Kyler said nothing as he followed me downstairs. I didn’t know where I was going, but I needed to keep moving. I hit the kitchen and stopped, running both hands over my head. “Did you know?” I asked when I heard Kyler behind me.
There was a pause. “Syd mentioned it before.”
“Shit.” I dropped my hands. Tension crept across my neck. “And no one thought it would be a good idea to tell me?”
“Why would we? I mean, that’s some personal shit right there.”
I faced him. “Sydney told you.”
“I’m her boyfriend, and it wasn’t like I was going to tell people. And you—not to be ignorant—but you’re just some guy who hangs out with Andrea every once in a while.”
My hands closed into fists. “I’m not some random fucking dude.”
He arched a brow. “You’re not?”
“You’re her friend then?”
“I’d say we fall in the ‘more than just friends’ category,” I responded and turned away. Spying the beer bottle on the counter, I snatched it up and walked over to the sink, emptying the fucker out. “What? You’re not going to ask for details on that statement?”
“I really don’t think this is the time for me to get info out of you,” he replied calmly. “All things considered.”
“Hell.” I threw the empty bottle in the trash and then gripped the edge of the counter. My head dipped. “I’m a dick. A total fucking dick.”
I shouldn’t have said what I did. There was something to be said about being too honest and those words had been too honest. They were also hurtful as fuck. Anger and frustration had gotten the better of me, and that really made me no different than my father.
Knowing that burned like a mother.
How many times had my father lost his cool and said ignorant shit to my mom? To me? More times than I could count. Sometimes it was the truth. Mom wasn’t perfect either, and neither had I been growing up, but just because something was true didn’t make it right to throw it in someone’s face. And just because what I’d said to Andrea was true didn’t make it okay.
Well, what I’d said was partially true.
I had no idea why she’d been mostly single since I’d known her. Most guys would overlook the drinking. Hell, I could overlook it if I…if I didn’t care about her. And that was the whole thing. I cared about her. A lot.
And I had hurt her.
What I’d said needed to be said, but that hadn’t been the right way to go about it. Clenching the counter, I watched what was left of the foam from the beer bubble its way down the drain. I wasn’t sure an apology was going to be enough.
“It can’t be that bad.”
I’d forgotten that Kyler was even in the room. “Oh, it was.”
“She was drunk and she…she has some issues, Tanner.”
“With anxiety?” I pushed off the counter, ready to defend the whole “issues” statement. “A lot of people have problems with that. It’s not that uncommon.”
He raised his hands. “I’m not saying it’s bad that she does or anything like that, but you’ve got to understand, that probably had some kind of influence on her reaction. You probably weren’t the only cause of what just happened.”
“Maybe,” I muttered. “But man, just trust me on this. I shouldn’t have said what I did. Not the way I said it.”
Kyler stared at me a moment. “Okay. So now I’m going to get all up in your business at the most inopportune time possible.”
I raised my brows.
“It’s obvious that you really care about her. Something went down between you two while we were camping.” He grinned in a way that kind of creeped me out. “This is great.”
I frowned. “I don’t think this is a good thing right at this moment.”
“No. It is. Well, after you apologize for being a general shithead and Andrea…well, when she feels better.” He tilted his head to the side, studying me. “It doesn’t bother you that she has anxiety issues?”
My frowned deepened. “No. Why would it?”
“Some people…well, I’m gonna be real. There are people out there who are assholes and don’t understand something like that. They judge.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “I’m not one of them.”
Kyler nodded and then asked, “What about the drinking?”
And that was the million-dollar question. I wanted to be able to overlook the drinking, because underneath it all, there was a damn-fine woman there. Andrea was smart and she was funny. She was kind and she was beautiful. And she was a damn firecracker in and out of bed, but the drinking…
The girl had a problem, even if she didn’t want to acknowledge it.
I shook my head, unable to answer that…and damn, that was probably answer enough. Maybe for a while I could ignore the drinking, but long-term? Yeah, I couldn’t deal with that. Disappointment rushed me. I felt like something cherished had just been snatched away from me.
“What got her so pissed off at you?”
Part of me didn’t want to talk about it, but guilt was a noxious acid in my stomach. “You were right. Things did change between Andrea and me while you guys were gone—hell, before you guys left. It got heated—in a good way. But when you guys came back, she was so nervous and I…I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. I wanted to see how she played things out, but…”