Prologue-Jessica

This is it.

This is the decision that we-no, that I have to make, and no matter what choice I make, our friendship is over. Why did it have to be like this? What I wouldn't give to just forget the past ten minutes, to go back to the way it's been for the past 6 months. I would be perfectly content that way. I wouldn't be sitting here, on the soft carpet of my apartment, staring into her brown eyes, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. I just thank god her brother wasn't here to see it.

She smiles at me kindly, but behind her emerald green eyes she's about to start crying. I just know it, I can feel it, even if I can't see it on her face. And I wish I couldn't because it's tearing me to pieces.

No matter what I say now, we're both going to cry, I realize. Never mind the fact that I'm more confused than I've ever been in my life. Every word counts, I know that much; but what to say?

If I say no, she'll never talk to me again. Okay, maybe she would still try to be friends with me, because that's the kind of person she is; but if it were me, I couldn't take it. Another reminder of how much stronger than me she is. Or denser. (I'd like to think both.)

I'm returning to reality now, but only somewhat; she's still patiently sitting there, her wavy red hair a little messed up, her green sweatshirt and torn jeans somewhat wrinkled, sitting on the floor across from me, as wrapped in the awkward silence as I am.

And only one question goes through my head, standing out against the thousands of others.

"Chris…just what are you thinking?"

Prologue-Christmas

"Shit."

I have no idea what possessed me to throw on some clothes, jump in my car, break inner city speed limits, and generally race like a proverbial bat out of hell. And then I said this, did that, did that again, and said something else I regretted even more than aforementioned action. I'm now sitting across from Jessica in her baby blue flannel pajamas, her blonde hair hanging casually around her mid-shoulders. She's stopped looking in my eyes now, and she's looking down at the floor, her bangs veiling her green eyes.

There's no denying it: I am a bona fide, honest-to-god idiot.

I've seen and read about some extremely idiotic human beings. Then again, I've read about a lot of things. But this is worse than the French and the Louisiana Purchase, the Native Americans and Manhattan-but there's a difference. These people were duped. And it was property, not another person.

I keep up my façade, trying not to burst into tears and run away. I've said, albeit off-handedly, what I meant to say, and I all I need is an answer.

"C'mon, Jess, say something!" I resist the urge to say that. I also resist the urge to make history repeat itself. I repress it because I'm too patient, too busy waiting for her answer.

Above all, I won't influence her decisions. It's her free will, her feelings, not mine.

But I can't help but hope. I can't help but think that, against all odds, somehow she might forgive me, she might…

No. Get a grip, Chris. This is not helping.

"Please, Jess, just yes or no."

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