There wasn’t jealousy in the tone. Branli and Andrew were very platonic but certainly not involved. This was something else.

“You lied to me.” And there it was. Andrew paced the patio facing Puget Sound. “I can pretty much forgive anyone. I’m a pretty forgiving person but lying? Especially from you?” He tried to meet Branli’s eyes, but they dodged his stare.

Branli stared at the floor uneasily. Ashamed. “I’m just finding things out just as much as you are,” he tried to defend. “It’s not like–”

“Just tell me the truth on how you met this guy. Is he some crazy ex?” Andrew inquired.

“No nothing like that.” Branli shook his head. “I already told you, he’s someone who says he remembers me from–”

“I can believe you have some sort of selective memory, but this bad? I call bullshit.”

Branli’s eyes watered. He wanted to cry but couldn’t yet bring himself to do it. He didn’t understand it all. It all seemed like something out of a bad dream. He was suddenly thrown into the midsts of it and was struggling to keep up.

Branli approached Andrew, ready to embrace his friend but Andrew pulled away. The gesture proved what had already been suspected, they were drifting apart.

Branli stood for a moment, closing his eyes and knowing a line had been drawn. It was time to move on.

“I think it may be time for me to continue on my journey… alone,” Branli┬áchoked the words out.

“I think you’re right,” Andrew replied solemnly.

Ashanty stepped on the patio uneasily, sensing the tension. “You guys are fighting again, huh?” Her brown eyes studied the boys.

“I think it’s going to be just you and me from here on out,” Branli turned to Ashanty.

“Oh?” Ashanty turned to Andrew for an answer but he avoided her gaze.

“I think I’m going to go pack,” Andrew finally said leaving.

“So are we driving back to California?” Ashanty asked.

“No,” Branli answered. “He has friends here. In fact his best friend. She’ll be coming around to pick him up I’m sure, or I’ll drop him off.”

“You want to talk about it?” Ashanty put her hand on his shoulder.

“Maybe later?” Branli was holding back the tears. He knew Ashanty could see it. She nodded and walked away to give him a moment.

Defeated by emotions he sat on the floor and holding his head he began to cry. When it became too much he’d cover his mouth to silence the sobs.

What does this all mean? Why is this happening?

The cellphone rang. It was Devon.

Branli wiped away the tears. He stood up with a sense of resolve, determined to make a final decision. He pulled his hand back, ready to toss the phone in hand into the ocean. As he leaned back his sight focused on the watch…

419.5hrs remaining…

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