Deep, cleansing breaths. In. Out. In. Out.
Itís not working. Oh, man, I think Iím going to be sick.
The notes for my speech are rustling, and when I glance at them, I realize that my hands are shaking.
Everything Iíve worked for will be gone in five minutes.
Jim thinks Iíve deceived him. I canít believe he thinks I could actually sell him out like that. After everything weíve been through, his lack of trust feels like a kick in the stomach. I have to keep reminding myself that he works from a base of fear. He feels like I kicked him first.
Heís so much more important to me than the diss. What started out as research turned into the best friendship Iíve ever known. And then what little objectivity I was still clinging to went right out the window when I realized I was in love with him.
Thatís another thing... Jimís not a stupid man. Nobody gives up their lifeís work for a friend. Heís going to realize Iím in love with him, and I never wanted him to know. I never wanted him to be uncomfortable, or worry that Iíd make a pass at him. I know he loves me like a brother, and I can live with that.
It would be so easy to lash out at my mother for putting all this in motion, especially after I told her not to. But itís my fault, too. I was stupid and careless not to have everything password protected from the very beginning.
But blame really doesnít matter at this point. It just has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed right now, before anyone else gets hurt. Before any more damage is done. Jimís safety and privacy are more important than anything else, including my career.
I mean, hell, itís just a book, right?
I keep telling myself that, but in a weird sort of way, itís him, too. It just about kills me that I have to deny who and what he is. I was the one who kept pushing him to accept his abilities as the gift they are, and now Iím the one who has to stand there and tell the world itís all bullshit. That I made it up. The thought of publicly denying Jimís abilities makes me feel physically ill. It feels like Iím denying him.
I donít know what Iím going to do after this. Rainier is going to toss me out on my ass. Major Crimes will pull my ride-along. And even if Jim forgives me, he probably wonít want me living with him after he figures out that my feelings for him arenít actually brotherly.
Deep cleansing breaths. In. Out. In. Out.
The reporters and cameramen are getting impatient. I gather every shred of courage I have and walk quickly out to the podium before I lose my nerve.
ďHi. Uh, thank you all for coming. I just have a short speech prepared here...Ē
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