Chapter 17
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I come to my senses when I'm on the street, Sean is standing next to me. Sitting on the curb, I try to collect my thoughts, and I don't have power to get up. World is swirling around.

I saw Aiden and Brent in the park but let Sean take me away.

I felt rooted to the ground. When my eyes and Aiden's met I froze. Sean took me away, and when I realized that it could be my last chance, I tried to come back. But Brent and Aiden were gone.

How stupid am I?! Is there any limit to this stupidity?

Isn't that what I wanted for so long?!

Here Aiden was in flesh, he was so close to me!

Heck. Damn you, Jack. You had enough determination to get into his pants, but you could not come up and talk to him. Bravo.

I wasn't ready. Hell... I can't take this excuse even from myself.

But what came next?

We got to Sean's place, looked around and then Sean and I went to a bar. I was not myself, Sean saw it, I'm sure, but he didn't asked. He knew I wouldn't tell.

At the bar Sean bought me a bottle of beer and I drank it in one gulp. I wanted something to hit me harder... So I ordered a couple of shots... maybe more.

Sean was worried so he asked a waiter to bring something to eat. And then...

For a moment, I thought I was out of my mind. I thought I started hallucinating but I wasn't that drunk... But how could I believe my eyes?

Aiden dressed in a long apron was standing in front of me. Frightened, he was looking at me.

Sean was saying something, but I couldn't hear him. I tried to figure out if Aiden in front of me was real or not. When he nodded and left, I couldn't stop myself. I scrambled to my feet and followed him. Aiden got behind the kitchen door and I opened it, but Aiden was gone. I called for him again and again... and...

I must have been dragged out of the kitchen and onto the sidewalk. Where I'm now, sitting on the cold curb stone.

Sean looks down at me and calls a taxi. He puts me on a seat and goes home with me.

I sit on the couch and stare at the wall, Sean's making coffee. Then he puts a mug in front of me and sits down next to me.

“Are you crazy?” He asks.

“I don’t know,” I say and lower my head.

“Do you know him?”



I nod after a pause.

“Is it because of him you've been this way lately?”

I nod again. Sean pauses as if thinking about something.

“I don't know his number or where he lives. I can ask. Or I can talk to him.”

“Don't,” I say hoarsely. “I need to do it myself.”

“I saw how you did it yourself...” Sean gives me a sidelong glance and muses. “He also mentioned that his brother was a student at Caltech.”

I hardly listen to Sean. I think that tomorrow I will come back to the cafe and try to talk to Aiden. It wasn't a hallucination. So at least I know where to find him now.

I must be falling asleep right in the living room somewhere in the middle of these thoughts. In the morning I'm alone. I don't know when Sean left.

I take a shower. Aiden saw me not in my best shape. But now I have some kind of hope that today we'll talk. Yeah, we'll talk and clear everything up. And then…

I'm so nervous my legs are stiffened. I enter the cafe cautiously, I hope no one remembered me from yesterday...

I come up to a waitress and ask about Aiden, but she says that Aiden did not come to work today. Then I see Sean behind the bar and walk up to him. Strange, but I feel a little guilty. Therefore, I start the conversation with an apology.

“Sorry about yesterday.”

Sean shakes his head and points to a chair. I sit down.

“I've never seen you like that in my life. Who would have thought that you and him...”

I glance at him, Sean purses his lips.

“In general, I asked around, no one knows where he lives. I didn't get his number either. Today he hasn't showed up, he called in sick. What have you done to him that he is so afraid of you?”

I sigh.

“I did him wrong.”

“Well, that I get,” Sean leans on the counter and stares at me intently. “Go and get some sleep, it's scary to look at you. If he shows up, or I find out his number, I'll let you know. I promise.”

I look at Sean with gratitude, although I feel the heavy weight of guilt pressing on my chest. I can't wait…

I remember Sean's words from yesterday – Aiden said his brother was at Caltech. I'm not sure if Brent will let me talk to his brother, but it's worth a try anyway.

I’m going to the university. It takes me twenty minutes to find Brent Royce on the student rosters and find out his schedule. He has no classes today, but I might find him tomorrow. Or maybe Aiden will show up tomorrow.

But no... Sean calls me in the morning and says that Aiden is still sick. So I go to the university.

I think that if Aiden told Brent he had seen me drunk in the cafe, then Brent would not let me near his brother. But I have no other options. Just to wait when Aiden comes to the cafe.

But I've lost too much time. And I can't wait longer. I must at least do something.

Maybe I'm too late.

But better late than never, right?

The lecture ends and I stand at the door of the audience. Here's Brent. I pretend to accidentally notice him, passing by.

“Brent! What a surprise!”

He stops and nods. I try to read from his face if Aiden told him anything.

“How are you? You didn't say you were at Caltech.”

“You too.”

“I see you moved to California. Settled down?”

“Yes, everything is fine.”

I’m not good at small talk, but I don’t know how to get to the main point.

“And how is your brother?”

“He is OK. Fully recovered.”

“Maybe... we'll meet sometime?”

“Certainly, sometime,” Brent says.

No, he's not going to help me. So Aiden told him enough.

What should I do? Try to persuade him? Pour my soul out?

“Well… I was glad to see you,” I say.

“Me too,” and he leaves. I stand still for a while, and then automatically follow him. I don't care what he thinks of me. I need to see Aiden, to talk to him... to apologize for what I've done.

Brent leaves the university, walks down the street, turns into an alley with rows of houses. I still follow. He turns to one of the houses. My heart beats faster when I think Aiden is very close. But I have to prevent myself from doing anything stupid. I don't want him to run away from me again. So I catch up with Brent and call out to him.

He stops and looks at me. He doesn't look surprised. It's difficult for me to start talking, but it is even more difficult to be silent.

“I want… I need to talk to him. Can you give him this?” I write my phone number on a scrap of paper and hand it to Brent. “Please.”

“Okay,” he says, and takes the note.

I thank him and sigh with no relief. And I'm leaving.

I'm leaving to keep my hand on the phone for the next week. Several times I stopped myself from going to the cafe, especially since Sean told me that Aiden had returned to work. But I don't want to put pressure on him. He has my number. He must have a choice. If he doesn't want to see me, doesn't want to talk to me, then my visit can only make everything worse.