Sterling closed his phone for what seemed like the hundredth time. Laila refused to talk to him and since she wasn’t due back from New York until that evening, he did the last thing he could think of: sat down and started to compose a letter.
But that sounded too formal.
My dearest Laila,
Who was she? A long lost lover? He wasn’t writing from some war overseas.
All right, so he would think of something later. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t want to hold anything back. He didn’t want to insinuate blame, he didn’t want to try and justify what had happened with over analyzed excuses.
I don’t know how to start this letter. I am so scared that I am going to lose you that nothing seems like the right thing to say. I know I have called too many times, but that smallest shred of hope that you may pick up and I can hear your voice is worth the pain of you not answering. But I promise to stop calling. After I mail this letter, I won’t call you again. I know you need time and I suppose I do too. What I did was wrong and I am so sorry. You have to know that I would do anything to take back that night. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. Writing an apology for kissing another girl gives me physical pain so I can only imagine what it was like for you to actually see it happen. I never meant for it to happen. I never wanted it to happen. All I want is for you and me to be together and happy. I’ll do anything to get us back to how we were.
But, Laila, I am still so angry with you. You did the very thing you promised me you wouldn’t do. I felt like you had deceived me and I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t listen to me. I hope you know that I only wanted to protect you. I would never put my feelings before yours and your happiness means everything to me. But I don’t trust him. I don’t care that he is your friend and I don’t care that you have a lot in common with the guy. The way he looks at you scares me but what terrifies me is the fact that you can’t see it. Or maybe you do and you just don’t care. I’m not sure anymore.
I know that giving you an ultimatum was wrong but there was nothing left for me to do. The thought of living without you is killing me but I know that I can’t be with you if Will is still in your life. I want to make this work. You mean everything to me so please, please talk to me. I need to talk to you. I’m going crazy without you. Please, Laila.
No matter what happens, I want you to know that I love you now and I will love you forever.
He scribbled her name on the envelope and sealed it inside. He threw on a sweatshirt and locked the door behind him. The Sunday afternoon air was cold and he could see his breath, frosty and white. He pulled his hood around his head and quickened his step as he walked across the campus to Laila’s mailbox.
But as he reached the mailroom, he paused. He stared at the hundreds of brass numbers and suddenly the letter in his hand felt as if it weighed 50 pounds. What if she didn’t call? What if she didn’t forgive him? He had poured his heart into that letter, put everything on the table. No, he couldn’t think that way. She would forgive him. He would forgive her and everything would go back to the way it was.
He shoved the letter into her mailbox and turned around quickly so he couldn’t try and dig it out. He was about to push through the doors into the cold, nearly winter air when he heard a confident voice next to him.
He turned to his right and saw a familiar yet unwelcome face. “Hi,” he muttered.
Brittany could see the annoyance in his expression but smiled at him anyway. “How are you?”
“I’ve been better…”
“Brittany,” she reminded him with a flutter of her eyelashes.
“Right. Brittany. I have to go.”
“Where are you going?” She asked, trying not to act hurt that he was so clearly didn’t want to see her.
“Home,” was the only answer he gave as he turned to leave.
“Well, wait up. I’ll walk with you.”
She let him walk a few steps before trying again. “Look, I know the other night was…weird. But it wasn’t completely unpleasant, was it?”
“I puked on your shoes.”
Brittany laughed. “I managed to dodge most of it.”
She could see the pain in Sterling’s face. Whatever had happened between him and his girlfriend couldn’t have been good. She felt sick to her stomach about what she had done. Running into him like this hadn’t been planned but Will had made it incredibly clear that if she messed things up for him and Laila, Brittany would be the one to pay for it. It disgusted her how easily she was able to fall into this act only to please her brother.
“Brittany, I can’t do this,” Sterling moved toward the door and pulled his phone out of his pocket, flipping it open and getting ready to dial.
“Okay,” she stepped in front of him and smiled sweetly. “I won’t bother you anymore.”
“You aren’t bothering me,” Sterling said with unease. “I just have to leave.”
Brittany gave him a crooked grin and reached for his phone. Quickly, she keyed in her number and pressed send, waiting until she felt her phone vibrating in her purse before she ended the call.
“There,” she said proudly, handing Sterling back his phone. “You’ve got my number and I have yours. Whenever you can do this, you give me a call. No strings need to be attached. Just a good time.”
“Look,” Sterling started. He had kissed her, he knew that much. And then he had thrown up all over her, the second act being disgusting enough to negate the first. So why was this girl pursuing him? He had been a drunken mess. Why would she find that desirable? “I don’t remember a lot of what happened Friday night. And I’m sorry if you thought it meant something more than what it did, but I really can’t do this.”
But Brittany only laughed in his face, a pleasant, amused laugh. “Hey, no pressure. I’ll see you around.”
And with that she walked past him and into the mailroom. Sterling watched her, completely confused, as she pulled her key from her purse and turned the lock. Her hair was still as wild as he remembered, the blonde curls twisting in every direction. Her dark brown eyes looked exotic which had surprised him. He had remembered everything about her face as angelic, but looking at her just now, nothing about her seemed innocent. It was as if her eyes had been hiding something behind their confidence, a certain pain or anguish. Shaking his head in confusion, he turned around and walked out the door.
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