“Do you really think this will work?” Grace asks me, my arm around her shoulders as we cuddle on my couch. She keeps changing positions, uncomfortable by our proximity. Honestly, same. When we kissed on the porch last night I felt nothing. It was the most platonic kiss I’ve ever had. We agreed to pretend to be in a relationship and let things fall into place—either with us realizing we’re soulmates, or getting Gabe jealous enough to realize he’s meant to be with Grace. I’m leaning towards the latter, and I know she feels the same. We just don’t click.
We unfroze her dick of a boyfriend and he got all sappy and apologetic. I let them have their moment.
I get the feeling Gabe wouldn’t have allowed that.
He has all the right instincts when it comes to her—jealousy, protectiveness, possessiveness—so why can’t he see what we do?
And why is Holly with him?
Seeing them together last night made me want to squash Gabe like a bug, but I know that Holly was upset seeing her sister and I together, so that gives me a little hope.
I don’t think I could’ve taken it if she’d been completely and honestly happy about the events that took place just yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago.
“Yeah,” I answer her absentmindedly.
“I’m serious, August.”
I give her my attention now. “He didn’t like seeing us together. He didn’t like my implication that your boyfriend cheating on you was in any way okay. He had to get away from us. You see, it’s working. If we can keep this up, he’ll come to his senses.”
“But what their connection?” She puts air quotes around the word ‘connection’ and I smile... and then immediately frown.
“I don’t know,” I say honestly. There’s no denying that they have something going on between them. “I’ve tried to figure it out but I don’t understand it. When I saw Holly, I just knew. Apparently Gabe also felt that way when he saw her.”
“Is it possible that fate made a mistake?” She asks sadly. “I mean... both of you want Holly, Holly seems to want both of you...”
“You think Holly wants Gabe?” I ask, immediately regretting showing any weakness.
She sighs, exasperated. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.”
Just then we both hear a door click. My lips are on hers in an instant. She shuts down, surprised. I pinch her leg gently and she jumps back to life, her arms winding around my neck.
Behind us, Gabe groans in disgust. “Are y’all gonna be on the couch making out all the time? Because I’d like you to take that somewhere else. No one wants to see that.”
“Where’s Holly?” Grace asks.
God, please don’t let her walk out of his room.
He runs a hand lazily through his hair. “Brian’s fiancé is coming to see her, so I’m going over there later.”
“Lacey?” Grace asks. “That’s different.”
“Yeah, I thought that too,” Gabe says. “I didn’t think her and Lacey ever really hung out much.”
“They didn’t...” Grace says slowly. “I’m going to go check on her.” She gets up and heads towards the door, grabbing her purse from the hall tree. “See you later,” she calls over her shoulder as she exits.
Gabe sits on the couch, as far away from me as he can get. “So... you and Grace?”
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” I ask, not looking at him.
“Yeah,” he says quickly. “I guess I didn’t expect you to give Holly up that fast, that’s all.”
I frown. “I didn’t think I would, either.” I try to sound convincing. “I thought it would be instant, and it just took a little more time with Grace and me. But I can really see us being happy.”
He grumbles a response. “I’m going to lift weight,” he says suddenly, pushing himself up and taking off towards the home gym.
I’m left wondering if I got anywhere with that little display of affection with Grace. I turn the TV on and scroll through the channels.
What if Gabe and Holly never realize that they’re with the wrong people?
Suddenly the walls are shaking and I hear a loud noise come from next door. It sounds like an explosion of some sort. I hear Gabe behind me but I don’t wait. I take off towards Holly’s house. I can feel the panic tightening in my chest, making it hard to breathe.
When I see the condition of Holly’s house I almost freeze in my tracks, but I push through, running faster than I ever have in my life. The whole back half of Holly’s house is gone, and what’s remaining is being consumed by blue flames.
Is she okay?
I’m about to scream her name when I see her stand to her feet on the back deck, stumbling forward, blood pouring from her head. When I reach her I feel such a strong sense of relief that it takes me breath away. I grab her and pull her to my chest. I can see now that her injuries are more extensive than just a gash in her head.
“Holly!” I hear Gabe scream, but her eyes are closed, her head on my chest.
Shit. “Grace came over here!” I call to him as he runs up on us, ready to pull her from me, but as soon as he hears that Grace is inside his face completely changes and before I can even say anything he takes off towards the house, ducking through the blue flames.
“Gabe!” I yell. “Fuck! Are you insane?!”
It’s too late, he’s gone in to look for her. I turn my attention to Holly.
Her right eye is swollen, already bruising. Her lip is busted, and bleeding. There’s a huge, concerning gash on her forehead. I lay her down to get a better look at her. She has large shards of glass in her legs, her arms, and one protruding from her abdomen.
“Holly!” The panic is evident in my voice. “Holly, can you hear me?” I lean down towards her, my face inches from hers. “Holly, please,” I run a finger along her cheek.
“What the hell?” Someone screeches. Grace flings herself on the ground next to me, her hands flying to her sisters wounds, and then she freezes, not knowing what to do.
“Where were you?” I demand.
“She was in the shower, so I left to get lunch. What happened?”
“Damnit,” I swear under my breath. “Gabe is in there. Stay with Holly!” I command, sprinting towards the smoke. “Gabe!” I scream. “Gabe! Grace isn’t in here, come out!”
“Gabe!” I scream again. I shouldn’t be worried. He has his magic. I am anyway.
I’m about to run around in a panicked haze looking for him when I hear a cough followed by some footsteps. He claps me on my back, coming up behind me.
“Let’s... get out... of here,” he manages to gasp out between coughs.
“Thank God!” Grace gasps when she sees us.
“Where were you?” Gabe demands, but he’s very clearly relieved.
She rolls her eyes and looks back at Holly. We’re all three thinking of her now.
“You can’t do something about the fire?” Grace asks right as we hear sirens sounding.
“Not a magical fire,” I answer her.
“They’re coming for her.”