Past the coffee, past figuring out who he was, past the interview, past the hiring, past the wonderful summer, past the beginning of the butterflies, past the first kiss, the second kiss, past him finally making a move a year later, past everything.
Fast Forward all the way until May 19th, 2016. 4 years later.
A week after I broke up with Joe Jonas.
I sighed in relaxation feeling him feather kisses up and down the side of my neck. I don't exactly know how we had gotten to this point. I had invited him over to watch a movie - but not before he had left several voicemails for me to come home to - just like we always did. We were friends, and friends watch movies together.
I leaned my head back, and clutched the pillow that had been sitting in my lap. There was always something about him that made the butterflies in my stomach instantly appear. He was the trigger. I could feel them as soon as he got within 50 feet of me, and there was nothing I could do to stop the little buggers.
I reached my hand up to run my fingers through his hair, but stopped abruptly when a loud bang came from the speakers on the television. My eyes shot open, and my whole posture stiffened. This wasn't right. I had given in so easily. Had I even noticed that he moved closer?
"You have to stop doing this." I mumbled, blinking my eyes rapidly, trying to wake myself up from the strange trance he had me under. He reached his hand up to place his palm against my cheek as he pulled away slightly to look me in the eyes.
"Never." He whispered, before pulling my face closer, and claiming my lips.
I whimpered, trying to distance my mind from thoughts of him as best as I could. I had been selfish, and this was just Karma coming to kick me in the ass. Both of our lips moved in sync together, as I felt his other palm come up to the other side of my face. He had me trapped, and I knew I had already lost this battle.
It'd been 4 years since I met the guy, you'd think I would have learned to control my thoughts about him a little better. Nothing has really changed since the first day I met him. He was awkward, but funny. He looked older, but was younger (which he enforced with his childish antics). He had the rock star reputation, but was the best brother I'd ever witnessed. Everything he was then, he still was today.
"It's been a week." I said in between a quick breath before his lips descended again. "The breakup was a week ago."
He slowed, and pulled away slightly pecking my lips once more before leaning back a comfortable distance (for him anyway). He shook his head at me, and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Pacey," he breathed out across my face, "that doesn't mean anything to me."
I noticed my hands had found their way to his back, and I reluctantly pulled away as I looked down between us. There was nothing I could do, he never left my mind, and I couldn't help myself from keeping away from him.
I frowned, looking back up to him. "Why don't you believe me?" I whispered, crawling onto his lap, and placing my head against his chest.
I felt his chest shake, as he let out a few low chuckles. "Maybe it's because of this, you know?" He hugged my body closer to him, and I sighed knowing exactly what he was talking about. "Maybe I'm not fazed by it because you don't seem to be putting in the effort of keeping me away."
I picked at his shirt lazily. "I broke up with you, Joe."
He placed a small kiss on my hairline before he spoke, "That doesn't mean we're not still in love with each other."
"It's supposed to." I muttered, refusing to detach myself from him, even if I what I was saying was going against everything I was doing.
"Not wooorking." He chimed, adding a chuckle.
I sighed, but detached myself from him and stood up. "You're right. I'm sorry." I turned away from him and bit my lip. "It's just really hard."
"That's what she said." He muttered.
I groaned. "Not the time, Joe." I said, giving him a look that made the smile wipe right off of his face.
"Sorry." He whispered, looking away from me.
"It's really all my fault," I continued, as if he hadn't said a word, "everything that has happened...I shouldn't have let any of it happen. I wish I hadn't." I sighed, shaking my head, and running my fingers through my straight, brown hair.
"What?" he croaked out, causing me to look back over at him. His eyebrows were furrowed, but the pain was evident in his eyes.
I bit my lip again. "That's not even what I meant, and you know it."
I didn't mean it in a hurtful way towards him. I didn't regret any of the last 4 years that we had shared, even if the first one was filled with me wondering if he would ever make that move to make us more than friends. I just knew that if any of that had been avoided, this wouldn't have had to happen. I wouldn't have had to break things between us off, and neither of our hearts would have broken. It really was all my fault. I should've known better.
He sat up, placing his elbows on his knees, running a hand through his hair quickly. "I know that's not what you meant. I know you still love me, I just don't understand why you're doing any of this."
I smiled lightly. "That's just it, though. You know exactly why I'm doing this."
"Did I do something wrong?" he questioned, pulling his head up to look at me, "Did I do something to upset you? I didn't mean it, I swear."
I shook my head with a small giggle. "You did nothing, Joe. So stop apologizing when you don't even understand what you're apologizing for." I let out another sigh, and turned off the television. The movie was a lost cause. "I'm the one who should be apologizing."
"For breaking up with me?"
I shook my head, keeping my head down. "For letting things go on this long." I clarified.
"Pacey..." he spoke, searching for words that just...weren't there.
"I'm sorry, Joe. Things between us are over, and - and that's just the way it goes." I told him, stuttering only slightly when I felt the tears build behind my eyes.
He stood up and took the small step towards me so that he was standing right in front of me. His hand reached up and caressed my cheek, as I continued to stare at the floor between us. "But - but you're my pacemaker." He argued, smiling when he saw one side of my mouth turn up. "You're what makes my heart go ‘thump'."
I rolled my eyes. Of course he would pull something like that out at a time like this. That's what I was as a contact in his cell phone. ‘Pacemaker'. Not Pacey, or Pacen, I was his ‘Pacemaker', and he was ‘Thumper'.
"You're so cheesy." I grumbled, still not looking up to his face.
His hand moved from my cheek to my chin, and pushed it up so that I finally looked at him. "What was that, love?"
I flinched at the use of the word, and sighed while taking a step back from him, trying to clear my head once again. "Nothing, Joe. Maybe you should just go home."
He raised his eyebrow at me. "I can't."
I frowned, turning towards him. "Why not? Joe, can't you see that I'm trying here?! We. Broke. Up."
He rolled his eyes, but smirked at me anyway. "I can't because I've had a few beers tonight, remember?"
My head snapped in the direction, where, lo and behold, 4 empty beer bottles sat idly beside the bowl of popcorn that had long been forgotten about. I groaned, throwing my head back, and pinching the bridge of my nose.
"Fine. Whatever. Stay the night. I can't deal with this right now." I spat, already moving in the direction of my bedroom.
I had a decent sized studio apartment for one, and I liked its open concept floor plan. My bedroom was upstairs, overlooking the living room and kitchen, while the bathroom and spare bedroom were the only two rooms that actually had walls enclosing them, and doors.
Once I started up the stairs towards my bed, I heard the familiar creak of the bottom step below me.
"Don't, Joseph." I said, pulling my t-shirt over my head, continuing my way up the rest of the stairs. "You know where the spare room is."
He cleared his throat. "I - I'd much rather stay with you." I smirked, turning to look at him over the railing in my bedroom. His eyes looked up to mine, as I threw the t-shirt haphazardly over my shoulder onto the floor of my room, leaving me standing with only my bra and pants on. "It's very hard to not follow you when you're willingly undressing in front of me, Pacey."
I shrugged. "Nothing you haven't seen before, Joe."
"And everything I'd like to see again, Pacey." He said with confidence, taking another step. I narrowed my eyes at him, and he scoffed. "You can't be serious."
I rolled my eyes, fighting the urge to climb down the stairs to him instead. "Get it through your head. We're done."
I contradicted my thoughts, and turned to pull on an oversized t-shirt, and some pajama shorts. I then crawled into my bed, sighing as I heard the creak of the bottom step, signaling that he had retreated back downstairs. Snuggling up to my stuffed rabbit that resembled ‘Thumper', from the Disney movie Bambi, that Joe had gotten me for my birthday 2 years ago, I closed my eyes and pretended that everything was alright.
I woke up slowly the next morning, making sure to stretch every muscle before making the move to get up. I scrunched my nose in disgust when the smell of something burning hit my nose. I had already forgotten that Joe had stayed the night last night, but this smell had me jumping out of bed.
I took the steps downstairs slowly, blinking a few times to try to clear my vision. Everything was still foggy, but my sense of smell was working fine. I didn't hear any noises coming from downstairs, but I knew someone had to be here.
"Thumper?" I called out weakly.
"Shit." I heard a voice grumble from behind the counter. "Uhh...uh yeah! I'm right here!"
I climbed down the remaining few steps, and bounded over towards the kitchen with an amused expression. I wrinkled my nose, as the stench grew stronger. "What did you do to my kitchen, Joe?"
He quickly stood up from his place behind the counter, and looked at me with wide eyes, as he bit his lip and scratched the back of his neck. I raised my eyebrows at him, biting my own lip to keep the smile from breaking through. He was in a white t-shirt and his boxers, his normal sleepwear.
He sighed as he let his arm down, and averted his gaze. "Don't look at me like that." He mumbled, reaching his hand back up to run through his short, disheveled, dark hair. "I woke up like an hour ago, and saw that you were still asleep, so I thought to myself ‘Why not make the woman you love breakfast, Joe?' so I found some pancake mix, and I followed all of the instructions, but then came the part where I actually had to use the stove. It was so complicated!" he said exasperated, causing me to let out a snort. "There are too many frickin' buttons on your stove, and when I finally got one of the burners to work, I started making the pancakes." He paused for another moment, guiding his eyes back up to mine. "I guess the heat was too high or something...I dunno. All I know is that one side of the pancake is black."
I stayed standing on the other side of the counter, watching in amusement as he tried explaining as best he could. I couldn't help but let out a few small giggles, before they finally turned into laughs. I threw my head back, and let them out.
I noticed the one side of his mouth twitch up a bit at my outburst of giggles, but then he frowned. "I'm really sorry, Pacey. I can try to make you something else, or...?"
My giggles slowed, and I let out a long sigh. "Oh, Thumper..." I shook my head at him with a small smile. "It's fine. I'm not your girlfriend, you don't have to make me breakfast. I'll whip up something for the both of us, okay?" I asked, making my way around the counter, further into the kitchen.
He turned his body, watching as I moved around the kitchen, cleaning up the small mess he had made while attempting to make us breakfast. "I don't know what to do..." he muttered, running both of his hands over his face.
I turned around from my spot in front of the fridge, and tilted my head at him. "What do you mean?"
He took a step closer, and the decreasing space between us caused my breath to catch in my throat, and move backwards until my back was pressed firmly against the cool fridge door. He didn't stop his forwardness until he was right in front of me, looking down at me. I looked up at him cautiously, already beginning to see that I had no control over myself whatsoever when he was this close.
"I mean," he started, breathing out the words onto my face as I looked up to his, "that I don't know how to act around you. I can't just not love you, and I know you're having trouble too." I had hardly taken notice to his hands, as one was placed above my head against the fridge, while the other reached out to lightly touch my hip. "You're not pushing me away, but there was definitely no invitation. Is it all a mind game? Tell me that it will be over soon." He smiled, then added, "Say, 7 more seconds of this, and then we can go back to normal?"
I was brought back to the present, but still didn't move from the hold he had me in against the fridge door. I rolled my eyes at his attempt at teasing me about something I had no control over. "This is normal, Joe. We had a movie night last night like we always do, and you burnt breakfast. This is the norm for us." I smirked, but bit my lip trying to take it back when I saw his face fall.
"No." he said without emotion. "This was the norm for us 3 years ago before I finally kicked myself into gear and asked you out on a date. Today's norm for us is totally different." I narrowed my eyes at him, watching as his eyes glazed over in a mischievous glint. "Today this is what is normal."
I gasped when his lips came crashing down on mine, but - like he had already pointed out - didn't push him away from me. Instead I absentmindedly brought my one arm to wrap around his waist, pulling him closer to me, while the other came up to caress the side of his face. It was so easy to get lost in his kisses.
"Hmm..." I hummed, clutching at him. All I could see was the sparks behind my foggy lids, as they sent chills up and down my spine in sync with his hand as it trailed a path up and down it as well.
He squeezed me tight against him at the sound of my appreciation, and also kissed me harder. "God, Pacey, I love you so much." He mumbled against my lips, refusing to break contact, not that I minded.
I hummed again. "I lo -" I opened my eyes wide at the sudden bolt that shot through my brain. "Shit." I pushed him away, and swallowed in guilt hearing his groan that he let out against my neck, where he had moved his head when I had stopped myself from saying what he wanted to hear. What I wanted to tell him.
I had my palm pressed against the middle of his chest, but, although he wasn't as close as he had been a few moments earlier, he was still only a couple inches away from my body. I stared at my hand, watching it tremble as I felt his rapid heartbeat beneath it.
"You feel it, right?" his voice broke me from my daze. "You feel what you do even when you're not trying." He tilted my head back up to look at him gently with his index finger. "Just when you're near I..." he trailed off, letting a smile grace his lips. Despite the fact that I had pushed him away, he wrapped his arms around me, and tightly embraced me. "My pacemaker." He breathed, leaving a kiss on my hairline.
I closed my eyes tightly, begging my emotions to not overcome me. "Joe, we - "
"I know, Pacey." He sighed as he pulled away to look down at me. "We're over. I've heard it before." He grumbled. The look on his face did me in, and I could feel the tear slide down my face slowly. His eyes widened at the sight of it, then softened quickly. "I'll keep trying." He stated with determination. "I'll fight for the both of us. You'll see."
I clutched at his t-shirt letting the tears fall freely. He pulled me into him again, but it only made me cry more. "I'm sorry, Thumper." I wiped at my eyes quickly, and pulled away. "You should go."
His eyes were glistening, as he fought to keep his own tears at bay as he nodded, and quickly gathered his things, dressing, and then coming back over to me. He placed a gentle kiss on my lips, not waiting for me to protest, probably already knowing that I wouldn't.
"I love you, Pacey," he whispered after he had pulled away, "I'll see you soon."
I turned away from him as he left, not watching him leave. What had I done?
I hadn't meant to hurt anyone when this first started. I didn't mean to fall in love with him, and I never thought he would actually fall for me. It wasn't something I had considered when I had been hired by his parents 4 years ago, but he says he knew we would happen from the first day we met.
I hadn't been thinking we would become what we did when I accepted his offer to go on a date with him, not even when I told him a week later that I wanted to be official. For the 3 years of our relationship I had somehow forgotten how my life works, even though I was constantly reminded every day.
It followed me everywhere, and as much as I tried to avoid it (only succeeding a few times) it always came back. I rarely went days without the stupid number playing some part in my life. Some were creeped out by it (myself included), but most grew to accept it. I was bound by the number 7, and there wasn't anything anybody could do about it.
Believe me I tried.
Letting Joe and I progress into what we were was probably the worst mistake of all. I had forgotten about that stupid number, and I knew it was going to come and bite me in the ass, probably sooner rather than later.
So I broke up with him.
Listening to the door slam shut behind me, as he left, I knew I had messed everything up. I loved him, but I knew it wasn't in the cards for us to last. I knew it hurt. It hurt me almost twice as much as it was hurting him because of all of the guilt of letting it become what it was, but there wasn't anything I could do.
That stupid number wouldn't allow it, and I knew that.