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 We pulled into the parking lot around six, and I was completely exhausted. I held Jace’s hand as we made our way through the lobby, until…

           He pulled me to the front desk and said, “I’m staying in room two-oh- three,” to the woman behind the desk, “but I need to change it, please. I’ll take a suite. What do you have available?”

           She looked surprised- probably because he looked only about eighteen. “Oh, um, sir, we have…” She paused, taking a moment to click through the computer in front of her. “How many do you need it to sleep?”

           “I have a maximum of nine hundred dollars per night. I’d assume it’d sleep quite a few?”

           “Yes, I have one. It’s eight-seventy-five a night, and it sleeps nine. Would you like it?”

           He nodded. “Sure, I’ll take it. Just switch the credit card over?”

           She nodded and handed him a key. “Joseph?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

He shook his head. “My father. He’s also a guest in the hotel. He won’t mind.”

           She shrugged. “If you’re sure. I’ll just call him up in his room to confirm, then?”

           “Sure,” Jace told her with a dazzling smile, and we were headed off to collect the things from our old room.

 When we got to the suite, I was absolutely shocked. It had a view of some gorgeous snow-covered winter wonderland outside with a closed-off balcony. There was only one bedroom, but it was huge with its own bathroom. There was another bathroom next to the full kitchen. Included was a dining room, a complete living room, and a den area. My house hadn’t been this big!

           Hesitantly, I began unpacking the bags and boxes from the mall. I designated a drawer for each item, leaving a closet for my dresses. I didn’t know what to think as I unpacked my shirts, tank tops, jeans, shorts, bathing suits- Victoria insisted, claiming I’d “need it soon” for some unknown reason.

           Anyway, Jace walked in at that moment, sending my thoughts out the window and being replaced by only thoughts of him. He strolled over and kissed my cheek.

           “Guess what I’m going to do for you?” he said with a smile.

           “Spill my drink all over someone else tonight?”

           He laughed. “No. You told me what you want, and I’m getting it for you.” Just then, Sammy came running over to me, barking like crazy.

           “Sam? Bubz, what’s wrong? He never barks like this when I’m around,” I mumbled, probably more to myself that Jace.


            She cares more about her dog than about what I want to do for her, was my first thought. Then, Oh, shut up. You’re lucky she’ll have you at all. Next, the I know…


           I refocused my attention on Jace, asking, “What was it you were saying?” Just stop with Sam and listen to Jace. You’re lucky he’ll talk to you at all. Then, I bet if he was just a normal kid at school, he wouldn’t take a second look-

           “Oh, well, you said that you missed your friend, Alex? Do you want to go to your old town and meet with him? We could pick him up and bring him somewhere a bit farther away? Or I could just drop you both off somewhere? I just don’t think it’s the-“

            He’s letting you see Jace. You get to see your best- only- friend! 


           A smile immediately illuminated her face. “Jace, that’s so sweet.” She thinks it’s sweet… I’m going to be in so much trouble if anyone finds out about this- especially Joseph. Or Roman. He’d do anything to get her in his hands, and-

           You’re being paranoid, Jace, paranoid! Cut it the **** out. 

            For once, I actually listened to the voice in my head. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. “Alright. That bathing suit,” I said, nodding to the skimpy- attractive- one in her hand, “is for where we’ll be going next. I want you to at least see your friend once more. We’re going toHawaii, Ava. And we probably won’t be back here until… Well, for another few decades. I mean, we were just passing through in the first place.”

           It pained my to said it, but… I had to be honest and tell her, you know?

           I leaned down and kissed her. “I love you. We’ll go tomorrow, to see your friend, okay?”

           She nodded, but her eyes were wide, and she looked shocked. I sighed, hoping she wouldn’t resent me for something that I had no control over. 

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