Short Story: Don't

He'd pursued her with the charm of Jane Austen's male protagonists. His wit and demeanor was a stark change to what she'd encountered before, blundering and awkward they were whilst he was ever suave and debonair. It was almost uncanny how he would seek her out, tucked in the quietest corner of the library or munching contentedly in the campus cantina. She didn't think much of it, figured he was probably passing by and saw her.

The winter had been spent watching snow fall from the top library floors, walking the lengths of the urban river walk at midnight, and exploring one another. She found him to be charming, yes, but inquisitive and intelligent. Though his grades didn't reflect it, he had a quick wit that she admired and envied. He was phased by very little.

Which didn't surprise her, upon her refusing his offer to move in together, when he laughed shortly, saying, "Just give it a month."

It had taken all of two weeks for her to change her mind. He made the most convincing of arguments, after all. Rent in Boulder nearly cost an arm and a leg, monthly, and sharing the burden seemed to make sense. Of course, he'd thrown in the added bonus of non-stop access to his love.

It had been an intoxicating offer. She admitted that to herself, even now. But hindsight was 20/20. She'd been naive, innocent as a lamb walking into the lion's den.

It had started slowly, she told herself. A sharp word or burning look here and there; she'd attributed it to growing pains as a couple. If only. The arguments had begun to devolve into blind, raging matches against one another when she started noticing other things. Small things. He'd leave the apartment without his wallet, forget to brush his hair or leave the house in complete disarray--very unlike him.

Upon attempting to speak with him about it, he'd blindly pushed through her, insisting that he had to get to work. She'd resolved herself to trying to eliminate the smell of smoke that clung to the drapes, the rugs, and the furniture. A sweet smoke that she'd smelled a time or two at concerts. At first, she'd shrugged it off, acknowledging he needed a way to blow of steam just like everyone else. She'd indulged herself a time or two, and it had been a bizarre sort of bonding experience between them.

Little did she know it would be one of their last.

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