By midnight, there was still no response from Jaxon. Neither him nor Jace were answering their phones or coming home. I had gone out to the parking lot numerous times to check to see if the motorcycle or truck were back. I was starting to look like one of those crazed jealous girlfriends. Quinn told me she had talked to Cole, but he wasn’t with the guys. I hoped that they were okay. I tried calling two more times before I went to bed, but then my calls just started going directly to voicemail sometime after ten o‘clock. I’ll just have to catch him tomorrow between classes, since we didn’t have any together on that day.

The next morning I woke up and decided to curl my hair in loose waves and leave it all down. I put on a little bit of mascara and lip-gloss. I’m not going to lie, I was trying to look good for Jaxon. Neither he nor Jace had come back last night, so I’m just hoping that he’ll actually be at school today. Then I remembered Jaxon saying, that if they even missed one class, they would be benched for the championship game tomorrow. I knew he wouldn’t risk something like that.

I didn’t see him until near the end of my lunch break. I was sitting at the table with our regular group. Quinn was telling Cole about the new students she was tutoring this semester, which not surprisingly were all female. I had almost given up on the idea of seeing him at school today at all. When I saw him through the windows of the cafeteria coming across the courtyard, I decided to go and meet him. He was walking with two girls I had only seen a few times before. They seemed to be animatedly talking to him, while he just nodded his head. I could tell he wasn’t paying attention to what they were actually saying.

I turned and smiled at Quinn, “I’m going to go talk to him, kay?”

She nodded her head, but she looked unsure. She wouldn’t be this weird if it was Cole out there and she needed to apologize. I should be the nervous one; I was going to tell him I loved him. I jogged out into the courtyard and met up with him in the middle.

“Hey, I‘ve been trying to call you,” I smiled up at him.

He didn’t smile just nodded his head back at me, “I noticed.”

I looked at his two groupies and said, “Okay, you ladies can run along now, I’d like to talk to my boyfriend.” They huffed and looked up at Jaxon to say something different, but he didn’t, so they walked away sulking.

“Em, I don’t think we should be together anymore,” he finally spoke.

“Why do you have to do that? Why do you have to purposefully call me Em whenever you’re mad? Don’t be childish, Jaxon,” I replied angrily. This is not how I wanted to begin this conversation.

He took a deep breath. “Emerson, I don’t think we should be together anymore,” his voice sounded flat and lifeless.

I decided to ignore his nonsensical statement. “Jaxon, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you so I could tell you how sorry I am. I always get freaked out and weird around that day. I tried to keep it inside, but it was eating me alive, and I just didn’t know how to cope. I’m really sorry. I realize now how ridiculous I was being.” I grabbed onto the waistband of his jeans while I looked up at him. I grabbed on like if I just held tight enough, he wouldn’t even consider leaving. He tried to step back out of my grasp, but I just stepped closer to him, giving him a puzzled look. “I made you a mix CD, just listen to it please.”

I bent down to pull the CD out of my bag when he finally spoke again, “Emerson, I tried to talk to you four days ago. I asked you not to run from me and you did anyway… again. I can’t handle this anymore. I tried to be strong enough for you but… I’m just not.” He took the CD from me, but he held it out like he didn’t really want it.

“Jaxon, stop saying all of this, it’s not necessary.” I grabbed his waistband again. “I’m going to be better now, I swear. Let me apologize.” I took a deep breath and said, “I love you.” I watched as he winced in pain at my words. That was definitely not the reaction I was hoping for. Just then the gravity of the situation started to hit, so I lowered my voice to a whisper as I looked up at him. “Don’t do this, I love you.”

“I asked you not to leave the other night, and you did anyway.”

“You promised you would stay patient with me,” my voice rose to a panic level.

“And you promised you would stay.” The fact that the lifeless tone of his voice hadn’t changed at all was scaring me.

“I never left, Jaxon, I just needed a breather from my life. It wasn’t you, it was my parents’ death,” I was almost yelling now. I needed to reassure him that what had happened wouldn’t happen again. “Look, I know it never made sense for you to like me, I was never meant to be in a relationship with anyone. But you forced your way in, pushing past every barrier I had. Don’t give up on me now!”

I could feel the pain streaking across his face. “I don’t think we should be together anymore,” he repeated for a third time.

I stepped forward while he stepped back and screamed, “NO! I love you, I’m here! JUST FORGIVE ME!” Tears were streaming down my face now and I knew I was making a complete fool out of myself in the middle of the courtyard but he needed to know. “YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” He hadn’t moved a muscle from his position; he just kept that aggravatingly unyielding face. When I reached for him again, he stepped backward away from me.

Suddenly, there were strong arms wrapping around my body, lifting me away from Jaxon. “Shh, Em, just stop. Don’t do this here. This isn’t you,” Cole whispered into my ear.

“Cole, you said all I had to do was apologize, you said he loved me!” I yelled at him. Then I finally saw it, no matter how miniscule, I saw Jaxon take a step forward toward me. I almost took a huge sigh of relief, but then he caught himself and took two steps backward. My face twisted with the pain I felt surge throughout my entire body.

Cole started carrying me away when I screamed again. “JAXON, DON’T DO THIS!” I was fighting with Cole to get down and my legs were thrashing violently. If I could just get him in my arms again, he would realize what a huge mistake he was making. “You promised! I told you I wouldn’t survive this kind of heartbreak again! JAXON, LOOK AT ME!” My frantic screams were causing a scene and he was just standing there looking at the ground with his hands in tight fists.

Before we got out of earshot from him, Cole turned back for a second to face him. “I f**king told you this would happen, you asshole. This is the exact f**king moment I told you about, and you promised you could handle it. If you’re smart, you’ll stay away from her,” he growled.

I went lifeless in his arms; there was no reason to fight it anymore. Jaxon didn’t even try to keep me there with him. This was entirely my fault in so many ways I’d lost count. I was disappointed in myself for throwing my rules out the window for him. From the very beginning, I said that I wouldn’t be able to handle being a girlfriend and then he convinced me otherwise. Lesson learned, always follow your gut. But I was mostly disappointed in myself for letting that day get to me so much that I ruined the best thing that ever happened to me. I never imagined that relationships were like that. I never imagined the extreme joy you can experience. What I did know was how it felt when someone you love was ripped away from you; how gut wrenching it could feel. I should have stayed away from any possibility of ever feeling that again.

Cole had to carry me up to the apartment. When I hit the pillow on my bed, I immediately pulled my knees up to my chest and let all the pain out that I felt. I cried for losing my relationship with Jaxon, for losing a best friend, and lastly, for the loss of Emerson. Quinn had once said how she was enjoying Emerson and I now realize that I had begun to love her as well. Now I needed to learn only to be Em. Em didn’t let her heart break.

I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling for countless hours. Eventually that evening, Cole and Quinn came in to join me. They each lay on opposite sides of me. I loved having their comfort and support, but I also wanted to stew in my own mistakes alone.

“Emmy, you’re still coming to my game tomorrow, right?” Cole whispered in the dark.

“You know I can’t do that, Cole.”

“You have to. Fifty years down the road when people talk about how our school went to the championship and your best friend scored the winning touchdown,” he nudged me with his elbow and I knew he was talking about himself, “You’ll regret not going.”

“Well, I’ll just let seventy-one year old Em be mad then.”

“Please, Em, you’ve been talking about how exciting a championship game would be with Cole since freshman year. I know you’ll be sad you missed it,” Quinn said, squeezing my hand.

For some reason, I would get bouts of crying at the most random moments. I could lay there talking to the two of them, when all of a sudden, a wave of immense pain would nail me in the face and I wouldn’t be able to breathe. While we were laying there in the quiet and darkness, a wave hit me and I gasped with a face full of tears. Cole reached for my hand while Quinn rubbed my arm and snuggled real close. I would get through this. I may not be the same on the other side, but these two people would get me through this. Then the realization that I had just lost Jace as a friend as well hit me with a fresh new round of tears, because how would I be able to look at him and not see Jaxon?

I had to work the early shift at the bar the next day, but Ed promised that I could make it in time for the second quarter. Last week, I was devastated that I would miss even a little bit of the game; this week I’m just devastated, so I could really care less how much I see. Quinn made me swear that I would come, and she even packed a bag with an outfit, shoes, and makeup for me. I didn’t even think about what I would wear, but it’s probably best not to show up to a stadium packed with guys, wearing a too-tight shirt that says ‘Nice Rack’ across the chest.

When I finally did arrive, they were about ten minutes into the second quarter so I hadn’t missed much. To my dismay, Quinn had packed the dress and boots I had gotten while in Texas. I knew what she was doing and I didn’t appreciate it. I just wanted to be invisible, sit in some corner of the stands, and leave without anyone seeing me. Quinn knew I would try that as well, so she made me swear I would come sit by her.

As I walked up the stairs into the stands, I heard Quinn, Jace, and Jaxon’s voices. I froze and took a deep breath in and out. I could do this; I needed to get over the fact that I would see him. I continued walking up when I noticed Jaxon leaning up against the stands barrier talking to the two of them. Whatever they were talking about, it wasn’t a pleasant conversation. Jace and Quinn looked mad at Jaxon and he didn’t look happy with them either. Today the crowd was way too excited and loud for me to hear what they were saying.

When I stepped up onto the final step, Jaxon turned his head and looked right at me. I watched as he took a faltering step back and sucked in air between his teeth. At least I still affected him, even if he didn’t want me anymore. I knew that this dress and these boots looked good on me. Jaxon had liked how the dress pushed up my br**sts and dipped down just a little bit to show off my cleavage. I knew what he was looking at right then. I turned my eyes away from him and headed toward Quinn.

When I approached, I noticed that the only empty seat available was on the other side of Jace. There was no way I would sit next to my ex-boyfriends identical twin. I was so deprived and needy of Jaxon right now that I wasn’t sure I would be able to control my actions around a guy who looked exactly like him. I couldn’t even look at him. It was too painful. I knew Jace was searching my face for me to acknowledge him, and I shouldn’t take this breakup out on him, but I just needed time.

I walked up to the girl sitting next to Quinn and knelt down to speak in her ear since it was so loud. “Hey, how would you like to switch seats? You can sit next to that hunk right there,” I said, pointing to Jace.

She looked over and I saw her eyes light up, “Sure!”

She got up and sashayed toward Jace and sat down with the most seduction I had ever seen a girl put into sitting in a chair. She turned her body to face him and stuck out her chest. I sat down in her chair next to Quinn, and Jace turned in his, putting his back to the new girl.

“I’m not ignoring you, Jace, it just hurts too much right now to see you,” I said, looking forward.

He sighed and leaned back in his seat. I noticed Jaxon had already made it back to the bench and had his back facing us. He was leaning forward with his forearms lying on the tops of his legs watching the game. I searched for Cole and finally spotted him on the opposite side of the bench from Jax, glaring daggers at him.

“He asked about you. If you were okay,” I heard Jace say over Quinn.

“Yeah, and I told him to shove his concern up his ass. I’m not going to tell him anything about you,” Quinn said, sounding frustrated.

That made me laugh. “Quinn, your moods are so confusing. Yesterday, you were pissed at me, now today you’re pissed at Jaxon.”

“Yes, that was before Cole and I lay with you all night while you cried your eyes out all night long.” She grabbed my hand and squeezed.

“You cried all night, Ems?” Jace looked at me with those puppy-dog eyes and I couldn’t look away. “I’ve never been so mad at him, not even when he tried to steal my girlfriend in sixth grade by pretending to be me.”

I wish they would stop making me laugh. “He did not do that!” I said while Jace nodded his head.