The next morning Taylor got her phone and saw she had a missed called and a voicemail. She couldn't listen to it fast enough. Halfway through the message her mom walked into the kitchen to see Taylor sitting at the table with tears rolling down her face.
"Hey honey, what's wrong?" Her mom asked with concern.
Taylor looked at her mom putting the phone down and drying her eyes. Almost instantly she went from being upset to angry.
"Josh left me a message last night. He told me that he loved me and he kept apologizing for whatever it was he did. But mom Josh shouldn't be the one apologizing. He did nothing wrong. He never even tried to make a move. How many guys do you know of that wouldn't try too?"
Taylor's mom was set back a little bit by that and took a deep breath before speaking.
"I understand you don't think y'all did anything wrong. Honey, you let a boy in the house when I was not home. I didn't know he was here. You can't just sneak behind my back like that and not expect me to be angry with you. You're all I have left and..."
Taylor immediately cut her off right there.
"You cannot keep trying to protect me and guilt me like this. What happened in the past, it shouldn't affect us for the rest of our lives. I'm tired of living in the past and being punished for what happened."
With that Taylor got up from the table and grabbed her bag and walked out the door heading off to school. The school day went by slow it seemed for Taylor. It seemed like God was punishing her for what she had said to her mom. Halfway through the day and there was still no sign of Josh. Taylor was at her locker getting books for her next class when her best friend since childhood came walking up.
"Hey bitch, you never texted me about how last night went, wait. Was last night that good you were just too exhausted to text me?" Mandy said sarcastically.
"Actually I couldn't text you because my mom walked in on us just laying there watching a movie and flipped out thinking we were doing something when we weren't and all hell broke loose and then she took my phone and to make things worse, I haven't seen Josh all day." Taylor ranted before slamming her locker door closed and then leaned up against her locker with sad eyes.
"Oh my God, Taylor I'm so sorry. I actually haven't seen him either now that I think of it. Did you try texting him?"
"Yeah, a couple of times but he hasn't texted me back or called or anything. He's probably mad at me." Taylor said as the tardy bell rang.
"I bet he's just busy with class or something. He'll text you later I bet. But we better go to class because Mr. Jefferson's already pissed that I've been tardy 3 times this month and I told him that he's lucky that's like an all time low for me."
Taylor laughed a little and nodded and the two girls walked to their classroom and sure enough Mr. Jefferson was not to please to see the two walk in late.
"Ladies, nice of you to join us. Mandy I believe this makes four for you. One more and you will be written up." the teacher announced as he stood up from his desk and then started writing their assignment for the day on the board.
"Sorry, I'll try to be less late next time, sir." Mandy said sarcastically and the whole class let out a chuckle.
Taylor grinned and shook her head looking at Mandy next to her and then just stared at the board for the rest of the class.
It seemed like it would never come, but the end of the day had arrived. Taylor was walking with her friends Mandy and Bethany to her car when she heard her name being called out from a short distance.
"Taylor...wait up." the familiar voice yelled.
They all three turned to notice Josh jogging over to where her friends and her stood.
"Oh so pretty boy's still alive?" sarcastically Mandy asked.
Josh gave Mandy an evil look and turned to look right at Taylor. He touched her arm and leaned in and went to kiss her on the lips but Taylor turned away and pushed him back.
"Where have you been? I've texted you all day. No one's seen you." she said have angry.
"I know I'm sorry I was just, I wasn't in the mood to talk to anybody after last night ya know so I'm sorry, but I'm here now and I was wondering if you wanted to come over and hangout." Josh's voice went into a smooth sexy tone of voice and he stepped towards her grabbing her waist and pulling her in.
She wasn't having any of it. Pushing him away with a very angry expression on her face, Taylor shook her head and turned and got in her car. Mandy and Bethany followed.
"Way to be an ass, pretty boy." Mandy said right before she closed the door.
Before the door even shut completely Taylor had zoomed off out of the parking lot leaving Josh standing there before getting a shove from behind.
"My man, what's happening? So, Michael is throwing this party tonight and I told him we'd be there about 9:30, you down?" Josh's best friend Timmy questioned.
Still looking off in the direction Taylor drove off, he nodded.
"Yeah, I'm down. I need to let loose tonight."
"That's what I'm talking about!" Timmy high-fived Josh and bro hugged one another then went off to Josh's truck and headed home.
The three girls pulled into Mandy's driveway and Taylor had yet to say a word. They got out of the car and went into Mandy's livingroom and sat down.
"So, did y'all hear about Michael's party tonight? I heard it was going to be the biggest so far. It starts at 9:30 so I figured we'd get there about 10ish." Mandy said.
Bethany and Taylor nodded to agree. And then the girls turned on E! and to see what the latest celebrity gossip was.
Josh and his boys arrived at the party and when they walked through the front door all eyes at the party were instantly on them. Josh was dressed in his Hollister jeans and his tight t-shirt that made his muscles look ten times the size they already were and his hair had that messy look going on. Right away three girls approached Josh at the same time.
"So we totally heard about what happened today after school with you and Taylor. So sad" the head cheerleader, Tanis, said half heartedly.
Josh just shrugged and pointed to the man by the keg to get him a cup.
"Are you okay? Does that mean y'all broke up? I mean I'm here if you want to talk about it at all. I'm a great listener." Tanis started to touch his arm and then gave him a wink.
"Nah, I'm good. Wasn't really going out with her anyways." Josh said in his old cocky voice.
Tanis smiled real big and wrapped her arm around his and the two walked further in the house and started to mingle with everyone. With a few beers down already Josh grabbed him another cup and sat down on the couch with Tanis in hand. They say there with his friends just chatting away when he noticed the front door open again. In walked Mandy and seconds after Taylor with Bethany lingering in last. His heart skipped a beat as he looked at the girl he just proclaimed he wasn't dating. Taylor showed up wearing her jean skirt and tightest tank top. Barely wearing any makeup and yet she was still the most beautiful girl at the party. It didn't take long for Mandy to notice Josh sitting on the couch surrounded by his friends and Tanis hanging on his arm.
Instantly pissed off Mandy and Bethany stormed over towards the group with a shocked Taylor in tow.
"Pretty boy I don't know if you noticed but you have yourself a little bit of a fungus attached to her arm."
"You bitch." Tanis went to stand up and throw her drink on Mandy when Josh stood up and stopped her then turned back towards Mandy and now Taylor.
"Really Josh?" before he could answer Taylor turned around and stormed off out of the house.
"You're such a bastard Josh." Mandy said disgusted then ran off to catch up with Taylor.
Josh flopped back down on the couch running his hand through his hair and then asked for another drink as Tanis sat down by him and leaned up against him. Almost routinely Josh put his arm around Tanis and the two remained together the rest of the night.
Mandy ran out of the house after a distraught and upset Taylor.
She stopped in her steps and turned to her with tears rolling off her face.
"I don't know what to think. He avoids my texts all day and now he's in there with freaking Tanis getting drunk off his ass." She sobbed.
Mandy instantly grabs and pulls her into a hug and the two stand there as Taylor cries into her best friends shoulder. On cue Bethany pulls up with her car and the three leave the party and head off to Bethany's house.
Meanwhile, back at the party Josh is pretty much hammered, but Tanis was mostly sober now after what had happened with Mandy and Taylor. The party was starting to winded way down and people were leaving when he turned to her.
"Come back to my place tonight." he whispered to Tanis.
With that Tanis stood up and pulled Josh up as well and the two stumbled out of the house and headed off to Josh's house which of course was empty because both his parents were out-of-town for work. Tanis was basically carrying Josh the whole way up the driveway, into the house, and into his bedroom. She walked him over to his bed and flopped him onto it. Before she could walk two steps away from him, he sat up and grabbed her hand. She turned and looked at him with a guilty look on her face. Removing his hand she said,
"Josh, stop. You're drunk and you have a girlfriend. I need to leave."
He stood up and she backed away farther from him still looking sad and upset. He walked over to her and touched her face and kissed her lips. Tanis momentarily kissed him back and then stepped away shaking her head.
"I can't do this. Not like this."
"Why not? We're done. I knew that and she knew that from the moment she drove away from me in the parking lot."
He sat back down on the edge of the bed and put his face in his hands. Tanis went to his side and knelt down grabbing onto his wrist pulling his hands away from his face.
"You need to go talk to her. You can't leave this like this. y'all are supposed to be together and as much as I don't want you to be, y'all should be."
Josh just sat there looking at her and he finally agreed. Tanis smiled and help pull him off the bed and offered to drive him over to Taylor's house because he was in no shape to drive. Meanwhile, back at Bethany's house the girls were watching a scary movie and eating some popcorn when Taylor's cell went off. Praying it was a message from Josh she grabbed her phone as fast as she could.
"What does pretty boy have to say?"
"It's not from him. It's Derek. He said he was at the party and saw everything that went down and wanted to know if I was okay?"
Derek was an old flame. He stood about six-foot, with brown hair, a strong chin, muscles that were big but not extreme, and he had eyes to die for. In a line up between the two guys Derek was a way better guy all the way around. He wasn't as popular as Josh because he was a power lifter and he prefered to stay low-key. And most importantly he wasn't a man whore.
"Are you going to talk to him? Wow y'all haven't talked since..."
"I know.." Taylor cut her off and texted back a message.
"Well what did you say?" Bethany chimed in.
"I told him to meet me at my house in ten minutes."
With that Taylor got up and hugged both the girls and headed off to her house. Taylor didn't know what really to think. She was nervous because she hadn't really talked to him in a year and she was also excited at the same time for the same reason. She pulled into her driveway and Derek was already sitting against his truck in front of her house. Taylor put her car in park and took a deep breath and got out of the car and walked over to him. Derek met her half way and gave her a big hug and smiled. She forgot how perfect she fit under his arms and how much she loved his hugs. And of course the way she could feel his abs through his shirt.
"I'm glad you wanted me to come over. It's been a long time. I've meant to talk to you but it never felt like the right time and you seemed to be avoiding me so I just left you alone.." he declared as they walked behind his truck and he put down his tailgate.
The two sat down and were quiet for a few minutes. Taylor just stared at the ground when she felt his hand rub down her back and then up again. He was always so good at making her feel better just by a single touch. She missed that touch. His touch.
"I'm sorry...about that night. I shouldn't have acted like that and just shut you out. And I shouldn't have gone a whole year without talking to you."
"Don't be sorry, really it's okay."
Taylor turned to him with sad eyes and he knew she was on the verge of crying.
"No, it's not okay. I blamed you in a way for what happened and you didn't even do anything. You were trying to be there for me and I shut you out. I needed you and you were there but I just kept pushing you away. I ended up taking everything out on you and hurting you when really it was me that I was angry at. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Derek...I'm sorry."
Derek hopped down off the tailgate and wrapped her in his arms. That's all it took and she broke down crying into him. He stroked her hair and held her tight. He kept whispering to her that it was alright and she just kept crying. After a few minutes she stopped crying and he let go of her and she sat up trying to wipe away the makeup that was running down her face. Derek smiled and he helped wipe away her makeup and tears.
"I'm such a mess.." she couldn't help but giggle when she noticed how focused Derek was at trying to remove all the running makeup.
Taylor hopped off of the tailgate and Derek was shutting it when headlights beamed into their eyes. It didn't take long and the car was stopped right in front of Derek's truck. Taylor didn't recognize the car and couldn't really see into the car because the headlights were still blinding them. That was until he stepped out of the car and the driver shut off the car. There stood in the middle of the street a surprised Josh and the driver she noticed was Tanis. Josh noticed Taylor had been crying and noticed this huge guy who he recognized standing right next to his girlfriend. It was almost as though Tanis saw what was coming next because she ran around the car just in time to stop Josh from charging Derek. Derek knew who he was and he went forward to approach him but Taylor grabbed his arm and told him to stop.
"What are you doing here Josh?" Taylor said as she stepped next to Derek.
"Looks like I'm stopping the two of you from going off to do only God knows what."
"We weren't doing anything. He came over to see if I was okay. Something you obviously weren't too concerned with doing"
"What the hell? I'm here now aren't I? How does this douche even know you?"
Derek went to step forward to lay him out but Taylor once again stepped in front of him and stopped him. He looked in her eyes and knew what she was thinking right away so he backed down.
"Well how the hell do you know Derek?" Josh demanded for an answer.
Taylor took a deep breath and turned around, "he's my ex boyfriend."
Josh's jaw dropped. Then anger filled his body. It was one thing that some guy was over trying to comfort his girlfriend but now he finds out that this guy was her ex. That was enough to send him over the edge. Josh pushed Tanis to the side and charged at Derek. Derek instantly reacted by shoving Taylor to the side and the two crashed into one another fist flying at each others faces. Josh threw a punch and hit Derek in the cheek but it didn't phase him at all. He threw back a harder punch that knocked Josh to the ground. Before he couldn't jump on him and throw a beating on him Taylor grabbed Derek's arm and Tanis flew down to Josh to see if he was okay and help him up. Taylor pushed Derek in the stomach and demanded he step back and go to the back of his truck and wait for her. Just as Tanis had got Josh to his feet Taylor was standing right in front of him.
"I want you to leave, now!" Taylor demanded.
Rubbing where he had just been hit he looked her in the eyes and saw something he hadn't ever seen before. So much anger and he knew from that that he just needed to leave.
"We're done." Josh said before turning and walking back to Tanis' car.
Tanis stood there by Taylor and she figured it was best to not say anything and just leave and so she did. She walked back to her car and drove away. Taylor walked over to Derek and noticed he had a mark on his face where he had been hit but it wasn't anything to severe. Then she noticed his right hand was bleeding pretty badly. She took it in her hand and noticed his knuckles were all busted up.
"Derek, come inside and I'll get your hand fixed up." he nodded and the two walked up the driveway.
"And Derek, I'm glad you're here." She said in her softest voice.
Derek smiled and put his arm around her and pulled her in as they went inside the empty house together.