"When are you going to tell him?" Emily Morena asked. "You'll be moving to Seattle in a couple weeks. He deserves to know."

Lynn Ortiz looked at her friend worriedly. "I don't know, Em. I want to tell him, I really do. I'm just scared of how he'll react."

Emily looked at Lynn sympathetically as she put her hands in her head in dispair. She went and put her arm comfortingly Lynn.

"I know you are, Lynn. And I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I'll always be here for you."

"Thank you." Tears came to Lynn's eyes.

"Who besides us knows?"

"My brother, Lori, Jon, Ryan, Crystal, Alisha, and Geri."

"Which brother?"

"James. He got quiet at first. I think he was mad, but he said he'd keep quiet until the time comes. I haven't told Miguel or Charles."

Emily shook her head. "Charles is going to go completely crazy when he finds out. I hope Dwayne is prepared to deal with him. Not to mention Ericson. I know he's tight with both of them, but that's not going to matter."

"That's what I've been trying to tell him since we got together," Lynn said. "Ericson has already shown he doesn't want me and Dwayne together. I'm sure Charles would feel the same way if he knew."

"We can worry about that later. When are you going to tell Dwayne?"

"Soon, real soon. Definitely before we leave."

"Okay. Call me and tell me what happened. I better go. I told my mom I'd spend more time at home before the big move. I can't believe we're going to Cornell. I hear it rains a lot in Seattle."

"Yeah, that's what Dwayne says. He says that's what he misses the most since he's moved to Phoenix."

"I forgot he used to live there. Why'd he move back again?"

Lynn gave Emily a look. "Emily, if you're asking me that to remind me of what you think of Dwayne's past, I'm really not in the mood."

"I'm not," Emily said. "Honestly. I think my opinion on the kind of guy he is has changed since you two got together."

"Okay. The court ordered Dwayne to move in with his grandparents after he got arrested for assault two years ago. They said he couldn't go back for a year. Eventually, his parents and his brother Josh moved back to Phoenix, too. Dwayne says he wants to move back, but so far he hasn't made any move to do so. It kind of seems like he making the effort to delay moving back."

"Oh yeah. I forgot he registered for spring semester at the college. When does he start?"

"Next week, on Wednesday. Anyway, from what he tells me, Dwayne has really calmed down since he's been here."

"Sure, if you call getting thrown in jail for three days calming down."

"Emily," Lynn said in a warning voice. "Josh said everybody in the car was drunk worse than Dwayne, except him. But Josh didn't have his license yet, so Dwayne wouldn't let him drive. We weren't even together at that time. It's been just over a month for us."

"Okay, I get it. I'm sorry I brought it up. I shouldn't have said anything. But I did mean it when I said I think he's a better person than I believed him to be at first. When is he coming back from the rez?"

"The day before he starts school. I'll tell him when he gets home. Speaking of which, weren't you just about to leave?"

"Oh yeah. I'll see you later."

Emily gave Lynn a hug, grabbed her stuff, and headed out the door to her car. Lynn watched her leave from the window. She didn't know what she was going to do. She sighed and turned away from the window.


A week later....

Lynn woke up to the continuous ringing of the phone in her room. She looked at the clock on her bedside table: 5:30am. Who would be calling me this early? Lynn thought as she reached for the phone.


"Hey, Sweet Girl," said a voice on the other end.

"Dwayne," Lynn said, surprised. "Why are you calling me so early?"

"I called to tell you I won't be back today," Dwayne told her. "You know how I've been going on fire calls with your uncle and cousin, right? Well, there's been a fire call and the crews are heading out in fifteen minutes. Your cousin is staying since he's in school right now, but your uncle is going."

Lynn felt tears come to her eyes. "When do you think you'll be back?"

"I don't know. Their sending us out to California. They have a few fires out there. I'm told they're pretty big, so it could two to four weeks until I come back."

"You're not going to be here when I leave for Seattle? Dwayne, I really wanted to spend my last couple days here with you. And you start school tomorrow. What about that?"

"Lynn, think of how much money I'll be making with this call. School can wait. Besides, if I'm going to be visiting you in Seattle, I'll be needing a lot of money."

Hopefully, that won't be the only thing you'll be spending that money on, thought Lynn. She was about to speak up when Dwayne interrupted her.

"I have to go, Sweet Girl. Your uncle's here. I miss you and I'll see you whenever I see you next. Have a great time in Seattle. I'll miss you while you're gone. Bye." Then Dwayne hung up.

Lynn put the phone down. The tears she'd been trying to hold back fell down her cheeks. What am I going to do now? she thought as she cried. She never felt so lost before in her eighteen years of living.

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