Chapter Nineteen

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It's ridiculously outrageous how a single event can turn your whole life upside down. How taking one impulsive turn in a certain situation can shove the events down a completely different road that would've otherwise been unreachable.

Four agonizingly-long days had gone by without hearing a single word from Noah, Elliot or Xavier.

Ariel had worked her best to keep my mind off of how horrible things had gone down in our last meeting by putting together a new distracting activity each day, but every time I found my thoughts wandering off to where the troubles lay, I had to remind myself that I earned Noah's cold-shoulder but also that he will forgive me someday, and that I was the one who told Xavier to walk away, so I had no right to mope around now and should just accept the fact that it didn't work out with him. Justifying the outcomes seemed like the only way to keep my sanity intact.

The mixed emotions clouding over my mind were driving me nuts, and I let out a loud breath, my hands coming up to rub the exhaustion out of my eyes, which was the result of my current battle with insomnia.

I was seated on my living-room couch with the TV playing on a high volume, a failed attempt to distract me from my running thoughts. Ariel was in the kitchen putting together the dinner she offered to make; and I was beyond thankful that she chose to stick around for the sake of my sanity.

A minute later she stalked into the room with two bowls in each hand, a pair of wooden chopsticks poking out from each. "I made fried rice!" Just a second after her exclamation the delicious aroma wafted through to my senses and I began to salivate - too excited for a taste of her legendary Shrimp Fried Rice.

"Oh my," I reached out for my bowl and took a second to appreciate the masterpiece. "Thank you so much, Ariel. You know just how to make me feel better," I chuckled and she grinned widely.

"Dig in!" She exclaimed.

After only five minutes spent listening to the soft clicks of our chopsticks digging into the bowls and the faint chatter of the characters playing on TV, we were interrupted by a slight knock on the door. Ariel and I both froze in our actions, not sure we had heard correctly. We stared at each other, our jaws now frozen but our cheeks puffed, unable to chew on the food in our mouths because we were fighting so hard to listen for the sound again. A louder knock came a second later, and my eyes widened as they traveled from the door to Ariel's shocked face.

She quickly began chewing on her food and swallowed before hissing at me, "go get it!"

I shook my head in defiance. "No! Who do you think it is?" No one had knocked on our door in days, and I was too afraid to find out which of the two people whom I'd disappointed immensely in our last meeting had given in first.

"I don't know, idiot! Go get it, now!" Ariel was whisper-yelling at this point and to be completely honest, her defiant no-backing-down glare had me gulping in fear and I reluctantly set my bowl of fried rice down on the table before taking a stand. I rubbed my clammy palms over the black sweatpants I hadn't changed out of in the past three days and inhaled deeply.

This time, an even louder knock sounded on the door and it was much more urgent. I huffed and stalked over to the front door, my hand hesitantly reaching out for the handle and yanking it open.

My heart took a leap right out of my chest when I found myself staring directly into sparkling jade orbs. Noah stood on the other side with his knuckles raised up ready to knock on the door again, only this time he would've hit my nose instead. I took a step backward, trying to see him in better light, and that's when I noticed the odd look settled on his features. He had a slight frown on his face that creased the skin between his thick eyebrows. My heart broke just considering the mere thought that I might be the reason behind the pain swarming behind his eyes. I hated myself to an indescribable amount because of the pain I had unintentionally caused my best friend - someone I consider my own blood.

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