I was already broken when she came into my life — almost like a shell of the man I knew I should be but could never, ever hope to end up like. The thing about wanting to be good is just that. You want to be good, but you lack the self-control to be anything but bad.
And I was bad.
I am bad.
She just didn’t know it. I wish I were a good person, because maybe then I could let her go. Maybe if I was good, I could release her before everything goes to hell. But I couldn’t. I wanted her too damn bad. I wanted us. And I’d do anything — be anything to keep her. Even if it meant that I had to be something that I wasn’t.
I used to think life was easy — you got up, you ate, you drank, you did whatever the hell you did, and you went back to bed… I was wrong.
Maybe if I could have seen it coming, I could have prevented what happened. Hell. I know I could have prevented it from happening. But I didn’t see that coming. Nobody would have seen it coming — nobody would have been able to guess.
I knew it was only a matter of time before my control snapped. After all, I’d been on borrowed time for too long. I kept everything in boxes. My relationship with Nat, my career, my issues with my brother, and then finally all the shit I put myself and everyone else through a few years go. That box was labeled Hell and it was conveniently stored in the furthest part of my brain — never to be opened again.
Unfortunately, the sucky thing about packing away bad choices, memories, and just all around stupidity, was that it always taunted you.
I knew it was only a matter of time before my own Pandora’s box exploded and my control snapped. After all, as much as I told Demetri he needed to deal with all his baggage, I just ignored mine. I mean, I knew it was there, but I chose to believe that as long as it was safely tucked away, it was dealt with.
The cards weren’t just stacked against me; they were collapsing on top of me. I fought for breath as Nat’s hurt eyes bore into mine.
“So that’s it?” Thick tears ran down her cheeks.
I cursed and ran my hands through my hair. “Yeah, Nat. That’s it.”
“So what happens now?” She wiped some stray tears from her cheeks and crossed her arms protectively across her chest.
I would forever remember that moment. During those lonely nights when I was tempted to do something stupid, I’d remember the look of betrayal on her face. I’d remember the way even her tears seemed to look beautiful as her clear eyes searched mine for the one thing I couldn’t give them — reassurance.
“I stop hurting you.” I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry, Nat. But, this is goodbye.”
Two weeks previous
I watched the waves crash against the sand as yet another camera flashed in my face. The group was all together, Alyssa and Demetri, Angelica and Jaymeson, and finally Nat and me. I cringed for the twentieth time that day.
Seaside was officially the hot spot to be, and we were the show to watch. Nobody was nervous but me. Why was I the only one? I was stressed, angry, worried. Damn, I felt like a parent. I just wanted to protect everyone, especially Nat. I loved her so much, and now it felt like I was really exposing her to the life Demetri and I lived on a daily basis. Before it wasn’t so bad. I gave Nat a bit of Hollywood in small doses. After all, AD2 was still technically on hiatus.
Not now. Why did it suddenly feel like I brought the depths of hell into this sleepy town? Camera crews were everywhere. A makeup artist touched up Nat’s lipstick for the third time while I watched. Couldn’t they have at least gotten her a female makeup artist? By the looks of this guy, he wasn’t gay. And if he kept lingering, my fist was going to end up in his face.
I scowled and looked toward the beach. It was like I had just hatched hundreds of baby turtles and was now waiting in anticipation of the horror of them being eaten by birds before making it into the ocean and swimming free.
Note to self: You know your life is going to shit when you start using reptiles as allegorical examples of how bad things suck.
“Enough!” I finally said as the guy hovering over Nat’s face added more powder. He scurried off as I showed him the finger. Nat glared in my direction. I blew her a kiss and managed a cocky smile.
I could do four more weeks of filming, and then I was going to propose and whisk her away from Seaside, away from Hollywood, away from everything. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could balance everything before I broke. All things considered, I was already on borrowed time. Nat and Demetri had no clue. I gripped the chair until my knuckles turned white.
I wanted her to be far away from everything when it hit the fan.