He needed her. He'd said it a thousand times. He was standing there, after everything his mother - hologram, whatever it was - said to him, and he didn't care. He told her she meant everything to him.

How could I compete with that?

As much as Max had - the house, the parents, the jeep - we all knew it didn't mean anything to him if he didn't have her. It took me a while to understand how she could eclipse everything else that was good in his life. Even Isabel. Not to mention me. Liz knew how important she was to him.

We'd talked about it.

But she said something about destiny, kissed him and looked right at me.

Tell him.

I stopped breathing when she did that. We don't communicate when we're with them. We don't even look at each other.

It's too hard to look at her and not touch her.

My face burned. I could feel the heat growing in my hands, thinking about her skin, her lips, the warmth of her mouth. I couldn't believe she was doing this to him. I couldn't believe she was doing this to me.

I pressed my palms against my body, hard, and looked at the floor. My jaw clenched and I tasted blood. She had to leave. Get. Out.

It was only a second, but it went on forever.


I looked up the second she broke away. He just stood there, saying her name. Poor shocked bastard.

He even went after her. And I had to do the damage control, stop him before he got to her. She'd made the call, I was going to finish it. Make sure there was no going back.

There was something satisfying in pulling him back and telling him he had to let her go. I'd wanted to tell him that for months. Hadn't he noticed the way we act around each other?

No. He'd never think to consider the possibility. Max can't imagine her wanting someone else. He sees Liz in his own reflection, the same purity, the same self-righteous sense of honor and principle. Whatever.

She's got all those qualities. Just not the same way.

I can't tell him. He's my brother. And as the hologram or whatever it was pointed out, he's the leader.

Did she leave Max because of Tess or because of me?


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