took in the place. He grabbed my suitcase and headed into the house to put our bags in our room.

I already had introduced Zach to Harry’s parents when we got here. Harry was apparently locked in a room upstairs on an important call so we had yet to see him. Zach and I had come outside to get our luggage from our rental car.

“Y/N?” a raspy voice called. Harry.

The last year and a half hadn’t seen Harry and I spend too much time together. This trip was supposed to make up for it. But surprisingly, it wasn’t out of awkwardness. Things were able to slip back into our old routine shortly after my embarrassing meltdown. I had made Jessica promise not to tell Harry the extent of my heartbreak and actually called him the next week to apologize and let him know that I was with Zach. I felt a bit ridiculous going out with Zach so soon but I figured that was the best way to force myself to move forwards. Harry informed me that he was no longer seeing that girl. After she begged him to call a modelling agency for her, he knew she wasn’t the one. With work going full force on both ends, all we could really manage to squeeze in were a few day trips here and there.

“Hey,” I said, leaning in to give him a hug. He was wearing dark blue jeans, a white linen shirt and some designer brand of sunglasses that I couldn’t pronounce. Summer looked good on him, but then again, so did winter, spring and fall.

After a long moment, Harry gently pushed me back and held me at arm’s length as if he was trying to get a good look at me. Something about Harry seemed different. Not bad exactly, but there was a twinkle in his eye that was bound to cause trouble later.

The sound of the pebbles underneath shoes indicated that Zach had returned.

“Hey baby,” Zach said as his arms snaked around my waist.

Baby? Zach wasn’t one for pet names. What was up with him? I got the answer in the form of his tongue in my mouth. His open-mouthed kiss was rough and I had a feeling that it was only there for Harry’s sake.

Harry cleared his throat and Zach finally broke away from the kiss and rested his hands on my backside. I shifted which caused him to immediately place them on my lower back instead. Smart move.

I didn’t anticipate Harry to look as angry as he did. His cheeks were stained a deep red and one corner of his mouth was curled up in an animalistic way. I half expected a growl to rip through.

“Hi, I’m Zach. Harvey, right?” Zach asked in a fake polite tone, knowing damn well what his name was.

“Not quite, it’s Harry. But nice to meet you Zachary,” Harry flashed a mega-watt smile, but I knew him well enough to know it was fake.

I found the exchange funny. I knew that Harry had hit a nerve there, but with Zach’s behaviour, I didn’t care for once.

I had retired in my room for the night. Even though I had just laid out by the pool the entire afternoon, the travel and the sun had worn me out. Jessica arrived just before dinner and more guests were supposed to come tomorrow. Harry’s parents had gone to bed, and the last I heard from Zach was that he was downstairs in the minibar.

And Harry was in my room.

“Do you have any Advil? My back is acting up again,” he explained as he awkwardly lifted his arm behind his head in an attempt to massage it.

“Yeah, I do actually,” I answered as I retrieved the medicine from my purse. I could tell how much pain he was in by the way he walked, and even though I was sure the pain didn’t compare to what he put me through, I still hated seeing him that way.

“Lie down on my bed, Harry,” I instructed.

“What?” he asked, remaining motionless.

“Relax, its nothing like that. I just want to massage your back,” I answered from my bed.

Harry’s large frame took up the majority of the decent sized bed.

“Holy crap you’re huge, Harry,” I told him before I set to work. “Tell me how it feels,” I said as my small hands began to knead his sore muscles.

“Right there,” Harry said, his eyes snapping open as I hit a particularly tight knot.

“Here, this might help,” he said as he lifted his t-shirt off his head.

Harry’s tan, toned torso was completely exposed and jogging shorts adorned his lower half. I was dressed in my pyjamas, a silk and lace lavender shorts set. I felt the temperature in the room rise, and it had nothing do with being in California.

“Oh my God, that feels amazing,” Harry moaned. The fact that I was giving him pleasure and taking away his pain aroused me. By the way Harry adjusted his lower body against the bed, I knew he was reacting the same way. I felt feminine and sexy and desired for once.

Without warning, Harry sat up on the bed so that his face was mere inches from my own. My lips parted in surprise and Harry’s thumb lightly pressed into the centre of my plush bottom lip. My breathing hitched in my throat.

“I didn’t see it before,” Harry barely whispered, eyes never leaving my lips. His other hand gently cupped the back of my neck and my body felt on fire with his touch. Slowly, his eyes trailed up my face and landed on my eyes.

I didn’t know what we were doing, but whatever it was, I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted to.

His forehead was pressed gently against mine and I felt his lips softly brush against my nose. Oh God, I needed to stop this. I was with someone, but when Harry’s lips dragged across my face and pressed into the corner of my mouth, I couldn’t even remember my own damn name, let alone his.

My phone beeped and broke the spell. Sighing, Harry sat against the headboard. He didn’t look guilty nor regretful, both of which I felt. Instead, he managed to look satisfied yet frustrated, like he was happy with what he got, but wanted more at the same time.

His shorts were noticeably strained in the front and I tore my eyes away as I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. Phone. Email. Now.

Some work documents were sprawled across the carpeted floor. I had brought them with me in case I had a spare moment and was working on them before Harry showed up.

“What’s all this?” Harry gestured to the mess as I unlocked my phone.

“Just crunching numbers for work. Balance sheet has to balance, Harry,” I told him.

“You work too much,” he said, but I just shook my head in response, focusing my attention on the new message.

My heart sank as I read the email. This couldn’t be happening. I reread it to make sure I had it right. Oh God, it was happening.

“Y/N, what’s wrong?” Harry asked, voice full of concern.

“Robert Warner is taking Zach off the Browns case and is giving it to me,” I said monotonously, fully aware that that meant next to nothing to Harry.

“And that’s a bad thing I’m assuming?” Harry asked. He was trying, I’ll give him credit.

I sat next to him on the bed. The room was spinning.

“It’s very bad. This is a tough case, the best guy is supposed to get this one, and that ‘best guy’ was supposed to be Zach, not me. He needed this case to prove to his dad that he can take over,” I explained. “Oh God, Zach’s really not going to react well to this.”

Harry rubbed my back soothingly.

“Hey, it’ll all work out,” Harry whispered. But when he saw how nervous I was getting, he began to panic a little himself.

“Y/N,” he said slowly and deliberately, “Why do I get the feeling you’re afraid of him?”

Was I afraid of Zach? Usually, no. I can hold my own with Zach. But this, this was too much. I knew how much this particular case meant to him and the last thing I wanted was for him to see me as even bigger competition.

Instead of explaining all this to Harry, I just shook my head and let it fall onto Harry’s broad shoulder. I felt Harry’s lips press against the top of my head.

Harry was about to say something when the sound of the door being thrust opened interrupted him. Zach came barging into the room, his cheeks stained red with anger. I took it he saw the email. His entrance surprised us; Harry and I didn’t have a chance to move from our intimate position on the bed, which only made matters worse.

“What the fuck?” Zach seethed, eyes darting from Harry’s shirtless upper body to me.

“It’s not what it looks like, I swear,” I defended myself. I started to remove myself from the bed to attempt to comfort Zach, but Harry’s large hands pinned my hips down.

I gave Harry a questioning glare. What the hell, Harry?

“Look how angry he is,” Harry whispered. “Give him a moment to cool down.”

I shook my head in disbelief. Zach would never hurt me, no matter how angry he was.

“Go, Harry. I can handle this,” I whispered back. “Zach, I know you’re upset but…”

“Are you fucking him?” Zach cut me off, finger angrily pointing in Harry’s direction.

The question caught me off guard. How could he accuse me of such a thing? He mistakenly took my stunned silence as confirmation.

“I fucking knew it,” Zach said, venom lacing his words. “Wow, Harry, you’re one lucky guy. She’s never once opened her legs for me. She was nice and tight, right? Have her lips ever been around you?”

Harry’s eyes narrowed into slits and his jaw was clenched. “You fucking…”

“Stop!” I shouted. “Zach, what the hell is wrong with you? I’ve never been with Harry, okay? And Harry, please, please go,” I begged. This was a battle I needed to fight on my own. Being embarrassed in front of Harry wasn’t going to help anything.

“I don’t buy that,” Zach continued. “Who else have you been fucking behind my back? My father?”

My blood ran cold and my heart practically stopped beating at the accusation.
“Is that how you got the Browns case? Because I’ve seen you work, and you’re good but I’m just as good, if not better. So tell me, how the fuck are you climbing the corporate ladder so fast? Blowjobs in the boardroom?” Zach shouted.

Tears threatened to spill from my eyes. I was officially humiliated. I just prayed that Zach’s booming voice wasn’t loud enough to wake the others. It was bad enough Harry was witnessing the exchange, the last thing I wanted was for his family to see my reputation go down the drain.

I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out. I didn’t know what to say. Zach was angry, that much was clear, but was it enough to excuse his harsh words? Surely he had something to drink, but if this was what he really thought of me, then I don’t think I could ever look at him the same again. He said he needed me, but as his girlfriend or his punching bag?

Zach stalked over to the fridge and chugged a bottle of water. Harry walked over to me and gently pulled me by the arm towards the door.

“Come on, we’re leaving. You can sleep in my room tonight,” Harry said.

I nodded, tears still falling silently. Harry’s room wasn’t too far from mine, so at least my walk of shame was short.

When I heard Harry close the door, my back was towards him and I was looking out the window at the lamp-lit view.

“So,” Harry began, “Want to talk about it?”

“Not really,” I answered honestly.

“Well, I want to, so we are,” Harry decided, as if his say was the only one that mattered. I rolled my eyes and sat on the plush arm chair. This should be interesting.

“Why are you still with him?” Harry asked.

“What do you mean ‘still’?” I retorted, the word confusing me.

“You started dating him because I turned you down, I get that, but six months later, why are you still with him? That’s what I want to know,” Harry clarified.

I huffed, sinking further back into the chair. I hated the way that first part sounded but it was true. I didn’t have to think long and hard about why Zach and I were together; I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice at this point. Zach says and does a lot of shit, but it was clear I was his lifeline.

That wasn’t Harry’s business, however, so I just said, “Because there hasn’t been any reason to leave. Things are going fine and I wouldn’t want work to be awkward if we broke up.” Assuming I would keep my job if I dumped him.

“No reason to leave? Are you fucking kidding me? Zach treats you like absolute shit, Y/N!” Harry said. “And you’re not the type to take that crap, so what’s really going on here?”

I was getting frustrated. Why did he think there was some big secret about our relationship?

“God, Harry, nothing, nothing’s going on!” I insisted. “What are you expecting me to say?”

Harry ran his hands through his hair so I knew he was stressed. “Well, it’s pretty clear you’re afraid of something, Y/N. I hate seeing you walk on eggshells around him. That’s not you. He’d be a jerk to fire you if you left him, but even if he did, you’d be okay. I can give you money, and you’d start again somewhere else,” Harry said, as if it was really that simple.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to gather my thoughts. “Harry, you don’t understand. This job means big things for my career. I work too hard to give it all up. And besides, Zach is good guy, he was just having a bad night,” I said, wishing it was more true than it actually was.

“I don’t know, Y/N,” Harry said, “I don’t think you should see him anymore.”

“Well, mind your own damn business Harry!” I snapped.

“Hey, I just care about you…”

“Yeah, as a friend, I know,” I finished. 

I had done it. I had opened the drawer that was sealed shut for half a year. The hinges became loose earlier in the evening, when Harry instigated behaviour that was much more than friendly.

“And what was that before? You almost kissing me?” I demanded. My body shivered in pleasure at the memory.

Harry’s cheeks flushed and he looked around the room as if the answer was written on the pale blue walls.

“I don’t know, okay?” he answered. “It was just something I wanted to do for a long time, I guess.”

What? My heart rate picked up with his confession.

“How long?” I asked tentatively, not sure I wanted to know the answer. Please don’t say…

“Six months,” Harry admitted, and my suspicions were confirmed.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I said, my voice loud in the small room. “What, you just started feeling that way as soon as you knew I wanted you?”

“Something like that,” Harry said sheepishly.

Unbelievable. For years I loved this man and he made it seem like I was a fool for doing so. He broke my heart, he couldn’t just decide he wanted more with me because I was with someone else.

“Say something, Y/N,” Harry said.

“Go to hell, Harry,” I screamed, as I threw pillows at him.

“Have you lost your fucking mind?” Harry asked just as loud. “Put those things down.”

“I hate you, Harry,” I decided. “You know, somehow I’ve went from loving you to hating you, but it’s true. You do nothing but break my heart, and I’m sick of it. Neither of you treat me right. You can’t just all of sudden love me when I’m taken.”

Harry’s face dangerously transformed from hurt to malice and the next words to leave his lips were sure to break me.

“Love you?” Harry spat. Oh no. “Please, you were just a warm body that was at the right place at the right time.”

“That, that changes things,” I whispered in response, tears falling from my eyes.

We stared at each other, chests rising and falling with our heavy breathing.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Jessica demanded as she stormed into the room. “I heard you guys. Heck, I think the whole house did. Both of you said some things you’re going to regret.”

My tears fell even harder. Jessica looked at me with kind eyes.

“Come on, dear, there’s a spare bed in my room with your name on it,” she said, her hand on my arm.

I left the room without so much as a glance at Harry. I didn’t need the image of him angry and cruel burned into my mind.

Tucked into our beds, Jessica suddenly spoke.

“That brother of mine has a weird way of showing people that he loves them.”

Maybe. But he sure knew how to show people that he didn’t.

I was able to leave Jessica’s room without disturbing her slumber. After she rescued me last night that was the least I could do.

I hesitated in front of my room. I would have to face Zach sooner or later, and I would rather do it now, instead of in front of an audience later. When I pushed open the door, I was met with Zach’s suitcase in the front entrance. This wasn’t a good sign.

“Zach?” I called out.

He stepped out of the bathroom, and he looked frazzled despite his polished appearance.

“I’m leaving,” he announced emotionlessly.

“I can see that,” I said, pointing to the luggage.

“On Monday, when we get back to work, I want you to tell my dad that you aren’t doing the Browns case. Make sure you tell him that I will continue since it rightly belongs to me” he calmly instructed, like we were discussing a more casual topic.

“Excuse me?” I asked. Harry’s accusation of me being afraid of Zach rang through my mind. If I insisted I wasn’t, it was time to prove it.

“Y/N, please don’t be difficult. We all know how you got this job in the first place, so be a good girl and do as I say,” Zach commanded.

Zach always told me he needed me, and I believed him, but now, what I needed was more important, and that was to stand up for myself.

“For someone who hates their father so much, you sure act exactly like him,” I sneered.

I shouldn’t have said that. The next few moments were such a blur I couldn’t even be certain they happened. The bruise, however, was sufficient evidence.

Zach was in my face and the back of his left hand was across my right eye within seconds. Horror overtook his features as he realized what he’d done.

Tears streamed down my face out of pain and shock. I yelled at him to go and he left the room, the house, and the state of California, suitcase in hand.

He had become a monster that not even I could save.

I locked the door and stayed in my room for the remainder of the morning, icing my injury. Harry had knocked on my door a few times but when he was met with no response each time, he finally took the hint. From my open window, I could hear the arrival of the rest of the guests, some I had met before through Harry and some I didn’t recognize.

After waiting for hours in my room, boredom got the best of me. This was still my weekend off at one of the most beautiful houses I will ever have the pleasure of being in. I changed into my red one piece swimsuit and slipped my jean shorts over it. I threw my hair into a messy high ponytail. The bruise was at its peak so I put on my oversized shades to mask the blackish-blue skin.

It was just after noon when I had made my way to the pool patio. It was a beautiful day, so I wasn’t surprised to see that pretty much every guest was either sprawled on a lawn chair or splashing in the pool. After saying hello and exchanging pleasantries with the new guests, I laid down on a white plastic lawn chair. I could feel Harry’s eyes on me the entire time. I adjusted the glasses on my face, even though I was sure the mark of Zach’s rage was hidden.

I was actually enjoying myself. The sun and the company made it easy for me to forget about my relationship and career problems. Every so often, the sting of betrayal and assault would sneak up on me, but I could always count on the crazy stories shared by one of the guys to ease the pain.

“I’m going inside to get a drink,” I announced, “Anybody want anything?” After taking orders, I headed into the kitchen to grab myself a Diet Coke. Of course Harry followed me.

“Where’s Zach?” Harry asked, getting straight to the point.

“I’m good thanks, Harry, how are you?” I responded, placing the beverages on a wooden tray. But I answered his question. “He left.”

“He left you or he left the house?” Harry specified.

“Both, I guess,” I answered, placing my hands on the counter for support. I decided that we obviously weren’t together anymore, but he really sealed the deal when he put his arm into motion.

“And how do you feel about that?” Harry asked, eyes locked on my shade-covered ones. Nervously, I adjusted the frames again.

“Fine. It’s for the best,” I said, meaning it.

Harry wasn’t an idiot, nor was he oblivious. The way his posture stiffened and a frown overtook his features indicated that he was onto me.

“You’re wearing sunglasses inside. Why?” he asked. His designer shades were perched on his head.

I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I just shrugged my shoulders. A sob was threatening to rip through my mouth. Having someone else know that Zach put his hands on me was about to make it more real.

Harry walked towards me and put his hands on my waist. “I’m going to take them off, okay?” he informed gently. I nodded.

As he lifted his hands and leaned in, I flinched. Harry frowned and I hated myself in that moment. Zach was the bad guy remember, not Harry, I told myself.

“Shhh, it’s just me, nothing to be afraid of. I won’t ever hurt you,” Harry soothed as he removed my sunglasses.

“Holy fuck,” Harry seethed, examining the damage. “I swear to God I’m going to kill that…”

The shiner was bad, that much I knew already. But I also knew that I felt much better than I looked.

“Harry, it’s okay, I’m okay,” I assured him.

“This sure as hell is not okay, Y/N,” Harry corrected me. It wasn’t okay, not in the slightest.

“I know, but I’m not with him anymore, and I’ll change jobs so I’ll never have to see him again,” I said.

Harry sighed and pulled my body closer into his. “This is all my fault,” he murmured against my hair. I raised my eyebrows, curious to know how that was the case.

“I had no idea before this weekend that that guy was pure scum. But if I had just told you I loved you as soon as I knew, you wouldn’t be in this mess,” Harry explained.

He loved me. He just said the words out loud. Suddenly all the pain was bearable.

“I love you too Harry,” I told him as I watched his eyes light up. “But this wasn’t your fault. Zach fed me a lot of bullshit that made it seem like he needed and wanted me. And I ate it up. So you were right.” I paused. “How are you always right about my life, Harry?”

Harry smiled and lifted me onto the countertop. I wrapped my legs around his waist.

“I guess it’s the same reason why you knew that we were meant to be together before I did,” Harry said.

I liked his answer. I took it as a sign that we brought out the best in each other and that we would be stronger as a couple.

“Oh wait, I forgot I could fast-forward to when his shift ends!”

He held down the ‘fast-forward’ button for a few seconds, before pressing the ‘play’ button again. It was already getting dark out and future-Rob was only now leaving work.

Time to go after him.

2

SEXY BEAM

Kill 333 enemies and then start an extra new game dressed up as Princess Heart!

Attack Information

Octuple Homing Missiles + Hexagonal Prism Burst  (Caution mode + attack button)
Deals 30 damage per missile, inflicts 5 impact power, and depletes 20 points of Heather’s stamina; the prisms deal 60 damage per prism.

Eye Laser (Caution mode + forward + attack button)
Capable of dealing over 1,600 damage in less than five seconds!

SILENTHILL3’s commentary

Probably one of the most famous “weapons” from Silent Hill 3! The Sexy Beam consumes Heather’s stamina as a resource, and like the Heather Beam, it’s necessary to use in order to achieve the Revenge ending. 

Give yourself plenty of room when using the Sexy Beam and make sure you have nutrition drinks equiped or an ampoule handy as it depletes her stamina! The homing missiles do a great job from a distance, but the eye laser’s damage is highly concentrated. The drawback with the eye laser attack is that more than likely will require extra aiming.

In a Ten Star ranking this weapon is entirely unusable, so make sure you don’t accidentally use it!

The Sexy Beam is effective against every enemy in the entire game if you’re playing for fun! 

i was watching the latest episode of snl and the musical guest, this 35yo white dude with a hipster mustache, started singing about “bedding taylor swift in the oculus rift” and i swear to you i’ve never hit the fast forward button faster in my life

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

First things first…

I want to apologise for not posting any sooner - its been a week since my last upload, and trust me I’ve tried to cram in more time into my life via excessive consumption of caffeine and many more sleepless nights.

Before you go on ahead developing a mental image, know it’s less romantic than it seems. This is my third week of uni, I for one can’t figure out how time seems to be slipping from my grip - to all the people who told me my twenties will pass like a push of the fast-forward button on my Foxtel remote - you’re not wrong.

This week has been full of ups, but weirdly many more downs than I’m used to - my psyche feels like its been battered up against a wall and kicked until an array of colours of the sea appeared on its surface… alright, maybe that’s slightly more poetic than I intended, but in my defence I’ve been reading Virginia Woolf’s work this week - more specifically ‘The Waves’.

I’m still at the stage of the novel/poem where I don’t know if I’d recommend it to my friends, but that being said - If you’re the kind of person who likes reading pretty words and/or an endless stream of adjectives all squished into one long-winded narrative, this would be perfect for you darlings.

The most stupidly impossible of all science fiction or fantasy tropes is a core component of our reality. General relativity means that all mass is leaning on the fast-forward and slow motion buttons, depending on where you’re standing, quite literally all the time. You’ve probably read about it happening near light speed or awesome events like black holes. But it’s also happening right under your feet.

Time is moving more slowly underground. Massive time dilation means the Earth’s core is 2.5 years younger than the surface. The sun’s core is 40,000 years younger than its surface, and since it takeslight 100,000 years to escape that core, that means every bit of solar energy has traveled through time and relative dimensions in space. It’s the Universe’s final, desperate attempt to end jokes about nerds needing to go outside.

5 Amazing Science Facts That Sound Like Hack Sci-Fi Writing

9

Completely forgot I had these saved up in my computer.

For my friend vynthel and anyone who didn’t have the opportunity/privilege of getting one of these toys when they were available *some countries gave different toys*. 

* Click on images for English translations. 

5

Smart Camera Uses Sensors, AI to Automatically Edit Video

For many amateur video shooters, the fast-forward button is a valuable friend. It could be, though, that sorting through long minutes of footage when not much is happening for the few seconds of gold is about to be a thing of the past.

The creators of a new high-definition camera called Graava say the pocket-sized device uses its GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphones and image sensor to mark the most interesting moments in video as it is being recorded. It can also take heart-rate readings with an attachable third-party monitor to note exciting moments for the user. Then artificial intelligence pieces those moments together into highlight clips with only the good stuff, which is immediately available to share on social networks. Learn more and see a video below.

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