August 2010 Volley Challenges:

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Confused

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." -- Winston Churchill.

Consider Me Gonesung by: Reba McIntire

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Heat and Onions Don't Mix by: Kaideigh
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Consider Me Gone by: Ellie & Nina
Choices of the Heart by: Paola
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Heat and Onions Don't Mix
by: Kaideigh

Confused, yes defintely that's what he was, as he walked out of the barn still stratching his head. His eyes must be playing tricks with on him. Yes, that's it! He went looking for Kid and Lou to tell them they we're needed to run a special delivery to Blue Creek and they needed to leave right away, but he never got the chance to. He walked in the dark barn, and hearing something coming from the back, he went to investigate. Thinking maybe one of his riders were trying to get a break from the heat and escaped to the dark, cool interior of the barn, but when he came to the place where the noise was coming from had him backing up and out the door . He thinks to himself they wouldn't notice me with the way they were so tangled up in their own world. He always thought that his riders had pecularities, but what Kid and Lou were doing was beyond anything his mind could grasp. Maybe it's the heat or maybe the onion he had for lunch, but anything his mind came up with made him more confused than before. He just stood there trying to unconfuse his mind but the more he thought about what he witnessed had him even more confused. When all his riders were back he would a little chat with them. Yes, that's what he would do, but it would have to wait until is mind isn't so confused and that may take awhile.

Consider Me Gone
by: Ellie & Nina

Authors' Note: Sequel to "Leave it To Chance", and prequel to "Let Me Help You".

Prillie watched, horror-struck, as the terrible scene unfolded before her. Her friends, boys she'd known all her life, bearing down on the man she loved. That man standing his ground until they were nearly upon them, and as Chance Sterling raised his rifle to strike, Buck fired with blinding accuracy and speed. Chance's horse flashed past, nearly touching Buck as he kept still in the roadway. The rider remained upright in the saddle for a moment that stretched strangely in Prillie's mind to an eternity and snapped back into normal time when the body toppled head first onto the ground, the horse galloping onward and past the terrorized girl.

Some of the boys were hauling on the reins, confused, with the horses behind them rearing up in fright at the gunfire. Their owners wrenched their horses' heads around and took off at a gallop back from whence they came, but a few more, incensed and narrowed-eyed, were undeterred, and surrounded Buck. He remained calm and collected, at least on the surface, and Prillie ran forward, pulling at the leg of one of them, a boy she'd known all her life and played with as a child . . . but Chance's cousin too. She dared to plead nonetheless, hoping that their friendship might count for something and he could be reasoned with.

"Elijah . . . please, stop this now before anybody else gets hurt," she pleaded, and to her utter surprise, her childhood friend turned with disgust and hatred on her, kicking her full in the chest and knocking her to the ground. Buck rushed to her side, pulling her up and holding her as she gasped for breath.

"You did this ... you dirty squaw. You Injun-lover," Elijah spat, and Buck raised his gun and fired dead center at Elijah's chest. The boy slumped off the horse and the others circled nervously, unable to get a clear shot around Prillie, who clung to Buck's neck desperately as he tried to disengage her.

"Baby, you have to go, run home," he pleaded, but she mutely shook her head, terrified but resolute. She would never leave him to face them alone. Buck saw one of the men cock his pistol and he fired a third time, felling the man instantly. The last member of the mob, Chance's best friend Pete, watched nervously, even now seemingly unwilling to take a shot with a white woman in the line of fire . . . and turned tail abruptly, riding rode off toward town. But just as Buck, relieved, let Prillie go, the man turned suddenly in the saddle and fired a parting shot, striking Buck on the shoulder.

Prillie screamed, a long, inhuman sound that seemed to her to come from somewhere else besides her own throat, when Buck fell to his knees. Time slowed down again for her, to a blurry standstill, and Pete slowly came back. Prillie was on her knees too, holding an ashen-faced Buck in her arms, and Pete said sternly, "Back away from him, Miss Prillie. I don't want to have to do nothin' to hurt you, but if'n you leave me no choice, I'll - - "

The sentence was punctuated by a blast of gunfire and Pete was blown off his horse and over backwards into the dust. Prillie dropped the gun as if the heat of it scorched her hand, and turned her face against Buck's hair.

Holding Buck close to her chest, Prillie looked at the dead bodies scattered around her amid the settling dust and smoke from gunfire. All this had happened because of the love she had Buck had for each other. It wasn't right that so much life had been wasted because of that, or more to the point just because people didn't like that Buck's skin was darker than hers and Chance Sterling had never learned to take no for an answer. But it couldn't be undone now, none of it, not the loss of life and not the love that had formed an unbreakable bond between her and the man in her arms. Feeling his hand clenching to her arm, she looked down at him.

"Buck, are you alright? Can you hear me?" she asked loudly as she held his face in her hands and tried to get him to look her in the eye. Right now, more than anything she needed eye contact with him, letting her know that he would be alright. She couldn't lose him, not after all they'd been through.

"Yeah, I can hear you just fine, you don't have to yell." With a shaky hand he reached up and touched her face. "I'm sorry, it just hurts."

"It'll be alright," Prillie said and placed her own hand over his. "Help me get you back to the house, my pa will help us."

Buck wanted to protest; say that more problems would be waiting for them in town, but he felt so fatigued he couldn't find the strength to say the words.

Prillie caught the bridle of Chance's horse and helped Buck up, then got on the horse Buck had been riding before. "Let's go," she urged, and they went back down the lane toward home. But her father met her halfway there, rifle in hand, his face frantic with worry. "Prillie? You all right?" he shouted, and looked aghast at the sight of his daughter and her beau, both soaked in blood. "What the hell happened?"

"Chance and his friends, they tried to kill Buck. We had to defend ourselves," Prillie explained, reaching out to steady Buck on his horse. "Chance is dead, and so are Elijah and Pete ... but there's no time for this. We'll need a wagon, some of the boys were running into town, Marshal Sterling will be out here before we know it and there's no way he'll see our side of it. I've got to get Buck to the doctor in another town- - "

"A doctor?" Pa spat, astonished. "Get down off that horse and get home, girl. NOW."

"But what about Buck?"

Pa stood looking menacingly at the other man. "He's trouble, Prillie. Your friends are dead because of him, and you've lost all common sense, I can see that."

"Pa!"

"You said it yourself, Prillie, Sterling will never wait for a trial, he'll hang before that. It's a matter of whether your reputation is ruined in the bargain. Prillie, I said get in the house. If you ever want a life in this town, if you want a home under my roof, you'll forget him."

Prillie didn't hesitate, but grabbed the reins of Buck's horse and put her heels to her own. "Then I'm sorry Dad - - but consider me gone," she blurted, whirling and racing away in a cloud of dust away from the only life she'd known into the void of the unknowable future.

Choices of the Heart
by: Paola

Author's Note: This story is the sequel of 'A Different Choice', that has been a sort of experiment for me, since I tried to write something enjoyable for the Jimmy and Lou fans. ‘Choices of the heart’ starts where the last story ended: Lou and Jimmy are together and Kid had left Rock Creek to return to Sweetwater. But I put a warning since I don’t want anyone to be disappointed , although this isn’t absolutely an anti-Jimmy story, JimmyLou die-hard fans won’t probably appreciate very much the end of this fic.

They were kissing, languidly leaning against one of the stall's walls. The girl's arms encircled the young man's neck, her fingers entwined in his long dark hair, his arms were around her slim waist. After a few moments his hands slipped under the layers of clothes to touch the skin of her back, but the girl tensed.

"No Jimmy," Lou said disentangling herself from his embrace. She smiled apologetically. "They're waiting for us. That fence doesn't repair by itself."

She grabbed his hand and guided him outside the barn, where their fellow riders were already dragging the wooden planks they needed towards the corral. None made a comment over the fact it took the couple more time than necessary to retrieve the toolbox from the shed.

In the past a similar occurrence would have been mercilessly remarked by smirks or knowing glances, irritating her and making Kid red for the embarrassment. But Jimmy wasn't Kid and their friends' attitude toward their relationship wasn't the same. They never made any comment or raised any question; they acted as if nothing was changed, even if they knew that Kid went away because of her and Jimmy.

Lou didn't know how to take their friends' behaviour, sure Jimmy wasn't a target as easy as Kid, and they were more discreet; but their lack of teasing made her feel strangely uncomfortable, it was as if they didn't completely accepted her and Jimmy being a couple.

Lou shook her head, that was a silly thought; sure Kid's departure had been a shock for everyone but she was sure the boys were happy for them once they got accustomed to the idea, they just learned to be more respectful of the other's privacy.

------

Jimmy sighed imperceptibly; Lou pushed him away, again. Four months had passed since Kid's leaving and even more time since they started their relationship, but still they didn't go past the kissing stage. Every time he tried to do something else, even a simple caress, Lou tensed and withdrew. Was she afraid of him?

He respected her wishes and they went slow. He made it clear to her he was ready to wait until she was ready, but he still had the feeling Lou wasn't completely comfortable around him. Why? He wondered. After all she went a lot farther than kisses and embraces with Kid. Was it his fault? Was she afraid she couldn't fulfil his expectations, since he was more experienced? But Jimmy didn't care about that, he loved her and wanted to be with her, nothing else mattered.

The rider smiled sadly; he had silently pined after her for a long time. Now he finally got his chance to be with her, but he had to admit that their relationship wasn't as he imagined it would be. They both were proud and stubborn and didn't have enough patience to bear the other's temper. He gave her the liberty she craved; not even once did he tell her not to do something because it was dangerous. He trusted her abilities and didn't want her to think the contrary, but Lou sometimes seemed unhappy about this.

It was hard to figure out what she wanted, and quite frustrating too. None of his previous relationship had ever lasted so long. At first, when they had to hide from the others had been exciting and full of passion but now Jimmy found himself struggling with this new situation.

He dispelled those thoughts, though. Lou had chosen him over his best friend, and she was the first one who made him feel that way. It was normal to have some little problems; they just have to adjust to each other. He assured himself.

******

"Guess who I saw back in Cottonfield!?" Cody asked excitedly.

They were at dinner, the blonde rider had just returned from his run and apparently he couldn't wait to share his news with his friends.

"Who?" Rachel asked, although the woman knew her question would provoke a rather lengthy and overflowing tale. 'If that boy keeps up like that, he'll become worse than Teaspoon', she thought.

"Kid!!" he exclaimed. "I saw him!"

It had been a month and they hadn't heard about their friend. He'd sent some letters to Rachel and Teaspoon to tell he was doing fine, but nobody had still gotten the chance to see him since he left.

"How is he?"

"Is he fine?"

"Is he eating well?" Rachel asked worried.

"Calm down, I saw Kid but this doesn't mean I had the chance to talk with him." At the disappointed look the riders and Rachel made, Cody hurried to continue.

"This isn't the most important thing I've got to say about Kid, anyway," he said, "the most important thing is that I saw him with a girl!!"

Cody launched himself in the tale of how he was passing by the Cottonfield's Main Street and he spotted Kid talking with the pretty Miss Alicia McAllister whose parents owned the finest haberdashery shop in town, and how she even kissed his cheek before he left.

"Hehe…that old dog didn't tell us how fine he was doing…" he concluded with a smirk.

"Oh Cody, don't jump into conclusion," Rachel gently scolded him, considering how much the young man loved to exaggerate. "Anyway, if Kid is truly starting to see a girl, then I'm happy for him."

Choruses of agreement came from the boys and then the dinner continued as usual, with the easy banter and the small chat. Lou instead found herself not able to eat anything more. Her stomach churned uneasily at the thought of Kid courting another woman. Why? She had hoped he'd find a nice girl who could make him happy since the day he left Rock Creek with a broken heart. It would help him to forget her and -selfishly- she too would feel less guilty about the whole situation.

But then why did she feel like this? She finished her meal in silence and then excused herself and exited. Her change of mood didn't pass unnoticed, though, in fact she felt Jimmy's eyes on her during the entire dinner and, as soon as she left the room, Cody blurted out a sharp remark.

"I don't know what's wrong with her; after all she was the one who left Kid, wasn't she? Now she has no right to be so bothered by the fact he found someone else."

The blonde rider struggled to accept Jimmy and Lou's relationship, they were his friends but he felt as if they betrayed Kid's trust carrying on behind his back like they did; Cody might have many faults but loyalty was something he couldn't pass over.

"Oh shut up, Cody! This isn't your business!" Jimmy responded irritated. Although they rarely named him, Kid still was a delicate issue between him and Lou and the blonde rider's comment hit a sore spot.

"This is my business, Hickok," Cody retorted. "Kid is my friend and I want him to be happy, and Lou should do the same instead of acting as if he betrayed her or something."

Jimmy couldn't reply to those words, and instead he left the bunkhouse to reach Lou outside. He hated when he felt so uncertain around her. With the other women he always knew what to do; now instead he felt as if Lou was the one in charge and he was completely at loss about how to act. It wasn't always a nice sensation but Jimmy guessed he felt that way because he never cared about someone as much as he cared for Lou.

On one hand the fact Lou was still jealous of Kid miffed him, but on the other he tried to rationalize the entire situation. After all Kid had been Lou's first love and it was normal that it was hard for her to let him go.

He tried to remember all the women who were important to him: Clara, Sarah, Emma …up to Alice; he had been ready to leave everything for the Peacemaker woman, as if he had been ready to die for Sarah. All his past loves, happy or not, returned or not, left a mark on his heart; and so Kid did on Lou's. Jimmy learned to accept that.

"Lou," he approached her, "Lou, are you ok?"

Unexpectedly the girl turned to embrace him tightly.

"I'm sorry," she said without looking at him.

"For what?" the rider asked encircling her with his arms, his heart melting for that sudden show of affection.

"For feeling this way. I don't know why I feel bad that Kid found a new girlfriend. I guess I'm just a selfish brat."

"Don't say so, I think it's quite normal. I too would feel this way."

"Would you?" she asked unconvinced.

Her features were marred by that lovely frown he always found so adorable and that now he was finally free to kiss away.

******

"Are you sure about this, Lou?" Jimmy asked.

The girl had lost the count of the times he asked that question and she was beginning to grow irritated.

"Jimmy," she stopped and turned around to look at his face. "I'm sure about this, I want to take this double run with you, I want to spend a nice evening with you and if it'll lead to something more, then I'll be ready for that too," she concluded with a peck on his check. "Now hurry, we have to prepare Lightning and Sundance for the run."

To tell the truth Lou wasn't completely sure she was ready to be intimate with Jimmy, but she knew she had been keeping him on tenterhooks for a long time and it wasn't fair. She chose him over Kid but deep down she knew she was still lingering on her past. Instead she should focus on the present time, otherwise she would risk ruining what she had because of something she herself renounced.

For this reason Lou decided to take the matter in her hands and asked Jimmy to take the first double run scheduled with her. And now they were riding toward Cottonwood, ironic how the city of their first date was the city where Kid had been seen for the last time. Lou felt her stomach churn for the excitement and even a bit of fear. She didn't know what that trip would bring but she was sure it'll be an important step for their story.

------

"Are you ok?" Jimmy asked leaning toward her.

"Yes, I'm ok," Lou responded a bit irritated.

What was in her that every man felt the need to check on her?

"Sorry," she apologized immediately when she realized she'd been rude, "it's just that I dress up like a girl so rarely that I always need a bit to get used being Louise,"

"You're always Louise for me," Jimmy responded, squeezing her arm.

They were walking arm in arm, taking a stroll along the town's Main Street before their dinner. And Lou WAS feeling ok, as she told Jimmy, it's just that she was a bit nervous at the thought of spending the night with him, even if she would never admit it.

Suddenly she spotted the McAllister's haberdashery, the one Cody talked about, and she couldn't help her heart to jump. Kid's girlfriend was there, 'Well' she steered herself 'I'm not doing anything wrong if I sneak a peek on her to see if she's a nice girl'.

"Do you want to see the girl Cody talked about?" Jimmy asked.

Lou blushed, was she that obvious?

"Ok, let's go then." He said with a sigh

They stopped in front of the shop's window and looked inside. They immediately recognized Alicia McAllister from Cody's description: tall and slender, with a sweet face, soft hazel eyes and a thick honey braid hanging down her back to her waist.

"She looks pretty, and she seems gentle," Lou said noticing the patience with she was dealing with an older customer. "She'll be good for Kid."

And then why she was feeling so low all of a sudden? After all that was what she wanted for him.

"I guess she is," Jimmy agreed. "What do you think if we go to eat now?"

The rider noticed how Lou's mood was starting to dampen again and he didn't want to have her brooding the entire evening. That was supposed to be THEIR date.

Just when they were going to leave the shop a familiar man came strolling toward them, holding a bunch of flowers.

"Oh damn," Lou muttered, "that's Rick Evans! I can't let him see me!"

Rick Evans was a fellow rider who worked in Blue Creek, since his Station was the nearest to the Sweetwater's one, more than once he slept with them at the end of a run, so they got to know him pretty well. For this reason Lou didn't want to risk him to see her in her feminine clothes, she couldn't take the chance of him recognizing her.

Much to the girl's dismay Rick seemed directed right where they were, so Jimmy and Lou turned and looked at the window again, pretending to be extremely interested in the McAllister's display of shirts.

What they didn't expect was the man to enter in the haberdashery and give the flowers to Alicia! Lou squinted her eyes, Rick and that girl had a date!

"That witch!" she exclaimed, "She's cheating on Kid!"

Jimmy was taken aback by Lou's vehement reaction and even a bit annoyed.

"Calm down, Lou maybe there's a logical explanation, you know that Cody tends to exaggerate everything, maybe that girl and Kid weren't even courting in the first place."

"We have to find it out! Let's have a talk with them!"

"Lou, damn! Think! You've been the one who didn't want Rick to see you!"

Jimmy was growing irritated, what was wrong with her? Lou had been the one who chose him over Kid, so why did she seem unable to let him go and move on? Guilt? Sure, he too felt bad about how the things ended with the blue-eyed rider, and he too missed him. But Kid chose to leave and start again somewhere else and if they hung around his business like that they wouldn't help him at all.

"Hickok?" Suddenly Jimmy heard a voice call him.

Turning they saw Rick and Alicia who had exited from the shop right in that moment.

"Oh Rick, what a surprise!" the rider lied, "it's been a long time hasn't it?"

The two riders exchanged pleasantries, presenting their respective girls: Alicia McAllister and 'Lucille Cloud'.

"Do you know?" Rick said at a certain point. "I'm working with Kid, now. There was a big re-arrangement of the Stations around Fort Laramie and we ended up working together in Sweetwater. I didn't remember him being so quiet though; sometimes it seems he spends more time with that mare of his rather than with us! Has something happened to him? Heart problems?" he asked with a small smile.

"These aren't our business, Rick Evans," Alicia scolded him, "By the way, Kid is a really nice guy. When Rick was ill he's been so thoughtful to stop here and tell me about it, keeping me informed of his recovery, so I wouldn't worry too much."

"I know that Kid is a good guy," Rick replied, "I just said that he should have a bit more fun."

Lou silently listened the couple's small bickering: so that was what Cody saw, Kid telling Alicia about her boyfriend and her thanking him. She should be happy they weren't cheating on him but she felt her heart sink a little and at the same time she felt a strange tinge of happiness.

"Well, now it's better we leave," Jimmy cut in, noticing the change in Lou's demeanour. "We'll be late to the restaurant if we don't hurry."

They saluted Rick and Alicia and headed toward the only restaurant in town.

"Oh!" Rick exclaimed as soon as they turned the corner. "I forgot to tell them Kid is in town!"

"Well, if they're going to the restaurant they'll find that out pretty soon!" Alicia smiled and together they resumed their stroll.

******
"I'm sorry mister, would you mind if a young couple sits at your table? The restaurant is full and these are the last available seats," the waiter said gesturing the vacant chairs in front of him.

"I don't mind at all, let them come please," the young man replied.

He pondered about leaving the table to the couple, but the only other place to eat in town was the saloon and the food there wasn't so good, plus he wasn't the kind of man who enjoyed the entertainment it offered.

Oh well, he reflected, he would hurry to finish his dinner and leave the two lovebirds alone. After all he remembered too well how it was wanting to spend some quality time with his love, he reflected morosely.

When the waiter returned to the table he raised his head to greet his unknown guests, but froze when he recognized them.

Lou was wearing the simple blue dress he saw her in at the only Social they got the chance to dance together, just days before Ike's death. When he still believed he had a possibility to re-build what they'd lost; when instead she was already Jimmy's, he reminded himself bitterly.

Jimmy was right behind her, looking slightly annoyed. He couldn't blame him, that must be one of the few moments of privacy the two of them could have. For a moment he thought of leaving before they noticed him. Because he couldn't stand to see them like that. No matter how he missed them in those months, the pain of seeing them together was still too intense. He grabbed his jacket but he wasn't fast enough because a surprised and…joyous?…voice called him.

"Kid!"

Lou and Jimmy approached him, the girl's face lit up but the male rider didn't look very happy. Kid immediately recognized that look; it was the same one he wore when he thought there was something between Jimmy and Lou, at the time of Lou's refusal.

"Kid!" Lou repeated. She seemed genuinely happy to see him. "What a surprise! We met Rick Evans but he didn't tell us you were here too!" she chatted busily, sitting down at the table near him.

Kid was quite uncomfortable instead; he really didn't feel like staying there and having dinner with his ex-girlfriend and his best friend like nothing had happened.

"Well guys, I'll leave now. I don't want to be the odd one out and I don't want to ruin your date." He sat up but Lou grabbed him by the wrist, insisting he should stay with them and enjoy the dinner for old times' sake.

What was with her? Kid thought painfully, didn't she understand how hard for him it would be? Or how awkward it would be for everyone? Plus Jimmy didn't seem thrilled by the idea of having dinner with him and Kid couldn't blame him.

"Really Lou, I don't want to disturb you two," he said at last, gently disentangling himself from her grip. "I'll take something and eat in my room, Maybe we'll see tomorrow morning at the Station. Good night and have a nice dinner." He saluted them and left.

Lou felt hurt; Kid was so distant and uncomfortable. She knew the things would never be the same again between them, but she had at least hoped to still have his friendship. Instead he wasn't even able to look them in the face.

"Do you want me to call him back so you two can have a nice dinner together?" Jimmy's sharp remark made Lou raise her head and look at him stunned.

"What are you saying Jimmy?" she asked him astonished.

"By the way you kept hanging on Kid it seemed you preferred to have dinner with him rather than with me!"

"Don't be silly," she hissed, she didn't want to cause a scene and his raised tone had already made some heads turn. "It's been months since we saw Kid and I wanted to spend some time with him."

"It's our real first date and you should want to spend time with ME not with him! Instead since the moment we stepped in this damned town you've been like 'let's see Kid's girlfriend', 'let's make sure that she isn't cheating on him', 'let's have dinner with him'…I'M your man, in case you forget, but right now I think you'd prefer to share the room with him!"

The sound of her slap echoed in the room, leaving them staring at each other astonished.

"It's better I leave now," was Jimmy's cold reply as soon as he regained his voice.

He left, leaving a teary Lou staring down at the now empty table.

******
Hours later Lou waited for Jimmy in their room. It should have been the place where they would finally make love and instead the girl was alone, brooding over what had happened and wondering where Jimmy was. Probably at the saloon, she thought bitterly, he wasn't the kind of man to stare at a pond or ride across the prairie when he felt bad.

Here it was again; she was comparing Jimmy to Kid. His angry words hurt her but deep down she felt they were true. It must have been pretty difficult for Jimmy to cope with her. It was true that Kid's shadow kept hovering over them for a long time; she realized that now.

She just couldn't get over him and move on with Jimmy, at least not in the same way the rider wanted. She believed she made the right choice when she chose him over Kid. Because she loved the Southerner but what he was asking of her was more than she was ready to give.

She thought with Jimmy things would be different; that they would go at the same pace; that there wouldn't be any pressure; that she wouldn't feel like she was losing her freedom and independence. And in a way it had been like that, but Lou found it wasn't what she wanted.

She wouldn't ever admit it aloud, but she missed not being the centre of someone's worries. Obviously Jimmy cared about her, but it wasn't the same. Deep down Lou started to realize that her feeling for Jimmy weren't as deep as the one she harboured for Kid.

And this terrified her. Jimmy loved her, Lou knew that; but she wasn't able to love him back as he deserved.

She dropped on the bed and stared at the ceiling. What was wrong with her? First she pushed Kid away because she felt too constricted, now she had a man who gave her the space she needed and still she was unhappy. She had been so sure when she started her relationship with Jimmy, but now she had lost her first love and was risking ruining the friendship with her best friend.

Lou didn't know how much time she spent staring at the ceiling in the dark, until she finally heard the door opening and Jimmy stepping inside. She got up to look at him and couldn't help to grimace at the smell of alcohol coming from him.

"You've been drinking," she blurted out.

"Something Kid wouldn't ever do, right?" he replied bitterly.

The girl sighed, "I'm sorry. Please don't talk anymore about him, ok?"

"I'm sorry too," Jimmy said then, his tone softer now.

He sat down the bed near her, staring at his own hands.

"What's happening to us, Lou?" he asked sadly.

"I don't know Jimmy…it seems we got along better when we were just friends…" she stopped, she didn't mean to say it, she would have surely hurt him now.

But surprisingly he agreed with her.

"When you said you wanted to be with me, I felt like the luckiest man alive. I never thought one day you would be mine, or that I'd be a man good enough for you."

"Jimmy, you're a good man…" Lou started to protest, but he stopped her.

"I was happy with you, more than with any other girl I've been with. I thought I could build something with you, but instead, this thing between us isn't working," he admitted.

"I'm sorry Jimmy."

"Don't blame yourself. It's my fault too. I thought I was ready for a commitment, that you were the right girl. You know, the one to live happily ever after with, but instead it's harder than expected…and I'm not strong enough. It's difficult to follow your moods, you know?" he concluded in an attempt to lighter the tone.

But turning to look at her he saw Lou's face covered with tears.

"I'm sorry Jimmy, I'm so sorry. I would have liked things to have worked too. I care so much about you and I don't want to lose you."

"You aren't going to lose me Lou, I swear that. We tried but probably this wasn't meant to be. At least now, we wouldn't forever wonder about how it would have been between us."

He hugged Lou and rocked her until she stopped sobbing.

"Jimmy, what we are going to do now?" she asked fearfully.

"I think we should return to being just friends," he responded and - differently from Kid -this time the words came from the heart, "the best of friends, what do you think?" He smiled.

"I think it's a wonderful idea, friend."

And so Jimmy and Lou's story ended, and the night they should consummate their love they instead slept in each other's arms. They were sad, but not heartbroken and what's more important, they didn't have any regrets. They understood they could live without being a couple, but they couldn't live without being friends.

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