62. Peyton's Back (Again)

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Peyton Bishop stood smiling on Daniel's porch, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his slacks

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Peyton Bishop stood smiling on Daniel's porch, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his slacks. He stood there like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to be there, like it hadn't been eight whole months since we'd last spoken.

All insolence, I crossed my arms and leaned up against the door frame. "Well, well, well. Would you look at what the cat dragged in?" But I was smiling. I'd googled Harvard's spring break and knew it started this week, had been wondering if he'd finally come home, had been hoping that he would. I'd missed him. A lot.


"Just a little bit. You look real good, still so tanned. Getting lots of sun up in Boston?" I teased. He looked exactly the same, beautiful as always, achingly familiar. I had to check my impulse to lean forward and kiss his cheek, as I usually did. Things were different now, weren't they?

Not for him though. He looked at me, the same way he always would, breathing me in. Maybe a little more intensely than usual, but this separation had been record long for us.

He smiled. "So... dinner?"

"Well, I don't know. You can't just show up on my doorstep out of the blue and expect me to drop everything and come running."

"Of course I can." He smiled.

I smiled. Of course he could. But I wouldn't let him off the hook that easy. "Eight months, Peyton, and not even a call! What in hell is that?"

"You could've called me too," he said.

That was true. But I hadn't, and he hadn't, because there'd been an implied understanding that we'd both needed some space.

In hindsight, most of our communication had been unspoken, Peyton and me, for better or worse.

His eyes shifted at the sound of footsteps approaching from behind me.

"Layla, quit fucking around. Pay the guy and bring the pizza in, Daniel and I are-" Jake stopped cold when he saw Peyton, released me from the chokehold he'd put me in.

After a moment's hesitation, Jake stepped around me and offered his hand to Peyton. "Hey."

They shook in silence and exchanged empty platitudes, treating each other like somebody that they used to know. In all fairness, I guess that's what they were to each other. Sometimes, friendships just fell apart. 

If Peyton was surprised by Jake's presence, he didn't show it. Instead, he turned his attention back to me. "Maybe tomorrow-"

"No wait-" I turned to Jake. "Peyton wants to go to dinner."

Jake shrugged. "Yeah, okay."

"You're more than welcome to come," said Peyton.

"Nah, we've got the game on and pizza's on the way. You guys go ahead," said Jake.

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