Chapter Twelve:

I hung up my phone and fell back on my bed with a frustrated sign. Lydia wasn't answering her phone. I wasn't worried about her—we had talked every night this week, and she had been doing great, all things considered. She had even talked about Elle a few times without breaking into tears. I had talked to Meghan a few times as well, who assured me that Lydia really was doing a lot better, and wasn't just pretending for me. I didn't know what Meghan had done to Lydia, but I was definitely grateful for it. But now—now I just wanted to talk to my girlfriend, but she wasn't picking up. I knew she was probably already at the football game, but I had hoped to catch her anyway. I was still a little disappointed that I couldn't see her this weekend; I missed her, and I did still want to check on her and see for myself that she was better.

"Hey, Jordan…" I looked up to see Kyle poke his head into our bedroom. The look on his face told me immediately that he needed a favor.

"What do you need?" I asked with a knowing smile.

He laughed sheepishly. "That obvious, huh?"

"Yeah, now what is it?"

"Well, Rach and I are supposed to go out tonight, but one of her friends is in town and they wanted to hang out, so I suggested a double date, but…I need a fourth."

"Count me out," I said firmly. "I have a girlfriend, remember?"

"Jordan, come on," he pleaded. "You're not even going to see Lydia this weekend, right? Besides, this isn't a real date, and her friend knows that. I think she's dating someone, too, anyway. You'd just be coming so that her friend doesn't feel like a third wheel."

I sighed. "I don't know, Kyle. Lydia's in a really delicate state of mind right now, and I don't want to do anything that would upset her."

"She'd get upset over you going out with a few friends on a night that you don't have plans with her anyway?" he asked doubtfully.

"Well, probably not," I conceded. "But if she thought it was a date…she'd kill me."

"If you're so worried, call her and tell her," he suggested. "But it's not like she'll ever find out anyway, unless you tell her."

"Fine," I gave in. "I'll go, but you'd better promise me that this girl knows about Lyds."

"Thanks, Jordan," my roommate grinned. "I owe you one."

I reached for my phone again and tried Lydia once more. Still no answer. With another sigh, I got off my bed and trudged into my bathroom to take a shower and get ready for my "date". I could always try Lydia again afterwards…

A few hours later, I had finished getting ready for the evening with Kyle and the two girls. We were going to see a movie, then going out for a late dinner. I still hadn't been able to get in touch with Lydia, although I was trying periodically while I watched TV, waiting until it was time to leave. Then, I heard the door to my dorm open and voices in the living room and figured that Rachel and her friend had arrived. Grabbing my cell phone off my bed, I went into the common area to meet my date for the evening.

"There you are," Kyle said when I entered the room. He gestured to the two girls sitting on the couch. "You know Rachel, of course, and this is her friend…"

"Aubrey," I broke in as soon as I laid eyes on the second girl. I knew that long blonde hair and those blue eyes way too well, and I hadn't ever really wanted to see them again. "Kyle, I need to talk to you, privately."

He gave me a confused look, but followed me back to the bedroom, where I shut the door behind us.

"What's going on?" he asked. "You know Rach's friend?"

"Um, yeah," I scoffed. "You could say that. Look, I'm sorry, but I can't go through with this."

"Why not?" Kyle cried. "Don't bail on me like this…"

"You don't understand," I shook my head. "Aubrey is my ex-girlfriend—the last serious one I had before Lydia. She almost cost me my relationship with Lydia and I haven't spoken to her since. Did I mention that she and Lydia hate each other?"

He sighed. "I'm sorry, Jordan. I didn't know. Look, Lydia never has to know, and Rachel told Aubrey that you have a girlfriend…please don't back out on me now."

"You owe me big time," I told him after a moment's delay.

I opened the bedroom door and we returned to the girls in the living room. "You two ready?" Kyle asked enthusiastically. "Let's roll." They stood up and gathered their purses, then made their way to the door.

I offered Aubrey a wary smile as we left the dorm. "How have you been?" I asked.

"Great," she replied. "You look great—it's been forever since I've seen you. What have you been up to?"

I shrugged. "School, Lyds…that's about it."

"You're still with her?" she almost managed to hide the distaste in her voice. "How is that going?"

"Wonderfully," I replied. "She's going to see her dad this weekend, otherwise I'd be with her right now."

She fell silent at that for a while, until we had already gotten in Kyle's car and left the campus. While Kyle and Rachel talked in the front seat, Aubrey played with the ends of her long blonde hair, obviously bored. Finally, she turned to me and made another attempt at conversation.

"So how are you liking college?" she asked. Aubrey was a year older than me, and was already in her sophomore year of college.

"It's all right," I replied. "I like having more freedom, and more free time. But I do miss my friends from high school. "What about you?"

"I love it," she said. "So many people, so many things to do…so many guys to date…"

"Rachel said you have a boyfriend?" I asked. Maybe if I could remind her of whatever poor soul she had ensnared, it would keep her from hitting on me.

"If that's what you want to call him," she grinned. "We've been dating a few weeks. I haven't dated anyone seriously since you."

"So how did you two meet?" Kyle asked from the front seat.

Aubrey immediately launched into the story of how we met, back in my freshman year at band camp. Unwilling to encourage any reminiscing of my former relationship with Aubrey, I looked out the window and turned my attention to the cars passing by. This was going to be a long night…

Four hours later, the four of us were sitting in a booth, finishing our late dinner. Things had been okay when we had been talking about the comedy we'd just seen, with Kyle reciting various quotes from the movie and Rachel laughing like it was the first time she'd heard them, and that they had all come out of Kyle's genius. But now, Rachel and Kyle could barely tear their lips apart to say a single word. Aubrey kept sliding her hand on my leg, but each time I just removed it and gave her a warning glare, all while trying to maintain some semblance of conversation.

"Jordan, can I borrow your cell phone?" she asked. "Mine is dead."

"Yeah," I pulled my phone out of my pocket and handed it to her. She got up and walked out to make her call. As soon as she was gone, I sighed loudly and stared at the table, mentally tracing the patterns of the wood grain.

"You okay?" I looked up to see Kyle giving me a concerned look. Apparently he and Rachel had decided to rejoin me and Aubrey.

"Yeah," I nodded. "It's just really weird to be spending all this time with Aubrey. We didn't exactly end our relationship on very friendly terms."

"How did you break up?" Rachel asked. "She never told me."

"She cheated on me," I replied. "I broke up with her when I found out. Then, there was this huge ordeal when I started dating Lydia, and Aubrey's actions almost made me lose my chance with Lydia. It wasn't pretty…"

"I'm really sorry, Jordan," Kyle apologized. "I didn't know you had a history with Aubrey when I asked you to come tonight."

"It's all right," I noticed Aubrey walking back and slid over to make room for her in the booth. Just as she sat down, I heard my phone start to ring. I reached for it, but Aubrey turned away from me and flipped open my phone to answer it.

The almost undetectable smirk as soon as Aubrey said "hello" confirmed that Lydia had finally called me back. "Aubrey, give me the phone," I demanded.

"This is Aubrey," she said into the phone, completely ignoring me. "Why do I have Jordan's phone? Because we're on a date…"

My heart sank at the same time that I was filled with fury at Aubrey. I lunged for my phone and snatched it out of Aubrey's hand. "Lyds," I said quickly. "Baby, don't get upset. It's not what you think…"

Her voice was icy, but I knew that was only a mask for the hurt underneath. "You have a lot of explaining to do." Click. I stared at my phone blankly for a moment before closing it. She'd hung up on me—and she was upset. Very upset.

This was definitely not good.

A/N: Well, I'm still alive. I apologize a thousand hundred million times for the long delay in updates. The past six months have been very hard for me, and I've had a lot of problems going on in my personal life—not to mention so many computer crashes that I've lost count. As some of you may be aware, the Jordan in my stories was based on a Jordan in my life that I was very close to. Unfortunately, my Jordan Is no longer a part of my life, and I hope it's understandable that writing about the fictional Jordan was very difficult—in fact, near impossible—while I was still hurting over my Jordan. I was finally able to move on with my life a few months ago, but due to numerous computer problems and other obligations, I haven't been able to update until now. I should be updating "A Deeper Love" within the next few weeks, and I'm already about halfway through with Chapter 13 of Distance. However, I have to make some decisions about Distance; some of the plot ideas I originally had are no longer particularly appealing, but I have a few ideas that might work instead.

I know that Chapter 11 was relatively uneventful, and that may be the case for a few more chapters until I figure out where I'm going. In case anyone is wondering, after Chapter 11…Lydia still isn't over Elle's death; she didn't get better that quickly. She's just started on the path that will help her heal—it's not going to be easy, but she's starting to get better. It may seem at times that she's dealing really well, maybe even too well, but…she's not over it yet.

Over the past several months, I've had several people email me asking if I'm still writing, if I'm ever going to update, etc. First, to those whom I promised, "I'll update by (insert week/month)" and then didn't update…I'm sorry. I tried to keep my promises, but it was just too hard to write. Next—thank you to all those people who emailed me. Your encouragement, support, and persistence kept me from giving up on this story completely and got me writing again. I appreciate it very much. To anyone else who didn't email me but continues to read and check for updates, thank you for your dedication and support as well. I am genuinely sorry to have kept everyone waiting for so long.