Author's Note: 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡxuqwgfZvH3
I'm so sorry about my absence lately. I've been studying for tests and neglecting what I love to do, but I promise to make sure that won't happen anymore. I made sure this chapter was longer than usual since I've missed the last few weeks of posting. Again, my apologies. 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡl79jlh8GsJ
But thank you to everyone who is reading my story! 3, 229 views is a lot, and I seriously appreciate it! So I hope you enjoy this chapter of Ezra Gatley and know that the next part may have another perspective...383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCkDfSa3Pzk
Enjoy!383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ0R5vUKSxfi
Emmanuel had his head out the window while I drove, panting like a dog and turning around in his seat to make sure I was watching him and driving at the same time. I tried to focus on driving more than his ridiculous happiness overseeing his friend. It was good that Emmanuel was getting friends in the process, and it made me feel great that he might actually like someone.
I just hope it doesn’t get in the way of his schoolwork.
After a ten-minute drive of my brother howling out of the window and laughing while people on the streets looked at him, we arrived at who I’m guessing was Sam’s house. It was actually pretty close to where Delcan’s neighborhood was, but I wasn’t about to mention that to Emmanuel, who seemed quite entertained by who I was dating.
Sam’s house looked like a mixture between a Suburban home and a Victorian home, but it really was nice. When I pulled into the driveway, congratulating myself for a successful drive, Emmanuel jumped in his seat. “We’re here, Ezie,” he said happily.
I smiled. “Uh-huh.”
My little brother began playing with his hair, then turned himself to me. Emmanuel was skinny for his age, and his little arms were going all over his head. “Do I look okay?”
Raising my eyebrows, I allowed him to look at my phone so he could see what he looked like. “I didn’t know this was actually a date,” I told him. He slapped my phone back into my hands, his cheeks red. “I also didn’t know you could lie to Mom.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIsuhoZZC13
He shrugged. “I didn’t feel too good about it,” Emmanuel admitted.
I know what he meant. The first time I had lied to my parents, it was when Mom had asked me about where I was in 7th grade. It was the first party I had gone to, and she stayed up until 11:00 to make sure I was home. It felt like someone had burned me when I snapped at her and said that I was doing homework - that she was too protective over me. But I don’t think Emmanuel will really be in the same situation I was when I was younger, plus, I have to remember everyone has a different experience.
“Don’t put yourself down too much, okay?” I told him. Emmanuel put his head down, messing with a cupholder. He must feel horrible for what he did, and I completely understand how bad someone can feel after they lie, especially to Mom - who’s always been loving and sweet.
My brother shifted his weight. “Do you really think it’s a date?” he whispered. From the look he was giving me, I’m guessing he had never been on a date in his life, which was good because I should always know about it. And it’s not like I know anything about dating, the most recent date I went on was one involving Haven’s parents and seafood I wasn’t a fan of.
“I don’t really know,” I told him. “Does Samantha like you?”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡm89X42Fgth
"Sam,” Emmanuel corrected me.
I felt my cheeks heat up. “My bad,” I said. “But you didn’t really answer my question.”
Emmanuel put his hands to his sides, wiping them off like they were sweaty. “Would you stop with the questions?!” he complained. “I didn’t ask you questions.”
“You told everyone I was making out with someone,” I told him, surprising myself that I had kept a straight face. “It’s only fair, Emmanuel.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡD250ch4IL1
“Well, don’t make out with him, then.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡulTr9Duikg
“Don’t open my door without asking,” I responded back. “And maybe you won’t see anything.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDp8kPKo9wO
Emmanuel pouted his lips. “I can’t believe we’re related,” he muttered under his breath, opening the car door as I smiled to myself. The second my car door had closed, Sam came running out of her house, her legs patting against the pavement. As I sat there and watched like an idiot, Sam ran up to my brother and wrapped her arms around him, almost causing both of them to fall.
“You came!” she exclaimed. Her eyes drifted up to me, and she swallowed. “You’re Ezra, right?”
I nodded. “Nice to see you again, Sam,” I said. Like the first time we had met, and the times Emmanuel reminds me she prefers Sam, I don’t think making her angry is gonna solve any issues. “Nice house.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZSTffFeXcK
She turned behind her, and her mouth twisted. “It’s not really my house,” she said. “Peter and his son live here and we had to move.” I watched Emmanuel turn to look at me while she shrugged, making it pretty obvious she wasn’t too happy about the marriage. “I guess that’s what happens when your mom decides she wants to marry right after divorcing someone.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8U2DVZNbHt
What I’ve gathered from the girl my brother likes: She’s blonde and loves sweatpants, she enjoys nicknames, her parents are divorced, and she may like my brother back. Out of all of that, I was still trying to decide what Dad would say about all of this.
“How old is your brother?” I asked her, trying to change the subject to something a bit less upsetting. Dad didn’t exactly believe in divorce, and I’m sure that was causing Emmanuel to have a split-brain.
Sam shrugged. “I think he’s your age,” she said. “I met him at the wedding.”
Well, I guess if I had just found out about a sibling at a wedding, I would be pretty upset about it.
Emmanuel hugged Sam again. “Try having my brothers and sister,” he said. When Sam looked up at me, Emmanuel shook his head. “They’re all teenagers. I told my mom she should’ve had me sooner.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡxLDGcVkZep
Sam laughed. “But Ezra seems nice.”
“He is,” Emmanuel said. “Ezie is pretty nice, and so is Evelyn. But that doesn’t mean they never get mad at me.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡKcV7C5JA0i
I almost rolled my eyes. “He’s lying to you,” I told Sam. “For as long as I’ve known, Emmanuel will whine until he gets whatever he wants to possibly get something.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡkrPVS2pwyd
Emmanuel stuck his tongue out to me. “He’s lying!”
Sam shrugged my brother off of her. “Who cares, alright?” Sam smiled at me. “I guess I could see you later?”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡRPl4rxLz0u
I nodded. At least Emmanuel had a better taste in women than I did. “Yeah,” I told her. “I hit my brother’s back. “Text me if you need me, alright?” Emmanuel shook his head, his eyebrows furrowed like I had just said the rudest thing in the world. But Sam really didn’t seem to be paying attention, instead, she was looking at her phone, her face annoyed. 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQ7aOpJ8jsk
Dang, I thought to myself while I was driving. Emmanuel likes someone. It was crazy to even think about it. He was the only one out of my entire family who hadn’t started dating yet, and now he was. I just hoped and prayed he wouldn’t ever be treated horribly with a person he liked.
I pulled into the park, not surprised at all that Haven wasn’t even here. After a few seconds of waiting, I pulled out my phone and texted her. 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbJdQd8Yata
Hey, just wanted to know when you’d be here. 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8Tc72LNg5H
I knew my ex-girlfriend, so I wasn’t upset when she read my text and didn’t respond. Typically, when this happened, it meant she had completely moved on and wasn’t even ready. It’s happened on dates before, to which I would always joke around that I’d show up late for her benefit, resulting in me getting yelled at for being late.
Honestly, I kinda miss that about her.
Fifteen minutes later, Haven pulled up in her mom’s red Porsche. She stepped out of the car, whipping her dark brown hair behind her. She was wearing a dark blue dress that was probably short enough to get dress-coded, but I’m sure it didn’t happen. Her boots were brown with a strip of multicolored rings around it. Haven looked great, even with the brown belt around her waist. “Sorry I was late,” she said. “I-”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWkJpz7cLE3
“You’re fine,” I smiled. I had been leaning on the car for about three minutes, and my legs were asleep...but it could be worse. “How have you been, Haven?”
She shrugged. “Good as I’ll ever be,” she told me. She walked over to me before a smile formed over her face. “How have you been?”
“Good,” I told her. “You know the code, right?”
Haven nodded. “Having relations to the school board can be pretty beneficial,” she said. I took my phone out of my pocket as we walked, texting Dad I needed to drop something off to Adam. He didn’t respond, but it wasn’t like I was expecting him to.
I looked at the new flowers in the yard as Haven entered the code. Instantly, the machine made a loud and low beeping noise before opening to let us in.
“Oh my gosh,” Haven laughed. I looked over the large playground, which consisted of a set of triplet monkey bars, huge slides and platforms, and a zipline going across a pair of trees. I mostly remembered sitting on the slide with Evelyn as we both argued over who was better at running faster. A track ran around the entire playground, which had recently been painted. It looked like a rich place, and the signs about warnings of trespassing made that seem even worse. “It’s like walking down memory lane.”
I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and pulled it out. Though it wasn’t who I hoped it could be, it turned out to be Emmanuel.383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡeRWrgt8gaw
It is a date!! Oh, crap what happens on a date? 383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZjHGjCmrHa
I smiled. “Tell me about it.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡvXrxQqsWtX
Haven looked over to me, her eyes on my phone. “Who was it?”
“My little brother,” I told her. She smiled, probably remembering that Emmanuel liked her a lot. “He’s over at a friend’s house, and he’s freaking out about it.” I shrugged. “He’s pretty crazy when it comes to crushes.”
Haven looked me up and down. “Yup,” she declared sarcastically. “It’s only him.”
“So what were we going to talk about?” I asked, changing the subject. I felt my face heat up, but Haven didn’t mention it.
“I-let’s wait a second, okay?” she said. I just noticed how nervous she seemed to be. Haven hardly ever got nervous, and when she did, her dark brown hair would spontaneously flip from one side of her to the other, like it would help her thinking.
We walked in silence for a few seconds on the track before we were at The Oaktree. Almost every teenager calls it that. It was a tree that was traditionally used for older siblings to scare their younger ones with stories on Halloween. Then, in 7th or 8th grade, if you were lucky enough to date someone, the two would kiss under the tree two hours after school.
Our school had done it was a way to see how much more we could get than Oakwood, and we won. Last time I remember, six hundred seventy-eight people kissed under this tree at 5:00 over the span of nine months, Haven and I being one of them. “So...why are we here?” I asked.
Haven shrugged. “The chairs are comfortable,” she responded. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna kiss you or something.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQlriFOMRR6
“I know.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ5Osn4YBOpk
This is really awkward.
We sat down next to each other on a loveseat as Haven flipped her hair to the left of her head. “Alright,” she said. “I think that...the relationship we have right now is pretty awkward.” When I didn’t respond to her, she smiled. “Exactly. Before I say anything, you have to promise you won’t get super mad at me.”
I relaxed on my side of the seat. “What exactly could you do that would make me angry?”
“Not a lot,” she smiled. “You typically get over it quickly, because you were always so worried I would break up with you. Is that right?”
I was surprised she knew that. We had been in tons of arguments before since the moment we decided to become a thing at the end of 8th grade, but I would always apologize after two days, even if it was her fault. “Yeah, okay,” I muttered, mad at myself that I allowed our relationship to work like that. “So does this have to do with something stupid you did?”
Haven shrugged, her cheeks red. “I’m not really sure,” she said. When I continued to look at her, she touched my shoulder. “It has nothing to do with Delcan, okay? He hates me enough as it is.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡztIaDadTNk
“He hates a lot of people,” I told her. “I wouldn’t take it as a personal attack.”
She sighed. “Let’s forget about your working love life right now, please,” Haven said. There wasn’t jealousy behind her voice at all, more like some kind of longing for it that annoyed her. When I pressed my lips together, Haven rested her head on me. “I’m also sorry for what I said about Evvie.”
Alright, that could make me angry. I pushed my ex-girlfriend off of me. “How did you even know about it?”
Haven shook her hair, dark hair falling to her side. “I didn’t,” she said. “But she stopped hanging out with you often, and she would always wear things that weren’t as revealing as she usually...I just had a feeling.”
“Doesn’t mean you had a right to say anything,” I told her.
Haven’s eyes seemed to fill with regret for bringing it up. “I know that, Ezra,” she said. “I was just angry with everything, okay? I learn that my parents may be getting a divorce and you break up with me and then tell me you’re gay all in the same day...it’s a lot to handle.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEEOh1XS87g
I wanted to hate her. I wanted to hate what she did to Evvie and why she made me feel so guilty, even if she probably knew, and even if she never really loved me in the first place, but it was hard to. There was a spot in my heart was still aching for her, wanting to fix any pain she felt. When we began dating, I assumed that was my attraction to her, but I now know it’s just something I share for almost anyone. “Why are your parents divorcing?”
“My dad’s cheating, I think,” she said. I am positive my dad had done the same thing once or twice to my mother, but I knew she was never planning on leaving him. “Or they just don’t feel any type of...connection anymore? I don’t know. Things just aren’t working out.”
I nodded. “I’m sorry,” I told her.
“It’s not your fault,” she said.
We sat in silence again, neither of us trying to strike a conversation. Whatever the reason was for wanting to meet me, I’m sure she was second-guessing it now. I listened to a bird chirping in The Oaktree as Haven tapped her fingers along the chair.
At least ten minutes passed before Haven started speaking again. “Evvie won the argument, though,” she almost whispered. “Slapped me in the same spot your boyfriend did before exploding on me about my secret and how horrible I was to you because of it.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I argued.
Haven rolled her hazel eyes. “Might as well be,” she said. My mouth popped open as she shrugged. “Anyway, she told me that since you had the dignity and respect to be honest to me when I needed to hear it, I should be honest with you. Plus, I’ve been feeling so guilty about what I said to her that-”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZ4C9eV4FgD
“I’m not the one you should be apologizing to, then,” I said, standing up. It enraged me that she had brought me here just to say something I shouldn’t even be hearing. She had wasted my time, and I was starting to get fed up with her. “Apologize to Evvie, the one you called out for no reason at all except for the fact that you’re a ⟴.”
Haven’s looked down to the ground, her feet swinging from side to side as she bit her lip. Why did I say that? I was thinking to myself. What gave me the right to say those things to her? She’s just an angry person going through her parents divorcing.
“She was right, though,” Haven said, looking up at me. “She told me how wrong it was for me to use you because I didn’t want to be honest about it. Evvie was right when she said our relationship could’ve been a lot better, had we have been honest with each other.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡsidK3Q7dA3
I threw my hands up in the air. “Honest, Haven?!” I complained. “You think honesty is going to fix what was wrong with us? What’s wrong with you and me?”
Haven nodded. “Yeah,” she whispered. “I do. Would you please sit back down?”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I don’t need to listen to you,” I said.
She hunched her back. “I get that,” she said. “But this is really important to me, Ezra. I don’t wanna yell it across the playground.”
“Then I guess you won’t need to tell me,” I said.
“You think I don’t know how horrible I’ve been to you?” she said. When her eyes filled with tears, I felt my knees weaken. “I treated you like ⟴ and I feel horrible for that because it wasn’t your fault. You tried so hard to love me, Ezra. And...I just feel like you should know more than anyone why I’ve been so mean to you and everyone else.”383Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4hKMWIh7uM
Maybe I could listen to that. Plus, my brain was screaming at me to comfort her, so I sat back down slowly. “Okay,” I said, my voice sounding much calmer than it had beforehand. “Just tell me.”
Haven nodded, tears still streaming down her face. Then, she told me one of the most shocking things I had heard in a very longest time. ns220.127.116.11da2