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Eighteen - Unbroken Warrior

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Xavier's eyes bore into mine, making my head light and my breathing heavy. I can feel his warmth through the fabric of my dress, making my mouth dry and my knees weak. 

If I faint, I hope he'll keep me from falling.

Because I'm falling for him. So bad. So hard. So fast.

"Haley ..." he begins softly.

I swallow hard, wanting him to quickly continue. I don't want anything to mess up this night right now. Everything seems so good.

And yet life has to fuck everything up.

Nancy runs towards me, grabbing my arm and pulling me away from Xavier without giving me a second to react. Xavier's hands drop to his sides, but I don't get a chance to fix that. Nancy has already dragged me into a corner. 

"What the hell are you doing?" she demands, her face looking like she's just seen a ghost.

"Coming to prom," I say breathlessly, pretending to be completely normal when I actually feel like ripping her hair out for messing up my romantic moment.

"With Xavier Hunt? When did this --"

"Three months ago," I lie. "We've been dating and studying together and --"

"Why didn't you tell me?" Nancy exclaims, electricity sizzling in her hair. 

"Because I didn't want you to react the way you just did," I say truthfully.

Nancy looks like I just slapped her.

"You ..." she looks dumbstruck.

"Excuse me, but I'm already late and my date is waiting," I quickly add. 

Before my friend can stop me, I'm running back to Xavier, who looks strangely out of place and like he wishes he could slip into the ground and vanish. I wind my fingers through his, and he looks at me, surprised.

"Sorry," I mumble, unable to meet his gaze. I feel guilty for making him feel so exposed. Maybe I shouldn't have asked him to come here in this state. People are staring at him and he doesn't look like he's enjoying himself at all.

Now that I think about it, I have never seen Xavier actually appear to be enjoying anything.

"Do you want to dance or ..." I begin uncertainly.

Xavier's grey eyes peer into mine. 

"What do you want to do?" he asks.

"Spend time with you," I answer truthfully. "But I don't want you to feel like you have to stay here because of --"

Without letting me finish, Xavier turns me to face him, putting his hands on my waist again as if we're about to dance. I smile a little, knotting my arms around his neck. He pulls me closer so that we're chest to chest.

"You're ruining your reputation," he says softly, a smile tugging at the corner of his split lip.

I frown. "What do you mean?" 

"I'm the worst guy you could have found to come here." Xavier smiles.

"What are you talking about?" I ask, shocked.

Xavier lowers his gaze, licking his lower lip.

"You're kidding, right?" I demand, staring at his face. "Xavier, you are ... you are the best person I have ever met. You're an inspiration to me, you don't even know that."

His gaze revolves to meet mine, and I see the disbelief in his grey eyes. 

"You have shown me a side of life," I say slowly. "That I would never have imagined. You have ... you have shown me what a real strong person is like. You know what you've taught me? You've taught me what life is. I might have helped you learn calculus and ... classic literature and that shit that doesn't even matter in the real world. But you know what I've learned from you?"

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