Chapter Fourteen:
Reality on a Sliding Scale

Emily hurried along the streets of Port Charles, her dog running along happily beside her. Lizzie was giving her a condition! She couldn’t stand it anymore. She stopped suddenly, letting Raoul run off ahead, until he was nearly decapitated when the sudden lack of leash let him know his owner was no longer moving. He looked back at her, his expression clearly asking “What did I ever do to you?” Emily kneeled down to him, and took his head in her hands.

“Sorry, pup. I’m just loosing my mind,” she murmured to him. He bowed his head pathetically, and rubbed against her. She pressed her face against his soft fur, and tried to think clearly. She had an overwhelming urge to just lie down here on the pavement, and wait for someone to come along and tell her what to do. She looked up. The downtown was startlingly deserted for a Saturday morning.

Take a deep breath, she told herself. She couldn’t believe how upset she was about this. Emily couldn’t stomach the image of Lucky spilling his guts to Lizzie about their extensive conversation last night. But that image, she thought as reasonable as she could manage, was so incredibly unlikely. It was so implausible that she would have to completely reevaluate every single thing she knew about Lucky in order to buy it. Which meant Lizzie was lying. Or maybe Lucky had only given her the sketchiest of details. Either way, this was really disturbing. She was flat out loosing her mind over this guy.

Emily looked around and noticed she was about four blocks from Lucky’s father’s club. Uh oh. She knew the best plan was to just turn around, and head back to the mansion. She was feeling far too emotional to confront Lucky again. Emily buried her face in her hands. She was sick of thinking of going to see Lucky in terms of “confrontations”. She’d messed this up badly. Maybe it was possible to just show up and say “Hi!”

Emily thought back to the last time she’d seen Lucky, standing shoeless in the woods and then literally running away from him. No, it wasn’t likely that she’d be able to just descend on him and act like everything was back to normal. She should never have started this. If she started this. After all, everything had been fine before Lucky had shown up, having a fit about her long past crush on Nikolas. After her realizations this morning helped put the chronology of the breakdown of her relationship with Lucky in a sensible order. He’d had a fit about the crush, she’d gotten annoyed at him for telling her what to do, he’d kissed her, and BINGO! She’d flipped out. It wasn’t even that she no longer saw the reasoning behind the freak out, it’s just that there was obviously a whole other dimension to things she hadn’t previously allowed herself to consider. This was probably a really bad time to go searching for Lucky, Emily thought as she started walking towards the club. She could very well blurt out something that would have an even more disastrous effect on their relationship. Nevertheless, this didn’t feel like something she could ignore.

She considered the run-in with Lizzie again. She wished she knew whether or not Lizzie was purposely trying to make her think the worst of Lucky. She had no way of knowing if Lizzie had the insight to guess that she would be horrified at the idea of Lucky talking about them with her, and that was only the half of it. The idea of him confiding in her made her more violently jealous than any dance ever could. That was the one thing she felt protective of: she and Lucky understood something about each other that no one else seemed to be able to touch. They knew what the other needed for comfort. And she knew the second she heard a sentence come out of someone’s mouth, just what Lucky would do if he heard it. And she valued every moment they spent together, confiding to each other. She had never sworn Lucky to secrecy about anything, but she always knew he’d never repeat it. In many ways, Emily trusted Lucky more than anyone in her life -- she trusted him to hug her if he saw her cry, and to keep everything she told him to himself. She just didn’t trust him to be there when she needed him. She still didn’t know how to work around that one.

Right now, however, she wanted to straighten the Lizzie thing out. And she was just a few blocks from the club, where Lucky could be reliably found daily. Seize the moment, she told herself. What’s the worst thing that could happen? He could be cold and uncommunicative again, at which point she was just emotional enough to rip his head off. Emily sighed. The decision was out of her hands. She was already nearly at the front door

* * * *

Lizzie had actually been on time for work, thanks to Emily’s abrupt exit. She was not feeling particularly happy about it, however. Ruby just grunted at her no matter what she did. There was no way she could win in this town. Her Grandmother was always getting upset with her, her sister cared more about some guy she’d known for about ten minutes than she had ever cared about her, and her one and only friend was hung up on a girl who didn’t want anything to do with him -- again.

Right up until the point she had ran off on her, Lizzie had been feeling confident that Emily hadn’t managed to hook up with Lucky after he’d taken off. Now Lizzie was just as sure that something had happened between the two after the dance. It wasn’t something so cataclysmic that they were back to being close, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good news. She could feel it in her gut. She’d seen in just from the expression on Emily’s face when she’d asked how he was. She obviously cared about Lucky way more than she wanted Lizzie to know.

The bell on the door rang and Lizzie looked over, absentmindedly. She nearly dropped the glasses she was balancing on her tray when she realized that Lucky was standing right in front of her.

“Hi!”, she said, grinning from ear to ear. Lucky held up a hand in greeting. He didn’t look particularly thrilled to be there. She walked over to him. “I was beginning to think....” she let her voice trail off as she got a better look at his lip. “Oh my God! Is that what Nikolas did to you?” She leaned towards him, trying to examine the injury more closely. Lucky pushed her away from him gently.

“I’m fine. Thanks,” he walked over to the bar, and slid into a stool, looking anything but. Lizzie scowled at the floor. Lucky was being distant again, she hated that. She straightened he apron, and forced another smile onto her face before walking behind the counter to attempt to cheer him up.

“Can I get you anything?”

Lucky sighed.

“One life, please.”

Lizzie laughed. Lucky rested his chin in his hand.

“Is my aunt around?”

“Baking,” Lizzie said sullenly. “I can tell her your here.”

Lucky shook his head, and continued to stare at the table top. Lizzie had seen this mood before. It wasn’t one of her favorites. She reached under the bar for a clean glass and poured him a soda without asking if he wanted one. It was the only thing she could think of to do. She placed it in front of him with a pointed thud.

“Thanks, Lizzie,” Lucky said, looking up at her. Lizzie felt a chill run up and down her spine. She was sick of her name, but she loved the way Lucky said it. She bowed her head shyly, and began attacking a spot on the counter with her tea towel.

“So,” she said, her voice a little too perky, “I just saw Emily.”

Lucky snapped to attention.


Lizzie’s heart fell into her stomach. That was all the information she’d needed about last night. She must have found him, and something must have happened. He wasn’t angry at her anymore, and he wasn’t even trying to pretend he didn’t care. Lizzie found herself gasping for breath.

“No, on the docks. With that....” she stopped herself from speaking badly of the mutant canine. Lucky liked dogs. “I forget his name...”

The color drained from Lucky’s face.


Lizzie looked up. Lucky was leaning towards her, listening to her every word.

“Uh, yeah...” she’d seen this look on his face before, only the topic of conversation back then had been her sister. She had to do something! “That guy from school....”

Lucky looked even more disturbed. Maybe she was on to something here.

“What guy from --”

“Lucky!” Ruby emerged from the kitchen, and descended on her nephew, arms open. “It is so nice to --” she stopped dead in her tracks. “What happened to your face?”

Lucky looked at Lizzie for some support

“He slipped on the steps of the school last night. You know, with the rain?”

Ruby narrowed her eyes at him

“And that’s how you did that?”

Lucky looked at Lizzie, his expression clearly denoting his lack of enthusiasm for her excuse.

“Uh, yeah.”

Ruby shook her head at him disapprovingly.

“Your father used to fall into a lot of steps when he was your age, too.”

Lucky grimaced, and ran his fingers through his hair, uncomfortably.

“You know what, Aunt Ruby... Dad made breakfast this morning, so I was wondering...”

Ruby smiled at him, deciding to forgive the weak story.

“I just took some lemon-poppy seed muffins out of the oven. Care for one?”

“Cool, yeah. Thanks.”

“Lizzie, table four,” Ruby said, ducking back into the kitchen. Lizzie sighed, and walked over to the table, without the slightest trace of enthusiasm, leaving Lucky to stew at the bar.

Lucky was wracking his brain, trying to think of who on earth Emily would have been with this early on a Saturday. He’d kept an eye on who she was keeping company with. It seemed to be limited to Sarah, Nikolas, a couple of girls from her year, and that short kid who was always coming up to her about homework in the halls. He’d spotted him hanging hopefully around her locker about six times since he’d first seen him the morning Emily had given him her “Let’s not be friends” speech. That couldn’t be the guy Lizzie was talking about. Emily, in typical form, appeared to be completely clueless of his obsession with her. He’d noticed this a few times -- the guys who followed Emily around -- she’d be nice to them, smile and ask them how they were, but she’d never clue in to the fact that they were madly in love with her. Lucky wondered how anyone could be that dense.

“So,” Lizzie said, appearing at this elbow. “You planning some kind of revenge on Nikolas?”

“Like what?” Lucky muttered. “I think I’ve got more productive things to do then plot against his royal highness.”

Lizzie looked at him quizzically.

“Since when?”

Lucky didn’t answer. When he finally did look back at her, it was clear he wasn’t thinking about his brother.

“So this guy who Emily was with...”

Lizzie felt the blood rush to her head. She turned away, and began cleaning glasses, her hands moving rapidly.

“It was just some guy, Lucky. Forget about it.”

“Lizzie!” Lucky’s voice sounded frustrated. He took a deep breath. “Just tell me what he looked like?”

A strange feeling crept over Lizzie. She’d felt this way a few times since moving to Port Charles, and nothing good ever came of it. The words started coming out of her mouth before she had time to weigh the consequences.

“You know that guy, he sits with all those losers in the corner every lunch hour. He’s always got that plaid shirt and his hair looks really greasy.” Lucky looked at her blankly. “With the nose ring?”

“Todd Patterson?” Lucky said, incredulous.

“I told you, I don’t know his name. Just that he’s ... really creepy. And I’ve heard some weird rumors about him.” She turned back to face him. “She was sort of uncomfortable when I saw her. I don’t think that she wanted to be seen with him.”

Lucky stared at Lizzie, mouth open. Then he spun around and leapt off the stool. He walked to the door, and Lizzie panicked. She should never have told Lucky that. Besides the fact that it was completely untrue, now he was going to attempt to ride off to Emily’s rescue. He stopped just short of the door, and turned back to her. Lizzie caught her breath.

“Are you sure?” he asked. Lizzie found herself nodding.

“It’s not a big deal, Lucky,” she said, alarm creeping into her voice. “What about your breakfast?”

Lucky walked back over to the bar.

“Because if you’re sure... it doesn’t make any sense.”

Lizzie widened her eyes, innocently. Her heart was racing. She should have just kept her mouth shut.

“Lucky, they were just....”

“What?” he leaned in closer, completely focused on her, waiting hungrily for her to give him a piece of information about the girl he thought could do no wrong. She swallowed hard. This was familiar territory with her and Lucky. She couldn’t believe she was back here again. It wasn’t fair! She’d done everything she could think of, short of doing cartwheels in front of his locker to get him to notice her, and here he was hung up on some drug-addled spoiled rich kid.

“They were talking... and he gave her something.”

Lucky straightened up. She could see the panic take hold of him.

“I’ve..... got to go.”

Must be contagious, Lizzie thought miserably as she watched Lucky vanish out the door.

* * * *

Emily scratched Raoul behind the ears, hoping this would convince him not to make too big a fuss about being tied up to a parking sign. She begged him once more to be quiet, and then ducked into the club.

The lighting in Luke’s was actually brighter than the cloudy day outside, so it took Emily a moment to adjust her eyes. When she did, she noticed the place was completely empty with the exception of her brother, Jason, who was bent over a book, Les Miserables, in the corner. The club’s ledger was sitting, closed, next to him. He didn’t look up, no doubt assuming that if whoever it was wanted to talk to him, they’d let themselves be known. She looked around for any sign of Luke or Lucky, but found none.

“Hi,” she said, timidly. Even thought Jason never looked anything less than thrilled to see her, she still always felt tentative when approaching him.

Jason looked up and smiled upon recognizing her, something she’d noticed he rarely did in other people’s company.

“Emily,” he said, affectionately. Jason had an incredibly ability to make her feel special, mostly because he treated almost everyone in the world with mild contempt. She suspected that if her family would get out of his face, he’d be more likely to loosen up in front of them. Instead, they always looked at him with grief in their eyes over everything they’d lost, never attempting to see what they gained. Emily missed Jason Quartermaine, but she loved Jason Morgan easily as much. Jason closed the ledger as she crossed the floor towards him. “What’s up?”

Emily bit her lip, trying to figure out how to tell Jason why she was really there. She decided to skip it. He wasn’t her first choice to discuss relationships with.

“I was passing by, walking my dog,” she told him, lightly. Jason nodded. Emily slipped into the chair across from him. Something was different. “Are you wearing a suit?”

Jason looked down at the sleeves of his shirt, as if they were foreign objects.


Emily giggled.

“Ummm... somebody die?” The minute the words were out of her mouth, it occurred to her that was a really bad thing to say to someone in Jason’s line of work. Luckily, this didn’t seem to have occurred to him.

“No,” he said, flatly. “Not today.”

That was more information than Emily needed. She looked over her shoulder.

“Must be hard to ride a motorcycle in that,” she joked.

“I have a driver.”

Emily looked down at the table top, attempting to hide the confused look that was making it’s way across her face. She began to feel a little nervous.

“This is really quiet.”

“It’s always quiet during the day,” Jason said simply. “We just opened about ten minutes ago.” He rested his elbows on the table. “How’s Grandmother?”

“Sane as ever. Have you been to see her?”

“No,” Jason said. Emily didn’t press the matter. She took another look around the bar.

“Are you looking for someone?” Jason asked. Emily was surprised. His questions weren’t usually that pedestrian.

“Oh, no.... I was just... Luke isn’t here, is he?” she asked. It was useless to pretend she was here for some other reason. Jason shook his head. Emily’s eyes fell on the ledger. “Are you... doing the books?”

“I’m running Sonny’s half of the club.”

Emily’s stomach twisted violently. She swallowed hard.

“When is Sonny coming back?” she asked, her voice sounding incredibly hollow to her own ears.

Jason stared into her eyes for a long moment.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. Emily felt cold. She looked around again.

“I’m sorry, I should go back to Raoul, he gets nervous when I leave him alone too long.” Emily knew Jason didn’t believe her, but he let her off the hook. She stood up shakily, and smiled at him. “Jason?” she asked, her voice shrill.


“I love you,” she told him, as steadily as she could. Jason looked as close to surprised as she’d ever seen him.

“Alright,” he said quietly. She smiled at him again, and felt tears come to her eyes.

“Bye,” she said hoarsely. She walked to the door, her head spinning. She’d been so preoccupied by how awful it was that Sonny had left Brenda at the altar, that the total ramifications hadn’t hit her until now. She stumbled out the door, holding her hand over her mouth. Her whole body began to shake violently. She’d never felt this way in her life. She leaned against the wall of the club, attempting to get her breathing back to normal. She gulped down several deep breaths. She was going to be sick again. Raoul looked at her, head cocked. He barked loudly, and attempted to move towards her, again snapping his head with the leash.


Emily looked up in shock. Lucky had just come around the corner, and was staring at her. She tried to stand up but her legs gave out and she sunk to the pavement. Lucky moved like lightening across the parking lot, and wrapped her in his arms. She leaned against him, eyes shut tightly. Lucky’s embrace was so tight she could hardly breath, but she found in incredibly comforting.

“Lucky,” she gasped “Lucky, he’s going to get --” she stopped again, her breath running out. Lucky pulled back, examining her face.

“Emily, what’s wrong? Are you....” he let his voice trail off. Emily rested her head on her knee and made a concerted effort to breath normally. Calm down, she told herself. You have no idea what’s going on. She looked up at him bleary eyed. “I really need to take a walk.”

* * * *

Lucky had been more than a little surprised when Emily had suggested that they head down to the clearing where they’d spent last night. Of course, in jeans and a sweater, she was much better dressed for the journey. They walked in silence, Lucky taking Emily’s arm occasionally when the going got rough. She walked across the paths like they were something to be conquered, her face grim. When Lucky had seen Emily beside the club, he’d immediately thought the worst. There were no words for the feeling that had possessed him. Now, however, it seemed clear to him that whatever was wrong, it was not chemically based.

When the clearing came into sight, Emily broke into a run, and galloped over the last few rocks, down to the fallen tree where she’d spent so much time the night before. Lucky, who had taken on the dog walking duties, let go of Raoul’s leash, and the animal followed her, barking loudly. He was soon distracted by the stream, and by the time Lucky had joined his friend, her dog was wading through the water, nudging rocks with his nose. Emily was sitting, staring up at the gloomy sky. After a moment’s hesitation, Lucky joined her on the log.

“You okay?” he asked finally. She shook her head.

“Do you ever wish you could just have some tiny oasis of time where nothing went wrong?” she asked, her voice eerily distant. “There was no disaster looming on horizon?”

Lucky watched her, concerned.

“Yeah, I guess you say I have,” he said carefully.

Emily shook her head.

“It never happens, does it?”

“Oh,” Lucky leaned back, gazing up at the sky. “I don’t know. For awhile, after we moved here, things were kinda peaceful. I sold worms, played with my dog. It was pretty cool.”

Emily smirked.

“What happened?”

Lucky looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

“I met you.”

“Thanks!” Emily said, pretending to look hurt. “If I recall correctly, things weren’t exactly wonderful in your life when I showed up. Your parents?”

“Ah, that was nothing.” Lucky said, the picture of cool. She rolled her eyes at him, smiling slightly. His expression became serious. “Em,” his voice was gentle. “What’s going on?”

Emily took a deep breath, and exhaled shakily. She couldn’t imagine anyone else she could tell this to.

“Lucky, do you know when Sonny is coming back?”

Lucky furrowed his brow. That was not what he was expecting.


Emily turned to face him. She wore an expression of grave concern.

“I’m serious, Lucky. If you know anything you have to tell me.”

“I don’t,” Lucky felt both confused and helpless. “I’m sorry. My Dad probably does, but not me.”

Emily looked down at the log. She became to tremble again. Lucky moved closer to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“If...” she spoke haltingly. “If Sonny doesn’t come back, then who....” she let her voice trail off, unable to say the words. A look of understanding entered Lucky’s eyes as everything fell into place.

“I don’t know,” he told her, apologetic.

“Jason is running Sonny’s interest in your Dad’s club.” Emily let the words hang in the air. She didn’t have to give anymore explanations for her state of mind. Lucky didn’t know what to tell her. He didn’t know anything about Sonny’s business, and he knew his Dad wanted it that way. He’d seen things, heard rumors, though, and nothing he could think of would make Emily feel any better. Lucky had spent the better part of his life trying not to get killed because of his father’s ties to the mob. He was hardly the person to assure someone that it wasn’t that serious. He decided to go with honesty.

“If Sonny were to leave for good, then, yeah. Jason’s his...” He shook his head. Leaving Jason in charge seemed like an insane idea. “I don’t know. I mean, Sonny can leave him in charge, but that doesn’t mean--”

“It will stay that way.” Emily finished his sentence for him. “I know that’s what’s happened. I just know it, in my gut.“ She began to shake again. “He’s left for good, and now Jason’s going to be --” she stopped talking as her throat closed up.

“He won’t tell you anything,” Lucky stated mater-of-factly.

“I hate being a teenager,” Emily spit bitterly. “No one ever tells you anything because they think they’re sparing your feelings. Meanwhile, I’m always waiting in the dark, with only half the information. It’s much scarier that way.”

Lucky tried to imagine what that must be like. He’d been infuriated on the few occasions when he’d been left out of the loop by his family -- Nikolas leapt immediately to mind. He wouldn’t be able to stomach it on a regular basis.

“My Family doesn’t really subscribe to that theory.”

“Mine does,” Emily muttered. “They don’t tell me anything, but I always find out, and it’s always worse than if they’d just told me straight out.” She looked Lucky straight in the eyes. “I am so scared.”

Lucky looked at Emily until he felt like he could actually feel the truth of her words in his own stomach.

“Come here,” he proded gently, opening his arms to her. Emily nearly fell against him, burying her head against his shoulder. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and shut her eyes. Lucky was momentarily surprised at her reaction, but quickly enclosed her in his arms, holding her gently. He pressed his head against her hair. Emily could feel his heart beating, steadily, comfortingly. They stayed that way, in silence, listening to the rustle of the tree and Raoul mucking about in the stream. Finally Lucky spoke.

“Jason’s got nine lives. Even Kryptonite couldn’t stop him now.”

Emily laughed slightly.

“What’s with the Superman references?” she murmured into his shoulder. Lucky felt slightly embarrassed.

“Give me a break. I’m living with a nine year old,” he told her, defensively. Emily giggled again. The sound was music to Lucky’s ears. “Feeling better?”

Emily moved her head in a manner that could be denoted as either yes or no. She didn’t pull back.

“He’s already on life number three,” she said, wistfully. “How long do six lives last you when you’re a mobster?” her voice cracked on the last word, and Emily felt hot tears spill down her cheeks. “I just don’t want to do that again.”

“Do what again?” Lucky asked.

Emily pulled back, unraveling her arms from around her neck. She shifted on the log, so that she was facing forward, and wiped her eyes. Lucky kept a comforting arm around her unwilling to break the embrace completely. She lay her head on his shoulder.

“I don’t want to lose anyone again,” she said dully. “Pretty stupid, huh? I mean, that’s the one thing you can count on in life. You keep losing people until they loose you.”

Lucky felt her words hit him like a ton of bricks. The idea of losing Emily was unthinkable. She’d only really been back in his life for twenty-four hours, and it was so exponentially better than not having her around, he didn’t want to consider anything as dark as what she was talking about.

“Don’t say that,” he said, heavily. “You’re not going to loose anyone.”

“How can you say that?”

Lucky kicked at the ground, uncomfortably.

“Because that’s the reality I’m choosing right now, that’s how.”

Emily looked up at him.

“You can’t just choose your own reality.”

“Sure you can. For instance, right now I’m choosing the ‘we’re great friends and you don’t hate my guts’ reality which is functioning pretty well for me.”

Emily laughed.

“I don’t hate your guts.”

“See? It’s working.”

Emily giggled again. She looked up, smiling at him fondly. She felt her spirits rise a little.

“We still have problems, don’t we?” she said, softly. Lucky shrugged.

“I’m willing to forget them.”

Emily bit her lip.

“I don’t know if forgetting is a good idea. Maybe we can just get past them, somehow.”

Lucky groaned.

“Do you think we’re any closer to that?”

“Yeah,” Emily whispered. “I think we are.”

A broad smile slowly crept across Lucky’s face.

“Does that mean we’re friends again?”

Emily sighed heavily.

“I just don’t have the willpower not to be friends with you. It’s too much work.”

Lucky gave her an odd look.

“Thanks. I think.”

Emily rolled her eyes, and turned to face him. She looked at his lip, which was a strange shade of purple. I could stay here forever, Emily thought. He was being so sweet and perfect right now, she never wanted this to end. She impulsively touched his cut with her finger tip. Lucky winced slightly.

“You’re the first person I’ve seen all day who hadn’t asked me about this.”

Emily shrugged.

“Well, I know what happened.”

Lucky gave her a crooked smile. Emily was suddenly aware of how close they were sitting to each other. Her mouth went dry. She felt herself lean slightly closer to him, unsure of exactly what she was doing. Lucky was looking at her, his expression unreadable. Emily felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, and butterflies appeared in her stomach. She heard the jingle of dog tags only seconds before Raoul shook out his water soaked coat all over them.

Raoul!” She yelled, springing back from Lucky. The dog looked completely unsympathetic. He flopped down on a pile of leaves and began to roll. “Oh, man,” Emily sighed. “Grandfather’s going to love this.”

“Come on,” Lucky grinned at her. “Edward’s completely soft where Raoul is concerned.”

“Define soft.” Emily tried to laugh, but it sounded awful to her ears. She did manage a slightly awkward smile. They looked at each other for a moment, quiet again. Lucky was struck, again, at how beautiful Emily looked when she smiled. She was incredible. He broke the eye contact suddenly, remembering her extremely negative reaction to the last time he’d kissed her. He’d very nearly done it again.

“So, did you go to the club to see Jason?” he asked, trying to cover his sudden nervousness. Emily looked over at him, unsure of how to answer.

“Actually, I was looking for you.”

Lucky looked up with surprise. He smiled at her. Emily’s heart beat faster, with joy.


Emily looked away, sure her face was turning beat red. She was never going to get through this. She felt like her newly discovered feelings for Lucky might as well be tattooed on her forehead. She certainly had taken every advantage to be close to him since they’d gotten here. It was so strange, though, that a simple touch from him could have such a big effect on her.

“I just wanted to see how you were doing,” she said unconvincingly. “What about you -- looking for your Dad?”

“I was at Kelly’s, I was actually going to the park.”

Emily looked at him with astonishment.

“Were you coming here?”

Lucky thought about his options. He was relatively certain that Lizzie was mistaken about what she’d seen. Still, he couldn’t shake this nagging doubt that something was up. Todd Patterson was infamous at the school for never having a sober moment. He was always on something -- alcohol, and pot mostly. He didn’t deal to Lucky’s knowledge, but then, Lucky wasn’t looking.

He prayed Emily wasn’t either.

“I was just walking,” he said, dismissively. He wanted to hug her, touch her , as if he could somehow preserve her here in this moment, or just remember it better if he could touch her again. It had been so long since he’d seen her this way. When they’d been hanging out before, he’d noticed she fought not to ever appear vulnerable in front of him, always trying to seem together and happier than he’d known she could be. This felt like the most real, honest moment they’d ever spent together. And he’d just lied to her. He cleared his throat “Are you going to be alright?”

Emily eyed Lucky carefully. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what he was thinking, but that sounded like an exit line.

“I think so. I mean, I’ll have to be.”

They stared at each other, again. Emily suddenly felt filled with doubt. She thought about what Lizzie had said. She was almost certain it had been some kind of trick. Lucky examined the suddenly detached look on Emily’s face. He didn’t want to ask her about Todd now. She was too upset. On the other hand, if she wasn’t so upset, then he wouldn’t be this worried. He didn’t know what to do. Desperate for a distraction, Lucky turned his attention to Raoul, walking across the clearing towards the now-filthy animal. Emily followed tentatively, confused. Suddenly she didn’t feel like they were connected anymore. It almost felt like Lucky didn’t want to be here. He crouched down next to her a joyful Raoul.

“Hey, Raoul,” he murmured to the dog, rubbing the animal’s neck. “You’re going to get yourself in trouble here.” Raoul ignored the warning, and rolled over onto his stomach. Lucky smiled at the dog’s complete lack of decorum, and rubbed his stomach. Raoul’s hind leg immediately started thumping on the ground. Emily watched her dog, reveling in Lucky’s attention and told herself sternly not to be jealous. She dropped to her knees beside Lucky.

“He still remembers you,” she said. “It’s funny how dogs keep their attachments. He’s always happy to see someone he knows from when he was a puppy, but people he met last week he doesn’t seem to remember.”

“Well, we’re old friends,” Lucky said softly, giving her his absolute sweetest smile. She felt a little better. “We’ve got history.”

Emily’s heart melted

“Yeah. I guess that’s worth something.”