The Ex Games 3
Author:J.S.Cooper & Helen Cooper

Chapter 4

 

Brandon

 

 

 

Katie’s eyes were wide with shock and anger, and I knew that I had pushed her too far. I was scared inside, and I knew my jealousy had allowed me to cross a line I shouldn’t have.

 

“How dare you!” She yanked her hand away from me. “Why did you do this?”

 

“I wanted to show the bartender that he could never have you.” The words sounded weak coming from my mouth. I knew that I sounded like some sort of caveman. But I didn’t know how to explain to her how much she meant to me and how badly I had hurt the night before when Matt had called me. I’d gone down to the bar after I’d gotten off of the phone with Matt with intentions of letting the bartender know that he needed to back off. But then I’d thought, What if he takes that as a reason to really start pursuing her? What if I saw them kissing or doing something even worse? I would have gone crazy. I’d pictured the blood in my mind and had texted and called Katie all night. But she hadn’t answered the phone or texted me back. She had all but confirmed my fears, and all I could think of was her with another man, letting him touch her and kiss her. It had driven me crazy. And in my mind, there was only one way for me to make sure that she never hooked up with him. He had to know and she had to know that she was mine.

 

“Why?” She shook her head and her eyes were devoid of light. “I barely even know him.”

 

 

“You kissed him!” I almost shouted, feeling angry again as I thought about her lips on his.

 

“How do you know that?” She paused and her eyes widened. “Are you having me followed?”

 

“No.” I shook my head quickly.

 

“Then how did you know I knew him?”

 

“You told me you kissed him. You told me!” I shouted and tried to grab her hands.

 

“I didn’t tell you where I was.” She pulled away from me. “Are you some freaking stalker, Brandon? Really, you’re a creeper and a stalker.”

 

“I know you came here last night as well.” I couldn’t stop myself. “You told me you were staying in, but you came here to see him again.”

 

“What?” Her mouth dropped open in shock. “How do you know I came here?”

 

“So you don’t deny it?” My heart broke as I realized that Matt hadn’t been lying. “You did come here to see him last night.”

 

“I came back last night because I forgot to pay the last time I was here.” She looked at me angrily. “‘The last time I was here, I ordered a bunch of drinks and ran out because when he kissed me, all I could think about was you. I remembered that I hadn’t paid, so I came back yesterday to pay what I owed.”

 

“You didn’t come back because you wanted him?” My heart beat faster and I grinned at her, happy.

 

“No, you fucking asshole.” Her eyes glittered at me. “You just humiliated me for nothing.”

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

 

“Oh shut up!” she screamed. “I’m done, you hear? I’m done. I can’t take this anymore, Brandon. You use me and treat me like some sort of two-dollar whore. I’m not going to let you do this to me anymore. I don’t want to see you ever again. You’re a fucking stalker. How dare you have me followed!”

 

“I didn’t have you followed.” I grabbed ahold of her. “I swear it. Matt was in here last night and he saw you, and we put two and two together.”

 

“How would he know to put anything together? Why would he even call you and tell you that? Do you know how crazy that sounds, Brandon? My ex-boyfriend called my other ex-boyfriend to tell him that I’m at a bar.”

 

“He said you were flirting.”

 

“So what? I can flirt with anyone I like.”

 

“You kissed him as well.” I knew the words sounded childish coming out of my mouth.

 

“I can kiss him if I want to, Brandon, you don’t own me. We’re not even together.”

 

“I haven’t been with anyone since you, Katie, and I know you haven’t either.”

 

“What?” She froze and she stared at me before hitting me in the chest. “How do you know who I have and haven’t been with? How long have you been spying on me? Oh my God, Brandon. Are you fucking crazy?”

 

“Wait.” My heart froze at her words. “It’s not like that, Katie. I love you.”

 

“No, you don’t.” She shook her head. “I don’t even know if you ever did. You know I never stopped loving you, Brandon. I’ve been thinking about the man you were when we met and I‘ve dreamed of the day that I would get to see you again. I hoped that we’d be able to move on from what happened seven years ago. I thought that if I saw you again, and you saw me, we would have another connection. And yeah,” she laughed hysterically, “I looked you up and tried to see what you were up to and who you dated. And yeah, I bumped into Matt on purpose because I wanted to know more about you. I wanted to be around you again and see if we had a shot at another chance. What I did was wrong. I snooped and I did things I’m ashamed of. But I did it because I thought I loved you. I did it because I thought that maybe we still had a shot.”

 

“We do! We—” I started, but she cut me off.

 

“But you’re not the man I thought you were, Brandon. I thought you were strong and kind and compassionate. I thought you were loving and protective. But you’re not. You’re just a fucking asshole, like every other man who’s on a power trip. Well, you know what? You can fuck off. I’m done. You can’t tell me who I can and can’t fuck. If I want to go back into the bar and fuck the bartender now, I will. And you can’t stop me. Do you hear me? I’m not your possession. You do not own me. You cannot humiliate me and tell me you think it’s okay because you were jealous. That’s not how life goes, Brandon. At least not for me.” She stared at me for a moment, and I watched as tears fell down her face. It reminded me of the day we had broken up when she was at Columbia University. I stood still as she stared at me waiting for me to speak, but I didn’t know what to say.

 

She turned around and walked away, and I watched her hobbling. I felt sick to my stomach at what I’d done and at her words. She didn’t love me anymore. I’d pushed her too far. It was over. A part of me was resigned to watching her leave. This was my life and my destiny. I was meant to be alone.

 

As I watched her walk away, I thought back to that day seven years ago. The day that created a cut in my heart so deep that I was sure it would never be repaired. I remembered standing in the front of the class, waiting for her to look up and see me. I’d seen her right away—I had some sort of Katie sensor that knew where she was immediately whenever she was near me. Her eyes had widened in shock and fear as she glanced at me.

 

I was surprised that I had been able to keep it together as I gave my speech. I knew as I spoke to the group of eager freshmen that it was over. I’d given her so many chances, but she’d proven to me that she wasn’t ready. My heart had broken when she’d thought we still had a chance, when she’d thought I’d forgiven her for her duplicity.

 

I hadn’t wanted to hurt her or to break her. I just wanted her to feel the pain I had felt. I’d given her so many chances, and she had never come through. When I fucked her over the dumpster, I’d felt like a sick fuck. A perverted wannabe. I wanted her to scream and to shout at me then. I wanted her to realize why I’d had to do what I had been doing. She was too young. She didn’t know the world and she didn't know her own mind.

 

So I’d fucked her and walked away and then I’d watched her collapse onto the ground in tears. And I’d just walked away with my heart in my mouth and my head pounding with hate.

 

I waited for her to show up the next day, to tell me she was sorry and that she loved me and wanted to make it work. But she never came back. She never called and I never called and that was it. The end. It was so easy and simple and it was as if we’d never been together. Only the hole in my heart never grew back.

 

I’d hired Will to follow her and keep an eye on her. Not every day, but just to make sure everything was okay. He reported back to me once a week and I would read his reports and study his photographs while lying on the bed and staring at a photograph we’d taken together on a trip to the museum.

 

When Will told me that he thought she was sick, I nearly called her. Enough was enough. I couldn’t stand back while the love of my life was sick. But then Will got the hospital records and I found out the truth. At first I was excited and then a little scared. I knew she would call me then. How could she not? I knew I could have called, but I wanted her to reach out first. I wanted her to make the decision that she wanted to be with me because she loved me. I didn’t want her to feel trapped. She was so young, and I didn’t want to be the guy who did that.

 

 

But she never called, and my world grew bleaker and darker. She never called and I never called, and eventually it was over and both of our lives had changed. I’d hated her and loved her, both at the same time.

 

As I stood there watching her walk away again, tears running down her face, I knew that I couldn’t make the same mistake twice. This time, I was going to fight for her. This time, I wasn’t going to just let her go. I wasn’t perfect—I knew that. But I still loved her, and I had to try again.

 

“Wait!” I shouted as I ran after her. I grabbed ahold of her shoulders and stopped her. “Wait a minute.”

 

“What?” She looked at me coldly and I took a deep breath before speaking again.

 

“I know you don’t want to see me again. I understand that.”

 

“Good.” She glared at me and shook my hand off of her shoulder.

 

“But what about your son?” I paused as her face turned white. “Do you want to see your son?”

 

“What are you talking about?” she whispered, and I grabbed her arms to keep her from falling.

 

“I know you were pregnant, Katie.” I stared into her wide eyes. “I don’t know how you could give him up without telling me, but I know.”

 

“I, I...” She blinked rapidly and her eyes glazed over. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

 

“I understand why.” I pulled her toward me. “You were young. You didn’t know what to do. I understand.”

 

“Do you hate me?” Tears started flowing from her eyes again. “I’m sorry I never told you. I didn’t know what to do after what happened, and then I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared. I was just eighteen and a freshman. I had no one to turn to.”

 

“I could never hate you, Katie.” I rubbed the back of her head. “I shouldn’t have ended things the way that I did.”

 

“I’ve always regretted it, you know.” Her eyes glazed over. “I wished I had kept him. He would have been a piece of you that I would have always had. He’s still in my heart.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I love him,” she cried. “I hate you, Brandon. I hate you for doing this to me.”

 

“I’m sorry, Katie. I made a mistake.” I sighed. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. And I’m sorry about tonight. You have to believe that. You have to believe me. Please. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I can’t live without you.”

 

“I don’t know what to say.” She shook her head as if to clear it.

 

“You don’t have to say anything. I’m not going to force you to give me another chance. I’m not going to predicate anything on our getting back together.” I took a deep breath. I couldn’t lose her again.

 

“I don’t know what you want, Brandon.”

 

“I don’t want anything. Do you want to meet Harry?”

 

“Harry?” She gave me a weird look.

 

“He’s your son, Katie.” I stared down at her and smiled. “Harry’s our son.” Katie’s eyes gazed at me in confusion, before she finally understood what I was saying. I held on tightly to her as she collapsed into my arms in shock.