chapter three: conflict

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“Hey, Mom? I’m gonna go... studying with Aria,” Harlow hesitated, grabbing her keys.

“Alright, just make sure you’re back before nine. Amelia will get mad if you’re not there when she goes to bed,” her Mom laughed, “Sometimes I feel like she likes you more than she likes me.”

“I think she just likes our movie nights,” she said, closing the door. As she walked to the car, she became more and more anxious. By the time she was locking her seatbelt to her side, she felt as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

“I hope everything goes well,” she said to herself, sliding her key into the ignition. Since Jasper lived close by, it only took her ten minutes before she pulled into the driveway to his cabin-like house and saw a familiar face.

“Is that you, Harlow? I haven’t seen you for a whole week, and on most days, you practically live here. How have you been?” Jonathan laughed.

“I’m okay. Do you know where your son is? He... forgot something at the table last night when we went to this pizza place...” she lied.

“Maragato’s? Oh man, their pizza is literally perfection. And yeah, he’s probably where he usually is.”

“Mind if I go and get him?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, that’s fine. While you’re in there, would ya’ tell him that I’m gonna need his help with yardwork later? I really don’t want to clean up all of these leaves when they’re soaked next spring.”

“Alright, I’ll tell him. Thank you,” she smiled. Jonathan nodded his head and smiled back at her.

As soon as she got inside, she realized things were different. She couldn’t see Jasper in the other room watching cartoons in the other room, and his younger brother wasn’t wandering through the house, holding his favorite truck in his right hand. Strange.

She walked through the hall, forcing herself to gather up the courage to knock on Jasper’s door. Soon after she decided that she could do it, the door opened and both of them jumped back.

“Why are you here?” he retorted, trying not to sound suprised.

“We need to talk about what happened last night. We can’t just pretend that didn’t happen or anything,” she said, rubbing her arm.

“I don’t want to,” he said, obviously trying to sound tougher than he felt.

“Why not?” she asked, leaning her shoulder against the wall.

“I think that I’ll end up saying something that I don’t want to,” he admitted.

“What is that?”

“I don’t want you to get mad, but I kind of...” he trailed off, nervously biting the side of his lip. Harlow waited patiently, expecting him to break any second and say “I’m joking”. But he didn’t.

“I might have done something I wasn’t supposed to. But I was at a party and I was drunk... and I don’t want to make you hate me...” he trailed off again.

“What... what did you do?” she asked.

“I might have slept with... Jailene...”

As soon as the words she hoped not to hear fell out of his mouth, she struggled not to burst into tears.

“You said... you said that you didn’t have feelings for her anymore,” she stammered.

“I know, I don’t. I told you. I was drunk at Asher’s party and I woke up at 6 A.M.  last week, laying on the couch next to Jailene... and I knew I did something that I would regret. Even when Asher woke up, also extremely hungover, said ‘How are the looovebirds?’ I didn’t mean to, Harlow, honestly,” he pleaded.

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