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Paul smiled. “This is the first step.”
Jordan returned the gesture.
It was amazing. Paul has been striving to understand how Nobody did it for more than ten years, and he finally had made real progress. There were more questions to answer, but Paul couldn’t stop long enough to consider them. This was amazing! It was so awesome!
“I have to tell Stacy!”
Jordan rolled his eyes. “Fine.” It came out a resigned sigh. “I’ll clean up and draft the paper.”
Paul darted out of the room and sprinted along the campus. He flew past the cafeteria and into the Sigma Alpha Sigma sorority house.
“Paul!” One of Stacy’s sorority sisters, maybe her name was Amy, called to him, but he didn’t want to stop.
He ascended the stairs and burst into Stacy’s room. His mind barely registered the feeling of a white towel on her door nob as he swung open the door to find Stacy in her bed with another man.
Shadows seemed to creep around his vision. His heart swelled with fury, and all he could see was the man with his girl. Blond hair, deepened a shade of brown by sweat, fell over his face and shoulders. He had a narrow face highlighted by a five o’clock shadow and brown eyes.
Paul couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t even think. All he could do was stare at that face.
Stacy called to him, but Paul barely heard her. He stomped over to the bed.
The man tried to kick at him. Paul laughed. A kick? Paul had once been thrown through a table! He grabbed the man’s leg and yanked. A strange pop came from the man’s hip as Paul twisted, still pulling. The bastard flew out of the bed and slammed into the wall. The dry wall collapsed, and a mirror fell from the wall, shattering despite the carpet on the floor.
Paul finally saw something other than that bastard’s face. Each shard of the broken mirror, a mirror Paul had never even seen before, reflected Paul standing. The look on his face horrified him.
It was a perfect reflection of his father’s face. He remembered his promise to himself.
I’m never going to be that man!
Paul shut his eyes, trying to remember the promise even as every fiber in his being wanted to kill the man on the floor. Shame and guilt warred with anger and betrayal.
“If you can stand and walk, get out.”
“What are you doing?” Stacy screamed the question. She’d finally managed to get out of the bed, a sheet wrapped around herself.
“I could ask you the same question.” Paul heard himself and was afraid at the rage barely hidden in a whisper.
She betrayed you! How long has she been sleeping around? Is this the only other man?
Paul heard his own knuckles cracking as he clenched his fists.
This is it, Paul thought. This rage is what he must have felt.
But that wasn’t the real issue. He was hurt, ashamed, confused, and sad. The anger was a reflex.
The man managed to get to his feet. He looked at Paul, who had his father’s large, stout frame even without lifting weights. If that idiot fought him, Paul might kill him.
They locked eyes, and the man jerked as if frightened by something. Then he limped slowly out of the room.
Paul shut his eyes, trying to will away the rage.
Stacy reached back and slapped him.
Everything seemed to freeze. Paul stared at her with eyes wide with shock and fury. Stacy trembled for a moment and then stood tall.
“This is the first time you’ve come to see me in a week,” she said. She slept with another man, and now she’s lecturing him? “The only time you bother to see me is when you want sex. I thought you were different. I thought you actually cared.”
“Are you trying to justify your own actions against mine?” Paul’s tone caused her to take a cautious step backward. “So you cheated on me because I was inattentive. So what should I do now that you’ve created on me?”
He wasn’t looking at anything as he pondered his own questions, but the last one caused him to look at her. She looked back at him, and he recognized that face, too. It was the same look of determination he used to give his own father.
I won’t be that man!
He replayed the last three minutes of his life in his head. I already am that man.
His head fell. “I’m sorry.”
He left, careful not to come anywhere near her. A part of him wanted to lash out. He’d forgotten how strong he actually was. He wanted to go find that man and pummel him into oblivion. Instead, he stalked through the campus toward his dorm.
Every step, his mind replayed what had happened. A part of him still wanted to kill him.
He made it to his door.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” He hadn’t opened the door yet, but he knew. He turned the nob and entered. “You put the mirror in there at some point.”
Stacy could have bought it. She was right. He couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d taken her out. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d spoken to her. He was so busy. The closer he got to the answer, the more he pulled away. Who knew what changes Stacy made to the room between visits, but Paul doubted it was her. That mirror had to be put exactly where it would land exactly how it did. If it hadn’t, Paul might have killed a man.
“Yes.” Nobody sat at the chair beside Paul’s desk.