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Casey and I stood apart in the evergreen clearing. Was he fucking serious? I mean, did he really mean it? He moved his hand to brush my arm but I shoved him away before he could of even touch me—before we could even connect. I felt something grab strongly onto my arm. Heat, heavy heat weighed on me like the turmoil of emotions within me.
"I've gotta go," I said, barely uttering the words.
"Don't run away, Nicole."
I hear at my back. My legs power forward through the fallen leaves away from the man who wanted me to sabotage my own wedding. Air burns the inside of my lungs and my vision blurs and a kaleidoscope of stars trace into my eyes.
Whenever I suffered terrible moments of clarity my eyes did exactly the opposite. They blinded me with these hot spurs, flinders of white shooting right into me. There was this unspeakable thing that now had to be spoken about. Do you know what that means? That means exposing myself—wild and careless—while exposing others.
Nicole doesn't do that. Nicole stays in the straight and narrow, doesn't pass thirty-five even when the only driver on an empty road. I'm safe. Always have been. James was safe. My life will be safe if I can make it through tomorrow. So, we fuck in an airport and a semi-refrigerated pantry and, suddenly, we're lovers?
Everyone always said you and Casey would end up together...
Shut the fuck up thoughts. The door is swung open and James is standing right there in the frame. My hand clasps on my chest, gasping.
"What time is it?" is the only idiotic thing I managed to say.
"Is everything alright?" James asked me.
Alright? Sure, except in a few hours your brother plans on ruining the best day of our—and especially your—life, James. How's that for alright?
"Don't go hiding out there," James yells his words almost floating in my ears.
"What?" I replied.
James looked out to the dark trees. Casey plodded back up the leaf strewn path, his hands buried contemplatively in his pockets. If James only knew what his own brother had planned. His steps echo and creak as he climbs up the stairs and elevates at my side.

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