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As I leave Xavier behind guilt grips tightly at my throat

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As I leave Xavier behind guilt grips tightly at my throat. A solid knot prevents me from swallowing and my eyes begin to sting. It shouldn't be this way. He's my best friend. My oldest friend. For the longest time, he was my only friend yet now, it's hard to look at him. The parallel between these two realizations is a hard pill to swallow.

I stop my descent for a moment, long enough to consider going back and talking things through but I don't have the words Xavier is hoping to hear and I can't bring myself to force them out so I keep walking until I exit the building.

It's not even June yet and the sun is high in the sky, scorching the surface of the earth in unforgiving heat. By the time I make it to Murphy's pub, sweat is making my clothes stick to my skin and I'm parched.

Once inside, the crisp coolness of the air condition delivers a welcoming, icy blast. The place is not busy at all given that it's the middle of the day and it should be the lunch rush. Aside from a couple of people in business suits and a couple I recognize from campus, it's empty. I don't spot Jackson, despite a quick loop through the dining area.

Jax can be odd, maybe he's a fan of unrelenting heat. Maybe he's on the patio. I slip through a side door, hoping to see him but once again, the space is virtually desolate. Sliding my phone from my pocket, I check the time. 12:07. I'd bet my life on the fact that Jackson would never stand me up so I assume he's running a few minutes behind.

I prefer to wait inside, having no desire to melt into a puddle of sweat. I'll take tolerable over baking my skin any day but when I turn around, I stop dead in my tracks.


He's as relentless as the fucking sun.

I inhale the hot, sticky air and exhale softly before I sweep my eyes up to meet him. It takes all of my resolve not to start yelling at him, screaming at him to go away. To leave me the hell alone. "X, what are you doing here?"

He shrugs. "What do you think I'm doing here Lola? You won't answer your phone, you won't answer my texts, you won't even talk to me, fuck, near as I can tell you can hardly even look at me. Figured if I followed you here, you'd have no choice but to talk."

I once again scan the space for any sign of Jackson. Perhaps he can save me from an awkward conversation I'm not ready to have. He still hasn't shown. I'm backed into a corner with X and it's the last place I want to be.

"I don't have a choice thanks to you, so talk X. Spit it out."

He steps forward.

I step back.

"You aren't being fair, Mouse."

I splay my arms out the side. "Isn't that the mother of all contradictions? God X, you're such a bloody hypocrite. It's you who isn't being fair."

He dark brows knit together. "Me? Lola, you're acting like a ten year old child. You won't even hear me out."

"That's because I've heard all I need to hear, Xavier."

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