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"I'll walk you up." David offered when we reached my house. I nodded and we walked up the driveway together. About ten feet from the house, David stopped. I braced myself for the speech which I just knew was forthcoming, and he let me have it. "You know," David shook his head. "You really had me fooled, Samantha Madison."
"How, David? How did I fool you?" I asked, ready to lash back at him if necessary. The next words out of David's mouth silenced any comebacks I might have come up with.
"I was stupid enough to think that you were different." He said. "I thought you were the real deal. I thought that you weren't a typical teenage girl. I didn't think you were doing everything to get some guy."
"What?" I asked, playing dumb. I didn't like that David could see right through me.
"That's why you asked me to come tonight. To make Jack Ryder jealous—it had nothing to do with Catherine! You used me tonight. You used me to get another guy. What, did you read Lucy's magazines to figure out how?"
"David—" I was completely embarrassed that it was so obvious.
"Samantha Madison loves Jack Ryder." David chuckled, but not humorously. "A fellow soul mate; an artist; another tortured soul misunderstood by the 'system.'" David added, even using the air quotes.
"Not fair." I gasped quietly.
"No—what wasn't fair was that until tonight, I thought you liked me. I even considered liking you back. No—" he corrected himself. "I didn't just like you back. I loved you."
These words socked into my gut and I actually lost the ability to stand. I sank onto the porch steps, my cheeks flaming. I had just blown everything with David to get a nonexistent shot with my sister's boyfriend.
"David, I'm so sor—" I began to say, but he held up a hand.
"Don't." One word; there were a hundred meanings. Don't call? Don't talk?
"Don't what?" I asked, quietly.
"Just don't." he said, brokenly. Not getting a specific response was even worse than getting the worst one I could imagine.
David began walking back to the car, but I found the strength to stand and followed him. I caught his hand and didn't let go. He didn't even turn around. He just stood there with me hanging onto his hand like a sad little puppy.
"David." I breathed. "I am so very sorry."
"Samantha—" David still refused to use the familiar form of my name.
"David, listen, please." I begged.
"What?" He asked, turning around as I tugged gently on his hand.
"I met Jack a long time ago. He's been Lucy's boyfriend for years. He was always around; we've always been fellow artists in a household of brains and beauty. I thought it meant that I was in love with him, and that I was his true soul mate.
"Then I met you, and my heart did this weird flippy thing that Rebecca called a frisson, which means my heart was attracted by you or something. And I didn't want to believe it because I thought I was in love with Jack. But I know now that it's because it was love… for you."
"You can't even say it all together?"
"Say what all together?"
"That you love me."
"I love you." I said slowly, drawing David into an embrace. "I love you. Isn't that the most wonderful thing?"
"It would be…if I was still in love with you." David said bluntly, expressionless.
"What do you mean?" My elated heart now plummeted to my toes.
Then I saw the hint of a smile creep over his features and I nearly smacked him. "Do you love me, Sam?" he asked.
"I love you, David." I buried my face in his sweater-clad shoulder and exhaled the cold night air.
"I love you, too." He said, and I knew everything was okay. I could hear the smile in his voice.