Epilogue :: Broken
Every now and then, an author makes a hard decision to cut a scene. Sometimes it's the right call. Sometimes it's not. In the case of Broken, it was the latter. I opted to cut my original epilogue—and judging from the fact that you have all been wanting more Olivia, more Paul, I should have left it int!
So here it is ... my original epilogue in its original (albeit, unedited) glory!
Epilogue (deleted scene :: previously unpublished)
I totally meant it when I said I was going to do it on my own—no more living off the parents.
And I mostly am. Rent comes of my paycheck. Groceries? Out of my paycheck. Bills? All me.
New shoes? Non-existent because my paycheck's gone towards the aforementioned categories.
But. But. When your parents know people who know people whose office overlooks Times Square on New Year's Eve?
You just don't say no.
Ethan—yes, that Ethan ... my ex-boyfriend—tops of my champagne glass before gesturing across the table where Stephanie is berating Paul for never having seen a John Hughes film.
"It's just ... just ..." Stephanie sputters and takes another bite of crab cake as though to gather her thoughts. "It's un-American. Not even The Breakfast Club?"
Paul catches my eye across the table. "Help me," he mouths.
I scrunch my face up as though I don't understand and he glares.
I give him a bright smile, and Ethan snorts. "I know that smile. Poor Paul."
So yes, yes, I know you're confused as to why I'm sitting her chatting it up with my ex boyfriend. And why my current boyfriend is talking to my ex's new girl.
Well, here's the thing.
Ethan and Stephanie have kinda, sorta, well, friends.
I mean, I'm still best friends with Bella, of course, and I still have girls' night with some of sorority sisters, and go out for drinks with coworkers.
Similarly, Paul has already made a few friends at work (he's a data analyst at some investment firm—turns out he's brilliant with numbers. Who knew?) Anyway, he has his friends, and I have mine.
But Ethan and Stephanie are our couple friends.
Yeah. My ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, plus my new boyfriend—we all hang out. It all feels ridiculously modern and mature of us, especially since Ethan and my split was um, not quite amicable?
I still catch Paul giving Ethan the stink eye every now and then, just on principle, but Ethan never notices because he's too busy ogling Stephanie's boobs or staring adoringly at her.
Which I'm just fine with. Truly.
Because I'm usually staring adoringly at Paul, who true to his promise, has embraced "real life" with an ease and charm I didn't expect.
It's been nice, seeing this whole other side of him. And it's cheesy to say, but I think I'm even more infatuated than I was before. The more sides of Paul I discover, the more sides I come to love.
"You're doing it again," Ethan says, giving me an exasperated eye roll.
He nods in Paul's direction. "Staring at him like he's the best thing to ever happen to you."
I give an intentionally dreamy sigh. "He's amazing. Especially compared to the last guy I dated."
Ethan barks out a laugh. A good sport, this one.
"Actually," I say, running a rueful finger up and down my champagne flute stem, "It was me that didn't treat the last guy so well, if I'm being totally honest."
"Oh God," Ethan says with complete exasperation. "Get over it already. If we have to talk one more time about our messy history . . ."
"Okay, okay." I hold up my hands. "It is forever and always behind us."
He narrows his eyes. "Swear. Swear you will never mention it again."
"I swear," I respond immediately.
And then I smile. Ethan's forgiven me.
I've forgiven myself. That part of my life is over.
He nods. "Good. But actually . . . before we slam every door on our past, have you heard from him?"
My good mood fades slightly. Okay, maybe that part of my life isn't totally over. I know who he's talking about, of course—the boy who was as much a part of our relationship as we were, the good parts and the bad.
He's talking about Michael.
I shake my head. "I haven't heard from him. Not since my douche-bag boyfriend orchestrated the world's worst soap opera with the three of us in Maine."
"Heard that," Paul says, without taking his eyes off Stephanie, who prattles on, undaunted about Molly Ringwald's mysterious allure.
I blow him a kiss, which he ignores, but I know from his smile that he saw it.
I turn back to Ethan. "Have you talked to Michael?"
Ethan shakes his head. "I heard from my parents who heard from his that he's in Texas."
"Texas?!" My voice goes up an octave. "Seriously? Hasn't he volunteered on the campaign of every Democrat who's ever run, ever? They'll eat him alive in Texas."
"Yeah, I know," Ethan says with a rueful smile. "I can't see it either."
"Why'd he go there?"
But I already know the answer. It's because of me. He's running from me, and all of the feelings I just couldn't return. Ethan merely shrugs in response, but I know that he knows it too.
I wait for the familiar sensation of guilt to wash over me. I wait for self-loathing to creep into my bones.
The feelings never come.
I feel sadness, definitely, for the loss of friendship.
And for the pain of a boy who was a friend. But I also know that taking the weight of Michael's hurt on my shoulders won't do any good. Michael will heal. In his way, on his own.
Paul moves drops into the chair on my other side, sliding a hand behind my neck and he presses his lips to my temple. "You okay?" he whispers.
I nod, before taking a deep breath and slowly letting it go. I let Michael go, and send good thoughts to Texas, whatever that's about.
The Michael I know is about as cowboy as I am hippie. But it's his journey to figure out. I can only hope that his journey ends as happily as mine.
Paul holds out a hand. "The countdown's about to start. Shall we go fight for our spot at the window?"
"Nah," I say, taking his hand and letting him pull me to my feet. "Let's stand near the back. Make out a little."
"Okay, but do it on the other side of the room," Stephanie says, having plainly eavesdropped. "We claim this half."
Paul rolls his eyes and drags me in the other direction. "So. Got any resolutions?" he asks.
I purse my lips. "Does moving apartments count? Because I've only been in the new place a month, but I don't think I can take it much longer."
He closes his eyes. "Oh thank God. You mean it? I swear there are flies coming in through the vents of that building. Flies, Olivia."
I lean into him, winding my arms around his neck. "Well, I was thinking . . . if we pool our resources, and between the two of us, if we're paying one rent check instead of two . . . "
Paul's arms lock around my waist. "Olivia Middleton, are you asking me to live in sin with you?"
"I am. Providing it's in a place with a working elevator, not within a half block of any Thai restaurant, and none of our neighbors have an affinity for folksy rap at three am."
"Yeah?" I say, feeling oddly nervous. "You're sure? Because—"
"Hey," he says softly. "Don't do that. We've already lived together once, remember? We've gotten the hard stuff out of the way."
"Right," I say, pretending to stretch my memory to recall our time in Maine. "And by hard stuff being out of the way, you mean your terrible attitude, your temper, and the way you—"
"—your self-righteousness," he interrupts, "Your stupid lectures, your mandatory shared meals . . ."
He grins. I grin back.
"I love you," he says, his voice gruff. "Always."
I kiss his chin. "I love you. Forever."
He winces. "That was terrible. If you tell anyone that mushy exchange just happened, I'll deny it."
"Actually, we heard it," Stephanie says from behind us. "But I won't tell anyone. Just all of my Facebook friends. And Twitter followers. And—"
"You have, like, four friends on any of the social networks," Ethan says, glancing down at Stephanie. "It's part of that whole anti-social thing you have going on."
Stephanie nods. "That's true. Quality over quantity. And sorry we had to crash your little moment over here. Ethan's parents started making out over there, so we had to evacuate."
I wave this away. "Wait, hold on. Back up. We're not friends on any of those networks," I say, narrowing my eyes at Stephanie, who looks adorable as ever in a tiny silver sequin dress and scary boots.
She reaches up to pat my shoulder. "No, we're not. But keep working on it, Blondie. Maybe a little less pink in your wardrobe, and you'll get there."
"See?" Paul says. "Told you. Pink is better in moderation."
"Oh shut up," I say, cutting him off with a kiss.
A few seconds later, I hear the countdown start, but Paul and I don't notice, nor do we register the chorus of Happy New Years.
Paul and I don't notice. We're already kissing.
But all of those people are right about one thing. It is a happy new year.
The first of many.