t w e n t y - o n e

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   Two weeks. Two long and exhausting weeks.

   Aside from the fight, it was nearing the end of the semester and the projects were stacking up. The university stress was at its highest, and it wasn't what Catalina needed at the moment.

   Jae hadn't sat with them during lunch; he'd been hanging around Iris for the majority of his time. Catalina guessed that Madeline, Andrea and Daniel knew the fake dating was up. After the fight that Sunday, they started to notice that Catalina tensed at the mention of him, that Jae barely talked to them when they were around Catalina. It's like things went back to the way they were when he wasn't their friend.

   That Monday afternoon was bright and sunny, but the cold autumn breeze still caused shivers to all who wandered outside. The wind blew fallen leaves around campus, gathering them in corners and by doors, under benches and in the crevices of tree trunks.

   Catalina held her books close to her chest as she hurried through the campus to get to the cafeteria. The cold nipped at her nose and cheeks, her thick denim jacket useless at keeping her warm.

   The door groaned as she pulled it open. She waddled into the building and shivered, gripping her books tighter. She brought one hand to her mouth to blow warm air into it, opened the second set of doors, rounded the corner and spotted Iris.

   Catalina lifted her hand, ready to wave but paused midway. Her eyes landed on Iris's companion. Immediately, she recognized the boy's backpack.


   She hid behind the corner and pushed herself against the wall. Did Jae dye his hair? Since when was it black and teased like that?

   Catalina took a deep breath. She couldn't keep hiding from Jae and he couldn't keep hiding from her. So what he confessed? So what she was back to dating her ex? They could still be friends, right?

   "Babe." A hand grabbed her wrist..

   Catalina jumped and gasped. "What the hell, Philip?" She drew her hand to her chest. "You nearly killed me."

   A smile grew on his lips and his dimples surfaced. "Sorry." He pulled her into a hug. "What did you want to eat?" He pulled away from the hug and wrapped an arm around her shoulders before tugging her towards the cafeteria.

   Catalina's throat swelled and shivers ran down her spine as they approached Jae and Iris. Philip's question had gone over her head. Jae was leaning against a pillar, his arms crossed over his chest. He seemed to be immersed in his talk with Iris. Catalina didn't know how he knew she was passing, or why he even turned his head, but their eyes locked, unbeknownst to Philip.


   Jae clenched his jaw and narrowed his gaze at the passing couple.

   "What is it? You look like you're gonna kill someone." Iris tilted her head.

   He saw Philip laughing at something Catalina said and he tensed. Iris followed his gaze and finally saw what he was looking at before she looked back at him.

   "You know," she tittered, "jealousy doesn't look good on you, baby."

   Jae finally flicked his gaze towards Iris and rolled his eyes.

   "It looks hot." She nudged his shoulder, smiling widely as if she'd made the joke of the century.

   "Don't tease me, I'm not in the mood," he nearly growled.

   She shot him a wink. "That's not what you said yesterday," she teased as she stuck out her tongue.

   "Iris, I swear." He gave her a death glare and pushed himself off the wall before walking towards the cafeteria. "Let's just go eat before you say some other stupid crap."

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