I shouldn’t have given him the note. I’d come on too strong. I’d been too forward.

He grew grim for a moment, deep in thought. I hated how I couldn’t read him. His eyes blinked and he looked up.

My eyes shifted to the ground. “Is it because of what the note said? Because I-I’m sorry if it’s too soon but—”

“No, Ash…” His face softened, all evidence of his sudden mood change gone. “It’s nothing. Forget about it. Anyway, why did you bring it up? Jake texting you?”

I contemplated asking him about his thoughts, but I feared he would push himself away from me. Breathing deeply, I tried to clear the fog between us. “I know I can’t say I’m seeing you…but maybe…” I pulled my hair to the side and held my neck out. “Maybe you can leave a mark saying that I’m yours?”

He snickered. “You want me to give you a hickey?” I nodded. He sighed. “But that’s so...”

“High school-ish?” I laughed. “Don’t forget, baby. Your girlfriend’s still a senior.”

“Mmm…girlfriend. I like the sound of that.” Daniel moved his mouth to my neck and slowly began to suck on my skin, teasing me. His tongue flicked back and forth slowly and then rapidly, his sucking becoming more intense. I arched my neck in his direction, holding my hands against his hips. When he pulled away, I felt a light kiss on my neck. “I guess that makes you mine.”

My head shook back and forth. “I was yours before we ever met.”

“That awkward moment when you find people making out in front of your parents’ graves.”

My heart jumped out of my skin as I heard another voice hovering over us. I was quick to step back from Daniel in fright. His eyes moved to the guy standing near us, and I gasped.

I could’ve been looking at Daniel if I hadn’t known better. The only differences were that this guy had buzzed hair and his blue eyes were a lot colder. A lot more lost.

“What are you doing here?” Daniel asked. His eyes were filled with a look I’d never seen from him. Hate? Love? Could someone hate and love at the same exact time?

“Well, I’m in town and thought I would come say hi to Mom and Dad. I would ask you what you were doing here but…” He stared at me with a smirk, and I curled my arms around my waist. “I think it’s pretty clear.”

Daniel’s eyes moved to me and then back to his…brother? I felt my face flushing over. How long had he been standing there?

“I’m glad you found yourself a girl. She’s cute,” the stranger said. “It probably makes it easier for you to sleep at night, eh?”

“Go home, Ashlyn,” Daniel demanded.

I looked at him, confused. Why was I being sent away? “Wh-what? Wait—”

“Now.” The word was stern and hurtful.

I was instantly worried by the way he’d spoken toward me. He’d never seemed so harsh, so distance—even when he’d found out I was his student. I felt my heart jump, and Daniel’s eyes softened when he stared into my greens.

I stepped toward him to try to comfort his sudden shift in personality, but he only stepped away from me.

That hurt.

I turned to the guy who was sporting a sly smile my way. Gabby was standing behind the two guys, playing her guitar, singing the Beatles Let It Be. I frowned at her, silently begging her to help me understand what was happening.

Then she was gone.

Because she’d never really been there.

After an eternity of doubts and indecisions, I left, giving them both a wordless goodbye and feeling empty inside.

I waited until I reached the outside of the cemetery to start crying. I hated how much I cried this past year. I was supposed to be stronger.

I rushed back to Henry’s home and darted straight for my bedroom. I tried not to overthink things. He would text me. He would explain. Hailey was in the shower, so I was fine to cry alone in my bed. I pulled out my cell phone and waited for his text.

And waited.

And waited.

Hours passed, I missed dinner, and my mind was wandering into dark thoughts. He still hadn’t texted me once.

Me: What was that all about?

My stomach filled with nerves as I waited for the ding of my phone that never came.

Me: Please don’t ignore me.


Me: Don’t do this…please…

I was begging him to reply. Begging him to answer me.

Me: We’ll talk tomorrow?

Nothing. No response. I placed my hands over my face and began sobbing uncontrollably.

“I blame you for making me have to write this damn flash fic—” Ryan came stomping into my bedroom and paused when he saw me bawling on my bed. “Ashlyn, what’s wrong?” He moved over to me and I began crying even more from the level of concern in his voice.

I wished I could tell him. I wished I could tell somebody, anybody. But mainly I wished I could talk to Gabby. She would’ve known what to say. She would’ve known what to do. She was the logical one, not me.

Ryan slid over my body and lay down next to me, wrapping his arms around me. I pulled him closer sobbing into his shirt. “Jesus, kid…what’s going on?” he whispered.

I couldn’t respond, and I doubted he was even looking for a response. Before I knew it, I felt two more arms wrap around me and another body covering me in a tight hug. Hailey.

We didn’t speak. They simply held on to me, making sure to let me know that I wasn’t alone. Henry showed up next, peeking into the bedroom. He didn’t say anything, but he did come and sit at the end of my bed.