Chapter 42: The Return

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"Ten bucks Darian is sitting on the couch staring at the door like a lost puppy," Nathan mused as we exit the elevator and made our way down the hall to our apartment.

I forced myself to laugh but quite frankly, I wasn't in the mood to laugh. Especially if laughing causes my eyes to squint, making my left eye pierce in pain to do so. But I did anyways, I didn't want Nathan to think I was upset at him for what had happened in Canmore. "Do you have the keys?"

"Yep just gimmie one sec-"

The door flew open and Darian threw himself on me. "Audrey, never leave again! Samara was so lonely she literally took over the living room and refuses to go home."

He faked sobbed on my shoulder and I let out a small laugh while patting him on the back. "Good to see you too, bestie."

Darian straightened himself out and gave me goofy smile. "Well, I missed you, of course, but your CRAZY ASS FRIEND won't get off our couch."

He turned towards the apartment as he said that, obviously hoping that Samara would hear him calling her out. From the living room I heard Samara yell back. "I KNOW I did not just hear you call me crazy."

I glanced over at Nathan through my sunglasses and he just rolled his eyes. "Dar, get out of the way so we can come inside, we had a long couple of days."

Darian held up his hands. "Your wish is my command, bro."

As Nathan walked in, Darian continued. "I missed you too, by the way."

I shook my head with a smile.

When I walked in, I was greeted by Samara throwing her arms around me much like Darian did just minutes before. "I missed you so much, not only because you were away but because that means Nathan is back and because Nathan is back Hayden can stop calling me out of boredom every two minutes."

I gave Sam a tight squeeze and replied, "I missed you too. I'm in desperate need of Starbucks and a Grey's Anatomy marathon."

Sam laughed and kept one arm around me, leading me to the couch, which was in fact, covered with her blankets and clothes. "Say no more. I already have it pulled up."

As I sat down, I attempted to move a stray strand of hair out of my face, but when I moved my hand upwards, I misjudged the distance and smacked the frames of my sunglasses, causing them to fly off my face. When I went to pick them up in a hurry, Sam touched my shoulder. "Audrey, what happened to your face?"

"It's nothing, really, it was just an ac-" I started to sputter but Nathan walked into the living room with a cup of tea and the exact moment.

When Samara saw Nathan come into the room she literally flew off the couch. "DID YOU HIT HER?"

I jumped up to try and get Sam away from Nathan but she held her hand back to distance me from her. Darian rushed from the kitchen with a half eaten bagel in his hand. When he saw Samara in Nathan's face and than saw my swollen eye, he dropped it. However, instead of screaming he calmly asked, "Nathan, would you please answer Samara's question before I break your face?"

I slammed my head in hands in frustration. "He didn't touch me!"

Darian looked relieved but also disappointed as he had dropped his bagel but Sam kept her eyes on Nate. "Did. You. Hit. Her?"

Nathan threw his head back and took a deep breath and I could tell he was trying to calm himself down. I didn't blame him. Not only did my best friend think he hit me but his own brother thought for a brief moment he did as well. After a moment Nathan looked Sam in the eyes with the most serious and sincere look I have ever seen on his face. "I would never lay a hand on a woman. Let alone the woman I am dating."

Sam backed off and gave him some room so he could sit on the chair closest to the couch. Darian gently grabbed my hand and led me to the couch, meanwhile Samara stood looking upset and even a little bit angry. "What happened?"

"No-" I began but an unexpected pang in my chest hit me and I needed to take a moment. "Noah saw me while I was waiting outside my favourite restaurant in Canmore. Let's just say he was not too happy about seeing me."

Nathan had a clenched jaw as I spoke and I knew he was thinking it was still his fault. Darian looked angry and it was very rare to see him angry and Samara looked livid. After a moment of silence Sam broke it. "I AM GOING TO BEAT THAT BOY TO DUST! HOW DARE HE LAY A HAND ON YOU?"

"Sam, I spoke to the police, they're taking care of it," I tried to reassure her but it was like talking to a brick wall.


I went to speak up again but Darian touched my hand and gave me a look that said, let her rant. So I did for ten minutes until Nathan snapped. "I'M SORRY, OKAY? I SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE BUT I WASN'T. I GOT LOST IN A STUPID PARKING LOT AND THIS HAPPENED!"

Sam abruptly stopped yelling and her gaze softened. "Nathan, I wasn't blaming you. It's Noah's fault, he was the sadistic monster that did this - not you."

Nathan just shook his head and let out a depressing laugh. "Then tell me this, had I been there, would she have that?"

His hand flew in the direction of my face and my heart sunk. Samara didn't speak, probably because she didn't know what to say. Darian, however took this opportunity. "Nathan, we all know if you were there Noah would have still done something to hurt you or Audrey. But just because you weren't there doesn't mean it was your fault. No one could have anticipated Noah showing up and hurting her. This is entirely on Noah and don't think for one second that Audrey blames you, right Audrey?"

I nodded my head and leaned over, gently lifting Nathan's chin upwards so he could look me in the eyes and I then grasped his hands. "I could never blame you for what happened. If it hadn't been for you, Noah would have done a whole lot worse but you stopped that. You got me out of that unpredictable situation. I never did thank you for that."

Nathan gave me a grim smile. "You don't have to thank me, obviously I was going to save my girlfriend from a sadistic monster as Samara likes to say."

I let out a small laugh as tears swelled to my eyes. Letting going of his hands I pulled him in for a hug, which led to Darian saying while biting back tears. "You guys are going to make me cry!"

He leaned over and joined mine and Nathan's hug and after a moment he waved Sam over too. She joined our mini group hug and we stayed there for what felt like hours. I didn't mind, in fact, I smiled to myself and thought this is what home is.

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