In The Middle

Zac hates being in the middle of Kate and Taylor’s feud. Ever since Taylor made the decision to break up with Natalie in order to date Michelle, that’s exactly where he’s at. He wasn’t thrilled when he heard Taylor broke it off with Natalie. No, he can’t even say that. He was happy for his brother. Michelle made him happy and that’s what matters. Kate doesn’t see it that way, however. She kept reminding Zac about how broken Natalie is because of Taylor. He had to remind her that Taylor was his own person who could make up his own mind; he quickly learned that was a bad move.

Which leads him to his current phone call with Kate. They aren’t able to spend Christmas together but agreed to call each other Christmas Eve. Zac, of course, made the mistake of asking how Natalie was.

“Your brother is an idiot,” Kate had said right after the question. “She’s miserable. I’m not even sure she’s gotten out of bed much. Your brother never thinks of anyone but himself.”

“That’s not true, Kate,” Zac says with a sigh.

“Are you defending him?”

He closes his eyes as he tries to come up with the right thing to say. He’s not exactly defending Taylor… No, he really is. “Yes,” he finally answers. “Look, Kate, I get that your upset. I get that Natalie is your best friend.” Zac glances over to see Taylor walk into the room. “But Tay’s my brother. He didn’t break up with Natalie to hurt her. But why should he stay in a relationship that he’s not happy in?”

“Because Natalie’s happy!”

“Wow, seriously? So my brother’s happiness means nothing to you? Maybe he didn’t go about the actual break up part correctly. But I’m glad he did it. He was miserable, Kate. And I’m sorry that Natalie’s taking it badly, but I’m not about to stand here and let you continue to bash my brother. If Natalie’s taking it so badly, then maybe she should be the one to call Taylor and tell him.”

Taylor throws a glare at Zac. “Thanks,” he mutters.

“Michelle better watch her back,” Kate says.

“I’m hanging up now.” Zac does just that before Kate can say anything else. “Fuck.”

“Zac…” Taylor watches his brother. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t easy on you.”

“I’m caught in the middle. Just like always.” Zac walks out of the kitchen and makes his way up to his bedroom. He lays down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. How is he supposed to make Kate happy when she keeps putting him in the line of fire with her and Taylor? He understands why Kate is upset. Natalie is her best friend. But at the end of the day, Taylor is his brother and his best friend.

“Hey,” Taylor says walking in.

Zac looks over as he sits up. “Hey.”

“Look, I know I didn’t go about breaking up with Natalie the right way. But I honestly didn’t think it would cause this. And I’m sorry for you having to be in the middle of the feud with me and Kate.”

“I don’t blame you for breaking up with Nat. I get why you did it. I see the way you look at Michelle. Even when you did have feelings for Natalie, you never looked at her that way. I just… I don’t know how to make Kate happy right now.”

“Want me to talk to her?”

“Do you have a death wish?”

Taylor chuckles. “Right. I have to go pick up Michelle from the airport. Wanna go with?”

“No. I’d rather not be the third wheel in your love fest.” Zac grins. “I’m happy for you, Taylor. I hope you know that.”

Taylor nods. “I know. I promise, I’ll figure out a way to fix it.”

Zac lays back down when Taylor leaves. He lets out a heavy breath.

Jessica walks in several hours later, not bothering to knock. “What did you do?” Jessica asks.

Zac looks over and groans. “What?”

“Kate’s on the phone with Mom in tears.”

“Oh God.” He scrambles out of bed and runs downstairs. He stops when he sees his Mom standing with her back to him on the phone. “Mom…”

Diana turns and looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “I’ll let you talk to him.”

Zac takes the phone from Diana before she walks out of the room without another word. He frowns as he lifts the phone to his ear. “Hey, Kate.” He leans against the counter as he waits for her to respond, though he isn’t too surprised when there’s silence. “Kate, come on. You have to understand where I’m coming from.”

“Why? You don’t understand where I’m coming from.”

“I do. I do understand. I get that Natalie’s your best friend and that she’s hurting. I get that you want to make her feel better. But in the process, you’re hurting your boyfriend, Kate.”

“How am I hurting you? That doesn’t even make any sense.”

“Because you keep talking about how horrible Taylor is.”

“He is! And if you can’t see that…”

“He’s my brother! And my best friend! Why can’t you see that?” Zac sighs. “Kate, he’s my brother.”

“I know he is.” Kate sighs heavily. “And I’m sorry. I guess I tend to forget things when it involves Natalie. Doesn’t mean I’m not upset with Taylor.”

“And I get that. If this were turned around, I’m sure I’d be the one upset too. And I’m sorry that Natalie is still hurting. I really am.” He looks over when he sees Taylor and Michelle walk in. “But you have to agree, Kate, it was better that he ended it before it went too far.”

“I know you’re right. It’s just hard seeing Natalie like this.”

“I’m sure it is. I’m sorry for hanging up on you earlier.”

“It’s okay. I would’ve done the same thing. I’m sorry for not thinking about how you feel through this. You’re caught in the middle, huh?”

“You could say that. Just know that I understand where you’re coming from.”

“And I’ll get over my hate for Taylor.”

Zac chuckles. “I hope so. Because I’d really like to be able to have both of you in the same room together.”

“You will. I just… it’s going to take time for her. I know she’s your friend and all that. It’s just…”

“No, I get it.”

Good. Listen, dinner’s ready. I’m glad we were able to talk again.”

“Me too. I’ll talk to you in a couple days?”

“Yes, of course.”

Zac smiles. “Good. Merry Christmas, Kate.”

“Merry Christmas, Zac.”

Zac hangs up and looks over at his brother again. “Give her time,” he says softly.

Taylor nods. “As long as she gives Michelle a chance.”

Zac walks over and gives Michelle a quick hug. “I’m glad you could make it.”

Michelle smiles at him. “Glad to be here. I didn’t mean to cause a fight with you and Kate.”

“No, it’s not you. She’s just… She’ll be fine.” Zac smiles. He knows that it’ll be a while, but he really does believe that Kate will come around to Taylor and Michelle.