(7 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
I sit and watch the embers die in the fireplace, thinking about the past, possible futures, and asking myself some uncomfortable questions. “Do I actually love Dash, or am I just confusing it with a strong feeling of friendship? Have I been just denying it to myself because... why? Because I don't want to hurt her? Because I feel guilty? I still love Ann, don't I? I made a sacred vow all those years ago and even if she released me from that I still haven't released myself.”
My thoughts are harsh, almost brutal, “Anyway, what possible life could we have together, Rainbow Dash the Wonderbolt and her freak husband. What kind of life is that? What happens when Dash wakes up one morning and really sees the creature she’s married? How long will it take for her to have second thoughts? Months? Years? When that day comes, will I be strong enough? Will it have been worth the suffering we’ll both experience?”
After the last cinder crumbled, I crawled upstairs into bed. It was a quiet, cool night. Laying there, examining the ceiling I was looking for answers. Unable to sleep I stepped out onto the balcony, leaning over the railing. Dash's home was always easy to spot, resting in the distance, the only blemish in a perfect sky. “Scratch that”, I mused out loud. It was a lovely mark in the sky, enhancing its perfection.
For one of the few times in my life, and the second time in this perfect world, I felt the need to call upon a higher power for guidance. The moon’s silver glow reminded me of the goddess whom I had called on before. My heart heavy, I composed my letter to Luna.
Dear Princess Luna,
Once again I look at your beautiful starry sky with no idea what to do. Rainbow Dash told
me she that she has feelings for me beyond friendship and I don't know how to respond.
I think I have those feelings as well, but I fear returning them. I don't want to hurt her and
I want her to be happy. I will speak to my friends this week and maybe through them you
can give me guidance.
I thank you for hearing my plea.
(6 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
The Carousel Boutique, the famous home of Rarity and a good friend. I walked in and waited while Rarity helped a customer. To my surprise I saw a familiar character, the mailmare, being fitted for one of Rarity's finest saddles. If I didn’t miss my guess, she was wearing a wedding dress. Admiring Rarity at work, I turned away when the gray mare hugged her and started thanking her. If I had understood correctly, the reason Derpy was so excited was that had to be because Rarity had given gave her the dress. Once we were alone I smirked, “That was awfully nice of you. The last time I saw a price tag on that one it was, what, two thousands bits? Can’t see a mailmare buying that on her salary.”
She made an exaggerated sigh, “Darling, even a philistine like you can see how perfectly the silver cloth accentuates her coat, and the gold accents match her eyes exquisitely. It would be scandalous for her not to wear that dress. One more fitting and the dress will be perfect for her.” A dreamy smile crossed her face while she watched the mailmare happily returning to the post office. Rarity mused, “She will make a beautiful bride.” She looked at me and concern grew on her face, “Alex, I may not be able to read you like Applejack or Rainbow Dash do, but even I can tell something is troubling you.”
Running my hand through my hair I took a deep breath then looked at her sheepishly, “I'm just an open book I guess. I don't even know how to ask this, but I just don't understand the nuances of pony society and I need your insights.”
“What do you mean, dear?”
“Okay. I've recently found out that a mare has...” My hands were waving vaguely, “those kinds of feelings. And, I don't know how to react. I mean, I'm a man, I'm not even a pony. What could I possibly offer? I mean, Dash is,” I stopped, hitting myself in the leg. “Damn it. Sorry, Dash. Look, long story short, I like Dash a lot, but,” thinking how to put my feelings to words I took a small pause. “I don't know what to do. I don't want to screw up her life just for me.” I started thinking, “On the other hand, it would be nice to have a family.” My eyes were avoiding Rarity’s gaze and I caught myself in one of the many mirrors that were all over the shop. I sneered, “Well that was a damn selfish thought.”
I glanced back at Rarity, embarrassed, and she had a sad smile. “Oh Alex, always the gallant knight.” She cleared her throat, “Still, Rainbow Dash is no shrinking violet, nor is she a mare that gives her affections lightly. Truth be known, she came to me for advice. I now know who her mysterious stallion was.”
I looked at her, surprised. “So, Dash came to you for advice? Well, it makes sense, you've always seemed knowledgeable on the subject of romance and such.” My thoughts turned back to my original question, “So, how do ponies, in general, feel about inter-species couples? I mean,” I voiced my greatest fear, “would Dash be ostracized?”
“Pony couples of different types do not even raise an eyelash. My father is an earth pony and my mother is a unicorn. As for completely different species, while rare, it is not unheard of. They do not generally meet with negative reactions, but there are always a few individuals who object. However, I want to assure you they are few and far between,” her smile grew warm, “and I know none of your friends will.”
(5 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
Despite what was going on in my personal life, organization of the theater still needed to be done, and my next step was to build the building. I had made an appointment yesterday to meet with the mayor. With my confidence and optimistic attitude I strode up the Mayor's office, located in the basement of the town hall. Unlike most of Ponyville, this building had seen better days. Clenching my fist nervously I firmly knocked on the door, only to have it slowly fall forward and land in a cloud of dust. I gave a little embarrassed smile and propped the remains of the door against the wall.
The Mayor looked tired and worried, and I could just imagine all the craziness she has to put up with in this town. And I suppose she was just getting ready for the next round of insanity. I decided to skip the formalities and get right to the point. “Madam Mayor, I would like to offer a gift to Ponyville. I would like to rebuild the town hall and expand it to include a full indoor theatre, and an expanded outdoor stage.”
She rolled her eyes, “Well, that's very kind of you, but we don't have to funds to...”
I smiled, “Ah, but here's the best part, I am both willing and able to fully finance this endeavour. In addition, the town will have full access to all the new facilities at no cost.”
She raised an eyebrow, “Come now, Mr Alex Roberts. Do you expect me to believe you are willing to donate tens of millions of bits to the town with no expectations.”
“Yes. Look, in my mind the money is found money. And I want to use it to give this town something back. It will be self financing both through income from ticket sales, concession stand, hall rentals, and so on. I want this to be a monument of my thanks to this community that will last a thousand years. I want foals to look and wonder what a human was. I want both Princesses to come here each year to be entertained, and who knows,” I shrugged, “maybe shed a tear in my memory.”
The Mayor looked at me for a long moment, “And you need building permits, tax concessions, and so on?”
“What I need is to know what you need to get the ball rolling.”
She had a huge grin, “First, I need these forms filled out and they need to be passed by the town counsel.” In a single quick but controlled movement she opened the dusty bottom drawer in a rusty filing cabinet and pulled out a stack of paper, at least 10cm thick. “Then, all the construction plans have to be approved. Pages 327 to 464 are the instructions.” She beamed at me, “I do so look forward to your plans coming to fruition, Mr. Alex Roberts.”
I thanked her and started making my way out. Focusing so intently on the tsunami of filing looming ahead of me I accidentally bumped into somepony. “Sorry about that, just looking over some paperwork.”
The pony I had bumped into had a grayish amber coast and dark gray mane. “Quite alright, I admire a pony lost in his work. The name is Filthy Rich, but you can call me Mr Rich. If I am correct you are the licentious Alex Roberts? How did Coins describe you? Ah yes, ‘A shaved diamond dog who doesn’t know his place around his betters.’”
He chuckled then glanced around. In a conspiratorial tone, “In my mind you put that close minded fool in his place. Sadly, realpolitik forces me to play nice with him. However, I want you to know you have friends, Mr Alex Roberts. Yes indeed, that you do. Well, I’m off to the council meeting, good day to you sir.”
(4 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
After working the entire morning with the paperwork, I needed a break. So many questions remained. Adequate hay storage? Silage for corn? Sanitary cleaning troughs? Pest control? ‘Ugh. I need a walk, say hi to Applejack, grab a bite, and come back and get back at it.’ On the bright side, a spreadsheet made the financial stuff easier to figure out. Never though I would be thinking that in Equestria.
I reached the town square at about half past one, and I could hear a commotion and bit of an agitated crowd not far by. As I got closer my ears picked up that sweet, sweet voice that could provide so much aggravation relief, Golden Coins. I was going to enjoy this.
“... duster were late with my very important business mail, worth far more than you will ever be.”
I heard the mailmare’s frightened voice, “I’m sorry Mr. Coins, I was just getting my wedding dress fitted and it ran a little late. I promise it won’t happen again.”
I strode over to Golden Coins. Ponies in the marketplace scamper out of my way, but, as crowds are want to do, they stay close by to see what happens.
I dropped to one knee and looked him straight in the eye, he stared back arrogantly. “Mr. Golden Coins! It's a pleasure to see you again! What do you say about being friends this time.” I extend my hand. He looks at me like I had offered him a dead skunk. “Oh, not friendly?” I put on an exaggerated pout and get a few giggles from the crowd.
“So, as I am still new around here, I heard you use some words that upset this lovely, young mare. I am quite confident this was just simply a misunderstanding. A stallion of your breeding and sophistication could not have possibly uttered the base words. I'm confident it's just my silly monster ears that misheard. Who would possibly bear any ill will toward our hard working mailmare?” The number of giggles in the crowd increased.
“However, you may freely call me a monster.” This caused a murmur and gasps from the crowd. “Because, to you, I suppose I am.” He took a step back as I stood up and towered over him. “Yup, a big scary monster.” The crowd was getting quiet, listening intently. “but, I want to assure you, sir, that I aim to be a friendly monster,” I melodramatically pose, “A handsome monster, and the finest tipper in Equestria.” More giggles moved through the crowd.
My expression became sober, serious. “You know, I'm willing to bet that in a 1000 years, no one will remember Golden Coins or Alex Roberts, but foals will be reading about the,” a look of disgust grew on my face, “‘feather dusters’ who are Elements of Harmony. Ponies who have saved your flank from Nightmare Moon, Discord, and I don’t know what else.”
“I'm sure Celestia will shed a tear on their birthdays long after they’re gone. You and me? We will be dust. We will be unremembered.“ I smiled, “Now, here is your opportunity! You can change, and become a better stallion. I want you to think. Do you want Silver Spoon to be full of hate? Really, honestly think about it. That's all I ask. I bid you an excellent day.” I turned with a self satisfied smirk on my face, confident my words have skewered him.
“One moment, Alex Roberts. The interesting thing about insulting your betters, is that they are your betters. Pencil Pusher, what is the current value of the Apple mortgage, please?”
A green coated, blue maned, short and pot bellied earth pony steps up and answers in a weedy voice, “One hundred and twenty-two thousand and fourteen bits exactly, sir.”
“Pencil Pusher, who, exactly, owns that mortgage?”
The little toad gave the smirk only a true sycophant can give, “The legal owner is Golden Coins. Why sir, that’s you.”
“And, when is the mortgage due?”
“Oh dear, sir. It was due at noon today.”
“One more question, Pencil. If I ask Mr Alex Roberts for, say, sixty five million to buy the Apple mortgage, how much should that leave him?”
“Well, sir, and keep in mind this is just an approximation based on our investigations, it should leave him one million two hundred and forty seven thousand nine hundred and fifty three bits and forty two cents. Approximately, sir.”
An earth pony mare with a little tray of coffees cup’s offers one to Coins. “Thank you Miss Butterscotch. Coffee? No? Ah, well let no pony ever say I took the oats out of their mouths. What do you say, Alex? Tick tock, the offer runs out when I finish my coffee, then I start foreclosure proceedings.”
Coins starts taking a loud slurp, but before he was done slurping, “Done. Let’s go to the bank.” I’ll be damned if someone pays for my mistakes. Anyway, I had a nice Christmas gift for Applejack now.
“That’s, ‘I’ll accept your generous offer, Mr Coins, sir.’ Now, try again.”
“On your knee.” He added dismissively, “You’re far too tall.” There was a mummer in the crowd.
I drop to one knee, my head low, “I’ll accept your generous offer, Mr Coins, sir.”
“And what do you say when someone extends their hoof with such kindness?”
“Thank you. Sir. Now may we please get this over with? Sir.”
He smiled a predators smile, “But of course. Now follow behind.” I had just been played like a harpsichord, and I knew it. All I could do was follow behind Coins like a beaten dog.
(3 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
My worries wern’t about the loss of all those bits, they were a lot more selfish than that. I could drum up support from the town. Sell donation bricks, get sponsorships, sink what I had left into it, that kind of thing. No, I was being selfish and worrying about Alex Roberts.
As I walked past the gates of Sweet Apple Acres, the smell of apple trees made me forget my problems for a moment. I had come for solid advice from one of Dash’s best friends. Anyway, I chuckled to myself, she owes me one, not that I’ll ever tell her. Applejack was leaning on the fence and taking a break.
As I neared, “Hey, Applejack! Do you have a few minutes?”
She wiped her brow and slowly smiled, “For you I’ve got all day, sugarcube. “ With that easy smile of hers, “What’s on your mind?”
“I've got a problem. Well, not a problem exactly, just a dilemma. It’s... “
She was leaning closer, putting her hoof on my mouth, “I know what you done. With Coins, I mean. That was the kindest, sweetest and stupidest thing anypony has ever done for us.” She was close enough that her musk filled my nostrils, and my eyes unfocused a little. ”For me.” She suddenly moved forward and gave me quick peck on the lips. Her cheeks were red. “What ya did means a lot to me.” She pulled her hat down and turned away, “Shoot, I’m no good at this kind of stuff. I knows y’all are married, but consarn it, you’ve done everything for mah family and I’ve done nuthin’ for ya.”
“About what happened... wait, how did you find out? You know what, I don’t care how you found out. I just did something very very stupid and you were going to pay the price. The truth is I underestimated Coins and I fell in his trap. It was a setup from the get go. I also realize I’m not as smart as I think I am and I’m very sorry I got you dragged into my mess. Anyway, think of it as an early Christmas, sorry, a Hearth's Warming Eve gift.”
“Sugarcube, you threw away everything you planned for, what you were so excited about.”
I shrugged, “He was going to foreclose, what could I do.”
“Foreclose? The foreclosure date is a month from now.”
“He... he bucking lied to me? He told me it was noon yesterday.” I groaned and hit my head against the fence. Repeatedly. “He played me! He played me so hard I smell of harpsichord wax.”
I felt her hoof on my back, “Don't do that sugarcube. You'll just break the fence with that hard head of yours. Now, you have to talk to a lawyer and...”
“No, that Luna darned jerk made me seal the contract with my hoof print, my thumb print actually, not that it matters. I was told by the bank clerk that it cannot be revoked under any circumstances. Coins said it was the only way he would sell it to me. What choice did I have? The only bright side in this miserable week is I figured out who left the note.”
I looked at Applejack. She was slowly pushing her hat back again, a light breeze was making a few errant hairs in her mane frame her face in the stream of light just behind her. Her eyes were half closed and a warm smile was growing. I was struck by her beauty. I’m sure somewhere there was a choir of angels singing. It was the kind of moment you remember in your old age.
I shook my head, took a breath and revealed my findings, “I know for sure it was Dash.” At that moment I wondered if I had said something wrong. I’m sure it was just my imagination, but I thought I heard the sound of a record needle being dragged across a disk. Applejack’s expression slowly collapsing, her eyes pinpricks, her mouth slightly open in shock.
She shook her head, and quietly asked, “Beg pardon?”
“I know, right. Who knew Dash would be crushing on me. I’m not even a pony for Celestia’s sake. Why would any mare want anything but a friendship with me.” I shook my head sadly, “Anyway, that’s why I’m here Applejack. I want your advice on what to do.”
Applejack didn’t answer, she just leaned quietly on the fence. I was so wrapped up in my own problems, I didn’t realize she was crying. “Whoa, hey there Applejack. What’s wrong?” I put my hand on her shoulder and she shrugged it off. “Okay, no touching. So, what can I do to help?”
“Not much y’all can do about it.” She turned to look at me, tears forming in her eyes, “It wern’t Rainbow Dash that left that note, it was me.” Now, it was my turn to stand in slack jawed surprise. “I raced ahead of y’all after Dash left. I knows more than a few short cuts, and you can be a little slow. Did Rainbow say she left the note?”
“No, I thought I was being clever. She let me know that she had special feelings. Damn it Applejack, I didn’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I never thought I would be in this position. Like, I seriously never thought that in a million years. Ever.” I hung my head low, “And now I have Dash and you both interested in me. You’re both crazy. But, I am flattered. And, spending time with you is like spending time with Ann. Maybe too much.”
She sniffed, “What do you mean?”
“It’s stupid, really, but truth be known, being around you just makes me happy. You’re so much like Ann, well, like I said, you may as well be her. And that’s the problem. Is it you that I like and feel happy with, or is it that you remind me of the wife I lost so long ago. An Ann substitute. And Applejack, I just don’t know. How unfair would it be to you if deep down you were just a substitute.” Looking up at the sky, I saw a stray cloud and wondered if Dash was there. “I need to sort things out in my head. I want to make sure my decision is one I honestly feel, not something I’m confusing. I don't want to... heck, I just don't want to screw things up between all of us. Can I have a few days? Please?”
We leaned quietly for a few minutes. Applejack sighed, “Why do you have to be so darn decent?”
(2 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
I was down in the dumps. As much as I appreciated the girls, I needed to talk to another guy. I did a very quick, and very short, check list of guys I feel I know well enough to talk with. I had Spike, but crossed it out. He's too young. Big Macintosh? Am I nuts? I could picture it, “Hey Mac, the girl you're crushing on and your sister want to be my special friend. What should I do?” The result would be ugly. Mr. Cake? I've said maybe three words to him. Cranky? We've chatted a few times, but nothing beyond the weather. Elusive? Well, I usually see him once a week for some clothing related issue and we always have a good talk. I needed a new pair of socks anyway.
I entered the tailoring shop of Snazzy Suit and Elusive. Elusive was manning the counter at the moment. He greeted me with a friendly smile, “Alex, how's my favorite human?”
“Not good, Elusive, not good.”
Genuine concern passed over his face, “What's wrong Alex? You look like a dragon ate your pet dog.”
“Ha, I wish that's what happened. That I could deal with.” I leaned on the counter, one elbow propping my head up. “Elusive, you’re the only guy friend I have that doesn’t want to beat the tar out of me or set me on fire. Although Spike doesn’t really count, he’s just a kid. Anyway, I’ve just lost a big chunk of my fortune and I’ve got girl problems, and I just need a buddy to sink a few and shoot the horse apples with. I know this is coming off as want-y, but I could really use a friend right now.”
“Well, that's easy, of course you're my friend. Just because we don't hang out every moment of every day, doesn't mean I don't think of you as a friend.”
I put my head on the counter, “Please tell me it's just as a friend. Nothing else.”
“Okay, now you're getting creepy.”
I laughed, “Once I tell you, you'll understand. Two questions, where's the nearest bar and when can you get off work.”
“There's the Grain Bucket, and I can leave right now.” He opened the curtains to the back of the shop and let his dad know he was leaving.
Elusive lead me to the Grain Bucket, a seedy bar by pony standards. Elusive had a little salty beer, and I was ever so happy to see they had rye whiskey. I gave the bar tender two 100 bit coins to start a tab and told him Elusive was on it too. The bartender kind of knew who I was, and knew I was rolling in it, so was happy to oblige. I started with two shots before I launched into my story. I didn't tell him who they were, just in case.
By the time I was done, I was a third of the way through the bottle. “Tho, in sum... summery, I have two hot mares who love me and,” I wildly gestured and spilled booze in an arc, “I got ripped off by the son of a diamond dog Coins. Those two mares are great! One is so brave and brash and... and in your face. And the other is so sweet and warm, just like the wife I lost.” I downed my glass and refilled it, “So, this is where you come in. You're a guy, right? I mean, I didn't check you out, but you're a guy, right?”
Elusive had a lot of salt in his system. He looked between his legs, snorted, “Yup! I'm all stallion, me. The ladies love that elusive taste.” We both laughed.
“So, what would you do about the mares? There must be four or five mares for every stallion in this town. I'm sure you've encountered that before.”
“Well, the first thing I would do is buck Coins in the head. Wouldn't help, but it would make me feel better. As far as having two mares who want to be your special friend, that's a tough one. The mares seem to know where it would work and not work. But, you're not a pony and that makes things a little more complicated. I'm afraid I just don't have a lot of advice.”
“Heck, that was more advice than I bargained for. Thanks for being honest and all.” I concentrated for a moment, “You've got a thing for Rarity, right? I mean, she's cute and all, but not my type. And, she's not one of the mares I was talking about.”
He leered, “I think I could teach her a thing or two about sewing, if you know what I mean. She's so ele.. hic... elegant, and smooth in all the right places. Like a sexy marshmallow. Rarity and Elusive would be one of a kind.” He giggled at his own joke.
“Well buddy, You know how I said I come from a different world where ponies are all like a weekly play, thing.” He nodded, “Well, I have an insider tip. You've got no chance with her.” I looked around and whispered conspiratorially, “That girl's got dragon fever.”
“Well, horse apples, that sucks.” He took a shooter, put a full tablespoon of salt and topped it off with rye, “Here's to love bucking us over.” He shot the drink back, and kept going until he was on the floor.
I figured the least I could do is help Elusive home. I fireman carried him for most of the distance. However, tripping with a 62kg pony over your shoulders and face planting in the gravel, while drunk, will wake both participants very quickly. After much laughter, he dragged himself home and I did the same thing.
(1 days to meeting with Rainbow Dash)
Tomorrow is the day I'm meeting Dash and I'm as conflicted as ever. I realize I have not talked to Twilight yet and I didn't want to make a decision without her insight. Although, at this point, all I have is two mares who are crushing on me and the realization that I am not as clever as I thought I was.
I knocked on the library door and was greeted by Spike sporting two little nose plugs. “Hey Alex, Twi’s just in the main room. She’ll be the unicorn under the pile of books.”
“Cool, thanks Spike.”
I walked to the big pile of books and dropped down on my back beside Twilight. “This has been the craziest week of my life.”
“What’s wrong, Alex?”
“Before I tell you, let me ask you a serious question. Do you harbor any kind of secret crush, love, special friend fantasy, or anything of that nature in regards to me?”
“What? Eww gross.” Twilight looked embarrassed, ”No, sorry, I didn’t mean it quite like that.”
I laughed from the gut for the first time since this all started, “Oh thank Luna. That is exactly what I want to hear. It was getting to the point I was going to ask the mayor to call a town meeting just so I could ask if there was anyone else who had a crush on me. With my luck five mares and a stallion would raise their hooves.”
She laughed, “Wow, sounds like an interesting week.”
“Tell me about it. Lets see, I’ve had two mares tell me they want to be special friends, in no uncertain terms I might add, and if that wasn't enough I was tricked out of most of my fortune by Golden Coins. Now I have to break the heart of a friend and figure out how to fund my theater after promising it to the Mayor. Did I mention I suspect the Mayor thinks I’m an idiot?”
“What?! What happened?” I told Twilight about my stupidity and financial loss. “But, you know what, I'm still ahead of where I usually am. I can raise money, that's not a problem. I've got enough cash to get things started and, more importantly, I have friends. I hope I don't loose any.” I sighed.
Twilight asked, “So, who are the lucky mares?”
“I would rather not say, just to keep everyones dignity intact. If they want to tell you, they can, I just don't want to make that kind of decision for them. I hope you can understand that.”
My self indulgent monologue was interrupted by a mighty burp emanating from Spike. Twilight, familiar with this form of mail delivery, deftly snatched the scroll with her purple glow before it hit the ground. I saw the seal on the letter was different than the golden sun one I received from Princess Celestia. It was a black disk with a dark blue moon.
“Thank you Spike.” She took the scroll and started to open it, and stopped. “Oh, this is addressed to you Alex. I didn't know you were known to Princess Luna.”
I frowned in confusion, “I didn't know either.” I took the scroll, snapped the seal, and opened it. It was made from the same perfect paper but the writing was more ornate, you could say more old fashioned.
My Faithful Adherent Alex Roberts,
We Were Pleased To Receive Your Supplication And Have Chosen This Time To Reply.
As You Know Affairs Of The Heart Are Complex And With Both Applejack And Rainbow
Dash Pleading Us For Yours You Are Seated At A Cross Roads That Few Would Envy.
Two Good Friends Whom You Love, And Now You Must Break One Or Both Hearts. As
The Goddess Of Romantic Love, I Could Give You A True And Simple Answer. But You
Are Not Of This World And That Would Not Give You The True, Deep Satisfaction Your
My Counsel To You Is To Ask Yourself A Question Of Each Mare Only You Can Answer.
Do You Love Her Soul?
This Guidance I Give Unto You In Love, My Faithful Adherent.
I read the letter again, letting the words find meaning. I slowly clutched the letter to my chest and pressed my eyes closed, wetness seeping, devastated at how dead centre this had hit my heart. My shoulders shook as I tried to suppress my emotions. That question, that simple stupid question.
Twilight was at my side, “What's wrong Alex? Are you all right?” I shake my head from side to side in answer.
I didn't want to hurt one of my friends, but if I looked deep, I knew which souls I loved.