13. Peyton and his S(t)(c)ars

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I felt horrible

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I felt horrible.

Sitting beside Peyton in the passenger seat of his car, staring straight ahead into the dark night to avoid looking at his face, I seethed. I couldn't keep up with the whirlwind of emotions I was feeling, so I picked the easiest one to focus on: Anger.

And I picked the easiest victim to aim it at: Jake.

Since when did the two of us have an unwritten agreement to make a fool out of Peyton like this? I barely knew Jake, and had made it pretty clear to him that I wasn't interested. Yes, it was kind of him to help me when I was hurt, but how presumptuous was it of him to show up at my house in the middle of the night like that?

And while I was pointing fingers, Peyton wasn't exactly off the hook either. Why give me all that lip about us being friends only to turn around and act like he was just a heartbeat away from kissing me? If any leading on was going on in our friendship, I certainly wasn't the one doing it.

And why should I feel guilty about any of this?

Peyton and I weren't dating. There was nothing between Jake and me. There was no reason to sneak around like this and absolutely no reason at all for me to have to feel like this.

In fact, I was going to tell Peyton everything (which was really nothing) right there and then - not that I owed him any kind of explanation.

I turned to face him.

He drove with the window down, the night breeze ruffling his hair. His face was tense, his expression subdued. I tried three times to part my lips to speak and failed each time.

I sighed. Guilt. It was my least favorite emotion of them all. Give me anger, give me rage, give me sorrow, just spare me the guilt. Because all guilt was, was anger directed at yourself. It was regret rooted in truth, and the truth was, I didn't want to tell Peyton about Jake. And I didn't want to think about what that meant or didn't mean.

I must've been staring at him, because Peyton turned to me. "Where do you want to go?" he asked.

I turned my head and focused on the dash. "We can go look at the stars if you want," I said.

Because I felt guilty, and Peyton loved his stars.

"Are you serious?" he asked, his eyes widening almost comically.

I nodded.

"Okay," he said quickly. "Don't whine about it once we get there though."

"I won't," I promised.

***

Peyton and I were deep in the canyons, just the two of us, alone for miles and miles. We were laying on a blanket on the dry, red dirt. Without the interference of city lights, the skies here were dark enough to showcase all of his precious celestial bodies.

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