Into the Deep Page 77

Charley had done the right thing.

Exhaling heavily, Jake stood, pulling his wallet out and shoving a ten-pound note on the table, overtipping the irritating bartender and not even noticing. Instead he walked out of Teviot in a fog.

Next time he saw Charley, he’d just do as she wanted, leave her alone, and give her a polite nod hello.

Jake rubbed a hand through his hair, ignoring the knifelike pain in his chest at the thought, and knowing for certain that next time he saw Charley, he’d probably do everything in his power to persuade her that spending the next year of college in his company wasn’t such a bad idea.

Cursing inwardly, Jake shoved his hands in his jeans and headed toward New Town where he was meeting up with Melissa. Melissa, his girlfriend. A sweet girl, a kind girl, a cute girl, and his friend whom he loved.

It had taken him a while to come to the decision to start dating her seriously, but he’d finally made that decision under the realization that he was never going to fall in love with a girl the way he’d fallen for Charley. If he couldn’t have Charley, he’d have to settle for attraction and affection.

He’d battled with that decision because he thought Mel deserved better, but she’d convinced him she wanted to be with him, no matter what.

They both hadn’t factored in the consequences of Charley’s reappearance in his life. For a while, he’d let himself forget what it was like to be around her.

It was peace. It was war. It was excitement. It was contentment. It was exhilaration. It was soothing. It was heat. It was calm.

It was everything.

Thoughts betraying his girlfriend, Jake gritted his teeth, wishing he had it in him to let go of Charley once and for all. But as he passed her building, he glanced up at the windows and wished away his last wish on wishing for the chance to spend more time with her.

For as it turned out, Jake Caplin was a bit of a masochist.

Or maybe, no matter how much the evidence told him otherwise, Jake just couldn’t give up on the idea that there would always be a Jake and Charley.