The doctor has refused to release me for an indefinite amount of time, and I’m worried Crawford Marketing will find a reason to let me go, but luckily, I’m covered by short-term disability. Though it’s only been two weeks since the accident, Alyssa has already threatened to have her daddy fire me, but she’s not stupid and knows she’ll face a lawsuit, which is bad PR for the firm. Thankfully, I’m not dealing with Blake and Alyssa’s bullshit for ten hours a day on top of the pain, but the stress of working there still haunts me daily. I’m sure my work is stacking up, waiting for when I’m able to return. I’m positive it’ll be Blake’s way of legally retaliating against me for being out of the office. If it weren’t for that place, I would’ve never gone on that drive, and I’m not sure I can ever forgive or respect Blake and Alyssa for that. My body aches just thinking about it.

However, the biggest reason for being extra sore today is a five-foot-five sassy know-it-all who’s been making every ounce of pain worth it. Although those are moments I’ll never forget, my body is kicking my ass for it.

The rain pounding against my bedroom window makes me want to stay in bed all day, but the growling in my stomach lets me know it’s time to get up and eat something. The gloomy sky makes it extra hard to get up, but knowing I’ll be seeing Viola today gives me strength to get moving.

I make a pot of coffee regardless of how hard it is to lift my arms and sit on the couch while it brews. I’ve had no appetite, and I know I need to eat before I wither away. Once the coffeemaker beeps, I shuffle to the kitchen and pop two pieces of toast into the toaster. The smell of that fucking tofu is still lingering in the house, and I’m a little pissed I ate it. Never again.

As soon as the toast pops up, I smear butter and strawberry jelly on top and throw it on a plate. As I’m walking out of the kitchen, the front door opens and slams closed. Viola comes in, drenched, her hair flat and sticking to her forehead, while the rest is up in a messy ponytail. Her jacket and pants are wet. My eyes widen as soon as she looks at me. She’s sexy as fuck regardless of how she looks, but today she’s in hot mess mode.

“I hate it when it rains! My damn umbrella broke! Gah!” She drops her bag, and it makes a loud thud on the floor.

“Did you feel that?” I joke with her, trying to lighten the mood.

“Feel what?” She stops and looks around.

“I think your bag of books just tripped the Richter scale.” I sit at the table, take two bites of toast, and I’m done. I seriously need to get over this bullshit.

She sits in front of me, exhaustion covering her.

I study her face. “Everything okay?”

“I’m having a small freak-out. There are only five more weeks of class left. Finals are coming up. I have to keep up my GPA. I’m not ahead with my reading, and I’ve been showing up late. Everyone that I’m tutoring thinks I can guarantee them an A when they aren’t putting in the work to make that shit happen. I’m concerned about telling Drew about us, and I’m worried about you and–”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Princess, don’t add me or us to your list of worries. Okay?”

She doesn’t look me in the eyes.

“Viola,” I say sternly, and she finally looks up at me. The stress is written across her face.

“It’s just…” She sighs. “School and graduation. It’s a lot to think about. My life afterward. A job. Moving out of the dorms. It’s a huge change. School has consumed my life for so long that I’m not sure I know who I am without my books and class, so I’m freaking out just a little bit.”

I lean across the table and grab her hand, offering her some comfort. “It’s a normal reaction. When I graduated, I didn’t know what I would do afterward. I didn’t have a plan—just a piece of paper, a shitty job, and average grades. You’re so smart and have nothing to worry about. Opportunities will fall in your lap when you least expect them. Don’t worry about life after school yet. Just be concerned with what’s going on right now. I’m always going to be here for you, okay? Not sure if you realize this or not, but I’m not going anywhere. So, if you need to focus on school and yourself, I understand. We can tell Drew closer to graduation, so then you don’t have that extra stress. Don’t worry about us. Don’t worry about me. I’ve waited over a decade for you, so five weeks is nothing. It will fly by, and when you’re walking across that stage with your perfect grade point average, you’ll laugh at how you feel right now. Trust me, princess.”


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