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I lean forward and press my lips against his, overwhelmed with emotion.

Instantly I feel electricity. A different kind than I feel with Gabe. It’s subtle, a pleasant tingling sensation radiating throughout my body, resting in my fingertips. My stomach lurches and the butterflies swarm. It’s not painful, or uncomfortable. Everything about it feels so, so right. He deepens the kiss, gently pressing my lips apart with his tongue, tasting me. My arms wrap around his neck, my fingers tangle in his hair and I’m gasping for air. I’ve never felt this way before just from a first kiss.

His strong hands grip my waist and pull me closer to him, his arms possesively winding around my hips, holding me there. His lips traveled down my check, nuzzling against my ear before continuing down my neck, stopping right above my collar bone, where he tugged gently with his teeth, sucking at the sensitive skin there.

You’re his.

You’re not his.

I pull away suddenly, confused. These are definitely my thoughts, but I don’t seem to have control over them. I’m not sure where they’re coming from. I’m his, but I’m not his? It’s maddening. Infuriating. Why do I feel this way? Why did I just ruin the best kiss of my life?

“What’s wrong?” Auggie asks, worried. “Was I moving too fast?”

“What?” I ask, trying to focus. “No. No, it’s me. I just... it feels like I’m going crazy lately... like I can’t control myself.”

“Oh.” Auggie says, realization dawning on him at the same time it dawns on me.

Of course he thinks I’ve just said I didn’t mean to kiss him.

“That’s not it!” I assure him. “Every part of me loved that kiss,” I step close to him, closing the gap, my hands sliding up his muscular arms before resting on his chest. They feel good there—it feels right.

“Okay... so you loved the kiss... what’s wrong then?” His hand cups my cheek, tilting my face towards his and he leans forward and plants a soft kiss against my lips.

What’s wrong is she isn’t yours,” a new, angry voice joins us.

Auggie and I pull apart, but his arms wrap around me, not letting me go too far.

I feel guilty looking at Gabe’s hurt expression... but not guilty enough to pull away from August, and the heat radiating from his body, melting me, heart and soul.

The bond I feel with Auggie is strong. Unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. This goes far deeper than puppy love—in fact, if it weren’t for Gabe standing there, looking like he’s been slapped, I’d think this could be the man I could fall in love with one day.

“Take your hands off of her,” Gabe tells him simply. “ You can’t deny that there’s something between me and Holly. Just let her go.”

You can’t deny that there’s something between me and Holly,” Auggie responds.

“Let me prove to you once and for all that Holly is mine,” Gabe challenges him. Auggie falters. “You scared?” He taunts him.

Auggie looks at me. He is scared. Reluctantly, he lets me go and Gabe holds a hand out to me, beckoning me closer. I feel trapped, like a deer caught in headlights. I step towards him uncertainly, glancing back at Auggie for confirmation but he’s staring straight ahead, jaw locked. I notice Grace at the door, just as unamused as August.

What’s about to happen?

“Hey,” Gabe whispers quietly, just loud enough for me to hear. He grabs me gently by my arms and pulls me closer. “Look, I know this is confusing,” he says nervously, brushing his fingertips down my back, his hands stopping on my hips, slowly sliding under the hem of my shirt, pressing firmly against the bare skin there. I stop breathing. Time slows down. I can feel my pulse racing, my heart threatening to beat out of my chest. A wind stronger than the gentle ocean breeze blows around us, tousling my hair. His hand slides slightly upwards, caressing my curves. My skin crawls in good and bad ways. The air around us becomes heavy and I suddenly feel as though I’m on fire.

The snowflakes that had been frozen in midair drop to the deck floor, replaced by a sudden torrential downpour. His hands are still roaming slowly, moving down towards my ass. Lighting is striking the ground all around us, and it feels like it’s just the two of us in the world. His eyes lock with mine and he leans forward in slow motion, his lips starting at my temple, just a soft pattering of kisses. Thunder is rumbling, shaking the ground, and somewhere in the distance I can hear the waves going crazy. My body feels as though it’s practically vibrating and the anticipation and dread intensifies as his lips move to my neck and then lower, to my cleavage.

This isn’t right.

I pull away, the storm instantly coming to an end. I’m staring at Gabe with lust and disgust.

“This is insane!” I yell, suddenly angry. “Whatever this is,” I say, gesturing to the space in between us. “I don’t like it and I don’t understand it.”

“I think he’s right, Holly,” comes Grace’s soft voice, harboring a pinch of resentment and sadness. “We can’t deny what we just saw with our own eyes. There’s something strong between the two of you. Probably stronger than whatever you feel with his brother.”


My eyes meet his for an agonizing moment before he rips them away from mine, looking at Gabe.

“I guess you were right—she’s yours,” he says with a still locked jaw, and then turns on his heel and stomping away.

I want to run after him, to take our moment back from Gabe. I want to kiss him again, to tell him that his brother is wrong, that I want to be with him, but I can’t. The rational part of my brain knows that this is all crazy—I don’t really know either of these guys! We’ve only just met and I’m letting them treat me like some piece of meat. My heart isn’t up for debate; I make my own decisions about who I should or should not be with.

Suddenly feeling like myself again, I square my shoulders at Gabe, ready to get away from him and this whole magic bull crap.

“You’re going to leave me alone,” I tell him. “I belong to no one. I’m not letting some old, dusty book decide which brother was meant for me. Maybe neither of you were meant for me. Connections or not, this is enough. I’m done.”

With that said, I turn on my heel and walk away from him.
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