• Ashley finally let the tears pour from her eyes. The room seemed to be closing in on her, and stuffed animals were mocking her with their eyes. Yet she laid there like a broken doll with a glazed look.
    "Ashley..." Luke called as he knocked on the door.
    "What." she snapped.
    "You forgot your purse from our starbucks trip..." The expression on his face showed that he was hurting from either Ashley's response or her state of being.
    "Look at me. Let me see those pretty green eyes." He sat next to her and held her cold hand. "You can't live like this." He whispered.
    "Yes I can!" Ashley yelled as if she were to go into a fit of rage.
    "Good God. How long are you going to keep this up? Jake broke up with you so he could flirt with other girls. You need to face that. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it is going to be hard. And yes, it was dumb of him. But Ash, I'm here! I've always been here!" Luke's eyes glistened with tears as he brought Ashley's hand to his face. "Are you that blinded by tears? You have the world at your feet."
    Ashley couldn't make any audible response. Her best friend just told her the hard truth, and it felt more of a slap in the face.
    "Luke..." She whispered in between sobs.
    "Ashley, you're acting like a child. A child who got his hand stuck in a beautiful vase. He cried and cried. His parents kept trying to coax him to relax and let go. They wanted him to find the strength to free himself. But he couldn't. His mother couldn't bear the pain of watching her own child cry; so, she took a small hammer and broke the vase. Do you know what they realized, Ash? They saw that the boy had his hand in a fist...like this," Luke took her hand and closed her fingers down, " and that's why his hand was stuck. But here's where you come in: his mother held his hand and gently opened it...and behold, a penny was found. He was holding onto a penny. A priceless vase was broken, his parents had worried, and he cried over a penny." He re-opened Ashley's hand and placed it in her lap.
    "I-I-I...I don't know what to do." Ashley said with a blank stare.
    "Well, then I guess I'm done here. I keep trying and trying. But I'm not going to break anything; that is what you're going to do. You're going to be miserable over a guy who doesn't deserve you. In fact, I don't think any guy deserves you, but any would be better than Jake." Luke rose up and headed for the door. "Oh, before I forget. Jake is going to come back. You'll have to make a choice. Hope you make a good one." Ashley let him walk out the door and listened to his foot steps walk down the stairs in a rhythmic pattern.
    "Thump. Thump. Thump." is what she hard, but she couldn't conclude on whether it was his steps or her heart.
    "No more." She whispered with confidence. Ashley ran with her all might down the stairs and wrapped her arms behind Luke.
    "Don't go! Don't go!" She yelled in a hysterical fit. Luke let a soft chuckle and turned around to face her.
    "I love you." He said with his hands cupped around her face. His soft lips pressed against he forehead, then her right cheek, left cheek, nose; and finally, her lips.
    "I love you too." She said with her head leaning against his. "I always knew I'd make a good choice."
    "Really now?"
    "How have you come to this?"
    "You've been there when I needed you or when I didn't. You make me feel special. You've been one of the best things to happen to me. You've never hurt me like Jake; although, I know you can and you may. But I'm trusting you enough that you won't. Maybe I'm just young and naive. Yet I love you...and that's all I can be really sure of at this moment."
    "And that's all we need."