Some days when it was particularly harder for me to keep a smile plastered across my face, I let my mind wander far away from me. I imagined myself living as somebody else, starting afresh, having nothing – or rather no one – holding me back. No past, no future, all I'd have was the present and everything it had to offer me. Then I'd hate myself for allowing such dark thoughts to pollute my mind, question my love for Josh, but most importantly make me feel like my life was one long, endless string of mistakes. I'd try to remind myself, to remember never to let the what if's and maybe's drag me down into the pit because once the seed of doubt is planted your my mind, it would never rest until it scratched its way all the way to your heart, doing more harm than good.

I was ashamed of myself for even entertaining such thoughts since Josh had made it perfectly clear that I was free to do as I wished, to walk out the door and out of his life whenever I seemed fit and he wouldn't have held me accountable for putting my needs above his for once. Josh would understand that this needed to be done if I wanted to keep my sanity intact. It was Wes, however, who would refuse to let go of me, who would always come find a way to come back to me, who wouldn't understand that his presence in my life was an unwelcome distraction and who would always find some way to worm his way back into it, as if he hadn't ever left.

"There's some guy at the bar asking for you," my semi-friend and fellow coworker Freya told me, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, even though there was no one around to listen in our conversation and it wasn't like the walls here had ears.

"A very, very gorgeous guy if I might add," she giggled, all jazzed up, barely restraining herself from jumping up and down in excitement. A tight knot formed into the pit of my stomach because I could think of only one guy would've come up here looking for me because I'd distinctly told him not to do that.

"Did he say who he was?" I asked, and then mentally congratulated myself when my voice came out casual, like the fact that there was a strange guy wanting to see me hadn't caught me off guard at all.

"No, he wouldn't tell me his name," Freya pouted, seeming heartbroken over the news, even though her mood improved in a blink of an eye as she recalled something else, "but he did tell me that you were expecting him."

In my peripheral vision, I could see Freya wiggling her white-blond eyebrows and opening her mouth to fire another question at me, but I walked out of the storage room, determination in my step.

At first, Freya struggled to catch up with me because she was wearing her tallest heels that, even though made her already toned legs look endless, also had the side effect of making me think of a baby giraffe whenever I'd see her walking in them with the more correct term being wobbling. But still, Freya was gorgeous to boot and too nosy for her own good.

"Well," she urged me on, sounding a little out of breath as she kept gesticulating, "who is he? Is he your boyfriend?"

I hoped silently that my expression had remained impassive because I didn't want Freya asking any more questions than she'd otherwise demand from me, but now that she'd met 'my mysterious boyfriend', she was bound to be even more curious about him, hell-bent on getting to the bottom of our story.

I never got around to answering her question, however, because at that exact moment I spotted the back of my boyfriend's head as he stood at the bar, supposedly waiting for me while chatting up Lacey, the female bartender, in the meantime. Probably having figured out that this was as much as she was going to get out of me tonight, Freya huffed in annoyance before going back to work. Not wasting another precious moment, I marched over to the bar until I was standing directly behind Josh. Lacey was the first one to take notice of my presence. A rare blush stained her cheeks as she looked down in shame, having connected the dots and realized that the boy she'd most likely been brazenly flirting with was one of her coworkers' boyfriends. She quickly skittered off, refusing to meet my eye as Josh turned around in his seat and smirked up at me, but not before giving me a thorough once-over.

That smirk I could recognize from anywhere.

I had a hard time deciding whether I was happy that it was Wes, who had come to seek me out, or not. A part of me was relieved to find him here and not Josh whom I hadn't talked to in the last five days because I was still upset with him for having so little faith in me when I'd been nothing but faithful to him, seeing to his every wish, making daily life easier for him, even though mine was a complete and total wreck. It wasn't about me feeling underappreciated by my ungrateful boyfriend who took me for granted. No, it sadly wasn't like that at all. If that had been the case, me and Josh would've made up a long time ago.

I had plenty enough of reasons to be angry with Josh and I had a right to be pissed at him, but – most of all – I felt hurt. I didn't know how I felt about Wes just yet. It was partly his fault that Josh and I had gotten into a fight, but I couldn't pin the entire blame on him when this time it was all Josh. I'd proved to him time and time again that he could count on me when no one else was there and yet that still wasn't enough, no matter what I did, or said, it would – as it seemed – never be good enough for him. He was overreacting and trying to force his opinion on me and what he didn't get was that his actions never pushing me away.

I shook my head energetically until I became dizzy, realizing that I'd spaced out at a time when I needed to stay focused, not distracted. Judging by the way all the girls in vicinity were ogling at Wes, practically devouring him with their lustful eyes, like he was a piece of meat they longed to sink their fangs in, I'd say that Wes was causing enough distractions for both of us, more so than necessary. It made me sick to think that Wes would have no qualms about getting into bed most of those women just to spit Josh.

Wes, ignoring my steadfast glare, swooped down for a kiss, but I turned my head away before our lips could make contact.

"You shouldn't be here," I informed him with my arms crossed over my chest protectively and even though it was so loud in the club I had trouble hearing my own thoughts, Wes caught every word I said.

"Well, what's a guy to do when you keep ignoring his calls, huh?" he asked, grabbing and tipping my chin up as I stared at him defiantly, proud of myself for not cringing at his touch.

"This is between me and Josh, Wes, so stay out of it," I said through gritted teeth, prying his long fingers off of my face and glaring at him menacingly, even though my reaction seemed to amuse him somehow. Josh understood, however, that I needed my space to think things over and recharge my batteries because even the most supportive of girlfriends felt like giving in sometimes just because the pressure was too much and it'd always be easier and more painless to give up on something rather than try to fix it. First I needed to convince myself that everything was going to work out and it was all worth it.

"Hey, don't get your panties in a twist, Pops, I've come in peace," Wes reassured me, lifting his hands up in surrender, but, try as he might, he couldn't be serious, even if his life depended on it. His incredulously green eyes crinkled at the corners as he tried hard not to smile, but his half-hearted efforts couldn't fool anyone, much less me.

"Somehow I find that hard to believe," I drawled, wondering what exactly he took me for. An idiot? Because only an imbecile, or a very desperate for affection girl, would be swayed by all the rubbish that left his mouth. I was neither of those things.

Wes cocked his head to one side, looking at me long and hard, trying to figure out what my deal was until I finally started feeling uncomfortable, but I'd rather drop dead than speak of how I felt. I understood, but I didn't get why Josh would feel threatened by Wes.

"Let's talk, Poppy. I just want to talk," he told me earnestly, holding my gaze, but before I had a chance to think things through, Ben, our bouncer, stepped in between me and Wes.

"Is he bothering you?" Ben asked me and even if his question was directed to me, his burning gaze was fixed on Wes who looked vaguely amused at the protective tone he detected in Ben's gruff voice.

"No, no, it's okay," I assured Ben, laying a comforting hand on his tense shoulder and he immediately relaxed under my touch, "I know him."

Unfortunately, I silently added the last part to myself, but curbed my tongue before I let my frustrations speak on my behalf.

"You sure he's not giving you any trouble, Pen?" Ben asked uncertainty, unconvinced by my insistent reassurance that it was fine for him to leave me alone with Wes as he shot me a questioning look, at a loss as to what I could be doing in the company of someone like him.

"Yes, I am, everything is fine, Ben," I nodded in affirmative as I wrung my hands nervously, not knowing how to introduce Wes to him, "he's… he's… um."

"Josh," Wes jumped in, finishing the sentence for me as he threw an arm over my shoulders carelessly, "her boyfriend."

I saw Ben's eyes widen in surprise as Wes leant down to kiss my cheek and I couldn't even shove him back, or wipe my cheek with the back of my hand, afraid that I'd draw too much attention to us and raise too many questions, so it was easier to go along with Wes' plan, even though I felt like screaming inside my head.

"You're… he's your boyfriend?" Ben finally sputtered, incredulous, gawking at us and staggering backwards, like the news had almost knocked him down.

"Yep, we've been going out since we were fifteen, haven't we, baby?" Wes replied, almost bursting with joy as he pulled me closer to his side until I was basically nestled under his arm, enjoying this a little too much.


I nearly gagged at the term of endearment if I didn't already feel too bad for lying to Ben like this. My face flushed in shame because Ben had been nothing but kind to me ever since I started working here, always willing to lend me a helping hand and offer me a shoulder to cry on when I was too exhausted to stand up on my own, yet here I was feeding him insolent lies. I couldn't even tell him the truth about my unusual predicament because I couldn't bear to see the disapproval, the disgust and bafflement I'd inevitably glimpse into his eyes the moment I came clean.

"I'm sorry I just assumed…" But Ben's voice trailed off as he watched Wes' hand slide down my back to my bottom, which – to my utter mortification - he grabbed playfully. I squealed embarrassingly and I glared up at Wes accusingly, deep down knowing that the only reason he let his hands wander so much was because he wanted to prove to Ben and everybody else in this room that I was his to do as he pleased and no one else's for the taking. This was why he took such liberties – because this was his idea of beating his chest with clenched fists and showing the world that I belonged to him.

The boys sized each other up assertively, like warriors gearing up for battle, but I really didn't want things to come to this.

"You assume too much, Ben," Wes said smugly, smiling at Ben so widely one might think that his smile would swallow his whole face, but I got the feeling that I was the only one who could see the edge to his smile, the hardness to his eyes. He wasn't merely fed up with Ben now, he was furious just like I'd been furious with Josh a few days ago after I thought back on our argument.

Ben was too nonplussed and stupefied to respond in the way he should have hadn't Wes caught him so unprepared. I decided it was about time I interfered before the situation span out of control. Ben was one of the few people that I really considered to be my friends, so I didn't want him to think the worst of me just because my boyfriend's alter ego was a blundering idiot that got a kick out of humiliating people. Sometimes Wes made it darn impossible for me not see the truth behind Josh's repeated warnings. Josh claimed Wes was a monster and at times like this I almost found myself nodding in agreement. I needed to get him out of here, put some safe distance between him and all the people I cared about before Wes hurt anyone I cared about.

"Okay, Ben, can you-"I put a restraining hand on Wes' chest as I turned to Ben who must've heard the plea in my voice because his murky eyes automatically softened and he got what I was trying to tell him in not so many words.

"Go," he told me in a raspy voice, giving me one last look, "I'll cover for you."

I heaved out a sigh of relief, nodding my thanks to Ben before I rushed to grab my bag so that we'd be out of here before Wes made a bigger ass out of himself (if possible), but I'd never put it past him.

When I came back a few munities later, having changed out of my work clothes into something more comfy, Wes was already shrugging on his leather jacket and looking at him now, I chided myself for not recognizing it was him and not Josh the very moment my eyes locked on him. Call me crazy (and you'd probably be right), but despite inhabiting one body, Wes and Josh did everything differently – from the way they brushed their teeth down to the way they walked.

Josh had a confident gait, but Wes didn't move nor walk – he glided over surfaces, as if his feet didn't even have to touch the ground. Josh was always so put together, every little thing about him screaming 'control freak' in bold letters while Wes was a walking disaster, his soft hair always in disarray, like he'd just climbed out of bed, and the annoying smirk he wore never fell off his face.

They were two different people, unified by their mutual hatred for one another, who shared the same hell and somehow they'd dragged me into it, too.

Josh had been right all along – there would always be three of us in this relationship.

"What? Did my good looks stump you?" Wes snickered when he came to stand beside me and it was a little too late when I realized I'd been staring at him with my mouth hanging open, probably giving him the wrong idea, like Wes' ego needed to be inflated even more. It was big enough to suffocate us both by this point.

I scowled at him, biting back a scathing remark and not appreciating that he was cracking jokes after nearly tackling one of my friends to the ground for no apparent reason at all. I shouldered my bag and tugged at Wes' hand until he followed me out of the club and I took a greedy breath, dropping his hand, like I couldn't wait to get rid of him.

I hugged myself around the middle to preserve warmth while a teeny, tiny part of me wondered how Wes hadn't frozen to death yet wearing just his leather jacket when it was so cold outside, my teeth were chattering. I swore to myself that I'd let the silence stretch between us, no matter how long it took him to break it. If there was one thing I was really good at, it was prolonged silences.

"He likes you, you know," Wes finally said, shrugging, and at first I didn't realize he'd spoken until his words were registered in my brain.

"Who?" I asked despite myself, glancing at him bemusedly, not knowing what he was babbling on about.

"Your friend," Wes clarified slowly, as if speaking to a lunatic, rolling his eyes at me exaggeratedly, "Ben."

He mentioned it so casually that most people wouldn't even stop, rewind, and think his words over.

"No, he doesn't," I argued, scoffing at the mere idea of Ben having any romantic feelings for me because I'd made it blindingly clear from the start that I wasn't about to get involved with anyone. I had enough boy drama to last me a lifetime. I didn't need to add more to the pile. "You're being ridiculous."

Ridiculous was another way of saying stupid, but I doubted that Wes would be exalted to be insulted to his face. Especially by me.

"I'm being ridiculous?" he asked, incredulous as he pointed to himself. "Seriously, you need glasses, Pops, if you can't see how crazy this guy is about you."

"He was just looking out for me, Wes," I said patiently, fully aware that talking sense into Wes' head was no easy task and would try even God's patience, "that's what friends do. They look out for each other."

A concept unknown to someone like Wes who only leeched off people and used them before throwing them away.

"He certainly wants to be more than friends with you, though," Wes insisted, which was beginning to rub me off the wrong way and I knew that there was a reason why I kept every small thing about my life separate out of necessity. Otherwise things got messy. Fast.

"Ben's my friend, Wes," I said, stressing my point and hoping that he would drop the subject before it got out of hand, "he just didn't like the way you were treating me."

Of course he didn't. How could he? Ben was a good guy, was raised well, acted like a gentleman, and almost kept silent if he didn't have anything positive to say. He was going to make some girl very happy one day, but that girl wasn't going to be me, regardless of what Wes thought.

"And how was I treating you exactly?" Wes queried, curiosity lacing his voice as he bumped our shoulders and I scowled up at him.

"Like I'm your property," I answered simply and maybe that ought to have bothered me more, but I couldn't bring myself to care because I had come to the point where I couldn't care anymore. The simple act of having something bug you took too much energy and I was dead on my feet anyways.

"How's that a bad thing? I was just putting him in his place." Wes shrugged, running his fingers through his hair and not caring one bit that he was messing it up. I was reminded yet again that Wes wasn't Josh because Josh would've had a fit if he'd seen what Wes was doing to his hair.

"This might come as a surprise to you, Wes," I started and actually found myself smiling because this was such a Wes thing to say, "but people can't be owned. I don't belong to anyone."

"Yes, you do," Wes disagreed, smiling brilliantly down at me and momentarily making me forget what we were even discussing, or that I was supposed to be fed up with him, "you belong to me."

I couldn't help myself, I giggled like a five year old that was being tickled. I laughed so hard that tears pooled at the corners of my eyes and I wiped them away before they turned into icicles.

"Oh, Wes," I sighed tiredly, but even so, a smile pulled at my lips because this was all too familiar to me. Wes believed that everything could be bought and there was little I could do to convince him otherwise since he was stubborn as mule.

When I glanced at him, I saw him looking back at me with a fond smile on his face. The tension between us wasn't gone entirely, but it'd dissipated.

"Dance with me," Wes commanded suddenly after we'd fallen into companionable silence and I was so startled, I almost tripped over my feet and landed on my butt, but Wes grabbed my hand before I lost my balance.

"What?" I bellowed as he began tugging me towards him and I kept resisting, bewildered at what he'd come up with now. Out of all his silly ideas, this was probably the worst one.

"Dance with me," he repeated, his eyes dancing with mischief as he gazed down at me, gently pulling at my hand, pleading with me to go along with it.

"Now?" I asked again, glancing around the empty streets in befuddlement, half-wondering if I was making this up. "You want to dance now?"

I sounded so surprised, my voice came out hysterical.

"Yep." Was the only response I got from Wes before he pulled me into his arms, pushing my face against his chest, and in the back of my mind I was amazed by the heat coming off his body.

"But… but there isn't any music!" I struggled to explain, but Wes wouldn't hear any of it. He simply grinned down at me, like he knew what he was doing, then wrapped my hands around his neck and put his around my waist before he started twirling me around as we danced to the music in his head. I kept laughing, although I shouldn't have, because Wes took my smile for a peace offering. I had to hand it to him, though – he was a spectacular dancer and impressed by his swanky dance moves, I almost forgot that I was supposed to stay away from the guy. Instead I was beginning to enjoy his company and didn't want our impromptu dance session to end.

The people that passed us by kept giving us weird looks and I all but giggled at their reaction. I could only imagine what we looked like from an outsider's perspective.

Eventually, after we'd both run out of breath, Wes set me down on the ground and I leant forward on my knees, trying to catch my breath, but smiling all the same.

"That was fun," I said, straightening up and brushing flyaway hair out of my eyes, having trouble remembering when was the last time I had a real reason to smile. It suddenly hit me that it'd been a while since I'd felt like I had no care in the world, like some invisible weight had been lifted off my shoulders. When I'd gotten so old, so tired of living?

Wes didn't say anything, but the way he looked at me baffled me because I couldn't read his expression, so when he went over to me, shortening the distance between us in four strides, I barely refrained myself from stepping back and switching to defensive mode.

"What? What's wrong?" I asked anxiously as he stood so close to me that I could feel his hot breath brush against my skin. I didn't want him thinking that I was uncomfortable around him when I was merely wary of his unexpected mood swings.

"You're freezing," he said simply as he took hold of my hands and enclosed his fingers around my own. I was once again reminded and amazed by the heat emanating from his body. His whole body seemed to be burning up while I'd almost come to the point where I was about to get hypothermia, even though the cold no longer bothered me as much as it did before. "Let's get you home," Wes said shortly after and for the first time in really long I had nothing to say to that but agree with him.

A/N: I'm so sorry for the awfully long wait, darlings! :/ I know it's been such a long time since I last updated, but there's a reason for my disappearance. I don't want to bore you with all the details, so let's just say that I'll do my very best to update more frequently. :) I wonder how many of you are still reading DLFM, though? o.0 Leave me a review to tell me what you thought of the last chapter and cuss me out for taking so bloody long to update. :P I know I deserve it! ;) Anyways, happy holidays, loves! Thank you so much for reading/reviewing/being ever so patient with me. :)