- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:

In his hotel room that night, while he was getting undressed, Nick noticed he was not nearly as drunk as he ought to be. He sat on the edge of the bed and massaged his neck with his hand.

Mandy sighed as she came out of the bathroom and into his suite, still wearing the clothes she went out in. She sat next to him on the edge of the bed, her body a bit tense. She leaned in and put her face close to his, and they kissed for a minute.

She pulled back and smiled, weakly. “Nick, I’m leaving in the morning.”

He looked at her curiously. “I thought your flight was after dinner?”

“I’m leaving early.” She said as she stood back up.

“Did something come up?”

She smiled at him. “Not for me.” He was lost. “I think you know it’s over between us.”

Taken aback, his mouth fell open, was she really going to make this that easy for him?

“I came here thinking I’d give it a chance. I even honestly wanted to … like, find some way to get you to prove to me you cared.” She began shaking her head, “I’m not upset. I’m relieved. I know the truth now. Or, maybe I knew all along, but… now I realize. We were never anything worth keeping.”

Nick’s mind was racing. Was he supposed to fight her on it? Agree with her? Was she really saying this?

The tone of her voice was softer than he would expect it to be for what she was saying, and he was confused by all of it.

“It’s pretty obvious what’s happening here.” She smiled, her eyes wide, honestly feeling kind of excited by all of it.

Is it?? Why is she smiling? Why is she being so calm?

“I really like you, and we have a lot of fun, but… that’s it. We are both in this for the wrong reasons. You know that.” She put her hands on her hips, looking down at him, still sitting there.

He opened his hands out, “I mean…”

“You have opportunities right now that I don’t want to stand in the way of. I like you enough for that - to let you experience what’s meant for you right now.” She started moving around the room.

“Wait-” He stood up, trying to take an active role in whatever was happening.

“No.” She shook her head. “These past few days have been interesting. And I know my place in this equation - I don’t belong here, or with you, not now, not ever really but especially not any more … We had fun, it was good for a while.” She sighed, “I knew you didn’t feel the same way about me as I felt about you - but I had hoped you would eventually. Now I know, that’s stupid. I was stupid! I don’t want to be that person. It wasn’t obvious to me until I came here this week. I don’t want to waste any more of your time, and I especially don’t want to waste more of my own.”

He had so many questions he couldn’t decide which one to ask first.

“I just wanted to have one more night of selfish, reckless fun.” She admitted.


She nodded, “But I honestly don’t feel great about it right now. I spoke to Andrea, and I’m going to crash in her room tonight.”

“You are?”

“Nick, listen to me. I honestly am just - excited for you. I can see the way you are with her. It’s sort of sweet. And she is just… I don’t know, she’s good for you. I really wanted to hate her, but I can’t.”

“Who?!” He asked, his eyes narrowed at her.

“…Coll.” Mandy stated plainly.

His heart sank into his stomach. “What?” His heart began to race, his body temperature was rising.

“After all this, you really don’t have to play dumb.” He assured him.

He watched as she walked around the room, grabbing various things and shoving them into her bag.

“I don’t know, I’m just relieved.” She sighed, “It’s not me and I am relieved.”

“Mandy, I swear I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Okay, Nick, that’s fine.” She rolled her eyes, “I’ll pretend I believe you. It really doesn’t matter. It’s over and we both know it.”

“Okay, but…”

“You don’t have to protect me.”

“Protect you from what?” He asked, frustration evident in his voice.

“The fact that you’re in love with her and not me.” She shook her head.

He stood very still, his body tensing up. His throat constricted and the room started spinning.

She didn’t know if he was playing or not, but just in case he was that oblivious she didn’t ruin the surprise for him that Coll was in love with him as well.