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Jarod entered the Starbucks in fatigues; his hair perfectly buzzed and his spirit not yet calloused. He put in an order for a peppermint mocha and after a few moments he walked to a booth in the very corner of the café where he knew Anthony would be sitting. Sure enough, a young man was sitting, books and papers strewn all over the small space, and he was staring with an intense fire at one lawbook, almost wishing it would go up in flames. His suit was perfectly pressed and Jarod knew that the man’s hair at one time had been carefully combed to the side.

“Your book is upside down.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Wasn’t that interesting anyways.”

“I was of the opinion that you found every book interesting.”

“Why don’t you make yourself at home,” he said, flippantly pushing all the books off the table and onto the floor.

With a smile, Jarod set his drink down and bent to pick up the books.

“When do you leave?”

“In an hour. Just came to say goodbye.”

“That was nice of you. What day is it?”

“Tuesday.”

“Hm. That means I have an appointment with…Dray Baker.”

“I’m going to miss you, brother.”

“Who me? Thanks, that’s nice of you. I’ll miss you too, of course.”

“I know.”

They fell silent, each avoiding the other’s eyes. Jarod reached over the counter and tipped Anthony’s cup forward to get a better look inside. Anthony snatched up the drink and downed the rest of it. Jarod laughed.

“Espresso with whipped cream again?”

“Hey, look who’s talking, Mr. Peppermint Mocha with Almond Milk, skinny with no whip and extra marshmallows.”

“Touché.”

The silence was deafening. Reluctantly Jarod stood up, the clock insisting he leave. Anthony followed suit, extending a hand and looking him in the eye. It was too late, Jarod had already grabbed his little brother in a bear hug. A foreign tear slipped down Anthony’s cheek as he returned the embrace.

“Stay safe.”

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