There were a lot of things going on in my life. I had just found out about Chloe's attempt at... I didn't even like to think of that word, let alone the situation it represented. I was still thinking about what had happened with Jesse, and even though I obviously didn't want to ever deal with that it would inevitably have to be fixed somehow. And now apparently, no matter how much I didn't want to believe it, Chloe had cheated on me at some point. If I hadn't seen it for myself I definitely would have been in complete denial.
Putting off really important things is one of my many talents. I went on for two weeks without mentioning anything that had happened. Jesse quit his job at the radio station, and no matter how many times I asked Luke, he never gave me an answer as to why. Maybe he was too wrapped up in his school work? Maybe he got a better job doing something besides stacking CDs? Or maybe, just maybe, he did remember what had happened that night and he was so overwhelmingly embarrassed he never wanted to see me again. I wasn't sure which one of those options seemed the most likely and I wasn't sure which one I wanted to believe. In short, my life was a complete tornado of emotions.
Chloe and I had been dating for a month now. A lot of shit had gone down, good and bad. I think Chloe chose to only focus on the good things and didn't even acknowledge that the bad stuff existed, or had ever happened. She was an optimist, an attractive quality but sometimes kinda annoying. She was also a hopeless romantic and for our anniversary she just had to go all out, making me feel like total shit because I had been so immersed in my own mental turmoil that I hadn't gotten her anything.
She had taken me out to dinner, which I paid for just to slightly return the favor, she had given me a single red rose, she had treated me like a fucking goddess, it probably would have been one of the best nights of my life if I hadn't been so caught up in trying to sort out the conflicting thoughts in my head.
To top it all off, she drove us to this rural, hidden field of flowers and we laid down in it to look at the stars. I felt like I was in a cheesy rom-com or something. I loved Chloe. A lot. But she had cheated on me and never admitted it. And I had never known about her... darker... times. I mean, her not telling me about them is more understandable and tolerable, but the fact that she had something going with Aubrey just cut me deep. The uncertainty I was constantly facing in my mind was so aggravating. Sometimes I just lost it and started crying for no reason at all, something extremely unlike me. Thankfully no one had seen one of my breakdowns yet.
But unfortunately, as I laid at Chloe's side that night, our hands interlocked, staring at the stars, I felt one of those breakdowns coming on.
In my peripheral vision I saw her tilt her head in my direction. I knew she was smiling. When wasn't she smiling? I also knew that my expression showed nothing but sadness, which was probably discouraging for her although her smile didn't fade.
"Chlo..?" I finally spoke up, my voice breaking. If that wasn't a sign that I was on the verge of tears, I didn't know what was. I immediately felt the air shift, knowing that she noticed my distress.
"Beca, what's wrong?" The question was so sincere I felt myself losing whatever willpower I still had to keep from bawling.
I turned my head to look at her. Even at night, her blue eyes were amazing and the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Her eyelashes for some reason looked especially long. God, she was gorgeous. And she had chosen me. Chloe Beale could probably have any person she wanted, and she chose me.
"I love you..." I hadn't even registered that I planned on saying that, I just said it automatically. It sounded dreamy. I always lost my train of thought whenever I stared into her eyes for too long.
She then did something that only mildly surprised me - in one second she was laying at my side and the next she had gotten on top of me, pinning me to the ground by my wrists, her face hovering centimeters from mine. When she kissed me I started to forget everything that was bothering me. Chloe had a tendency to make you feel happier, lighter, more relaxed, and it was like she didn't even try to cheer you up, she just naturally did. I felt her hands stop holding me down (as if I was going to struggle) and start rubbing gently up and down my sides, I noticed she was being more compassionate and sensual. I felt special whenever she was around, like I could do anything. I still felt extremely honored that she was my girlfriend, nobody elses.
Well... my mind kept drifting to the fact Chloe had cheated on me, with Aubrey, of all people. Not even Chloe's mind-numbing kisses were enough to distract me from the painful betrayal that had still gone undiscussed. It was ripping me apart from the inside out.
Finally, when I couldn't take it anymore, I turned my head away, successfully breaking out kiss without warning. I heard Chloe gasp a bit in surprise, a sound that was so freaking adorable I almost started kissing her all over again automatically. She didn't get off me, but that was fine I guess. Instead her face remained in very close proximity to mine, her blue, mesmerizing eyes showing her confusion and worry.
"Beca, what is it?" Her voice was barely more than a whisper. If she hadn't been so close to me I might not have heard her question. Part of me had a feeling she knew why I was upset, but she just didn't want to believe it.
Taking a shaky breath in a feeble attempt to keep it together - crying right now would not be a good idea - I did my best to manage out a few suitable words, "I... I saw you kiss Aubrey..."
"I..." She sounded so upset. I wasn't sure how to feel about that. Instead of reacting I just watched her slowly crawl off of me, laying at my side again. My body was so tense I felt like I couldn't move, "I um... that's done with..."
I was also really good at overthinking things to a point that I avoided stuff. And I knew if I waited too long, considering how to respond, our conversation wouldn't get anywhere. Instead I just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, "You were with her while we were together." That sounded angrier than I had anticipated.
Chloe wouldn't look at me, and I wouldn't - or couldn't -look at her. Neither of us said anything for a while. Even though I couldn't see her, I knew she wasn't smiling. The air was so heavy I thought I might sink into the ground and be swallowed up by the fucking earth.
"It's not what you think..." Her voice was so timid. Terrified. I shut my eyes tightly, my chest constricting and making it difficult to even breathe. I shouldn't have brought this up. I should have just let it go.
But no, that would have made things worse. That would have left me with buried resentment and uncertainty. I had already let this fester beneath my skin for too long and it was driving me insane, even though it was in the back of my head.
"You don't even know what I think." I sounded so bitter. Angry. I wasn't exactly mad at her. I didn't know what to feel.
She stammered out the beginnings of words and sentences, before just sighing shakily. There was a high possibility that she was on the verge of tears. I knew her well enough to know when she was about to cry, and I definitely didn't want her to. We needed to talk about this though. Or our relationship would weaken and most likely just fall apart because of my abrupt inability to trust her or she would notice the weird looks I would most likely give Aubrey whenever I saw her around.
"W-what do you think...?" Her voice broke on the last word and she trailed off abruptly. My chest was so tight I felt like my ribs might concave and snap apart. It was physically painful. I had never experienced something like that before. If I told her she would be emotionally crushed to know she caused this much turmoil for me.
My fists clenched with white knuckles. What was I supposed to say to that when I didn't have an honest, or even complete answer? "I...feel like..." Like what? I thought to myself, What the fuck do you even plan on saying? What if you fuck this up? I could feel the part of myself that naturally avoided conflict and emotional things starting to overpower everything else in my body. I wanted so badly to just get to my feet and bolt, or change the topic of conversation even though that would have been so forced it would be laughable.
Instead I didn't say anything. I sat up, hearing her follow suit though I wouldn't look at her, and I buried my face into my hands. My fingers found their way into my hair and I grasped at my skull with as much force as I could without it hurting.
"I feel like you can't trust me." I tensed up at my own words, knowing how much that would hurt her. But they needed to be said, it was how I felt and she wanted to know.
"But..." I heard movement next to me. I had a feeling she moved her hand to touch me but then decided against it, "...b-but I didn't... I don't..." She sighed, possibly trying to compose herself, I couldn't tell if I couldn't see her but I also didn't want to see her, for fear of all my willpower breaking to continue this necessary conversation, "...why? What have I done to make you think that? What happened..." She paused for a good few moments, "...with Aubrey... was the only thing that I've ever kept from you, I promise."
I blurted something out that I had no control over, "I know that's not true." The thing that hurt me the most was admitting that. I didn't want it to be true: the fact that Chloe had cheated on me or the fact that she had tried to... you know. I didn't know any details about that last thing, just that it had happened, and it didn't work (thank God) and that Aubrey had been there. I tried to picture her, in my head, walking in on whatever Chloe tried to do. I ran my palms briefly down my face at the realization that Aubrey had saved Chloe's life.
I was still kind of mad at her. I mean, Chloe cheated on me with her. I had no solid evidence to know who initiated what happened but I so wanted to believe it was Aubrey I think that my mind just automatically convinced itself that was true. Now that I was thinking more about it, and about what Aubrey must have witnessed, Chloe could have. I just didn't want to believe it.
"I-I don't know what you're talking about..." That was a lie. I think she even knew how untrue that sounded. I couldn't look at her, still. I just couldn't. I just stared at the grass.
Were we seriously going to start talking about this? About something I subconsciously promised myself I would never ever speak of and try not to think of ever again? Sighing, I responded grudgingly and painfully, "Chloe, I know about it..." I felt my eyes becoming steadily glossier every single second this topic lingered in the air, pressing on my shoulders like a deadweight, "...okay?"
"Y-you..." The shock she felt reflected in her desperate, whispered words was crystal clear. Her breathing became uneven and heavier than before. It was starting to worry me. Finally I just forced myself to look at her. The expression on her face was the worst thing I had ever seen in my entire life. The look to her eyes, the glint to them, the way that they were so glossy the shade of blue they usually were was intensified immensely, was heart wrenching to say the least.
"Chlo..." I started to speak up, not knowing what I was going to say but knowing I needed to console her in one way or another.
She interrupted whatever I planned on responding with and she just started rambling and rambling so fast I could hardly comprehend it, but I listened as intently as possible, our eyes locked now, "I-It was a long time ago, Tom had dumped me and I got my nodes out and I couldn't sing and we didn't even make it to finals, and you were clearly into Jessie even if you weren't at the time is just seriously seemed like it. It made me feel so awful. When you told me you loved me I just freaked out because I loved you so much but I was so afraid about what might happen if I told you, I had loved you from basically the first time I saw you and even though you said that you loved me I felt like it wasn't true for some reason because it might not be. I felt like it was all some kind of sick joke, I dunno I guess it was just some kind of aftermath from what happened during that time that stuck with me, and that this couldn't happen because it was too good to be real and I didn't deserve it. I just didn't know what else to do I felt like it wouldn't matter if I was gone, okay? I felt like Tom wouldn't care, like Aubrey wouldn't care, like you wouldn't care so I just..." She was starting to steadily cry now. Tears streamed down her cheeks and dripped off her jawline. I wanted to reach forward and brush them from her face but I kept my hands at my sides, listening to her, feeling my own composure starting to steadily fade, "...I g-got a noose and I... I..." She was starting to break down. She didn't need to say anything else. I felt like she had already said way too much.
"S-stop, stop, it's alright Chloe," I moved forward as fast as I could and I hugged her as tightly as possible. She held me against her and just started sobbing so hysterically it made me shake. I wished I hadn't made her talk about it. I wanted to cry but I forced myself not to. I tried to imagine her with a noose around her neck, standing on a chair with her feet half of the edge. It made me almost lose all control and have what would have definitely been my worst breakdown.
"I'm sorry..." She whispered so quietly I almost didn't hear, "I'm so sorry... I shouldn't have done it or even tried it... I just... I didn't know what to do."
"Don't blame yourself... don't... please." I exhaled shakily, "I should have been there for you... I should have told you how I felt sooner, I shouldn't have been so distracted by Jessie and I shouldn't have kissed him... I'm an idiot, I didn't see the signs that you were upset, I was too wrapped up in my own little world to notice anything or anyone around me."
"Beca stop. None of this is your fault you couldn't have known..."
"Aubrey found you... didn't she?" I paused, "She saved you?" I felt her nod but she didn't verbally respond in any way, "Is that why you two-"
"-Yes. Yes..." She interrupted me. Like she didn't even want me to speak of whatever she had with Aubrey. That made me feel really weird. "...she... it happened pretty shortly after she... prevented... it..." The last word was spoken like it was the most vulgar swear on the planet and she felt too innocent to say it, " ...and after I ran from you that day, it happened again. Briefly. I knew it was stupid but I felt so weak and she was just... there. She was solid and reliable and I knew she wouldn't leave me no matter what happened but I think I fucked that up too... it's been weird between us for a long time now." Her fingernails dug into my shoulders and even though it hurt ever so slightly I didn't do anything in response to it, "I'm sorry about this. I love you. I've loved you. I don't think I ever loved Aubrey... I just needed... something. Anything."
"It's okay." I told her, letting her go in reluctance. She looked at me. Her expression was agonizing to witness. I could see, so clearly how damaged and broken she was in her eyes. I leaned forward, resting my forward against hers and I put my hand on her cheek, brushing away the remaining tears, "Please... never... ever do anything like that again I... I wouldn't be able to deal. Okay..? Next time you ever feel like that... or even think of anything like that... please just remember me. Please."
Chloe kissed me. She kissed me for a good minute or so before pulling back and whispering, "I will. I promise."