Chapter 44: The Surprise

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Darian and I walked out of the movie theatre still talking about the film. "I didn't like the ending."

I rolled my eyes and stared at my roommate. "You never like any endings to any film."

Darian stuck out his tongue at me in response. Exams were over and I was happy about that. But at this point in time, that was the only thing I was happy about. Nathan still hasn't bothered to talk to me for nearly two weeks, no texts, no calls. Hell, we live together and I haven't even seen him. Darian claims he has and again stated that Nathan has been picking up extra shifts but I can tell there's something else.

We hauled a cab and Darian gave the cab driver Justin's address. I gave him a strange look, but he simply said, "I just want to stop by and say hi."

I nodded my head and leaned against the window, my stomach in knots thinking about what is going on with Nathan.

▪▪▪

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Everyone shouted as we walked through the door.

I stood there, completely dumbfounded because I made sure I didn't tell anyone my birthday. I scanned the room to figure out who would even know. Samara wouldn't but I'm confident she could find out, Darian maybe, the people from lectures certainly couldn't - I wasn't that close to them, Justin couldn't, but then my eyes landed on Max. He had his up to no good face on and he approached me with open arms. "Somehow I knew no one would know your birthday, so I let them in on the secret."

I grinned as I smacked him lightly on the chest. "You suck."

He chuckled as he hugged me tightly and proceeded to kiss my forehead. "Happy birthday."

I took a step back, giving him a friendly smile but feeling awkward he'd kiss my forehead in front of Nathan, but when I looked around, Nathan was nowhere to be seen. Max left quickly to get us some drinks so I turned to Darian. "Where's Nate?"

Darian shrugged, looking angry his brother didn't show. "I don't know. He said he'd come."

My stomach sunk and felt like I wanted to cry. I was extremely grateful for my friends who came together and made this party, but the mere fact that Nathan didn't show made what should be a great time, suck.

Darian squeezed my shoulder and gave me an apologetic smile as Max came back with two filled to the brim red solo cups. "Drink up birthday girl! Here's to twenty!"

All my grievances melted away when Max handed me one of the cups and we chugged them down together. He threw his fist in the air. "Now that's what I'm talking about birthday girl!"

Darian clapped my back and gave me a little shake. "Birthday Audrey Mode activate!"

I laughed as Samara came over and gave me another cup. "Happy birthday to my favourite human!"

Her and I also finished our cups in matter of seconds and I let out a huge laugh. Maybe I didn't need Nathan tonight, maybe I just needed my friends. I refused to make a guy ruin what should be a great night for me.

Breaking me from my thoughts, Justin spoke over the crowd using a microphone that was behind the DJ booth. Only Justin would hire a full on DJ for a college student's birthday. "Happy birthday to my boyfriend's best friend, Audrey! I love you, girl and I hope you have a great night."

Everyone cheered as well as I did as another red cup was placed in my hand. Music starting blaring and Max grabbed one hand and Samara grabbed another, meanwhile Darian pushed me from the back. "Let's dance birthday girl!"

▪▪▪

After an hour of dancing and drinking and more dancing, it felt like all my troubles went away. Darian was dancing with his boyfriend, Justin, while Sam was off with hers, Hayden, who also informed me Nathan wished he could be here but was still working. I ignored him, at this point, I didn't care. If Nathan couldn't spare me anytime for the past two weeks - including my birthday - I wasn't going to spare him a simple thought. Instead, I danced like an idiot with Max who stayed by my side the whole night to make sure I was having a good time. For once, I didn't feel like shit and it felt amazing.

Another heart pumping song came on but I knew I needed to take a break. Max's hands were on my waist as we swayed back and forth, not at all to the beat of the song, when I turned to face him and said, "I need some air, I'll be right back."

His expression went from carefree, to worried in the matter of seconds. "Are you okay? Do you want me to come with?"

I giggled at his worry, for whatever reason I thought it was adorable. "I'm fabulous. But if you want to come along, by all means, just bring some Jack with you."

Max shook his head and grinned as we walked out of the party and he swiftly picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels as we exited. "You're crazy, Holland."

"No, I'm twenty!" I replied while being unable to control my laughter, as if my joke was the funniest one on the planet.

I stumbled out the door and Max quickly hooked his arm around nine. "Careful, can't have the birthday girl hurt on her special day."

I let out a bitter laugh as I leaned against his evidently muscular arm. "Too late."

"Hey," Max said softly. "Don't say that. I'm sure everything will be fine with you and Nathan."

I shook my head vigorously. "No, it won't. It hasn't been the same since the Noah incident. He can't even look at me."

Tears started to well to my eyes and I took the bottle from Max's hand, taking a giant sip even though it felt incredibly harsh on my throat. "I really do go for the jerks, don't I?"

Max stopped walking after ten minutes of complete silence, placing the bottle on the sidewalk and gently cupped my face with both hands, wiping the stray tears with his thumb, he said, "This isn't your fault. Those idiots," he snapped out angrily but quickly calmed himself down, "don't know what they're missing. You are the most amazing girl I know and you deserve someone who will treat you like the most precious thing on this earth."

I looked into his warm brown eyes and I knew what he was implying, what he wanted. But I was with Nathan and I couldn't betray him, even if I was as drunk as a skunk, even if he was treating me like I was nothing, and even if Max was clearly the one who could treat me the way he believes I deserve.

But no matter what, I couldn't hurt Nathan.

Even though I didn't say it, Max nodded his head not looking angry or sad, just patient. "I understand. But know one day Audrey, it'll be us who will be together. Not you and Noah, not you or Nathan - us."

I didn't know how to respond. Instead, I stood there probably looking like the world's biggest idiot but the sincere moment was ruined when we heard commotion from the far right of us. I didn't notice how far we walked until I realized that we were close to the gym that I discovered Nathan fights in. Outside of it was two figures. Without saying anything to Max, I walked forward to see if one of the was Nathan. Maybe just maybe, I could get him to talk to me.

I tried to walk quietly and not stumble around even though the world felt like a frickin roller coaster and I noticed that one figure - a female - was leaning in for a kiss. Their lips connected and I recognized the hooded the male figure was wearing a familiar pair of shoes. Just as I took a step forward to confirm my beliefs I walked right into a trash can, causing it to fall over with a loud crash.

The figures broke apart and I came face to face with Nathan, kissing another girl.

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