Rockstar Bay Academy: Part 37
I Still Love You
I walk into the kitchen, my steps slow as I take in the sight before me. Lilah and Ethan sit at the island, eating breakfast and chatting like old friends. At the beginning of the year, this was how I found them every morning before school. The scene makes my chest tighten.
Even dressed in her casual pyjama top, her hair flowing over her shoulders, she’s freaking stunning. The animated way she’s talking to Ethan makes it impossible to look away, but when her eyes lock with mine it’s like a brutal punch to the stomach. This brief connection between us only amplifies the pain of our current situation.
Since our breakup, Lilah has mostly avoided me, and I've given her as much space as I can, denying my own needs and wants. Lilah doesn't want to continue, and it's pointless to fight for something she doesn't want. This leaves me feeling angry, resentful, and trying to hide it all from everyone for the sake of keeping the peace. Not that I've ever really cared about keeping the peace so much, but I don't have it in me to fight. I don't have it in me to go back to the way things were, and now that I know Lilah and have stopped lying to myself about her, I don't even have the shield of hate to protect myself from her.
Unable to keep watching them talk so easily without bitterness creeping in, I start making breakfast, feeling like a third wheel as I listen to them interact. Ethan tells Lilah about a girl he met at a gig we attended, and jealousy churns inside me. I've spent so much time prioritizing my relationship with Ethan, putting my needs last, sacrificing what I truly desired. The ache has been relentless, and my music has been my only solace. Now, here they sit, conversing easily because they can be friends and no one is going to object.
I might have done the unthinkable and fallen in love with my brother’s ex. But I never got to be with her, truly have her, or cherish what we had. All we had was guilt and shame, and now, even though I know Lilah doesn’t want to be with me when I leave, I can’t help but hate all the time I’m missing on spending with her now in order to give her space.
"Oh really?" Lilah asks, her eyes sparkling with interest. "Tell me more about her."
Standing by the counter and eating my breakfast, I feel like an outsider as I listen to Ethan describe the girl. My thoughts drift to the times Lilah and I have spent together, wondering if there will ever be a moment when I don’t have to pretend not to feel heartbroken and lost for her in front of my brother. Due to my denial and jealousy over their relationship, I ruined things for myself. I have no one to blame but me, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept when I can’t be with the one person I yearn for. I've missed her, craved her presence, but more than anything, I've missed our friendship and conversations. In truth, there's no one I enjoy talking to quite like Lilah.
"Sounds like you really like her," Lilah says, smiling at Ethan.
Ethan shrugs but returns her smile. "It’s early days, but yeah, I really like her."
My brother glances at me before looking back at Lilah. "And she has a sister who was into Ash, if you can believe it. So double dating won’t be an issue."
Lilah’s quick intake of breath makes her sound as if she’s been hit. Trying to recover, she gives Ethan a strained smile, but the same heartbreak I’ve been experiencing for two months flashes in her eyes as she briefly meets my gaze before turning away, ripping me apart. But the hurt in her eyes and her forced smile makes me feel like my brother just tore my heart out. And I don't know what to do about it, because I can't be with her. She doesn't want to be with me due to the drama it would cause and my upcoming move to the States. But she isn't over me.
And now she's hurting the same way I would be if someone told me Lilah was interested in someone else. "That would be perfect for the two of you," Lilah says, turning away.
I glare at my brother, who frowns, his gaze shifting cautiously between Lilah and me.
"Well," Lilah says, pretending to be cheerful, her eyes too bright, "off to do homework."
I want to stop her, to tell her I had no interest in the sister or any of the girls Ethan has tried to introduce me to over the past month and a half. Instead, I wait until she's left the room before focusing on my brother.
"Why would you say that to her?" I demand.
He squirms. "I'm sorry—"
"We ended things because you were unhappy. I gave her up, she gave me up, so why do you have to hurt us like that?"
His jaw clenches. "I... it wasn't my intention. I didn't think..."
"You didn't think what?"
"I didn't think you were still... that she was still... well..."
"Are you kidding? I love her. Why do you think I turn down every invite I get?"
His mouth turns down at the corner. "I thought you were too busy supporting me."
I laugh darkly at that. "Just because I've been trying to fix our relationship doesn't mean I don't love her."
"You really still love her?"
He doesn't look happy about it, but I point out, "We ended things, but I can't make my feelings for her disappear. I can't control the way I feel about her."
He continues watching me. "You really love her?"
"Pretty sure I've already told you that."
Ethan looks down at his cereal, swirling his spoon through the milk before looking at me again. "I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to think about it. But if you... if you still want to be with her, I won't stand in your way."
"What?" I drop my own spoon.
He sighs. "I knew both of you were upset about not being together, but I guess I didn't realize it was that deep for both of you. You're right, the choice you gave me was messed up. But giving it to you didn't make me feel better."
"Are you sure about that?"
He disregards my question. "I know you regret giving me that choice, and I understand why now. I couldn't handle it at the time, but I see now that you haven't been yourself, and I'm saying..." he turns to face me more fully. "If you want to be with her, you should be with her."
I raise an eyebrow, trying not to let the adrenaline burst of excitement take over, not until I'm sure listening to my brother won't backfire.
"Are you telling me you're not going to start searching for another bandmate if I'm with her?"
He shakes his head and points his spoon at me. "I mean it, I don't want to see it, but…fine. If that's what you want, it's your life. Just don't jeopardize the band for her."
"You know me better than that."
He doesn't look too sure about it, then he nods, and when he sees me looking towards the exit Lilah left through, he sighs dramatically. "Go. Talk to her."
When I look at my brother, he doesn't appear impressed. But he also doesn't look enraged or ready to throw down.
"Are you still in love with her?" I ask, annoyed the moment I ask the question. I should have just gone before he could change his mind. The problem is that if he decides tomorrow that he still doesn't like us being together, the hope today will hurt more.
Ethan scrunches his face up as he thinks about it. "I do still love her," he says slowly, carefully. "But not in the same way you do."
When he sees my look of confusion, he continues. "What Lilah and I had was…pure. Innocent. She was my first love, and I held onto what I felt for her after we ended things because I didn't think I'd feel that way again. She and I felt perfect—I was crazy about her, but if we got back together, it wouldn't have been the same. The damage I did to her when we split was irreparable. We can't go back to what we were, as much as I wish we could. The best we'll have is friendship, so…I've let go of any hopes I had in that area."
I nod, taking in what he's just said. Lilah and I never had a real chance, but what if we did too much damage trying to be together despite the circumstances and then breaking up? What if there are too many obstacles in our way? What if she doesn't want to give us another chance because I'm still moving overseas at the end of the year? Is my situation with Lilah much different from Ethan and Lilah's?
"You, though..." Ethan points his spoon at me. "It's clear you haven't let go of hope. And neither has she."
Deciding now is the time to lay it all on the line, I tell him about the first time I realized Lilah was someone I liked a lot—when we shared a music class. I tell him how I was away for a day, and she started ignoring me, and then how she started dating Ethan.
"Well, damn. Does this mean I betrayed you?" he asks, a look of wonder on his face that elicits a laugh from me.
"You couldn't have because I never told you about all that."
My biggest and most epic regret.
"Well, I say you need to try and fix it."
I lean against the counter and admit, "She doesn't want to be with me when I move to the States."
Ethan frowns. "Then why did she look so upset? Maybe you need to ask her again." He waves me out of the kitchen. "Go on."
I grin, and this time I do as he tells me, rushing towards Lilah's room.
"Just keep it on the down-low," he calls after me. "I don't want to hear about it from other people either. And God, I really don't want to hear you two making out in the house."
I glance back at him, chuckling. "Making out?"
"Get lost. Just…leave me out of it."
Still laughing, I take the final steps. As I stand at her door, doubts creep in again. Do I have any right to propose we get together now when I can't offer her anything she wants in such a short time?
The look of pain in her eyes and the hurried way she left the kitchen play on my mind. I knock on her door before I can talk myself out of it. Maybe she'll still say she doesn't want to do this, that it's too painful to start and then stop something when I leave. I know she doesn't want to be with me when I go, but I can't live with not knowing. I can't live with more regrets. I can't live with keeping my distance from her and the end of our friendship if I don't have to.
"What is it?" she calls out.
"It's me. I need to talk to you."
"Now's not a good time."
Her choked reply makes me ignore her and slowly open the door. Inside, Lilah sits on her bed, knees tucked into her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. She's clearly been crying, but she looks more beautiful than any girl I've ever seen.
I didn't tell my brother that I knew—knew—Lilah was the girl I wanted, the one who was my perfect match in so many ways. Not sure he'd have believed me if I had.
When she sees me, she quickly wipes her face and hiccups. "I said now isn't a good time."
Unable to stay away another moment, I walk over to the bed and sit beside her.
She scoots away from me and won't look at me. The obvious pain she's in hurts me.
"Ethan was talking out of his ass when he implied there'd be any double dating going on," I tell her.
She still doesn't look at me, so I continue.
"There hasn't been anyone since you, no one I've wanted. No one I've looked twice at or thought about for even a second."
That gets her attention. Finally, she turns to face me, cautiously, as if she's ready to take flight, as if she needs to prepare for me to hurt her again. My gut knots as I wonder again if anything we've done till now can be undone. Is the pain irreversible? Is our breakup permanent?
The only way to find out is to lay it all on the line with the girl of my dreams.
"I still love you," I tell her, waiting and watching as my words sink in. "And I know you don't see a future for us when I move to the States, but I miss you, Lilah. I miss you so much. Maybe you don't want to do anything about it because of the future, but I hate keeping my distance from you. I want to be with you, even if you don't see us lasting."
"But Ethan…" Her voice is low and rough, as if it's been wrenched from her. I don't know what to say here. That he won't stand in our way? That he gives us his permission?
Instead, I shrug. "He's come to terms with the idea of us."
I don’t mention right now that he doesn’t want to see or hear us together.
Her eyebrows furrow. "Since when?"
"Since he can see that it isn't over for either of us." I look at her intently. "At least, it isn't over for me."
"It isn't over for me, either," she murmurs.
Not waiting for permission or for her to change her mind, I say, "Then come here."
I reach for her, and when she willingly comes closer, I breathe a sigh of relief, the persistent ache in my chest that began when we ended things finally starting to fade. The instant my lips meet hers, the desire I've been suppressing surges back to the surface, threatening to consume and overwhelm me. My heart pounds in my ears, until all I can hear is the way it beats for her. It's like this every time I'm with her. Each kiss, every touch leaves me craving her in a way I’ve only ever craved music. My need for her throbs beneath my skin, demanding satisfaction. As she parts her lips and her tongue meets mine, I gently roll her beneath me, positioning my hips snugly between her thighs. The intensity of her, the way it feels when I talk to her, the desire to spend time in her company. It’s an addiction I haven’t been able to shake, but with my mother being a drug addict, I hate addictions. They’re weaknesses. But I don’t think of Lilah as a weakness. If anything, she makes me feel stronger, better.
Pressed against her like this is the sweetest torture. I want to be with her, be inside of her, lose myself to everything I feel when we’re together. I’m torn between taking everything I can because I know how limited our time is, and slowing the hell down so I can spend more time savouring the moment. As each kiss deepens and she pulls me closer, wrapping a leg around my hip, I shift against her, so damn hard it’s agony to not free myself and bury myself in her. Heat radiates from her through her pyjama bottoms as she moves against me, making me pulse against her. It would be too easy to slide her bottoms off her hips and take her. I know I could, I know she’d let me. But she deserves more than a quick fuck while my brother is downstairs. A brother who doesn’t want to hear or see us.
“We have to slow down,” I force out, more for myself than her.
When she whimpers, it becomes even more difficult to abstain. But I force myself to pull back and do what’s right. With a reluctant sigh, I roll off her, pulling her with me so I’m holding her, and then we just lay there together. I can feel her heartbeat pounding against my chest, and my own heart races to keep up. As she locks eyes with me, a smile etched on her face, uncertainty and hope in her gaze, I know I'll never regret this. For however long we have. For however long we can do this, and even longer if she'll let me and I can convince her, I want this, I want her.
This one from Asher’s pov is great!!! Omg only four more chapters plus epilogue?