“Yes,” Liam answered, nodding. His arm wrapped tightly around me. I cringed into him, wanting this to be a dream. Not only is my abusive father coming back, but my brother was now going to beat the crap out of my boyfriend.
“How long?” Jake asked. His jaw was still tight but he seemed to be doing well with his control.
“Since Friday,” Liam replied quietly. He looked really guilty, and I knew it was my fault because I asked him to lie about it.
“He wanted to tell you straight away, Jake, but I wanted to wait. I don’t want you two fighting. Please?” I begged, looking at my brother, giving him my puppy dog face.
“You like him, Amber?” Jake asked, closing his eyes, looking sad and disappointed.
“Yes,” I admitted, still begging him with my eyes to accept it and not go off on one or blame Liam for it. I would hate it if they fell out over me.
He nodded but didn’t open his eyes. “What was that what you did, Liam? How did you do that? Calm her down like that?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking at him gratefully.
“I don’t know. It’s just something that calms her down that’s all. I’ve always done it,” Liam said with a shrug.
“Always done it? You’ve done that before?” Jake asked, looking confused.
“Yeah, I’ve had to calm her down a few times,” Liam replied sadly. I thought about what he meant, all the times that he had seen me cry, probably every single night up until the age of fourteen.
“What? When? I’ve never seen you do that,” Jake protested, shaking his head, looking confused. I drew in a shaky breath. Now he’s going to find out that Liam sleeps in my room. I crossed my fingers and prayed that this went well, that Jake was OK and not too angry with his best friend. Liam looked at me for permission to tell him, I nodded and chewed on my lip knowing this needed to be brought out into the open sooner or later.
“Jake, please don’t freak out,” I begged, moving my body so it was in front of Liam’s slightly, in case Jake lunged for him or something. My small move might just deter him from beating the crap out of my boyfriend.
“Jake, man, nothing ever happened, I swear,” Liam promised. Jake looked at him, his expression even more confused. “When I was ten, I saw her crying on her bed through my window. So I snuck over to make sure she was OK, and I ended up falling asleep in the bed with her.” Jake glared at him like he wanted to murder him there and then. “It happened again the next night, and the next. She would be crying, so I would sneak through her window. After a while it was just a habit,” Liam said, frowning slightly.
Jake jumped up with his fists clenched. His eyes tight, and glaring at Liam. As quick as lightning, Liam grabbed my arm and pulled me behind him protectively. Jake’s eyes flashed before his face calmed. “Why did you just do that?” Jake asked, sighing and looking at Liam intently.
“Do what?” Liam asked confused, still holding me behind him.
“Move my sister behind you like that,” Jake said, his face completely calm now.
Liam shook his head as if he didn’t understand the question. “I didn’t want her to get hurt, that’s all.”
Jake sat back down and dragged his hand through his blond hair. “You really like my sister?” he asked, looking at the floor.
“Jake, I’m in love with your sister, you know that.” Liam sat back down on the sofa and pulled me to sit down next to him.
Jake nodded. “And you’ve slept in her bed before, when we were kids,” Jake stated, as if trying to make sure he had the facts straight.
“Not just when we were kids, that’s what I was trying to say. She used to cry, and so I would sneak over to comfort her every night. It just became a habit, and now neither of us can actually sleep properly without the other there,” Liam admitted, frowning.
Jakes face shot up. “You still sleep in her room? Every night since you were ten? Damn it, Liam. Shit! Motherfucking, stupid asshole!” Jake ranted, not really able to get the words out, taking a step forwards his fists clenched again. I winced. Oh God, here it comes!
I held up my hands, trying to stop him. “Jake, remember when I used to wake up screaming all the time?” I asked desperately. I needed to make him see reason fast before they ended up fighting.
He nodded and winced. “Yeah, that stopped though when you were like eight or something.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I was eight. That was when Liam started sleeping in with me. I don’t have nightmares anymore, because of Liam,” I said, smiling and squeezing Liam’s hand.
“You do! I’ve had to sleep in with you a few times since then,” Jake protested.
“Yeah you did, but I still had the nightmares even though you were there,” I countered. Jake flinched and nodded, probably at the memory of me screaming the house down in his bed. “I’ve only had a few nightmares since then, the only times I ever have them is when Liam’s not there. Like if he’s on vacation or something,” I explained, looking at Jake, watching as understanding shot across his face. We were all silent for a while. Liam was stroking the back of my hand; Jake was just staring at the floor.
After what seemed like forever, Jake looked at Liam. “Liam, if you hurt my sister, best friend or not, I will kill you,” Jake warned. I could see that he meant it.
“I won’t, I promise,” Liam vowed, smiling reassuringly.
“Right, well, I’m going to bed. I guess I’ll see you in the morning, make sure you lock the door before you two go to bed,” Jake instructed, getting up and leaving us sitting there on the sofa, shocked.
I looked at Liam; he just looked stunned as I felt. “Wow, that was easier than I thought,” he mused, smiling at me and putting his hands either side of my face.
I smiled, just pleased that it was finally out in the open. “Want to go to bed, Liam? I’m not in the mood for homework; I just want to go to sleep.” I just needed to lie in the bed and have him hold me for a little while.
He nodded and kissed my nose. “Yeah, I just need to go back home first. Jake called and said you were freaking out, so I just ran out of the house without even telling my parents where I was going.” He stroked my face with his thumbs softly, just looking at me with a sad smile.
“OK. I guess I’ll just go to bed and see you when you’re ready,” I said, getting up and pulling him towards the front door.
“Hey, can I use the door now that Jake knows?” He grinned.
I laughed at his excitement, but shook my head. “No, your parents might see…. unless you tell them you’re staying here,” I suggested.
He smiled happily. “I would love to walk through your front door and get in your bed; I’ve never done that before.”
I took out my keys and gave them to him. “Make sure you lock it after, OK?” I kissed his cheek and made my way to my bedroom.
It was nearly ten o’clock but my body felt so exhausted from all the emotional drama that it felt like I hadn’t slept in days. I pulled off my clothes and slipped on my favourite t-shirt that used to be Liam’s. I fell asleep instantly. A couple of minutes later I felt two arms wrap around me and a heavy leg slung over mine. I smiled and pressed back into him. My boyfriend. The one I needed when things went wrong.
It’s weird, but when Jake pulled me away from Liam tonight, I felt strange, like I’d left my heart behind. I didn’t realise up until then, how strongly I was connected to him. He literally was everything to me. When I felt his arms wrap around me earlier, I felt like I was home, all my panic started to recede. I felt like, as long as he was with me, I’d be alright.
I snuggled into him and heard him whisper, “I love you,” right before I fell back into a deep dreamless sleep; I didn’t doubt his words this time.
I woke at six with my alarm going off. I groaned because I'd forgotten to cancel it. I guess I don’t need to kick him out of my bed early anymore. I rolled over and hugged Liam. He always slept through the alarm; I swear he would sleep through an earthquake. I nudged him gently, deciding to play a joke on him.
“Six o’clock,” I said, nudging him again.
He groaned and slowly got up out of the bed, still half asleep. “OK, Angel. I love you; I’ll see you later.” He kissed my forehead and got out of the bed, his eyes only half open. I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughing. He looked at me, confused. “Shh! What are you laughing at?” he asked, frowning, pulling on his jeans.
“You,” I teased, smiling happily.
“What about me? What have I done?” he whispered, climbing back onto the bed and crawling on top of me. He pressed every inch of his body to mine but still keeping all of his weight off of me somehow. He looked into my eyes, smiling happily for a little while, and then understanding crossed his face. “Shit! Your brother knows! Then why the hell did you wake me up, Angel? I don’t need to leave,” he whined.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him in for a long kiss. “I was just kidding around. I forgot to cancel the alarm so I thought I’d use the extra time and we could make out.”
He grinned. “You wanna make out?” he teased, kissing down my neck. I gasped as he reached the sensitive spot near my collarbone.
“Mmm,” I breathed, running my hands down his back, scratching slightly with my nails, making him moan. He climbed back under the covers, and kissed me tenderly and softly, holding me close. He made no moves to take things any further than that, which I loved. He really was adorable.
We walked out of my bedroom a little after seven thirty. Liam pushed me onto one of the kitchen stools, grinning to himself like the cat that got the cream. “Hey, I get to make you breakfast without getting shouted at today,” he chirped.
I laughed and watched as he made me a bowl of cereal; he smiled and put it in front of me, before making some toast for himself. “You don’t eat cereal?” I asked, watching him scoff four slices of toast.