My Own Sweet Time by Celeste

Challenges:

“You’re not a sexy vampire named Edward Cullen, but you’ll do.” and/or “Things will never be the same again.”

drinking a can of Surge from 1998 and/or truth or dare

“Things will never be the same.” I said aloud to myself when I pulled the black and white picture out of the box that it was packed in. I placed the photo on the mantel of the fireplace in my new apartment and a single tear fell from my eye. Before I could allow myself to shed anymore my phone interrupted my thoughts. I picked it up and saw Taylor’s name flashing on the screen. I sighed before pressing the green button.

“Hello.” I answered.

“Did you get there ok?” Taylor jumped right to the point of his call.

“I just answered the phone didn’t I?” I was being real short with him and I didn’t mean to. “Sorry, I’m just a little on edge.”

“I understand, I really just wanted to make sure you’re ok.” He said softly.

“I know. Thank you for that.” I replied. “Taylor, you know that I had to do this right?”

There was silence on the other end for a few seconds before he spoke again. “I know you did.” He sighed. “I just. I’m really sorry for so many things. I want you to know that.”

“I do. Trust me.” I said. “I should go, I have a lot of unpacking to do and you know it’s only me doing it.”

“Alright. Call me sometime this week after you start your new job?” He asked.

“I will. Talk to you later.” I said.

I hit the end button on my phone and then placed it on the mantel next to the picture. Immediately the tears began flowing down my face. I tried not to think about my reason for being there, but I couldn’t help it. That picture would always be a clear reminder of everything that happened. I remembered the day I took that picture. I was taking night photography classes for fun and Isaac, Taylor, and Zac were kind enough to be my subjects for a black and white photo project. I rested my head onto the back of the couch and wiped the tear stains off of my face. I was startled by my cell phone ringing again. “I swear to god if this is Taylor…” I picked up the phone and saw that it was my best friend calling me.

“Olivia! Hi!” I tried to sound as cheery as I could.

“Hey Harley!” Olivia said. “How are you?”

“I’m alright, trying to unpack.” I said. “It’s going to take me forever!”

“You’re looking at the picture aren’t you?” She asked.

“I just unpacked it and put it on my mantel.” I said.

“You need to keep that packed away for awhile or you’re never going to be ok with things.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be ok with things Liv. I need to have it there. I need to think about him everyday. I think of it as my punishment.”

“You know that it was just an accident Harley… you can’t blame yourself. Taylor even came to his senses and doesn’t blame you anymore. Yet you still decided to run away from everything. And that’s fine. If that’s what you need to do for yourself, that is what is most important.” She said. “But if Taylor can forgive you, then you should be able to forgive yourself.”

“I know I should.” I sighed. “It’s going to be a long road for me but I’m strong and I know that in the end I’ll be ok.”

“I miss you already dear.” She said.

“I miss you too. I miss a lot of things! But I’m only three hours away, it’s not that bad.”

“I know it’s not, but you’re still too far!” She giggled.

“I should go unpack more. It’s already noon and I’d like to have a living room by the morning because my mom and dad are coming down to bring me the rest of my stuff.”

“Alright.” She said. “You better call me if you need anything. Even just to talk!”

“No worries. I will!” I said. “Bye love.”

“Bye!”

After setting my phone down I looked at the pile of stuff in front of me. I plugged my ipod speakers in and put my ipod on shuffle. Music was about the only thing that was going to get me motivated enough to get through all the unpacking. Unfortunately, as I unpacked, my mind began to wander and all I could think about was the reason that picture made me so upset.

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“You’re really pretty.” A drunk Taylor whispered into my ear.

“You’re really drunk!” I whispered back.

“Come on Harley… you know that doesn’t matter. I’ve been trying to ask you out for weeks!” He pleaded.

“But you’re choosing this party to finally hit on me?” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I have tried to come up to you at school but I chickened out every time.” He was beginning to look desperate.

“I know how you drunk boys are. You’ll ask me out and forget you did in the morning.” I laughed. I really did kind of have a thing for Taylor and was doing quite a miraculous job at showing him I didn’t.

“I promise I won’t forget.” He stuck his bottom lip out into a pout.

“How about this.” I fumbled in my purse for pen and paper. I found one of my business cards and flipped it over to the blank side. “Turn around so I can write on this.” I placed the card on his back and wrote on the card ‘If you can remember why I gave this to you, call me!’

I put the pen back in my purse and Taylor turned back around to face me as I handed him the card. He read the back and checked the front to see if it had my phone number. “Alright, I can do this.” He smiled at me.

“Good. I look forward to hearing from you then.” I said. “But, I must be off. Enjoy the rest of the party!” I leaned over and placed a soft kiss on his cheek and grabbed Olivia so we could exit the party.

“Do you think he’ll call?” She asked.

“I don’t know, but I sure do hope so.” We began giggling like school girls as we left the party. “We have to stop coming to college parties.”

“Oh jeez, we’ve only been out of college for a year…and you work here, so it’s still ok!” She laughed.

“Yeah, but there is only so much I can take.” I said. “Did you see that Sam kid? He was drinking a can of Surge! Michelle said they found it in the garage and it was literally from 1998!!”

A few days later a phone call came through on my cell phone and I didn’t recognize the phone number. I was a little hesitant to pick up the call but I did anyway. “Hello?”

“Harley?” The deep voice on the other end of the line spoke.

“This is she.”

“It’s Taylor.” He identified himself.

“Ahh, I thought you’d never call honestly.” I laughed. “Do you actually remember why I gave you my card?”

“So I could ask you out for real. While I’m sober.” He said softly.

“I’m impressed Mr. Hanson!” I smiled, even though he couldn’t see it.

“You should be!” He laughed softly. “Anyway, would you like to go to dinner tomorrow night?”

“Sure that would be nice!” I said. “Do you know where I live?”

“I think so, Bradford Place?” He said.

“Yes, 138.” I added.

“Ok, expect me at your door at 7pm sharp!”

“Alright, expect me to be waiting on the other side!” I said. “What should I wear?”

“Casual and cute.” He said. “I’ve got a great place in mind.”

“Sounds great!”

“See you tomorrow.”

“Sure thing. Bye!” I said.

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Little did I know that the date Taylor and I would go on, would change both of our lives forever. He was more handsome and charming then I ever thought he could be. He literally swept me off my feet that night. It had been raining and when we got back to my apartment, the parking lot was flooded. He picked me up and trudged through the huge pool of water to bring me to my door. I think I fell in love with him that night but I didn’t tell him until a couple years later.

Those two years of our relationship were mostly problem free, besides the normal couple bickering and whatnot. His family loved me and my family loved him. It was like we were meant to be together. I couldn’t of been happier and I knew that Taylor felt the same way. I had also grown pretty close to his brothers. They were his best friends so it was only fitting that we got along famously as well. I had become the closest with Zac, he was like my best friend, outside of Taylor of course. Whenever Taylor and I would have problems Zac would offer up advice and help me to understand Taylor. He was very good at never taking sides as well.

I thought about one of my absolute favorite times that I had spent with Zac.

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“Zac!!” I ran to him and jumped on his back. Taylor and I had been away on vacation for a week and I missed my best friend dearly!

“Woah Nelly!” He grabbed onto my legs so I didn’t fall off of him. He continued to walk towards the lake with me on his back. “I guess this means you and Taylor are back from vacation?”

“I’d hope so!” I laughed. “Otherwise there would be a very angry Taylor still in the Bahamas!”

Zac laughed and set me down when we reached the lake. The family was having a fourth of July picnic and we had driven right there when we arrived home from our trip. I took a seat on a rock next to Zac and we looked out over the lake. “So tell me everything!”

“I can tell you a lot, but not everything. Not until Taylor gets down here.” I said. “Anyway, it was so warm and so beautiful! I didn’t want to come home… now I have to go back to work and stuff!”

“Did you guys do lots of fun things or did you stay in the hotel all week?” Zac winked at me.

“Do you see my tan!?” I gasped. “Of course we went out and did things!”

“I’m just teasing!” He smiled.

“We went scuba diving and layed around on the beach a lot. Tons of yummy dinners and pretty walks. There are a lot of great shops down there.” I said.

“Did you bring me any presents?”

“You think we would spend a week down there and not bring presents back for everyone?” I gasped.

“Jee Zac, we’re home for twenty minutes and you’re already asking for gifts!?” Taylor joined us and took a seat on the same rock as me.

“Would you expect anything less from me?” Zac said.

“Not really.” Taylor smiled. “So what information has my lovely given you?”

“Just the normal stuff. Lots of tanning, walking, shopping, eating, sexing…”

“Zac! I never said such a thing!” I blushed.

“I didn’t think you would.” Taylor said. “So, there is one other thing that was pretty amazing about our trip.”

“Do tell.”

I looked over at Taylor and smiled. I reached my left hand out so that Zac could see. “Taylor asked me to marry him!” I couldn’t control the goofy grin on my face. Zac smiled widely and lunged at the both of us, wrapping his arms around each one of our shoulders. All three of us started laughing and Zac pulled away from the hug.

“This is absolutely amazing news!” Zac said.

“Well, I have one other thing.” Taylor said. “I was wondering if you would like to be my Best Man, alongside Isaac of course!”

“You don’t even have to ask me man.” Zac hugged his brother. “You know that I’d be honored.”

After we finished talking, we headed back up to the house to let the rest of the family know our good news. I had my right arm intertwined around Zac’s and my left hand was occupied by Taylor’s. “When do I get my present?” Zac asked.

“Sorry buddy, but that was your gift.” I laughed.

“Oh.” Zac smiled but seemed a little disappointed. “I mean, I’m really excitied though. Don’t get me wrong.” It was funny to see Zac try to cover his tracks quickly.

“You’re being ridiculous Zac.” I said. “Just be patient. Your gift is the in the house with everyone else’s!”

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That was probably the last time that I had seen Zac genuinely happy. Shortly after our announcement, his girlfriend of the previous two and a half years broke up with him. He became severely depressed and Taylor and I, as well as the rest of his family, tried to do everything we could to make him happy and be there for him. It was a downward spiral that just kept getting worse and worse. Zac began drinking heavily and we were trying our best to convince him to get some help. It was really putting a toll on me because I was who he turned to. He always told me he felt I would be less judgey towards him, than either of his brothers.

One night, things had gotten really bad and I received a call from him around 10 pm on a saturday night. Taylor and I had gone to bed already because we had plans to go to Olivia’s birthday party the next afternoon. Zac was completely distraught and sounded drunk. He told me he was at the lake. The same place that we had told him about our engagement. I threw on some clothes and drove out there. I couldn’t imagine what could of set him off. I began crying as I recalled that night. The night that changed everything.

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“Zac… where are you?” I said into the darkness as I got close to the rocks.

“Oooover hereeeee!!!” Zac slurred.

I finally found him and plopped down next to him. “What’s going on kid? You’re really freaking me out!”

“She’s pregnant.” There was silence.

“How did you find out?” I asked.

“I saw her.” He said blankly. “With another guy. So I went up to them.”

“Oh no.”

“Don’t worry…I didn’t flip out.” Zac said. “I said Hi. I asked her how far along she was.”

“What did she say?”

“5 months.”

“It’s yours?” I gasped.

“No.”

“Goodness.” I sighed. “Why didn’t you just come over to Taylor and I’s? Why did you come here?”

“I needed to get away Harley. I needed to get away physically and mentally.” Zac said, finishing off another can of beer. He crushed it and threw it into the lake.

“Well you got away. I think you need to surround yourself with people that love you.” I said. “Let me take you back to my place. You can crash on the couch.”

“No, I need to get further away.” Zac stood up.

“What are you going to do? Swim out into the lake? You won’t get very far…” I said.

“I’m going away. I don’t care where… I’ll call you when I get there and maybe I’ll tell you where I am, and maybe I won’t!” Zac started to walk towards where our cars were.

I quickly got up and raced after him. “Zac what are you doing?” I yelled out.

“Playing a little truth or dare…” He laughed. “With my life!”

I caught up to him and jumped in front of his car door before he could open it. “Zac, you’re wasted. You are not driving anywhere.”

“This is what I want Harley.” He said. “Whatever is meant to happen… will happen, if you don’t get out of my way, I’ll make you get out of my way.”

“Come on Zac. Please.” I began crying. “Don’t do this.”

“Harley… I’m warning you. You better get out of the way!” Zac’s voice became very firm.

“The only way I’m moving, is to get into this car and drive you home.” I was almost yelling.

“That’s it.” Zac grabbed my arm tightly.

“Ow Zac!” I cried. “You’re hurting me.”

“Then get out of my way.” Zac squeezed harder and with all his might, threw me to the ground. Before I could get up and try to stop him, he was in his car and starting it. As quick as possible I got up and ran to my car. I didn’t know what good it would do… but I began to follow him… to at least make sure he got to where he was going, safely.

I nervously drove behind him having to speed up and slow down as he did, trying to be careful and not crash into him. I carefully searched for my cell phone that was in my purse on the passenger seat. When I found it, I quickly dialed 911.

“Hi, I’m currently driving on route 31 heading east. I am following my friend who is driving drunk. I tried to stop him but he wouldn’t let me and threw me to the ground.”

“Are you alright miss?” The operator asked.

“Yes, I’m fine, but he’s not going to be if someone doesn’t stop him. I have no idea where he’s going so all I can tell you is where we are…”

“That’s ok, we’ve dispatched the police right now and if you’ll stay on the phone with me, it will be easier to find you.”

“Ok.”

I continued to talk to the operator and tell her where we were going. During the short phone conversation it had begun to rain really hard. My heart pounded faster thinking about how hard of a time Zac was probably having because I could barely see and I wasn’t drunk. In my rearview mirror I saw lights flashing and then the operator told me that the cops had found us. She asked me to hang up the phone and pull over, the cops would now take care of things.

After I pulled over I watched a horrid scene take place infront of me. Zac must of panicked when he saw the flashing lights because I heard tires screech and saw Zac’s car spin off the road. I opened the car door and stood, screaming his name. It all seemed to be going in slow motion. Zac’s car flipped over what must of been a million times before landing upside down in a ditch. I immediately reached for my phone to call Taylor.

****************************************************************************

If there was one thing that I didn’t want to remember, it was that phone call and the things that transpired afterwards. I was in tears when I had called him and he could barely understand me. The only words I was able to get out clearly were Zac… drunk… accident… hospital now! The ambulance was shortly behind the cops and they were able to get Zac out of his car rather quickly. Once they were on their way, I followed the ambulance to the hospital. I waited in the main lobby for Taylor to show up and when he did, his family was rushing in right behind him. I was still hysterical with tears as I tried to explain the story.

I told Taylor how drunk Zac was and why he was a mess. I explained to him how I tried my best to stop him and how he threw me to the ground. I already had a bruise forming on my arm where he had grabbed me. Taylor was pale as he stared at me while I told the story. The only words he could say were “You better hope he’s ok.”

He caught up with the rest of his family to let them know what was going on and I followed slowly behind, not real sure of what he had meant by that statement. We reached the emergency waiting room and waited, for what seemed like hours.

Remembering what happened in that waiting room made me sick to my stomach so I grabbed a bottle of water out of my fridge, as I couldn’t stop myself from rehashing everything.

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The second the doctor walked into the waiting room the entire family stood up. I hadn’t been sitting the entire time because I was too worried. This was my fault. I should of stopped him and knowing that, on top of what Taylor had said to me…

“Are you the Hanson’s?” The doctor directed towards us.

“Yes.” Mrs. Hanson answered him, holding onto Mr. Hanson’s hand tightly.

Taylor was nowhere near me. From what I could tell, he was extremely angry with me and just wanted to make sure his brother was going to be ok.

“We were faced with a really difficult surgery.” The doctor began. “The way the car had spun and flipped… and the amount of alcohol in his blood…”

“Will you just cut to the chase?” Taylor cut in rudely. This made my heart pound. I almost didn’t want to know what had happened.

“The internal bleeding was just too much. We did all we could…” He said.

Mrs. Hanson crumbled into her husbands arms in hysterics and the rest of us looked at the doctor blankly. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” I mumbled softly.

“I’m sorry. Zac didn’t make it through the surgery.” The doctor said plainly. “If there is anything you need, just let the nurses know.” And the doctor quietly excused himself.

Taylor walked over to me and if looks could kill… I would be a dead woman. Tears welled up in my eyes just waiting to hear what he was possibly going to say to me.

“You.” I’ve never heard a voice so cold. “You did this. You let him go and you knew he wasn’t well enough to drive.”

“I tried to stop him Taylor, don’t you see the bruise on my arm. He threw me out of the way, what was I supposed to do?” I cried.

“This is all your fault. I can’t even look at you. I want you to give me the ring back and get out of here.” Taylor had absolutely no other emotions except complete hatred.

“Taylor you don’t mean that!” I heard Mrs. Hanson say in the distance.

“Oh, I meant it Mother.” Taylor’s eyes were now red with tears. “I mean it with all my heart.”

He reached his hand out for the ring and I slowly took it off, tears streaming down my face. I softly placed it in his hand and tried to look him in the eye but he turned his head away and retracted his hand sharply. I turned and slowly walked away from the horrid scene. I was dealing with losing one of my best friends and it was all my fault. Not only did I have that weighing on my shoulders, but my fiancee, the love of my life… just told me he didn’t want me anymore. What was I going to do.

When I got to my car, I collapsed into the drivers seat and called my other best friend Olivia. There was no way that I was going to make it home.

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I woke up still in the chair that I was in when I had started thinking about all the bad stuff that had happened. I picked up my cell phone and noticed it was almost 10 am. I had completely passed out while thinking about everything and wasn’t anywhere near finished with unpacking. My parents were going to be there in an hour!

I frantically got up and started to unpack the best I could. Before I knew it, the doorbell rang. They were here. I threw a few things into a box to at least make the room look tidier before running to the door. When I opened it, I wasn’t expecting to see who was on the other side.

“Taylor…” I said breathlessly.

“Hey Harley.” He smiled.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I brought you the stuff that your parents were going to bring you.”

“Why aren’t they here?”

“They’re coming with a few more things tomorrow, I asked them if I could bring this stuff to you.”

“Why?”

“Can I at least come in so we can talk?” He asked.

I moved away from the door and let him in. He took a seat on the love seat and I sat across from him in the chair that had been the only place in my new apartment that I had inhabited.

“I didn’t think you’d actually go through with it.” Taylor spoke. “You know that I’m so sorry for everything that I’ve said and done Harley. The last thing I ever wanted was for you to move away.”

“But I needed to Taylor.” I said. “I couldn’t live in that house anymore. I couldn’t drive down those roads. No matter what you say… no matter how much you tell me you’re sorry or that you forgive me… I just can’t forgive myself.”

“I came here with more than just your stuff.” Taylor said. This time I saw more in his eyes than I have ever seen before. “I came here with some of my stuff too. If you’re going to start over then I need to start over with you. We can work through everything together. I want to work through everything together.”

I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but yet I could believe it with all my heart because I saw the emotion in his eyes. “Taylor I…”

“Shhh.” He walked over and placed his finger over my mouth to silence me. He knelt down in front of me. “Harley, I hate myself for ever saying the things I said to you. It was not your fault. I know it will probably take a lot of time for you to even deal with that, but I want to be here to help you with that journey. Zac was in trouble for a long time and all of us tried to help him. He wasn’t having it. This entire thing was his fault and his fault alone. I love you Harley and although I was angry, I never stopped loving you.”

Tears began flowing from my eyes again and they burned from all the crying I had done the night before.

Taylor reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring that had taken residence on my finger a mere months before. “I want to do this together, more than you could ever know. Can we please give this another try? I love you so much Harley. Will you marry me? Please be mine forever? We deserve to be together. Zac always believed in our love and we need to show him that he was right.”

I collapsed into his arms and hugged him tightly. “Taylor… I… are you sure?”

“I have honestly never been more sure about anything in my life. So much so that not only is my entire closet in my car right now, but your parents are kindly bringing the rest of my things. I’ve already told my parents that I’ve moved and they want nothing more than for us to work things out and be together.”

I reached my hand out for him to place the ring on my finger again. “Let’s do this.” I said. “We CAN do this. Especially for Zac. You know I never stopped loving you either Taylor. I knew deep down within myself that you didn’t really mean those things that you said. It was a tough time and you had a lot to deal with, I mean he’s your brother. But you’re right. You’ve apologized to me more times than I could ever imagine… than I could ever need. For you to come all the way out here and commit yourself to me the way that you just have… that’s shown me that you truely do forgive me and want to be with me.”

“I love you.” Taylor said, kissing my lips softly.

“I love you too.” I kissed him back and then stood up and grabbed the picture off of the mantle. He placed his hand on the left side of the frame, as I held the right. “Things will never be the same Taylor.”

“I know they won’t.” Taylor said, kissing my forehead. “But things will get better, I promise.”

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