Can we talk?
WTF, Allie. After everything we’ve been thru, I deserve more then that.
U didn’t mean it when u said we were done, right?
Will you plz fuckin ANSWER me?
U know what? fuck this. U wanna keep ignoring me? fine. wtevr.
There are six text messages waiting for me when I check my phone on the way out of the campus fitness center on Friday night. They’re all from Sean, my as-of-last-night ex. And although the emotional progression from pleading to pissed off doesn’t go unnoticed, I find myself fixating on his grammatical error.
I deserve more then that.
Then, not than. And I doubt autocorrect is to blame because Sean isn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. He’s whip-smart about some things. Like baseball—seriously, the guy can pull stats out of his ass, even ones dating back to the sixties. But book smarts are not his forte. Stellar boyfriend doesn’t quite make his list of strengths either, at least not in recent days.
I never wanted to be one of those girls who breaks up and makes up with the same guy over and over again. I really thought I was stronger than that, but Sean McCall has had a hold on me since freshman year at Briar University. He sucked me in with his preppy good looks and little-boy grin. That gorgeous grin, all crooked and dimpled and full of promises.
I glance at my phone again, my wariness climbing like the ivy on the building behind me. Argh. What does he want to talk about? We said everything we needed to say last night. When I told him I was done before I stormed out of his frat house, I’d meant it.
I am done. This is our fourth breakup in three years. I can’t keep doing this to myself, this twisted cycle of joy and heartache, especially when the person I’m supposed to be building a future with is determined to hold me back.
Even so, my heart hurts. It’s hard to let go of someone who’s been such a big part of your life for so long. It’s even harder when that person refuses to let you go.
Sighing, I hurry down the steps toward the cobblestone path that winds through campus. Usually I take the time to admire the scenery—the gorgeous old buildings, the wrought-iron benches and massive shade trees—but tonight I just want to sprint back to my dorm, pull the covers over my head, and shut out the world. Luckily, I can totally do that because my roommate Hannah is away this weekend, which means she won’t be around to lecture me about the emotional perils of wallowing in my misery.
She hadn’t done much lecturing last night, though. Nope, what she did was step up to the plate and knock the best-friend-ever role out of the park. The moment I’d walked through the door after leaving Sean, Hannah had been waiting in our common room with a carton of ice cream, a box of Kleenex, and two bottles of red wine, and she’d proceeded to stay up half the night passing me tissues and listening to me babble incoherently.
Breakups suck. I feel like such a failure. No, I feel like a quitter. The last piece of advice my mom gave me before she died was to never give up on love. Actually, she’d drilled that into me long before she’d ever gotten sick. I don’t know all the details, but it was no secret around my house that my parents’ marriage had been on the rocks more than once during their eighteen years together. And they’d powered through it. They’d worked at it.
Every time I think about walking out on Sean yesterday, my stomach grows queasy. Maybe I should have fought harder for us. I mean, I know he loves me—
If he loved you, he wouldn’t have given you an ultimatum, a gruff voice assures me. You did the right thing.
My throat tightens as I recognize the voice in my head. It belongs to my father, who happens to be my biggest champion. In his eyes, I can do no wrong.
It’s too bad Sean isn’t able to see me through that lens.
My phone buzzes when I’m five minutes from Bristol House, where I share a two-bedroom suite with Hannah.
Shit. Another text from Sean.
And double shit because it says:
I’m so sorry for swearing at u, bb. I didn’t mean it. I’m just upset. U mean the world to me. I hope u know that.
A second text pops up: Coming over after class. We’ll talk.
I halt in my tracks, a jolt of panic spiraling through me. I’m not afraid of Sean, at least not in the physical sense. I know he would never lay a hand on me or fly into a manic rage. But I’m afraid of his ability to sweet-talk me. He’s so good at it. All he has to do is call me baby and flash that adorable smile, and I’m a goner.
Anger, dread, and annoyance war for my attention as I reread his messages. He’s bluffing. He wouldn’t come over uninvited, would he?
With shaky fingers, I pull up Hannah’s number. Two rings later and my best friend’s reassuring voice echoes on the line. “Hey, what’s up? You okay?”
I can hear soft chatter in the background. A female voice—it’s Grace Ivers, Logan’s girlfriend. That means that Hannah and her boyfriend Garrett have already left for their weekend in Boston. She invited me to go with them, but I turned her down because I hadn’t wanted to be the fifth wheel. Two madly-in-love couples and me? No thank you.
Now I wish I’d accepted the invitation, because I’ll be all alone this weekend and Sean wants to talk.
“Sean’s coming over tonight,” I blurt out.
Hannah gasps. “What? No! Why would you agree to—”
“I didn’t agree to anything! He didn’t even ask if it was cool. He just messaged saying he’s coming by.”
“What the hell?” She sounds as displeased as I feel.
“I know, right?” My panic spills over. “I can’t see him, Han. I’m still too raw about this breakup. If he comes over, I might end up taking him back.”
“Do you think if I turn off all the lights and lock the door, he’ll assume I’m not home and leave?”
“Knowing Sean? He’ll wait outside the door all night.” Hannah curses. “You know what? I shouldn’t have agreed to go to this Bruins game. I should be home with you. Hold on, I’m telling Garrett to turn the car around—”
“No way,” I interrupt. “You are not cancelling your trip for me. This is your last chance to do something fun.”
Hannah’s boyfriend is the captain of the Briar hockey team, which means his practice and game schedule will be jam-packed now that the season has started. Which means Hannah won’t get to see him as much. I refuse to be the one who ruins a rare weekend of freedom for them.
“I just want advice.” I swallow hard. “So please, tell me what to do. Should I ask Tracy if I can crash in her room?”
“No, you don’t want to be in Bristol if Sean’s wandering the halls. Maybe Megan—no, wait, her new boyfriend is in town this weekend. They’ll probably want to be alone.” Hannah sounds thoughtful. “What about Stella?”
“She and Justin just moved in together last week. They’re not going to want a last-minute houseguest.”
“Hold on a sec.” There’s another long pause. I hear Garrett’s muffled voice, but I can’t make out what he’s saying. Then Hannah is back. “Garrett says you can stay at his place this weekend. Dean and Tuck will both be there, so if Sean figures out where you went and drops by, they’ll kick him to the curb.” The murmur of voices fills the background again. “You can sleep in Garrett’s room,” she adds.
Indecision flashes through me. I mean, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe I’m considering letting Sean drive me out of my own dorm. But my mind is flooded with images of him pounding on my door. Or worse, pulling a Say Anything and standing outside my window with a boombox. Ugh, what if he plays the Peter Gabriel song? I hate that song.
“Are you sure it’s okay?” I ask.
“Yup. Totally fine. Logan’s texting Dean and Tucker right now to let them know. You can head over any time.”
Relief trickles through me, along with a pang of guilt. “Put me on speakerphone? I want to talk to Garrett.”
“Sure. One sec.”
A moment later, Garrett Graham’s deep voice comes on the line. “Clean sheets are in the linen closet, and you might want to bring your own pillow. Wellsy thinks mine are too soft.”