Chapter 4

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I sent Zach a text and he sent a few back. I didn't want to chat and told him to have a good night, thanking him one more time for all his help. I stared at my phone and not once did Jake even make an attempt to contact me, and not even a text to see if I was alive.

I sent Dad a checking in text. I was too afraid to call him, fearing he would hear something in my voice. A few days would pass and I could hide it better. In the meantime I still didn't know what to do. Did I go home, stay in the apartment or find a place of my own?

Since I didn't know when Jake was coming home, I holed myself up in my room with textbooks. In a few hours I was all caught up and reading ahead. I was going through my anatomy notes when I heard the key slip into the front door. I didn't move and listened as he came in and set his overnight bag on the ground. Silence. Was he listening for me? I waited, hearing nothing until the light rapping on my door.

"Emma, are you in there? Can I come in?"

My heart pounded and a wave of nausea and panic set in. "Yes."

He sheepishly stepped inside, a look of shame marring his handsome face. He stared at me, sitting on my bed, my school books all around me and tried to smile.

"I'm sorry," he said.

My bottom lip quivered but I told myself not to cry. "You were so mean," was all I could say.

"I know. I don't know why I texted those things. Maybe because it was easier than fighting her."

"I have never done anything to her," I said, my eyes stinging with tears.

"I know."

"All those things you both said. They hurt me so much."

"You don't know how terrible I feel."

"Then dump her."

His jaw tightened. "Emma, I love her. Sure, she said some horrible things, but it's not like you two have to be friends."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "After all she said about me, don't you see the person that she truly is?"

"She's threatened by you. That's all."

I massaged my temples, trying to collect my thoughts. What was he talking about? "Jake, we've been friends our entire lives and you would let her say those things about me and still defend her? And you agreed with her!"

His face hardened. "Emma, here's the thing. You've been here a few weeks and haven't made any friends. Do you know how hard it is for me to be your only friend? I feel like I can't have a life unless you're included in it. It's not fair. I have a girlfriend and I love her. She happens to not like you. What do you want me to do? I need you to give me space, to not do everything I do. I need you to get a life!"

Another tear slipped down my face. When had I become such a weepy wreck? I usually had it all under control. "Zach is my friend."

He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Zach feels sorry for you. In a week he won't remember your name."

"Why are you acting like this?"

"Because I'm frustrated. I can't babysit you all the time. When you said you were enrolling at Western my first reaction was that you'd latch on to me and never let go. I've made a life for myself and it can't always include you. I have Bianca, and I can't even bring her here because of you. Do you know what that feels like? I'm sorry that I'm being a jerk, but I've been feeling this way for a long time and now I've said it. I think you need to hear it."

Something passed over me, like a moment of clarity when all the clouds seemed to float away leaving only the sun and bright blue sky. "You're free," I said, my voice taking on a stronger tone. "Consider yourself unburdened."

"What does that mean?"

"It means you and I are no longer friends. Isn't that what you want?"

His eyes opened wide. "Wait, that's not what I want."

"You can tell Bianca that your little dog is running away. And that starts with me finding my own place."

Horror set in for him, but I didn't care. He came over to my bed, but I got up and walked out of my bedroom and into the kitchen. He followed me. "Emma, I wasn't saying I didn't want to be friends. I just want you to make some friends."

"Friends don't do and say what you did to me."

"I know you're upset but we can get past this. I'll talk to Bianca and we can work it all out."

"I don't want anything to do with Bianca!"

"Fine, I understand that, but you can't throw away our friendship because I made a mistake. I know I screwed up royally and I'll do anything to fix this."

His pleading didn't make sense to me. Something wasn't adding up. "If you mean it, then dump Bianca."

"That's not fair and you know it."

"It's totally fair. I would defend you to the death if someone called you a filthy mutt or wished you'd go die somewhere. But you didn't. You went along with it. Who's the dog?"

He sunk his head in shame. "I know, but if you met a guy and fell in love with him, you'd understand where I'm coming from."

Silence. I couldn't get through his thick skull. "I'm going home. I'll be leaving in the next day or two. I don't want anything more to do with you. Jake, you broke my heart. What you did was the ultimate betrayal and I can't forgive you."

"You can't go home! Everyone will flip out."

Eureka! The moment I'd been waiting for. I nodded my head in disgust. "Yup, that's really what you're worried about. What I'm going to tell Dad."

He reached out to grasp onto my arms, but I stepped out of his reach. His hands fell to his sides and his body slacked, an attempt to calm himself. "If you tell your dad, he'll tell Ron. You may think you're hurting me, but you're hurting them too. They are going to take sides and don't you think that will ruin their friendship?"

"Not once they hear what you did."

"Emma, you know I'm sorry. Why would you do this to them?"

"I'm not going to lie to my dad. And as for Uncle Ron, I think he'll see things my way."

"You do this, and we won't have a friendship anymore. I won't forgive you, Emma. So promise me you'll take a couple more days to think about this. And know that deep down in your heart I am sorry. I was stupid. And I don't want you to go."

Playing to my sympathies was a good strategy only because I didn't want to tell Dad. I didn't want to have to explain it all and relive my humiliation. It was bad enough all the people from the cabin knew. Who knows how many people they'd tell.

"I don't know what I'm going to do yet."

"All right, good. Take some time to think. I promise you that the whole Bianca thing will be resolved. I'll talk to her. She'll never do anything like that again."

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