I hang up the phone and toss it aside before standing up and stretching. According to my call log, Gabriel and I spoke for three hours. Part of me couldn't believe how easy it was.
I leave my bedroom and wander out into the kitchen area. It's dark but I can see movement down the other end of the hall. "Jack?"
"Hey." Jack says as he takes his boots off and walks forward into the kitchen light.
"Hey." I smile, jumping up to sit on the counter. "How was your date?"
He shrugs. "It was alright."
His tone gave it away. I frown. "Jack, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong." He begins to move down the hall towards his bedroom.
"Oh no," I say, jumping off the counter and following after him. "You're not getting away that easy."
I lean against his doorframe as Jack shrugs off his jacket and tosses his phone onto his bed. "Jack, what's wrong?"
He begins to fold his jacket and places it neatly on his desk. "Don't worry about it Troye."
I didn't want to push him but a voice in my head told me this was something I can't ignore. "Jack, please talk to me."
He sighs. "It just wasn't a good night, okay?"
Jack scoffs. "You'd think that when you put 'looking for a serious relationship' on your profile, people wouldn't contact you and wanna go out just for casual sex."
I open my mouth to speak but Jack isn't done. He holds up four fingers. "Four. I was the fourth person this guy had contacted to 'date' because he wanted to make his ex jealous. He could've at least told me before we ordered a forty-dollar bottle of wine."
"Jack," I whisper. "I'm so sorry."
"And that's not even the best part!" Jack proclaims. "No, I think my favourite part was when I got up to leave and he offered to pay me. You know what he wanted to pay me with? Not cash, not a cheque. Pennies. He tried to bribe me with pennies, Troye. He had pennies on the table in a five-star restaurant."
"Jack, I'm really sorry."
"Nah, don't worry about it." Jack sits down on the edge of his bed and takes his shirt off, leaving him in only jeans. "It's my fault anyway for being stupid enough to think someone actually wanted to be in a relationship with me."
He tries to hide the small choke in his voice but I heard it nonetheless and my heart broke. I was furious that someone had messed with my best friend and even angrier that they had made him doubt himself. My heart shattered at his dejected sight.
"Jack," I say softly, walking into the room. "What happened is not your fault. That guy is an asshole."
"Please don't, Troye." Jack said, shutting his eyes and falling back on his bed. "I just want to be alone right now."
My eyes skimmed over my best friend, focusing a little too closely on his sculptured abdomen. In every way I could think of, Jack was perfect.
A smart and talented businessman, Jack had an incredible drive and work ethic. He was bright, funny, smart and an all-round amazing guy. He had always been there for me, to talk, to hold, to cry on. It pained me to see him in such a state.
Attributes aside, Jack was also incredibly attractive. Unintentionally, my eyes raked over his toned physique and I could feel myself waking up slightly. I had never considered Jack to be anything more than a friend but I would be a fool to not appreciate how handsome he was.
With dark eyes that drew you in and captured you whole, it was easy to sink in his gaze and be held captive for centuries. His arms were strong and made you never want to leave when you were in them. Not to mention, countless hours at the gym had paid off well for him as he looked hand-crafted by a God.
I had always believed that every guy who had skipped out on Jack had made the wrong choice. Bias or not, they missed the opportunity to be with someone who would love them fiercely and whole-heartedly. For that, they were fools.
As my best friend, Jack had never stopped being there for me. When Cam died, as sad as it is to say, Jack was there for me more than my family was. Aria's career was kicking off at the time and she could only briefly stop work to check on me.
My parents had been there but they too were also going through a rough time and weren't around as much as I needed them to be at seventeen.
School drove me insane as all I received was sympathetic looks and condolences. As appreciative as I was for their understanding, it made me feel like I was going crazy, stuck solely in my own grief.
One day I had been driving home with Jack but my feet wouldn't move when I went to get out. Sensing what was wrong, Jack had turned us around and headed straight for the mountains.
When asked what he was doing, he wouldn't reply. Not even when we were getting out of the car and he was dragging me up a mountain trail would he provide an answer.
We reached the top of a cliff when Jack finally turned to me and said. "You don't have to pretend with me Troye. You don't have to smile and thank me, you don't have to hold your head high and power through. Not with me."
"What are we doing here?" I had asked.
Jack had gestured around us at the open space. "You need to let go of what you're feeling inside. Here, you can do that. So go on."
"Go on and do what?"
"Let it out." Jack smiled. "Shout, scream, kick things, punch something. Right now it's only you, me and this big wide space, and I won't judge you."
I had laughed then and said, "I don't need to scream."
"Alright," Jack held his hands up innocently. "Then do whatever it is you need to do. I'll be waiting in the car."
Then he had turned and left back down the trail, leaving me alone with my thoughts, the ocean crashing below and the wind rushing around me.
I don't know how long I had stood there before I finally just opened my mouth and let whatever sound come out be swept away over the roaring ocean. Whatever motivated me to do so had not been a conscious decision; I just let myself go.
I let my screams die in the wind and by the time I was done, my voice was hoarse. Jack hadn't said a word to me when I got back in the car, simply drove me home and nodded once to me before leaving.
It was the best thing anyone had done during that time and he had been the one to do it. Jack, and right now he was the one suffering and I wanted to help him so desperately as he had helped me all those years ago.
However, now was clearly not the time.
"Okay," I say sadly, moving to the doorway. "If you need to talk I'm here."
"I know." Jack says dismissively. I cast him one last sad glance before leaving his room.