Chapter Twenty Four.

AJ wasn’t stupid; he knew what was going to happen the second they set their sights on eachother.

Which is why he made sure to stay between them at all times.

“I can’t believe you said that to me,” Sandra began, eyeing Amanda cautiously from the base of the stairs.

“And what you said to me wasn’t bad?” Amanda shot back, standing in the entrance to the den. “I think you’d have done better if you’d shot me.”

“Likewise,” Sandra breathed, her gaze hard as stone.

Nick tried to catch AJ’s attention, tried to lure him away from the two, but the man would not budge; it was as if he was aware he was standing in the crossfire.

“I should hate you.”

“As should I.”

“Why don’t you?” Amanda challenged.

“Why don’t YOU?” came the reply.

“I asked first.”

“Do I care?” Sandra asked, challenging Amanda.

Amanda groaned inwardly. She was really getting her buttons pushed, but she’d expected it. It was what Sandra did best.

“Of course you don’t,” Amanda began. “You don’t care. You never did. Why you’re down here is beyond me, unless of course you wanna throw me out yourself?”

“Don’t tempt me, Austin,” Sandra warned.

“Don’t give me a reason to, McMahon.”

“You suck, you know that?”

“And you don’t?!” Amanda exclaimed. “Who was the one who tried to kill me with a shot glass?”

“Who was the jerk who called me trash?!”

“Tell me you didn’t deserve to get yelled at!”

“Not like THAT, you moron!” Sandra shouted. “You could’ve beat me senseless, and it wouldn’t have hurt as bad!” her voice grew quieter, nearly a whisper, when she added, “You really did hurt me.”

“I know I did,” Amanda said simply. “I didn’t mean to.”

“It sure looked like you did.”

“Well I DIDN’T,” Amanda repeated herself. “But if you can’t understand that, that’s your problem.”

“Then it will be my problem. Not like I’d burden you with my crap anymore, anyway.”

That stung. Amanda felt it, and Sandra knew it. The way Amanda’s eyes grew wide as she leaned against the wall for support told Sandra she’d overstepped her boundaries in the worst way possible.

“So is this how things are now?” Amanda whispered.

Sandra stared long and hard at Amanda before replying, “I... I suppose...”

Amanda straightened after a few moments, nodded slightly, and walked to the front door. Before exiting the house, she turned to Sandra one final time.

“You know, I really am sorry for everything I said,” she said softly. “But you’ve made your decision, and I can’t do anything about that.”

She was completely out the door, and about to climb into her car when Sandra came rushing out of her house.

“Amanda..”

Amanda turned around slowly, bracing herself for more harshness.

“I’m sorry, too.”

They stood in the driveway then, silently watching each other as Nick and AJ observed from the front door. In a silent, mutual decision, they both nodded slightly, and Amanda got into her car, starting the engine.

“Tell AJ I’ll be waiting for him?” Amanda asked through her car window.

Sandra nodded, then returned the smile that almost immediately appeared on Amanda’s face.

“You can count on it,” she assured her.

“I can count on a lot more coming from you,” Amanda told her friend as she backed out of the driveway.

[chapter list | chapter twenty five]