Chapter 31 iAm Willing To Fight

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Keeley couldn't sleep. She tried everything from counting sheep to wearing an eye mask. At one point she even started listening to soothing music that sounded like waves crashing on the beach. It was supposed to lull her to sleep, but all it did was rev up her bladder. After a quick visit to the toilet—and a good look in the mirror—Keeley realized sleep was the least of her worries.

Not only did she look like she just survived a desert storm—red, puffy eyes and dry, cracked lips—but she felt it too. Her emotions were in tatters, rubbed raw by his words. Briefly, she wondered if he experienced the same feeling after seeing Zach and Claire together. Had his emotions been stripped to the bone? Had he felt worn and bruised that night, lying awake, thinking about them? She pushed back the twinge of sympathy. He deserved no such thing. Not from her.

Turning over, she curled into a ball and tucked her hands under her pillow. Her fingertips touched the smooth surface of her phone. She'd shoved it there after receiving a text from him. She hadn't been able to look at it, to read whatever lie he was going to tell. Had he lied often? Had everything out of his mouth been a fabrication meant to manipulate her?

Ignoring Tucker's whimper of protest, she rolled onto her back and pulled out her phone. Three text messages and two missed calls from Talon. Finger trembling, she tapped the screen.

Just finished hanging out with my family and I've come to the realization that I'm the only sane one. What are you up to? –T

Called but you didn't pick up. You're probably working on that math assignment. Call me when you're done. I need some normalcy in my life. –T

You must still be studying. Baby doll, don't stress too much about it. It's just one assignment. Sweet dreams and I'll talk to you tomorrow. J –T

Her eyes pricked as she read his words. She should be angry, furious at his deception, but all she felt was an overwhelming sense of loss. Their relationship started out rocky. A series of twists and tribulations that made her head spin. However, she knew those trials were worth the headache because at the heart of it all, was a feeling so pure, so true, it radiated through the darkness. Now that beacon of light was no more than a flickering candle—one that was on the brink of being extinguished. The thought frightened her. As much as she hated his lies, she didn't want the candle to burn out. As long as there was light, there was hope.

The words on the screen blurred as her eyes filled. Stupid, she berated herself. So incredibly stupid. How could she carry a torch for someone who used her so callously?

Her fingers hovered over the screen. With one swipe she could delete the messages, delete the voicemails, delete him. The temptation was strong but what good would it do? Deleting his number from her phone wouldn't delete him from her heart. Quelling her tears, she turned off her phone and pushed it back under her pillow.

Getting to her feet, she walked downstairs with Tucker padding softly behind her. She turned the corner and was surprised to see the kitchen light on.

"Zach?" she croaked. He was seated at the small table in the breakfast nook. A partially eaten pie was in front of him as well as his phone. His head, which was resting on his hand, came up at the sound of his name.

"Keels," he said, his eyes widening, "what are you doing up so late?"

She pulled out a chair across from him. "I could ask you the same thing."

He put his fork down and nudged his phone to the side with his elbow. "Couldn't sleep."

"Welcome to the club." She reached over and plucked one of the plastic forks her mother kept in a basket. "What's keeping you up?"

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