I didn't know how this happened.
Ever since the night Beau stood up for me against Ethan, I'd been having these growing feelings toward him.
In the past, I'd always been the one protecting Beau--helping him when his parents would ditch him when we were young or get him through the pain of breaking up with Ashton. I was the shoulder he leaned on. But that night, he protected me when I was going through that awful shock of seeing that dead girl, bleeding at my feet. And he'd been coming over every day, working out with me. More and more, I'd find myself fantasizing what it would be like if we would kiss. I imagined how good it would feel to get even closer to him.
I guessed I'd always felt something special about him. We're connected in sort of the same way I'm connected to Briar, but I'd always compartmentalized it differently. I mean, he's a guy. And I wasn't gay. I told myself these feelings were just because I'd witnessed something shocking, and I'd bonded to him over it.
But then after we'd sparred, and I hit him so hard, I thought I'd broken his jaw, I couldn't take it anymore.
It happened so fast, the next thing I knew, I was kissing him and enjoying it. His warm soft lips, the smell of his skin as I kissed his neck. I wanted more.
But as my senses buzzed with him, my mind went to what this would mean for us as friends. I knew I wasn't gay. I couldn't give Beau what he wanted wholly. I'd always crave a woman's body not a man's. I mean, with Beau it was different because he was so special. I had to admit the attraction. But I wasn't attracted to other guys. I just wasn't. And if we moved into a relationship, I'd end up hurting him.
This realization hit me like a hammer, and I pulled up suddenly, saying, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," he said, grinning. "I'm just so damned happy, August. I can't help it."
Oh, God. I freaked out inside and rose up, rubbing my eyes, knowing I was already really going to hurt him. "Shit."
"What, August?" he asked, fear edging his words.
"I can't do this," I whispered. And then like a chicken shit, I bolted out of the room, not risking seeing his hurt face.
When August left, it was like this huge bolder crashed down on me. I was overwhelmed with shock, anger, sadness.
How stupid could I be to believe someone like August would ever want to be with someone like me?
But he kissed me. He did. I didn't force anything on him. And he did it in a way that told me he liked it.
So what happened?
I sat in August's workout room for a while, breathing hard and trying not to cry.
But I couldn't hold the tears back. My face heated up with anguish and I wiped my eyes. I had to get the hell out of there.
Quickly, I changed back into my clothes and sped home. I didn't look at his mother's face when she'd said good bye. I couldn't face any of his family. I was so embarrassed.
I just wanted to hide inside my apartment and forget it ever happened. I had to get it together soon because I needed to be at the restaurant in an hour.
Briar called out, "Hey, you! Aren't you going to say hello to your sister?"
I ignored her. I really didn't want to see her at that moment. I knew I'd break down if I even looked at her.
But Briar wasn't going to leave me alone.
"Hey, bud, what's wrong?" she asked as she barged into my room. Being twins, we'd never had many boundaries, having to take care of each other our whole lives.
I sighed, looking down. I couldn't keep the truth from her. "I...um...kissed August."
Her eyes blinked rapidly. I could tell she wasn't sure what to make of it but then her mouth curved into a hesitant smile. "Well...you've always had a crush on him. This is good news!" I could tell she was putting on a front for me. I knew August had a hold on her, too, even though she was in a relationship with Daniel. But she was my sister. If it had been the other way around, I'd suck it up for her, too.
"So, what's wrong?" she asked.
I shrugged, eyes watering. "He...um...he just said he couldn't do this and booked it."
"Oh, God...I'm so sorry, Beau." She hugged me and I clung to her, trying to hold it together. Briar was such a great sister. She knew what this meant to my friendship with August. I had no idea how things were going to change.
After a while, I told her I needed to get ready for work.
As I was about to leave, she wanted to talk some more about it, but I couldn't. "Just drop it, okay?" It was such a pointless subject.
After cussing at myself for a few hours, trying to keep my mind off things, I couldn't take it any longer and I found myself at Beau's doorstep, hoping he'd see me.
It felt like I was ambling around in a dream. I couldn't imagine not being friends with Beau anymore. I didn't want this to change anything between us. I'd beg if I had to.
Instead of Beau answering the door, I was blasted with Briar's angry face.
"What do you want, August?"
Swallowing, I asked, "Is he here?"
"No. He went to work."
"Is it okay if I stay and wait for him? I don't want to have to drive all the way back to my house, and I don't want to let the night end without talking to him."
Briar sighed loudly then jerked her head toward the door. "Um...okay...fine."
"Thanks," I breathed in relief.
Their apartment was tiny but nicely decorated, no doubt with Briar's taste. It was part bohemian and part classic which went well with her style.
I didn't want to talk to Briar about what happened. I was sure Beau told her everything since she wore a neverending scowl on her face. It killed me to see her that way toward me. But I couldn't blame her. I was pissed at myself, too. I should have never crossed that line with Beau.
"So...where are all the kittens you usually rescue? I don't even see one cat. I thought you were going to be the neighborhood cat lady when you got older." I laughed trying to help the mood that was particularly cold even for January.
This worked. Briar loved animals, especially kittens. Her face lit up. "Actually, I just found homes for the foster kittens I had, so, I was going to get a few more tomorrow. The shelter always has over one hundred kittens. It's kind of sad. I wish people understood the importance of neutering and spaying."
"Spoken like a true vet. You're still wanting to do that?"
She smiled broadly. "You remembered?"
"Of course. How could I forget how you'd always run around the park, smelling like a kennel after you'd helped out at the shelter."
She pushed my arm. "That's mean," she said, laughing. "But probably true!"
My heart squeezed in guilt as I looked into her gorgeous eyes. The guilt I felt was toward Beau. It was so apparent to me. My feelings for Beau couldn't compare to this.
I was in love with her.
"You want to watch a movie?" she asked. "Beau won't be home for a few hours."
"Sure," I said. "Just nothing sappy. I need a good action flick."
After the movie was over, Beau still hadn't showed. I was beginning to worry that he somehow knew I was here and was avoiding me.
"Want some coffee?" Briar asked. "He should be home any minute."
I nodded, following her into the kitchen. I couldn't help trail my eyes over the beautiful curves of her body. She shouldn't wear yoga pants around me. Then I yelled inside my head, See? You're not gay. You wouldn't be so attracted to her if you were!
She placed a steaming mug of coffee in front of me. I breathed in its nutty rich smell and took a sip, allowing the liquid to relax my jitters.
"You know, it's been nice for Beau to have you here, August. I've never thanked you for being such a good friend to him."
More guilt pelted me.
Voice wavering, I said, "Yeah, well, he's important to me. You know I'd never want to hurt him." There. I said it, opening the door for a conversation about it. Maybe I could talk to Briar about this. The whole situation was really confusing to me.
Just then, I heard the front door squeak open and shut.
"What the hell is he doing here, Briar?" Beau's bitter voice seemed to jab me. "Did you invite him?"
Shrugging, she said, "No...he came here all by himself."
Popping up from her seat, she yanked Beau to her chair and pushed him into it. "I think he wants to talk to you, so I'll be leaving now." Beau glared at her, but didn't move.
I searched Beau's face, but he wouldn't look at me. "I'm sorry," I said, gently.
It was as if a dam broke inside him. He shot his arms up and said, "What the hell are you doing? One minute you kiss me and the next you leave. Do you know how that makes me feel?"
"I know...I don't understand it either, Beau. All I can say is I don't ever want to lose you, and I've gone over and over it in my head. If we got together, I'd hurt you. I would."
"How do you know that? You haven't even given us a chance."
"I'm not gay."
Rising out of his seat, Beau said, "Okay, I'm done with this conversation."
"You're just going to leave? Come on, Beau. We have to talk about this."
Glaring, he said, "You're in fucking denial, August. No straight guy ever kisses another guy. So, you'd better figure it out and stop running from the truth."
"How the hell do you know, Beau? You're not me."
Shaking his head, he tried to move past me but I grabbed his arm. "Beau. Please? You can't just not talk to me about it."
"I don't feel like talking when you're living in a fantasy world." He tugged his arm out of my grasp like my touch burned him. "Now go."
Maybe he needed more time to cool off. It felt like I was traipsing through a nightmare. Why did I kiss him? Why? I just didn't understand myself. And now I've ruined everything I had with Beau. Just over a stupid kiss. An impulsive desire. And why did I even go there in the first place?
The more I thought about it, the more confused I got. I could only hope eventually Beau would forgive me and understand. I could never give up girls. If we dated, I'd eventually want to break up. I just couldn't see myself with him in my forever future except as a friend. And he was too important to me to ever break it off and never see him again.
But if he didn't forgive me, that's exactly what had happened.
My stomach felt as if it was going to throw up.