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       “What are you talking about?” I protested.

               Jace smiled mischievously, shaking his head. He led me to the door of his room and instructed, “Close your eyes.”

               “What- Why?” I demanded. He moved his hands over my eyes. I laughed and said, “I hate surprises, just so you know.”

               “Well, I promise you’ll like this one,” he said. I could hear the smile in his voice.

               “Let’s get it over with,” I said, fighting off a grin myself.

               Once he was sure my eyes were completely closed, I heard him slide the keycard into the door. It unlocked with a click. I opened my eyes, but his hands were already over my face, and he was leading us into his room.

               I heard the lights flick on, and his hands were removed from my eyes. Sitting on the floor in front of me was the largest box I’d ever seen. It was wrapped in a lavender coat of wrapping paper, which was my favorite color. It was as big as a queen-sized bed!

               Completely ridiculous.

               “Open it,” urged Jace from behind me.

               “What the-“ I began.

               “Just go.”

               Slowly, I opened the paper. Inside was a large box. It read Fragile multiple times over. I was hesitant to open the box. “Oh, come on, Ava. I didn’t buy you anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

               “Then what-“

               “Find out for yourself,” he insisted.

               I pulled the box open, and inside found a large black crate with… Sammy!

               I gasped, throwing open the door to the metal cage. “Omigod!” I squealed. “Jace, are you serious? This is insane!” I cried, tears threatening.

               The mess of yellow fur leaped at me, tackling me to the ground. I gasped. “Oh, Bubzies, you’re okay! I’ve missed you so much.”

               I scratched him behind his ear as he licked my face, covering it with dog slobber and fur. I stood up, trying to recover.

               “Jace, thank you so much. This is probably- No, this is definitely the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me,” I told him. I threw my arms around his neck, causing Sammy to whine. I glanced down at my dog. “And you are just an attention *****, aren’t you?” I laughed, petting him.

               “I actually can’t take all of the credit. It wasn’t even my idea, and I didn’t go find your dog. I only arranged for him to get here,” he said. “You should really be thanking Roman.”

               I raised my eyebrows, surprised. “He… He did all this?” I asked, shocked. He’d always seemed quite cold- except for that time when he… asked for my trust- which I never got the chance to give.

               “Right. And where’s Roman? I do need to thank him,” I asked.

               “Oh, he’s in his room, I suppose.”

               “’Kay. Thank you.”

               “Do you need my help getting there?” he asked.

               I shook my head in reply, and I was off.


               When she said that it was the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for her, something inside me snapped. I knew I had to be honest; it was Roman’s idea, after all.

               But I wanted to be the person that did something sweet like that for her. She was amazing. And she deserved amazing things to be done for her, things that she had been deprived of since a child.

               For her, I was frustrated. I wanted to go and murder her family because of what they’d done to her; for hurting her and making her feel worthless.

               She was the best thing in the world. She was worth more than anything.


     A knock sounded at the door, which I definitely hadn’t been expecting. After the encounter with Ava, I’d gone back to sleep. Telling that story had taken more energy than I’d though, and then seeing her and Jace together…

               I rolled out of bed, groaning, and pulled on some pants. “Just a minute,” I called to whomever.

               I pulled open the door, my eyes adjusting to the lights in the hallway. Ava’s face was clearer than day, though.

               “Oh, hello. What brings you here?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.


            My first thought was, He isn’t wearing a shirt. Omigod, he’s really, really hot. I hope he doesn’t think I’m staring. I shouldn’t be staring. I focused my gaze on the floor. “Well… My dog, I guess,” I answered with a small smile. “I wanted to thank you.”

               “For your dog?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. “Well, I figured that the least I could do was bring a few elements of you old life here. I’m sorry I had to, eh, take you.”

               I glanced up at him. “Thanks.”


               “You already said that,” I teased. “Oh, excuse my rudeness. Come on in.” Ava followed me into my room and took a seat on the bed. I sat down next to her.

               “I also wanted to thank you…. For, um, telling me,” she whispered.

               It took me a moment to figure out what she was referring to. I nodded. “You’re welcome. But, if you don’t mind my asking, did it work?”

               “I don’t know. You seem to trust me,” she admitted, glancing down at her hands.

               “I do. I’m not sure why, but I feel like-“ I began, wanting to tell her everything.

               “Well, you got my dog for me. I just came here to thank you.” She leaned over and gave me a lingering kiss on the cheek. She pulled away slowly, staring down at my lips.

               Before she could get away, I leaned into her, and her lips found mine eagerly.


I pushed open the door, about to announce my presence when I saw them. They were fuckin’ kissingMy god, and I thought she was the most amazing, honest… How long has this been going on? my mind questioned. I decided not to interrupt their moment.

I left, and they hadn’t even noticed I’d entered the room in the first place.


Minutes later, she backed away and touched her lips lightly with the tip of her finger. “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that,” she whispered, more to herself than me.

               “Ava, I-“

               “No. I- I should go,” she said, shaking her head. “Thank you… Again.”

               She ran to the door, tossed it open, and disappeared down the hall. “My pleasure,” I mumbled to the empty space in front of me.


            I was scolding myself. Why did you do that? One part of my brain asked. The other argued, He is an amazing kisser. And, not to mention, he has an amazing body. 

           But what will Jace think when he finds out?

           He won’t find out because you won’t tell him.

           Honesty is always the best policy, I thought.

            Not always. It’s just going to hurt him for no reason.

           It isn’t without reason! What if it becomes something more?

           Then you can tell him. But no sooner. What if it was nothing? You want him to be angry over absolutely nothing

           “Agh!” I growled, falling to the floor in the middle of the hallway. “This is going to get very, very ugly.”

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