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Playing Hide and Seek by LittleMissLizPotter
Chapter 7 : Chapter 7
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Hi guys. Not dead.

A thousand apologies for leaving this story for what... six months? Eight? Life has been crazy lately, but I'm really hoping to start posting again, now that I know where I'm going with this story.

So just a refresher: Deandra lost her job, Al and Athena are getting engaged, and Deandra tried to move out of the flat that she, Arianna, and Cinda shared, unsuccessfully, if you were confused about that. She still lives there. Also, she's dating the Prince of England, which brings me to another point.

I will be the first to admit that I am not European, I am American. I have no idea how modern-day monarchies work. I am totally improvising and making things up with this whole dating the Prince of England thing, so just bear with me, and if I did something totally, completely wrong, feel free to call me out on it in a review :)




One month later.



I walked out of the bright classroom, squinting to find Hayden in the dim light of dawn. My peers and I were streaming into a dank alley, a place that was hidden from the muggles. It was a bit like Hogwarts, in the way that they hid the building from muggles, except not nearly as nice. But what can you expect, from night classes?


I had been attending night classes to finish my NEWTs for the past month. In one week we had the actual tests, which were making me extremely nervous. I was already studying hard, staring at notes for at least four hours a day. I could not fail.


“Hey,” Hayden greeted, smiling as I kissed his cheek. “How was class?”


“Same old.” I told him dismissively. “You ready?”


“The car’s parked in the street. Your flat today? I’m getting tired of the café?” He said, threading his fingers through mine.


“Sure, why not?” I said, yawning widely. Night classes were definitely taking their toll on me. I hadn’t yet adjusted to sleeping during the day and learning during the night.


“I’ll drive.” Hayden offered, seeing the yawn. I tried to wave him off, but he insisted. “You’re dead tired, and you drive horribly anyway.”


“Do not.” I said, even though I knew it was true. I usually Apparated, so I didn’t have much practice behind the wheel.


Hayden had a nice car, with comfortable seats. They were heated. I didn’t mean to, but on the way to the flat, I dosed off, leaning my forehead against the cool window. For some reason, it felt infinitely better to close my eyes and sleep when I wasn’t supposed to, rather than when I was in bed. Although nowadays, when I wasn’t in class, studying, or going on dates with Hayden, I was almost definitely asleep, which worked just fine for me. It left me no time to think of Al.


When we arrived at my flat, Hayden gently shook me awake. “Rise and shine, sleepy head. Time to climb a mountain.” I groaned, thinking of all the stairs that lay ahead of me. Hayden laughed and got out of the car, walking around to my side to open the door for me.


I was still half-asleep as we trekked up the flights of stairs. Holding on to the railing for dear life, I was using my arms to pull me up as much as I was using my feet to push. As soon as we got into the flat, I stumbled to the couch and collapsed on it as Hayden headed towards the kitchen area, presumably to cook breakfast. “Can you even cook?” I mumbled at him.


“What was that?” He asked, turning the stove on and rummaging around in our cupboards for something, probably pots and pans.


“I said, can you even cook?” I asked, louder.


“Come on, Dee, it can’t be that hard to make eggs.”


I rolled on to my back and yelled, “Arianna! Breakfast duty, stat!” I tried to roll back on my stomach and go to sleep, but it just wouldn’t come. I huffed, annoyed, and got up, going to sit at the table. Hayden had already made a spot for himself while Arianna worked at the stove, monitoring the eggs.


“Decided to grace your boyfriend with your presence?” Arianna asked sarcastically.


“Fuck off, you would be trying to sleep too if you just spent all night learning advanced Charm work.” I told her.


“Don’t have to; I learned it at school, because some of us know enough not to drop out.” She said sweetly. I yawned, ignoring her comment. Usually I would be offended, but Arianna and I had been trying desperately to make amends after the fight we had, and I was too tired to care right now.


Hayden leaned across the table and spoke in a low voice. “So, listen,” He started, glancing at Arianna. “There’s something I wanted to talk to you about….”


“I’m gone.” Arianna said to no one in particular, abandoning the eggs and walking down the hall back to her room. I jumped up and scooped them out of the pan and on to plates. They were almost done anyway. I pulled two forks out of the drawer and sat back down.


“About what?” I prompted as we both dug into the eggs.


“I’ve actually been meaning to tell you this for a while…” He said hesitantly, putting down his fork. I glanced up, and slowly put mine down as well, heart leaping into my throat. It sounded serious. Serious was never good.


He took a deep breath, as if preparing to sprint 100 yards, and said, “My mom wants to meet you.”


My mind went blank. What were you supposed to say to that? Al had never specifically told me that his parents wanted to meet me, they just sort of… did. To stall for time, I slowly took a bite of egg, trying to formulate a response in my brain.


“Um… okay?”


Great job, brain. Really eloquent.


Hayden scrutinized my face, trying to find more of a reaction. “So… when would be best for you?” His eyebrows were drawn up in worry. I was probably scaring him with my unresponsive behavior.


“…Just to make sure, we’re talking about your mother, the Queen of England, correct?” I asked quickly. As soon as I asked the question, heat rose to my cheeks. Now he was going to think I was just dating him to meet royalty. “I mean, not that it matters, it’s just kind of weird to think about sometimes, that I’m having eggs with the Prince of England in my flat, you know?” I said, laughing nervously.


“Yeah,” Hayden said, laughing, looking relieved. “The Queen of England. She’s not as scary as the title makes her sound, I promise. So… you’ll meet her, right?”


“Hayden,” I began, after a breath. “Uh… you have to understand. Being what I am… it makes it difficult….”


“You don’t have to tell her about magic, Deandra.” Hayden said, getting serious again. “I promise, you don’t. I’d just… really like you to meet her. If we’re going to be dating, it’s kind of a requirement. I’d rather she’d hear about my new girlfriend through me, rather than through the tabloids.”


I smiled, although I was still nervous on the inside. What if the Queen—his mother (I was going to have to work on calling her that) didn’t like me? That was a lot of pressure, to be dating the Queen’s son against her wishes. Would I even do that? I didn’t know.


“I guess I kind of have to, don’t I?” I asked, trying to keep the smile plastered on my face. “She is the Queen, after all.”


“I don’t want you to feel like you have to go just because of… who she is.” Hayden said, frowning.


“But I do, don’t I?” I asked with a wry smile. Hayden hesitated, and then shrugged.


“It would be nice.” He admitted as I stood up. I grabbed his plate, taking our dishes to the sink and turning on the faucet. I pointed my wand at them, and they began washing themselves, soap bubbles rising up into the air. “So, will you?”


I turned back to find him a few inches from my face, his hands resting on the counter on either side of me. I leaned back against the counter and brought my hands up around his neck, threading my little finger around a strand of his hair. “I suppose… an arrangement could be made….” I said distractedly as he began to kiss my collar bone, humming happily.


He made his way up my neck and jaw, finally planting his lips on mine. I made a little noise in the back of my throat, and pressed my body into his, wishing that Cinda and Arianna weren’t here.


But they were, as we were painfully reminded of a few seconds later. Arianna made her presence known by clearing her throat loudly. Hayden and I broke apart, Hayden turning red. “I’d better—” He said, mumbling. “I’ll just—go—”


“See you later, Hayden!” Cinda called gleefully after him, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. He slammed the door behind him in his rush to get out. I turned to the two of them.


“Don’t scare him, guys.” I reprimanded. “I actually really like him.”


“We noticed.” Arianna muttered, moving to the stove. “Can I use magic now? Now that he’s out of the way?”


“He knows about magic, Ari, you can use it whenever you want.” I told her. Arianna rolled her eyes as she started breakfast for her and Cinda.


“Wouldn’t want to scare him away.” She told me sarcastically.


“So what did he want?” Cinda asked curiously, sitting at the table. “Besides to make out with you?”


“He wanted to….” And I stopped. If I told Arianna and Cinda about Hayden wanting me to meet his mother, it made it real. Right now, it was just a thought in his head, something he could still cancel if he realized I was too crazy, or if he wanted to suddenly turn on me. I could pretend that I wasn’t hurt at all if Cinda and Arianna didn’t know about it. But if I told them…there was no going back. And I wasn’t ready for that yet.


“He just wanted to make out with me.” I lied. And yawned. “I’m going to go to sleep. Class was really tiring.”


“NEWTs in a week!” Cinda reminded.


“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I called back, slamming the door to my room and falling into bed. Despite all that had happened with Hayden, I really was tired, and I almost immediately fell to sleep.



*



When I woke up, it was late afternoon, which was normal for my schedule now. Go to night school, breakfast with Hayden, sleep for six hours, and then study until night school again. Maybe I could fit a couple extra hours of sleep in there, if I felt I had studied enough.


I meandered out into the living area, wondering if I could scrounge up some cereal or an apple. To my mild surprise, Cinda was sitting on the couch, watching TV while she wrote an article. I had forgotten it was Sunday.


“Good afternoon?” I asked, glancing at her.


She looked up. “Oh, hi Deandra!” She said brightly. “Is this usually when you wake up? Where do you find the time to study?”


“Night class starts at 10, Cinda.” I told her, checking the digital clock on the oven. It was 2:30. Plenty of time. “Do we have any food around here? Where’s Arianna?”


“Sleeping, just like you. I live with boring people.” She said, trailing off with a sigh. “Hey!” She exclaimed, brightening. “Do you wanna go out for… what would you call this… lunch-ish? We could go to that little café with the library. You could study and I could write this monstrosity.” She suggested, gesturing at the article on her lap.


I considered for a moment. It would be nice to get out of the flat, I supposed. It was the only place I had been besides night school and occasional dates with Hayden for weeks. “Sure.” I agreed. “Just let me go get dressed.”


Minutes later, Cinda and I had walked downstairs, I with my books and Cinda with her laptop and binder. She held out her arm, and I took it, ready for the Side-Along Apparation, since I had a history of splinching. There was a crack, and then we were at Pop’s Café and Library, a cute little place in one of the lesser-known parts of London. A little over priced, but cute.


We set our stuff down at one of the back tables, near the bookshelves, which were extremely old and sagging a bit under the weight of the books. Cinda ordered two coffees for the both of us, and we settled down to work.


It was pretty much silent between us, with only the sound of Cinda clacking away at the keys of her laptop, and an occasional question about something on Charms or if I knew how some word was spelled. After maybe an hour of this, there was a break in Cinda’s typing. She looked up, a bit more frazzled than she had been when we came in.


“I can’t look at this anymore.” She told me, shutting the lid of her laptop. “I need a break. You?”


“I could go for one.” I admitted, closing my Charms textbook, making sure to mark my page. “Should we buy food or something?”


“One of those scones looks really good.” Cinda said dreamily, looking at the menu hanging on the wall. “I’ll order, shall I?”


“Oh, I can do it, you did it last time.” I offered, but she waved me away.


“I need to stretch my legs anyway, don’t worry about it.” She said.


I needed to go to the bathroom, so I got up anyway, cracking my back and walking to the back of the shop, thinking. I needed to pass this Charms NEWT. I needed to pass all my NEWTs. It was the only way I was going to move forward in my life. I needed to get a career, to make some of my own money. And then, maybe, I could afford to think about what had happened at Hogwarts. But right now, I needed to focus on moving forward, not looking back.


Or, at least, that’s what I told myself as I stared at an ad for tampons mounted on the inside of the bathroom stall. It still really bothered me that I didn’t know why they had suddenly just… turned on me. There had to be a reason. It was unrealistic for a human being to hurt another without provocation. Even if they were 12 year old boys.


When I got back to our table, Cinda had put her laptop and binder on the floor, and had two scones and two new coffees on the table. I followed suit, placing my books on the ground, and pulled the scone across the table towards me, digging into it.


“So. Dee.”


I glanced up, suddenly afraid. So there was a reason that Cinda wanted to come here. She wanted to interrogate me. Probably more about Hayden.


“How do you feel about the wedding?”


I blanched. That was unexpected. “How do you know about the wedding?” I asked, trying to get the image of Athena and Al kissing under the altar out of my brain, but every time someone used the word wedding, it came up, like it was permanently part of my memory, even though it hadn’t happened yet.


“Rose Weasley and I happen to be on speaking terms.” She said, trying to look innocent as she took a sip of her coffee. “Anyway, we got a save the date.” She said, taking it out of her purse and sliding it across the table for me to look at. “Well, you did, but Rose said we could all come. She also told me that Athena wanted you there, probably just to spite you.”


“It’s a bit early for save the dates, isn’t it?” I asked, trying hard not to choke on my scone as I read the date on the card. “March 15th? Rose told me it would be May 30th!”


“Maybe you made her feel threatened with your little visit.” Cinda suggested. “Athena, that is. That’s probably why she moved the date up.”


“It’s the end of November.” I said, glancing outside to the cold, grey sky. “That’s a lot of planning to do in not a lot of time.”


“Yes, well,” Cinda said, taking a bite out of her scone. “How do you feel?” She asked, her words muffled around the pastry.


“I don’t need you to be my therapist, Cinda.”


“Oh come on, Dee, I’m curious.”


“Fine.” I said, scowling. “I feel murderous, because my best friend is sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Again.” I took a bite of my scone, tossed it on the plate, and leaned back, crossing my arms across my chest.


Cinda laid a tragic hand to her heart. “Such hurtful words.” She said dramatically. “I suppose I’ll just have to figure it out on my own. Let’s see… if I were Deandra and the boy I was in love with got a fiancée and moved on… hmm. I would feel hurt. And confused. Because clearly he was in love with you, or at least deeply cared about you, because you’re still alive, so how did he move on so quickly?”


I tried to keep my scowl in place, but my expression faltered, and Cinda noticed. “Ahh, I got it right. Well, Dee, I have the answer to that as well. I really do love Rose, she’s such a source of information.” I groaned, and buried my face in my hands. I was going to have a talk with Rose about things she was allowed to tell Cinda when this was over.


“He didn’t.” Cinda said.


“Didn’t what?” I asked, uncovering my face.


“He didn’t move on so quickly. After you left, they didn’t date until two years, when they landed themselves in the same Auror program, and became partners. They didn’t just go to school together, they’re coworkers. Office romance. And of course it helped that she unveiled Delilah.” I glared at the mention of my alias. Before, Deandra had been the name to avoid for Cinda and Arianna. Now Delilah was the past I didn’t want to think about.


After a few minutes of silence, in which I contemplated what to say to this and Cinda sat back, looking smug, I finally decided on the evasive response. “It doesn’t matter what I feel.” I told her. “He’s getting married and I’m dating someone else. Emotions aren’t what I need to think about in this situation.”


Cinda looked at me curiously. “Really? I thought emotions were all this situation was.”


“No,” I said. “It’s just… never mind, it’s stupid, it’s going back to Deandra before Delilah and I just don’t want to—can’t—” I amended. “Think about that right now. I have to study and do well on the NEWTs.” I reached under the table and grabbed my book again, opening it and trying to ignore Cinda’s penetrating stare.


After a few minutes, Cinda sighed and shook her head, grabbing her laptop and binder. “I wish I understood you, Dee.”


I can assure you, you don’t. I told her in my head.



*



I tapped the end of my pencil against my desk, trying to think of an adequate response to the question: In 1642, what international organization banned the Lovelust Charm on the grounds of dangerous usage and unsavory intentions? I was sorely tempted to write FUCK THIS SHIT in big, bold letters, but I knew that would make 2,000Gs worth of night classes worth nothing in 12 letters.


I was so glad I skipped these in 7th year. I don’t think 17 year old Deandra would have been able to handle NEWTs, what with everything else going on. 21 year old Deandra could hardly handle them. Shit was tough.


The Charms NEWT took an hour and a half to complete. When I finally handed in my roll of parchment, it seemed like I had been sitting in that desk for a lifetime. As soon as I got outside I cracked my back, knuckles, and neck, completely stiff from sitting in that uncomfortable plastic chair for so long.


The wizard supervising the entrance and exit of the Exam Hall (a two-level concrete building made up of one long hallway with a bunch of little rooms attached) smiled cheerfully at me. “How do you think you did?” She asked me.


I didn’t want to think about how I did. The whole time my brain was full of things not related to Charms—Hayden’s request to meet his mother, Al and Athena’s engagement, and an underlying sting of betrayal coming from Rose’s direction, because she told Cinda all those things. Overall, not the best test-taking environment.


But I couldn’t think about that. It was too late now.


“Okay.” I said, giving her a bracing smile. “Where should I go now?”


“Charms practical.” She told me. “You’re going to go down the hall until you reach the elevators, and then go to the basement. Once you’re there, there should be another supervisor to direct you.” She smiled at me. “Good luck!”


“Thank you.” I said, and set off down the hall in the direction she pointed. I felt a growing sense of dread as I walked. If you thought hard enough, this entire place could be a metaphor for hell, and I was descending deeper into it.


The supervisor directed me to the third room down from the elevators. It was a larger room, with four stations set up. The examiners all sitting there, waiting to decide your future. For them, it was just another job. Just something to check off the to-do list.


For me, it was everything.


I took a deep breath and walked over to an open examiner, a middle-aged woman with mousy hair and a thin, worn smile.


“Name, please?” She asked.


“Misgen, Deandra.” I told her, and she searched her roster.


“Gotcha.” She said, crossing my name out with a bright yellow sharpie. “Alright, Miss Misgen, let’s see what you can do….”


She made me perform several charms, varying from stuff I learned in first year to things I had barely covered in night classes. For most of those, I managed to improvise, but otherwise I thought the exam went fairly well. All my studying had evidently paid off.


“Very good, Miss Misgen, very good.” The examiner said after I performed a charm on a teapot to make it sing. “Now, just one last thing… if you could conjure a Patronus Charm for me?”


I swallowed. “I thought that wasn’t a standard?”


“Oh, it’s not.” She said. “But it could improve your score significantly if you can perform one. If not… well, it doesn’t count against you, so no harm done.”


“Okay,” I muttered. I guess if it could only help… I knew the theory well enough, and had even managed to cast one once, back at Salem. Not that I ever had much use for one.


I tried to summon up a happy memory, but to my dismay, nothing came to mind. All my memories with Al were tainted by the bitterness between us now. All the memories of Aidan and my family were confused and overshadowed by my parents’ death, and when Aidan turned on me. The only ones left were a precious few with Cinda and Arianna. I called on one, the first night we had a ‘sleepover’. We talked about our pasts. That’s when the truth came out about me, and they reacted in the best way possible. They took me in.


Expecto Patronum!” I exclaimed, flourishing my wand. Only a few pathetic wisps of silver emitted from it. I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. “That’s…weird. I’ve been able to conjure one before.” I muttered, almost to myself. “Expecto Patronum!” Nothing.


“Okay, Miss Misgen.” The examiner said, stopping me. “I think that’s enough.”


“That doesn’t count against me, right?” I asked desperately. “You said it wouldn’t.”


“Don’t worry, Miss Misgen. You did great.” She said, giving me an encouraging smile. “Now, go sleep it off. It’s probably been a very long day for you.”


“Yes, yes it has been.” I said, a bit defensively. “I—okay.” I turned on my heel and walked out of the room, feeling terrible about the practical. There goes my future, my career—it’s all over.


Whoa there. A little voice said in my head. That didn’t count against anything. Relax.


Merlin, I just couldn’t think right now. I rubbed my temples and nodded at the supervisor, who gave me a cheerful smile. As soon as I got out of the building and into sunlight, I Apparated home. I took a once-a-few-months risk of Apparating right into my room. Without taking off any of my clothes or doing anything, I collapsed onto my bed and curled up into a ball, wiggling out of my shoes and throwing them off the bed.


What went wrong in there? Why couldn’t I conjure a Patronus?


Why couldn’t I think of something happy?



*



It was amazing how much WizTV someone could watch when they were trying to avoid their life.


I had maybe seen 3 hours of Potion Panic before Cinda decided to intervene. “Dee.” She said, pointing her wand at the screen. It went black just as one of the main characters, ‘Detective Donna’, was about to read some incriminating letters between the wife and her brother. I made a noise of protest, but Cinda ignored me, pulling me off the couch. “Dee, you are meeting Hayden’s mother in 45 minutes, it’s time to get ready. Arianna, help me!” She called as she struggled to support my dead weight.


“I don’t—want to.” I told Cinda as she dragged me away from the couch. I had agreed to meet Hayden’s mother a few days ago, on another date with Hayden. Arianna popped her head out of her room, clad in only a blue bra, holding two shirts in her hand.


“Cinda, if she wants to be a slob for the Queen of England, let her be a slob.” She said, brandishing her shirts at us.


“The green one would look better.” I told her as Cinda pushed me into my bedroom. I fell on to the bed and pretended to go to sleep. Cinda huffed and began to go through my drawers, looking for something suitable. I rolled over and glared at her back. “I don’t want to look presentable.” I whined. “She’s not going to like me anyway.”


“That’s ridiculous.” Cinda told me, tossing a blue sun dress at me. “Go try this on.”


“A sun dress?” I asked disbelievingly. “It’s the end of November.”


“Just go try it on, Dee, don’t be difficult.” Cinda said. “I’ll look for something dressier in my room. We’re… sort of the same size.”


“You’d be better off looking in Arianna’s room.” I muttered as I strutted across the hall into Arianna and I’s bathroom, dress balled around my fist.


“Hey!” Cinda called after me. “Put this on too! I don’t think I have anything and I know Arianna basically just owns Quidditch jerseys and work clothes.” She threw a light blue cardigan at my face, a few shades lighter than the dress she had given me. I looked at it in disgust.


“I never wear this, it makes me look like an old lady.”


“Just try it on, Dee!” Cinda said exasperatedly. With a huff, I slammed the bathroom door. She didn’t have to be rude about it.


I had to admit, the sundress-cardigan combination didn’t look that bad. I walked out of the bathroom, where now Cinda and Arianna were waiting for me. “You look fine.” Arianna told me after a once over, and shut herself in her room again.


“You look gorgeous, Dee.” Cinda gushed. “Or, at least, you will once I’m through with you. Take of your socks.” I looked down at my feet, which were covered in thick wool socks.


“Do I have to?” I asked, wigging my toes.


“Yes of course you have to.” Cinda told me. “Now, come!” She grabbed my hand and dragged me to her bedroom.



*



By the time she was done, I had reluctantly removed my socks, chosen shoes to go with my outfit, had my hair done up in an elegant-yet-not-too-elegant style (Cinda’s words), and had eye makeup and lipstick applied to my face. And Hayden was going to be here any minute.


“Arianna!” Cinda called from her bedroom. “Come here, I need your opinion on something.”


“This better not be on how Dee looks.” I heard her grumble as she opened the bedroom door. I glared at her as Cinda spun me around like a model. “She looks great, good job, Cinda.” Arianna said grumpily. “Now all you have to do is pack her a lunch and give her a kiss on the head before she goes off to Kindergarten.”


“What’s Kindergarten?” I asked.


“American thing.” Arianna told me. “American muggle thing… you know what, never mind.” She said as a loud buzzing sounded. “Looks like your date’s here. Have fun, don’t screw up.” She walked back down the hall into her room. I wistfully wondered what she was doing in there. It was probably better than meeting the Queen of England, your boyfriend’s mother.


“Go!” Cinda encouraged. “Go answer it!”


I took a deep breath, plastered a smile across my face, and walked to the living area, pulling the front door open. Hayden had his finger on the buzzer and a bouquet of flowers in his other hand. He smiled when he saw me.


“You look nice.” He complimented, handing me the flowers.


“Thanks. So do you.” I returned, pointing my wand at the flowers so they floated to my room. Hayden watched them in awe.


“It’s still so weird that you can do that with a stick.” He told me, grinning.


“Magic wand.” I corrected. “Shall we go?”


“We shall,” He said, holding out his arm. I set my wand on the end table and took it, wincing at the thought of having to walk down five flights of stairs in heels. “I hope you don’t mind, but I got us a limo again. Feels fitting, since we’re heading to Buckingham Palace.”

“Merlin’s pants.” I said under my breath. The nerves that I had managed to keep at bay suddenly hit me, making me slightly nauseous.

“It’ll be fine.” Hayden reassured as we reached the bottom of my building. He opened the door for me, and there it was, a sleek black limo waiting just for us. A balding chauffer clad in a black suit opened the door for me. I thanked him and climbed inside, trying hard not to take it all in. If I took it all in, it would only make matters worse.

Hayden climbed in after me and sat by me as the limo began to move. I turned to him suddenly. “I’m really nervous.” I admitted, my mouth sandpaper dry. In response to this, he took my hand and kissed the back of it. I smiled, the sickness in my stomach receding slightly.

“Does that make it better?” He asked softly. I nodded, and he flipped my hand over and kissed the inside of my wrist. “What about that?” I smiled, and glanced at the driver. He noticed where I was looking and reached around me to press a button. The partition closed, boxing us in to the limo. Hayden planted little butterfly kisses all up my arm, leaving a trail of warmth where his lips brushed my skin. When he reached my mouth, his kiss was soft and brief, but somehow still perfect. “Everything will be alright.” He said soothingly. “I promise.”



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