Could starting over a relationship that has existed for years really be possible? Could all the past mistakes and fights and tears and broken hearts really be forgotten? I don't know, but I'm willing to take this chance and find out.Isabelle Adkins and Mason Asbury have known each other forever. They've been best friends since second grade, and since Isabelle turned fifteen, they dated. There's been so many mistakes, so many broken promises, so many lies, though, that their relationship is o
He’s been my best friend for years. In second grade, when we were given slips of brown paper with our names on them to tape to our desks, we found that we were seated next to each other. This was back when girls and boys found each other icky, and it was just appropriate for me to ignore him. So I did. I turned up my nose, sat in my desk and smoothed down my denim skirt, all the while watching him out of the corner of my eye.
He pursued me, to my dismay. My newfound friends picked at me, and laughed and giggled when one day my pencil fell off of my desk and he picked it up. His family ended up moving in next door to mine the next summer, and our mothers became friends. We were shuffled together during the times they went out shopping or had coffee together in the living room, and so I eventually stopped ignoring him and became his friend.
When we headed to the third grade the next school year, he still sat next to me. Our last names were Asbury and Adkins, so it was mandatory according to our teacher. And ever since then, we’ve been together. The first time he got a D on his report card, I took a Sharpie to my own report card and wrote a D where a B had previously been, so he wouldn’t get into so much trouble.
Our firsts were all together, the first time we rode bikes without training wheels, swimming on our own, our first day of middle school, and eventually.. The first kiss.
It went from him pursuing me to me chasing after him.
He had moved on though, and for the first time in my life, one of his firsts wasn’t me. His first girlfriend became Gracie Anthony, and I hated her. Her laugh, her God awful frizzy blonde hair, her green eyes, everything about her. But mostly, I hated the way she’d hold his hand. They lasted from the time he was thirteen to when he turned fifteen. They finally broke up over the stupidest thing—me. She’d gotten irritated at him because we were all hanging out one night over at his house, and he wanted to walk me home before he walked her home. She had told him to choose.
He chose me.
We got together that night, March 15. That’s also where the hell began.
On my seventeenth birthday, at my birthday party, I found him in my garage, making out with a friend of my friend’s that had tagged along to the party. I went ballistic, throwing a fit, screaming at the two, and finally had punched the girl in the nose. When she was gone, Mason and I had a long, long talk, and I had in the end come to the decision that I wouldn’t do this anymore. I was young, I had my whole life to do this shit. I broke up with him, and for the first time since second grade, I was without Mason.
It was a lonely feeling.
This is all what led up to this moment: Mason sitting beside me on the hood of my little silver Ford Focus, his arms crossed, face pinched with concentration, and fists clenched. The birthday party was a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve since then forgiven him the tiniest bit, and decided that I would at least give him the chance to talk it all out with me.
“What if... hell, what if we just forgot about it all?” he suggested, running his hand through his hair. I shifted my weight to my other foot and played with a loose string on the sleeve of my hoodie. Hearing him suggest this, I looked up, doubtful of his sanity.
“I’m sorry, but what?”
He rubbed his forehead like he had a bad headache. “What if we forgot everything—the cheating, everything. What if we just started over again?”
I sighed, wincing at the chilly night air that scraped the inside of my throat. “I’m listening.”
He stepped in front of me, talking with his hands. “Okay. We could pretend we’ve never met in our entire lives, and start over again. Forget everything that’s ever happened between us. We’ve never dated, never kissed, and never slept together, nothing. We don’t know each other.”
I shook my head, suppressing the urge to both laugh and smack him upside the head for dreaming up such a stupid idea. “And how the hell do you think that would work? We’ve known each other for years, Mase.”
“Well, we could just try. Pretend. Forgive and forget, right?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ll humor you. So how would you propose we go about this?” I glanced at my phone, checking the time. We were out without our parents knowing, and even though that happened on a regular basis, we still had to be careful.
“Just start over. Like you would with a new person you meet at school, or when you bump into someone on the street. You don’t know anything about them, or what their name is, or what their family is like.” His expression grew more and more excited as he said this, as if he’d come up with the most brilliant idea that ever existed. His blonde hair was messy from the multiple times he’d run his hands through it, and his face was dirt smudged from working. He hadn’t yet taken a shower, not having had the time to do so before coming out here to talk to me.
I closed my eyes for a moment and turned the idea over in my head. This could be a good thing. And there was really no harm in trying it, right? If we could keep things straight this time, and forgive and forget, we wouldn’t have to just fall apart. We could fix things. I could have Mason back.
I nodded slowly, opening my eyes. “I guess we could try it,” I said, choosing my words carefully. “On one condition.”
“Anything,” he exclaimed eagerly.
“No messing around with other people while we’re ‘getting to know each other’. I do still love you.”
“I love you too, Bells. I just want to find a way to make us work.”
“I do too.”
He smiled then, and reached out to put his hand on my waist and pull me closer. I stepped forward, knowing what he was going to do, and tilted my head upwards.
“One kiss for good luck?” he whispered softly, his lips already brushing my cheek. I grinned and tugged his mouth over to mine.
He kissed me slowly, and I knew that this was the real deal, he really did want to do this to try and sort things out between us. His hand moved to the small of my back, kneading down my spine, and pressed, pulling me closer.
When we finally broke apart, I gasped for air, my cheeks flushed and my head spinning. His lopsided grin told me he had meant to do that.
“So when does this start, Romeo?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met. Is something wrong?” He said, taking on a polite tone. A slow smile crept over my face when I realized what he was doing.
“Oh, some crazy guy just kissed me. But no, we haven’t met.” I held out my hand for him to shake it. “I’m Isabelle Adkins. Be nice to me, and I might let you call me Bella.”
He laughed, taking my hand. “Nice to meet you, Bella. I’m Mason Asbury. Be nice to me, and I might let you call me Mase.”
His grip was firm, and he let go of my hand quickly, no lingering fingers like he would have done before. He was really taking this seriously.
“You look dirty. Have you been rolling around in a ditch somewhere?” I teased, reaching up to tighten my messy ponytail.
He leaned in, his eyes sparkling. “I’ll tell you a secret. I work at a gas station, pumping gas into cars and trucks. But that isn’t the secret, though, so listen!” He beckoned for me to move closer. I did, cautious. “You’re messier; it looks like you’ve been run over by a dump truck.”
I gasped, faking astonishment at his insult. “You impertinent boy!” I slapped his arm playfully. “I’ll bet you don’t have nearly as difficult of a job as me!”
He crossed his arms over his chest and looked me up and down. “Try me.”
“I clean houses and babysit kids. And then, when I’m finished with that, I work at Dairy Queen.”
He scoffed. “Sounds real hard.”
“Well, mister, you’re awfully rude to be talking to someone you’ve just met.”
“Same to you.”
“I think I’ll just have to see you around, I have to get home. It’s late, my mother will be pissed if she finds out I haven’t been home this entire time.”
He nodded. “Mine too. It was nice meeting you, though.”
I snorted quietly. “I have a feeling you’ll be seeing quite a bit more of me.”
He rolled his eyes at me. “We’ll see, Bella.”
Tears flooded my eyes at this, and even though I knew it was just a front put on in an effort to save things, I was saddened by this. Things were changing. I got into my car before he could see the tears this was causing, and started the drive home.
“I love you,” I whispered at the rearview mirror, seeing him just stand there and watch me disappear.
I winced as she drove off, chewing on the inside of my cheek. Crossing my arms over my chest, I was glad for the dark. My expression probably didn’t look too pretty at the moment. I hadn’t meant to do it, I honestly hadn’t. It had just...happened. I wasn’t a cheater, and I hadn’t spent my time plotting ways to get this girl in bed, or staring at her from across the room, or anything like that. She’d just caught me at a vulnerable moment, after Bella and I had just been in a fight, and it was the easiest thing to do to forget what had happened.
It was a mindless, stupid thing, and I shouldn’t have done it. I regretted it every day with every breath, because now things will never be the same, even if this plan worked. There was too much for her to forgive me for, and I didn’t see it happening. Bella had a tendency to not forget things. I spit the blood I’d drawn out of my mouth and turned to leave.
By the time I reached my house I was crying so hard I could barely see. It was all I could do to swing the car into the driveway and put it in park. Turning the key in the ignition, I glanced at the house, looking for lights still burning. There was nothing, but I knew that didn’t mean everyone was asleep. My mother was an odd individual who preferred the dark at night and ignored my dad’s complaining.
I sighed softly, opened the car door and slipped out, making sure to shut it as quietly as I could. The back door was unlocked, I’d made sure of it. My mother never rechecked the locks, so I should be safe. I held my breath as I tested this theory and was pleased to find that it hadn’t failed tonight.
I tiptoed inside, pressing the door shut behind me and clicking the lock into place. The house was cool and quiet, with only the hum of the refrigerator and the tick of the old grandfather clock in the living room to accompany my slow breathing. I stood there for a moment and let my eyes adjust to the dark, because even though I knew the house better than I knew my own face, it was disorienting.
I crept to my bedroom, the first door on the left when you went up the stairs. It shared a bathroom with my brother, Nathaniel, and was directly across the hall from my younger brother’s room, whose name was Zach. Once inside, I took a deep breath, wiped under my eyes for any stray tears, and readied myself for bed.
To better block out any thoughts I didn’t want to think, I grabbed my iPod from my jeans pocket and turned it nearly all the way up. That was better.