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Kimberly winks. “Ahh—gotcha,” she says knowingly, and I’m thankful when she changes the subject to this redhead in the office, Carine, who has a crush on Trevor. And when she describes a hypothetical sexual encounter between the two of them as being like watching lobsters awkwardly bumping into each other, I start laughing all over again.

BY THE TIME I get to my room, it’s past nine o’clock. I purposely powered off my cell phone so that I could have a few uninterrupted hours with Kimberly. I told her about Hardin’s plan to come to Seattle on Wednesday instead of Friday, and she laughed, telling me she knew he wouldn’t stay gone long.

My hair is still damp from a shower, and I’ve been taking my time picking out my outfit for work tomorrow. I’m stalling, and I know it. I’m sure that when I turn on my phone, I’ll have to deal with Hardin, and confront him, or not, about the wedding. In a perfect world, I’d just casually bring it up, and Hardin would invite me, explaining that he waited to ask because he was trying to think of the right way to convince me to come. But this isn’t a perfect world, and I’m growing more anxious by the second. It hurts me to know that whatever Steph said to him bothered him so much that he’s back to keeping things from me. I hate her. I love Hardin so much, and I just want him to see that nothing she, or anyone else, says will ever change that.

Hesitantly, I take my phone out of my bag and power it back on. I have to call my mother back and text Zed, but I want to talk to Hardin first. The notifications on the top of my small screen appear, and the envelope icon flashes, text message after text message appearing, all from Hardin. Before I read any of them, I just call.

He answers on the first ring. “Tessa, what the hell!”

“Have you tried to call?” I ask timidly, as innocently as I can, trying to keep the mood as calm as possible.

“Have I tried to call? You’re joking, right? I’ve been calling you nonstop for the last three hours,” he huffs. “I even called Christian.”

“What?” I say, but then, not wanting things to escalate, I follow up quickly with “I was just hanging out with Kim.”

“Where?” he immediately demands.

“Here, at the house,” I say and begin to fold my dirty clothes and place them in the hamper; I figure I’ll do a load of laundry before I go to bed.

“Well, next time you really need . . .” He lets out a groan of frustration, and his voice softens as he begins again: “Maybe next time you could just send me a text or something if you’re going to have your phone off.” He releases a big breath, then adds, “You know how I get.”

I appreciate the change in his tone and the fact that he stopped himself from saying whatever it was he had originally planned to say, which I’d rather not find out. Unfortunately, the small buzz I got from the wine has mostly disappeared, and the revelation of Hardin’s plans to go to England rests heavily on my chest.

“How was your day today?” I ask him, hoping that if I give him an opportunity to bring the wedding up, he will.

He sighs. “It was . . . well, long.”

“Mine, too.” I don’t know what to say to him without coming out and asking point-blank. “Zed texted me today.”

“Did he?” Hardin’s voice is calm, but I can detect a note of harshness that would usually intimidate me.

“Yeah, this afternoon. He says he’s coming to Seattle on Thursday.”

“And what did you say back to him?”

“Nothing yet.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Hardin asks.

“Because, I want us to be open with one another. No more secrets, no more hiding things.” I emphasize the last part of the sentence, hoping it will elicit the truth from him.

“Well . . . thanks for telling me. I appreciate it,” he says. And then says nothing more.


“Yeah, so . . . is there anything you want to tell me?” I ask, still clinging to the dwindling hope that he’ll reciprocate my honesty.

“Um, I talked to my dad today.”

“Really? About what?” Thank goodness, I knew he would come around.

“Transferring to the Seattle campus.”

“Really!” The word comes out sounding more like a squeal than I intended, and Hardin’s deep laugh resonates through the line.

“Yeah, but he says it will postpone my graduation, so it wouldn’t make sense to move, this late in the semester.”

“Oh.” I feel myself pouting. I hesitate a moment before asking, “But after graduation?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Yeah sure? That’s it? That easy?” The smile that overcomes me crowds out everything else. I wish he were here; I’d grab him by his T-shirt and kiss him, hard.

Then he says, “I mean, why stall the inevitable?”

My smile fades. “You’re speaking like moving to Seattle is a jail sentence.”

He stays quiet.


“I don’t think of it like that. I’m just annoyed by the whole thing—all this time has been wasted, and it frustrates me.”

“I get that,” I say. His words aren’t elegant, but they mean he’s missing me. My head is still spinning from his agreeing to finally move to Seattle to be with me. We’ve been battling over this issue for months, and he’s suddenly given in without so much as a final fight. “So, Seattle it is, then? Are you sure?” I have to ask again.

“Yeah. I’m ready to start fresh somewhere, may as well be Seattle.”