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Jackie

"You have really never said I love you to like, anyone?" Holden seemed startled, Jackie had picked up on the way his voice rose when he was surprised, or the way his lips curved upwards slightly to the right when he was curious. Jackie shrugged a bare shoulder. The air whisked with a cool salty breeze, on her skin, it was perfect, sending tingles down her arm, or was that from being next to Holden?

"Never seen a reason to," Jackie added after a beat, she hated the dryness in her voice, she sounded uninterested, guarded. She was bothered. Why had Rachel turned down any prospect of involving the coffee haired man in their lives when she'd known him from somewhere other than Handy's?

"What about your ex?" Holden pried. He was devilishly handsome, and smelled interestingly of amber, but he was nosey. Did she like that? That he was curious? That he wanted more than to take her to bed? "You just said you guys were together a long time. Are you telling me you didn't tell him you loved him? Or was he some creep you couldn't love?" Jackie chuckled, not exactly sure why, but something about the way he spoke tickled her fancy. She was pleased that he hadn't called her out on it.

"I just don't believe I've gotten there yet, it's not about how long I spend with someone, Holden, love is... well, love is love, when I feel it, I'll explain it." Her decision to skip bio-chem to walk along the shores of main beach with Holden was beginning to loose its luster because the man with the liquid emerald eyes was prying too much into her comfort zone, he wanted to know everything even though he'd initially driven her off like a stranger. Indeed he had eyes that were the farthest thing from new to her, but she didn't know much about him, and talking about love made her nervous. "Can I ask you something?" She paused, looking up from where the shore kissed the soles of her bare feet, she liked the feeling, it was cold against the sand forming walls at her ankles, the wind whipping her hair across her face.

"Go for it." He urged. She'd forgotten her question, her heart a symphony beating according to the pace of the quick waves washing at shore. She had one too many questions for the man with delicious coffee hair, but he'd urged her for one, which one? Where he'd gotten her number? Whether he'd recognized her from before her visit to Handy's?

"How do you know Rachel?" Jackie heard herself ask. It had bothered her. He'd been able to recognize Rachel from the distance. He knew her, how? And did that mean he knew Jackie as well? How then? His shoulders fell. Jackie wasn't a fool, she'd known her best friend had a secret, she'd had one since junior high, and Rachel wasn't all that good at keeping secrets. Could Rachel have known Holden all this while? If so, why keep him a secret? "And please, don't lie to me, it's all she's been doing." She didn't want to sound so tired, but she was, tired of Rachel's continuous denial, tired of the lies that followed. And so, Jackie had dropped the topic, Rachel wasn't going to tell her, but Holden could. Scratch that, she would make him tell her.

Holden met her gaze beneath the rims of his dark glasses. It was quite unsettling that he'd opted for a pair of dark glasses, and Jackie was quite bothered because she'd planned to stare at his foreign familiar eyes any chance she got and he wasn't exactly making that easy on her part. "We were friends, years ago, and I guess, I fucked it up. And when you came to Handy's, I didn't know what to tell you," He didn't know what to do, because he'd been out of breath, sneaking glimpses at the girl with the beach in her hair, hoping that he'd been seeing things, hoping that she wouldn't come up to him. He could have told her a lot of things, he could have denied Rachel as well, anything to prevent Jackie's curiosity, even though a part of him wanted her to pry, he wanted her to think about him even after she'd left Handy's.

"What did you do?" He frowned, but walked along the shores ahead of her. He didn't want to get into it. Holden had been prisoner to the effects of that night ten years ago, the night he'd watched his best friend's life change forever, the night he was blamed by Rachel, blamed by Luther Grey, blamed by himself, because he could have done something, anything other than standing there. "Holden, what did you do to Rachel all those years ago?" She asked again, following his quick strides. He stopped, suddenly turning.

"I wish I could tell you, Jackie, I want to, more than anything..." He trailed off. He sounded hurt, like he'd been kicked. Was what he'd done all that bad? Jackie was an imaginative person, letting her imagination prance was a dangerous thing, because she could bring to mind a thousand and one horrible things Holden could have done ten years ago before junior high, including taking advantage of Rachel.

She took a step closer, till she could reach for him, till she could feel his warm hands in hers. She could feel her veins pumping beneath her skin, there was a chill to her fingertips, could he feel that? Could he feel what his touch did to her? He needed to know that he could trust her with this. He wanted to tell her, she wasn't going to stop him. "Then tell me." She supplied.

"It's not my place." He pulled away. What the hell did that even mean? Was he so afraid of Rachel? The man with a scar running down his left cheek was scared of a girl with ocean blue eyes. He couldn't be serious. She could feel it, the anger coursing her bloodstreams, because if he didn't tell her, no one would, her own best friend had lied to her face about it.

"Holden this isn't a joke, what did you do to Rachel." Her voice splintered, her jaw clenched. He shook his head, his hands reaching for the glasses obscuring his beautiful green eyes. She looked at them and her anger diminished. She ran a hand through her hair. He was getting to her.

"This is why I don't get strangers involved in my personal life." She was a stranger now? He'd called her, invited her out on this date thing, and now she was a stranger? No, he was weak, he was looking for a way out, she didn't want to let him.

"Really, Holden, I'm a stranger?" She voiced, her pitch rising. She was angry, agitated that he just wouldn't tell her what he'd done all those years ago. Was it really that bad? And what if they were indeed strangers, he'd shown an interest in her, he'd allowed her a question, he was supposed to answer.

"Yes, you are." He threw in her face, and then, he paused. "There are things you don't ask a person," He added. Jackie ran a shaky hand through her hair. Her lips wobbled and she bit her lip. She hadn't cried in two years, he wasn't going to make her.

"Rachel is my best friend, you know her and I deserve to know what happened all those years ago." Her hands were by her sides clutched in small fists. She hated the vulnerability in her voice, the weakness in her stance. She didn't know the man before her, but he had more of an effect than any other stranger she'd encountered.

"Yes, from her, because no one asks the attacker the questions, no one asks the wronged party their side of the story, that's just not how life works." It hurt more because he hadn't broken his stare, because she couldn't read him or the bitterness that chipped at her like a sudden cold. Jackie paused reeling on the single fact that he'd attacked her. He'd hurt Rachel. He'd attacked her. How? When? She could feel her feet sinking into the sand, why did she feel like she was loosing her own balance.

"You attacked her?" Her voice was small, and full of genuine concern and fear.

"This was a mistake." Holden turned and made his way towards the exit. He'd left her by the shore thinking of only the worst things a boy could do to a girl.

He was right, this was a mistake.

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