twenty-three ~ disclosure

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"And that's it?" I checked. Saying I was attracted to him wasn't too bad; I think I'd made that pretty obvious at times. With a shudder, I recalled once more that awful evening by my front door.  

She nodded. "Oh, and I may have told him that I didn't agree with the faithful attitude." 

I rolled my eyes. "Okay. And does he agree with it?" 

"In a way, I think he finds it quite endearing that you've been proving him wrong. I think he likes that you're actually turning out to be a nice person. Unfortunately, it probably makes him want you more...but obviously he's not going to make you cheat on your boyfriend. He respects that decision and he understands it." 

I sighed and picked up my lemonade again, my mouth suddenly dry. Unable to bear the thought of Brent anymore, I turned the topic of conversation to her.  

"Have you spoken to Austin? Or Brooke?" I quickly added, in case Austin was a forbidden topic right now.  

"I've spoken to Brooke a bit," she replied. "I just wanted to know all the facts, how many times it had happened and stuff..." 

"They told me twice, including my party." 

She nodded. "Yeah. That's what she told me." 

"And how are you feeling about it now?" 

"I don't hate Brooke for it," she said. "I can't hate her for liking the same guy I do." 

"And Austin?" 

She sighed and stared into her drink, swirling the liquid around. "Don't know. Still undecided. I'm meeting him this evening but I don't know if anything will happen this summer. Maybe we'll just see if any of the chemistry is still there next year...then we'll know if it was real or not." 

I nodded. "I guess you won't know how you feel 'til you actually see him." 

"Yeah, I'm kinda nervous. I don't wanna be messed around and I really thought he was a good guy." 

"Just give him a chance to explain," I suggested. "You know, I think he does like you. He was just a bit of a coward about it, but guys will be guys and they will get with available girls...everyone makes mistakes, right?" 

"Suppose so," she sighed. "I don't think they've slept together. I think it was just kissing..." 

"And have you slept with anyone whilst this whole flirtation thing with Austin has been going on?" I asked bluntly.  

A small, amused smile played at the corner of her lips. "Whilst? What century are you living in?" 

"Stop changing the subject." 

She sighed and the smile gradually faded away. Eventually, she shrugged. "Yeah. I slept with someone in May. Oh, and there was this guy in April but I don't really count that because, ya know, it was barely in before it was out." She gave me a coy smile and shrugged.  

I rolled my eyes. "Okay, well, my point is: you've slept with guys whilst this thing with Austin has been going on, so why's it so wrong that he hooked up with Brooke? Especially if it was just kissing both times?" 

Mia considered this, drumming her fingers rhythmically on the table as she did so. Pursing her lips together, she frowned in concentration. I knew she was thinking of an excuse.  

"Okay, fair enough," she conceded. "But that was all before this summer. I've not been with anyone since then, and this thing with Austin has developed more this summer than ever before..." 

"True." 

We returned to sitting in silence. I could definitely understand where she was coming from. After all, flirting was one thing but then putting yourself in a position where it could go further was an entirely different one.  

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