Chapter 5

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The first thing I noticed was that the diner fell eerily silent. The only sound was the static buzzing of the music coming from the radio and the faint chimes of the door that were coming to a halt as the door stood open between me and Carter.

I could feel all eyes on me and because of this, I felt the color and warmth rise to my cheeks. A faint buzzing sound arose in my own ears as I could hear the pounding of my heart in my chest.

He came. He showed up.

"Carter," I breathed, breaking the pin-drop silence. Carter looked at me for what felt like an eternity, but was only just a few seconds.

"Arya," he replied curtly, his hand still grasping the door.

After hearing him say something, there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief from everyone in the diner. I guess they had been waiting anticipatingly for what would happen. Would Carter spit on me and then slam the door in my face? Would he ignore my presence? Would start screaming venemous words at me for leaving him the way I did?

All of those were viable possibilities, but he chose none of them. Instead, he chose to be civil and address me. Perhaps he was putting the past behind him. Or perhaps he just didn't want to cause a scene.

"You're here," I said, stupidly pointing out the obvious.

"You said to meet for breakfast or lunch at the usual, right?" he asked. I felt my mouth hang open slightly, my heart swelling for the simple fact that he had acknowledged and fulfilled my request. He doesn't hate my guts!

"I--uhh--yeah. Yeah, I did," I replied.

"Well, I have an hour break for lunch. But I've spent about 15 minutes of it on my way here," he said.

I was acutely aware of the fact that everyone in the diner, although they had gone back to what they were doing before, was listening in on our conversation. The audience made me feel violated and embarrassed and I could feel my cheeks turning red again.

"Oh, ok. Well, do you want to sit here or outside? I've already eaten," I said.

Carter looked around, an unreadable expression on his face. His chocolate brown eyes lingered on the obviously intruding Mrs. Knolls before turning back to me.

"Let's sit outside," he decided.

I internally sighed in relief. For a moment, I thought he would subjugate me to the entire town's scrutiny as we chatted. But fortunately, he picked the tables outside to talk. I stepped outside to wait for him and felt relieved when Danny pulled the blinds down over the large glass windows that spanned an entire wall. He was giving us our privacy.

Carter walked out of the diner a few minutes later, his hands carrying an egg omelet and a coffee.

"That's not lunch," I mused when he sat down.

"I skipped breakfast. I had a really early shift at the hospital this morning," he replied, his tone nonchalant.

I sat back in my seat and watched Carter as he took a bite of his omelet. The chilly early fall air blew around us, causing his disheveled brown hair to blow messily on his head. He looked off into the distance at the street, his chocolate brown eyes illuminated warmly from the sun.

I felt a small, sad smile tug at the corners of my lips. His eyes had always reminded me of dark, warm honey. They had always been so kind and friendly. Now, they looked tired and wise, like he had been through a lot; like he had seen a lot.

Carter had matured significantly in the past six years. Since I had last seen him, he had grown up a lot. Before, he had been a tall, scrawny and lanky teenager that was awkward, but cute in that adolescent sort of way. His hair had been too long and fell into his eyes and he was incredibly nerdy, but attractive at the same time. He had been shy and intelligent, but friendly and kind too. He had been perfect in every single way.

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