It’s easy to smile around Tyler.
It’s how he got me. We were in calculus, and he made some stupid joke about angles. I don’t even remember what it was. Something about never discussing infinity with a mathematician because you’ll never hear the end of it. He’s a cute dork with his jokes. He knows some dirty ones too.
A year later and he still makes me laugh. Even when we’re fighting. He says he just wants to see me smile. How can I leave when he says things like that? I believe him with everything in me.
Even as my shoulders shake with a small laugh and he leans forward to nip my neck, I know that I’ll never really love Tyler the way he loves me.
And it makes me ashamed. Truly.
I’m still laughing when his bedroom door creaks open. Tyler plants a small kiss on my shoulder. It’s not an open-mouth kiss, but still it leaves a trace on my skin and sends a warmth through my body. It’s fleeting though.
The cool air passes between the two of us as Tyler leans back and smiles broadly at his brother.
I may be seated on my boyfriend’s lap, but the way Daniel looks at me makes me feel like I’m alone. His eyes pierce through me with a sharpness that makes me afraid to move. Afraid to even breathe.
I don’t know why he does this to me.
He makes me hot and cold at the same time. It’s like I’ve disappointed him simply by being here. As if he doesn’t like me. Yet there’s something else.
Something that’s forbidden.
It creeps up on me whenever I hear Daniel’s rough voice; whenever I catch him watching Tyler and me. It’s like I’ve been caught cheating, which makes no sense at all. I don’t belong to Daniel, no matter how much that idea haunts my dreams.
He’s twenty-one now and I’m only seventeen. But more importantly, he’s Tyler’s brother.
It’s all in my head. I tell myself over and over again that the electricity between us is something I’ve made up. That my body doesn’t burn for Daniel. That my soul doesn’t ache for him to rip me away and punish me for daring to let his brother touch me.
It’s only when Tyler speaks to him that Daniel looks away from me, tossing something down beside us.
Tyler’s oblivious to everything happening. And suddenly I can breathe again.
My eyelids flutter open, my body hot under the stifling blankets. I don’t react to the memory in my dreams anymore. Not at first, anyway. It sinks in slowly. The recognition of what that day would lead to growing heavier in my heart with each second that passes. Like a wave crashing on the shore, but taking its time. Threatening to engulf me as it approaches.
It was years ago, but the memory remains.
The feeling of betrayal, for fantasizing about Tyler’s older brother.
The heartache from knowing what happened only three weeks after that night.
The desire and desperation to go back to that point and beg Tyler to never come looking for me.
All of those emotions swirl into a deadly concoction in the pit of my stomach. It’s been years since I’ve been tormented by the remembrance of Tyler and what we had. And by the memories of Daniel and what never was.
Years have passed.