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The foundation series bo.., p.15
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.15

           Kira Adams
 

  Pick me up—let’s go do something, I replied before heading down the stairs. It didn’t take him long to arrive but in that short time I received an abundance of texts from Harper. She was freaking out because she was alone in her mansion, her parents were out of town on business, and she was scared of the strange noises. Even though it was the last way I wanted to spend my birthday, I knew it wouldn’t be right of me unless I stopped by her place to check up on her and make sure she was okay.

  Jace’s jaw was at his knees as I climbed in the car. “New hair?”

  I nodded. “I needed a change.”

  Using the phrase he had coined caused a small smile to form at the corners of his lips. “What made you choose black and red?”

  I shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to be edgier. It seems oddly fitting…doesn’t it?”

  “Yeah.” He nodded in agreement, before reversing the car out of my driveway. “So, where do you want to go?”

  “Actually, we need to make a quick pit stop first.” I glanced over at him, taking in the way his light blue Volcom tank enhanced his stunning cobalt eyes.

  He caught me staring and I looked away hurriedly. “What is it?” he asked.

  “Oh, nothing…it’s just Harper.” I swiftly changed the subject.

  “What about Harper?”

  “Just being a wuss is all,” I replied, glancing out the passenger window. “You know, we never talked about you being at the hospital…”

  Jace didn’t even bother looking my way, nor responding.

  “Jace?”

  “I’m not ready to talk about it,” Jace responded in a deep, low voice.

  I nodded. I hadn’t realized how insensitive I had been. In less than a year’s time, Jace had lost two family members due to car accidents. This last incident with his brother could have brought up unresolved feelings about his mother’s passing. “I’m sorry,” I muttered under my breath.

  “What was that?” Jace asked, glancing quickly my way, then back to the road.

  “I’m sorry I brought it up,” I replied, feeling guilty.

  He shrugged his shoulders in response. We drove in silence for another couple of minutes, before he finally spoke. “I want to talk to you about it…” He paused. “When I’m ready.”

  That was how we left it, the entire way to Harper’s. A hummer limo parked at her doorstep caught my attention.

  “What’s that all about?” Jace pointed with his head towards the limo.

  “I have no clue.” I was dying with anticipation; I had practically flown out of the car as soon as Jace put it in park. I raced up her cement stairs and rang the doorbell to her massive home. I turned around and was surprised to see Jace had kept up with me.

  “Someone’s anxious,” Jace whispered from behind my right ear, sending chills down my spine. He had no clue what day it was. He had no clue of my history with this dreadful day…I couldn’t bear to hold my excitement in.

  The giant front door swung open and a crescendo of “Surprises” wafted out into the air. The place was packed to the brim. It appeared as though everyone in my small town of Day Heights had packed themselves into Harper’s mansion. I was searching the faces for ones I would recognize, but there were freshmen all the way up to seniors and even some graduates it appeared.

  “Whoa! Is that the birthday girl?” Madison came bouncing towards me, extending out a shot.

  “It’s your birthday?” Jace mumbled to me through closed lips.

  I glanced apologetically back at him. Had I known my amazing friends had planned a surprise party, I would have at least warned Jace about what we were walking into.

  “Take it!” Madison ordered me, pushing the shot glass closer to my mouth.

  “What is it?” I asked, smelling it slightly.

  “Rum.” Brooklyn appeared in front of me suddenly, clinking her shot glass with mine. “To the birthday girl.” She raised her shot glass and I watched numerous others follow suit.

  It was spiced rum and not my absolute favorite; I cringed after swallowing it fully.

  “I love the hair!” Brooklyn ran her fingers through my newly styled and colored mane.

  “Thanks,” I replied, glancing around.

  “Girl, you look badass.” Harper broke herself apart from the crowd. “I wish I could pull off something like this.”

  My hair was the main attraction for the first twenty minutes while people adjusted to the new me. I caught sight of Noah off in the corner. He lifted his chin to me and raised his glass in the air as a hello, mouthing “nice hair”.

  I smiled back in response, motioning for him to join me. He sauntered over to Jace and me. “Hey, thanks for coming.” I embraced him in a hug.

  “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Noah replied.

  “Noah, this is Jace.” I introduced the two.

  “Haven’t we met before?” Noah asked as he shook Jace’s hand.

  Jace shook his head. “I’ve come to see you guys play before. We’ve just never been properly introduced.”

  “Damn, I was positive we have hung out before…with Peyton, yeah, didn’t we go bowling or something?” I shot a death glare Noah’s way. He had absentmindedly brought up Jax…I wasn’t sure how it would affect Jace’s mood.

  “Must have been my brother you are referring to,” Jace replied simply, before walking away from us and towards the liquor assortment sitting on the table.

  I shot another glance at Noah. “His brother, Jax, just passed away…” I whispered, pausing, “can we not bring up such awful memories?”

  Noah looked back at me guilt-stricken. “You should have told me! I feel terrible…” He trailed off.

  “There wasn’t any time, but for my sake, let’s keep this light hearted.” I smiled back at him. He was looking far from terrible, changing out his black band shirts for a white button down and jeans. He looked handsome. “You look good,” I said, without being able to stop myself.

  He smiled, looking down. “You stole the show tonight.” He looked into my eyes then and it made my heart stop in my chest. He motioned his head back to Jace who was still consumed with pouring himself a drink. He had been swarmed by a group of girls I didn’t recognize, and I was straining to read their lips.

  “So, are you two…like official?” Noah asked, his brown eyes darting between Jace and me.

  I switched my eyes back to Noah’s. “I don’t even know what we are. I’ve been wondering that since day one.”

  Noah appeared surprised by my honesty. It wasn’t entirely new. I shared a lot with Noah…but one thing we never spoke about was my love life. “You don’t have to settle Peyton, you deserve better than that.”

  I shifted my eyes back to Jace and the growing crowd of girls that were swarming him. “I should check on him.” I made my way through the large crowd. People were stopping me every few feet to say happy birthday and compliment my new look. It took more than ten minutes to walk twenty feet; Harper’s place had never felt so packed. “Hey,” I said lightly when I made it to the outskirts of the group.

  All the girls’ eyes suddenly were on me and they were trailing them up and down, obviously assessing me. I sighed loudly, pushing past them to Jace. “Drink?” he asked as he poured me another shot.

  “Yes,” I replied, instantly swallowing it with a cough. “Whew! That was strong, what was that?” I asked, wincing from the bitter taste.

  “Whiskey,” Jace said, before taking another full shot to himself. It was the third one I had seen him take in less than ten minutes.

  “Maybe you should slow down,” I stated, grabbing the bottle of whiskey from Jace and setting it back down on the table.

  “Maybe you should stop acting like my mother—oh wait, I don’t have to worry about that because I don’t have one,” Jace snapped back at me, grabbing the whiskey bottle and pouring himself another heaping shot.

  “Let’s just get out of here,” I pleaded with him under my breath. I was determined to end my birthday on a somewhat decent no
te.

  “No, you insisted we stop by. Let’s enjoy ourselves while we’re here.” He clinked his glass with one of the girls still within his vicinity before tipping his head back and taking it down.

  “I had no idea they had this planned Jace, I’m sorry.” I continued trying.

  “Who wants another shot?” Jace shouted out to his crowd of onlookers, taking the whiskey, forgoing their glasses, and pouring it directly into each of their mouths, making a mess.

  I rolled my eyes, not wanting to waste another breath. It was hard to be angry with him, knowing everything I had ever put him through and how many times he forgave me. Especially knowing the tough time he was going through. I glanced back at him once more before walking out the back door and out to the patio.

  I needed the fresh air, I needed a second to regroup; remember what was important. It was a nice July night; humid and windy all at the same time. The moon was round and full; a beauty to look at. I closed my eyes taking a deep breath in, enjoying the silence.

  “What’s up birthday girl?” I recognized Noah’s voice without even opening my eyes.

  “Just taking a breather.” I opened my eyes finally, glancing his way.

  “What happened to your friend?” He asked of Jace.

  “He’s with his posse.” I motioned my head towards inside.

  “I don’t know,” Noah began, taking a step closer to me, “if it were me, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight.”

  I couldn’t help but blush. Noah was flirting with me. There was no denying it. My stomach began to do sickening flips. “Noah…” I began, but was silenced by his finger on my lips. I froze in place, my heart loud enough for the world to hear.

  “Don’t act like you can’t feel it too…” Noah reached for me then, pulling me into him.

  Before I knew what was going on I was ripped away from Noah from behind. Jace had made an unexpected appearance and was drunker than a skunk. “If you touch her again, I’ll kill you…” I heard him threaten Noah.

  Noah put his hands in the air as a show of his surrender. “Whoa man, back off, we were just talking.”

  “That sure didn’t look like talking to me,” Jace spat, inches from Noah’s face.

  “Jace, calm the fuck down, you’re drunk!” I shouted angrily. “I’m going to take you home.”

  “It should have been him,” Jace mumbled under his breath.

  “What?” I shouted, attempting to hear him over the crowd that had now formed around us.

  “I should have chosen him to save instead of you.” I didn’t have to strain to hear him that time. My speculations had been correct—Jace had pulled me out of the burning car, saving my life. “You don’t mean that…” I said, fighting back tears.

  “Try me,” Jace said. “Do you have any idea how much my life has been turned upside down just by your presence?” I could smell the whiskey on his breath. I wanted to believe he was only saying these things because he was drunk…but I had also heard the truth was more likely to come out when you’re drunk. I just wanted to be done. The day I had originally had so many hopes for had turned out all the same; miserable and terrible. I just wanted to be in the comfort of my home surrounded by people who loved me and were thankful I was alive.

  “I’ll find my own ride home,” I yelled over my shoulder as I pushed past the onlookers and into the mansion.

  Sixteen: Shut Up and Kiss Me.

  Traveling

  I traveled the distant skies

  Searching for my demise

  Knowing my end will come

  Waiting under its thumb

  If you feel -You’re walking around

  Aimlessly-Do like me

  Take a ride-You will see

  The future of-Your destiny

  It’s coming, just as I

  We will soon meet

  Under the darkest skies

  When we meet

  We shall fly

  On a quest for you and I

  If you feel -You’re walking around

  Aimlessly-Do like me

  Take a ride-You will see

  The future of-Your destiny

  I hadn’t even had a chance to make it to the driveway when I heard Jace’s voice behind me. “Peyton!” I didn’t bother turning around; Jace was the one person I would have preferred to never hear from again. “Peyton!” I heard him again, this time closer. I felt a hand on my shoulder, spinning me around.

  “What is it now Jace? Do you want to reiterate the fact that you wish I were dead?” He looked like he had been punched in the gut with my words.

  “What? No,” he said softly, reaching out for me. I pulled away from him, still walking.

  “You know Jace,” I started, finding the voice I had been searching for all night. “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”

  He looked into my eyes, almost pleading with me then to hear him out. “I’m sorry…for everything. I mean it.”

  I nodded. “I appreciate that…but it doesn’t change the way I feel…”

  He interjected then, “Peyton, my mom meant the world to me. When I lost her, I was broken. I had lost my zest for life. I couldn’t see the point anymore.”

  I stopped walking; realizing this was the first time Jace had ever spoken with me about his mother.

  “When I moved here everyone was so bubbly and excited and I wanted nothing to do with it…and then I saw you in the hall the first day. Your eyes were full of sadness—just like mine. You were the first person I had ever seen who I felt like understood heartbreak fully.”

  “You…” I began, before Jace interrupted me.

  “I knew I wanted to get to know you. I knew I wanted to make it my mission to make you feel love; to bring happiness into your eyes again.” He brought his hand up to my face then, stroking it gently. “I was afraid of my feelings for you, Peyton. I had never met anyone else like you. My feelings surprised me; overwhelmed me.”

  “Why is that?” I asked. “Because I was fat?”

  “What? No.” He shook his head, reaching out for me. “All the girls I had dated in the past were in my friends circle. It was always set up by mutual friends, and we never really had much in common. You intrigued me…but you also surprised me. You challenged me. You pushed me when I needed just that. You have a way of holding in all of your feelings as if the rest of the world can’t tell what you’re thinking, and then other times you silence the world with your bluntness.”

  I stared back at him bewildered. “You’re losing me here Jace.”

  “I was afraid I was going to lose you. Olivia seemed like the easy route; the safe choice. You taught me that everything worth having or doing in life takes time and effort. I’m sorry for every time I have made you cry. I am sorry for every time I have made your heart break.”

  I was speechless; it was something I had been hoping for since I had fallen for him; he was finally being vulnerable with me. I opened my mouth to speak but was yet again interrupted.

  “The night of the accident I turned on the GPS to Jax’s phone and was led to the scene of the accident. When I got there, Jax was passed out against the wheel—you had been thrown from the car, it all looked so nasty. The car had already begun smoking and there wasn’t enough time. I had to choose one of you.”

  “And you chose me…” I put it together.

  “I’ve been living with guilt from the decision ever since.” Jace looked at me with sadness in his eyes.

  “I’m sorry,” I mumbled.

  “I’m not…I couldn’t lose you. I love you Peyton. I love you so much I chose to save you over my own flesh and blood. You changed me. You gave me a reason for living again. I can’t lose you now; not after the hell I’ve been through.” He pulled me in closer.

  “I don’t know what to say…” I began. Jace loved me…flaws and everything. It was everything I could have wished, everything I could have ever dreamed of. How did I get so lucky?

  “Don’t make me wait any longer. Say it,” he urged me, his blue e
yes twinkling.

  “I love you too.” I gave him exactly what he wanted and allowed him to close his lips on mine, the whiskey strong on his tongue. “We’re going to need to get you some gum.” I laughed, pulling away.

  “Can you take me home?” He winked down at me, dangling his car keys.

  “I’m sure that can be arranged,” I answered, before pressing my lips to his eagerly one more time.

  * * *

  I squeezed my eyes tightly, not wanting to wake up from the amazing dream I was having.

 
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