Chapter Fifteen.

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Songs for this chapter are:

A Change of Heart- The 1975

Control- Kevin Garrett

Wrong- Zayn ft Kehlani


When I walk out of my room, I'm quiet so as not to wake Tessa. I know she's going to want to discuss last night, but I need coffee before any such thing.

As I tiptoe down the short hallway, I glance at the square picture frames that Tessa spent hours hanging up, making them all perfectly parallel to one another while lining the straight hallway. Inside of each frame is a different portrait of a cat dressed in different types of hats. The one closest to me is a tabby, its Panama style hat gray streaked with black and brown to match the wearer's fur. A white big feather sticks up from the front.

I've never really paid attention to what is inside of the frames, but in the strange mood of this morning, I feel a pull to examine them, and find them really pretty entertaining. I had noticed that they were cat-related, but that was the extent of it. The next cat is another tabby, but instead of grey and white, it's all orange and cream. It's fat, this one, and I chuckle at its bowler hat. A tuxedo cat exhibits his top hat, naturally. These are pretty clever and I want to shake the hand of whoever created them for taking something so simple and making it quirky and giving me the perfect distraction this morning. I glance at the rest of the pictures and stay as quiet as possible as I reach the end of the hall.

I'm a little surprised to find Nora sleeping on the couch. I had thought maybe she'd go home now that she knew Dakota and I weren't over at their place.

But here Nora is, her arm hanging over the edge of the cushion and her fingertips are dragging against the stained concrete floor. Her dark hair is pulled up, high on her head, and her knees are folded up to her side, her lips parted slightly as if in a sigh. Her eyes are closed tightly. I walk by on my toes, my soft socks barely make a sound as I pass through into the kitchen.

After I realized that Dakota left before the sun came up, I went back to sleep for a while. I wasn't actually surprised that she left. I was mostly disappointed that I let any bit of me actually believe I would wake up to her next to me. She was being silly last night, being the old version of herself that loved to be around me, the silly girl who I've loved half of my life. Now, the sun has come up and she's disappeared from my bed, taking the light with her.

The wind must have picked up sometime in the night, and it howls through the open kitchen window, making the yellow curtain flap against the glass. I can hear the rain picking up as I draw closer. And when I look out of my window and down at the sidewalk, I see a garden of umbrellas amid the downpour. Green-and-white-polka-dots is walking faster than tan-and-army-green, and red is the slowest of them all. The tops of them sort of look like flowers from here, and I'm surprised by how full the sidewalks are, even in the rain.

I glance over at Nora and quietly close the window before the noise of the rain and wind wakes her. I was going to make something for breakfast, but that's too noisy, so I'll probably just walk down and grab a bagel from the shop on the corner.

Though . . . if I leave now, I might not be here when she wakes up, and I would like to talk to her about last night. I want to apologize to her for being so quick to leave with Dakota, without giving her a proper explanation. I sense she said she's not the type of woman to be jealous of another, I've heard her ramble about shows like The Bachelor and claim that she would be the ultimate contestant precisely because she isn't jealous. Not that I want her seething with jealousy, but I would hate to think it didn't matter to her at all that Dakota inadvertently crashed our date and I ended up being a jerk and leaving with her.

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