Chapter Thirty

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I have to do it.

            That’s what I keep telling myself as I head up the driveway toward the house. The modest, three-bedroomed house with its perfect brick pattern and a window in the attic. It’s the morning after having returned from the cabin, and despite waking up to a messy room and unopened suitcases after getting home late yesterday, I hadn’t so much as put away one t-shirt. There was no way I could concentrate on folding clothes with more pressing matters on my mind.

            Nathan.

            Even though my voicemail had remained disappointingly empty, I knew I couldn’t go much longer without at least trying to patch things up. That was what led me to pull on the first items of clothing I laid my hands on and set off for Nathan’s house in desperate search of forgiveness.

            And why I’m currently standing in front of his front door, trying my hardest not to have a nervous breakdown.

            I’m not sure if even a conversation is a reasonable expectation at this point. It’s only been two weeks since the night of the dance, and I’m clueless as to how much fourteen days count for when your heart’s been ripped out and stamped on. I doubt Nathan would be one to scream abuse at me, but there’s always the possibility of getting the door slammed in my face.

            Even though any romantic feelings for him are non-existent, there’s something equally painful in the silence – the realization that losing Nathan will mean losing one of my best friends.

            With that thought in mind, I abandon all hesitation and press firmly down on the doorbell.

            My heart’s pounding right out of my chest; my churning stomach refuses to settle. Days seem to go by before I hear the click of the unlocking door, at which point my heart rate multiplies to what I’m sure is a life-threatening rate. It only has to open a fraction before I catch sight of a familiar face.

            Relief more intense than I expected floods over me as the door opens properly and my gaze sweeps over him. I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed the blonde-haired guy with the strikingly blue eyes; the sight of them now is almost comforting, despite the situation being anything but. A flicker of something I can’t quite recognize crosses his expression as our eyes catch. His widen slightly at the sight of me, evidently surprised by my materialization on his porch. Dressed in a flannel shirt and faded jeans, he stands there with one hand gripped on the door’s edge, like he can’t gauge the situation well enough to determine whether it’s safe to let go.

            “Nathan,” I say, realizing only then that everything else in my vocabulary has escaped me.

            He draws a breath, and I see him tense up. “What are you doing here?”

            “I, um...” I can’t seem to drag my eyes away from his hand, which is poised to shut the door at any moment. It only increases the pressure on me to choose my words carefully. “Can I come in?”

            A split-second of hesitation causes disappointment to wash over me, but after staring back at me warily for a few seconds, he nods and steps back to let me in.

            The house is eerily quiet as I step inside, Nathan closing the door behind me. Each step on the wooden floor is surprisingly audible and I swallow, feeling like I’m causing a disturbance. “My mom’s not home,” he says. “It’s just us.”

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