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Complicate Me(63)

By:M. Robinson

We watched him walk down the beach. His slacks were rolled up to his calves with his shoes and socks in his hands. I knew where he was going and it took everything inside me not to follow him.

“How’s he really holding up?” Austin asked, holding me tighter like he knew I needed it.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t worry about it, Half-Pint, he’ll come around.”

Jacob and Dylan headed back inside a few minutes later and I sat with Austin, admiring the ocean. The waves were calm today and it surprised me, they usually weren’t this time of year.

“Aren’t you going to yell at me?”

I shook my head. “I think you’re too old to be yelled at.”

He chuckled. “Never stopped you before.”

“Where have you been?”

“Everywhere. You name it, I’ve been there.”


“Working meaningless jobs, but I’ve seen the world, Alex. I’ve seen it at it’s best and I’ve seen it at it’s worst. I’ve met some amazing people and some really fucking shitty ones. I didn’t know, I had no idea she was that sick. My parents told me a while back that she had gotten cancer. I was going to call Lucas, but what would that really have changed? Our friendship died the day I almost killed you.”

I winced at his words. I hated that he still felt the wounds that had healed on his body years ago.

“I sometimes check the Oak Island news online. It’s random that I came across it. I hadn’t checked it in over a year and a half. I woke up that morning with an uneasy feeling. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t go away. I went online and there it was, front page and everything. Dr. Ryder’s wife… yada… yada… yada… it took her dying for me to come home.”

Everything happens for a reason.

“Are you staying?”

“For a while.”

“Who’s the girl?”

He adoringly smiled. “That’s Briggs. I met her in New York about a year and a half ago.”

“She seems… hardcore.”

He laughed. “Her bark is worse than her bite.”

“You love her?”

“She’s hard not to love.”

“She trouble?”

“You have no fucking idea.”

“Alexandra!” Cole shouted from the deck.

“I better go.” I stood, brushing off the sand.

“Don’t run away, Half-Pint. I’ve been doing it for five years and there really is no place like home,” he stated out of nowhere.


“That ring on your finger weighs more than you do.”

I eyed it, knowingly.

“Do you love him?”

I nodded because I couldn’t say it. Why couldn’t I say it?

“What about Lucas?”

“Austin,” I repeated.

“You know what I’ve learned these last few years? I’ve learned that you can’t live your life for everyone else. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. It doesn’t matter if no one understands it, at the end of the day if you’re happy then to hell with everyone else. I lived my life for the boys, for you, for my parents. I was never really happy, Alex. I thought I was but deep inside I knew… it’s why I left. I traveled around the world to find myself and I ended up back where it all began. All I feel is content. Happiness even.” He shook his head, grinning. “I know where your happiness is and I know you do, too.”

I looked over at Cole as I took in Austin’s words. He stood there waiting for me, and I couldn’t help but think how long he had been doing that, waiting.

“You remember how I told everyone, including you, that I didn’t remember the accident?”

I froze, gazing back down at him.

“I lied. I remember everything. I remember every fucking thing. I almost killed you.”

I bent forward to sit on the balls of my feet in front of him, lovingly smiling, and grabbing the sides of his face. “No, Austin. You told me to put my seatbelt on and when I couldn’t do it, you did it for me. Right before we hit the tree you laid your arm over my chest, pressing my body into the seat as hard as you could. You held me there, even though you knew that you didn’t have a seatbelt on. Even though you knew I had mine on. It was instinctual for you. You. Saved. Me.”

His eyes widened in realization. “You remember?”

I smirked. “I’m good at keeping secrets, too.”


“You didn’t need anyone else hating you, more than you already hated yourself.”

His mouth parted to say something, but I cut him off, “You did hate yourself. Welcome home, Austin.” And with that…

I kissed the scar on his eyebrow and left.

Cole flew back to California the next morning and I decided to stay a few more days, much to his disapproval. I hadn’t seen Lucas since the funeral. It had been four days when I knocked on his door to no avail. I knew he was home, because his truck was parked outside.

“Lucas?” I announced, opening the door and shutting it behind me.

I slowly walked inside, taking in all the pictures on his wall. I was in several of them, so were the boys, Mason, and our families. I smiled when I saw the picture I had given him for his thirteenth birthday and then again when I saw the one from my prom.

“Hey,” I greeted as I made my way into the living room, his back to me as he sat on the porch. He took a sip of his beer, bringing it back down to his lap.

“Lily says she hasn’t seen you since the funeral, she’s worried. She gave me your address after I told her I would come and check on you.”

“I’m not a child, Alex. I don’t need you to babysit me.”

“I know that. I’m worried about you, too.”

He took another few sips of his beer, placed it on the table and came inside. He looked like he hadn’t slept or showered in days. “What are you doing here?” he rasped in a lifeless tone.

“I just told you. I’m worried about you and wanted to make sure you were okay.”

He sat at the edge of the couch. “How are you doing?”

“Don’t worry about me, how are you?”

He blew out a puff of air. His expression told me I should have known this. What was coming, what he was about to say, but I wasn’t. I never thought it would come to this or maybe I did and I just chose to ignore it. Sweep it under the rug that now held all of our truths.

“I’ve been worried about you since you were born. How the hell do you propose that I just stop? You want me to just turn it off, shut it off like a light switch?”

I didn’t answer with words, only with my eyes. I couldn’t answer that question any more than Lucas could turn off the way he worried about me. His eyes held mine and I noticed a slight shake in his head. An internal fight was clear on his face. “What are you doing here, Alex?”

I didn’t know how to answer that either. “I already told you. I love you, Lucas. Why are you talking to me like you’re still not my best friend?”

He grimaced, covering it quickly. “Go home, Alex. You need to go home.”

“I am home.”

“No. You’re not. Your home isn’t here anymore. Not in this town. Not in the abandoned house. Not here with me.”

I stepped back, needing more space between us, even though we were already a room length away from each other. “Why are you trying to hurt me?”

“For the first time I’m trying to do the opposite. All I’ve ever done is hurt you, with my words, with my actions. I can’t do this to you anymore. I need to let you go.”

“What?” I frowned, confused and scared. Why did I feel scared?

“This.” He pointed in between us. “What we’ve been doing since we were kids.”

“Lucas,” I coaxed, desperately wanting him to stop what he was about to say, but knowing he wouldn’t.

“Go home, Alex. Go home to your fiancé. Go home to California. That’s your home now. I’m your past, and you have to let me go. Cole’s your future. He’s your priority now. Stop worrying about me. I’m not your concern anymore. Cole is. He’s going to be your husband, it’s time you put him first.”

“That’s not what I’m doing. I love Cole but you’ll always be my best friend, Bo.”

“You can’t have it both ways. It’s not fair to him, to you, or to me. I can’t continue to be selfish anymore. I’m not trying to hurt you, Alex. I swear it. I promise you. I’m trying to let you go so you can marry the man you love, so you can have a future with happiness. No more sadness. No more chaos. No more hurricane. No. More. Me.”

I sucked in a deep breath, trying to steady my mind. My heart.

“Go home, Alex. Please. Go home to Cole. You’re his. Not mine.”

I wanted to fight with him. I wanted to tell him that it wasn’t true. His words devastated me, but not because they weren’t true. They gutted me because they were true, every last one of them. I thought about the years of us playing this back and forth game, the truths, the lies, and the secrets, one right after the other. Which caused a domino effect of confusion, hurt, and of pain and sorrow. Of love and hate.

I loved Lucas, but there were also times I hated him. For what he did and didn’t do, but when I pictured my future with Cole I never imagined my life without Lucas being in it. I never realized the severity of me saying yes to his proposal. “I do,” meant goodbye to my past. Goodbye to the memories, to the love, to the best friend I had known all my life. To the only other man I’ve ever loved.