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Chapter 7

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Alex

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Alex

Everybody says the truth will set you free, but I watched it set fire to a friendship.

I told Mindy to wait until the dust settled before spilling every incriminating detail of the truth to my cousin.

But when Caleigh came marching towards her after talking to a noticeably upset Tanner, Mindy freaked.

She kicked off the conversation by crying, which Tanner picked up on as a cue to give her some much needed space.  He pulled me into a warm we'll-see-each-other-later-hug and handed me a breakfast bag from the hospital cafeteria. 

Whoever said you can't buy friendship never got a free Chipotle egg and cheese burrito. But as quick as he showed up, Caleigh's shaggy-haired, sharper-eyed version of Ashton Kutcher, waltzed out of the waiting room and headed toward his car.

Tanner had been in and out of the ER all night, shooting me and Mindy fading smiles before disappearing for little bits and pieces of time with Caleigh. I wondered what the two of them were like in their moments alone. If Tanner let Caleigh see him fall apart or if he hid his sadness behind a smile. 

Rory hid everything from me. Everything aside from the things he wanted moment to moment. But Caleigh and Tanner had the kind of unspoken understanding that wasn't built on fear, but kindness. Whenever they'd come back inside they seemed more whole than when they left. But this time, Tanner kissed Caleigh goodbye and left to deal with his problems while she dealt with hers.

Once the three of us were alone, Mindy made two stupid mistakes. The first? Starting out her story with the bad news.

            "So, I like, left Elias alone for a few minutes--"

            Worst. Opening. Ever.

            "—and when I came back he was gone."

            Truth.           

            "Next thing I knew, he'd figured out where I hid my stash of vodka—"

            Too much truth.

            "—and he got wasted and we fought so I drove off."

            Way too much truth.

The funny thing was, for all the truths she'd laid on the table, Mindy casually forgot to mention her slobber session with Elias and their fight over the mystery girl on his phone. Details. Juicy ones. But they were better left unsaid unless she was itching for a death sentence.

Caleigh stayed eerily calm while Mindy tripped over apologies, the kind of calm that stems more out of restraint than actual peace. Things seemed fine for a minute or so, until Mindy made stupid mistake number two and blurted out that she never would've forgiven herself if Elias had died. Caleigh stood up, took a deep yoga breath, and escorted Mindy on a one-on-one walk outside.

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