saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 24 (X-Men)

author: Alex L

rating/genre: (R) - Romance/Drama

warnings: het, language, adult situtations

summary: Set after the kiss in Homecomings, Bobby finds happiness with Jubilee. In progress. Please read and review!

comments/disclaimers: I forgot the disclaimer for this one---my apologies. All characters belong to Marvel. The story is mine.Feedback is always appreciated.

Chapter Twenty-Four: Walls

The following day found the grounds of the mansion enveloped in a fresh blanket of snow, contrasting against the black, barren branches of the many trees. The snow was undisturbed, left pure and white, as it had fallen from the sky. While outside was the epitome of a serene, winter day, inside told an entirely different story. Inside the walls of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, there was a flurry of activity. The annual holiday party was going to be held in several hours. In spite of the advanced planning, there were still small tasks left to complete.

The Professor, Jean, and Ororo were overseeing most of the details that still needed to be addressed. Jean, being the borderline perfectionist that she was, rearranged the furniture in both of the rec rooms. Ororo and the Professor were working together to remove the thick snow from the roads and paths that led to the mansion. Per the Professor’s instructions, Hank was providing a second-check of the mansion’s security systems. Meanwhile, the students were scrambling themselves. Not heeding the advice of their instructors, most were conducting last-minute preparations of their own, straightening up their respective quarters while packing their belongings to go home to their families.

Out of everyone, Cook seemed to be the most frazzled. Her reputation and that of her cooking were on the line as they always were for every large-scale function such as this. The Englishwoman seemed especially focused, placing a great deal of pressure on herself to produce masterpieces. In addition to the existing kitchen staff, she had recruited several instructors and field team members to provide assistance. Inspecting their work and checking on the status of certain dishes, she began to calm down by the end of the morning. She even managed to consume a cup of tea, a ritual that often eased her mind from the frenzy that resulted from the daily running of the kitchen.

Kitty and Tabitha were standing at the island in the middle of the kitchen, chopping celery and onions for braised lamb shanks. Neither woman was particularly adept at the culinary arts. However, that did not stop them from doing their part to help, which also provided each of them a welcomed distraction from thinking what awaited them post-party. For Kitty, she still had to submit grades for her computer-programming course. This was not unusual for the instructors, many of whom often waited until the end of the month to turn in grades. However, she was facing the prospect of failing one of her students—something she was not looking forward to doing. In her eyes, the student in question had truly put in a concerted effort, but simply did not have the propensity to do well with the material.

Meanwhile, Tabitha was dealing with the strong probability that she would not have any holiday plans outside of the mansion. Spending the holidays with her family, with all of its dysfunction, was completely out of the question. The thought of spending five minutes with her recently paroled, abusive father and her passive-aggressive mother was enough to contemplate a month-long bender. The previous year, she had spent the holidays with the Guthrie clan in Kentucky. However, that option was no longer viable given the fact that she and Sam were no longer dating.

Kitty put down her knife and gathered the diced onions into a small glass bowl. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Kurt sauntering into the kitchen with a large, white box in his arms. “Hey, there,” she greeted with a friendly grin. “What have you got there?”

“Hors d’oeuvres,” he replied, placing the box on the kitchen table and looking cheerful in an olive-green, hooded sweatshirt, black-and-white Rugby shirt, red T-shirt, and faded jeans with hiking boots. “Cook hid them in the basement freezer so Bobby and Hank couldn’t get to them.”

Then he circled around the island and paused in front of Tabitha. He found himself staring at her momentarily. His brows furrowed together in a bewildered expression. “Um, Tabitha?”

“Yeah, Blue?” she answered, putting down her knife. Her blue-green eyes peered into his demon-like features with an unflinching intensity. Blue was the nickname she had given him when she first met him. For her, the name was derived from not his appearance but from the pleasant qualities she associated with the color and with his calming personality.

He nervously bit his lower lip, relieved that it would be impossible to detect the blush that burned his flesh. The way she looked and talked to him aroused a myriad of feelings too complicated to sort out at the present. Instead, he decided to press on, but averted her gaze. “Er, perhaps you might vant to change your shirt before the party starts.”

“Why?” Tabitha stared down at the red T-shirt she was wearing over her camouflage pants and Doc Martens. Printed across the chest was ‘You Say Tomato, I Say Fuck You’. “I think it’s pretty bitchin’,” she told him.

Kurt sighed wearily, racking his mind for something tactful to respond. While he was no longer a priest, there were some tenets of the faith he continued to adhere to. Mild discomfort with swearing was one of them. “Vell, some of the parents might not feel the same way,” he finally said, choosing his words carefully. He did not want to come off as too much like Scott in that regard.

She shrugged her shoulders in a nonchalant fashion. “Oh... No problem.” Without blinking an eye, she yanked the shirt over her head. She proceeded to flip it inside out before pulling it back on. A smug smile tugged at her magenta-painted lips, as she leaned towards Kurt.

Kitty rolled her eyes, slapping her palm against her forehead. What a piece of work... she mused.

As for Kurt, he made what could only describe as a squeaking sound. Words seemed to escape him as to the emotions he was experiencing at that moment; never mind that she had not been wearing a bra or the fact that she made him uncomfortable in the first place. The fact that she had disrobed in and took great relish in his reaction was too much for him to comprehend. There was only one thing left for him to do.


Coughing, Kitty backed away from the cloud of sulfur smoke left in Kurt’s stead. She gave Tabitha an exasperated look when the fumes subsided. “Why do you have to provoke him like that?” she asked, tempted to search for her best friend. However, she stopped herself, realizing that he was probably so mortified he would have rather been alone. She made a mental note to check in on him before the party.

Tabitha cocked her head to the side, chunky blond bangs falling into her blue-green eyes. She looked as if she were considering the question with great thought. Then she said in a breezy voice, “Oh, I guess it’s a habit. Besides, wasn’t he cute when he just teleported right out of here?”

Kitty’s catlike, brown eyes widened with astonishment. She was aware of the other girl’s reputation for straddling the line between bad and crazy. In fact, that was one of the things she found entertaining about being around her. However, the girl’s little strip show was a bit surprising. Up until that moment, Kitty always believed that Tabitha had been all talk when it came to Kurt. Had Kitty been in a more reflective mood, she would have made a series of speculations about the encounter. For now, she could only shake her head at the blonde.

She was about to suggest that they call Cook into the kitchen when Sam Guthrie ambled into the kitchen from the dining area. Relieved to have more grounded company, Kitty waved to him in greeting. The tall, lean Southern gentleman nodded back, but appeared uncharacteristically anxious. When he noticed that Tabitha was in the room, this only served to compound his feelings. For her part, Tabitha mumbled something about having to wash her hands and dashed to the sink on the other side of the room. Though the two had not been dating for some time, there was still an awkward tension that lingered. It was hard not to notice it. While many were not privy to the details surrounding the breakup, it was evident there were hurt feelings on both sides.

“Hi,” he said with his trademark twang. Unlike his sister, the elder Guthrie made no effort to shed his accent. To him, it was part of his identity, part of his home that he carried with him. “Have y’all seen Jubilee?”

Both Kitty and Tabitha shook their heads. Kitty noticed that he was holding an overstuffed Christmas stocking. The fact that he had a present for Jubilee was not what caught her attention, but how nice it appeared to be. The stocking, packed with care, was made of printed, sateen toile with red velvet trim. Her mind immediately recalled a recent conversation she had with Logan. He had expressed some suspicions about Sam’s feelings towards the young girl. Initially, Kitty scoffed at the proposition. She argued that Sam was aware that Jubilee was already in a relationship and being the person he was, would completely respect that. As she eyed the stocking, she soon realized there might be some merit behind Logan’s reservations.

She blinked, returning to the present and Sam’s guileless face. “Um, I think she and Logan are getting ready to, like, leave for Canada today,” she told him, her tone ambivalent. “They should still be around, though. I don’t think they’re supposed to leave for another hour or so.”

Sam raked a hand through his straw-colored hair. He looked preoccupied as he nodded his appreciation. “Ah just wanna catch her before she leaves,” he said. “Ah tried her at Scott and Jean’s, but Scott says she already packed and was on her way t’get Logan. But then Ah ran inta Logan and he says he ain’t seen her yet.”

Kitty wiped her hands on the blue apron she was wearing. She could hear the urgency in Sam’s voice. Her heart-shaped mouth formed a partial smile. It was one of those expressions people often wore when they saw how distraught the other person seemed to be, but had no idea how to respond. She was about to suggest that he check in with Bobby. Given the possible ramifications of such a statement, she refrained herself.

Sam heaved a sigh, rubbing the blond stubble on his face. He could tell she was putting a concerted effort in providing her assistance, as she always did. “Thanks anyway, Kitty,” he told her in a low voice, gratitude conveyed through his pale blue eyes. He began to saunter towards the door that connected the kitchen to the garage.

Kitty leaned against the island, watching him slip out of the room as the wheels inside her head turned furiously.

Jubilee was trudging in the thick snow that covered the grounds of the mansion. While her waterproof, rubber boots helped to warm and protect her feet from the elements, they did not do much for mobility. Combined with the thickness of the snow on the ground, her trek to the garage took longer than she anticipated. In between cursing under her breath, she wished for the ability to either teleport or to fly. The fact that she was getting winded was not a pressing matter in mind. Rather, it was the sense of urgency that flowed through her veins, compelling to move at a faster pace.

Logan had estimated that the drive to his cabin would take about two days. Hence, he surmised that it would be in their best interest to get on the road as soon as possible. Much to Jubilee’s chagrin, this meant having all of her things packed and taken care of, as well as getting up early. After a week of final exams and papers, this was not welcomed news. She wanted to have the opportunity to relax, sleep in. However, she realized there was no way she could argue or attempt to manipulate a determined Logan.

Begrudgingly, Jubilee accepted the terms and uncharacteristically gathered her things together the night before. She even set her alarm so that she could awake at some ungodly hour. Unfortunately, she managed to sleep through the blaring of the buzzer. Scott had to come in and wake her, disheveled and grumpy that he was awakened. She almost knocked him over when she became aware of what time it was. Her usual morning routine was rushed. She was like the Tasmanian Devil from the old Warner Brothers cartoons—a burst of frenzied energy that sped about from room to room. Surprisingly, she managed to slow down enough to hug Scott goodbye, wishing him happy holidays before running out the door.

She exhaled loudly when she reached the entrance to the mansion’s main garage. A gloved hand pulled the remote from the pocket of her dark green hooded, corduroy sherpa coat. Her sapphire eyes were glazed over with mild fatigue as the retractable door swung open. The purring of its motor shattered the tranquility of the winter air that surrounded her. When there was enough room for her to enter, she darted inside. Slinging her travel bag over her shoulder, she sought Logan’s beat-up 4 x 4. Silently, she prayed that he had not been waiting too long for her. In all the years they had known one another, Logan had a strange obsession with punctuality.

To her surprise, there was someone else waiting for her.

“Sam?” she said in greeting, puzzlement dancing across her delicate features. She rewrapped her green-and-navy, striped scarf around her neck.

He smiled, face brightening. “Hi,” he said warmly and stepped away from the truck and towards her. “Can Ah tell ya it’s been tough trackin’ ya down?”

“Really?” An amused and curious smile tugged at the corners of her small mouth. For some reason, she found Sam’s cheery mood infectious. While some people feigned smiles or happy appearances, there was something very genuine and pure about what Sam was radiating.

He nodded as a lock of blond hair fell over one of his brows. “Really,” he told her earnestly. “Ah’ve been searchin’ high and low for ya, Jubilee. Ah was beginnin’ t’lose hope.”

“Losing hope? That’s awfully dramatic for you. I would have expected that kind of talk from your sister.”

“Hard t’find other words what was goin’ through mah head,” he admitted sheepishly, regretting his choice of words.

“OK... Um, did I do something and now you’re out to warn me? I can honestly tell you this time that I’ve been too busy to pull any pranks.” She winked at him playfully, trying to alleviate his frustration.

He laughed at the light tone in her voice and twinkling from those brilliant eyes. “Nah, ya ain’t in any trouble,” he informed her, feeling at ease for the first time that morning. “It’s just that Ah really needed t’see ya before ya left, is all.”

“Well, you have me now right where you want me,” she said, still confused as to why he would be looking for her. Other than passing one another in the hallways of the mansion occasionally, the two of them rarely spoke. It was not that they were on unfriendly terms or anything remotely like that. As a full-time field team member, Sam was often off on missions or involved in training. It was a rare occurrence for him to be at the mansion for long periods of time. Jubilee had her own hectic schedule to contend with as well.

His lashes fluttered at her words. While he was no longer the naďve Southern boy archetype, he was sometimes lost in the nuances of social interactions, particularly with the fairer sex. There were so many possible connotations in her statement. None of them he was prepared to consider right at this second.

Nervously, he cleared his throat. “Paige left early this mornin’ for Switzerland and wanted me ta give ya this,” he explained, handing her a stocking. He could feel his face begin to burn with a bright blush.

To his relief, Jubilee was oblivious to his self-consciousness. She was already poking her fingers through the tiny gifts Paige had stuffed into the stocking. Most of them were specific to private jokes between them, which elicited a series of giggles from her. While she wished her friend were still here to watch her, there was a part of her that was eager sort through the rest of the stocking. In the end, she decided to wait for the long car ride.

Looking up at Sam, she flashed him a smile that lit up her lovely face. “Thanks,” she said softly. She lowered her bag to the ground and opened it to put the stocking inside. “I hope Paige likes my present.”

He watched her rearrange the contents of the bag with interest. “What did ya get her?” he inquired, thankful that his blush was subsiding.

“Men Are From Mars, Women Are Venus: The Board Game,” Jubilee replied, struggling to zip the bag closed, “so she can play with Warren on the long plane ride.”

Sam knelt down beside her. “Nice,” he told her, pale blue eyes twinkling with amusement. He held the sides of the bag tautly so that it would be easier to close the bag. “Ah’m sure ya’ll hear all about it when she gets back.”

“That’s the idea,” she chided gently as she pulled the zipper. When she finally sealed her bag, she pumped her fist with flourish. She jumped to her feet and hi-fived Sam. “Excellent!”

He chuckled again, intrigued as he always was with her energy. “Glad Ah could oblige,” he drawled as he rose to his full height. “So, how long are y’all gonna be in Canada?”

Jubilee decided to leave her bag on the ground, propped against Logan’s truck. “About two weeks. What about you? What are your plans?”

“My momma’s coming up for a visit, so Ah’ll be here... The Professor’s set aside guest rooms for her and the rest of the kids.”

“That sounds nice. I know you don’t get to see them all that often.”

“Yeah, Ah can’t wait. Still, it’s gonna be real strange without ya around.”

“Why’s that?”

Sam rubbed his calloused, coal miner’s hand across his stubble-ridden cheek. His classic Scots-Irish features arranged themselves into an unreadable expression. “Oh, wait,” he said rather quickly, pressed to correct himself. “Ah meant without everyone... Ah’m used to havin’ everyone around, ya know?”

Jubilee nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I guess it’ll be strange not seeing everybody. But at the same time, it might be nice to have that break.”

While she appeared completely serene, there was something amiss. His ears picked up on the slight inflection at the end of the sentence. There was a hint of sadness that crept into her girlish voice. It was unnerving and disconcerting to hear. Concerned, he wanted to ask her as to what was weighing on her mind. But he was reluctant, feeling as if he had no right to know in spite of every fiber of his telling him otherwise.

She was the one to break the silence. “I should go see what’s keeping Wolvie,” she announced, unaware of the internal conflict brewing inside the Southern gentleman. “If I don’t see you again, I hope you have a merry Christmas.”

He was about to return the sentiment verbally when he felt her arms slide around his neck. It was a chaste hug, one that was exchanged between friends and did not conceal a great deal of intense emotions. In fact, it was similar to other embraces they had exchanged over the years when she was still so young. Yet, there was something different. For the life of him, Sam could not figure out why. Perhaps it was how strongly her perfume of bubblegum and cinnamon was under his nose. It could have possibly been how silky her hair was under his fingertips. Maybe it was warmth of her cheek pressed against his jaw.

“You’re shivering,” she remarked softly, breaking into his reverie. Her smooth forehead was wrinkled with a worried frown. She peered over at the garage doors, which were still open. Quickly, she grabbed the remote from her pocket and hit the close button. “I’m so sorry.”

He shook her head, waving his hand dismissively. “No need for ya t’be,” he told her and gestured to his outfit—a blue corduroy shirt over a long-sleeved green T-shirt with orange trim and maroon chinos with boots. “Ah ain’t exactly dressed for outside.”

“That’s the trouble with you Southerners,” an amused voice observed from the back of the garage. “You’re all so used to milder temperatures.”

Sam and Jubilee turned around. Bobby was closing the door that led to the kitchen corridor. The boyishly handsome Long Island native made his way towards them with casual strides. Sam, desperate to hide how flustered he was feeling, stepped back from Jubilee. He watched as the other man draped an arm around her slim shoulders. Jubilee peered up at him, her facial expression indecipherable.

“How’s it going, Sam? I haven’t seen you in ages.” Bobby grinned, looking quite at ease in a black, zip sweater, broadcloth, tattersall shirt and faded jeans. Obviously, the icy air that swirled inside the garage was no problem for him.

Sam nodded, brushing a lock of straw-colored hair from his forehead. He was suddenly filled with guilt as he eyed Bobby. “Ah’ve been away for awhile,” he managed through now-chattering teeth. “But overall, things are pretty good.” He wrapped his lean arms around himself. “Well, Ah should get inside before Ah catch mah death. It was real nice runnin’ inta both of ya. Happy holidays.”

“Bye, Sam,” Bobby and Jubilee replied in unison. Together, they watched the Southern gentleman hurry out of the garage. The door that led inside closed with a loud, sharp bang behind him.

Bobby was dismayed when Jubilee extracted herself from him. “Jubes...” he began, his relaxed façade fading quickly. “I... I tried to see you last night, but the lights were out.”

She stiffened. “I know,” she replied curtly, sensing her insides twist into knots. As much as she did not want to, she felt as if she were reliving the hellish fight they had had. In her mind, it was one of the worst days of her life. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever believe she would be in this situation...not with Bobby, at least. He was the man she was in love with.

He also happened to be the man who roused a great deal of anger and frustration.

A large part of her wanted to forget the whole affair and throw herself into his arms. However, this was restrained by the other part of her that wanted to hold her ground. This was the part that had been deeply hurt by his words, by his sentiments. It was the same part that cried out into all hours of the night, “He doesn’t respect you. He never did. He still thinks of you as kid.”

Bobby sighed. He was trying to contain his own impatience and frustration, which was mixed with trepidation. It was no surprise that he did not sleep well that night. Instead, he spent much of it ruminating over their altercation at the mall. He racked his brain as to what he could have done differently. In retrospect, he supposed his intervention could have been more graceful than it actually was. He had to admit that probably looked like a conspirator when it came to the way he spoke to the boys. The image of himself implicitly telling them that Jubilee was being overly emotional replayed in his mind continuously. Each time, he would wince as if he could feel himself sinking deeper and deeper into his perceived duplicity. In regards to how he conducted things, it was easy for him to see things from her point of view.

At the time, he was only concerned about diffusing the situation. It was apparent to him as to the dangerous potential of it all—Jubilee confronting a group of hostile teenagers with powerful parents. As much as he did not want to think about it, the boys could have done been true to their word. Their faces, twisted with anger, revealed intentions Bobby was all too familiar with as an X-Man. The possibilities of how they could have manifested their hatred were endless in his mind and much too horrifying for him to stomach. This resulting fear for her safety was what compelled him to act then.

It also made it difficult for him to fathom why she continued to be upset.

“I don’t want to leave things between us like...this,” he finally said as he leaned against Logan’s pick-up truck. His boyish face looked despondent when he saw her travel bag, packed. “Were you going to just up and leave? Without saying goodbye to me?”

It was hard for her to look at him, detecting the wounded quality in his words. Her sense of guilt was already tremendous considering the other unresolved issue that was also in the forefront of her mind. She kept her gaze on the cement ground under feet. “I don’t know,” she confessed, tucking a lock of dark hair behind a delicate ear.

“It looks like that’s what you were planning to do,” he remarked dully. He felt a sharp pain in his chest at the thought. In spite of their differences, it was unthinkable that things had come to this. “So, working things out was the last thing on your mind?”

Her head snapped up abruptly. In this situation, he was depicting himself as the offended party? He has a lot of nerve... “You can’t really blame me, can you?” she asked crossly. “I mean you have no idea how upset I was.”

“No, you made that clear when you started getting all irrational on me,” he retorted with a bitter expression marring his handsome face. What was killing him was his arguing with her constituted the most the time they interacted since their arrival back. “Contrary to what you think, my goal in life is not to inflict a constant state of mortification upon you. Call me crazy, but I thought being your boyfriend meant I was supposed to care about your well-being. How foolish of me. The next time you get yourself into trouble like that, I’ll consider thinking twice.”

She glared at him hotly. “Who the hell do you think you are, getting all sanctimonious?” she demanded, her guilt quickly disappearing. It was replaced by indignation, which was spurned from his stance. “You called what you did protecting me? On what planet is that considered protecting me? Tell you what; I don’t need your version of what you think is good for me. I have enough people around here who do that already.”

“I can’t even believe you’re saying that.” He shook his head in disbelief, disheartened. “Listen, you don’t mean that—”

“No,” she cut him off coolly, “ you listen. I meant every word I said.”

He frowned at her. The way he saw things, his intentions were honest and good. He had made that painstakingly clear. Making sure she was out of harm’s way was priority. It was something he was supposed to do always. He had failed her once. His sense of responsibility surrounding the incident with his father did not allow him to forget that. Knowing that he played a part in causing the grief in those old-soul blue eyes was too much for him. It would be a cold day in hell (no pun intended) before it would happen again. He was atoning for all that now. Staring deeply into her face, he could see that same anguish in her expression. The familiar feelings of culpability returned, washing over him. Just as he was about to kick himself once again, he paused. This situation was different. He was doing what he should have done that weekend. She was simply misinterpreting things. In regards to why she was so bound determined to paint him out as the bad guy, the answer totally eluded him.

Jubilee felt his eyes cast their gaze upon her. With an equally pensive look, she studied him. There was a different Bobby Drake in front of her. The usually playful and flirtatious young man was replaced with someone else. He stood there, open and conflicted. His remorse for how he approached things was palpable. There was no denying that. She softened inside with this knowledge in hand.

“You can be such a child sometimes. Would it kill you to think about the bigger picture and how your actions affect other people? You should do that instead of being so self-involved.”

She flinched unconsciously. His voice echoed inside her head, the words sending a stinging blow to her stomach each time she recalled them. She wanted desperately to believe that he did not mean any of those things. He was just perturbed and consumed by the heat of the argument. It was no secret she shared similar feelings of frustration, saying some things she did not entirely mean.

Yet, she was not ready to accept these speculations. There had to be a part of him that truly found merit in his words. Why else would he say them? As someone who was close to her, he had to have known the effect of his statements. They dredged up a multitude of insecurities she continued to carry to this day. She battled against them internally within herself, and externally with various figures at the mansion that refused to allow her to grow up. The sense that she was not on equal footing, that she was something less than a functioning member was a source of great injustice for her. Bobby knew all of that and sympathized with her. Hearing his biting remarks again in her mind, she could not help but doubt his support, his friendship.

Which was why it was so agonizing to be around him now in this way.

She was the first to break the silence, the thickening tension weighing heavily in the air. “I don’t want to do this anymore,” she said in a low voice. She bit her lower lip and shoved her gloved hands into the pockets of her coat. “I don’t want to fight like this.”

He breathed a sigh of relief inside. Perhaps they would be able to settle things before spending the next two and a half weeks apart. The thought of leaving things so up in the air ate away at him. A worse prospect was having Jubilee believe that he was some kind of asshole over the holidays. “I don’t either,” he agreed quietly.

“I hate it.”

“Me, too.”

“Well, that’s something we can agree on.”


“I’m sorry for how I tried to mediate things. Not my smoothest moment, I can assure you.”


“But I’m not going to apologize for stepping in. I had to do it. I wish you could understand that, Jubes.”

“I... It’s not even about that anymore. Well, I mean not completely.”

“Then what? Believe me, Jubes, I would never do anything to hurt you. I was only trying to... I feel like I’ve said what I was attempting to do.”

“You have. I’m not on board with it, though.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s like you don’t have any confidence in me.”

Bobby frowned at her. “Where did you get that?” he demanded. “You know that’s not true at all.”

“So you don’t see me like some little, helpless kid you have to defend all the time?” Jubilee challenged, her voice cracking slightly. “That’s why you did it, didn’t you?”

His jaw nearly dropped. To his credit, he composed himself immediately. Surely, she had to have known it wasn’t that. Did she have that low of an opinion about him to even consider that notion? During their months of dating and years of friendship, she was left with that kind of impression? While he was dejected about the possibility of this, he was also incensed and had no problem with letting her know.

“Is that what you honestly think?” he asked, stunned that she came to such a conclusion in the first place. His gray eyes flashed with indignation. “If you really cared about me, you would understand. You wouldn’t be acting childish.”

Jubilee could feel her face drain of all color. How could he say that? Her sapphire eyes widened as she stared at him blankly. If she were pressed to provide a description of what she was experiencing at that moment, she would have compared it to being mauled over by several large trucks. The impact nearly knocked her to her knees with shock. For a second, she doubted she was hearing him correctly. However, this was soon brushed aside when she saw the hardened look on his face.

Finally, she summoned up the self-possession to speak. Her mind recalled the sentiments from yesterday. They seemed to be fitting to express what she was feeling now.

“You’re a bastard,” she said, annunciating each word slowly and sharply so that there was no mistaking her. Unlike her declaration yesterday, she was not on the verge of the tears. She had moved beyond that. She was somewhere else now.

Bobby inhaled sharply. “Jubes...” Instinctively, he reached for her only to be shoved against the truck roughly. He winced as his back slammed against the metal. For someone of Jubilee’s size and stature, it was surprising how freakishly strong she was.

Staggering back to his feet, he stretched a hand to her retreating back in order to stop her from leaving. Unfortunately, she moved too swiftly, leaving him to grasp at air instead. He watched rather helplessly and to his disgust, mutely, as she raced to the door on the other side of the garage and slipped inside. Just as the door was closing behind her, Bobby could have sworn he saw a concerned Sam Guthrie standing close by.

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