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By Julie Garwood

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The tick-tick-tick would remind him of the timer on a bomb. A bomb that was inside his head and about to explode. Calling himself a coward, he would make himself go upstairs. His shoulders would tense and his stomach would twist into knots as he slowly climbed the circular staircase, his legs feeling as though they were encased in cement socks. By the time he reached the end of the long hallway, perspiration would dot his brow and he would feel cold and clammy. He'd wipe his forehead with his handkerchief, plaster a phony smile on his face, and open the door, trying with all his might to mentally brace himself for the foul stench hanging in the air.

And lucky. " "Whenever we wanted to get drunk, we'd call for a meeting of the club," Dallas said. " Cameron asked, and then laughed again. John held up his glass. " "Here, here," Cameron said as he clinked his glass against the others. " Preston asked. "I got her drunk, fucked her brains out, and after she passed out, I went through her computer files. " Cameron howled. " 'Boinked'? " Preston asked. "I want to know how you got it up. I've seen the woman. She's a pig," Dallas said. "Hey, I did what I had to do.

They admonished him for even thinking such crazy thoughts, but it didn't take them long to see that their rebukes were not helping. On the contrary, they realized they were adding to his misery and his depression. Their harsh words quickly turned into solicitous ones. What could they do to help him? Surely there was something. They continued to talk, huddled around a table in the corner of the bar, putting their heads together to come up with a viable solution to their friend's untenable situation.

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