I was more relieved than anything else. I wasn't ready to give Blake any pleasure whatsoever. I was supposed to leave London in a week - the week following graduation. Today I'd graduate, tomorrow I'd leave. I'd only told Dante, and I told her because I wanted her to come with me. She'd refused of course. Said she had to 'find her own way.' That upset me a lot, as I had no idea what I'd do without her. She had single-handedly taken me through school, and I was sure I'd be totally and hopelessly lost without her. I told her so. She looked at me, a slight sadness in her face."I know. That's exactly why I have to leave you""What?""If I don't leave you'll never discover yourself. You've grown so reliant on me it scares me."She was right. That didn't make it any easier for me to take. She was always right, that's why I needed her.
I went through graduation in a daze. I told myself it was just the impending change of environment. I hadn't seen my parents in seven years, and I didn't expect to see them again any time soon. Therefore I didn't have anyone to go home to.I was top of the class. I got a mass of job offers and prizes and what not, and I supposed I smiled graciously as I accepted all the plaudits for the work of Dante's amazing mind. I was really going to miss her. I was going to start a new life with the money I'd saved form all the swindles I'd gotten involved in. I'd always believed that new life would include Dante, and now it seemed a bleak prospect. A sedentary life and no one to share it with. Somewhere deep down I knew I was just being silly, and that I'd find someone new, but it still hurt. I didn't want someone new. I wanted Dante.At least we were together throughout the graduation ceremony. She was the only one as Jason was also graduating, and I was no longer sure how much I could trust him. Drake had dealt my confidence a cruel blow. I knew I wasn't the real brains of the group, but I'd always thought I had the measure of my team, and to be proven so horribly wrong was... well, embarrassing to say the least.
Getting on the shuttle out of town was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done. Dante hadn't come to say goodbye, she said it would have been too painful for her. At least I was reassured that she did feel something for me. I had begun to feel very insecure. It had never been a problem for me before, even when I'd just been an average student, before I'd met Dante. She had completely changed me, and already I felt slightly adrift without her.
As we pulled out of the shuttle-port I thought of the direction my new life would take. With the money I now had I would buy out a small legitimate company with a guaranteed profit stream. Then I'd invest more into it and eventually make it a big company. I'd try not to interfere too much, just offer suggestions on how to make things better, more efficient. This train of thought was helpful. Dante was still at the back of my mind but I was able to break through most of the pain when I focussed on the future instead of the past. I went into the cloud to check out the kind of figures I'd be dealing with in the purchase of my prospective company. Then my eyes fell upon a sentence at the bottom of my statement page and my jaw dropped to the floor.
"Student credits are not valid outside the institution catchment area."
I was sure I had never seen that before, which could only mean one thing.
Jason had played me.