“I still can’t believe how well we’re doing,” Caleb said, looking thoughtful. “I’ve always heard businesses are lucky to break even their first year and here we are killing it.”

Selecting the menu from a nearby Chinese restaurant, I replied, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard too. But you were totally right when you said Vegas needed something special, something we could provide for them.”

The smile Caleb gave me was pleased. I was happy to see it.

“How about Chinese?” I asked.

“That sounds good.”

We both looked over the menu and I called in our orders. While we waited for the food to arrive, I flipped on the TV and turned it to a boxing match I knew was tonight. My stomach was just starting to rumble when someone knocked at the door. I handed the delivery man a fifty dollar bill and told him to keep the change.

The menus brushed aside, boxes of Chinese food covered the coffee table. I liked ordering a lot so I’d have leftovers on the nights I came home too tired to make something myself or even wait for food to be delivered. I also liked to send Caleb home with leftovers, knowing he’s a lot more likely to remember to eat if he already has the food in his fridge.

At some point, I dozed off in my chair, not waking until silence replaced the buzz of the TV.

“Sorry,” Caleb said, setting the remote back down on the coffee table. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“That’s alright,” I said, scrubbing a hand down my face. When I looked up, I noticed he had his wallet, keys, and phone gathered in his hand. “Why don’t you just sleep here?”

“I already slept here today, Jackson,” he said, faux-exasperation in his voice.

“Yeah yeah,” I said, “but it’s getting late. You know I have the room.”

“I know, but I’ll be fine.” His face grew serious. “I’m feeling a lot better now. Thank you for putting up with me today.”

“You’d do the same for me,” I said simply, knowing it was true. “You have before.”

“In a heartbeat.”

I knew I had to let him go. I snatched a few of the containers of Chinese food and put them in a bag, handing it over to Caleb.

Following him to the door, I said, “I’ll call in the cavalry if you don’t call me when you get home.”

“Sure thing, Dad,” Caleb retorted, rolling his eyes and slugging me playfully on my arm.

After Caleb left, I headed to the bathroom and got ready for bed. Stripping out of my clothes, I saw that Caleb remade my bed after he slept in it, in perfect military fashion. Sighing, I could only hope he’d learn to extend the same care and kindness that he showed me to himself.

One day, I told myself, one day.

Erin

After only three days of wedding festivities, I was ready to run away as far and as fast as I could. Unfortunately, if I wanted to keep my friendships intact, that wasn’t exactly an option.

So far, each night had been filled with group outings, hardly giving me the chance to enjoy my first vacation since I graduated from law school and was hired by a law firm. The activities were really weighing on me. It was hard being surrounded by happy people when I felt like roadkill. Given there was still a week of it, I didn’t know how I’d survive.

Tonight, we were all out to dinner at a nice restaurant, one I’d never been to before, but I found it impossible to enjoy myself. Somehow I’d ended up sandwiched between Greer, who couldn’t stop hugging and kissing and whispering sweet nothings to John on her other side, and one of John’s groomsmen and his wife. Neither couple was purposefully ignoring me and I didn’t blame them for being so wrapped up in each other–after all, when Braxton and I were still together, we did the same thing–but it didn’t prevent me from being miserable.

But I sat there quietly and ate my dinner, wishing the night would end. After dinner, we all headed back to the hotel John and the groomsmen were staying at for a game night in their suite.

Normally, I loved game nights, but I found nothing could improve my mood. A half hour into a game of Sorry! with Sascha, John, and one of John’s friends, I’d reached my limit.

I leaned over to Sascha and whisper, “I have a headache. I think I’m going to take a car back to the hotel and call it a night.”

Worry crossed her face and I suddenly felt guilty for lying to my best friend. “Do you want me to come with you?” she asked.

“Oh, no, I’ll be okay. I’m just going to put on my sweats and go to sleep.”

Still frowning, Sascha said, “Text me if you need me, okay?”

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