Chapter Fourteen

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I stayed in my room for the entire weekend. I watched The Handmaid's Tale. I slept. I even cleaned up and reorganized my shelves. I did whatever I could to not think. When Monday came, I stayed home. I feigned sickness to my mom and told her not come in my room. As an experienced nurse and the sole breadwinner of our family, my mother was super cautious about germs so she left me alone. When I told Jamie I was sick all she said was "poor baby" and I was off the hook. I continued texting James as normal though. He was a comfort. It was like he existed outside the realm of my life and when I spoke to him I could visit that place.

I was cleaning off my shelf for the third time when my phone buzzed. I placed the lemon-scented towel on the floor and went to check my phone. It was a message from Jamie.

'so cain came up to me earlier...:'

I felt my gut clench.

'and...?'

Agonizing seconds ticked as I waited for Jamie to respond.

'he told me to tell u to text him'

I bit my lip as I typed out my next message.

'wat did u say?'

Jamie replied instantly.

'nothin. i ignored him n walked away'

I waited for the feeling of triumph but it never came. Instead, I felt slightly sad. I wanted resolution, not for Cain to hurt.

"Sad for the man who assaulted you. Tragic."

I shook the thoughts from my head. Cain didn't assault me. I didn't understand why Cain had kissed me but we had a moment and I knew there was more to his behavior.

"Stockholm Syndrome."

A message from James interrupted my mental spiel.

'wyd'

My chest felt hollow. What was I doing texting James after what had happened with Cain. I typed that I was in bed, wasting my off-day, and James replied a few moments earlier. My eyes widened as I read his next message.

'what if i told u i ditched too...'

My heartbeat sped up. I didn't know what to say. Was he implying he wanted to see me? I didn't have to ponder it; a few seconds later my phone buzzed.

'^corny attempt to ask u to hang out'

Even though we were texting, I felt my cheeks redden. Should I invite James over? Maybe I needed something to distract me? I decided then.

'come over'

The chat bubblers turned and James replied quickly.

'address?'

I quickly typed in my home address. I shut my phone off and flopped-face first onto my bed. I was dizzy and flushed. Did I really just do that?

"Good thing I cleaned my room"
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It was an hour later when James knocked on my front door. My heartbeat quickened. I knew James was coming but that didn't do anything to quell my nervousness. I headed to the door, straightening anything that was out of order on the way.

I opened the front door and there James. He looked stunning in a fitted grey tee and sweatpants. The slight fall breeze wafted through his hair. He cracked a stunning grin and I felt slightly breathe-less.

"Hey." He said.

I stood without speaking for a second longer than I should have.

"Hey." I said, shifting so James could come in. His tall frame passed mine and I could smell his all-spice cologne. He surveyed my house before turning to look at me.

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