Part 29

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My heart races in my chest from the anticipation of seeing Heartbroken. I feel like I know her already even though we've never met. There is a saying about feeling familiar with someone, like old souls don't forget old friends and they recognize each other no matter how many lives we've lead in between. I'd like to think that we've been friends before and maybe that's why her email found its way to me instead of the intended recipient.

I move to my laptop so I can actually see the picture. I hate opening up images on my phone and having to scroll around to see the whole thing. I type in my password and open the internet browser, all the while my heart keeps up it's rapid pounding, making me smile and shake my head. This isn't like me at all. I've felt this way when I've approached other women, but I've never had the chance to get to know them before I see what they look like. I'm doing things different this time and it's making it more exciting.

Finally her picture pops up and it steals my breath. She's beautiful in a very exotic and stunning way. I can see now why she likes the ink mixed, she's clearly Caucasian and Latina, rich almond eyes the color of weak coffee outlined in thick black lashes. Her skin is light, but with a hint of olive that makes her look sun-kissed. Her long brown hair is thick and wavy, hanging in long rolling curls from a ponytail. My eyes move over her image quickly, taking in every feature. Then I remember that she must look different now and my fist clenches as my stomach rolls and lunges into my throat. How could anyone put a hand on her?

I think about dropping the image into a Google search, but I don't. She told me it's never been posted, and it feels like it would be a grave misuse of her trust. The picture is a selfie, taken sometime in the morning. I can tell my the way the sun is just peeking up from behind her. She's wearing a hooded sweatshirt and no make-up and I instantly assume she must have snapped it while running because her cheeks are slightly pink and her hair is tied back in a band so that the long ponytail hangs over her shoulder. I love that she didn't send me some altered photo with a million filters. She sent me a picture of the real Heartbroken.

I reread her email and laugh at the zombie reference, loving how she turned my teasing into a joke on me. She's bright and witty, two things that I find extremely attractive in a woman. I'm going to answer her dare of course, it's easy enough to send a picture. I'm just not a big photographer so I only have a few on my phone and none of them are selfies. It's not really my style, but already I'd do almost anything for her. I hold my phone up and switch the camera around so that my face is displayed on the screen. I even smile a little when I take the picture, something I haven't done in a while.

My phone buzzes in my hand and a text appears. It seems that there is going to be another party tonight and I'm invited. I loved going to parties in high school. I even love going to parties when I'm with my Marine friends, but I just have trouble getting excited about going to parties around here. Still, it's probably easier to go and see my friends all in one place than to try and meet up with them individually. I return the text letting my friend Lindsay know I'll be there and asking if she wants to swing by and get me on the way.

I spin around in my chair and look at the few items of clothing hanging in my closet. I don't have much here that I still wear, but there's a clean sweatshirt and an old pair of jeans that will work. I glance at my phone to check the time and decide I have time to return the email before I head out. Lindsay responds that she'll be to my house in about twenty minutes. I add another ten on because I know her well.

I open up the email thread and send my response to Heartbroken, wishing in a way that she was going to be at this party because then I'd actually be looking forward to going. 

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