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Episode 775: Nowhere To Run

Caroline’s grandmother perched out front with an undoubtedly bitter glass of lemonade in hand. She’d told Jesse to go right on in. She’d said it with a smile. He’d suspected Caroline’s grandmother didn’t like him all that much and that confirmed it. She knew Charlie was there, sitting on the sofa with Caroline. She knew it couldn’t feel great for the old boyfriend to see the current one.

The fact that Caroline still hadn’t broken things off with Charlie, and she probably never would, wasn’t going to chase off Jesse. He had nowhere else to go, no one else to talk to, unless you counted his little brother, who he absolutely could not, and would not talk to about this.

“I need to tell you something.” Jesse stepped to the sofa. He didn’t wait on hellos, or apologize for interrupting their date, or whatever, he just blurted, “I’ve been trying to steal you away from Charlie, working on the campaign wasn’t about helping him, it was a way to get close to you, Caro, just like you suspected. And I lied about how I’m still sick sometimes, and that’s why I was late getting home that one night, it wasn’t some imaginary girlfriend. I just invented her to cover the truth and make you jealous. I lied because I could, because I thought lies would fix things. I lied because I’m a lying liar and I inherited that from my mom. Did you know she cheated? I just found that out, like a couple hours ago. I found out she cheated. I found out that my family could, like, blow up any minute now.”

His eyes filled with tears which was totally embarrassing, and like the lies weren’t already enough to turn Caroline off him forever, and make Charlie, who was, in fact, a nice, cool guy, despise him, Jesse outright sobbed in front of them, a total meltdown. He couldn’t help it.

“I’m really sorry,” Jesse, said sniffling and wiping at his eyes and choking on the words. “I guess I’m like my mom. She’s like this.” He gestured with both hands at himself. “I’m horrible, and I guess she passed that down to me. It’s in the genes.”

Much to Jesse’s surprise, and his relief, Caroline came over to him, and she hugged him. She couldn’t hate him as much as he thought she would, as much as he thought he hated his mom just then.

“I don’t like that you lied to me,” Caroline said, “especially about being sick, but, we can deal with that another time, when you’re not so…” She didn’t bother to finish the thought; she just hugged him again.

When Caroline stepped back, Charlie clapped him on the shoulder. “Trying to steal someone’s girlfriend is… well, it’s not great. It’s not. But, I think, somewhere along the way, despite your apparently worst intentions, we did become friends, I truly believe that. I consider you my friend. And I know if I was going through what you’re going through, I’d hope you’d forgive me for acting like a jerk, because you’d realize that right then a friend would sound pretty good to me. So, if you need a place to crash for the night, away from the parent drama, my bedroom floor is available. I’d do that for a friend.”

Episode 776: If You'Re Gone

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