By: L.A. Casey

They say hate is a strong word and an even stronger emotion, I agree with that because the passion in which I hated Darcy filled me completely. It wasn't one-sided - that man hated me just as much as I hated him, and that's how it was between us. It's how it's pretty much always been between us. We hated each other, and that was it.

The feud between us started twenty years ago, we were both five years old, and out in Darcy's back-garden with our friends. One of Darcy's then friends, Alan Pine, put his arm around my shoulder and jokingly called me his girlfriend. I giggled because I thought it was the funniest thing in the world, but Darcy didn't find it funny at all.

The lad just got mad.

He threw the world's biggest tantrum and punched Alan in the nose and made it bleed. The poor kid ran home crying which he had every right to do - he did just get punched in the face after all. After the vicious assault on his supposed friend, Darcy turned his rage spotlight in my direction. The eejit shoved me in the shoulder and told me to go home because we weren't friends anymore. That was how it all started - he went crazy and kicked me out of his house for something I giggled at!

He has been a dick from a young age as you can tell.

When Darcy told me to go home that day he also mentioned he never wanted to see me again, and as much as I hated to admit it, it broke my heart. We were best friends since we could walk then in the blink of an eye we weren't. I was a very emotional child, so I fought Darcy's anger and rejection with my own. I didn't cry in front of him, and I never would. Instead, I became an evil menace when in his company and that turned out to be very often.

You see, Darcy and I were best friends by default. Our mother's were best friends, our older brother's were best friends, our dad's were best friends, even our grandparent's, God rest them, were best friends. There was no escaping Darcy or his family after our falling out, so we both learned to tolerate one another as best as we could... Which was usually by fighting or pranking one another.

Our hate for one another grew as we got older while our tolerance for one another's company lessened. Our families didn't seem to understand our mutual loathing, because they always tried to force us together so we could learn to 'get on'. They still did. Never mind that we were now both twenty-five, and any chance of mending our joke of a friendship was long gone.

Our mothers, God help them, had this silly fantasy that we would get together, fall madly in love, and give them grand-babies, but I could tell you that was never happening. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell. You had a better chance of fusing oil and water together to form a single liquid than you did of Darcy and I being civil to each other. That was how deeply we hated one another.

We were a lost cause and as far as I was concerned that wasn't a bad thing.

"What's that look for?"

I blinked my eyes, and shook my head clear of my thoughts then I looked to my mother who retook her seat next to me on the couch. I wasn't telling her I was thinking about Darcy and our past because she would take it as a stupid sign that it meant he was my future or some bullshit like that.

I cleared my throat. "Nothing, this is just how I look when I zone out. It's me duh face."

My mother grinned and quietly sipped on her tea, and it grated on my nerves. I hated when she looked smug after pissing me off about Darcy - she knew what she did bringing him up and it bothered me deeply.

I needed to change the topic of discussion away from Darcy and to something mundane. Anything else would help, just as long as it wasn’t about him.

I blew a breath out through my nostrils and asked, "So, breakfast?"

My mother smiled to herself as she stood up and winked. "Yep, let's go get some breaky. You can tell me how you plan on getting me grandchild that doll for Christmas along the way. I can tell it's going to be interesting.”

I snorted. "Doubtful. "

"I wouldn’t speak too soon on that, lovely." My mother winked. "When you’re involved, things are always interesting."

After my mother and I went to a cafe in the village and had breakfast she dropped me off at Smyths on her way home. I got there forty minutes before closing time for the holidays. I knew I had a limited amount of time left in my mission, so I had to get to it.

My mother wished me good luck in finding a doll for Charli, and I told her that I didn't need luck. It turned out I needed more than luck - I needed a bloody leprechaun with his pot of gold to appear and accompany me into the shop because I was royally screwed.

"This can't be happening," I whispered in dismay as I scanned the doll aisle in the shop for the tenth time in twenty minutes looking for a Fire Princess doll from a popular children's film called Blaze. The film was huge, it had been months since the film came out, and all the kids were still bloody crazy about it. That was exactly why I needed this doll. I told my niece Charli that I would get this doll for her for Christmas and I already told my brother Sean, Charli's father, that I had the damn thing so I could not go home empty-handed. If I did go home empty-handed it meant I would have nothing to give her on Christmas morning. I swallowed down bile as images of my crying niece, and her disappointed Father flooded my mind.

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