Always Alone

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Chapter Twenty-Four

D E V I N

I STRETCH MY muscles and let out a pleasing grunt as the bright rays of the sun peek through an opened curtain. An arm wraps around my stomach and long legs circle with mine.

Genny doesn't just take the sheets, she takes everything from me without even asking. She's a thief, a villain dressed with a cape, stealing memories until there's not one agonizing nightmare left. Above all, she's stolen my heart and I'll never ask for its return because it never belonged me.

Circling my hands around her waist, I bring her warmth close to me and inhale her intoxicating scent. The best part of it all is that whenever we sleep together, I wake up smelling just like her for the rest of the day.

She wiggles in my arm, brushing the top of her thigh around my morning wood as it thickens in my boxers. Slow down buddy, we won't be getting any for a long time.

Reluctantly, I get out of bed and walk to my bag. Unzipping the flap, I reach all the way down, passing clothes and shoes until my hand touches plastic. The letters SMTWTFS align next to each other in a colorful rainbow. I roll my eyes. There's nothing colorful about what I have.

With little-to-no saliva, I swallow the handful of pills that drop into my palm. After yesterday mild episode, I can't chance a mental breakdown. Not now.

Lately, they've been getting worse. I went to Dr. Reign's office last week for a higher dosage. His thoughts were taking control of my actions. It got to the point where I didn't know if I was thinking those atrocious things or if it was him. My thoughts were slowly shutting down; I couldn't hear the Lady anymore because he had taken control.

I'd hate to hurt Genny. To hear her weep after I promised to be better. Dr. Reign suggested a new trial. I was apprehensive at first, but I had to try something—I needed a silver lining. In my life, I only have two options: live like a zombie or like a derailed train driven by a lunatic. I don't like either choice. All I want is to be normal.

I'm a man. Men are supposed to be strong, inside and out, not crumble when someone says they don't like the color of my shirt. Every day, I have to walk on pins and needles, not knowing what the fuck will tick me off. Like I said, I don't know if these pills will work, there's no cure for what I have, but I'll do whatever it takes to deserve Genny and be normal.

I look back to her sleeping in bed. Her mouth slightly agape, her lips vibrating with the frequency of her low whispers. She looks peaceful and that's how I want us to stay.

Being around her gives me peace—it makes me feel good. Touching her feels even better. I don't ever want to let her go, but right now, I need a cold shower and then I need a steaming cup of café con leche.

* * *

I stand on the top steps of the stairs around the deck. My eyes don't strain from the vast ocean or the azure sky. What is it about those two that pacifies my mind? Is it the rolling of the waves or the assurance that every day will start this sunny? Is it that they look enticing at dawn and wicked at night?

Just like me.

Sometimes I'm as bright as the sun and as powerful as the sea with the confidence to rule the world, nothing will ever faze me because I'm invincible. I can walk on water. I can reach the highest of clouds. The farther I walk, the higher I fly, the harder I fall—the faster I'll have to run to get to dry land.

Darkness covers the sky every day. Sometimes the moon is surrounded by glittering stars but others, it's solitary. It's so afraid to show its face, it turns crescent. The ocean goes from soothing to swallowing, dragging me deep into its realm until I drown in saline tears.

Yet unlike me, the ocean and sky will stay alive after I die. The only things that can survive a zombie apocalypse, an alien invasion, the end of human life as we know it.

They'll survive because a so-called "God" gave them something He didn't give me, yet He claims to love His children? He claims to come back, to alleviate their thoughts and make them godly. To erase all the sins they've committed because of the voices He inflicted on them.

Spellbound by nature and my own thoughts, I don't hear her slide the door but I feel her presence when she's next to me.

"Good morning," I say without turning around.

"Morning." Her tall frame doesn't have to reach high to kiss my cheek.

"What are you doing up this early?"

"It's not that early."

Alex raises a defiant brow. "It's six in the morning on a Saturday; that's early."

"What are you doing up?" I bring the question back to her.

"Couldn't sleep..." she says, her words floating on waves even after she's said them.

Knowing her as long as I have, I know her throat is burning with things to say. Just like my family's, her opinion about Genny means a lot to me. She's one of the few people who can tell me if Genny is right for me and my illness because she's the only one who understands me.

From what I witnessed yesterday, I can tell they don't like each other. I need Alexa to stop with her rudeness and give Genny a chance.

"What do you think of her?"

She sighs, placing her elbows on the railing and resting her head on her hands. "Do you really want to know?"

I nod, bringing the white mug to my lips. I rather know now so I can fix it than later when they're alone for girl's night.

"I—I don't like her, Devin. I'm sorry."

"You don't know her." I roll my eyes. She's overly protective sometimes. It comes out the wrong way to strangers, but I know she means well.

"No, I don't her, but I know you and what you need. It's not her, she won't heal you. No one can. Does she know you came to see me last week? Does she know how broken you were because she was too busy to answer one text? Does she know you thought she was dead? Does she, Devin? Why haven't you told her about us?"

Why? Because she'll pity me like she did when I told her about Dad. I don't need anyone's pity; I pity myself enough. What I need is to be treated like a normal person and if she never finds out.

"I told her about my father."

"Oh and—"

"And nothing, Alexa. I love her that's all you need to know," I raise my voice.

Her eyes gaze to the windows of the house. With a shake of her head, she walks down the stairs and extends her hand in invitation. "Let's go for a walk."

As our feet trade wood for grainy sand, memories of the past wave through my mind. Like a true sister would, Alex has dropped everything to help me.

Ernesto and her had once planned to visit his parents in Puerto Rico, but I ruined their getaway when he took control. I called her when she was about to check into the flight, asking her to stay—saying that I didn't think I'd survive without her.

She was home in thirty minutes; it didn't take her a second to rush out of the airport—she didn't have to think twice. A few weeks later, I found out Ernesto had planned on proposing.

I owe her.

More than I will ever be able to repay her because I'm the reason why their relationship is so broken.

I once told Genny she was the only person I wanted to be around when I was happy and the one I wanted to cry to when I was sad. It wasn't until yesterday that I realized how much I want that to be true.

I need to let Alexa go, not just for me and Genny but for her and Ernesto. I depend on her more than I do anyone else and this needs to stop. Because I love her, I have to let her go, but I know better than to do so abruptly.

I'll take my time, slowly, little by little I'll stop reaching out to her and lean more on Genny until I won't depend on Alex anymore. She won't even notice my absence because she'll finally have the family she's always dreamed of—the family she deserves. The one I was unable to give her.

"You say you love her. Why do I find that hard to believe?" I shrug. "Can you truly love another without loving yourself?"

I stay quiet because she's right. I don't love myself. I don't think I ever will. Self-loathing is an everyday mantra in my life. That being said, loving Genny has nothing to do with loving myself for I see what I don't have in her—all the abilities I wish I had.

Humility. Free minded. Sweet. Compassionate. Loving. Happy. Normal.

I admire her and hope that one day I can be like her. Isn't that what we do when we love someone? We look up to them and appreciate that such a beautiful heart has fallen in love with a fragmented mind.

Having true admiration for the person you love goes a long way as I respect all her characteristics. And though I might never love myself, I will always love, admire, and respect her.

"Don't get me wrong. I want nothing else than to see you happy. We're both entitled to have a normal, happy life. You'll be happy when you've accepted who you are and when Genny has done the same."

She stops walking and turns to me.

"But can't you see those pills you're taking aren't who you are? It will never be who you are because it's just a mask—a disguise and when Genny finds out, she'll leave you. Not because she doesn't love you, but because she fell in love with a fake—a sham and that will hurt her more than anything. That's why I don't like her because I can tell she's weak."

"Our love isn't phony and Genny is anything but weak—"

Alexa interrupts me, throwing her hands in the air. "You're just mad because you know I'm right. You've both fallen in love with people who don't exist and you don't even realize it."

Not wanting her words to make sense, I rub my eyes, trying to erase her argument. "I'm going to tell her; I just need more time. I'm easing her into—"

She lets out a sarcastic laugh. "Would you stop?"

"Stop what?"

"Believing you're not worth it. Devin, you're a great person; believe me. Just because it didn't work out with other girls doesn't mean it won't work out with Genny. I might not like her but... You are happier. Shit, you should've just told her from the beginning. I'm so scared that she'll hurt you when she finds out..." her voice breaks on the last word.

I don't wait a second to comfort her just like she's done to me. My arms circle her slim back and her moist cheek wets my neck as her body silently shakes. I swipe a hand over her back, convincing her I'll be okay. "She won't hurt me."

"Promise me, Devin. Swear to me that if she ever leaves you won't go back to who you were. You can't go back to him, please."

"Okay."

"Swear to me." Her arms fasten deeper into my sides.

How can I gamble in the future? How can I promise something I don't know I'll be able to do?

But this is Genny we're talking about here. She brings me life. Knowing she'll never leave me, I say, "I swear."

"I'm sorry for being such a bitch." Her arms loosen as she steps back and wipes at her eyes.

"Alex, I need you two to get along so that she has someone to tell her I'll come back when I'm down. She can't do that if she thinks you like me."

She giggles. "But it's so much fun to see her turn red with jealousy."

"Alexa." She's done this before. Pretended she likes me to chase girls away, but this won't work with Genny. I care too much about her feelings to see her hurt.

She sighs heavily before saying, "Okay, I'll give her a chance. Can you also try with Nestor?"

"Are you fucking me? You can't compare Genny to Ernesto! He's a fucking asshole."

"Devin," she warns.

"Fine. We'll both play nice." I stretch my hand. "Deal?"

"Deal." She shakes it.

"Alex!" Ernesto calls from the deck. "Breakfast's ready."

She doesn't waste a minute before running to him. When she reaches the deck, he covers her in his arms and passionately kisses her. The scene brings a smile to my face.

I might not like him, but Alexa shines when he's around. He's been good to her these past few months. Yet he's always good to her when she doesn't have an episode. That's what I worry about.

When she tells him to go away he leaves and she comes running to me. Then he gets mad at her because she needs someone to comfort her when she's alone. What Ernesto needs to do is man the fuck up and be by her side through thick and thin. Until he shows me he's worthy of Alex, I won't accept their relationship.

Jogging through the dragging sand, I catch Genny resting her back on the door frame. A curious glint appears on her face as her eyes attentively gaze at Nestor and Alex. I wonder what she's thinking.

"Good morning." I grab her by the waist and kiss her lips.

She smiles, though something about the turn of her lips tells me that smile is anything but genuine.

"Are you alright?" Her eyes are still on Alex and Nestor. "Are we alright?" I clarify.

"Yeah, why wouldn't we be?" Her right shoulder shrugs and with another fake smile. She heads inside the house.

What the hell did I do now?

Everyone's seated on the large wooden table in the dining room, passing plates and orange juice. I saunter over to the empty chair next to Genny. She doesn't even acknowledge my presence.

Throughout the meal, she talks to everyone but me, asking questions about fishing and whatnot. I don't know what she can possibly be mad about.

"I'm sorry," I whisper on her neck, not sure what I'm sorry for.

"You're sorry for leaving me to wake up alone in a place that isn't my own? You're sorry that I came downstairs and saw you woke up early to be with Alexa?" She raises a blonde brow. "Is that what you're sorry for?"

I swallow the shattered glass her words gave me. "I'm sorry. I didn't—"

"Like always. You're oblivious to everyone's feelings but Alexa's." She rolls her eyes and reaches for her orange juice. The top of her ears turns a shade pink.

Before I get a chance to run through ideas on how to fix this big ass mess I've created, Alexa rescues me like she's done more times than I can count.

"How long have you been teaching for?"

Genny is surprised by her question, looking around the room to make sure Alexa's speaking to her.

"Almost six months."

"Second grade, right?"

"Yeah," Genny says.

"Devin was just telling me you work with ESOL students."

"He was?"

What is she doing?

"Yeah. We were just talking about the new program the company I work for started. Basically, the main focus is on enhancing pronunciation," she lies through her teeth and Genny take it all.

I mean, yeah, we talked about Genny's job but that was months ago. I had no idea Alex's job came up with a new program for pronunciation.

"A lot of my students have a hard time accentuating certain sounds. With all the testing going on, I barely have any time to go over those skills."

"We're looking for schools and teachers to collaborate with. If you ever need any help, I'd be more than happy to offer some."

"Of course, thank you."

Alex nods and slips into an argument with Luis about Marvel vs. DC.

I scoff. She's got no chance of winning this. DC trumps Marvel any day.

Genny whirls around in her chair with sorry doe eyes. "I'm so—"

I don't dare let her finish. She's got nothing to apologize for. "Don't be. I'm sorry. You're right, I shouldn't have left you alone. It won't happen again."

She nods and kisses my cheek and all is right in the world once again. Through Alex's and Luis' chants, I manage to catch her eyes and mouth a thank you.

"So, since the boys are going fishing today, how about us girls go shopping for our night of fun?" Chloe says.

"I think that's a good idea. I didn't bring any dresses."

"Me neither. I just brought bikinis," Ava giggles.

"Let's go then. It's almost eleven," Chloe rushes all the women out of the table. "Clean up boys."

* * *

I hold my breath as a black-covered figure descends down the hall. All I can do is stare. Stare at her elongated mossy eyes decorated with eyeshadow and liner. Stare at the top of her breasts peeking out of the short dress. Her nipples pebble at my assessment and my cock turns to steel. She's clearly not wearing a bra. Is she even wearing panties?

Fuck she looks hot.

Too hot.

I don't like it.

"You're not going out like that," I say when she reaches me and notice how tight the dress is.

"She looks great, Devin. What's your deal?" Chloe asks, wearing a too similar dress. "Let's go girls."

I ignore her. My eyes turn back to Genny. I grab her by the elbow and walk to the bathroom, away from prying eyes so that I can tell her to go upstairs and change. The hell she'll be getting out of this house wearing an X-small dress that barely covers her ass.

"Devin, slow down. I can't even walk in these shoes," Genny complains.

I look down at her feet and it just makes my cock thicken with lust. The straps around her feet circle her soft ankles like vines. All thoughts leave my mind as all I can picture are those heels scraping my ass as I pound inside her.

Stop, I tell myself and adjust the heaviness growing in my pants. When we get to the bathroom, I close the door with a thud and lock it. Knowing Ava and Chloe, they'll try to open it. Knowing Alexa, she'll encourage everyone to eavesdrop.

"What the freak, Devin?" Genny crosses her arms and then uncrosses them to drag down her dress. That just makes me see red. Men groping on her, touching what's mine.

"You're going back up and changing into jeans," I demand.

"The freak I will." She honestly thinks she'll win an argument with me by saying the word freak. Why doesn't she curse? Not even the word hell come out of her mouth. Her ridiculous religious background will be the death of me. Ironic, really.

"Genevieve," I use her full name so she knows I'm not playing around. "You're not getting out of this house wearing a dress that doesn't fit you. I can tell you're not wearing a fucking bra. Are you even wearing panties?"

"Oh, so now I'm Genevieve?" She rolls her eyes. "I'm twenty-two almost twenty-three, I'm a grown up. I do whatever I want." Her hands reach the knob but I stop her.

"Wait." I breathe out. "I'm sorry. I'm just worried, that's all." This is getting nowhere. I rub my forehead as sweat starts to gather below my hairline.

"Don't be. I won't drink that much," she says, her hands roaming my chest. "I won't let anyone touch me." Her fingers play with my earlobe. Her voice lowers when she says, "No one will have me."

A gentle thumb caresses my bottom lip. Goosebumps skate down my arms at the delicate touch. Her gaze flirts with my mouth. I won't be able to do this much longer; I need her. "Say it again. Tell me you're mine. That no one will have you."

A shy smile appears on her lips. I tentatively bite the pad of her thumb when she takes too long to answer.

"Ow."

I can't take this anymore.

My lips smash into hers. Quick. Wet and hungry. I need them all to know she's taken. I need to imprint my scent on her so they don't dare take her. Grabbing her waist, I rest her on the counter and hold her head in my hands as I devour her lips with alpha determination.

"Say it, Genny. Tell me you're mine and only mine."

She whimpers at my hungriness, but I don't stop.

"You first," she breathes.

I kiss her harder, invading her mouth and crashing with her teeth. "I'm yours. I've always been yours."

"You're mine?" Lines of doubt and disbelief draw her face.

I softly cup her cheeks, smoothing the doubtful line on her forehead. "Yes. Wholeheartedly, remember?"

Chloe knocks consecutively on the door. This girl needs to get laid. She's so fucking annoying. How the fuck can Luis stand her?

"Devin, let her go." When she doesn't hear an answer, she says, "Genny, we're leaving in five."

"I have to go..."

"I'm driving you, right? I can just get down and stay there for a while; keep an eye on you."

She laughs. "You can't go. I think we decided on a cab."

"What, why?"

"It's girl's night, meaning no men are allowed to come with us. I thought we established that yesterday."

"Yeah, we also agreed that I'll be driving. This was Chloe's idea, right?"

"Dev, relax. We'll be fine, I promise."

I let her words soothe my raging thoughts. "I'm going to miss you so fucking much." I kiss her neck, inhaling her scent.

She smiles sadly. "I'll miss you too."

"Can you please wear underwear?" I cautiously ask.

"I am. See." She raises her dress and shows me the lace fabric that covers her hip. Is that a thong? As if hearing my thoughts, Genny quickly lowers her dress. "Can I see if you're wearing a bra?"

Genny burst into giggles. "Nice try, buddy."

Hey, a man's gotta try.

"I've never had any fun, Dev. Not even when I was in high school or college. I've never had a girl's night before. For once I want to be a twenty-two-year-old."

She's right. I can't take this from her.

"Okay," I reason.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." I smile when her eyes glint with happiness.

"Times up!" Chloe's annoying voice bursts our love bubble.

Before the girls get in the car, I take Alexa to the side and ask her to watch Genny. She agrees. Unwillingly closing the cab's door, I let her go to enjoy a night of dancing in the wind.

"Man, chill. They'll be alright," Ernesto tells me.

I shrug him off. "I'm not worried."

He scoffs. "Sure."

The yellow cab gets smaller and smaller in the distance until it disappears into the dark night. I have an uncontrollable urge to grab my keys and follow them. But I know if I do that nothing will stop me from hopping off the car and stalking the shit out of Genny.

She's stalked me before so we'd be squared. I still remember when she'd take Angie on a long stroll around the lake just to see if I was at the gym. She thought she was being slick but I knew all along she wanted to see me. I mean, who takes their dog for an hour-long walk?

A heavy hand lands on my back. "Let's grab a beer and play dominoes. They won't be back until one, maybe even two," Luis says.

"What the fuck? Genny said they'd be back at eleven."

"You didn't know?"

"No, I didn't fucking know."

"Bro, you thought those crazy chicks would hang out for an hour and come back?" I nod. "Delusional," he sings the word.

After a few jokes with me and Genny being the main participants, Luis thinks I'll be okay with playing dominoes and drinking a beer with him. Fuck's wrong with him? Seriously he and Chloe need to go see Dr. Reign.

"Dude, I don't want to play any of your stupid games. I just want Genny to come back already."

"They literally just left," he says. "Don't get your panties in a twist. She'll be back safe and sound; they all will. Time will pass by faster if you do something other than stare at the road."

"Fine." I give up. He kinda has a point.

Throughout the stupid game that's supposed to keep my mind from creating scenarios of perverted men grinding on Genny, my eyes don't strive from the clock. Every second that passes by has my heart racing. Every minute that ticks by increases my breathing. Every hour that counts on has me hyperventilating.

"Get your head in the game," Mason says, annoyed. "We're losing."

"I quit." I throw the dominoes on the table. It's five minutes past two in the morning and they're still not here. I stand up, not caring when the chair hits the floor. "I'm going to get them."

"I talked to Alex and they're on their way, chill."

"How long ago was that ass—" my words get cut off by a loud honk coming from the driveway.

About damn time. I run out of the deck and into the foyer in a second, Genny's in my arms in less—her blonde curls swirling around her head as it bobs a little. With her in my arms, my heart slows and my breathing returns to normal.

"I'm so happy you're back." I kiss her forehead.

She giggles. "I'm happy." She giggles again. "You...ack."

"Are you drunk?" I ask her. When she laughs again, my eyes shift to Alex. She shrugs and runs into Ernesto's arms, tripping over the cobblestone. That's what she gets for not going through with her word. "How much did she have to drink?" I ask the only sane person out of the four.

"I can't remember," Ava tries hard to stand straight, her hair a nested mess.

Where the fuck did these women go?

"Devin?" Genny whispers, drawing my eyes to her red ones. "I don't feel so good." Her hands go directly to her mouth, her eyes turning wide and her forehead wrinkles in pain.

Oh, shit.

"Genny, don—"

It's no use. The undigested fish we'd caught and eaten for lunch mixed with the pungent smell of Vodka has painted my shirt and Genny's dress.

She looks queasy again. Her mouth hiccupping. "I think—" she makes a retching sound from deep within her throat.

"No, no, no." More chunks of our earlier lunch roll down our bodies. "Fucking shit."

"I'm sorry," she says, her eyes hint with apology.

"Don't worry about it. It's fine. Do you think you'll throw up again?"

"I don't know. I've never been drunk." She laughs again. "Don't tell my parents."

"Let's get us cleaned up." I carry her into my arms, vomit getting in my hands.

"Dude, that's fucking disgusting."

"Mind your own fucking girlfriend, Ernesto," I say, seeing Alex about to vomit on his ugly ass.

Her body goes slack throughout our journey to the ensuite. Laying her sleepy body in the tub, I take off my shirt and discard her off her heels. I test the water before turning on the shower head.

Genny lets out a big gasp.

"Shit, I'm sorry."

She giggles after a minute. "It's okay."

I scratch my head. How are we going to do this? It's not like I can bathe her, can I? She's my girlfriend, but we've never seen each other naked, it'd be an invasion of privacy. I don't want her to think I took advantage of her.

"Do you think you can shower yourself?"

"I don't think so. My arms feel so heavy." Her hooded eyes turn to mine. "Can't you help?"

"I...I...Genny." Stop being a coward. "O—okay."

I let out a breath and intake an even bigger one as I reach for her dress and roll it all the way up until she's completely naked. My cock thickens again. I close my eyes, trying to keep it from exploding and my balls from turning rotten.

This should be easy; I've seen naked women before so it shouldn't be such a big deal. But never one I loved. Never one I hadn't had sex with or wasn't having sex with.

Not taking a look at her, I reach up for the loofah and wet it with body wash before running it over Genny's arms. My hands shake as I squeeze foam into her chest and swiftly circle her full breasts with the pinkest nipples I've ever seen.

They pebble whenever I course the loofah over her body. Is she enjoying this? I look back to her. Her lids heavy with sleep, but she's trying her hardest to stay awake. Why, does she not trust me?

Touching her is intoxicating. I want to take my time cleaning her, feeling her, but I also need to hurry. I don't want this to be more uncomfortable to her than it already is.

Soft, black curls cover her most private area. The part of her body she's saving for that special person. For a husband. For me? Would she ever say yes if I ask her to marry me?

The thought of another man being inside her boils my blood. Not wanting to kill every man I see, I shake my head of the images and wash her hair. Genny's face scrunches up as she tightly closes her eyes so that shampoo doesn't get inside.

I kiss her now vanilla scented cheek.

"You're all cleaned."

"Thank you." I turn to get the towel.

Clouds of steam circle her naked body as she stands in the tub on weak knees. She's so beautiful. Superb. Beads of water cascade down her breasts and into her navel. Quickly wrapping the towel around her, I sit her on the toilet with her front toward the tank.

"I'm sorry for making you do this," Genny says quietly as I brush her wet hair.

"No need to be sorry. We're in a relationship. This is what we do; we take care of each other." I quiet any other insane apology with the loud hairdryer. Once her curls are dried, I turn her around. "I'll be right back. Don't move," I warn, pointing a finger at her and don't leave until she nods.

With one of my t-shirts in a hand and an Advil on the other, I go back into the bathroom and fill up a cup with tap water.

"Drink this."

Carrying her into the bed, I tuck her in and kiss her forehead.

"Here's a trashcan. If you feel nauseous just dip your head. I'm going to shower now, call me if you need anything." She nods, her eyes finally closing now that she feels safe again.

Heading back into the shower, I turn the handle the hottest it can get and take off my clothes. My cock stands proud, making it hard for me to clean myself. It pokes at everything I do.

I fist it with hatred and reprimand, but that just encourages my thoughts to float to Genny. Images of her naked—her well-endowed breasts and shapely curves flood my mind until I expel the semen collect in my balls.

Pressing my forehead on the blue tiles, I tightly close my eyes and don't dare punish myself for what I just did. If I let my thoughts wander, he'll come back and I don't think I'll be able to survive. After a few minutes, I turn off the shower and change into my boxer briefs.

"Devin?" her soft voice wonders when she feels the bed dip.

"Yeah, Corazón?"

"I'm I love you so much."

I hug her. "I love you, too."

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