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The foundation series bo.., p.16
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.16

           Kira Adams

  Jace had finally told me how he felt. Jace loved me…little old me…I was still in shock.

  I rubbed my eyes long and hard before opening them and surveying my bedroom. It wasn’t a dream…it was reality.

  I wonder when living in my reality became more exciting than my dreams.

  I stretched my arms above my head and then grabbed my cell from the nightstand. I swiped my finger across it only to find a couple of texts from Jace.

  I’m sorry about last night—what I said…I’m a jerk. The first one read.

  I smiled lightly to myself opening the second one. I miss you already.

  He gave me butterflies with that. I couldn’t believe he was expressing his feelings so eloquently and more often. I blushed a little as I typed my response. Thanks for ruining my birthday jerk. And then because I didn’t want him to think I was actually angry with him I added a winking emoticon to the end of the text.

  I began setting up my shower when I heard the next text come through. Let me make it up to you.

  My heart began racing. Being close to Jace always drove me crazy, but with the added knowledge that he felt the same way—it was driving me insane. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted Jace…that I was head over heels for him.

  I shot him a quick response before hopping in the shower. You have a lot of making up to do mister. I wasn’t going to make this easy on him.

  He had responded within seconds before I put my phone down. Good thing I like challenges.

  * * *

  His buzzed haircut and muscular back was what came into view first. “What are we doing here?” I asked as his haunting blue eyes caught mine and he broke into a wide grin.

  I had agreed to meet him at a local park we were both familiar with, but it was nearly ten o’clock at night and the stars took over the night sky.

  “Hello to you too.” He chuckled, pulling me in, close to him.

  I could feel the hammering of my heart as his warm breath came near, as his arms embraced me.

  He smelled of Aqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani. It was heavenly. The only reason I even recognized the scent was because it reminded me of Liam. He had worn the same scent practically every day during the school year.

  “Peyton,” he said breathlessly, pulling me out of my trance. Looking up, I shifted my gaze to meet his.

  I cocked my head to the side playfully when he didn’t say anything. He bit his lip seductively which only made the tingles all over my body more intense.

  “I wanna do this right…” he trailed off, slightly backing away. “You know, this whole boyfriend thing.” He ran his hand over his fuzzy head back and forth, back and forth, nervously.

  I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Jace had just referred to himself as my boyfriend. As surprised and excited as I was, I still wanted to be able to extract a little playful revenge. “Boyfriend?”

  “Well…yeah…I mean, I just expected…” he began rambling, which only made him more irresistible.

  “Shut up and kiss me,” I ordered, immediately throwing my hands around the back of his neck and running my fingers through his short, fuzzy hair.

  His eyes lit up and before I knew it, I felt his soft lips on mine. He had a little bit of stubble growing in like a goatee, which I simply kept running my fingers over. He pressed his lips to mine harder, in a more eager kiss, and then I felt his tongue searching for mine. I swirled my own around his before pulling it back into my mouth and lightly sucking on his bottom lower lip.

  “Damn.” Jace broke the kiss, gasping for breath. “I think I may have underestimated your kissing skills. Just how many people have you kissed?”

  I could suddenly hear jealousy coming through his voice and I liked it.

  “Just three Jace…it’s no big deal.”

  He shrugged, backing away, his body shifting in a different direction from me.

  “Did I say something wrong?” I asked, as I ran my fingers through my wild hair.

  He shook his head sadly. “I had just always wanted to be your first kiss.”

  It broke my heart a little hearing his feelings that he had kept locked away for so long. How many months had I pined over Jace just to be let down or hurt? How many nights had I cried myself to sleep because he couldn’t just be honest with me about his feelings…I was still having trouble believing that this was real. That he was actually standing in front of me…and I didn’t have to chase him anymore. He wanted to be with me…he loved me.

  “Was it everything you dreamed of and more?”

  I shook my head no. Even though it had been incredible and one of the best moments of my life…it had not been with Jace. “It wasn’t with you.”

  He kissed me quickly as a thank you for the sweet answer.

  “You know…” I began, my wheels turning. “There are a lot of firsts I haven’t experienced. Why don’t you help me live life a little better?” I nudged Jace in the chest with my shoulder.

  “Oh yeah? And what are those?”

  I didn’t bother responding, just grabbed his hand and gently slipped my fingers between his.

  “You’ve never held hands with anyone before?” He looked at me in disbelief.

  “Not with anyone who mattered…not with anyone I was madly in love with.” I ran my finger lightly across his thumb, back and forth, back and forth, in a calming motion.

  “Say it again,” he urged, pressing closer to me.

  “I love you,” I whispered, looking him in the eyes for a long time.

  “I have a surprise for you.”

  “You do?” I gasped, stunned by all of his amazing gestures.

  He nodded, grinning wide. “Do you see that star up there?” He pointed up at the sky.

  I shifted my gaze to the gorgeous sky above us. “Which one…you have to be a little more specific here.”

  “You don’t see that one that looks like it’s got a hint of purple to it?” He asked, coming up behind me, grabbing me by the hips and pointing again.

  Two incredible things happened in that moment, Jace’s finger slightly rubbed up against my hip where my extra skin was and I didn’t flinch away, and I could now clearly see the star he had been referring to. It was something so magical looking I wondered if it was even real. It had a violet hue radiating off of it. “I’ve never seen something so beautiful before…”

  “I named it after you.” Jace quickly glanced at me.

  “Um, what?” I choked out.

  “I bought it and named it after you.” He was smiling gently now.

  My eyes flickered between his gorgeous smile and the incredible gesture he had just made.

  “What? You’re worth it?”

  “I love you Jace Austin,” I whispered lightly before sliding into him and pressing my lips against his.

  “I love you Peyton Lane…and I am going to make sure you never have to question that ever again.” He swept my curls out of my eyes before lowering his lips to mine again. My heart was bursting with love. Yes we had had quite the journey—but Jace was worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears. He was my ultimate prize.

  Seventeen: He Probably Thinks I’m Some Kind of Psycho Stalker.

  Deuces Wild

  No one knows the cards in your hand

  Just keep playing, you’ll understand

  Life isn’t easy, it isn’t free

  Things have a price, even you and me

  We had been ‘dating’ officially for two weeks. And it was the most magical and incredible two weeks I had ever experienced. Every morning I had awoken to a text that greeted me with a “good morning beautiful.” Three days the previous week I had received flowers—you could say he was going a little bit overboard, but I was eating up every bit of it.

  No one had ever deemed me special enough for the royal treatment Jace had been showing me lately—he was definitely earning brownie points all over the place.

  Something felt different today however. Something felt off. It could be the fact that there was no sweet text t
o wake up to or the fact that there had been radio silence on the end of my boyfriend for two whole days. I had fallen into a routine and it was so unlike him.

  My mind began racing with thoughts of him off with Olivia…or worse—doing something reckless, I couldn’t concentrate.

  What if he is already tired of me? What if I have already scared him off?

  I hated that part of me. The part that doubted that I was good enough for Jace…deep down I knew I was, it was just a little overwhelming and surprising at times that someone so incredibly handsome and charming could ever want anything to do with insecure little old me.

  I was getting better—but scars didn’t heal overnight. I was living proof of that.

  My handful of unanswered texts and phone calls were beginning to make me seem like a stalker or paranoid. Either way I was fucked.

  “I haven’t seen Jace around lately,” Kayleigh said to me at breakfast that morning. “Where did he disappear to?”

  I shrugged lightly, my cheeks instantly feeling flushed.

  “Are you guys okay?” Kayleigh’s brow furrowed in concern, and she stopped buttering her toast.

  “Yeah,” I stuttered. “I’m fine.”

  “That’s not what I asked…” Kayleigh eyed me down again. “You sure you and Jace are okay?”

  “What if he wants to break up with me?” I found myself losing my breath just by the thought of it; tears already falling down.

  “Why would he ever want to do that?” She asked, incredulously.

  “Because, he’s ignoring me…” I trailed off, looking down. “Maybe he realized I’m not good enough…”

  “What?” Kayleigh’s brown eyes turned black. “Don’t you ever say that again. Do you hear me?”

  I looked back at her, shocked by her outburst. I nodded slowly.

  “You are wonderful. You are incredible. You are amazing—and don’t you ever forget it.” She ran her fingers softly over my hair. “You’re a Lane; you’re a fighter.”

  She took me by surprise. My sister became more beautiful to me in that moment than I could have ever imagined. I always knew Kayleigh’s heart was pure—I was just waiting to see it. Really get to experience it firsthand—and I did. She exceeded all my expectations.

  “Now tell me what’s really going on.” She lowered her hand down onto my shoulder.

  “Jace went MIA and I’m freaking out. He probably thinks I’m some psycho stalker from the unhealthy amount of texts I’ve sent him…”

  She rolled her eyes at me. “That’s it? That’s all you were worked up for?”

  My mouth dropped open in an animated fashion. “Rude…you know I love to overanalyze.”

  “When’s the last time you heard from him?” It appeared as though Kayleigh was not as concerned as me.

  “Two days…be honest—am I going overboard?” I truthfully didn’t know…Jace was my first boyfriend ever—I was allowed a couple of mistakes…right?

  Kayleigh was staring back at me like I had two heads. “Give me your phone,” she ordered, her hand extended out.

  “What? Why?’ I asked, confused.

  “Because, I am not going to let you ruin everything with Jace over a couple of days of silence. I’m going to save your relationship.”

  I looked back at her incredulously, but she just kept motioning with her head to her hand.

  I sighed loudly as I placed my phone gently into her hand. “This is totally unfair you know.”

  I was only frustrated because I couldn’t check my phone for updates every five minutes. It was going to give me a lot more time to lounge around and think…torture myself with the thoughts. It all sounded quite painful.

  Just as her fingers had clasped around it and mine had let their death grip go, I heard the familiar vibration of my text alert go off.

  “Give it to me!” I shrieked loudly, chasing my sister around the dinner table. It has to be Jace…it has to be Jace…at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

  She squinted down at the screen of my phone. “It’s from Noah—now stop freaking out.”

  Noah? I hadn’t seen him since the night of the party—the night he made it blatantly obvious he was into me. I had been avoiding scheduling any rehearsals as well because I wasn’t sure I could completely trust myself alone in a room with him. I had to wonder about his timing though. We had been playing together for months; if he really liked me—why didn’t he pursue me when he had the chance? When I was single and available?

  Why did he date the she-devil and play games with my emotions?

  The first time we stayed after rehearsal to write…Kayleigh read my text out loud, ignoring the fact that she was invading my privacy…”Does that mean anything to you?”

  Actually it did. Noah and I had ended up getting lost in conversation, losing track of time. Surprisingly, not one minute of that time was spent writing. In fact, it was one of the only times I had ever spoken to anyone about my childhood and what I had been through as an overweight adolescent; the hell I was subjected to on a daily basis. I hadn’t known why I had been so open and honest with him—but there was something about his kind eyes that told me I could trust him.

  I swiped the phone out of my sister’s hands, quickly typing my response, what about that night?

  He wasted no time at all replying, that’s when I knew…

  Knew what…? My mind was racing, my heart going a mile a minute.

  That I was in trouble.

  I knew what he was getting at now and I wasn’t sure I wanted to allow him to go on…

  “Okay, what is going on?” Kayleigh asked in an exasperated tone.

  It was simple, really. “I’m fucked.”

  * * *

  It had been hours since I had received those dangerous text messages from Noah…and still no word from Jace. You could say it was messing with my head. Even though I wanted to heed Kayleigh’s advice, something in the pit of my stomach told me to follow my heart. If I waited to hear from Jace any longer, I was bound to do something ridiculously stupid, like reply to Noah’s texts…and with how far Jace and I had come I wasn’t sure I was willing to risk all of our progress for a ‘what if’.

  I had never been invited over to Jace’s house. It never crossed my mind that there might be a reason for that. I just assumed he liked my place since he showed up nearly every day. The phonebook had provided the necessary answer I was looking for and I made my way to the address, my heart pounding out of my chest. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react…with me just showing up…but I needed to see him. I needed to know that he still cared for me, loved me.

  I had walked the distance between our two houses, and the walk felt nice and brisk. It took merely ten minutes, but felt more like five. I could do this a lot more. That was, if he actually was responsive to me and wanted me to come over.

  Walking up his porch steps, I hurriedly swept my hair out of my eyes, and tugged on my shirt, trying to make myself presentable before I knocked. I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

  “Get the door!” I heard a loud voice bellow immediately after my fist had pounded it to showcase my arrival.

  I heard about five locks clicking as the door was opened slowly. The sight I came to see was the furthest thing than what I could have ever imagined.

  “Jace?” I barely got out as I saw his tall figure through the old screen door.

  “Peyton?” He asked in a hushed, worried tone, before opening up the door, and coming out onto the porch with me. “What are you doing here?” He hissed, glancing back over to where I had heard the other voice bellow from.

  I was about to form my response when I saw them. There wasn’t one, not even two…but multiple bruises. On his face, his arms, legs; bruises. He looked like he had been in a fight…and he didn’t win. My stomach sank immediately along with my heart. “Oh my God, are you okay? Who did this to you?” I asked, as I reached out gently to touch his cheek where the purple bruise lay.

  “I’m fine.” He shied away
from my touch. Why is he acting so cold?

  “Who’s out there fuck face?” I heard the voice from earlier shout.

  “Peyton.” His voice was even more hushed than before. “You have to go.”

  My eyes shot up to Jace’s. I was trying to get him to look at me. I was trying to get him to open up to me. Why are you pushing me away? I wanted to scream in his face. Let me be there for you.

  But it was too late…I should have left when he asked…but my feet were planted firmly and even if I had tried, it felt like I was glued to that spot. I wanted to know what had happened. I wanted to be his savior as he had been mine so many times before.

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