I shook my head as the memory of my dream came back to me. The rain outside on the melting snow cast a grey light over the inside of the feed store, making it too easy to get lost in my own dangerous thoughts.
I brushed my hands over my face and rubbed my eyes, so dry from the hot air of the furnace. All around me the musty, earthy smell of wood and grain tried to lull me back into dozing. I loved that smell, the scent of my childhood and oddly comforting.
Glancing down at my watch, I saw it was near eight in the morning. I’d been sitting for an hour, lost in my morbid thoughts.
What was I doing? Kieran was fine. His family was fine. Alec and I reached them in time and warned them of the impending attack by the Mileans. Everything was fine.
I shivered as a brief vision of Kieran nearly beheaded flashed behind my eyes. I didn’t want to think about that. He survived, healed by one of the oldest Tuatha De Danann members in existence, that was all that mattered. He survived and he was coming back to America as soon as possible and then we would begin our life together.
I forced myself up from the stool and counter, pushing my reluctant body into motion, I went over to the door and flipping the sign to OPEN. I forced myself to move again to switch on the lights, making the store burst into a bright, artificial light, somehow even colder than the gloomy grey of the day outside. I mechanically made the coffee, watching it brew and pouring myself a cup as soon as it was finished.
Taking my cup of coffee back to the counter, I opened the register and began counting out the money for the deposit. I heard the door to the back storeroom open and close with a bang as Alec arrived. I felt myself blush as I remembered his kiss on our plane ride home. Why did I let him do that?
I looked down, pretending to focus on the money I had in my hand, as he stepped up beside me. I kept looking down, thumbing the bills even though I kept losing count. He said nothing. He just stood there looking down at me until he finally stepped away and began sweeping the floor.
Every time he got near me as he moved across the room, I turned slightly away, looking at the money, the register, anything to keep from having to look at him. I was humiliated that I let him kiss me and wished I could somehow just take it back or erase it from both of our memories.
Why did I have to let things go and get so awkward? Everything was fine before that kiss and now it was just...weird.
Suddenly, Alec was standing directly in front of me, casting a shadow over me. Still, I didn’t look up. I kept looking down even though I could feel his eyes boring down on the top of my head.
“Are we going to talk about this?” he asked in that same voice I had heard most of my life growing up together, but it sounded so different now.
“Talk about what?”
I couldn’t help it, I looked up. There he was, Alec, my best friend, asking me questions I didn’t want to answer.
“There is no us,” I said. “There is you and there is me, but there is no us.”
Alec winced before he had the chance to catch himself and then stood a little straighter, “Then what about that kiss?”
“Can’t we just forget about that?” I sighed, feeling sick.
“No,” Alec said quickly, leaning down so that I was forced to look him in the eye. “Can you forget about it? Can you really say that there is nothing there?”
I couldn’t stand the pleading look I saw on his face. I looked down at my hands twisting in my lap.
“There is nothing there,” I said softly.
“You’re a liar.”
“Even if it is a lie,” I said, risking a glance up at him. “Do you think that I could just stop loving Kieran? Do you think that I could just shut it off or something?”
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