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Ravi’s lips were soft and familiar against mine, but my mind was elsewhere. I was so not ready for my history final and should have been back at the dorm, studying.

“Lindsey, you’re so beautiful,” he said, pressing me against the seat of the car. His mouth trailed over my jaw to my neck, his breath warm in my ear.

“I love you,” he whispered.

That snapped me back to reality.

Damn. I liked Ravi, I really did, but not as much as he liked me. The kissing was nice, but I didn’t feel IT, the connection, the zing. The L word? Ugh. I didn’t want to lose him as a friend and I did love him, in a way. Just not that way.

“Ravi…” I began and he stiffened.

“You know what, never mind. Just forget I said anything, okay?” He jerked away, his voice tight with embarrassment. He turned the key and the engine roared to life.

“No, really, it’s just…”

He flicked on the high beams. “Let’s just go.”

Fat droplets of rain splattered on the windshield and built into a steady drumming on the roof. The swish of the wipers and the hum of the heater echoed in the chasm between us and I struggled to think of a way to alleviate the tension. He flipped on the radio and the sound of screeching guitars raked my nerves.

The highway was deserted and we hadn’t seen another car pass by us for miles. As he started around a corner, I touched him on the arm.

“Ravi, I’m sorry.”

He turned to me with a frustrated sigh, giving minimal attention to the familiar road. “No, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have said it. I know it’s only been a couple of months, but I feel like…”

“Look out!” I yelled.

The sedan in front of us was creeping along and we came screaming up behind it. His eyes snapped forward and he slammed on the brakes. My chest seized with panic as the car started to hydroplane, the tires sliding across the slick asphalt. He wrenched on the steering wheel and pumped the brakes, trying to regain control. The sickening crunch of metal mingled with my screams as we rammed into the other vehicle.

The headlights flung streaks of light like fireworks in the driving rain as we spun out of control. We sailed off the roadway and the car hung in mid air before the hood smashed into the ground. Distorted acid rock pounded in my ears as the car rolled down the embankment. Ravi’s body floated over mine, his face contorted in fear. The pine tree outside my window beckoned with relentless persistence until the car door wrapped around me in a vicious embrace, squeezing the air from my lungs.

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