squeezed his hand, then kissed his cheek.
"Call me," he said, and slipped out of the apartment.
    Josalee sat down again and closed her eyes. She
took a deep breath and tried to relax her shoulders, but they
remained hunched around her neck, as though guarding her from the
blows of an assailant.
    David stood frozen on the stairs, his heart
pounding. "Jo?" he squeaked.
    "I need to tell you something," she said. She
opened her eyes and curled her hands into fists in her
    His lips parted, and his hand tightened on the
banister. "Okay."
    She exhaled. "I'm pregnant."
    He sat down on the stairs as though someone
shoved him. Sweat beaded on his upper lip and hairline.
    "And," she sobbed, "I'm so sorry." The tears
ran down her cheeks like rain during a hurricane. "I had blood work
done. They told me I'm HIV positive."
    David's mouth fell open. The room went grey and
swayed around him. "No," he whispered. He reached up for the
banister, clenched his fingers around it, and pulled himself up. He
took two shaky steps down the stairs. Without looking at Josalee,
he turned the knob and left the apartment.

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    Upside Down (On the
Edge #2)
    Octavia took a sip of her orange smoothie and
settled onto the bench. The wood creaked underneath her. Her hair
spiraled toward the sky, as fluffy as her bottom. She adjusted the
waistband of her leggings and amped up the volume on her
headphones. In just a few minutes, she would be on the bus, and
then she would be at her parents' house, gathering some of her last
few boxes. Sure, it would have been easier to rent a truck, but she
needed every cent for her apartment.
    Her apartment. She smiled at the possessive. "It's
all mine," she said, then glanced around. A man leaned against the
glass of the bus stop box, loose curls covering his face.
" Always get caught talkin' to myself." She
man — who looked about her
age — didn't smile back. The
breeze brushed his brown hair out of his face, revealing tracks of
drying tears.
    "Damn," Octavia said. "You look about as happy
as a stripper on a dead night. My friend's a stripper. Don't know
why, but she loves that damn job. Hey, you okay?" She scooted
closer to where he stood and yanked one of her headphones out. His
head hung and he stared at the ground. "Dude, you strung out on
    He sighed. "This shit usually happens to heroin
addicts," he said.
    One of her eyebrows shot up. "So you are strung
out. I've never met a bona fide junkie." She plucked the other
headphone out of her ear.
    He shook his
head. "I can see why people get addicted, though." He pushed off the
glass and paced, his hands shoved into his
    "You get in a fight with your girlfriend?" She
leaned forward.
    He laughed, a short outburst. "I'm
    "Damn!" She snapped her fingers and shook her
head. After a beat, she cocked her head at him. "If you ain't got
no girl causin' you trouble, what're you crying about,
    He swiped away
fresh tears and sat down next to her. "I messed up. Way up." He glanced
down the road, eyes scanning for the bus.
    "Tell Auntie Octavia all about it," she said.
She pulled a packet of Newports from her backpack and lit one, then
held the others out to him.
    He shook his
head, then his eyes drifted back into the distance. "I've never
been attracted to women. Ever . And then I met her." Octavia
raised another eyebrow. "We both ended up choosing Fashion my
freshman year. We went to a technical high school," he clarified.
"I was good at sewing but not so much at designing. She was a great
designer and

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