Chapter Eighteen

Two weeks rolled by and still no sign of Lee.

Vincent and Jack had long since returned to Crestan High School. For the few days following their absences, Sammy and Carrie picked at their lunches, subdued. Will had been inconsolable.

Adel left countless messages for her uncle, moods ranging from annoyed to worried to threatening, but for some reason, it was like her uncle had decided to make himself scarce. That, or he'd gotten into some accident and the police hadn't called her down to identify the body yet. She tried not to think about that, preferring to focus on the less morbid reasons – like he'd found a new girlfriend and went off on an isolated road trip with her. If so, Adel hoped he'd burn through his bank account what with the rising price of gas.

When they had first returned from the skating rink, they'd found Lee's office locked without a note. Tristan had wanted to call the police anyway, but Adel had argued against it. She wasn't up to long interrogations and paperwork and she figured that maybe, like Caine and Will said, it was just a random city nutjob after all. It wasn't like they could very well catch the guy now.

Tristan hadn't been too happy with her response and had called her an idiot for being careless and that of course, hadn't boded well for the rest of their afternoon together. It was another fight and a silent treatment for the week until Adel had grudgingly initiated a hello last Friday.

His cool smile along with the slight arching of his brows reminded her again why she didn't like him.

And since when, again, did she needed reminding?

Since then, she'd taken to avoiding the other boy as much as possible. Except, there really was no such thing as out of sight, out of mind.

Blankly, she stared down at the pages of her notebook. These days, she'd taken to picking out a spot in the school library to study. Her room was starting to become too confining for her and she preferred finding a secluded corner in the grand library, hiding amongst the towering shelves of books and the gentle humming of computers.

The place itself wasn't much to look at, but she liked the rows of separate navy green compartments in the back. They were small cubicles with maple wood partitions and pine green paint that were used for individual studying. For some reason, the idea of having her own seat with her own, separate compartment made her feel good. A place that fit in with the rest of the cubicles, but could still be something that was solely hers for that short period of time she was there.

A soft, shuffling sound alerted her and she turned to see Victoria come into the open space from behind the aisle. The girl stopped short, startled. It was the first time Adel had seen the girl with such an open expression, unmarred by sneers or smirks or affected pouts, and she had to admit to herself that Victoria was uncommonly pretty.

The brunette turned away from Adel, grabbing a book off a shelf, and she stalked off without a word. Adel was fine with that. Better than getting involved in another brawl in the library. Hardcover books make painful flying missiles.

Adel returned her attention back to her book. Tapping the eraser end of her pencil against the pages, she propped her chin in her other hand and let her eyes glaze over. She was just about to think about what she'd like for lunch when all of a sudden, a hand reached down to close around hers, halting the abuse of her pencil.

For a split second there, she thought it was Victoria returning to do battle.

But then she realized that Victoria would probably be wrestling her for the pencil to spear her instead.

Startled, she looked up to find Tristan hovering over her. His blue eyes were cool, flecked by lines that reminded her of the flowery designs within the center of an ice cube. Oh god. She pulled her hand away from him, dropping her eyes down to her paper. She was going to start waxing poetics if she wasn't careful.

Tristan slipped into the seat beside her, sitting as close as he can to her own separate cubicle. "There you are."

"Were you looking for me?" she asked politely.

He glanced over at the papers in front of her. "We haven't really talked in a while."

"Sure, we have," she automatically disagreed.

"No –" He started, but they both stilled when Calhoun suddenly sauntered around the bookshelf, holding a book beneath one arm and running the other hand through his disheveled hair. Much like Victoria, the other boy stopped short. Eyes flickering momentarily between them, he offered a cool, polite nod before he continued past them, heading for the shelves on the opposite side.

Tristan tracked the boy's movements out of the corner of his eyes and as soon as Calhoun's back disappeared behind the aisle, Tristan continued, "No, we'd start talking and you'd walk away."

Adel was already packing up her things and her hands paused guiltily at Tristan's pointed look.

With a sigh, he reached over and plucked her notebook out of her hands. She glanced over at him.

"See? You'd just go 'okay' and then you disappear." His blue eyes narrowed. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. Why would you think something is wrong? We haven't argued at all. Everything's fine, great. You're crazy." She shifted in her seat after her hasty rambling.

He sat back abruptly in his chair and the look on his face was dark. His finger twirled the notebook on its corner as he studied her. "What's the story with your mother?"

Startled, she met his eyes. "There's no story."

"What exactly happened to her?"

Her jaw tightened. "I told you what happened. She upped and left."

"And?"

"And that's all I know."

"So you hate her."

"I don't –" She didn't finish, dropping her eyes. Her leg started to jitter, a habit that her father always deemed disgusting. She stilled her foot.

Tristan stood up, pushing away from the table. "Come."

Surprise swept across her face.

"It's the weekends. Your days are mine," he said matter-of-factly.

Again, that absurd feeling of delight. She was getting quite annoyed with herself. If she wasn't careful, she'd find herself squealing over his every word like some bimbo girlfriend, which she definitely wasn't. Not girlfriend. Not bimbo. "What?"

He beckoned at her impatiently. "Come on. You're spending the day with me."

Another sliver of pleasure crept through her even as she tried to cling onto the idea that she should be irritated. Ducking her head low, she fumbled for an excuse. "I have to study."

Slowly releasing a deep breath, he crossed his arms before his white uniform shirt and stared down at her.

"Fine," she muttered, throwing her bag on the desk and stuffing papers into it. "But fair warning though - first sign of any kite floating by, I'm out."

"Oh, don't worry." The corners of his lips tipped up mysteriously and chills flit up her skin. "I'll make sure it'll be something you're comfortable with."


Adel followed Tristan to the courtyard that aligned the back gardens. It was a wide, circular area lined by black iron wrought benches and tall elm trees, intended for students who wanted to take a break and get some fresh air outside.

Except it was nearing winter and the frigid wind seemed intent on blasting them off their feet. Adel huddled into her jacket, pulling her collar close to her neck and rocking on the balls of her feet. Leaves skittered against the ground around them, orange and brown bits scattering off to all corners. The next gust of wind was so strong, she actually stumbled in her step.

There was no one else outside. No one sane, that is.

"Boy, this was fun." Her teeth chattered. "Can we go back inside now?"

Tristan seemed blissfully oblivious to the cold and she would have thought there was something wrong with her perception of the weather if not for the flushed color in the boy's cheeks. Clapping his gloved hands together, he made a point of taking a deep breath. "Isn't this much more refreshing than the musty air inside the library?"

"Yes. So refreshing, I think my lungs just went into shock." Her arch response was ruined by a loud sneeze. "Now can we go back inside?"

"Not yet," he responded. "We have to do one more thing."

Before she could protest, he loped off, ducking in between two trees that were adorned with gray patches and threadbare branches. A suspicious jingle rang out and the next thing she knew, Tristan was wheeling a bicycle back toward her.

She stared. Craning her neck, she tried to peer around him to see if there were any more surprises lurking behind the bushes. Adel returned her attention to the bike, scanning it before she looked up at him. "What, the tree only had one bike?"

"Smartass." He smiled, his tone almost playful, and it did things to her insides that she didn't want to acknowledge.

"What are you planning?" she asked warily.

"I taught you how to skate. It's only fair that you teach me how to bike," he explained.

"You're joking."

"No."

"You seriously don't know how to ride a bicycle?" She eyed him, half suspicious, half incredulous. "You don't know how to fly a kite, you can't climb a tree, you –"

"I'm a deprived child," he interjected smoothly. "Now come on."

"What makes you think I know how to bike?"

"You lived in Beijing, didn't you? I rather thought everyone there was born on a bike."

Heaving a sigh, she stepped forward and then stopped. Frowning, she cocked her head to one side, uncertain on how to go about things. Finally, she waved a hand. "Okay, get on the bike."

He didn't move. "And?"

"And then you put your feet on the pedals and off you go," she rambled off.

"You're an awful teacher, aren't you?" he mused.

She scowled at him, brushing away tendrils of hair that was whipping around in front of her eyes. "So why didn't you get someone else to teach you then?"

"I think I tried once when I was younger," he thought. "Unfortunately, it was Will who volunteered to help out."

She started to grin even before he finished. "What happened?'

"Let's just say his first words were 'Straddle the beast and hold on tight!" Tristan deadpanned.

Adel burst out laughing, clapping a hand over her mouth as she tried to subdue her smile. A small smile slipped across his lips as he watched her.

She cleared her throat and then waved her hand again. "Okay. I see what you mean." Stepping forward, she held the bike in place as she dipped her chin at it. "Alrighty, you can get on. I'll hold it balanced as you slowly ease your feet up on the pedals."

Tristan gave her a dubious look.

"What?"

"You're planning to let me crash, aren't you?"

She rolled her eyes. "If you can't trust me, then get training wheels."

He swung his leg over the seat and sat down, gripping the crimson handlebars. Then he slowly placed both feet on the pedals.

Adel let go of the bike and Tristan lurched to one side. Her hands flew out to right him even as he slapped one foot down on the ground to steady himself. He threw her a scornful scowl and she shook her head, "I was going to hold your shoulders. If I hold onto the bike for you, you'll never get a sense of balance. If you start tipping to one side, my pressure on your shoulders will let you know how to adjust, you know?"

He sent her an amused smile and then turned to stare straight ahead. "You seem to know a lot."

"Naturally," she admitted breezily. She stepped up to his right and touched his shoulders, hesitantly grazing his coat before splaying her fingers across his shoulders.

"Who taught you?" he asked as he fumbled to set his feet on the pedals. She ignored his question, clutching his shoulders as he carefully moved along. She thought he was doing pretty well until she noticed that he had sneakily dropped his feet down to push them along the ground.

She muttered, "You're not biking. You're waddling."

"Like you on ice?" he rejoined.

She resisted the urge to shake him and her fingers dug into his shoulder blades. He sat up straighter, but he continued pushing his way. Exasperated, she said, "Do you want to bike or do you just want to paddle along with your feet?"

"Shouldn't I get the feel of steering first?" He hummed, bobbing his head slightly as he coasted along, propelled by his feet one at a time.

"Fine," she paused for a beat. "Feel over. Feet up now, please."

He heaved an exaggerated sigh and paid no attention to her. They were circling around back to their start point now and since she had left her gloves back in her room, her fingers were growing numb from the cold. Just as she was about to flick him in the side of his head and storm off, he asked, "So who taught you?"

She blinked. "You asked that already."

"You never answered."

"Then maybe you should take the hint."

"No, maybe you should take the hint."

She was starting to get a headache, her earlobes frigid to the touch. She knew that once she got back inside, the heat would encourage a rush of blood to her ears and it was always an uncomfortable sensation that bordered on painful. For that, her mood darkened. "Take the hint about what?"

"What's the point of a hint if you can't –"

She snapped, "I don't even know what the hell you're talking about anymore. You don't make –"

"Take the hint that perhaps you should just answer my questions –"

"And why should I have to –" she interrupted.

He cut in. "Because maybe I just –"

"It's not like your questions are particularly important anyway. It's just about random stuff all the time –" she continued.

"Do you expect an interrogation all the –"

"Well, it's starting to feel like –"

"Maybe you should just –"

"Why do you even –"

"Perhaps I just want to know more about you," he managed to interject.

She turned to face him and since her arms were still around his shoulders, his blue eyes were closer than she had expected. Bemused, she wondered, "What?"

"Sometimes, there doesn't have to be a point to questions," Tristan said. "It's the way conversations go, don't they?"

Adel dropped her eyes, feeling strangely self-conscious. "But why would you want –" She couldn't voice out the rest. To know more about me?

Tristan murmured, "You're so defensive."

"I'm not –"

"There you go again," he sighed.

She quieted. Her footsteps crunched through dried leaves and the bike squeaked slightly as it turned, still guided by Tristan's feet.

They moved together for a few paces in silence and then she admitted in a halting murmur, "I don't talk much. I'm … pretty much horrible at small talk." She trudged along, not really wanting to continue. "People aren't interested in what I have to say."

"Lies," he said simply.

She looked up, startled. Tristan glanced over at her with a knowing smile and her brows knitted. Uncertain, she pressed her lips together.

"If you let us, we're interested," he added.

"We?"

"Me."

"You."

"Me." His eyes crinkled. "So who taught you how to bike?" he repeated lightly. He wasn't even really watching his path anymore, shifting around in his seat to look at Adel. His steps were so slow, he seemed more like he was swaying in place on his bike. The way he looked then with his arms perched loosely on the handlebars, his breath ghosting out of his mouth in white puffs, and blonde tendrils falling into his twinkling blue eyes made her stammer.

She coughed to collect herself and she shrugged. "Lee."

"Your father …"

"He was busy," she answered abruptly.

Tristan made a noncommittal sound and she glanced over at him. She could practically read his expression. Try again.

Sighing, she explained, "After my mother disappeared, he wasn't home much. He worked a lot and he was always off somewhere, overseas." She shot Tristan a look then. "Hey, shouldn't you be biking?"

Tristan propped his feet up on the bike and immediately, he started tipping to one side. She clung to his shoulders, helping him regain his balance. Grunting, he leaned into her arms even as he began pedaling. Her steps quickened beside him. He prompted, "And?"

Jogging along next to him, readying her hands in case he started to veer off to one side, she responded, "And when he was home, he didn't seem to like being around me much."

"Why?" Tristan steered to the right and she followed by his side.

"I don't really know. Lee thinks maybe it's because I remind him of my mother."

"And what do you think?"

She was starting to feel warm now that she was close to sprinting along next to Tristan. "I'm – I don't know."

"You know," his response came easily.

"I really don't know. I mean, for a while, I guess I thought –" She bit her lip. "I guess I thought maybe it was my fault." Her breaths came in short pants and she wasn't really in the mood to talk anymore, except he cast her another searching look and she found herself explaining. "For a while, I thought maybe my father hated me because I did something to drive my mother away."

Tristan stopped short and the expression on his face was incredulous when he turned in his seat.

Her face grew hot and she waved at him. "Why are you stopping?"

He flicked his finger at her. "Explain why you could possibly think that."

"I know, I know. It was a bit stupid of me, but I just couldn't help it. I mean, she didn't leave after my brother was born." She shook her head, lips twisted in a bitter smile. "Nope, everything seemed to be just fine. Then I come along and bam, she decides to disappear." Her breath caught in her throat and she jerked her attention away, blindly scrutinizing a patch on the ground formed by tufts of weeds in the shape of a lopsided diamond. "I barely remember her and yet, I felt so useless and abandoned and I just wish – I just -" She sighed. "You wouldn't understand."

Tristan watched her with a strange, disquieting expression and then he slowly formulated the words. "Actually, I think I might."

By now, she felt too awkward with him facing her. Teasingly, she mocked, "Slacker. Who said you could stop?"

Tristan's lips slipped into a rueful smile and then he was off again, skittering slightly with his initial attempts to pedal. She walked next to him, assisting him. The wind carried his words as he said, "When my mother got cancer, she sort of … fell apart." He fumbled with the handlebars and she propped him up. "She was just depressed all the time and spent her days sleeping in or crying. She didn't even seem like the same person anymore." Tristan's grip on the handlebars tightened. "We lost her long before her death."

He sighed. "Carrie took it really hard and I – I think I blamed myself for not being able to draw Mom out of her moods and bring her back to us. Not even once before she left us." He nodded. "Yeah. I think that's my biggest regret."

Adel didn't know what to say. She held her breath as if half afraid Tristan was going to stop and snap at her and they'll get into another random argument again. But the words tumbled out of her before she could think. Without resentment, she wondered, "Why did you suddenly decide to talk to me?"

The wind swirled up the leaves in a kaleidoscopic shower and he squinted, sitting up straight on the bike. Tristan's voice was low as he said, "The other day at the skating rink, I don't know why but I kept thinking about what you did."

"What did I do?" Surprise tinged her voice.

"The way you seemed to be so desperate to find out more about your mother."

She opened her mouth to argue and he shook his head. Continuing in a calm, even voice, "It made me realize that I don't really know a lot about you. You talk and all, but your heart doesn't seem to be in it most of the time. You leave lunch and dinner early and asides from attending class with us, you just go straight to your room and isolate yourself somewhere else." He appraised her out of the corners of his eyes.

"But why would you …" she trailed off. Why would you care? "Why would you be concerned?" Her smile turned teasing. "What, you thought I'd suddenly turn psycho on you guys and murder Sammy in her sleep?"

Instead of quickly agreeing and playing everything off as a joke, Tristan cocked his head to one side with a small smile and shrugged. "I'm not sure. Maybe I was just curious." He pushed the bike forward. "Or maybe I'm wondering if you can help me figure out something about myself."

Puzzled, she asked, "What?"

His shoulders jerked up as he kept his head bent over the handlebars. "I don't know. I've always been pretty quiet myself actually. The way the others interact – Vincent, Will, Caine, Jack – I've never really been one hundred percent comfortable. I don't know if it's just me or if –" He sent her a lazy smile. "If we're just loners. Sometimes, I feel like I'm more of an observer than really one of them. You know?"

Slowly, she nodded. Then she pointed out, "You don't seem to have any problem at all with biting my head off though."

His smile broadened. "Well, you don't have any problem retaliating either."

She gave him an impish smile. "So maybe we're both antisocial loners with anger management issues. Sounds like we need therapy."

His teeth flashed and he protested, "Oh, but I don't go around flipping people over her shoulder and brawling in a locker room. You're definitely the one who has all the violent tendencies."

Adel made a face at him and then she shrugged, oddly relaxed and self-conscious at the same time.

And then Tristan looked at her, his hair ruffled by the wind as he coasted along on his bike. Wonderingly, he inquired, "Do you know why I just told you all this?"

Tentatively, she shook her head.

He nodded. "Good." He propped his feet up on the pedals and tipped his face back to watch the bleak, grey sky, closing his eyes as if he was savoring the sun's warmth instead. "I'm not so sure myself either."

Lips pressing into a smile, she threw him a dirty look and let go of his shoulders to sock him in his upper shoulder, connecting with a soft thump of her fist. Tristan's eyes flew open and his whole body jolted. For a second, she was afraid that she had punched him too hard.

Then she realized that the boy was flailing, his arms blurred, and like a landslide, he tipped over and dropped sideways to the left, right into a bush.

Adel gaped at him. Having gone headfirst into the bush, only the lower half of his body was visible. His legs, clad in blue jeans, were still entangled around the bicycle and the back wheel spun lazily.

"Oh, my god," she squeaked and then she scurried forward, trying to step around the bicycle. "Tristan?"

His voice was surprisingly calm. "You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

"I didn't!" she protested. "I swear! I didn't know you were just going to crumple over."

"You pushed me into a bush," he said flatly.

"I didn't push you. I punched –" She stopped, mortified.

He managed to lever himself halfway up, frowning blearily at her as he propped himself up with his elbows, digging into the dirt. His upper torso had fallen back, his legs propped up by the bush and he struggled to disentangle himself. Now that it was nearing winter, the bush was starting to resemble a tumbleweed and Adel could imagine that it wasn't very comfortable.

"Huh."

He slipped her a look. "What?"

"For a while before, I was wondering if you were actually using one of Will's tricks and pretending not to know how to ride a bicycle. Guess not."

He bared his teeth.

Her expression brightened. "Well. At least now I know you were being honest. You really are just awful at this."

He jabbed a finger at her. "Hey. I didn't make a comment about your ice skating so –"

"Does 'waddling like a duck' ring any bells?"

Tristan cursed beneath his breath and threw her a resentful scowl. Eyes narrowing, he held out his hand as he demanded, "Help me up."

Adel instinctively backed up a step, hugging herself against another biting wind. "Um, this isn't some ploy to pull me into the bush with you, is it?"

Tristan remained expressionless, but she'd grown used enough to him to be able to pick up on the suspicious gleam in his eyes.

Shaking her head, she took another step back and his eyes darkened. "Adel, you're not leaving me here like this."

Dried orange leaves clung to his hair like discarded insect carcasses and she had to stifle a giggle. His blue eyes turned positively black as he muttered ominously, "Adel …"

He looked so frustrated that she couldn't help but picture him as a messy child whose plans to build a fort got thwarted and a laugh escaped from her. His glare turned nasty.

Her chortle quickly dropped into a horrified squeak though when one of the dried bits in his hair actually started to move. She blinked, leaning forward and squinting to get a better look. Tristan flapped a hand at her, but she ignored him.

The piece started to move again, slipping through Tristan's hair. As the thing started to inch its way toward Tristan's ear, all sorts of nightmarish images came to mind all involving the insect somehow lodging itself into Tristan's ear canal and maybe laying eggs in his brains or something. Her hand flung out, jabbing in his direction, as she barked, "Bug! Bug!"

"What?" was all Tristan managed to utter right before Adel launched herself at him.

He caught her around her waist, but her momentum knocked him flat on his back again and then her hands were all over him, slapping at his head, across his scalp, against his ear, clipping his cheeks. His ears were ringing as she attacked his face and he grabbed hold of her wrists, forcing them to stop. He growled, "It wasn't enough to just push me into a bush? You have to come finish the job?"

Her eyes were wild. "Bug in your hair!"

He stilled as he thought carefully. "Is it still there?"

She leaned in closer, tendrils of her hair tickling his cheek. She affirmed, "Yes."

He released her hands. "Get it off."

Her hand pulled back sharply and he grabbed hold of her wrist again. His eyes narrowed. "I said get it off, not bitch slap me to oblivion."

Guilt swept across her face, but she rolled her eyes and her hand gentled in his grasp. He let go and this time, her fingers carded through his hair lightly. He watched her face draw closer as she squinted in concentration, her dark hair tumbling down to surround his face with a black curtain and his breath hitched as he subtly inhaled her soft scent. The way her fingers scraped against his scalp, brushing against the tips of his ears sent tingles down his spine and his fingers flexed. Taking a deep breath, he waited for her to finish the job.

A few seconds later, she did so with a triumphant, "Aha!" and then followed it up with "Ew ew ew ew." as she all but hurled the bug fifty yards away. She sat up, flapping her hand and scraping it on the ground, trying to get the feel of crawling bugs off her skin. Her nose wrinkled in disgust and a grimace smeared her lips and Tristan couldn't stop smiling.

She frowned down at him. "You owe me."

"You pushed me," he reminded her.

"I leapt to your rescue, though."

His blue eyes flickered down meaningfully. "You mean you straddled me."

The color in her cheeks rose and her back stiffened, but before she could clamber off of him, he sat up while smoothly slipping an arm around her waist to hold her in place. She slid against him, scrambling as she pressed her hands against his chest for support.

On her knees, still straddling his legs, Adel froze in position. His arms curled loosely around her waist and she could tell even without looking up that Tristan was staring down at her. His chin dipped down and his breath ghosted against her forehead, ruffling her hair. He murmured, "You're turning red."

She looked up to make a sarcastic comment or whatnot, but the strange, gentle smile on his lips wiped out all thoughts in her brain. From this vantage, she could see the flecks in Tristan's crystalline blue eyes and her heart stuttered.

Her fingers curled, clutching at the front of his coat, and he glanced down at her hands. Amused, he said, "Are you trying to rip off my clothes?"

Her hands doubled into fists and he laughed. The vibrations swept through her and she felt oddly warm. "You –" she croaked. "No."

A wide grin spread across his face. He leaned forward and she tried to edge back, her eyes doing the weird flickering thing as she alternated between desperately tried to hold his gaze and failing, letting them shift to the ground.

"You're funny," he murmured.

"I thought you said I was annoying."

"That too," he affirmed. "It's getting to be interchangeable."

"Well, you're stupid."

"Says the girl who tried to backhand a bug."

"Who's to say I wasn't trying to backhand you?"

"I'd say you did a pretty good job then."

"I should have just let that thing eat your brains."

"Barbaric."

"Uh huh!"

"Cute."

"Wh – I - stupid."

He drew her closer and they were so close, her skin fairly buzzed with anticipation. His breath tickled her ear. "Warm now?"

"I wasn't cold."

He withdrew a hand to cover hers, pressing them against the rough wool of his coat. "Your fingers seemed close to frostbite."

"I should stick them down your shirt. See how you like ice on your skin."

He met her eyes, lips turning up crookedly in a challenge. "Just try it."

Without missing a beat, she slipped her hands around his neck. If it was even possible, they shifted closer to each other. Skimming her fingers against his collar, she dipped a fingertip against the warm skin, grazing it with her nail. He shivered.

Pulse thrumming beneath her skin, she broke out into a wide grin anyway. "Ha. Cold enough for you?"

The eyes that turned up to her were fairly liquid cobalt and his tone was harsh as he replied, "Not quite. Not yet."

What was she doing? What is he doing? Her eyes softened as she stared back at him as he slowly pressed her closer.

"I think I'm going crazy," he paused to say. He had managed to sit all the way up, his arms now supporting Adel's back, anchoring her to him.

"You've always been crazy," she breathed. She was ashamed to notice that her fingers were trembling around his shoulders. It wasn't just from the cold anymore.

"More so than ever." His eyes were hooded and then he arched his neck, bending forward. Her hands clutched his coat tightly and she went limp, shifting her face ever so slightly to the left as he moved closer –

"Tristan?"

The voice was whispery soft, but it was enough to register their attention. Their heads whipped around to find Sammy coming out of the gardens, heading their way. Features pale and drawn, the redhead kept wringing her hands together as she glanced around desperately. Her green eyes settled on the pair still sitting behind the bush and her lips parted. Stricken, she stopped short in her steps and breathed, "Oh."


Author's Note

Sorry about the lateness again! I've had this chapter for a while, but I kept going over it again and again for some reason. Anyway, recent news: I've been nominated in SKoW under Amazing Wordsmith and Most Humorous (Unfinished Business). If you guys have time, please check out the nominees and cast your vote! I haven't had the chance to go through all the stories thoroughly, but I have to say the ones I've glanced at have certainly captured my attention. Even though not all of us get to win, it's still nice to be nominated and have the chance to perhaps draw some new readers and attention. I certainly appreciate it. So if you're bored, please show some love to the writers … including me! If you want. I always love love.

Haha, for more news or inquiries, please check the blog. Especially about False Facades. I've gotten requests for emailing copies again and the answer is up in a post in the blog from a while back. Thank you for your patience and support!

Thanks, minime, for pointing out some errors!

- Maeven


© Copyright 07/18/2008 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.