Could he seriously be cheating on me? Or was itMarc’s intention to break us up? He could have been telling the truth, after all, and just wanted me not to get hurt… but I’d still be hurt – more hurt, for that matter – to find out this way. Why? Why would he have me find out this way; if it’s true, that is?
I’d not been able to look at Ben the same way as I’d done before that day by the brook. I’d told myself over and over that I shouldn’t take Marc so literally and that he was only messing with my emotions, but I just couldn’t put it aside.
For nights, I’d lain awake thinking everything through. Ben hadn’t appeared to have changed at all; surely he would of if he was cheating on me, right? He’d acting just as he had done before I left for Scotland in June: sweet, kind, gentle, loving, caring and adorable. He adored me… we adored each other… we were perfect for each other! What could have possibly gone wrong?
Theresa, Jerry and Marc had all gone into town together leaving Ben, James, mum and I at home for the day. Mum was with James downstairs and Ben and I were in my room. We didn’t do anything but just sat on the bed in silence… not saying anything… just sat on the bed with backs against the wall and our hands clasped tightly together.
He stroked my fingers with his thumb and gazed over at me lovingly with that familiar look of adoration in his eyes. However, I didn’t return his gaze – didn’t dare to – and inspected a scuff mark at the tip of my baseball shoes instead, twisting my foot around to examine it from different angles.
He sighed loudly and turned around to face me, pulling my free arm around so that I would face him to. I still wouldn’t look him in the eye; instead I stared down at the designer logo on his cardigan. He became frustrated, exhaling through his nose deeply, and clasping his hands around my cheeks forcing me to look up at him. At a glance, I noticed his eyes glistening in the light from the window; or could it have been tears forming? Before I could decide, he pulled me closer to him and pressed his lips roughly… eagerly… desperately against mine.
He pulled away and looked me in the eye; I did too, this time. He looked hurt. He knew something was wrong.
“What is it, Casey?” he murmured, looking on at me nervously, “is it something I’ve done? Something I’ve said? You can tell me, Case; you know you can tell me anything.”
“It’s nothing to do with you, Ben,” I answered, pulling his hands away from my face and moving away from him, “I’m just… wondering.”
“Wondering about what?”
“About things: things that don’t apply to you.”
“I’m your boyfriend and whatever’s troubling you I want to know about. I can help you…”
“No you can’t, Ben!” I moaned, interrupting him as he pleaded for me to open up to him, “You can’t help me because it’s got nothing to do with you.”
“Well, obviously it’s something bad otherwise you wouldn’t be beating yourself up so much. Look, please tell me, Case, I really do want to help you; even if it means just taking a little of the strain off you, I can handle it.”
“Just give it a rest, will you!” I shouted, pushing myself off the bed and towards the door. As I reached out for the door handle, Ben grabbed hold of mine and pulled me back. I turned my head back sharply to face his genuinely worried face. It hurt me to have to keep him in the dark about Marc’s theories but I couldn’t just confront him, could I? What if Marc had just been trying to find a way to split us up by lying, thus caused us to break up over the accusation?
“Casey, please, what’s the matter?” he breathed, pulling me back to him. I didn’t resist back and allowed him to pull me into his reach, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me close into his chest. He looked down into my eyes – yes, it had been tears building up – and shock his head, trying to stop the tears from falling, “do you love me?”
My expression softened, “Of course I love you, Ben. I’ll never stop loving you,” I honestly told him. I felt bad that he’d thought this not to be true and that he could possibly have lost me. Of course I loved him, why should he think otherwise? “What’s brought this on? Why didn’t you think I loved you anymore?”
“I don’t know it’s just, lately, you’ve been so distant with me, barely even looking at me half the time, and it just scared me, is all. Ever since we went for that walk you’ve just been… well, been different. As if you’d learned something new and become afraid of it. Am I daft to think this?”
“You’re not daft to think it. You were just worried for me, that’s all. Any boyfriend would be.”
“It’s just I noticed you and Marc texting each other – well, I assumed you were texting each other as you both had your phones out – and I saw how your expression gradually changed as you received text after text after text from him. Has he done something to upset you, Case? Because if he has…”
“No, he hasn’t,” I lied, “we were just chatting… joking around… teasing that’s all. There’s nothing you need to worry about so stop worrying, okay?” I smiled warmly, placing my hand against his stubbly cheek – he needed to shave – and tiptoed up to kiss him. He held me close to him and hugged me tightly. I wrapped my own arms around him and rested my cheek against his chest as he placed his chin on the top of head. We swayed back and forth gently, almost dancing to the silence around us, and I just began to think how silly I’d been. Of course he hadn’t cheated on me. He loved me too much to do such a thing and it wasn’t in his nature to do something so malicious.
“So, we’re all good?” he murmured. I laughed under my breath and looked up at him.
“Of course we are.” I replied, kissing him again. He smiled and kissed my forehead.
“Good. I’m just gonna go and get something, okay? Don’t go anywhere.” He pulled away from me and crossed to the door. As he turned the door handle and pulled it open, he turned back and smiled at me.
“Of course not, why would I?” I replied, returning his smile. He chuckled to himself, shaking his head a little before leaving the room. I waited for his footsteps to die away as he left the landing and went downstairs. When it was silent again, I sat back down on the bed to soon jump back up again as I sat on something hard, yet smooth. I peered down at the mobile phone hidden in the sheets. It was Ben’s phone.
Did I dare take a peek? Marc had told me that I should check his phone… that it was urgent that I did so. Should I believe Marc’s word, whether they be truth or lies? Did I?
My hand reached down and snatched the phone up, clinging onto it tightly. I held it face up in my palm and looked down at it.
Just flip it open and have a quick nose around!
I flipped open the phone and peered at the wallpaper photo: Ben, James and I – the same image I had as my wallpaper. Good, that was good news… I clicked the ‘Menu’ button and scrolled down to ‘Messages’ and then to ‘Inbox’. I hesitated before I clicked ‘OK’. I was scared at what I might find.
My finger stabbed the ‘OK’ button and the previous list changed to his received messages. I stared at the name that was continuously featured in his list… and it wasn’t my name.
“Amanda?” I whispered, just loud enough to hear it myself. Amanda had been his girlfriend during the time he and I had slept together for the first time at Emelia’s party just over two years ago… where James had been conceived… they’d been going out with each other when mum and I had originally moved to Scotland... they’d split up soon after that because Ben had said that he only then realised what I’d meant to him.
Marc had obviously merely looked at his phone, saw the name and put two and two together. I smiled to myself and shook my head but there was still that inkling in the back of my mind that wanted to know whether or not this was simply a misjudging or whether Marc had looked closer into the situation.
I browsed through the beginnings of each of the messages in the list peering closely at the first few words of each message; you couldn’t really tell by five words that didn’t even get the main part of the message. However, one message caught my attention. The first three words were all that I needed to see. I clicked the ‘OK’ button again to bring the first message to full screen. It was a long one:
I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART. I’VE NEVER STOPPED LOVING YOU AND I NEVER WILL. WE WERE GREAT TOGETHER BEFORE THIS WHOLE COMMOTION BEGAN AND I KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A SON NOW BUT I DON’T CARE. ALL I KNOW IS THAT I LOVE YOU AND I WANT TO BE WITH YOU. I’D BE EVER SO NICE TO LITTLE JAMES AND I’D LOVE HIM AS IF HE WAS MY OWN LITTLE BOY BUT I’D NEVER TRY TO REPLACE HIS MUM I’D NEVER DREAM OF DOING SUCH A THING. PLEASE LISTEN TO WHAT I HAVE TO SAY AND PLEASE RECONSIDER. THINK ABOUT HOW WE USED TO BE. WE WERE PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER: BEN AND AMANDA, AMANDA AND BEN, THE PERFECT COUPLE! YOU LOVED ME ONCE AND YOU PROVED THAT YOU LOVED ME WHEN YOU GAVE ME THAT ENGAGEMENT RING TWO YEARS AGO. I’VE STILL GOT IT AND I’VE KEPT IT SAFE ALL THIS TIME. WHEN YOU BROKE OFF THE ENGAGEMENT… BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T SURE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS ANYMORE… YOU BROKE MY HEART BUT IT NEVER STOPPED LOVING YOU. I KNOW YOU LOVE ME TOO BEN AND ALL I’M ASKING IF THAT YOU PROVE THIS TO ME. TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO AND THAT WE CAN GIVE US A GO AGAIN. PLEASE BEN. I LOVE YOU. AMANDA XX
I was speechless. I couldn’t even think of what to say, even in my own head. There was nothing going around in my mind, just blankness… confusion… shock! I looked at the date it had been sent: June 23rd 2009 – about a week after mum and I had left to visit the McFarlows for the summer. I frantically hit the ‘Back’ button until I got back to the main messages menu, scrolled down to Sent Messages and scrolling through the lists looking for Ben’s reply. I found the one I was looking for… the one I hoped I wouldn’t find… and pressed the ‘OK’ button. Tears filled my eyes as I read Ben’s reply to Amanda’s text message:
YOU’RE RIGHT. WE WERE PERFECT TOGETHER. EVERYBODY THOUGHT SO. MY PARENTS THOUGHT YOU WERE A NICE GIRL AND THOUGHT YOU WERE GOOD FOR ME, YOUR PARENTS LOVED ME AND TREATED ME LIKE THEIR OWN, AND WE WERE THE BEST OF FRIENDS. THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT WHAT WE HAD WAS STRONG. WE WERE TOGETHER FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND STILL STRONG. I’D BE LYING IF I SAID I DIDN’T LOVE YOU AND I’D BE LYING IF I SAID I NEVER THOUGHT OF YOU. I ASKED YOU TO MARRY ME WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG – FOOLISHLY YOUNG – BUT I THOUGHT THAT OUR LOVE WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO LAST UNTIL OUR OLD AGE. YES, I MOVED ON AND I HAVE A SON NOW BUT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THAT SPECIAL PART IN MY HEART THAT YEARNS FOR YOU, THAT CAN’T BE HELPED. SO, YES I GUESS I HAVE TO AGREE WITH YOU AND SAY THAT I LOVE YOU TOO: ALWAYS HAVE DONE, ALWAYS WILL DO. I LOVE YOU. BEN XXX
I stood in silence breathing deeply in and out through my mouth. My stance was rigid and my emotions fragile. Had I just read what I thought I’d read? He’d admitted to his ex-girlfriend that he still loved her – ‘always have, always will’, to be exact – and that he thought about her all the time. Could this really be true? Maybe Marc had sent all these messages himself by changing Amanda’s number to his own or something… no, he wasn’t that sneaky, was he?
I heard creaking steps across the landing behind me. I didn’t turn round, I knew who it was. They stopped in the doorway.
“Casey?” Ben asked, cautiously. I turned by head slightly in his direction with his phone on view in my hand. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him eyeing the phone with a worried expression plastered across his face, “What are you doing?” he murmured, looking back up to me. I spun around to face him fully, crossing my arms and glaring at him.
“How dare you, Ben,” I began, my voice wobbly and cold. I felt my shoulders shaking and my wells welling up, “how dare you!”
“Case, it’s not what it looks like…” he began, holding his arms up in, surrendering in guilt.
“Not what it looks like? What does it look like, Ben? You don’t even know why I’m so mad!” I butted in, raising my voice an octave.
“You’ve seen them, haven’t you?” he murmured, “you’ve seen the texts off Amanda, haven’t you?”
“Don’t say her name to me!” I snapped, allowing my voice to echo around the room as I yelled from the top of my lungs. I didn’t care who heard, I was just so furious! “You broke up with her! You told me you broke up with her because you realized you couldn’t be without me. You broke up with her to be with me, Ben!”
“I know, Case, and I do love you, I love you with all my heart. Aman-…She’s the one that started the whole thing off. She’s the one that began to start texting me first. She was being flirty and cute with me and batting her eyelashes whenever we saw each other. She’s the one that was obsessed with me.”
“And you had to tell her you loved her? Did you? Tell me, Ben, do you really love her, or did you just tell her that to shut her up?” I asked him, placing my hands on my two hips. There was a long pause… I did not want to hear the silence that fell there… that was not what I wanted. I threw the phone violently in his direction, not caring whether it hit him or not, and watched as he dodged away from it, cowering away from me. I was fuming!
“Case, I didn’t mean to… I really do love you! I always have, always will…” he began. I snapped.
“Don’t lie to me!” I screamed, pushing him out of the way of the door and beginning to hit him in his chest, tears balling down my cheeks. I heard mum rush up the stairs and along the landing to where we both fought and heard her voice telling me – shouting at me – to stop what I was doing. I ignored her and continued to vent my anger out of the person who had caused me so much grief.
“Casey! Stop it! You’re hurting him!” mum cried, grabbing hold of my shoulders and pulling me away from Ben. I collapsed to the floor in mum’s arms and howled. Salty tears fell down my cheeks in dreads and drips, my nose was snotty and I was choking on my own tears. Ben had pinned himself close in the corner opposite my bedroom door, scared to move or say anything to me. Mum hushed me and rocked me like a tiny baby… like I was James.
“I… I’m…” Ben began to say but mum hushed him quickly before he could even begin what he wanted to say.
“I think it would be best for you to give her some space right now, don’t you think?” she told me sternly. His disappointed sigh filled my ears through the colossal ring of my tears. He got to his feet and walked the stretch of the landing to the stairs. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him pause and look back in mine and mum’s direction before taking the stairs. I howled louder.
What had I done? I’d caused myself so much pain. Why had I listened to Marc? Why had he gone snooping through Ben’s phone? Why me!?