Warmth in Ice (A Find You in the Dark novella)
either. He spent most of my break being pissed at me,” I said irritably.
    Brent frowned. “Why was he mad at you?”
    “He’s feeling insecure with me being here and him being there. Long distance relationships are hard enough for people who started normally. And normal is one thing we never were. So for Clay and me it’s twice as hard because we’re still fighting all that old stuff too,” I explained.
    Brent swung his legs around and leaned his elbows on his knees, giving me a stern look. “That doesn’t mean he can be shitty to you, you know,” he lectured. I had to smile. He reminded me so much of Danny that it made me feel warm inside.
    “I know, Dad,” I teased and Brent rolled his eyes.
    “I’m not making excuses, I promise. But the thing with Clay is he doesn’t always see and hear things the way they really are. When he’s doing well, it’s easy to forget that he’s a guy who is still learning how to think and act like the rest of us. And I’m here, experiencing life-changing shit and he isn’t with me. It’s just hard.” I sat down on my bed and faced my friend.
    “He was upset I wasn’t coming down to Florida for fall break. I was upset he couldn’t come to Virginia. So we ended up spending the last seven days upset with each other and not really talking about it,” I finished, throwing my hands in the air in my frustration.
    “Well, you don’t seem depressed and you’re not throwing shit so either you cope really well with stuff or you talked it out eventually,” Brent accurately deduced.
    “Yeah, we did,” I admitted, smiling.
    Brent gently tapped my knee. “Relationships are tough. The long distance ones even more so. There has to be give and take. Just make sure you’re equal in who does the giving and who does the taking. From what you’ve said, Clay has had a rough go of it. So if you’re serious about this relationship lasting, you need to put the effort into it. More so now that you’re not together every day,” Brent said sagely.
    “Shit, Brent, you should start your own relationship advice column,” I smirked, earning me a dirty look.
    “You know I’m right. So, you’ve said Clay can’t come up to see you because of his program, maybe you should surprise him. Fly down to see him,” Brent suggested.
    I made an inelegant snort in the back of my throat. “Yeah, with what money?” I asked, rolling my eyes. “There’s no way my parents would pay for that,” I complained.
    Brent threw a pair of socks at me and I had to bat them away before I was hit in the face. “There are these crazy things called jobs…maybe you could get one.” Jeesh, Brent’s sarcasm could rival my own.
    Instead of responding with my own smart-ass remark, I paused. Brent was right. I got to my feet and pulled him after me.
    “Where are we going?” he asked, grabbing his baseball hat from the desk and putting it on as I hurried into the hallway.
    “We’re finding me a job!” I answered excitedly.

Clay is worth it. Clay is worth it. Clay is worth it.

    T hree weeks later, I was repeating this mantra over and over again.
    I had gotten a job waiting tables at a small Italian restaurant down the road from the university. I somehow, in my exuberance to make money, momentarily forgot that I sucked at waiting tables. That me and trays full of glasses was a match made in hell.
    My manager was a dick, the customers tipped like crap and I left work smelling like I had been dipped in garlic. It took days after a shift to get the smell out of my hair.
    But Clay was worth it.
    I had gotten two paychecks and had saved all of my tips. I already had enough money for the plane ticket to Florida. Now it was just a matter of getting my parents on board with the plan.
    I would be going home for Thanksgiving and I planned to drop the bomb then. I knew my mom was feeling her empty nest but this bird was gonna fly. All the way to Florida for Christmas.
    I hadn’t said a word to Clay yet. We hadn’t

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