Ashton Sommers couldn't believe it when she was suddenly the laughing stock at school. Sure no one knew *she* was the #WhestonBreakUp girl, but she knew. And there wasn't a safe place to hide from the viral tweets. And not a friend she could confide the secret to. 

 

Will Parke had no idea that live tweeting a breakup at school was going to go viral. And he had no idea how sorry he'd be for putting Ashton in such a horrible spot. And he really didn't know that an offer to take her to the airport to catch her flight home for Christmas would change his life forever. 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Can’t even get a cup of coffee in peace. Couple fighting at next table. They won’t stop, so I’m gonna live tweet it #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: It’s not enough that I have to spend Christmas with your fucked up family? #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HER: It’s one night. We can’t do something with my friends for one night? #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: Honey, they’re boring. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HER: They’re not boring. They’re my friends. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Ouch #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: I probably wouldn’t brag about that. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: They’re not even up to your standards. Makes me wonder about you  #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Steam is about to shoot out of her ears. No shit. Watch for the mushroom cloud in 3..2.. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HER: At least they don’t bitch about how unfair life is that their brother is more talented than they are #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: OK 1) he’s *not* more talented than me. And 2) I have *never* said that he is #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HER: Everything is always about YOU. What YOU want. How YOU want it. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: Oh? We’re talking sex now? #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Holy shit. Need another coffee but not leaving this spot. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HER: Go fuck yourself. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

HIM: I usually have to, frigid bitch. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Seriously, I’m right at the next table. They *have* to know I’m here, right? #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15

HER: Don’t worry about spending Christmas with my fucked up family. You’re off the hook. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

She’s standing up…and… #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

Shit…now she’s looking at me. OK. I’m *not* invisible. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

And…she storms out. #whestonbreakup

 

 

Will Parke @TheoryOfBecause Dec 15 

And that is it, folks. Back to my regularly scheduled coffee. Hopefully in peace. #whestonbreakup

                                                                                                       Ashton

                                                                                            Breakups suck. Even when they’re necessary. Even when the guy

                                                                                            you’ve been seeing is a total asshole. Even when you should have

                                                                                           done it weeks ago. All of that was true. It was necessary to break

                                                                                           up with Braden Campbell. And he was a total asshole. And I really

                                                                                           should have done it weeks ago and not waited till right before the

                                                                                           holidays. 

                                                                                           But that’s what I’d done. 

 

                                                                                           And now I wasn’t looking forward to flying home in a few days

                                                                                           and having to explain to Dad and his fourth wife, Gianna – who

                                                                                           was younger than my older brother by a whole year– why Braden

                                                                                           wasn’t with me after they’d been looking forward to meeting him.

                                                                                           And Dad probably would have liked Braden, they were cut from

                                                                                           the same cloth, which really should have been my first warning

                                                                                           sign.

                                                                                           Dad and Gianna aside, I also didn’t want to listen to Mom tell me

                                                                                           for the umpteenth time that she supported me ‘no matter what’ I

                                                                                          decided, but that Braden did have a promising future in front of 

                                                                                          him and did I really want to throw all of that away. Of course, a

                                                                                          million years ago, Dad had had a promising future too, and look

                                                                                          how that turned out for Mom – with one tabloid-worthy divorce

                                                                                          that still made me twitchy whenever I heard the word lawyer. 

 

                                                                                          Besides, there had to be more to life than a promising future, right?

                                                                                          Like maybe a promising present. And presently, Braden had been

                                                                                          suffocating me – always insisting we hang around with his friends

                                                                                          and do what he wanted to do, never any thought or concern about

                                                                                          what I might want or what I might want to do. And last night, my

                                                                                          tolerance for putting up with his controlling bullshit had come to an

                                                                                          end.

 

                                                                                           You know what’s worse than breaking up with an asshole who

                                                                                           totally deserves it right before the holidays? It’s when you breakup 

                                                                                          with an asshole who totally deserves it right before the holidays and

                                                                                           both of your best friends are in nice, healthy relationships. Kind of

                                                                                           makes you feel like a double failure, which is why I probably

                                                                                           hadn’t told anyone that we’d broken up yet. The pitying looks right

                                                                                           before Christmas break, I could do without.

                                                                                           “Hey, Ash, what time is your flight on Friday?” Molly asked as she

                                                                                           walked into my dorm room and dropped onto the edge of my bed. 

                                                                                           “Well,” I hedged. I mean, I didn’t have to fly to Connecticut just as

                                                                                            soon as classes got out, right? I could hang out in Virginia a few 

                                                                                            more days. Or maybe the rest of my life. That idea had promise. “I

                                                                                            was supposed to fly out at four but I think I might stay here a few

                                                                                            more days. Why?”

                                                                                            She shrugged. “I thought I might catch a ride with you to Dulles, 

                                                                                            but my flight’s at noon anyway.” And her car wouldn’t make it. 

                                                                                            She would definitely need a ride with someone else.

                                                                                            “Check with Sydney,” I suggested. “I think she’s flying earlier

                                                                                            Friday.”

                                                                                            Molly frowned at me. “You ok?”

 

                                                                                            “Yeah,” I lied and forced a smile to my face. Molly had dealt with

                                                                                            enough bullshit this year and now that things were going well for

                                                                                            her, I didn’t want to bring her back down. 

                                                                                            But she clearly didn’t believe me because her frown darkened.

                                                                                           “What’s wrong?”

                                                                                           “Nothing,” I insisted. “Just not looking forward to going home. Half

                                                                                           the time at Mom’s. Half the time at Dad’s, not really fitting in

                                                                                           anywhere. Having to spend time with whomever my brothers are

                                                                                           seeing and having to pretend that I like them.” 

                                                                                           Molly laughed. “You make it sound like so much fun.”

                                                                                           Fun it never was. “Oh, the best part,” I continued, “I have a feeling

                                                                                           Dad’s wife is pregnant.”

 

                                                                                          “Really?” Her green eyes widened. 

                                                                                          “Yeah, little hints here and there. ‘You might not always be the baby

                                                                                          in the family’. Because my dad is real subtle like that.”

                                                                                          Molly’s face squished up like she smelled something bad. “Why

                                                                                          don’t you and Braden drive to Atlanta and see his family instead?”

                                                                                          Many, many reasons. The first being I’d be happy if I never laid eyes

                                                                                          on Braden Campbell for the rest of my life. “His dad’s worse than

                                                                                          mine,” I said instead of telling her the truth. “I think I’m gonna see if

                                                                                          I can change our flights. Fly in the day before Christmas Eve and fly

                                                                                          out the day after Christmas. Limit the time we actually have to be

                                                                                          there.”

                                                                                          “Ash, why don’t you go to your dad’s brownstone in the City?” she

                                                                                          suggested with a smile. “You and Braden could spend Christmas

                                                                                          with Seth and me.” 

                                                                                          And I felt a little bad about not telling her the truth. Molly was one

                                                                                          of the sweetest friends I’d ever had. All wholesome Midwest ideals.

                                                                                          She was even willing to share her Christmas with me when she

                                                                                          never got to see her boyfriend in New York as it was. “So we can be

                                                                                          your third and fourth wheel?” I shook my head. “Have fun with Seth

                                                                                          and don’t give me a second thought.”

                                                                                          “Oh my God!” Brynne appeared in my doorway. “Do you follow

                                                                                          Nate on Twitter?”

 

                                                                                          “I think so,” I said. “Why?”

                                                                                         A laugh escaped her. “He just retweeted the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Some couple broke up last night and one of Chase’s friends live tweeted the whole thing. Hashtag Wheston Breakup. You gotta find it.”

Oh my God.  “What?” I breathed out as I unplugged my phone from the charger near my bed. 

“Poor Will,” Brynne continued. “I would be so uncomfortable if people started fighting right next to me like that.”

I opened my Twitter app and typed ‘whestonbreakup’ in the search bar. And…shit! Will Parke, that asshole, hadn’t caught everything Braden and I said last night, and he didn’t get everything exactly right either, but he’d gotten the main points. And… It’s not enough I have to spend Christmas with your fucked up family? had been retweeted 328 times? “He’s an asshole,” I breathed out. 

“Yeah, sounds like a real dick,” Brynne agreed. “I’d love to know who he is.”

“I thought you said he was Nate’s friend.” Molly frowned, glancing over my shoulder to read all about my breakup on my phone.

Brynne shook her head. “Not Will. The guy in the breakup tweets. He sounds like a dick.”

Braden was a dick, but Will Parke was an even bigger one! Who would post that conversation for the whole school, for the whole world to see? “Well, I think it’s a shitty thing to do. You breakup with a guy and some asshole tweets the whole thing for the world to read?”

“Who is Will Parke?” Molly asked. “Do I know him?”

“He’s Chase’s roommate. Quiet guy. Brown hair. Doesn’t usually say much.”

Yes! I knew I recognized him last night. The guy in the coffee shop was Chase Breckenridge’s roommate. I’d never really paid him any attention before, but I did know who he was. And apparently, he was a giant asshole.

“Engineering guy?” Molly asked. 

“Yep.” Brynne nodded then she looked at me. “And you’re right, Ash. I didn’t think about the actual couple. It would suck to be them today. But still uncomfortable for Will last night, you know? I mean, I wouldn’t want to be stuck listening to that.”

The asshole hadn’t been chained to his chair, stuck listening to us. He could have gotten up and left at any point if it bothered him so much. He didn’t have to broadcast it to the entire world.

                                 Will

Shit. I woke up to find a couple hundred retweets and favorites from that breakup thing last night. It’s rare for me to get more than one retweet about any of my posts. But I live tweet Braden Campbell and Ashton Sommers breaking up and the whole thing goes viral? I guess shit like that explains why the Kardashians are still on TV. People are weird. And the shit that grabs their attention is even weirder.

 

I opened my email and found a message from my mother, one from my cousin and one from the local NBC affiliate. I opened the NBC one first, because what the fuck?

 

Mr. Parke, 

 

Would you be interested in chatting with our Cassie Davis this afternoon about the incident

you chronicled last night? The interest in your story is one we would like to explore if you are

willing. We would love to talk with you and see if we can make something work with your schedule. 

 

Regards, 

Tom Reynolds

Station Manager, WHVA

 

“Shit,” I breathed out.  The last thing I wanted to do was rehash the whole thing for the local NBC affiliate. If they wanted to know what happened last night, it was all in my feed. There was nothing else to say about it. 

 

I deleted the email and then opened the one from my mother to learn that she would not be home for Christmas after all and but that she’d made arrangements for me to spend the holiday with my aunt’s family. So pretty much a repeat of my entire upbringing, hanging out with my aunt, uncle and cousins…Which probably explained the random, out-of-the-blue email from my cousin Jake. 

 

I opened that last email and was not disappointed. Jake and his brothers were happy to hear I’d be staying out with them for the holidays. And wanted to know when I was supposed to fly into LAX since Mom hadn’t told them when to expect me. Of course, I was pretty sure Mom had no idea when my flight was supposed to arrive. Things like that never hit her radar.

 

I dashed off a response to Jake. Told him I’d be arriving late Friday night and that I’d forward my itinerary to him. 

 

Then I stumbled out of my room and into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. 

 

“Man, you are hilarious,” my friend and roommate Chase said from the kitchen table, right before he shoved an entire piece of toast into his mouth.

 

“Yeah, I oughta go into comedy,” I grumbled, reaching for a K-cup above the stove. 

 

Chase laughed around his piece of toast. But then he laughed about most things. Too damn cheerful most of the time. “No, seriously. That breakup thing is fucking hilarious. Everyone’s talking about it.”

 

“Yeah.” I dropped the K-cup into the Keurig. “NBC sent me an email about it. Probably better take my email off my Twitter account or make it private or something.”

 

“NBC?” Chase leaned back in his chair, his eyes wide with excitement. “That’s awesome.  They want to interview you?”

 

I leaned against the counter and shook my head at my friend. “Why the fuck is anyone interested in those tweets? I was just pissed those two wouldn’t shut up, you know?”

 

“Seriously.” He grinned at me. “Because it was so real, man. It’s like we were all there with you. When are you talking to NBC?”

 

“I’m not talking to NBC.”

 

“Oh, you have to!” He pushed out of his chair. “You can’t pass that up.”

 

“Already deleted the email.”

 

“So undelete it.”

 

I shook my head. Chase was always happy to talk to any idiot with a microphone, usually after pitching a no-hitter or something. But I wasn’t interested in any sort of publicity. “I just want to focus on my last final.” The one I had been trying to study for when World War III had erupted at the table next to mine last night. 

 

“So take your test and then call NBC.” Then he grinned again. “You don’t know who they were, do you?”

 

“Who, NBC?” I knew who NBC was. I’d grown up in LA for God sakes not under a rock. 

 

“No, no.” He shook his head. “The breakup couple. Do you know who they are?”

 

I’d had an English class with Braden Campbell last year. Guy was a fucking prick. And I’d seen Ashton Sommers a couple times this semester. Real pretty girl. One of Chase’s baseball buddies was dating a friend of hers and sometimes she showed up places with them, but we’d never talked before. I was pretty sure she didn’t even know who I was. But if everyone at school was talking about those tweets, I didn’t really want to brand her as a frigid bitch. No one deserved that, not even someone dumb enough to date Braden Campbell. “No clue,” I lied, which felt weird because I never lied. 

 

“I bet they are hiding in shame today.”

 

That was probably a pretty good guess.

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