A/N: Oh Lord! I finally finished this chapter! I am so sorry about the delay, guys. Things have just been a little... hectic to say the least. But I'm not going to give you excuses because chances are they're insignificant and pretty lousy. Just know that I hate my life and I'll try my very, very hard to not let my little problems interfere with my writing. I feel so bad :/

Recap: Scipio and his friends are part of the Mafia. Bianca, so far, has been a bitch but feels remorse for convincing Gemma to following them to Watts. At Watts, while everyone is trying to sort out business, Gemma and Deandre (a gangster who has ties with the Mafia) are attacked by a group of thugs. With the intention of raping her, they drug Gemma into a stupor. At the very last minute, they're interrupted and Gemma is saved.

TEN: SURVIVING

It was a mess –a whirlwind of noises and colours. Wave after wave of disgusting bile hit me, making my head even more mixed up than before. I felt like I was separated from my body and only half of me knew what was happening and that was partly because I felt so heavy and sleepy. I didn't know whether I was moving or even if I was speaking. Every second that passed was forgotten as soon as the next second elapsed. My mind was a blank –it was a black hole. I felt barely alive: no more thoughts, no more physical feeling, no more sense of being.

My mind was doing hoops and loops as stars exploded before my eyes. I didn't realise that my body was being carried from place to place, from person to person. Everyone was too busy to cover me up so I was freely bleeding from the long gash that one of the thugs accidentally made when he was startled by Riccio and Dom. White, bubbly foam spilled out of my mouth. My pupils had rolled to the back of my head but occasionally lolled back and forth in my sockets.

All in all I looked like shit. I looked like a crazy hooker and this would have been a funny image had the situation not left me fighting for my life.

"...foaming at the ..."

"... fuck are we going to do?"

"Oh my G..."

"... fucking tube! Get it... place her on her left side..."

Then I felt a gross sensation come over me then all of a sudden, I felt warm. The warmth started in my belly and surged through my body.

I slipped in and out of consciousness and I would never remember any of what was happening: Doc was with a syringe of adrenaline in one hand and a stomach pump in the other as he fought with a panicked Scipio on which to use. Dom was furiously beating the thugs into bloody pulps. Deandre was out cold, surrounded by bags of ice on the couch. Bianca's face was contorted in fear and wild panic, a string of apologies escaping her mouth and delirious with grief; grief for me, grief for Deandre, grief for Scipio.


I did survive though. I knew I was going to so I didn't worry too much about that. My first reason is because I had complete faith in Scipio and that he would save me. The second is because I had that adolescent arrogance which made me think that I can get through this alive because I always do; and I had faith in that too.

I already knew that Scipio was a pretty smart guy and I imagine that he had to really rake his brain to find a way to get me home without getting me in trouble. Dom would later tell me that sending me off to Rhys was an option but was afraid of a sort of Nurse-Patient romantic complex, though Dom actually used the words 'Stockholm Syndrome'. Which wasn't really fair because although Rhys may not be too hot for the idea of me and Scipio being together after all the bruises and scrapes I had that night, but he certainly wasn't going to keep me captive. I mean I didn't doubt that he was going to try, but he wouldn't be successful.

In any case, Scipio thought of a smooth way to get me back.

Scipio or somebody managed to contact the twins; but it still remains a mystery to me how anyone got them awake 3 in the morning. Nonetheless, the Jewels picked me up. They were told that I had alcohol poisoning and of course they were more than understanding about it. I was sent to the twins' townhouse when I was coming to. Their townhouse hadn't been used in weeks because Birgin was really keen on the whole 'family' thing and wanted the twins to stay at his house. And I suspect that the only reason why the girls agreed was because they were afraid for Birgin's health. Birgin had a mild heart attack a month back due to his weak heart, and the girls wanted to hover over him just in case.

The next morning I felt as if a sandstorm had taken place inside me and bits of sand were chaffing my stomach, throat and head. I could have cried if the bits of imaginary sand weren't wedged in my tear ducts.

It definitely didn't help that the Jewels kept making me drink this foul, sour liquid. The only interesting tid bit they gave me was, "Scipio dropped by in the morning and said that he's sorry and hopes that you feel better soon. What a douche bag."

"How does that make him a douche bag? It's really sweet that he's checking up on Gemma," Becca said maternally. "It's romantic," she assured me.

"If he was so concerned about our lil' sis, why didn't he come up to see her then?" Katie fought.

I honestly didn't think much of it. But as the week got on, I'll tell you that I started to worry a little bit. I rested on Sunday because all my energy was still absent and the shred of liveliness that still resided in me was used up from my mom trying to prepare the house for my Mamma. I really didn't see the point because we had a big house and there were so many people who could maintain it; and without trying to sound like a pretentious little girl, that's what hired help is for, duh!

But no, my mother likes to be difficult because she claimed that other people 'didn't do it right'. Damn nurses and their need to have things done a certain way.

Monday and Tuesday were basically the same. In the morning I spotted Riccio. He was looking as shady as ever as he spoke to some guys. He had on a cocky smirk and looked like he was trying to convince the group of guys something whilst gesturing at an oblivious boy who was getting in a car with a bunch of people. After that my Mamma took us to circle Beverly Hills to see famous houses. Or rather, she made us circle Beverly Hills so that she could catch a glimpse of Lionel Barrymore or Ursula Andress' house.

Wednesday was an uneventful day, just hanging out with Shazzy and meeting her scary as hell Muslim parents. I almost shit my pants when her dad demanded an excuse for the loose behaviour of the Jewels and I didn't know how to answer. I promised to myself that as cool and liberal as Shazzy was, I was never going to see her parents ever again. Ever.

I texted Scipio with no response. Then I sent another one, and another one. Then I stopped because I was feeling like that girl who didn't realise that she was being stood up on that cold Friday night. This feeling was making me depressed and I was about to have dinner with Shazzy's parents so I couldn't afford more discomfort. With my butt already clenched from being in their presence, I didn't need my stomach doing somersaults as well.

On Thursday my Mamma from Tennessee slipped in the shower and fractured her spine. So I couldn't call Scipio. Number of times Scipio called so far: 0. Number of text messages and calls I've made to his cellphone: 14. I was starting to think that they realised that I was too much trouble than I was worth. I was really just about to go out to Malibu and beat a reason out of Scipio. But stinkin' Rhys physically detained me in his room. So me, him and Shazzy just watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind –which is a really trippy movie.

But I checked my email after a few months of letting my mail accumulate. Right on the top of my inbox, as if crowning all the spam, was an email from Scipio. It was short but at least it was contact. He had sent it on Sunday. 'Hey,' it said, 'Going overseas this week. Can't talk much right now. Will call you as soon as I get there.' For a few seconds, that gave me hope. But then I really thought about it. He sent it on Sunday and I still didn't get a call from him. Now images of him and some exotic bikini clad girl plagued my mind. I almost wished I hadn't opened the email. He didn't even have the courtesy to write in full sentences.

Friday was the closest I ever got. I was hoping and praying that I would bump into Dom or Riccio or Matt, or that Bianca would get over her stomach flu (I found out when our teacher was taking attendance). I needed to know more.

Riccio practically dropped out of the sky because as soon as I blinked, he materialized right in front of me. His healthy dark eyes were boring into me. The muscles of his face were tightened.

I obviously assumed the worse. "What does-?"

"Hello, Gemma," he said almost comically serious. "Before you say anything, I want you to do me a favour. This guy I'm going to introduce you to lost his mother. I want you to cheer him up but don't mention his mother at all or else he might have a panic attack again. He's a really nice kid and he seems to like you so for the love of God, don't be a spaz and forget to not mention his late mother."

I was really confused. "Wait, I want to ask-"

"Yes, yes. I'll tell you as much as you want about Scipio later on. Just do this first," Riccio said, brushing me off and gesturing the guy who I saw get into the black Sedan on Monday and Tuesday.

The dude saw Riccio signal to him and walked over to where we were standing. The first thing I noticed about this guy was that he didn't look like the people that Riccio usually hung out with. Black hair with long bangs, piercings, studded belt, gages, Chucks, Hot Topic accessories –he was a total scene kid.

"Gemma, this is Chris MacKaye. Chris, this is Gemma Bukharin. I'll let you kids chat. I gotta go," Riccio said, almost running away.

I could already tell that I would like Chris. He was my favourite kind of emo: the sensitive, unsure one, not like those other angsty bastards.

"So you're new around here?" he said after an emo hair flip.

"Yeah, this is my first semester here," I said distractedly. "You new too?"

Chris gave me an embarrassed side smile. "Actually I've been here for three years... I'm also actually in your homeroom and, second and fourth block."

"Really?" Dammit, now he was gonna get all depressed and probably slit his wrists or something.

But he didn't look downtrodden. He smiled almost ironically, probably at my ignorance that he finds strangely adorable or whatever his poetically enforced mind could make out of the situation. "Well I'll see you later, yeah?" he said, extending his arm for a hug.

"Sure," I said, giving him a hug. A last awkward smile and emo hair flip later, Chris MacKaye left to meet his other emo friends. Well, that was sufficiently uncomfortable.

I scanned the courtyard for that dark haired, gel friendly thigh squeezer. I saw Bianca a little way off. She flipped her hair away from her face and spoke coolly to a gaggle of other girls. I didn't want to approach her with a ten foot pole yet. I needed to prep myself before speaking to her. That pint sized wonder was a short fuse and I wasn't sure how she could spin the story. She'd probably tell me that it was my fault that I was foaming at the mouth and bleeding over everybody and that I deserved whatever was coming to me. We share the same first block class so I was just going to compose myself before I harassed her.

The 10 minute warning bell went off and I turned to the school building.

"So, sweetheart, what do you think of my boy Chris?" Riccio suddenly appeared to my left, his arm magically wrapped around my waist as if it had been there the whole time. "Let me carry those books for you. You had a long week and need to take a load off. Chris is just the guy to help you with that. He's a very homely guy, that Chris is."

"He's OK I guess. Why did you make me meet him though?"

"I already told you! His mother died and he's taken a real liking toward you! Anyway, I gotta go. Here are your books. My homeroom is on the other-"

"Wait, Riccio." I took hold of his arm before he could leg it. He turned around to face me. "Don't give me that bullshit. Have you heard anything from Scipio? Do you know what he's thinking?"

Riccio looked like he was sorry for me, like truly and deeply sorry for me as if he was personally involved. "Sorry Gemma." He hugged me for two moments and walked to his homeroom.

I let him go because I was too preoccupied with my sinking heart. What did that even mean? Was this Scipio's way of breaking up with me? Did he tell Riccio to set me up with Christ MacKaye to distract me? My world was shattering, it rang in my ears.

The time until first block was a blur. It wasn't until Bianca sat beside me that I remember that we shared the same first block.

She too looked at me sympathetically. As if it wasn't humiliating enough that this was how Scipio was breaking up with me, I had to deal with it and have his friends feeling sorry for me as well.

"Hey Gemma," she said in that 'I heard about your break up and I feel so sorry for you' tone. Her light blonde hair splayed on her face, mingling with her angel-like features.

I merely turned my head at Bianca. I wasn't really looking at her because I was still thinking about why on earth Scipio –with all his levelheadedness and practicality –would just up and break it off without so much as a warning. It was a knee jerking reaction to turn when I heard my name being called. It took me a while to register that Bianca was in front of me and she was talking.

"- so I'm just really sorry for everything. I mean, it was really all my fault. I really wish I hadn't challenged you," she gushed regretfully. She really did look remorseful. But other than her expression, she looked perfectly fine, unaffected. Her hair was still the same shiny blonde, her skin still had that healthy glow, her eyes were still bright and blue, her clothes were still perfectly crisp and tailored to fit. It almost wasn't fair that she had come out of that night unscarred whilst I had a long scar on my hip as a souvenir. And on top of that, she just got over a flu. Hell, when I was getting over my stomach virus, I still looked half dead.

I blinked unintelligently. In a bizarre turn of events, Bianca was actually apologizing. She wasn't trying to spin this to somehow make her the victim. She was actually rising up to her responsibilities. Of course she was a little off with on who the person was to blame, but the gesture was still genuine and appreciated.

Somewhere in what seemed like the distance, our Environmental Studies teacher was telling our small class about a species of fish. Her eyes were not too good as she skimmed over Bianca and I who were clearly not paying attention.

"Oh," I said as it hit me. "Right, what happened that night, anyway? I couldn't get anyone to tell me and my memory is a little fuzzy."

"You don't remember anything?" she whispered almost inaudibly. Her voice sounded like it belonged to a soft, wavering person, not someone as intimidating and as fiery as Bianca Denaro. "It's all my fault. It was so horrible! You almost died," she squeaked again in a slower, less chipmunk-y voice. "They drugged you and you and were about to rape you. But Dom and Riccio got to you in time and they were really angry. Scipio was even more furious when he saw what those guys were about to do to you. You were almost fully naked and were already so drugged up. Then you just started convulsing and kinda stopped breathing. So we had to pump your stomach."

"That's a lot to take in," I admitted with a helpful smile to her. "I remember nothing. It's hard to believe that all that happened in the time that I was out cold. I've been wondering about that scar across my stomach. It's almost like I had a really bad hangover and don't remember what happened," I joked, trying to cheer Bianca up. "I'm glad I wore nice underwear then."

Apparently she didn't understand that I was joking to cheer her up. Bianca quickly scowled. Oh no, this was the dragon Denaro I knew. "What?" she hissed. "I've been sick for days because I thought that you actually cared that you were on the brink of dying. But you're just glad that you wore nice underwear?!"

"Well what's the point of being pissed off? That doesn't accomplish anything! You already know that I'm feeling like shit so I don't see the point of going off on you or anyone else about it."

Well, that's not entirely true. This is how I handle panic. Spewing bad jokes is my first reaction because my initial reaction is to try to ignore it for awhile. Then the problem seeps in and then comes the hysteria and yelling.

I was just really angry that Bianca was angry at me for not reacting like some soap opera actress who woke up from a five year comma because I hate those kinds of stupid dramas.

"What were you expecting me to say? 'Of course I forgive you, Bianca! But oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die! But I'm so happy that we can finally be friends.' Because yeah, that's not how I'm going to say it."

"I wasn't expecting it to be so exaggerated like that but the way you acted was not what a normal person would. I was expecting you to be a little more morose," she grumbled, her voice gathering strength at the tail end of that sentence. "You're honestly acting like you don't care for your life. Do you even understand how much that'd affect your family if you just act so carelessly with your life? What about Scipio? Do you even care about him or how he feels?"

"Does he?" I spat back. "It looks as if everything is going to go downhill from here. I haven't heard from him in ages. And I'm getting the feeling that we're at a stalemate, the anticlimax."

I tried to hold back the moisture that was hiding behind my eyes and going up my throat. Despite my being so dehydrated, the tears and phlegm was starting to kick in. I could already tell that it was going to be one of those scratchy, dry-moist crying sessions. But damn it, the panic was not going to seep in now! Not in front of Bianca and a classroom of observers who have no personal interest in the matter.

"Look, obviously we've got to come up with some sort of truce. Or an understanding," she said practically, her voice getting a softer edge now. "I promise to behave if you do."

"We might not have to if Scipio decides to break it off," I attempted at a joke miserably.

Bianca's face twisted sadly. She put her hand on my table in a comforting sort of way. "I wish there was something reassuring that I could tell you but I don't know what Scipio is going to do or what he's thinking about the whole situation. He's with the rest of his family at his uncle's funeral up in Palermo so I don't think he's had a chance to sit down and have a moment by himself. I'll be honest. He didn't look too happy that day. And he had this look on his face. I think that it's better that he's got a week to contemplate things over."

And at that moment, I loved Bianca. She was being so nice and very unlike the person that I envisioned her –spitting and hissing fire.

"Regardless of the outcome –whether you guys make it or not –it shouldn't interfere with the rest of your relationship with everyone else. Scipio's enough of a gentleman to not take things to heart especially if you're on good terms with the rest."

"Thanks, I really needed that. But this conversation is getting a little too American pie golden moment for me... So is your Mercedes a 4 or 5-speed automatic?" I asked with a little clear of my throat for added effect of toughness after that soft heart to heart.

Bianca cringed. "I really don't speak cars. It's got wheels and it can take me places, and I have to fill it up with gas when the little dial points to the little E. That's all I need to know about it. And anyway I'm not done." She attempted at an encouraging smile. "Scipio's back."

Obviously I had to see him. I was really scatterbrained for the rest of the day. I was willing to ditch the rest of school and go there but Bianca was surprisingly strict about following the school rules. I forced Bianca to drive me to his house and make him explain himself and examine any hickeys from some exotic slut. Bianca wasn't being difficult though so that kinda sucked the fun out of me abusing our new found friendship.

I was so determined that the butterflies didn't get a chance to attack my stomach. As soon as we drove up the gravel road, I marched out, wrenching open the front door like I owned the place. I checked the kitchen and TV room, then I went up to his room and yanked the door open without a thought of consideration to what he was doing if he was in there.

Sure enough, he was. A little more tanned than I remembered, but it was him leaning over a bed covered with clothes, alright. He was startled when I noisily pulled his door open.

I had planned to act cold toward him until I got my answers but in the moment of just standing right in his doorway a few feet away from him prevented me from doing so. I could feel his magnetic pull, the power that he had over me.

So I did the most shameless thing ever. I ran over his bed and into his arms, found the crook of his shoulder and cried. I didn't cry because I was so happy to see him back, but it was because I realised that I had been in such a mess the other day. There was a huge chance of me dying because of a drug poisoning. If it weren't for Scipio I would probably be dead. The reality of how close I was to killers and how they could have and were about to throw my life away in a second hit me. I was crying because of everything I could have lost: my future, my family, this feeling right here –the feeling of security and warmth, of being loved and appreciated for just being alive.

I'm not saying that I only felt this way with Scipio, but just seeing him made me connect everything to how close I had been to losing it. This was me and my panic.

"I missed you," he said into my hair. With one hand he tried pushing all his clothes off the bed as he comforted me with his other. Scipio set me down on the bed as I continued to grip his neck as if I'd never be able to let it go.

I sounded crazy as my sobs started breeching on an uncontrollable frenzied whining. I just couldn't hold it back as the fear of being so close seeped in. I knew that a few minutes or even seconds late, and I would have been gone to the point of no return –to be tainted and sucked into a vortex of constant cynicism towards the world and its inhabitants, or worse, just sucked into a vortex of unknown.

Scipio tried to console me but his lulls fell deaf on my ears as the more I tried to calm myself, the more frantic I became. Finally my tears subsidised as I realised that I was being a total girl. I reluctantly let go off him and tried to sweep off the tears from my warm and puffy face. "I'm sorry," I said, my voice hitching from all the crying. "I just never want to go through that night ever again."

Scipio's look was searching. His gorgeous burnt amber eyes were filled with fear and his face never looked so old before; maybe it was the stubble or the deeper than usual worry lines but he definitely looked older than 18. The fluorescent light on his bedside table and his bone structure made unflattering shadows over his face which made him look like he was a maddening man who was so stricken as if his last shred of hope was taken away from him. Of course, I bet it was the lighting and the shadows played across his face that exaggerated his look but it still broke my heart and all of a sudden I was felt another surge of panic.

"Calm down," he said, although he made it obvious that he wanted to say something important.

After a few minutes my breathing went back to normal and the feeling of drowsiness overcame me. I just buried myself against his warm body. I hugged him tightly. I needed him, I was dependent on him and it was dangerous of me to give him that but it was OK. Trusting him and letting him take care of me was OK for now. Remember now, I, Gemma Bukharin, am commitment phobic so this is a very, very big deal for me. He was under the sheets with me and he was just so warm and reassuring that it lulled me into a sense of security that I wasn't sure whether or not I could trust. With one hand he stroked my back and he pushed the hair away from my face with the other.

"Gemma, I'm so sorry about what happened. I know Bianca is trying to convince you that it's her fault that this whole thing started, but it's not. I've put some real thought in this over the past week. I've been thinking a lot about death, see," Scipio explained in a calm voice as to not overexcite me again. "It made me think that if luck hadn't been on our side, had Shanghai not chosen to call us at the moment that she did, I would have been attending more than one funeral this week."

"I know. But I didn't. Scipio, I knew that nothing was going to happen to me," I meekly explained but I was too exhausted to go on so I let him continue.

"Yeah, but I'm just saying that we can't afford to play with chance. I thought about you a lot, like I really reconsidered what's best for you. I just realised that you're the prefect target. If anything were to happen and some of our rivals were stupid and rash enough to try to hurt an innocent, you would be on the top of that list. Of course, none of them are that stupid unless they want a death wish, but that's just playing with chance again and you're too much too lose.

"Because you're so close to the Arstons and the publicity that follows them, it's so easy for the media to put two and two together if they happen to catch us on camera. You're an exposed target because you're not as heavily guarded as the Jewels are. At any chance at all, you could be plucked up and hauled away. It's scary how simple it is to take you. But this doesn't only affect you. If it ever caught wind that Birgin is in any way associated with the Mafia, his business is going to take a few steps back. It's bad publicity for him as well."

All this time I was stiff, unmoving as I stared into his eyes. His tone was sombre enough for me to take this situation seriously but not so much as to make me find this funny.

"So you're asking for a break up?" I asked flatly. There was no use beating around the bush. Scipio didn't need to give me reasons –the final answer was going to burn either way.

Scipio still maintained that cool, soft tone which was beginning to irritate me. "Yes, but only because-"

"Because you don't want to hurt me, because I can do so much better, because you're no good for me," I finished mockingly.

Scipio frowned and started to sit up. "You are spinning this way out of context. You know I don't mean it like that. This is different; I'm saying that because these are under different circumstances. This time, you could honestly die if you stayed with me."

"I made it alive, didn't I?" I snapped, rolling off the bed and folding my arms in front of my chest. "I'm fine, a few scratches and bruises, but I'm fine."

"How can you say that?" his was starting to raise his voice now. Scipio's dark brows were knitted and for the first time I saw his face contorted with anger. It wasn't the impassive, cold anger that he usually showed people, but the passionate, wild anger that made him personally involved in the argument. "You almost died if it weren't for luck taking place. Just take my advice and drop me. I don't want to put you in danger or have you teetering on death. You know that I care about you so move on. Get on with life and occupy yourself. I'm trying to do the responsible thing and let you get out of this before it's too late."

"This problem shouldn't even be a problem. This is something that shouldn't involve our relationship."

"How is it going to be a relationship if you die?"

"But do you really think it's easy to just up and forget about you? And what the hell do you mean by occupy myself? You want me to fill the void by going on rebound with a guy? Well I'm glad you think so highly of me because I'm definitely not going to. And let me tell you to forget it if you're even suggesting Rhys!" I yelled, plenty heated up.

"Who said anything about Rhys? I didn't even mention him! How is he even in this conversation?!" he screamed at me. "But it's interesting how your mind went in that direction," he seethed.

"That's what you were implying, wasn't it?" I said without conviction. Maybe I was reading too much into that part. I sighed and tried to gather my thoughts.

All of a sudden there was a thumping sound that was gradually getting louder. "Wait! Wait!" we hear Riccio shout out as he raced up the stairs. He ran to us and appeared at the open doorway. He was slightly winded and his cheeks were ruddy from exertion. "Am I too late? Are you guys fighting? Have you guys broken up yet?"

"What do you want?" Scipio snapped at him.

"This is going to be my final attempt at trying to convince you to not break up with this wonderful, beautiful person!" Riccio trilled to Scipio, giving my shoulder a squeeze. "Face the facts, Scipio. Gemma is a hot, smart, passionate individual. You would be crazy to break up with her. You yourself have been raving about how interesting and different she is. I mean, she even speaks guy! A rare find, if you ask me. And Gemma, you have to excuse my friend for acting so rash. He's a little unreasonable right now. The Sicilian sun just goes to his brain and poof –fries his brain cells-"

"Why do you care whether our relationship makes it or not?" I asked shrewdly.

"I'm on your side, you know. The least you could do is shut your trap and nod your head," Riccio scolded me. "But if you must know, your relationship with Scipio is an inspiration to me. You see," he started sadly, "I'm a major commitment-phobe and just looking at your relationship makes me think that maybe it's not that bad, that I could actually try it out."

"Get out!" Scipio yelled, making his way over to Riccio and I as if to physically throw him out.

Riccio backed away. "OK, OK. I'm going. But just take what I said into consi-"

He didn't finish his sentence because Scipio made a quick move to suggest pouncing on him so he just ran out of the door and closing it behind him. Scipio looked suspiciously at the place where Riccio disappeared to, obviously not believing a word that Riccio said. "We have to watch out for him. Something isn't right."

We were silent for awhile, the first awkward pause since we met. I was trying to pull myself together and he was just waiting for me to speak because I had something to say.

"Is Rhys really going to be your rebound guy if we did break up?" Scipio asked sounding partly annoyed, partly wounded and partly fearful of the answer.

"I'm going to be completely straight with you and finally clear this matter up." I went around the bed so that I was right in front of him. "After this I don't want this to come up ever again. To be completely honest and practical, Rhys is perfect for me. That's a fact. He's perfect for any girl, actually. Rhys is good looking, he's nice, he's homey, everyone would love to be with him. But see, I'm not perfect for him."

Scipio's face frowned in pain. "So you're saying that the only thing keeping you two from being together is your insecurities even though you're perfect for each other?"

"Listen," I said sharply, not wanting to be interrupted. "I'm rough around the edges. I'm used to this kind of stuff. Everyone forgets that. You think that that's the first time I've seen a gun? If you came into my life squeaky clean and good like Rhys, I would have ignored you. We wouldn't mesh well. I do things I shouldn't and convince people to listen to me when they try to put some sense into me. I don't listen and that's not your fault. I've almost drowned several times, I've broken many bones in my body, I almost got attacked by dogs, I almost swallowed toxic glue, I've had a car run over my toes and almost knock me over completely and now I almost got raped and ODed. Apparently I'm meant to do whatever I'm doing right now, right at this very moment if I've cheated death so many times."

"OK, for argument's sake I believe you. But what if something happens to you, something that I'm responsible for? You have to know that I can't handle that," Scipio said disappointedly.

I smiled at him –a non ironic, non cutesy smile. "Well if you want to break up with me for doing the things I do and the choices I make, then that's a different story."

I hoped and prayed that he wasn't going to break up with me. But if he did, then I'd be a little better because that'd at least be fair.

"I'll make a deal with you, if you get hurt one more time because I've been careless and mixed you up with business again, we're broken up, OK?" Scipio compromised happily. Needless to say, Scipio had certainly learned a life lesson to never, under any circumstances, let a woman a business decision mix. And he never made a mistake like that ever again.

"Deal!" I hugged him and smiled. "Told ya that I always convince people to do what I want them to."

"Spoken like a true Arston," Scipio teased before kissing me.

I didn't expect it because of its suddenness so it sent shock waves throughout my body. I realised that I hadn't seen Scipio since before I took a nap that day and that was a long time ago. I relished the sizzles that I welcomed with an open heart. I had dearly missed these feelings –the hot blood rushing through my body and overflowing to my soul, the feeling of completion and of feeling significant to the world. It was empowering and more violent because I hadn't felt this for so long.

I pulled him closer to me just so that I could feel his warmth and be overwhelmed with familiarity. This was what I had grown so used to, every contour of his body and every surface of his face, the softness of his hair and rough stubble. I felt the hard lines of his back and unconsciously traced them to make sure they were all there.

It was funny how being away from something made you appreciate it all the more when you got it back. The littlest things made me so dizzy but in a good way.

The kiss was simple and pulled back because we were still pretty tentative. This moment didn't need to be rushed or passionate because this was enough –just being happy.


Runaway- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Satellite heart- Anya Marina

Glycerine- Bush

Lie- David Cook

Golden- Fall Out Boy