Beneath Your Beautiful

Page 34

As if hearing us, Brody walks into the living room and sits down, breathing a heavy sigh as he flops onto the couch. He looks exhausted and so very lost. I feel for him. He is a really good guy and I find that our friendship has grown throughout the last few weeks. He's the big brother I wish I had.
"You ok man?" Grayson asks, looking at Brody. His chest vibrates against my skin and the sound is strangely reassuring. Calming.
Brody brushes his hands over his tired face and rests his elbows on his knees. "Yeah," he replies, his voice soft and gruff. "Demi wants to talk to you though Huntley."
I thought she might.
"Ok, I'll go see her." I uncurl myself from Grayson's side and he kisses my temple. I love it when he does that. "Why don't you boys order some Chinese?" I suggest. "I'm starving and I'm sure that Demi would like to eat something before she goes to sleep."
"Ok baby, whatever you girls want."
I leave the living room and quietly walk into the guest room that became Demi's not too long ago. I thought having her live with me would be difficult but it isn't. Maybe that's because we each have our own bathrooms or maybe it's because we're more alike than I realized at first.
Her tiny frame is curled up in the bed and the light next the bed is on, casting shadows over her bruised features. She looks smaller like this, child-like almost. I walk quietly to where she's laying down and carefully prop myself up on her giant bed. Her eyes open and start tearing up at the sight of me. "Sshh," I whisper, "It's ok Dem. You're safe here. Brody and Grayson won't let anything happen to you."
I tentatively wipe the tears from her face and she moves so that she's in a sitting position. "Are you ok?" I ask. Of course she isn't, I'm not an idiot, but this is the only way to coax her into talking about what happened. Keeping it all locked up inside isn't going to make this incident erase itself from ever happening.
"As ok as I can be I guess."
"Do you want to tell me what happened?"
She shifts and fiddles with a rumpled tissue in her hands.
"It will help," I encourage, "I promise."
She looks up at me and I hold her hand as a sign of support.
"I've made a real mess of things," she breathes in a shaky breath and bites her lip to stop it from quivering. I listen attentively, giving her my full attention. This is what I needed the most all those months ago. Instead, things went from bad to worse for me. I squeeze her hand in my grasp, a little nudge to urge her to continue. "I was waiting for Brody, and I guess when I ignored Tommy's call for the zillionth time, he came and found me. Brody and I have tried to keep it quiet but we got a little sloppy." Her voice is filled with regret, the kind that only comes from being caught doing something you shouldn't, not from doing the act itself.
"I thought you two couldn't stand each other."
It's impossible to miss them when they're shooting daggers at each other from across a crowded room. But maybe that's what they wanted people to see. They wanted to fool people.
"Oh sweet baby Jesus he drives me crazy. Half the time I don't know whether I want to screw him silly or slap him in the face."
Her mouth lifts to the side before the tears start falling down her cheeks again. "I'm so damn in love with him it scares me to death. My mamma always told me to never to let a man hold my heart unless I was sure he deserved it, but what do I do when my heart has never really belonged to me? Because I'm sure he's had my heart since were six years old."
I pull her into a hug and she let's go. Her body wracks with her muffled sobs. What she says makes sense and I understand why she would feel so conflicted . Until now, Tommy has been the safe choice, but Brody is who she craves more than air. Looking at the turmoil on her face now, I realize that she really does love Brody, and it's the grow-old-together kind of love you read about in books like Pride and Prejudice. He's her Mr. Darcy and she's his Elizabeth Bennett.
There's a soft knock on the door and I turn to see Brody walk in. Demi right's herself, wiping her tear-streaked face and laying her head down on her pillow. I cover her in a blanket and meet Brody in the doorway. He looks so adrift, and confused, but I see love and adoration burn bright in his eyes. I hug him, something that comes easily to me now that I'm comfortable around him. He kisses me on the top of my head and I watch him disappear into the room, closing the door behind him.
The food must've arrived a little while ago because the kitchen counter is covered in Chinese take-out boxes. The smell tickles my nose and ignites my hunger. I haven't eaten at all today and I'm suddenly ravenous. Grayson is busy pulling out plates when I wrap my arms around his waist from behind, pulling him into me as close as I can manage. I sniffle.
"Hey now beautiful girl," he says turning to face me. He kisses my forehead, under each eye where my silent tears have streaked down, and finally my lips. "We can't have you crying like that anymore. I hate seeing you cry." He's being so gentle with me, like I was the one battered and bruised. What he still has to find out is that I am. On the inside. Seeing Demi so hurt has brought a lot of unwanted feelings to the surface. I'm just not sure how much longer I want to hide it all from the beautiful, gentle man taking care of me.
"Let's eat, and then I'll draw you a nice, hot bath."
"Hmmmm," is my only response. It sounds enticing. And soothing.
After getting some food into my hungry belly, and soaking in the bath Grayson promised me, we're laying on my bed. My head is on Grayson's chest and I'm listing to the steady beat of his heart. It has becomes one of my favorite sounds to fall asleep to. Our legs are tangled and he's playing with my hair, one of the other things that I love. We're both a little lost in thought and as tired as I am, I can't switch my mind off.
I don't realize I'm frowning when Grayson asks, "What are you thinking about so hard over there?"
I look up at him and smile when he smooth's my furrowed brow with a gentle rub of his thumb. The muted light from the lamp makes him look gorgeous. I sigh. Looking at him never gets old.
"Do you think Brody and Demi will be ok?"
He sighs. "I think they've made a mess of things, and Demi should've just ended things with Tommy rather than cheat on him. But now that it's out, Brody and Demi can deal with it together." Something tells me he disapproves, not of their relationship, but because Demi was unfaithful to Tommy. His voice is laced with understanding, but from what side? The cheater? Or the cheated?
"He loves her," I say, more so to myself than to Grayson.
"I know. He's loved her for most of his life. When we were six, Brody started picking on Demi on the playground and the one day she threw a mud pie in his face because he said her dress is ugly. From that day, Brody has loved that girl more than life itself. It was like that right through high school. Demi dated a few guys but we all knew she was waiting on Brody to make a move but when he didn't, she stopped waiting. It killed Brody when she started seeing Tommy and when he found out he'd taken her virginity at seventeen, he went off the deep end for a while."
"Why did he never make a move if he knew she was waiting for him?"

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