"What will you give Eli for his birthday?"
"Do you want to leave? I can walk you to your place."I shake my head. "No, I don't want to go anywhere."A small crease forms on Eli's brow as he gives me a scrutinizing glance. "Okay."I smile and hold his hand tighter. It's sometime after midnight. Parties are not my favourite scene and when I have to attend one, I don't stay around until this late. It's no surprise he's wondering why I'm in no hurry to leave. We're sitting on one of the couches, watching a drinking game some kids are having. I was sitting on my own when he noticed me and came over. A few seconds after he did, I reached out my hand to trace patterns on the back of his. When he entwined our fingers, I accepted his grip wholeheartedly.He covers a yawn with the back of his hand. "Will I be a bad host if I leave now? I'm honestly tired.""No. You should sleep early. They're fine having fun by themselves."While I say that calmly, my heart is rioting. He does look tired. Should I leave him be? Should I go back to my
"Elias Kim?"He hasn't seen me yet.I'm glued to the floor when all I want to do is disappear.Am I dreaming?Hallucinating, maybe?Eli bends to grasp the handle of the suitcase standing between them. "That's me. But you can call me Eli."Jude looks up over him, and his eyes finally find me.Eli straightens and pulls the luggage into the room. "Come in."The paper in my hands crinkles noisily as my fingers close over it.Eli says something, but I don't hear a word.Jude doesn't move an inch past the threshold. His blue eyes bore into me, surprise evident on his face.Surprise? More like shock.Something pokes my arm.Then a hand waves in front of my face.I snap my eyes from Jude to find Eli trying to gain my attention.He gives me a confused look. "Jo?"I suck in a deep breath and drop the paper to the floor. "Bathroom. I need to use the bathroom."I feel Jude's eyes on me as I close the distance to the bathroom—which is, in this situation, so inconveniently close to the front door.
"Where have you been?"I close the door behind me and remove my shoes. Tori watches me as I walk into the apartment. She's sitting on the couch, hair in rollers while she paints her toenails. What's the occasion?"Simon's.""Is that where you spent the night?""No." I notice a parcel lying on the coffee table and hurry to it. "Is this mine?""Yeah. It was delivered this morning."I tear the wrapper to reveal an Adidas shoebox. Finally, Eli's birthday gift is here.Now all I have to do is give it to him..."Whose shirt is that?" she asks, eyes narrowing at the said clothing.I cradle the box under my arm and head to my room. "Eli's."She doesn't say anything else until I'm at my door. "Have you met his roommate?"My hand closes around the door handle. "No. Have you?""I'm about to."I whirl around. "What?""I'm going with Eli to show him around campus."Why am I not invited?Do I want to be invited?"Is that why you are..." I trail off, gesturing to her hair.She pauses painting her na
"Anyone fancy a cold drink? I'm parched."We've just come to the football pitch after completing our tour of the Sports Complex. It's been a kind of awkward tour. Tori is still fuming because of God knows what, and I'm trying to avoid any type of interaction with Jude. He might say something that makes me snap and blows our cover."Sounds great!" I agree with Eli, turning to him. I can go with him to get them and escape this suffocating situation for a few minutes.He's looking at Tori. "Tori? Want to go with me?"No way! If they leave, I'll be left with Jude alone!I step closer to Eli and grab his arm. "I'll come with you."His dark eyes shift from Tori to me. He leans in and whispers. "She has been down all afternoon. I want to talk to her while we get drinks."I deflate. The two are childhood best friends, so Eli must be bothered about her low mood. And, after her reaction about us not telling her we are together, she must be mad at him. So mad that she hasn't put much effort into
I have trouble falling asleep. It's impossible to when my mind is a jumble of confusing thoughts.If what Jude said is true—and there doesn't seem to be much doubt that it is—that means everything I've felt these past three years on account of him has been baseless. Misplaced anger, hope, and hurt.I still can't wrap my head around why Cole would refuse to tell me that Jude communicated. If I could, I would call him right now to hear it straight from him. But I have to wait until tomorrow if I want to talk to him.Jude never went silent on me.He never broke his promise.This is all sinking in now and I don't know how to feel about it.For an entire year, he didn't give up on us.I don't want to imagine what he thought or felt when Cole told him I didn't want to speak to him. His earlier attitude towards me is an indication, though.While I thought he betrayed me, he was thinking the same about me.God, what a mess.I take out my phone and text Simon.Me, 9.42pm: Jude never went silent
Eli opens the door to his dorm room while I stand beside him, fingers nervously tapping on my bag strap.We've just come from the field. Practice lasted two hours. Jude went straight to the offices to finish up some registration stuff. Eli doesn't have a class until eleven o'clock, and I have an hour before my next schedule at the sports complex.He pushes the door open and lets me walk in before coming in after me. I take off my shoes and walk further into the room, my mind taking me back to the last time I was here. There's a soft thud on the floor, then Eli's hand wraps around my arm. He pulls and turns me around, bringing me to him. Before I can react, he dips his head and kisses me.His lips are firm and urgent on mine. Before long, I find myself digging my fingers into his arms, getting closer to him.When we break apart, his thumb caresses my cheek. "It feels like it's been forever since I had you alone."I chuckle. "True." I feel the same way too. A lot has happened since yes
We arrive at Upperhill Prison a few minutes after two o'clock.After parking at the visitors' lot, Jude and I head over to check-in. Once we're done with everything, we are led into the visiting room. We take our seats and wait for Cole to show up.The last time I was here, I was alone. As I am most times, other than for the few times I came together with Jax. In the two years Cole has been here, Nicki has never visited. As for Simon, Cole would be the last person he wants to see right now. Or ever.Anyway, I never would have thought I would ever be visiting him with Jude.I gaze around the room. There are other inmates already seated with their visitors. The one closest to us is a man who's being visited by a woman and a boy who looks about ten and resembles him. He looks happy to be with his family. I wonder whether Cole will be thrilled about us showing up like this."There he is," Jude's voice draws me from my observation of our surroundings.I look towards the entrance and sure e
I unwrap his fingers from around my hand and step away before turning to look at him. "Stop, Jude. We are history. And I have a boyfriend now."His blue eyes bore into me. "You having a boyfriend is not going to keep me away." He takes a step towards me, to which I respond by stepping back farther. He narrows his eyes. "We never broke up, you know."I gape at him. Is he serious?"So no, we are not history," he continues.I fold my arms around my middle and gaze up at him. "It's been three years—""It's been a misunderstanding," he interrupts me. "And it's solved now."I look away, chewing on my lip. I can't handle this right now. First, I need to get to work on time. Then, I need to think of a way to tell Eli about all this. Until then, I don't want to have this conversation with Jude. I reach for the car door and pull it open. "Let's go back.""I came here because of you," he says.That stops me in my tracks. I turn to look at him again, a frown forming on my face. "What?""You're th