Around three this morning he'd realized he'd f**ked up this situation even more by not going to her. He spent the next two hours going over every single moment from the night before, trying to figure out exactly when he'd f**ked up and made a list. After he made sure he hadn't missed anything he folded the three page list, front and back, and stuffed it in his back pocket and came outside waiting for Haley so he could start apologizing.


He contemplated waking her up, but then he'd have one more thing to apologize for so he settled for waiting on his front step. A half hour ago Mitch decided to join him after he spotted him waiting outside on his way home. It hadn't taken long for the other man to figure out that he'd f**ked up.

"Are you going to sit out here all day?" Mitch asked, stepping out the front door. "I'm starving. Let's go get something for breakfast. By the time we get back Haley will be up and you can go grovel."

Jason stubbornly shook his head. "I'm not leaving until I talk to her. Besides, I'm not hungry."

"Holy Christ," Mitch mumbled, crossing himself.

He ignored Mitch and focused on Haley's front door. A few minutes later it opened and Haley stumbled out. Jason was on his feet within seconds and heading for her. He really wasn't sure how much longer he would have been able to wait before breaking into her house and begging for her forgiveness.

"Haley, I....," he trailed off when he spotted the large duffle bag she was half carrying, half dragging. "What's going on?"

For the first time in months Haley's face didn't light up when she saw him. She pushed her glasses back up her nose and went back to pulling the bag.

"I'm going away," she said, sounding sad.

"For how long?" Jason asked, feeling as though his entire world was crashing down around him.

"A week," Haley said, walking past him as she dragged that damn bag.

A week? No, they couldn't be apart for a week. That was too much time. A week thinking over how badly he'd f**ked up and how much better off without him she would be was not what they needed. They needed to work this out here and now so he could get on with the groveling.

"I don't think that's such a great idea, Haley," he said, automatically lifting the bag and placing it in her opened trunk for her when she began struggling to lift it. "Why don't we go inside and talk this over?"

She shook her head stubbornly. "I can't. If I don't go I'll be out of a thousand dollars."

He waved that aside like it was nothing. "I'll reimburse you. Just stay here and let me explain about last night."

"There's nothing to explain, Jason," Haley said, shaking her head sadly. "I think it's for the best if we end things now."

Her words felt like a punch to the gut. "You're just mad, Haley. Maybe...maybe you're right. Maybe you just need a week to think things over," he said quickly, desperate to do or say anything that would make her take it back. "Take a week, think it over. We both knew I was going to f**k up at some point, my little grasshopper. After you think about it you'll realize that's all it was. Then you'll come back here and I'll grovel and we'll move past this."

She couldn't even look at him as she said, "I'm really sorry, Jason."

Jason couldn't move, could hardly breathe as Haley stood up on her toes and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "I'm sorry," she said, sounding close to tears. "We'll always be friends," she said, delivering the killing blow.

Chapter 20

Haley just barely stopped herself from looking for Jason when she stepped back outside and saw that he'd left. It was for the best she told herself as she threw her small backpack into the trunk. She closed it and walked slowly to the driver's side, hoping to catch one last glimpse of him.

Even though she'd always known they had no future she couldn't stop herself from feeling disappointed. He'd given her up so easily. Maybe it was a good thing that they were over then, she told herself. If he gave up so easily then he really didn't care about her and it was for the best that she found out now.

At least that's why she tried to tell herself over the next three hours as she drove. Every five minutes she was either checking to make sure her phone still worked or stopping herself from calling him. She just wanted to hear his voice.

She knew it was over between them, but that didn't mean anything to her heart. All she wanted to do was pull the car over and curl up into a ball and cry, but she wouldn't allow herself that release, not yet. When she arrived at the cottage, then she'd allow herself to break down in privacy and use the week to mend her heart.

After this week was over she really didn't know what she was going to do. She'd told him they would always be friends, but she really didn't think she'd be able to see him day in and day out and survive after this. Worse, what would she do when a woman woke her up screaming Jason's name after he tossed her aside? Haley wouldn't be able to survive knowing Jason had been with another woman.

During the next week when she wasn't crying, or getting drunk into oblivion, she'd figure out what to do about work and her house. If worse came to worse she could rent out her house and find an apartment even if only temporary. Work would be another issue. Right now she worked at one of the most prestigious private schools in the country, but she knew if she left she'd most likely end up working at a public school for a lot less money.

Her stomach's rumbling thankfully broke her out of her rather depressing thoughts. She took the next exit off the highway. Ten minutes later she was back on the highway and frowning down at her purchase, an extra large orange juice, three coffee rolls, two muffins and three apple pastries.

"Great, he's got me trained," she muttered with an eye roll. Either she'd have to break herself out of the habit of ordering for a small army or she'd become fat, she thought with a sigh. She picked up one of the coffee rolls and took a small bite before putting it down and taking a sip of juice. When a particularly annoying song came on the radio she spent a minute looking for a decent song. When she finally found one, she picked up her coffee roll and frowned at the half eaten baked item.

Apparently she'd eaten more than she thought. Great, she was eating out of depression and would no doubt be as big as a house by the time school started in a few weeks. She took a bite out of her coffee roll and placed it back on the passenger seat and picked up her now half empty juice.

"What the hell?" she murmured, taking her eyes off the road to look down at the insane amount of food she'd bought. Hadn't she bought two muffins and three apple pastries? There was only one of each now. She was starting to wonder if she was going crazy when a large tan hand suddenly appeared, scaring the holy hell out of her.

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