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Chapter 63 : Madelyn

Content Warning: This chapter contains flashbacks to one of the MC’s childhood where they experience both physical and mental abuse. If this is subject matter you’re not comfortable reading, I suggest stopping when Hailey’s character is first mentioned (about three quarters into the chapter).


Chapter 63 : Madelyn
Saturday, August 21st, 2021

With our foreheads resting against each other, Xavier held onto my trembling body while Caleb undid the bindings at my wrists.

I couldn’t stop shaking, and though I’ve never been happier, my tears wouldn’t stop falling.

I had been torn apart, shattered, and then put back together by these men I call mine, and I wished for this night to never end.

Fuck, I loved them so bad it hurt, and as I cried and shook and tumbled, they held onto me like they felt the same way.

Even after Caleb and Xavier pulled out of me gently, I still felt like I was utterly and undoubtedly consumed by all of them.

“It’s okay. We’ve got you, princess,” Alec murmured as he carefully undid my braid, lifting my hands to slump heavily over Xavier’s broad shoulders.

I could feel Caleb’s hand slowly rubbing up and down my heated back and his kiss being placed to the back of my head, telling me he was proud of me.

I shivered under their praise and sobbed under their touch, hugging Xavier close as he brought me to straddle him.

I felt Alec’s fingers smoothly running through my hair to help me slowly come down from both the physical and mental highs I just experienced.

Most of the time aftercare was just a nice comfort after scenes, but I really needed it right now.

I couldn’t explain why I was so wiped out, but my body would barely move despite my brain’s commands, my tears a constant flow of emotions pouring out of me.

They understood this though, possibly better than even me myself.

Their loving touches and soft words of approval made me feel safe, and it tethered me in a sense to reality. This was real. I just took all three of them, and in turn of my submission, they gave me everything.

Even now, I was never given the chance to feel alone or sad or regret. The realization that they weren’t leaving struck hard today, but that was the truth.

I think I could spend the rest of my life with these men, no matter how complicated or hard it may be.

“Hanging in there, sweetheart?” Xavier asks as he begins to kiss away each of my tears, placing light touches to each of my closed eyelids before tucking a few strands of hair behind my ears.

“Mhm.” Was the only response I was capable of, not even noticing both Caleb and Alec had left until their return.

They didn’t have to speak to understand each other as Xavier’s grip tightened just ever so slightly on my body, lifting me up and carrying me over to the bathroom where the other two now waited.

The smell of my bath salts greeted me with every inhale past the door, and it wasn’t long before I was being transferred from one pair of arms into Alec’s who was already in the tub.

I flinched at the hot water burning against my sore skin, but I was forced to adjust as I was slowly lowered, realizing that the heat felt insanely good on my muscles after the initial burn passed.

“Stay.” I heard Caleb speak from beside me, but my eyes were too heavy to remain open. So instead, I listened, “We won’t talk about it. Just stay.”

When the realization that he was talking to Xavier hit, I was a little surprised as I felt a heavy tension loom over them, one that extended much farther than what happened tonight.

It wasn’t until multiple seconds later that I heard a slosh of water come from right in front of me, the result of Xavier staying as my feet were pulled into his lap.

At his touch, despite the exhaustion eating away at my consciousness, I opened my eyes to look at him.

There was conflict in his expression, and he refused to look at the men at my sides, but when he felt my gaze, his attention drifted softly over to me.

He wasn’t angry, I realized. No, Xavier was sad, and I didn’t know how to take it away.

“Just let me hold you.” He rasps as if understanding where my mind had traveled to, so I did.

While I know he meant more so metaphorically, Alec still passed me over to his friend, his expression telling me not to push him on this right now.

He and Caleb soothingly began washing me while I was held upright by a strong pair of arms, and as the minutes passed, I felt Xavier begin to relax slowly.

I feared I knew what was bothering him, and like I thought before, I didn’t know how to help.

Simply deciding that letting them take care of me was the best thing I could offer, I moved with them as gels and body scrubs were lathered over my skin, kisses being planted to my cheeks when they felt like it.

Tonight was a lot for all of us, but holding each other seemed to be something necessary for not just myself but for the remaining three as well.

We quietly talked as they scrubbed at my body and my giggle echoed off of the dark painted drywall when my feet tickled from the loofah Caleb ran across my toes.

My hair remained mostly untouched by the water, but Xavier played with it the entire time, combing through the waves as though it were a lullaby for his heart.

It turns out it became mine as well, because it wasn’t long before I fell asleep in his arms.

_____

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

I woke up with the top half of my body on Xavier’s, Caleb spooning my side from behind.

A small headache flickered at my temples, but I couldn’t bring myself to care much at the sight of a messy haired Alec half cuddling Caleb as well in his sleep.

The sight made me smile to myself as I lifted my head, realizing that this was the first time I’ve ever woken up with all three of them in bed with me.

As consciousness slowly returns to my brain, I very quickly become aware of the pain in my stomach and the soreness of my every muscle, but I forced myself to ignore it for now.

My thoughts had more important things to focus on like the fact Xavier was one of three I woke up next to.

“Hey, sweetheart,” He whispered, offering an easy, yet tired smile.

I returned a gesture of my own, but my grin dropped a little bit at the dark circles under his eyes and the exhaustion affecting his state.

“You didn’t sleep?” I quietly ask, the palm of my hand lifting from where it rested on his chest and up to his face.

I ran my thumb along the line of Xavier’s jaw as he softly leaned into my touch, but he didn’t seem to care very much about the fact of how underslept he looked.

“I didn’t want to leave you.”

I knew he had nightmares as much as I did, but I never considered the possibility that he stayed up all night to avoid them.

Did he stay up during our last night together too then?

“That’s not healthy, I—” I began, wanting to tell him that I understood—that it was okay, but I was cut off by a small hush from his lips.

“I’m okay.” Xavier lies, pulling my chin up until his face is beside mine. I felt warm at the contact—at the feeling of his mouth brushing against my cheek to soothe my worry for him, but I can’t help but pull away when I get another uncomfortable pain in my stomach.

I wince as I sit up slightly, my eyes going wide at the sight of blood on the sheets.

No.

“Oh god, Xavier, I’m so sorry.” I say, closing my legs to try and cover the blood in between them, tears already pricking my eyes.

I tried not to cry as I heard Alec stir from behind me, pushing myself away when I saw the realization passing through Xavier’s eyes.

“Don’t worry about it at all, Mads. They’re just sheets.” He says at the same time Alec wakes up.

This is so embarrassing, I think to myself as Xavier gets out of bed, uncaring that he was still naked from last night.

As things clicked with Alec, he shot me a look when he also stood up, walking over to where I was before sitting down in Xavier’s place.

“It’s not a big deal.” He says in earnest while I hear the sound of Xavier turning on the shower in their bathroom.

I can’t bring myself to meet his eyes as I bite my cheek and nod, even though I nearly die when I find Caleb awake too, gently pulling the comforter off of his body. That too has blood on it, but instead of speaking, he leans up and kisses the side of my head.

“What do you need from us?” He asks, his voice still scratchy from his sleep.

The fact they were so damn perfect about this only made me want to cry more.

Tampons were ideal. So was chocolate.

Though, the part I hated second most was that I was going to have to deal with my family and my period at the same time.

The realization had me eternally groaning as I shifted away from the red spot on the bed, not sure what to do.

“How about a shower first?” Alec suggests at my panicking silence, causing me to swallow and remember this wasn’t a big deal.

Periods happen. Get over it, Madelyn.

It’s not a big deal.

“Come here.” I hear Xavier’s voice speak from the entrance as he walks back towards me, picking me up into his arms before I get the chance to protest.

I instantly felt self-conscious as I pressed my legs together, but I was carried to the washroom so swiftly, I only caught a glimpse of Caleb and Alec stripping the bed of its sheets before we were stepping inside.

The warm fog of steam greeted me as I was placed down in front of the already running shower, Xavier’s hand running down my back as he opened the door for me.

“I’m really, truly sorry about your bed.” I apologize again, relieved he wasn’t mad, but still feeling bad about it.

In response, Xavier turns and gently grabs my face in both of his hands.

“Stop saying sorry for things that are both natural and out of your control.”

I was going to say more, but my heart skipped at the feeling of blood beginning to trickle down the insides of my thighs, hopping into the shower before this perfect man could notice it.

“I’ll be down in a few.” I say, wrapping my hands around my arms as I let the door sway closed in front of me.

Xavier’s voice was muffled now, but I heard him say something about things being on the counter when I was ready before leaving me to do my own thing.

I was appreciative he didn’t plan on lingering, knowing that him taking care of me right now would really have my emotions out of whack.

Stepping backwards until I could feel the hot water pulsing over my skin, I tipped my head and gratefully welcomed the way my hair grew heavy as it got wet.

I chose to focus on that and the fact this shower was now stocked with all of the products I regularly use, rather than what my afternoon entails for me.

I chose to forget the fact that in a few hours, I would be back to sleeping in the same bed that’s the root of all of my nightmares.

Pushing those thoughts off, I took care of myself as I washed my hair and scrubbed some sort of shea sugar scrub onto my legs afterwards.

With my skin pink from the heat of the water and my body fully clean, I tapped a button that turned off the shower before racing for my towel.

I hadn’t even noticed I had been shaking until I reached out for the shower’s handle, needing to steady my hand before pushing open the glass door.

_____

When I’d finally dried off, I found clothes and an assortment of different menstrual products waiting for me on the counter, tampons included in the combination.

Thankful there was at least that, I took what I needed until it ended with me adorned in sweats and a very loose t-shirt, looking about just as great as I felt.

Honestly, at this point I couldn’t bring myself to care all that much.

I had so many other things to stress about, but right now, as much as I dreaded it, the only people I want to see are the three men waiting for me downstairs.

As predicted, when I walked back into the playroom the bed was as good as new, no traces of my undesired wake up to be seen.

It’s a little weird having them see me like this for the first time, but at least I’ll be in Detroit all week so they don’t have to see me all short tempered and reserved from literally everything.

Though, I may just prefer that over seeing my everloving mother and stepfather for the first time in months.

I didn’t really have a choice, however. I needed to do this for myself so I could hopefully move on, even if it meant facing my demons once and for all.

______

Walking down the long set of stairs, I decided to focus on the more happier reasons for my soreness, the memories of last night spreading through me.

Alec, Caleb, and Xavier—whether they realize it or not—are undoubtedly everything to me. Every single time I’m with them, I feel like I’m free to be who I am and it’s the kind of love I used to believe only existed on screen.

I don’t think right now was the time to tell them, but when I’m back from my trip, I’ve decided I want to take them on a date.

Maybe it’s stupid, but I kind of wanted it to be something special and something for me to look forward to.

With thoughts of that now in the back of my mind, I forced myself to stop being a coward and venture downstairs, hugging my arms close to my body for warmth.

The first thing that caught my attention was the smell of food slowly drifting upwards to my nose, the second being the sight of my three men in the kitchen waiting for me.

They didn’t notice me for a while as I leaned my body over the railing, smiling as I watched Caleb get kicked out from cracking eggs to the coffee pot where literally all he had to do was click a button.

He laughs and makes a crude gesture at Alec’s tease, but it’s then that Xavier feels my eyes on them, turning his gaze from the sink and up to where I stood.

I licked my lips at his shirtless figure as he caught my attention, smirking at my obvious ogling.

It was the only thing that kept me from breaking down crying in more apologies, already sensing my decreasing mood.

Food helps though.

So do the three, half naked men now noting my presence and looking at me with lazy smiles.

Seeing them in the mornings—hair still messy from sleep—is probably one of my new favourite things about spending nights with them.

I lock this mental image away for later as I waste no time walking down the stairs, gravitating towards Caleb considering neither of us would be let in the kitchen at this point.

I honestly found it a little cute that Alec and Xavier were so insistent on babying me and making everything perfect while Caleb tried to butt in just to annoy them.

I liked seeing that side of their friendship when it was clear they all saw each other as brothers, no doubt willing to die for one another if it came down to it.

It was a kind of love I envied about them, and I suppose that made me lucky to be let into their circle now too.

“You feeling okay?” Caleb looked down at me as I was pulled to lean into his side, wrapping my arms around his middle.

He seemed genuinely concerned, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s ever been with a girl while she’s on her period.

The fact he acted like I might drop dead at any second had me guessing not.

“I’m good now.” I assure, trying to keep comfortably upright despite both my back and stomach cramps simultaneously determined to make my life hell.

If only Alec wasn’t a freaking lie detector in human form.

Though he didn’t say anything, I watched as he slid myself and Caleb two cups of fresh coffee, winking when I gave him a small thank you.

I still felt really bad about their bed, but I was being ushered off before I could apologize again, being led away from the kitchen and onto their outdoor patio.

My legs crossed beneath each other as I took a seat on the one couch, sighing as Caleb set down both of our mugs on the table in front of me.

“I’ll be right back.” He murmured as he bent down to kiss my cheek, his finger stroking my jaw once before he turned to leave.

I could still feel that touch minutes later, deciding not to care that I was about to burn my mouth as I lifted my warm coffee to my lips.

Alec had added just the right amount of creamer to the drink as a cautious sip slid down my throat, savoring the heat of it as I curled up.

It was still a little cold from the usual chill of the morning, but that didn’t take away from the gorgeous view of the city beyond their estate, still not used to it despite living here for multiple months now.

It wasn’t until I heard soft footsteps sounding from behind me that I tore my attention away, my eyes catching on Caleb as my heart stopped.

“I know you’re too stubborn to ask, so I thought this might help.” He shrugs, a warm blanket draped over his shoulder and a hot water bottle in his hands.

I didn’t even know what to say as he moved to my front, placing the heat to my stomach hesitantly before wrapping the blanket over my body next.

I could only watch in awe as his focus dropped to making sure I was warm and cared for, tucking in the sides around my back and toes in a coddling way.

When his eyelashes finally fluttered back up to meet my gaze, I knew he saw the tears in my eyes. “Thank you,” I say, dipping my head in appreciation and wishing I had brushed my teeth before breakfast for once, “Just... thank you.”

Caleb’s mouth pulled into a small smile as I reached for him to join me, nodding in response to my words, “Anytime, Mads.”

Anytime.

Maybe it was the changes in my hormones or the fact that this man was simply so good to me, but my heart spiked from the simple action of being pulled into his lap, Caleb’s hand looping around to my stomach.

He held the heat pack for me so I could just relax on my own the best I could, and while my first instinct would typically be to push him away, I didn’t want to.

The distancing on my part never came and I chose to let him see this less bubbly side of me, feeling comfortable enough to do so beneath the snug caress of his arms.

“Is there anything else you can think of you might want?” Caleb asks against my neck as he leans both of us over to grab his coffee, mine still in my hand.

This time when I shook my head, it was genuine.

These men were everything I needed.

The only thing that made this more perfect was the sight of Alec and Xavier walking through the patio doors a little while later, plates in hand.

They both smiled at me as I gratefully took the food they offered me, my stomach urging me to eat at the smell of the breakfast quesadillas, a thin smear of avocado and diced tomatoes on top.

I was well aware of the effort they put into morning meals every day, and though I typically never ate anything until lunch on my own time, only an idiot would pass this down.

Thanking them again as they sat down across from us, I picked up the first piece between my fingers and forced down my moan the second the flavours hit my taste buds.

This was everything I needed right now, and I realized that I was going to miss them a lot while I was gone in Detroit.

I didn’t need seven days to tell my mother I was moving on with my life, but I did need that much time to say goodbye.

Goodbye to my past, goodbye to my firsts, goodbye to the place that may be the setting of my nightmares, but still my childhood home nonetheless.

I knew the next time I returned would be to fulfill my promises I made to myself when I was sixteen, yet despite all of that, I couldn’t not think about how much I’d miss them.

“What time does your flight leave?” Xavier asks not long after I’d finished my first slice of food, dropping my hand to my plate to grab another in distraction.

“Just before one.” I respond, my heart already beating a little faster as thoughts of this reality kicked in.

I refused to show it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.

I was met with a brief silence before he continued, though I didn’t miss the way Caleb’s one thumb began to rub idly at my thigh.

“You’re sure this is something you want to do?” Xavier says, trying to be casual about it but failing at hiding his distaste at the idea.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this either, however I feared if this wasn’t something I did now, I would let it eat at me until I broke again.

“I am.” Even if my throat is already tightening with fear for the little girl I used to be.

He nodded in respect of that decision, but there was a lot worn on his expression that told me he hated it as much as he understood it.

Not bothering to add anything more, I bit the pointed corner of tortilla, eggs, and cheese, chewing despite knowing this conversation wasn’t done.

“We trust you more than anything, princess,” Alec begins, and I know he means every word of that, yet I was waiting for the inevitable but to be added to his statement, “But we don’t feel comfortable with you leaving on your own.”

It was a blow I had expected and was justified, however I didn’t know what to say to that.

“It’s just that we want to keep you safe, and we can’t do that with you five hundred miles away from us.”

I knew they were only being considerate, but it flared a little annoyance in me despite it. It was that insecure part of me that worried I wasn’t strong enough to handle things myself.

“So what? You’re asking me to stay?” I question with a slight edge to my tone, refusing to make eye contact with any of them. Because I couldn’t. If I did, they would see how scared I was—how much the idea of facing everything on my own made me feel queasy and small.

“No, we meant it when we said we’d support you, darling.” Caleb’s voice says calmly, not raising his tone or showing offense by my accusation, “We want to come with you, not hold you back.”

I think the surprise on my face was what lowered Xavier’s tensed eyebrows, but I couldn’t even fathom the idea of even one of them being in my hometown, watching them realize everything I owned was built off of absolutely nothing. Having them shower in a tub too small for even a child to lay in and sleep on the floor because my single bed mattress would only fit one.

Absolutely not.

Of course, things weren’t completely bad growing up, but I wasn’t ready for them to bear witness to all of that. I think sometimes there are things better left unseen.

“I appreciate it, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I say quietly, but I know they heard.

I know, because Caleb stopped eating and Alec was looking at me as though he were reading my soul and I hated it.

“I’ll be fine,” I lie, shifting on Caleb’s lap and not caring they could see the fib on my tongue, “I’ll call you every night, and it’ll be fine.”

Lie, lie, lie.

But if I don’t pretend, I’ll break like the fragile piece they’re looking at me as.

_____

Even after they dropped me at Hailey’s, they insisted they would be picking me up in an hour to drive me to the airport.

“You don’t pretend, Mads,” Alec said as he walked me to my door, “Maybe to others if that’s what you need to get through this, but never with us.”

His words haven’t left my mind since I left and isolated myself in my room, my packed suitcase sitting in the corner like a warning sign to me.

Just say goodbye over the phone, it urged me. You don’t owe them anything.

I did owe it to myself, though. That might just be the hardest damn part about this.

Letting my head hit my pillow, my tired eyes fell shut, if only for a few simple seconds. I needed it to stop—the heaviness in my chest that makes me feel like I can’t breathe. I needed everything to stop.

When I was younger, climbing trees used to be my favourite thing to do.

Mom never had enough money to buy me dolls or makeup for birthdays and Christmases, but I was okay with that. Half the time, all I wanted was her attention. I remember that January 10th and December 25th were the two times of the year she would give it to me.

She would drive me around in her small, slightly broken car, and we would go searching for the largest trees I could climb.

I didn’t care that there was snow, in fact, I liked the bare branches with less things in the way of my reach.

She would sit on the grass and play the small radio she won from work years back and play “Come on Eileen” over and over again because it was the only tape she owned.

I would climb and climb until I couldn’t go any further, knowing all it would take was one misstep and everything would be over.

Back then, I didn’t care.

Back then, mom was happy and dad, while distant, was around too.

I was eleven the last time I climbed a tree.

That was when the fighting started—the drinking and the crying. God, there were always so many tears.

I remember I’d cry too sometimes just because everyone else was, too young to understand it, but I would cry.

Day after day, it was like I was in a cycle, all the way up until the day seven men showed up at my door, quietly calm but had my mom shaking and screaming, “Tobias!”

I couldn’t figure out why, though.

I was rushed to my room, but I couldn’t stop wondering if they were the same men from The Matrix, adorned in the same black coats and latex pants that looked way too tight to be comfortable.

My dad left with them and only showed up for short visits after that, but I was okay because I knew he’d always come back for me.

No matter how long he disappeared, he was the one thing that never truly left, even if I couldn’t see him with my eyes.

I always wondered if he had been taken to some virtual underworld to fight off the bad guys like in the movies, but when Andrew started coming around the house, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was the real bad man.

He was conventionally attractive and swooped my mother off her feet after a mere week of flirtatious smiles and charming remarks—ones I was much too young to understand as a child.

It was love at first sight as they say, and my mom attempted sobriety because she just loved him too much.

But that year when December came around, I did not climb any trees.

The lyrics of “Come on Eileen” never played because Andrew believed me much too old to need my mother to escort me like a toddler.

I remember screaming that he wasn’t my father and couldn’t tell me what I could and couldn’t do on Christmas of all days.

But he took that away from me too.

“It’ll do you some good to learn some discipline, girl.” He spat, and I can still feel the way his scratchy hands felt around my arm—not hard enough to bruise, but I was small and easy to move.

“Drew, leave her be.” My mother waved her hand at him, but I was too busy trying to fight him off to hear his response.

“Pull at the fingers,” my father would always teach me, “They’re weak. Pull the thumb back and it’ll snap like a twig.”

I tried, but was not strong enough then.

“I know what oughta help you.” He smiled down at me, so convincingly I almost believed he was being good.

He walked me to my bedroom and hauled me to where my wardrobe cabinet stood, small, but it’s not like I had a ton of clothes to fill it with anyways.

I was confused when he opened it and I screamed when I was shoved inside, not understanding what was happening until the wooden doors closed and I was encased in the dark, a musty smell quickly building up in the small space.

“Hey!” I screamed, moving to get out but being met with something hard that kept me locked in, “Let me out!” My feet met the door and I kicked, the wood barely bending beneath the force.

I yelled again but froze at the sound of a small chuckle on the other side.

“It won’t kill ya, girl. I’m gonna go treat your mother nice and good on our date and you’ll be let out when we’re back.”

I couldn’t stop fighting, though.

I hated the dark, and the dust from the floor of the cabinet made me both want to cough and sneeze at the same time.

“I’ll be good. Please open the—”

When there was no chuckle, no sign of life on the other side of the door, I paused.

Those few seconds were the calm before the real terror came, where I exhausted myself close to limp as I pounded and pounded to get out.

Out, out, out.

But as I said, that day, no trees were climbed and no songs were played.

In their place, all it left was the dark.

“Madelyn!”

I was shaken by two hands over top of me, gasping as my eyes snapped open in panic.

I was out.

It wasn’t the tight, dirty walls that surrounded me, it was the walls of my bedroom, Hailey hovering on top of my bed.

Her curly hair hung around her face as she leaned over, fear in her eyes as she looked down at me, seeming relieved that I woke up.

“Jesus Christ.” She swore under her breath, her eyebrows loosening as her head hung down, “I thought someone was attacking you.”

I sucked in a heavy breath, wiping away the moisture that wet my cheeks as I sat up, Hailey moving off of me.

“Are you okay?” She pants, looking at me as though I were half mad, even though I knew that wasn’t what she was thinking.

“Yeah, sorry.” I mumbled, clutching at my necklace and fidgeting with it as I focused on my breathing, hating I was found this way.

It was just a nightmare. It was nothing more than a nightmare.

“I... I have bad dreams sometimes. Thank you for waking me.”

Her eyes tracked the shake in my hands, but she didn’t comment on it and I was thankful for that.

“Do you want to talk about—”

“No, I’m good.” I insist, plastering on an embarrassed smile and pulling the sheets off from over my body.

So many pretty lies, so little naked truths.

“You were screaming to be let out,” Hailey dropped her eyes at the admission, but it only made me tighten up more.

“I know.” Was the only response I could fathom, however it was the only answer I was ready to give.

Hailey and I had gotten impossibly close over this last month of living together, but I didn’t have time to open up about my life when the plane I needed to catch was confrontation enough.

“Can we maybe talk when I get back?” I suggest, knowing my men would be here soon enough to pick me up.

“I think we’re long overdue for a spa day.” She teases, trying to lighten the mood and I was appreciative for it.

The ringing of a doorbell cut off whatever I was about to say next, but I smiled, grabbed a jacket, and prayed to god it didn’t look like I was crying.

“I’ll see you in a few days.” I said as I hugged her, clutching onto the handle of my suitcase as though my life depended on it.

“I’ll miss you, girl.” She says, returning my embrace before letting me go, “You call anytime, okay? Day or night.”

I could only nod in response, not trusting myself to speak anymore.


- End of Chapter 63 -

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