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“Seattle isn’t a distraction, Hardin,” I reply softly.

“It is. You’re only pushing it so much to prove a point.” It’s amazing how his tone can change from soothing to ice in a matter of seconds.

I look out the window. “Can we please stop talking about Seattle? Nothing is changing: you don’t want to go, and I do. I’m sick of going around and around about it.”

He pulls his hand away, and I turn back to him. “Fine, what do you suggest we do, then? You go to Seattle without me? How long do you think we would last? A week? A month?” His eyes regard me coolly, and I shiver.

“We could make it work if we really wanted to. At least long enough for me to try Seattle and see if it’s what I want. If I don’t like it, we can go to England.”

“No, no, no,” he says with a shrug. “If you go to Seattle, we won’t be together at all. That will be it.”

“What? Why?” I fumble the words and scramble for my next response.

“Because I don’t do long distance.”

“You also didn’t ‘do’ dating, remember?” I remind him. It’s infuriating that I’m basically begging him to stay in a relationship with me when I should be considering leaving him for the way he treats me.

“Look how that’s turning out,” he says cynically.

“You were literally just apologizing for lashing out at me two minutes ago, and now you’re threatening to end our relationship if I go to Seattle without you?” I gape while he nods slowly. “So let me get this straight: you offered to marry me if I don’t go, but if I do go, you’re breaking up with me?” I wasn’t prepared to bring up his offer, but I couldn’t stop the words from coming.

“Marry you?” His mouth falls open and his eyes narrow. I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned it. “What—”

“You said that if I chose you, you’d marry me. I know you were drunk, but I thought maybe—”

“You thought what? That I would marry you?” As he speaks these words, all of the air in the car disappears, and breathing proves harder and harder as the seconds pass in silence.

I will not cry in front of this boy. “No, I knew you wouldn’t, I just—”

“Then why bring it up? You know how drunk I was and desperate for you to stay—I would have said anything.”

My heart sinks at his words, at the scorn in his voice. Like he’s blaming me for believing the bullshit that comes out of his mouth. I knew insulting me would be his reaction, but a small part of me—the part that still had faith in his love for me—led me to believe that maybe he meant his proposal.

This is déjà vu. I once sat here, in this car seat, while he mocked me and laughed at me for thinking we would begin a relationship. The fact that I’m just as hurt now, actually a lot more hurt than I was then, makes me want to scream.

I don’t, though. I sit there, quiet and embarrassed, just like I always do when Hardin does what he always does.

“I love you. I love you more than anything, Tessa, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings, okay?”

“Well, you’re doing an amazing job,” I snap and bite down on the inside of my cheek. “I’m going inside.”

He sighs and opens his car door at the same time as I open mine. Going around to the back, he opens the trunk. I’d offer to help him carry the bags, but I really don’t feel like interacting with him, and he’d just insist on doing it himself anyway. Because more than anything, Hardin wants to be an island.

We walk through the complex in silence, and the only noise in the elevator is the whir of the machinery pulling us upward.

When we get to our place, Hardin puts his key in the lock, then asks me, “Did you forget to lock the door?”

At first I don’t realize what he’s asked, but then I recover and reply, “No, you locked it. I remember.” I watched him lock the door before we left; I remember how he rolled his eyes and made a joke about me taking too long to get ready.

“That’s weird,” he says, and steps inside. His eyes scan the room like he’s searching for something.

“Do you think—” I start.

“Someone was in here,” he answers, becoming instantly alert as he presses his mouth into a hard line.

I begin to panic. “Are you sure? It doesn’t look like anything is missing.” I walk toward the hallway but he quickly pulls me back.

“Don’t go in there until I look around,” he commands.

I want to tell him to stay put, that I will check, but it’s silly, really: the idea of me protecting him, when in reality he’d be the one protecting me. I nod, and a chill creeps down my spine. What if someone really is inside? Who would come into our apartment when we aren’t here and not steal the giant flat-screen television I can still see hanging on the wall in the living room?

Hardin disappears into our bedroom, and I hold my breath until I hear his voice again.

“It’s clear.” He reappears from the bedroom, and I let out a deep breath.

“Are you sure someone was here?”

“Yes, but I don’t know why they didn’t take anything . . .”

“Me either.” My eyes scan the room, and I notice the difference. The small stack of books on the nightstand next to Hardin’s side of the bed has been moved. I especially remember the highlighted book I gave him being on top, because it made me smile knowing that he was reading it over again.

“It was your fucking dad!” he suddenly shouts.