College Cutbacks: Sophomore Year Book IV

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Pep Talk

Emery POV

"Just do it. Just do it! Come on Emery," I tried to convince myself. I grabbed a chunk of my hair and chopped it off, barely shoulder length. I can't believe I just did that. I looked at the hair in my hand. It was time for a change. I was going to be a whole new person and I can't do that with the old me lingering around. I looked in the mirror and continued to chop until it barely brushed my shoulders. Now, for the dye. When I was done, I didn't recognize the girl staring at me in the mirror with the ash blonde hair. This was totally out of my comfort zone.

I have been in this hotel for a week now, dreading going to that house. Classes were starting soon and I knew, eventually, I would have to suck it up and go back. I began to pace the floor, trying to imagine what it would be like to look at the man who broke my heart in the eyes. How will I be able to look at Roman, knowing what he did to me and how my body responded to it? I thought over it all summer. I was still angry, but a part of me enjoyed it. Why was I calling out for Roman? Why was I dreaming of having sex with him?

He Who Shall Not Be Named wasn't getting a reaction from me. No. I vowed that I wouldn't even look in his direction if I could help it. I held the sob that tried to escape my throat. I will not let him ruin my future. I know one thing for sure: No more dating. I was done. I don't think I will ever love anyone like I loved Lewis. He ruined me. I wiped away the stray tears from my cheeks. I'm going to make sure he knows what he's missing.

Today was the day. There was no going back. I stopped by the mall and bought a yellow sundress with flowers all over it. Not my style either, but it was different. I stood in the body length mirror. I tugged at the knee-length dress that complimented my curves. I looked down at the flats that engulfed my feet. Nothing like my combat boots. I shook my newly cut and dyed hair out as if it would magically grow back. Well, here goes everything.

I grabbed my newly bought backpack and went to my car, my new, used car. I traded the old one in. No memories of him, right? I settled for 2010 Acura TSX in smoky grey. It was pretty awesome and I was able to pay it off with the money I saved while I was working for Kyle. I jumped into my car and drove like a bat out of hell. I have been doing that lately, turning into an adrenaline junky just to feel something other than pain. My heart pounded in my chest the closer I got to the house. I slowly turned down the street and approached the house. There was only Damion's motorcycle parked on the curve, but there was no telling if someone was parked in the garage. By someone, I mean, Lewis or Roman. I slowed down, but my heart sped up.

I can't do this!

I drove past the house without even looking at it. I don't know what possessed me to drive there, but I ended up at the bookstore that I spent many long nights to avoid going home. I peeked through the glass door to see it empty beside Kyle who sat behind the counter sifting through papers. I opened the door causing the bell above to jingle.

"We're not open yet," he replied without looking up.

"I know." His head jerked up so fast I thought it would snap off and roll of his shoulders. A smile crept across his face.

"Emery?" he squinted to see if I was really here.

I nervously crossed on arm over to hold the other while taking an interest in my shoes. "Yeah, it's me."

I didn't see him round the counter nor did I expect him to engulf me in a bear tight hug. My body stiffened. I had to gasp for air. He held me like I was going to leave if he let me go. "Where have you been? I was so worried about you?"

He pulled me out at arm's length to examine me. "I just needed to think."

He just nodded his understanding. "You changed your hair."

I felt self-conscious about it and started to tug at it. "It's bad, isn't it? I knew I shouldn't have done it. Now I have to-"

"Stop. It looks great." He let go of my arms and led me to a small reading nook he must have recently put in there. It had a small office couch, which we sat, and a coffee table. "So, you know Eli's pissed at you?"

"I know. I just...I..."

"I understand but knowing Eli, she going to be mad for a while. She was really worried about you. She even went out looking for you and missed classes. She'll probably never admit it, but she came here crying. She lost her best friend and she thought it was for good."

"I know I took off without saying goodbye, but it was what I had to do. I just hate she had gotten hurt because of it." We sat in silence for a while.

"So, was it for good?" he looked at me with curious and hopeful eyes.

"No. I'm back. My best friend wouldn't let me give up my future so now I'm back for good."

"If he hadn't convinced you to come back, would you have ever come back on your own?"

"Do you really want to know the answer to that?" I knew the answer would have hurt him and everyone else I cared about, but the truth is, no. I wouldn't have come back. I would have missed them more than they could have ever imagined. More than I could, but the pain of heartbreak is a lot to handle.

"No. I'm just glad you're back." He winked at me.

"How's your shoulder?"

"I got full motion back. It healed pretty well." He rolled his arm. "What you should be asking is how's the bookstore since you've been gone."

"How is-"

"A fucking nightmare," he laughed. "You still have a job here, if you want it."

"I'll let you know," I returned his contagious smile.

"When are you going to the house?"

"I just came from it. Well, drove right past and came here. I don't know if I can do it."

"You can. Eli filled me in on a lot when you left. You're a lot stronger than you think."

I shifted uncomfortably at the thought of him knowing my past. I guess that's why he didn't question my scars when he hugged me or walked behind me. I know he saw. "Yeah. Everyone keeps telling me that."

"You are," he lifted my chin so I was no longer looked at me fidgeting hands in my lap. "You can do this. Show that asshole it didn't phase you. You're stronger than a few bruises."

"You know just what to say. Thanks." I reached over and pulled him in for a hug before standing. "I'll call you and let you know about the job."

"Sure. It's always here for you."

I shot him one last smile before leaving and heading towards my destination: Hell.

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