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Thirty-Four

Ava

      Roman had been acting weird the whole day. I wasn’t sure what the **** was going on, but I was ready to pull my hair out.

           I stood next to him, chopping the bananas that Alex had brought back, Roman slicing other fruits at twice the speed- all for a large fruit salad for dinner.

           There was minimal counter space, yet Roman seemed to be as far away as he possibly could be. Finally, I moved over, closer to him. I bumped my hip onto his. He flinched and moved back.

           “I- Sorry, Ava,” he mumbled, not meeting my gaze.

           I growled in frustration. He looked at me, seeming confused. “Are you serious? Jesus-“

           “I am Roman. Not Jesus,” he said, an attempt at a smile playing on his face.

           I sighed and ran my hands through my hair. I just leaned forward on the tips of my toes and smacked my lips onto his. Thank god Infinity had taken the rest of the boys out to hunt for the other portion of our meal. Roman had offered to stay behind with me.

           At first, Roman was hesitant. Eventually, he gave himself into the kiss. However, he pulled his mouth away from mine as quickly as I’d started kissing him.

           I reached up, wanting to run my fingers along his jaw as a sort of comfort; it was simply an urge I felt at the time. He looked away, head turning to the side.

           My hand fell uselessly beside me. “Roman, obviously something’s wrong.” No response. “Come on, just tell me! It’s making me crazy. Did I do something? Was it the fact that I forgave Jace? Was that it? Because I understand how that might frustrate you, but-“

           He placed a finger over my lips. “Shh.” I narrowed my eyes.

           “Don’t-“ I began.

           “Listen, Ava. I- I’m just dealing with some… stuff. It’s hard for me, alright?” he said, giving a sigh.

           “What’s hard for you?” I demanded, grabbing a dish towel to wipe off my hands.

Roman

           How could I explain this to her? Tell her how difficult it was for me to face my past, present, and potential future all at once? How the **** was I supposed to do that?

           And I loved her so freakin’ much that, yeah, it did kind of break my heart when I saw her look at Jace, or even Alex, with that look of longing in her eyes.

           And I hated that I loved someone. More than that, I hated that I could love Ava so much, that she made me doubt ever truly loving Natalie.

           I shook my head. “Ava, please. Just give me some time.”

           “Why-“

           “I can’t explain it to you if I don’t know how, alright? I have to get my thoughts organized. I’ll tell you later,” I promised, pressing my lips to her forehead.

           And so we resume chopping the various fruits in silence.

   The moon’s orange glow reflected on the ocean’s surface. I snuggled into the arm of the soft couch, a blanket tucked under my sides. The wooden coffee table had been dragged outside by the boys so that they could all fit on the floor.

           They’d been fighting over where to sleep. Infinity suggested the single guest house on the other side of the village. When I politely declined, they all refused to leave.

           “Ava…” a voice whispered,

           I rolled over, my eyes instantly meeting Roman’s.

           He said, “There’s no way you’re comfortable.” I shrugged it off, but I knew my back would be sore in the morning.

           “I’ll be fine.”

           He smiled. “Do you want to come down here with me?” I chuckled softly, sure not to wake anyone up. He offered, “Or should we just go to the guest house?”

           I shrugged. I’d been contemplating leaving for the guest house in the middle of the night. I was sure I’d be able to find it easily enough. The village was only so large.

           Honestly, as selfish as it sounded, I just needed some time away from all the tense energy radiating off of these guys. I needed to curl up alone and just sleep.

           I refocused on Roman. “I won’t let you go alone. And I’m not going to be able to get any sleep tonight. So I’ll just stay up. Watching you,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

           I rolled my eyes and pushed the blanket off me- all against my better judgment.

           He grinned and hopped up, offering me his hand. I took it gratefully, careful not to make too much noise.

            Oh, this is going to be bad. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s not gonna be good… I decided. But I went anyway. 

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