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She hated how it all seemed to be unfolding. Were they still friends? Were they back to being enemies? And then she realized it didn’t matter anymore, since she’d be leaving.
She sat up and noticed Paul’s pillow next to hers. It hadn’t been there when she’d fallen asleep—alone. It made her feel a little better for a second, but the senselessness of reading anything into it hit her again. He’d sent his message loud and clear and the wound seemed to be deepening by the minute.
She wanted her apartment, her bedroom. She needed a shower, a change of clothes, a change of scenery—she needed to get away. And then there were arrangements to be made—packing, a plane ticket to buy, goodbyes to be said—a sad fluttering battered her heart.
“Where’re you going?” Paul called from the office as she walked past the door.
He didn’t sound gruff and that felt better, but it didn’t eliminate her need to escape. She told herself it was illogical, irrational. Running away from the pain of being sent away didn’t make sense, but it didn’t stop her.
“Home. I need to change.”
“Wait just a sec, I’ll come with you.”
“You don’t need to. I don’t want to be a bother.”
He rolled his eyes at her. “I’m coming. Just let me finish this email. I don’t want you walking around alone.”
“Okay,” she answered, but she didn’t stop. Overcome with dread at the thought of being near him, the desire to put as much distance between them as possible prevailed. She just kept walking and as soon as she made it around the corner, out of view from the office window, she ran.
When Rhees walked into the apartment, Regina confronted her.
“Paul called. He is very angry at you.” Regina pulled her phone from her pocket and hit a button. One second later, she said, “She just only walked in . . . Yes . . . looks fine to me . . .” Regina handed the phone to Rhees, but Rhees refused to take it. Regina gave her a look of incredulity. “He would like to talk to you!”
Rhees shook her head again and gave Regina a wide-eyed, defiant look. Regina put the phone to her ear again. “She does not want to talk to you . . . I
assure you, I do not know why! . . . All right, I will tell her . . . yes, I will. You can count on me, Paul . . . I shall see you later.” She hung up and stared at Rhees. “Paul wants
Tracy and I should wait and walk back with you so you do not have to walk alone.” “For crying out loud! I’ve walked back and forth from the shop a million times,
alone. You don’t have to wait for me.”
“I will not want to disobey that man. This is Paul I am talking about.”
“Fine! I may be a while.” Rhees realized how much Regina loved every minute of the situation. She and Paul were on the same side, some kind of secret partnership, making her feel closer to him. It annoyed Rhees and made her want to burst the bubble.
“I hope you’re prepared to face Mr. Meanie-Head when we all show up late.”
Rhees took her time. She wasn’t purposely stalling . . . well, maybe a little. Mostly, she kept thinking of one more thing she just had to do before she could get back to the shop. The list of all she needed to get done before she left the island weighed on her. It overwhelmed her to a breaking point and she finally just lay down on her bed and tried to shut it out.
Regina eventually grew too nervous to wait any longer. She’d battled with her options, questioning which would displease Paul the most. The thought of seeing him sooner won over waiting for Rhees to never get back to the shop. She grabbed Tracy for moral support and left.
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