Part 2 ◎ Chapter 18 The sanctuary

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A brief word:

Part 2 is kind of a "detour", and I have considered leaving it out entirely. However, I think it's still important for character development, so please be patient and bear with me as we get through this part. (If you are eager for some Sean/Flora action, you can start from Part 3)

Some readers say they enjoyed it, but it has apparently made others disappointed and upset, so if that happens to you, I apologize in advance. Thanks for reading!

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Sean

After the charade with Flora was over, I retreated to a dark place of solitude where I studied harder than ever before. Jake and Dylan congratulated me on making it onto Flora's list of trophy boyfriends and made fun of me every chance they got. Ironically, it made me feel better. It made me think that the whole thing was just something to laugh over.

The hardest part was probably that-to admit that we weren't special after all and our love was nowhere near epic. It was just a typical high school relationship, and a cliché jock and cheerleader one, no less.

One Friday night my friends dragged me off to the bowling alley. I figured I could use some practice and blow off some steam, as Flora would call it, although I always wondered about her constant need to blow off steam as if she worked as a 911 operator.

Sydney and Lucia were there with us. They were both cheerleaders in their sophomore year. At the moment Dylan was back with Sydney for the eighteen thousandth time. He claimed he was just dating her for sex, but I knew he was way more into her than he let on.

"Whoever loses buys the winner dinner," Dylan said before the game began. He was snaking his hand under the back of Sydney's shirt, and I looked away. How they survived longer than Flora and me was a mystery.

Objectively speaking Sydney was pretty hot, but it was in a really obvious way that screamed at you, kind of like Megan Fox. Lucia had a mass of red hair and resembled a prettier version of the Scottish heroine in the Disney cartoon Brave. They were both attractive girls. I liked bowling, Jake and Dylan were my buddies, and it was Friday night. Everything spelled awesome, except it didn't.

I pictured Flora's glossy dark hair and exquisite features, her large almond eyes and delicate nose. She could be passed as a European princess, although only when she didn't talk. I missed talking to her, but by the time I decided to confront her, she had already moved on. She was clearly over me, and from then on she blatantly flaunted her new relationships in my face.

Everytime I thought of her my stomach clenched. I thought the memory with her was supposed to fade, but instead it just kept getting more vivid, until it grew fangs and claws, making me bleed in places no one else could see.

I was half contemplating all this as we bowled and Lucia had climbed to the top of the chart. It was very easy to guess she was a cheerleader by the way she skipped and yelled, not to mention she made up bowling songs and rants for all of us. Her excitement was igniting the air and I could practically hear the crackle.

She rolled the bowling ball down the lane and hit a perfect strike. "Ten points for Gryffindor!" she screamed. Her imitation was pretty spot on.

What a happy person. I had always thought of Lucia as immature and silly, but it required little brainpower being with her. I wondered how it'd be to date someone like that. Pretty and simple, without fuss.

I hated myself for thinking of her that way.

While Lucia was winning, the rest of us had a real competition and our scores were tight, with Sydney following closely behind. She had a precise but slightly weak throw, and as the game drew near to an end it was clear she was going to lose. She knew this too and she was already asking Lucia what she wanted to eat.

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