I reach in the backseat for the red envelope. The front has a couple kissing in color while the rest of the image is in black and white. Inside, the card is blank, but in all uppercase letters, he wrote: CONGRATULATIONS, PRINCESS! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU! GRYFF & I LOVE YOU!

Below that is a note in his signature scribble handwriting. I still plan on driving you to the airport so I can see you one last time before you leave. I miss you. I miss us.

For a moment I close my eyes and can smell the hint of his cologne on the card.

I peel my eyes open and study it for a moment longer before shoving it back into the envelope and setting it in my middle console.

Thinking about his written message, I feel torn. We’d planned on him taking me so that we could spend those last moments together, but now I’m second-guessing that plan. I’m afraid I won’t want to leave if I see him again. Maybe a clean break is what we both need.

As soon as I pull up to my dorm, I get a text from Courtney.

C: Drinks tonight?

V: How about I watch you drink? I’m not in the mood. I have to start packing.

C: DEAL! Be there in an hour, after I ditch my family.

I walk inside with the roses and card. I place the flowers in a vase and lean against the counter and look around at everything I’m leaving. After a few more minutes, I go to my room to make sure I didn’t forget to pack anything. The few boxes stacked against the wall will be shipped to my new apartment on Monday. Other than a few more books and clothes, everything is ready to go. But it’s easy moving when most of the furniture is screwed to the wall and floor.

It’s funny how time seems to crawl by, then in a blink of an eye, it’s like years have passed. College has been my life for the last four years, and it’s bittersweet to be leaving, to be opening a new chapter in my life.

A pound on the door lets me know Courtney has arrived, and I can’t help but shake my head as I rush to the door. When I open it, she’s still wearing the tight little black dress she had on under her graduation gown and high heels that make her tower over me.

“Well, come on, I need a stiff drink after dealing with the Beverly Hillbillies. Oh, you didn’t know they came from Texas to California?”

I laugh. “I’m sure they’re not that bad.”

She playfully rolls her eyes and steps inside, noticing the flowers on the counter. “Oh, my God. You got roses? Seriously? From who?”

My eyes meet hers, and I don’t even have to say. She immediately knows.

“Maybe you should talk to him?”

“No team Traviola talk tonight.” My words come out harsher than I intend them to. Court gives me a small smile and nods her head. Ever since that night, I haven’t been able to talk about him, but the whole out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing is total bullshit. Often, when I’m alone, I find myself wondering what he’s doing and I’m so tempted to text him, but I don’t. My heart is so ready to betray my mind, but I can’t. I need to focus on my future while learning to be alone.

“Come on.” Courtney loops her arms with mine and drags me to the Jeep. I’m going to miss this so damn much, and it makes me sad that she won’t be able to capture me whenever she wants. As she starts it, she bends down and yanks off her heels, throwing them in the backseat. “Those fucking heels…”

The top is down, and the wind is blowing through my hair. Courtney is singing at the top of her lungs, driving way too fast, and all I can do is smile.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

“Cheesecake Factory?”

“You must want to make it to second base tonight.” I joke with her because this is where all the college guys bring their girlfriends for date night when they want brownie points to redeem later at night.

She pulls into the parking lot and reaches in the back for her heels. “If we were in Texas, I’d just go barefoot.”

“You’re ridiculous.” I laugh.

“It happens all the time. You have no idea.”

We walk inside, and she leads me straight to the bar. Before she even sits down, she’s ordering a Martini. I order water and a piece of Godiva chocolate cheesecake. Chocolate fixes all wounds.

“What are you going to do now?” I ask her when the waiter slides the slice of heaven in front of me. She grabs my fork and takes a bite. “Yup, died and went to heaven.” She smiles, but then frowns. “Honestly?”

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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