Hunter drinks his water then looks at me, a serious expression over his face. “I don’t know why you’re so hung up on a high school relationship when Veronica is so ready and willing to be with you. You never even gave it a chance.”

I know he’s just trying to help, considering how I took the breakup and what he had to witness, but I stop him before he can say another word. “Veronica and I are nothing. I told her exactly how I felt, and she freaked out and went insane. I can’t be with someone I’m not attracted to. I apologized if she felt I had led her on by agreeing to go to the wedding with her, but I made it very clear I didn’t feel the same way for her as she clearly does for me. The heart knows what it wants, and it’s not her. You out of anyone should understand that,” I say.

Hunter narrows his eyes at me, knowing exactly what I’m talking about even if he refuses to acknowledge I’m right. “I just don’t get it. Savannah destroyed you, and I don’t know if I can really forgive her for doing that to you. You always were my hero and to see you so broken because of her was painful as fuck to watch. I hated her for you and part of me had to go through some of those emotions too while I helped you through it.”

I’ve never heard him admit that before, and it somewhat takes me by surprise. Hunter being so much younger than me, I never realized it affected him too. “I know, but the thing is, there’s way more to the story than what you know. I’ve never told a soul, it’s a secret I’ve kept for a decade because I promised the person who told me. Similar to you holding onto your secret right now.”

He shifts in his seat and knows I’m referring to the feelings he has for his best friend’s girlfriend, Lennon, who now happens to be his new roommate. Hunter’s buried them since she became off-limits, which I know is difficult as hell for him.

“It’s different, I’m sure,” Hunter suggests.

I shake my head. “Not really. Secrets are secrets.”

Hunter releases a breath and sits back in the stool. “You’re a smart guy, Hayden. One of the smartest people I know, and if you feel like you need to talk to her about whatever you’re harboring, then why don’t you? You know where she’s staying. Go to the hotel and wait there until she returns or contact that guy she’s always with. What’s his name again?”

I chuckle. “Donny. I guess I could, considering…” I pause and think about it. “We’re friends on Facebook, and I’m sure he already knows everything that’s going on with Sav and me.”

The bartender walks up, and Hunter flashes her his infamous flirty smile. When they’re done giving each other googly eyes, we order our food.

“Really?” I eye him when I catch him staring at the bartender’s ass the moment she walks away.

“What?” He shrugs. “I’m single. Probably for life.”

“Ever hear the phrase don’t shit where you eat? You don’t mess around with chicks you don’t plan to call back at places you want to return to.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that,” he cackles, rolling his eyes. “Why do you think I switched gyms?”

His admission makes me laugh.

“Anyway, I think you should message Donny then. Time’s against you, bro. You talk to her now, or your ass will be chasing her to New York. Apparently whatever kind of closure you need, it’s important. It’s got you wound up so damn tight, I’m waiting for you to self-destruct,” he says, laughing.

“You’re right.” I grab my phone and message Donny and ask him if Savannah is still in town. He sends back a quick reply telling me she is and that she’s still staying in her hotel room. Because he’s a stand-up guy, he lets me know she went to visit her parents for a few hours. I contemplate driving there but decide against it. I thank him, then open the last text I sent Savannah and send her another one.

Hayden: We need to talk.

I don’t expect her to reply, but little does she know that this conversation is happening whether she wants it to or not. I can’t continue living like this, and until we discuss the past, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully move on.

Hunter and I get our food, and once we’re finished eating, I pay the tab since I owe him.

“Thanks for lunch. That shit was delicious,” he tells me as we walk to my truck, and I drive him over to the gym where he parked. As I slow to a stop, he turns and looks at me.

“Good luck.”

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