Chapter 25

Cover 1

“I can’t believe I’m graduating on Sunday!”

Finals were over, our lease was up this month, and my best friend was moving on to the real world.  Well, as real as Lena’s world could get.

“I know.  It only took you five years,” I teased.

“Five glorious years.”

“Five glorious years,” I agreed.

“I still can’t believe it’s real.  It has always seemed like such an idle threat.  Now it’s here.  How am I supposed to get you to come out with me now?”  Her tone was thoughtful.

“You could always ask nicely instead of resorting to threats.”

“That’s not very fun,” she countered.

“Who knows?  Maybe I’ll be the one who drags you out with me this summer.”  Lena laughed, assuming I was kidding.  “What do you think?”

“About what?” she asked, still grinning.

“Are you going to come out with me tonight?”

“I don’t know, Mer.  I still have a ton of stuff to pack.”  It looked like her closet had vomited clothing all over her room and into the hallway.  Some of the garments had made it into the cardboard boxes, but most were collecting dust on the floor.

“Come on,” I pushed.  “Before you know it you will be graduated and we may never see each other again.”

“I don’t know…”

“You’re going to give in eventually.  Now is as good a time as ever.  Besides, if you say yes then I may feel grateful enough to help you pack.”

She relented with good grace.  “I guess I’ll come out tonight.  After all, you need me.”

“I do, huh?”  As hard as it was to admit, it was true, I did need her.

“Yeah, you’re not very much fun by yourself.”

“Why do you hang out with me then?”

“Because I’m enough fun for the both of us.”

“Right,” I agreed adamantly.  “What would I be without you?”

“Boring and dull.”

“And well-rested.”

My phone beeped, announcing a text message.

“Who is it?” Lena asked, ignoring my right to privacy.  I would have it no other way so I didn’t waste my breath telling her it was none of her business.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m back in town for the weekend.  I miss you.

I dropped my phone like it had electrocuted me.

“Mer?” Lena rushed to my side and picked up the phone.  “No, he didn’t!  I am not going to let that jerk ruin our last night.”

I drew a deep breath and pulled a smile from the depths of my soul.  There had to be happiness down there somewhere.

“Neither am I,” I promised.  It had taken me an entire semester to be undeniably excited for a Thursday night.  And the reason for my giddiness happened to be named Remington.

It had been five years since I had felt the pull toward a member of the opposite sex.  So long, in fact, the past five months had come and gone before I realized the attraction for what it was.  Until Remington I had been immune to men’s charms and feeble attempts at flirtation.  It was just my luck to be drawn to the most closed minded and rudest one of them all.

He was gorgeous, but I had met plenty of hot guys and felt nothing more than tolerance for them.  Somehow, Remington was different.  For whatever reason he was still a mystery to me.  He lurked in the background… No, not lurked; that would imply that he creeped me out.  Brooded was a more apt description.  He brooded in the background, never saying much.  He just stared, taking in even the most mundane conversations and inconsequential movements.  He was by far the most miserable person at any party he attended—a title I had previously held.

And I liked him.

It had taken me a semester of Thursdays to admit that.

So he was the reason I was excited about going out.  Would he act the same tonight, on our last night together, as he had every other Thursday?  More importantly, would I let him?


I smiled shyly at Remington.  “I had hoped you would be here.”

His customary frown deepened.  “Really?”

I laughed.  “Yes.”


I shrugged.  Why did there have to be a reason for anything?  “I’m not sure yet,” I admitted.

He looked around the packed pub.  “This place seems pretty exciting.  I don’t know why you’d hope I was here to dull it down.”

“It just got better thirty seconds ago.”

What had come over me?  Maybe it was the nice weather or the finality of the night.  This was the last Thursday of the school year.  Tomorrow the undergrads who were still in the dorms would return to their respective homes throughout the country and the seniors would endure a few more days until the commencement ceremony on Sunday.

Remington stood up, his chair scraping along the tiled floor.  I thought he was smiling but, on further inspection of his beautiful face, I noticed he was sneering.

“What’s wrong, Remington?”

He glared at me, his anger palpable.  “I just don’t know how to deal with you,” he ground out.

Something inside me snapped.  I had come out, determined to enjoy my last night with my friends, with Remington, and now he was looking at me like I had leprosy.

“I’m not some communicable disease you can treat with a dose of penicillin,” I shouted, aware that my livid reaction was irrational.

He took a step away from me.  “That’s not what I meant, Meredith”

“Well then, what did you mean?”  Even as the question was out of my mouth I knew it would remain unanswered.

“I can’t…” he responded to an invisible voice.  He shoved his hands in his pockets and jumped away.

“You came over here to tell me that then you turn and leave.  What a great plan,” I said as I chased him to the door.  I had already embarrassed myself; why not go all the way?  After tonight I wouldn’t see any of these people again.

This was it.

He whipped around, nearly knocking me over.  I steadied myself against the cold cement block wall.

“I came here to do a whole lot more than tell you that,” he added in a harsh whisper.  His face was close to mine.  The heat radiating from his broad chest pushed me further into the wall.

“Are you going to elaborate or run?”


Remington had been rude and confusing but never dishonest.  He didn’t let me down as he stalked out the back door.

“Hey, Mer.”

The familiar voice sent a jolt of fear running down my spine.  I had come to the bar, prepared to take a step toward Remington, toward a future I wanted and yet I found myself face-to-face with my past.

“What are you doing here?” I accused.

Holden seemed stunned by my uncharacteristic reaction.  “I texted you and told you I was coming home.”

“And I told you that I needed some time.”

“Some time to what?” he grimaced.  “To throw yourself at the first guy who looks your way?”

“What are you talking about?”  I was too busy throwing myself at someone who wasn’t willing to play catch.

“Don’t play stupid with me.  Was he done with Lena and wanted to round out the apartment complex?”

Blood pulsed behind my ears, and the voices around me blurred into a muffled hum.  “You don’t know what you’re saying, Holden.”

“Yes, I do.  I was right all along.”

“I’m going to go now.”  I needed to escape from this nightmare.  Maybe I would wake up and find that my last Thursday hadn’t been a disaster.

“No, you’re not,” Holden ground out, gripping my arm and pulling me to face him.

“Meredith, do you need anything?”

“No, Alec.  I’m fine.”

Holden gave Lena’s boyfriend a dismissive look.  “What is this?  Partner swap?”

“That’s enough, Holden.” I warned.  “Why don’t you just go home?”

“Why?  Do you need to meet my replacement in the parking lot?”

Alec took a step toward him, clenching his fists.  Holden smiled meanly but was smart enough to know when he was fighting a losing battle.  He shoved out the back door and disappeared into the blackness.

“Mer, are you okay?” Lena whispered, her voice laced with concern.

Alec waited behind Lena but he didn’t make a move to retrieve his friend or go after Holden.

“I’m fine,” I said in a watery voice.  “I think I’m going to call it a night though.  Alec?”


“Will you make sure Lena makes it back home safely?”

He smiled sadly.  There was only a hint of anger lighting his eyes.  “Sure thing, Meredith.  I’m sorry.”

“So am I.  Goodnight, Lena.”

“Love you, Mer.”  The pity in her voice was too hard to ignore.

“Love you too.”

And just like that, the one Thursday I had been undeniably excited for, my last Thursday, was over.

* * *

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