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Taking Tests


I walk past August, laying on the couch with his eyes closed, but I know he’s awake. I feel bad that I had to hurt him that way, but it’s time he accept the facts. Whatever he thinks he feels for Holly... he’s wrong. I recognize that I’m being a little intense, and that a few days ago I wanted to be as far from Holly as I could be, but fate decided for us who we’re meant to be with, and since Brian died the desire to see her has been unbearable. All I can think about is her.

She’s unhappy with the things she’s found out—unhappy with the way it’s changing her—but she’ll get used to it. I learned the hard way that in the end, running from it is pointless.

Why does she have feelings for August, though?

I saw the way she was looking at him. The way she wanted to be near him, and wanted him to touch her. With me it’s almost like she likes me touching her and hates it at the same time.

What if she always has feelings for my brother?

“Well, that would make the holidays really awkward,” he says dryly from where he’s laying.

“Get out of my head,” I snarl, stalking past him towards my bedroom.

It’s not really fair of me to be mad at him. We don’t exactly choose to hear people’s thoughts. I was just thinking too loud.

At first I don’t realize that as I’ve stepped through the door of my bedroom, I’ve instead entered Holly’s living room.

What is this?

“Holly?” I call. She must have done something, because I didn’t cast any spells.

“Gabe?” I hear her call back from upstairs. “Gabe, I can’t get out!”

I start up the stairs, taking them two at a time, hearing the panic in her voice. “Holly, where are are you?”

“My bedroom! Hurry! I can’t get out and—” She doesn’t finish, and I can hear her coughing. She begins banging on the door and I’m still running, the staircase stretching on and on. I stop and collect myself. I’m too worked up, everything in me needing to get to her. Now. I force the panic aside, as this all seems to be a mind game. I focus on the stairs and suddenly I’m at the top of them. I spot the room I know that Holly is in, smoke pouring out from under the door. I can hear her gasping breaths and take off. I reach for the door handle but yank my hand back when it burns my hand.

“Holly! Can you hear me, love?” I demand, ready to kick the door down.

“Yes,” I hear her quiet answer.

“Okay, good, get away from the door if you can!”

I hear her slowly shuffling and I prepare myself. I charge at the door with all my strength but the door doesn’t budge. Shit.

“Gabe?” Holly croaks.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

What do I do?

Hand prints appear on the door in front of me and I feel the need to place my hands over them, so I do. Suddenly, my hands are freezing and there’s a glow emanating from them. It gets brighter, my hands colder and colder. I don’t know how I know, but I know that Holly has her hands on the door as well.

Then everything goes dark.

“Holly?” I whisper.

The bedroom door creaks open and she’s standing in front of me, tears streaming down her face, moonlight shining in from the window behind her, illuminating her sheer lace nightgown. She follows my eyes down her body, blushing when she realizes what she’s wearing. She crosses her arms over her chest, hiding her visible nipples. I fight back the lust that has me breathing faster. I reach for her, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her to me.

Everything explodes around us.

We lay on her bedroom floor panting, trying desperately to catch our breaths, the wind knocked out of us. Everything is back to normal. Her bedside lamp is on, there’s no sign of a fire, and she’s back in her leggings and shirt. My hand is still tingling from where I’d grabbed her by her waist.

“What was that?” She asks.

“A test,” I tell her, pushing myself up so that I’m sitting, running a hand through my hair. “You needed to know if we were meant to be together. Do you know now?”

She looks down at her hands, the color leaving her face. “Yeah, I guess I do,” she whispers, looking up at me with her big green eyes.

I lean down to her, pressing my lips softly against hers. It takes her a second but she kisses me back. I move so that I’m laying next to her, never removing my lips from hers. Her hands find my hips and I have one hand in her hair and the other around her back, keeping her pressed tightly to my chest. I deepen the kiss, tracing my tongue over her full bottom lip. She shivers underneath me and I groan in pleasure. I slide my hand underneath her shirt I earn a groan in response. Fuck. My hand cups her breast gently and I kiss her neck, her collarbone, her cleavage.

“Gabe,” she gasps. “Stop.”

I freeze. She’s changed her mind about me. She regrets letting me touch her.

Well, that was fast.

“No, it’s not that,” she pants, sitting up and pulling me with her. “I just... we’ll try this... us. Can we take it slow, though?” She puts her hand on my chest, leaning her head against my shoulder. I pull her close, my heart racing.

“Of course,” I tell her. “Whatever you want, beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she whispers softly, twisting her face into my neck, placing a kiss there.

I close my eyes and press my face in her hair, relaxing—and realizing just how anxious I’d been until I heard those three amazing words.

We’ll try this.

We’re going to be together.

I feel a pang of guilt but I can’t place it, so I brush it off. I probably just feel bad for Auggie, but I shouldn’t. He’s known for as long as I have who our matches are.

“Are you okay?” I ask her after a long moment of silence. “After everything that just happened... the fire and all?”

She nods against my shoulder. “I’m okay.”

“You sure?” I ask, feeling nervous and jittery. “Do you need anything?”

She laughs softly. “You want some coffee?”

Smiling, I get to my feet and offer her my hand, pulling her up, my arms immediately winding around her waist. I press my lips to her neck again. “Let’s get out of here, go for a drive and pick some up.”

She grins. “Sure.”

I take her hand in mine and pull her downstairs with me. I stop at the front door, unable to control myself, and pull her to me, kissing her again.

I pull away from air and smile at her, leading her out the door and across her yard towards my driveway.

I stop dead in my tracks because there, standing on my porch, are August and Grace, his lips on hers. I sense Holly freeze behind me.


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