Authors: Leona Norwell
Then it happened. The very thing that I didn’t want to happen happened.
For the first time in the duration of our relationship, Leo and I actually started functioning like a normal, proper couple. With Trey out of the picture, for the time being, Leo and I inadvertently managed to get ourselves back on track, not that Leo ever knew we were off track but the point still stands.
We started doing the things that normal couples do, for once he wasn’t comforting me and I wasn’t depending on him for everything, we became equal components. We went and did our Christmas shopping together, we put up decorations in both our apartments, we took photos and posted them on Facebook, we laughed together, made love underneath the fairy lights and he practically moved in with me.
The past few years had been a complete mess, but right now I wasn’t focused on my haunting past, I was looking to the future. The last couple of days I’d spent with Leo since he got back from L.A gave me a real sense of what my future could be like. Leo and I could actually be husband and wife, his career could take off and perhaps I could go back to making movies. We could have a beautiful home together, and one day, we might even have children.
The prospect of this bright and glowing future excited me. It was so far from the dark and depressing world I’d been living in now for what felt like eternity.
Suddenly the tables had turned, once again. I went from having nothing to lose by going after Trey to having everything to lose by going after him. Trey’s demons were seeded deep within him. He was riddled with problems that wouldn’t just evaporate because I’d gotten back together with him. Something told me I didn’t know the full extent of how plagued with problems Trey was. There was no guarantee that if I went back to Trey, everything would work out. There was no guarantee he could offer me the rosy future that Leo could. I loved Trey but was I willing to sacrifice my shot at a painless carefree future for him?
I’d already been through so much. All I wanted was to be happy again, I didn’t want any more hurt or pain in my life. I don’t think I could handle any more. What if Leo was my last chance at happiness? What if he was my last shot at life again? Could I really afford to risk losing that?
Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I had a lot more thinking to do before I made any final decisions.
I’m awoken crudely to the sound of sleigh bells and Mariah Carey belting out ‘all I want for Christmas is you’ from the stereo in the living room.
I hate Mariah.
I roll over and look at the clock: 7:00am.
Forget this, I’m going back to sleep. I pull the cozy covers up over my head and nestle into a comfy position, ready to drift back off to sleep again.
It’s no good; the ridiculous tones of Mariah’s voice are joined by the even more appalling ones of Leo’s as he tries to imitate her.
I can hear him shuffling around as he enters the bedroom. It’s all quiet and then the great big lug pounces on me like a child.
“I’m trying to sleep”.
I poke my head out from underneath the covers, faking an exaggerated frown.
“But its Christmas Eve, Santa’s nearly here!”
“You know what? You’re worse than a child”.
He simply smirks back at me as though it was a compliment and then scoops me up into his arms, bed sheets and all.
“C’mon, I’ve got something to show you”.
Still clutching me and the mass of white sheets in his hands, he lifts me off the bed and carries me out of the bedroom and over to the balcony doors.
“What? We’re not going outside, Leo, its freezing and you’re not even wearing any clothes!”
“Aww so what?”
He gently kicks the doors open and whisks me out on to the biting cold balcony.
I go to start complaining but the sight from out here leaves me speechless.
“Now would you look at that, beautiful isn’t it?”
The whole city is covered in pure white snow. It really was beautiful. There was something so magical about this setting; it was a scene that belonged in the movies, or at least in one of those snow globes. And on Christmas Eve as well, it was perfect, absolutely perfect.
We stand out there for a while longer, gawking at the beauty of the pure New York snow until eventually we have to come rushing back inside to sit by the fire through fear of catching frost bite.
We spend Christmas Eve morning the way I think everyone should spend it. Instead of rushing around the shops for last minute gifts we lay by the fire and watch all the good old movies on TV.
Leo’s sitting on the floor propped up against the sofa with one arm casually draped around my shoulders. We’re both still in our underwear, only the soft blanket around us and the gentle fire keeping us warm.
I’m not really paying attention to the film we’re watching, I’m too intoxicated by Leo's sweet yet musky scent and the oaky smell from the burning fire. I was genuinely happy. An emotion I hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Oh, I meant to tell you, I got talking to your neighbor yesterday, Freddy Frett, him and his brother just got back from Germany, didn’t sound like they had anything spectacular planned for Christmas so I invited them around for a few drinks this evening, I hope you don’t mind?”
Please let him be joking, just the four of us in one room together, that would be major awkward.
“Well, Freddy was at your birthday party and we got talking, he’s a really cool guy, I mean I heard his brother’s a bit messed up but how bad could he be?”
I was trying as hard as I could to keep my emotions under wraps but something on my face must have given me away. Leo’s eyes narrow in to that annoying questioning look, indicating he knows something’s up.
“Have you hung out with them before?”
“Well um… yeah sort of…”
He raises his eyebrow and I cave in. I can’t lie to him; I think it’s about time he knew the relationship between me and my neighbors.
“Well, you see it’s a funny story really, I’m sure you’ll laugh, eh me and Trey used to date… haha”.
I couldn’t control the nervous laughter. Leo’s eyebrows pull up and he looks in a state of complete shock. Oh God, I should’ve kept my mouth shut.
“You… you used to date Trey Frett?”
“Yeah, I mean it was a long time ag-”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I didn’t want to make a fuss over it, it’s not a big deal”.
“If it’s not a big deal, Harmony, then why didn’t you tell me?”
My delay to answer him seems to confirm to some silent question he had and he gets up and makes his way to the bedroom.
I follow him nervously, his voice was so calm. I wasn’t entirely sure how he was reacting. He hasn’t said anything else; instead he goes around the bedroom putting things into a bag before slipping his clothes on.
That can’t be a good sign.
“Leo… what are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing…?”
“What? Please Leo don’t do this”.
He gathers his things from the bedroom and brushes past me as he grabs his coat from the hallway.
“I knew it. I knew something was going on”.
“What? What are you talking about, Leo?”
“You and him!”
He’s no longer cool, calm and collected. His voice is ragged; he’s clearly pieced the whole thing together.
“At your birthday party, the way the two of you looked at each other… I tried to convince myself I was just imagining things, but now this! Oh it all makes sense now!”
He angrily stomps towards the door, flinging it open and darting out into the hall. This wasn’t supposed to happen, what have I done?
I chase after him, dropping the blanket and my dignity as I go, I don’t care who sees me, I can’t let him leave.
“Leo nothing’s going on!”
Our voices are raised, we’re both shouting at each other. God knows what the neighbors must think.
I grab his arm as tightly as I can to try and stop him.
“Leo, nothings going on between us, please don’t do this, you’re overreacting!”
He spins around instantly, my words sending him over the edge; he rams me up against the wall causing a loud screech to escape from my mouth at the pain of the collision, his hand firmly placed around my throat.
The tears flood down from my eyes onto his hand and I can feel him start to shake a little.
“Are you sleeping with him?!”
“But you want to?!”
A door opens along the hallway and we both look to see Trey and Freddy standing there, wide eyed with shock. Trey takes a look at Leo, then at me crying, then back to Leo before he finally speaks up.
“You take your hands off her, now!”
“Man, you’re hurting her”, Freddy chimes in.
Leo ignores them and looks straight back to me. I turn my attention to him but out of the corner of my eye I notice Trey and Freddy cautiously edging closer.
Leo slowly releases his grip on my throat and the air burns as it comes rushing back into my lungs.
“Please, don’t leave me…”
He looks back to Trey and I follow his gaze. Trey looked terrifying, especially with Freddy standing right behind him, both of them shooting an unwelcoming glare towards Leo.
“You don’t get to have us both, Harmony. You can’t have him as your boyfriend and me as your consolation prize. You have to choose. And if you choose him, I won’t be there to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. And it will fall apart. So it better be worth it. If you do this, there’s no going back. This ruins everything, Harmony”.
I let out a sob as he completely removes himself from me and heads off down the hall. Freddy walks after him, making sure he’s fully calmed down.
I can feel the color drain from my face as I slide down the wall to the floor, my head aching, my throat burning, and my vision blurred from all the tears.
In no time, Trey is straight over, his long arms wrapped tightly around me.
“Did he hurt you? Are you ok? I’m sorry, I’ll never let him lay another finger on you again do you hear me? It will be worth it, I promise…”
He looks down, straight into my eyes with the most passion, concern and raw emotion I’d ever seen since he’d come back into my life. His grip on me tightens; as if he’s afraid I’ll up and run after Leo at any moment.
With that small gesture I knew what I’d done. I was giving up a guy who I was convinced was perfect for me, for someone who my heart knows really is.
“I love you, Harmony, more than you’ll ever know”.
His voice was like honey, his words soothing all the pain from my body as he cradled me in his arms.
“You know what, Trey? I’m sick of your lies and I’m sick of your games and I would just walk away from you, except I saw you with this other woman, with Miranda. And I can’t let it happen again”.