She was going to speak. Really. In all honesty, she had planned
to open her mouth and tell him exactly how funny he was to think of bringing up a past that she was sure he had forgotten,
but wanted him to remember so badly it hurt. She had planned to laugh, to hug him, to explain that she loved him too and she
treasured his friendship more than anything, because it had almost been taken from her and she couldn't bear the thought of
losing it again.
She was going to say a thousand and one things like she always did, make a witty comment like she
always did, or make a joke out of the fact that they would've fit perfectly into one of the Full House re-runs she
used to make him watch.
Then she saw the seriousness, the raw honesty that shone through the blue in his eyes, and
every word she had planned to say rolled back into her throat and gathered there, forming a large lump that she didn't dream
of speaking around.
He's kidding. He's trying to trip me out. He's pulling a Carter and playing with me, just to
see my reaction. In a second, he's going to laugh and punch me and tell me exactly how well my picture would look under "gullible"
in Mr. Webster's finest creation.
The seconds ticked by, one after the other, painfully slowly. She waited, patiently,
fearfully, watching his eyes for any sign of the smile that thousands of teenage girls kissed before falling asleep at night.
Soon, her heart was beating double-time in her chest, thundering loudly above the monotonous ticking of the clock. However,
the silence was louder, screaming into her ear the words that she dreaded accepting.
He's not kidding. Oh...my...God...
her stomach was churning and the walls were closing in and she couldn't breathe without feeling as though Atlas had paused
in holding the world so that he could squeeze her lungs in his two huge hands and her heart was beating faster and the second
hand of the clock was spinning and the floor wouldn't swallow her and the door was calling her name and...
God. Oh my God. Oh my God.
She knew that she managed to stutter out a response from the tears that suddenly caused
his eyes to sparkle in the light. If she concentrated hard enough, she could pretend they were sparkling from the laughter
he was holding in. Yeah fucking right. Not even I'm that good an actress.
The door kept calling, and her footfalls
answered slowly, then quickly. His eyes did their best to hold her hostage in front of the doorway, but she tossed a mop of
hair at them and ran for the doorknob that would allow her an escape from the madness that had suddenly overtaken her reality.
couldn't get out of the room fast enough.
Oh my God Oh my God Oh my God Oh my God
Her thoughts pounded
more quickly as the rhythm of her feet against the posh Persian carpet increased in time. The same three words rang throughout
her subconscious, but she didn't dare think otherwise. If she allowed herself to ponder whatever had just occurred, she'd
stop and she'd cry, and she wasn't about to forego with that kind of display in a hotel hallway. Not when someone could hear
her, and not when Nick would be looking for her. She wasn't even sure if he'd leave the room, but she didn't want to be anywhere
close to the door when he finally decided that he needed out.
wanted to ask what had happened between the two of them that had blown his heart in the wrong direction. She wanted to ask
why he couldn't step on the feelings he had as easily as he had stepped on her during the last leg of the tour. She wanted
to ask if he was sure enough to risk his life on it, his heart and his friendship with her, because, in essence, he was. She
wanted to ask how he could possibly drop that kind of bombshell as casually as he had, how he could tell her something so
meaningful in the middle of a joke. More than anything, she wanted to ask him if he expected her to reciprocate. She wanted
to ask herself if she did in fact reciprocate.
She wanted to ask a million questions, but she didn't want any of the
answers. For once in her life, Alli wasn't prepared for a confrontation, and she didn't want to sit down and talk it out.
didn't much want to think anymore either.
Instead, she kept running.
If she got far enough by morning, maybe
he would change his mind. Or maybe she would change hers. Or maybe she'd be exhausted to the point that it wouldn't matter
enough anymore and she wouldn't care so much about preserving her friendship with Nick. For a moment, she wondered if there
would be anything left of that friendship by morning.
She shook her head slowly and decided that she didn't want to
know the answer to that either. And so she did the only thing she could do without damaging another part of her psyche.