Home > Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3)(4)

Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3)(4)
Author: Wendy Higgins


“Hey,” Veronica said.

I sat on the edge of the bed. “Hey.”

Jay raised his eyebrows at Veronica. “You wanna tell her?”

She bit her lip. “So, I got this really cool opportunity. I didn’t tell anyone ’cause I wasn’t sure at first if I’d take it, but I decided to do it. I’m going to Spain to study abroad this semester.”

“Spain!” I couldn’t help but smile. That was so awesome. I could totally picture Veronica there. And then I saw the lack of joy on Jay’s face, and my excitement waned. “Oh . . .”

Silence.

“I guess it’d be hard to keep a long-distance relationship, huh?” I asked.

“There’s the time difference,” Veronica explained. “With Jay working nights, and me probably busy with school stuff. . . .”

I knew it was more than just the time and distance issues. All signs had been pointing to breakup for months now. Neither of them seemed surprised or angry. Just sad.

“You guys are both okay, though?”

Jay picked at his jeans. “It’s a good opportunity, you know? She shouldn’t pass it up.”

I looked at Veronica and a stream of light-gray guilt swam around her before dispersing.

The breakup was mutual, but they both looked so sad. I patted the spot on the bed across from Jay and me, and Veronica came over on shaky legs to sit with us. We sat in a semicircle facing one another. Being closer lightened Jay’s aura.

“I love you guys,” I said quietly.

Veronica kept biting at her lip. “You’re not mad at me about school? I know we were going to room together. . . .”

“No, I’m not mad.” This was terrible timing, but I had to tell them now. “Actually, I kind of have some big news, too.”

They stared at me, waiting.

“I’m not going to Georgia Tech after all. My dad is moving to Washington, D.C., and we want to live closer, so he pulled some strings and got me into Virginia Tech. Patti and I are both moving.”

Their eyes bulged. Jay said, “What?” just as Veronica said, “Wow!”

“I know. It all happened so fast, but I think I need a change. My dad, too.”

“Dude, this is crazy.” Jay’s eyes glassed over for a second. “You’re both leaving me.”

At the same time Veronica and I leaned forward and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around us. Our last group hug.

When we pulled away, there was a strange shift between us—a change stemming from knowing we’d never get the old us back. We could either embrace the inevitable and work to stay friends through the changes, or we could let go, and allow time and miles to slide between us. Jay gripped my hand hard, and I knew he’d never leave me. Not in the ways that counted. Veronica, on the other hand . . . her eyes were already kind of far away. I could never hold it against her. She was excited for her future and ready to fly.

I wiped the corners of my eyes, and Veronica leaned over to poke my shoulder.

“So,” she said. “Are you and Kaidan really together? Like, really really?”

The change of subject lifted some of the awkward tension in the room. I tried to reign in a smile. I’d forgotten I texted Jay and Veronica from L.A. in a drunken state to tell them.

“I know, right?” Jay sat up, suddenly animated. Orange sliced through the darkness of his aura. “How did this happen? I didn’t even know you were going to L.A.”

“It was crazy.” I pulled my feet in and sat cross-legged. They thought my dad lived in California, and as much as I hated telling them half-truths, sometimes that was just what it came down to. “My dad flew me out for a visit, and I went to see Blake, but Kai was there, too.”

They were both gaping at me.

“And?” Veronica asked.

“And at first we were fighting, because we needed to clear the air, and he was jealous because I’d kissed Kopano—”

“What?” they both hollered.

Whoops.

“When did you guys kiss?” Veronica was practically in my lap now, trying to yank all the details from me.

“Over Christmas break.”

In a closet in Australia when we were there to talk Flynn into being an ally. The memory of the whole extraordinary experience was tainted now by Flynn’s death.

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me this!” Veronica crossed her arms, a shot of dark anger shooting out from her aura, but when I eyed her, reminding her she’d withheld the possibility of Spain from me, she uncrossed her arms and guilty gray seeped around her.

“I felt bad,” I admitted. “He was just a friend, and I didn’t mean for it to happen. I kind of messed things up. Plus, I knew Kaidan would be pissed if he found out.”

“Bro drama,” Jay said. But he looked rapt.

I let out a dry laugh. “Yeah. Majorly. But when Kai and I finally made ourselves talk . . . I don’t know . . . I guess we both decided we were tired of being scared.”

“And now you’re together,” Veronica said, her voice sounding distant.

We all got quiet. Now Kai and I were together, but Jay and Veronica were not.

Her cell phone chimed, and she groaned.

“It’s my dad. I have to go. He’s having people from his work over for dinner, and the whole family has to be there.”

Her father. A major reason she’d want to be far away from home.

“Call me later,” I whispered.

“I will. And I want every detail.”

She turned to Jay, both again showing navy auras of sadness tinged with anxious gray. “I’ll see you later?”

“Yeah. Course.”

A slow beat passed before Veronica turned and left.

“You okay?” I whispered to Jay. He looked beat.

“I don’t know. I mean, I knew we probably wouldn’t last forever, but it still sucks.”

I could feel the steady pain of loss pushing out from his aura, and I wanted to cheer him.

“Kaidan gave me a joke for you.”

This lightened Jay’s colors real quick. He watched with interest as I told the joke. At the punch line he blinked, straight-faced. “He should really stick to looking good and leave jokes to the normal guys like me.”

I fell sideways on the bed laughing, and Jay laughed with me.

“Man, I’m so glad there’s something he’s not good at,” Jay said as I pulled myself together.

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