Chapter Ten

I brushed my teeth firmly, scalded myself in the shower, absently watching my hair turn a darker shade as the shampoo fell away. All an attempt to get rid of that dream. Could Adam and I be friends? I wondered for the third time. Rinsing the conditioner out, I made the same decision I made months back. Going with the flow required no awkwardness, no dwelling and I could move on.

Eating breakfast, I planned out today in my head. Adam would probably pop round at some stage, but I wanted to visit Ben at the hospital before that. Sunday, I had work. I'd probably drop by the bookstore tomorrow as well. Dumping the bowl in the dishwasher, I set it on and nabbed a couple of books from the shelf in the lounge. Ben was probably bored, I thought, and locked the house up. I'd do some weeding when I got back, I thought, critically taking in the garden as I drove off.

I passed a few of the clubs I'd previously visited with Kirsten and looked at them wonderingly. Would the numbness still work? It was a purely clinical thought, but the fact I even had the thought scared me. I accelerated through the streets, finding the traffic distressing after two years on basically quiet roads. I hurried into the hospital, the books under my arm. Taking the elevator, I watched, as did everyone else, as an emergency was wheeled in- going straight into surgery, I noted. Blood stained the sheets and the man coughed, managing to splatter blood all over the nurses professionally wheeling him into the operating theatre.

Hoping he was okay, I filled Ben in on what I'd just seen.

"Interesting." He responded, his eyes on the books under my arm. I handed them to him and spent an enjoyable afternoon with Ben, reading and occasionally informing him of Sooke gossip.

"I can't believe she'd do that!" Ben cried, laughing and then wincing as it hurt his rib.

"Carmen never liked to do things the normal way- and the magazine was strapped for time."

"Wow." Ben said.

"If you like, I'll bring a copy in for you."

"No need." Ben waved a hand at one of the other patients, "Jan will let me borrow hers." Jan smiled at me.

"A potential?" I raised an eyebrow, "You're in the hospital, and still charming the ladies?"

"He is devilishly handsome." Jan winked and I laughed, as did she.

"Anyway, I have to go now." I hugged him, being careful of his rib and then backed away, "I'll leave the books with you- is that okay?"

Ben nodded happily, adding, "Jan and I will swap reading material." I hid a smile and hurried out of there.

"You have a lovely god-daughter." I heard Jan remark, but I was out of ear shot by then to hear Ben's reply.

I grinned. An afternoon well spent; clearly Ben wasn't as lost for company as I thought he might be.

However, Adam was. I got home, to see he'd prepared dinner for the two of us. It stopped me in my tracks, and I bit my lip slightly, only hurrying forward when Adam turned around, smiling.

"I thought in a pride, the lionesses hunted."

"Ah, but you're a lone lioness, as am I."

"A lioness?" I caught him out. He scrunched his face up and poked his tongue out.

"No- a lone lion. Things are a bit messed up in our pride."

"Clearly- you're not sure what gender you are, and I'm just screwed up. You wouldn't believe who I met today." I changed the subject swiftly.

"Who?" He asked curiously, tasting the curry. I nudged him aside with my hip and inhaled the scent rising off it.

"Yum." I moaned, "Uhm- a lady named Jan. No idea what her last name is, but she's a potential match for Ben."

"Are you kidding?" Adam turned to face me, "The legendary Ben, King of the Bachelors, falling in love?"

"Again." I corrected. Adam frowned, crinkles appearing.

"Who did- or does- he love? Also." He tacked on.

"He loves or did love my mother. Still harbours feelings, I reckon."

"Do you think that's weird?"

"Nah, it's just the way it always has been. It was the way it was, seven years ago, and is still slightly there. Maybe Jan will cure it."

"No! Jan can't change the King of Bachelors!" Adam groaned, laughing.

"He can't be alone forever."

"Why not?" Adam's tone caused me to look up sharply. Had I offended him somehow?

"Because he's a man that deserves someone loving." My tone went up at the end, turning it into a slight question. Adam let it go, and thankfully, I did the same.

I served the rice onto plates and Adam spooned the curry over the top. My mouth watered. I'd been cooking my own dinner for a while; if Ben hadn't been in hospital, we would have rostered the nights, but he was in hospital, and it felt good to not have to cook. Cooking was boring when I only had myself to bother with. Some nights I'd just made some toast and left dinner at that. I set them down on the table and immediately started eating mine.

"Did you have lunch?" Adam inquired as he also began to eat.

I swallowed, "I don't think so." The curry was hot in my mouth and I savoured the taste.

"Hey, you know how Leon's back in town?"

I nodded, still eating.

"Well because he's back, we've decided to put the band back together for the summer."

"That's so cool!" I remembered Adam being really gutted the band had to split up. Leon had moved and it just wasn't the Shifters without him.

"You were the vocalist…and part time guitarist, right?" I levelled my spoon at him.

"Mm, and the band wasn't the same without Leon- he's an excellent drummer, and from what Bailey says, he's gotten better."

"But…" I prompted.

"Well, it just feels weird. I mean, I'm fronting the band, but Leon's making all the decisions. It was kinda like- I'm back, lets do this thing, which is all good, but…" He trailed off.

I hiccuped and nodded again, getting up to put my plate and Adam's in the dishwasher.

"Anyway, how are you?" He'd finished his rant and moved to the living room.

"I'm good."

"You sure?"

"No- let me live in my delusional world. It's kinder."

"Full of rainbows?"

"Didn't you once say you were going to take me to the end of the rainbow?" I questioned him.

"Smooth topic change." He commended me. In reply I grabbed the chocolate from the fridge and offered it to him.

"A bribe also?" He raised an eyebrow and I raised one back, taking a piece for myself.

"Why not?" I yawned, "Isn't it funny how doing nothing can be so tiring?"

"Lil, you're rambling." He said- fondly? Was my dream making me jump to conclusions?

"I always ramble." I defended myself, "Just, sometimes people actually listen."

"Touché. Just for that remark, you want to come over tomorrow?"

"Why?"

"Oh, I thought we might go kayaking…" He trailed off and burst out laughing as my face fell. I poked him in the side.

"Not funny Adam Joshua Hatcher!"

This time, it was his mouth that fell open, "You just used my middle name!" He cried.

"I fight dirty." I pretended to sharpen my claws, examining my nails.

"One of the many reasons I picked you as a lioness." He leaned back, sweeping me with his gaze. I met his, not caring what he thought.

"Anyway, what was it you had planned?"

"Oh, a band meeting."

"Terribly boring?" I sympathized.

"You always were good entertainment." He burst out laughing at my outraged expression. I swiped my "claws" down the side of his face.

"Oh, ye hath mortally wounded me!" He fell back, clutching at his chest.

"Yes, because I graze the surface of your face and suddenly your heart decides to give out?"

"It's called a chain of events. You scratch my face, inflicting some new kind of bacteria upon the tinishly minute grazes, which then spreads directly and immediately to my heart." He said matter-of-factly. I blinked and then snorted.

"Yeeah." My head caught up with what he was saying, "Tinishly? Wow that's a new one."

"I am a god." He brushed a piece of imaginary lint off of his clothing, "Must keep up appearances, you know- condemn a few people to Hades' realm, invent new words."

"New?"

"Spin off's of old words." He continued, not missing a beat, "Anyway, you wanna come with me? I'll be lost without you." He coaxed.

I bit my lip and shook my head firmly, "I can't go."

"Awh, why not?" He looked heart broken; but, I decided, that was Adam overacting.

"I have work." I informed him.

"Since when?!" Was he curious and outraged I hadn't told him? His tone hung in the middle and I found it frustrating.

"Yesterday." I held back a smile as he spluttered.

"Fine then- miss out on the party of the century!" He folded his arms and stuck his tongue out defiantly, "We won't care." He turned his back on me.

"Are you pouting?" I knew my voice held the suppressed laughter and obvious grin, and he turned around. His eyes, deepening in their hazel, became dog-like as he silently begged.

"I have work." I stated again. The eyes lost the liquid begging look and he sighed.

"Okaay then- I guess Leon will just have to put up with it." Adam said resignedly.

We sat there a while, and I knew in a minute Adam would ask again.

5….4…3…2…1…"Are you sure?" he said abruptly.

Dead on. I started laughing.

"Predictable." I shook my head, tossing my hair everywhere. He picked up a strand.

"Predictable, huh?" Adam flicked the hair with his finger, "Is this predictable?" He leaned in, a familiar glint in his eyes. What was he doing? I wondered as he leaned closer. His face flashed before my eyes, wavering- and my lips parted with a cry as Adam brushed his lips against mine. Letting out a shocked and hurt gasp, I scrambled backwards.

"No." I said inaudibly and motioned towards the kitchen.

"I'm gonna- I'm gonna go get us…food." I stammered, my face resembling ice, the pain abruptly flaring up at my side. I staggered, barely breathing into the kitchen, feeling the tears under my eyelids as I closed them.

I felt his presence in the doorway. Now it was imposing and all I wanted was for him to leave.

"Lil- I'm sorry." He said after a long moment. The air was rife with unspoken words on his part. Words that I hoped would never be spoken.

"We're a pair of fools- aren't we?" I looked at him, cynicism written all over my face, "Both in love with people that don't return it."

"In my case, there's every chance I won't be a fool. That you won't be a fool. The girl I like just has to give us that chance. Again." He added with a sympathetic smile.

"What if the girl is unable to?"

"Then we give her more time to come around to the idea." He said softly. I stared at the floor, the linoleum shimmering in and out of focus as tears swam.

"What if time means nothing? What if the girl just doesn't like you?" I dared to meet his eyes, watching his reaction. Would he run? Would I be happy if he ran? Questions I had no answer to.

The grin that broke out on his face was not what I was expecting.

"No female is irresistible to my charm." He stepped closer, further into the kitchen, "You'll fall for me, again, eventually Lil." He teased, "Night."

And he left.

Work was never slow on a Sunday, many people buying, or just browsing the shops. Those people grew to be hungry, or thirsty- or it rained, and where better to stop then a café, with steaming hot chocolate for cold hands?

"I didn't know you worked here." Sandie said condescendingly, as she paid for her coffee.

"I didn't know you had money to pay for such a thing as a coffee." Surprise.

I did consider myself above her, but lowering myself to her level was so much fun! My comeback wasn't great, but Sandie, opening and closing her mouth, with none, not even a crappy comeback like mine, was worth it.

Needless to say, she changed her coffee to go, which took longer, since her coffee was already ready for her, and left no tip.

I overheard quite a lot of gossip centred on her and her money, or lack thereof. Not leaving a tip just fed the fire.

"Not abusing our customers, are we?" Amanda checked in.

"Me? Never." The rest of Sandie's family didn't 'lower themselves' to the standards of Friski, so by saying an innocent comment back to her only lost us Sandie's business, and she didn't frequent Friski often for it to have any effect.

"Often I wonder what went wrong with that girl. I mean, she was Amber's friend- you girls all went on holiday together…" Amanda shrugged, "Apparently five months can change anyone."

"Yeah." I agreed, taking an order and pushing miserly thoughts about myself to the back of my mind.

"A latte please- and a blueberry muffin." The woman paid.

"Coming right up." I grabbed the muffin and handed the woman a number.

The afternoon passed similarly. I had my lunch break and got back to work. I waitressed, manned the cash register and made coffees. That was usually my favourite part of the job; the smell of the coffee hitting your senses like a drug- but my heart wasn't in it.

I glanced at Ben's shop as I was leaving Friski, my shift over, and decided not to drop in. I had been on my feet all day, and I just wanted to go home and have a bath. The mere idea of the shower caused me to shudder and my feet protested as I drove home.

I ran the bath, fixing myself dinner as I did so. Just a quick meal, though hot, which was good. Stepping in, I let out a yell and jumped back as the water burned my feet. Inching in, I ran a bit of cold water and relaxed. Every muscle in my body let go of tension and relaxed. My eyes closed, and I forced myself to make a conscious effort to stay awake. The bath ran cold eventually and I sadly got out, towelling myself off and padding to my room for clothes. Just throwing some pyjamas on, I took my duvet downstairs and curled up on the couch, the television on. It had been alerting me for some time that Ben had booked a movie and I was curious as to what it was.

It ended up being an on-stage version of Swan Lake. I hummed to the music and fell asleep, the volume on the television only just perceptible.

The television, unsurprisingly, was still on when I woke. It winked to black as I pressed the power button on the remote and I stretched, hugging my duvet to me as I shifted. Getting up, I winced as my feet hit the kitchen floor. It was freezing. Scarfing down breakfast, I ran out the door to Amber's car.

"You look….strange." Was Amber's first words to me.

"Morning to you too."

"You didn't have sex, did you?" Amber questioned my sanity, laughing with me as we considered the absurdity.

"You just look like you've had a late night, that's all." Amber shrugged.

"I did."

"You didn't go clubbing, did you?"

"Again with the questioning of my sanity Amber!"

"But it's so much fun!" I looked at her, taking in the brown and pink streaked hair.

I pointed at it, "Doll- tis not my sanity in question through recent actions."

She pouted, "Don't make fun of the hair! I think tis niice."

"You would." Small grin. Maybe she wouldn't notice.

"I heard you had a run in with Sandie."

"Wow- we haven't even set foot in school and you know all the gossip."

"You didn't know?" Her mouth dropped and I waited for the punch line, "I'm the real Gossip Girl." She threw a pose that reminded me of Charlie's Angels.

"Riight."

"Truly." Amber couldn't maintain the innocent look and burst out laughing.

"I do think you'd be our Gossip Queen at any rate." We walked into school, the smell of disinfectant and newly washed floors hitting us.

"Ew." Amber wrinkled her nose, "Why do they do this?"

"You ask me why?" I raised an eyebrow.

"You be the All-Knowing." It reminded me of the All-Spark. Adam had convinced me to watch it with him one morning when we'd been dating. He'd spent the morning trying to ignore my drooling over Shia LaBeouf. Of course, now I realized, in comparison with him, Shia didn't quite make the cut. But that was before.

"Unless you want to be the Oracle?… Lily- Spacing, while in Amber's company, is not allowed." Amber narrowed her eyes at me, "Understood?"

"Yes sir." I stood to attention and clapped my heels together. Wincing, I stumbled forward.

"Ow." Amber commiserated, "So, got any goss?"

"Goss?" I looked around the room, "Uh, it would appear no. Nope, no one has goss." I maintained a straight face.

Amber just rolled her eyes, "How out of touch can you be?" She asked the world as she tugged me to class, "Gossip."

"I knew that." I interjected, "Late night, is all."

"Spill it Lily." She said tiredly as we took our seats.

"Maybe I won't."

"So you do have goss?" Amber pounced.

"No." Quick response.

A lazy smile from Amber, "You're lying. You know how I can tell you're lying?"

"How?"

"You didn't notice Mitch's hair!" Amber glanced at few seats in front of us and then watched my reaction as my eyes had followed hers.

"Woah." Aghast was a good word to describe my face. His brown hair, styled just so as usual, had been dyed an orange. Not resembling my hair- he'd clearly tried to go for blonde- and ended up with a strawberry blonde with a heavy sprinkling of ginger.

"So tell me." Amber wheedled.

Did I have any goss? Anything? My mind flashed through my weekend.

"Ben has a potential girlfriend." I threw her the bone, thinking rapidly.

"A nurse? Kinky, but against work ethics, I think…" Amber said.

"No another patient. Jan- she seems nice."

Amber nodded approvingly, "The god-daughter supports the relationship. That's good. That's goood." She started laughing, "Sorry." She said between laughs, "That Dr. Phil impersonation is kinda difficult to hold onto."

Mr Chung hung around us again, ready for Amber to need help.

"He's so creepy!" Amber complained as we left.

"Not true- okay, yeah, really true- but he just wants to help."

"Yeah- me. So what does that say? I'm stupid?" Amber shrugged, " I'd appreciate infrequent reminders!"

"You're in my class. We're not stupid."

"Hmm." She fumed, "Wonder if it's the hair… Misleading…I mean it's not like I'm blonde. It shouldn't be…" She continued to mutter and Science was a relief.

Mr Ryan wasn't present and the relief teacher had no control of the class. While she was distracted by my classmates entertaining themselves, I slipped out a book.

"I thought we handed in our Myths and Legends project." David said, in relation with the book. I hadn't accidentally bought Mythology Madness, had I? Adam could not know. He would freak, especially as he seemed to believe I'd someday fall in love with him.

Putting the book down, I reflected on Adam's statements. Maybe they had Merit. We'd slipped back into the familiar camaraderie- love was not far off for him. How far off was it for me?

"You know you're in trouble when you start doubting yourself." I murmured, staring at the desk.

"You okay?" David asked, somewhat nervously.

I looked up fast and met his eye, "I'm fine."

"You know what fine stands for, right?" He rattled off a quote I recognized from The Italian Job, a movie favourite of mine, but I wasn't interested.

"K, now you seriously aren't okay." Amber assessed. Sighing, I stared down at my celery stick.

"Tell me you aren't anorexic." Amber said, following my gaze. I sighed again and Amber threw her hands up.

"Come on Lily! Just tell me already!"

"Adam kissed me." Amber's eyes met mine, "He- I mean, it was- I just- Now I don't know what to do."

"Shit." She breathed.

I nodded, picking the piece of celery up, "And he just seems to believe that we can just immediately go back to this glorious ideal he has of us, you know- hugging and holding hands...and repeats, I s'pose, of Saturday."

Amber's mouth twisted, "You're quite the cynic. But yeah, I get where you're coming from."

I snapped the celery, the sound almost comforting, "He just doesn't get that maybe I'm not ready for a relationship." I snapped the celery again fiercely. Amber raised her eyebrows.

"Is there a possibility you like him back?"

I swallowed, "Yeah." I waved a hand, "I broke the previous shit off and that never went away. I just feel crap- all the time."

The smile on Amber's face was slight, "You don't often swear."

"This mess is getting to me." I growled.

"The only thing I can advise is that you put Damion behind you."

"Wipe him completely from my memory." I echoed, "But- I don't think its that simple."

"Until you do babe, you're gonna be so messed up in here." Amber tapped her head, "That even I can't help."

"All I can do is try." I agreed, standing up with her as the bell rang.

Amber was right- I knew that. Sadly, it seemed to be the only thing I knew. I needed Adam, which was so selfish of me. I knew I cared- and loved him. I had stopped- but his presence now constantly in my life had brought it back. But could anything work between us, when I was mourning someone else?

The answer was inevitable. It wouldn't work. I needed to put him behind me and move on. I'd shove everything in a box, stick it up in the attic and leave it at that. Maybe at some stage in my life, I'd be able to look through that box and not spend another five months depressed. I didn't consider these past five months a waste. Not entirely, anyway. Adam had appeared

I didn't have anything else to do- my recent project finished. Bailey had also finished and Mitch was pestering her for help. I didn't know it, but I thought Bailey was the latest girl Mitch was after. In fact, thinking about it, my random observations of the cafeteria hadn't involved Mitch and some girl having sex-with-clothes-on for a while.

I laughed softly and Bailey turned slightly to the sound. The quick look was assessing, and when she'd decided I was okay, which took another second, she refocused on Mitch.

"So you made your mind up yet?" Amber asked, parking her car in front of my house.

"I think so- wanna come in?

"Sure. I have homework, but nothing that can't be put off." She grinned at me, "I'm the Queen of Procrastination. What can I say?"

I shook my head, "No wonder Mr Chung thinks you need help. I think I might put you in therapy at the same time."

"Yeah- one of my goals; get sober and learn Maths."

I started laughing, "That's rehab."

Amber dismissed it, "You say potato, I say tomato." She flounced into the kitchen.

"Yes." I agreed sarcastically, "Cause when I say potato, you say tomato."

"Totally." She shrugged her shoulders, washing a couple of grapes and sitting on the kitchen bench, "So you like Adam, but feel guilty about both him and Damion." She popped a grape in her mouth and chewed.

"I guess."

"Lil we can't help you work through your problems if we can't work out why you keep creating problems."

I scoffed, "I don't create them."

"Lily, darling- if Adam had kissed me, I wouldn't have run away screaming."

"I suppose so." I admitted, biting my lower lip.

"So why is this such a big deal?"

"Because-" How could I make her understand? I had loved Damion- in a way I knew I would never love Adam. That love guaranteed, should have guaranteed that, well, we were together- longer than say a few months. Though those few months did feel like eternity. Until he left, I mused, bitterly twisting my mouth in a smile. Eternity ends.

"You look like the Joker now." She paused, "That's not a good look."

"I just- I felt a connection that I hadn't and don't feel with Adam. And every time things start to get interesting- for him anyway- it always feels like I'm betraying that."

"You can't love without that, that connection? Do you have to have some strange connection every time you love someone?" She hopped off the bench and began rummaging around in my fridge.

"No, it's more like I can't love with that. It gets in the way. A constant reminder." I watched her, bewildered.

"You don't have any apples, do you?"

"Uh- I don't think so."

"Hmmm." She debated with herself a moment and then grabbed for my wrist. After almost two years of dealing with Amber, my reflexes were pretty much spot on and she grasped thin air.

"Come on!" She called, grabbing her car keys of the bench.

"Where are we going?"

"Apple shopping. I crave a really good apple."

"Are you serious?"

"Completely. I want an apple."

"We're going to drive into town and buy an apple?"

"Dinner at Friski?" she offered as a bribe.

"I have left overs here." I complained.

"Don't whinge- dessert at Friski. How does apple crumble sound?"

"Yum." I almost moaned.

"With ice-cream melting just so over the top."

"You're mean, Amber."

"I do what I can." She winked and I looked at myself. My blue sweater and jeans were fine for a car trip into Main Street.

Amber turned the music up, reminding me of nights spent with Kirsten in some dingy club.

Amber and I belted out the lyrics and she suddenly turned to me, pausing the music abruptly. I shut my mouth on the last word, the sound hanging in the obvious silence.

"When we go shopping for Winter Dance dresses, we'll go do karaoke somewhere. My mom knows someone who owns a karaoke bar!"

"Uhm- I'm not good in bars." I tried to tell her, but she'd cranked the music up again. Putting the doubts aside I sang along with her, keeping the music on as she darted into the store, emerging with five apples.

"Might as well, right?"

I shook my head, "I cannot believe we just drove to the shops for an apple."

"Five apples." Amber corrected, sinking her teeth into one of them. She started the car up and swallowed.

"My apple crumble." Amber announced as we entered Friski to a chorus of 'Hey Amber- Good to see you Lily'. Sooke wasn't that small a town that I knew everyone- but everyone knew the teenagers.

"Hey people." Amber flashed her teeth, "Is Mom about?"

"Through the back." One of the men gestured with his head to the back, past the counter. It was this kind of stranger intimacy that I loved about Friski. At Friski, everyone knew everyone, or acted like it at the very least.

"How's Ben doing?" Another of the men called. I recognized him as Karl, a friend of Ben's.

"He's all good. Next time you see him, rib him about the new girlfriend."

"Ben has a girlfriend?"

"Found her in the hospital. She's not really a girlfriend- but definitely a potential."

There were a lot of laughs and shouts of 'Go Ben!' or something similar. I smiled and picked out a particularly appealing slice of apple pie. Seating myself in a booth, I waited for Amber to return with her mom.

"Hey Lily." Amanda greeted me, sitting down, Amber sliding in next to her.

"Adam kissed Lily, Mom, and now she's confused."

"Cute." Amanda remarked.

"No, not cute." I muttered disrespectfully and closed my mouth as soon as I'd said it.

"Lily's feelings for both Damion and Adam are conflicting. Causing problems." Amber explained, stealing a piece of my apple crumble. Pain does not affect me, I told myself, taking a deep breath as it began to throb.

"Those kind of problems aren't easily solved." Amanda agreed, also breaking a piece off of my apple crumble. I let it slide.

"I'm probably just making a big deal out of it- but this is what I consider a problem. I don't want to tell Adam to back off; he'll take it the wrong way…and at the same time, I cannot get rid of this lingering idea of Damion."

"You can't pretend?" Amanda suggested, her voice soft in sympathy.

"I just don't know!" My short laugh was infused with mockery, "I really don't know. I should probably pursue with Adam…but…I mean…" I trailed off hopelessly.

"Okay, this is something that needs more apple pie- and ice cream." Amanda decided. The customers were slowly leaving, and Amber got up to get the requested items.

"Good to see you Lily." Karl passed our table, giving me a friendly punch to the shoulder, "Hilarious about Ben. Let him know I'll pop by and see him next week."

I nodded, and smiled as he left, the smile fading quickly.

"Your mask is difficult to keep up."

"And difficult to read." I quipped.

"Hm, no- not really." Amanda continued to study me and I shrank into the seat, afraid she would actually see something.

"Why can you not let go?" She asked, as Amber arrived with the ice cream and crumble.

"I can put it behind me," I reasoned, "But I can't let go. Can anyone have a decent relationship with that constantly hanging over our heads?" I can't forget him. Forgetting him…I shivered, tears springing forth. Hurriedly blinking them away, I leaned forward when Amber broached a new topic.

"Sam and Katie are having troubles as well."

"Really?" I frowned, my interest not fake.

"Mmm- mainly about you." Amber pointed her fork at me, while shovelling ice cream and apple crumble in her mouth.

"You didn't just do that, did you?" Amanda asked her daughter, revulsion colouring her tones.

"Yup." I sighed, "This is what I have to put up with."

"But it's all worth it right?" Amber swallowed, "My gorgeous personality overwhelms and balances the downside of my table manners."

I laughed, "You wish."

Amber sighed, "So what have we decided to do about Adam?"
"Take it slowly and put Damion behind us as much as possible." Amanda replied. Amber glanced at me and I nodded, confirming.

Once the ice cream and apple crumble was devoured, Amanda locked up, and Amber dropped me home.

"Why don't we do this more often?" She pondered.

"What- hang out, outside of school?"

"Yeah."

"Oh I'm too busy." I teased her.

"What? No! You do, like, nothing!"

"Depression is an art. I cultivate it." I joked.

She huffed, "Oh well," she started the engine up and I spotted the dangerous teasing glint in her eyes, "There's always the Winter Dance dresses we have to get!" She poked her tongue out at me and I had no retorts.

"Night Lily!"

"Night." I called, heading up the path to my empty home.

Entering the cold and dark house just seemed to emphasise the difference between Amber's life and mine. Hers seemed fine- if her dad hadn't died when she was twelve, her life would have been considered perfect by many. My life…well. Sure, the past few months were my fault.

Were they? Who's else would they be?

Demons. I can't blame everything on them- maybe, maybe, even if I'd tried, maybe I wouldn't have made it out. I've made it out now.

A mocking thought entered the fray. But you haven't. You're still trapped, running after this Damion like a sick puppy.

I swallowed, sitting gingerly down on the couch, my head in my hands.

That connection. It was demon. I knew it was alien. A sudden certainty had convinced me.

So what?

So…maybe my depression wasn't necessarily all teenage hormones.

You want to believe that. You want to believe that so desperately. Maybe it means he also cared. Maybe it means he's going to come back. My hands formed fists and I pressed them against my head fiercely as the thoughts continued to mock me.

And just maybe…just maybe this connection will mean nothing at all. I was powerless to stop the thoughts, tearing at me, wearing me down. Were these thoughts even mine? I found myself wondering. I didn't want to follow that thought…but…who could be manipulating them? Was it a demon trait? Why now? The voice cut in again.

And just maybe…the voice whispered nastily, maybe he's not coming back.

After a while I had forced the brutal weeping to a minimum and remained seated in the darkened living room.

I hated the self-doubts, I realized. I hated thinking it was my fault. I hated desperately wishing it wasn't. I hated not knowing. And I realized, before I fell asleep, that I severely disliked Damion because of it. I severely disliked what he'd done to me. I also realized that as long as I thought of it as 'what he'd done to me', I wouldn't heal.

I'd made up my mind. It would be difficult, but for my sake and his, I'd work through it.

"Amber, have you seen Adam?"

She shook her head then winked at me. Taken aback, I turned around to see Adam.

"Hey." His hazel eyes searched me, "You okay?"

"Yeah. I'm fine." I smiled at him, a tentative smile that came from my soul.

The smile that crept onto his face was brilliant and my smile grew. I didn't want to verbalize my decision. He didn't have to know. I would just be more receptive to certain things, I supposed.

We would take things slowly. Last time, it had taken quite a while for the friendship to melt into something more, and I was willing to take that slow path again.

I doubted it. I really did. I doubted I'd fall for him the same way he'd fallen for me. But- I could always try, right?

A/N: I'm gonna continue to post the chapters I have, to see if I can renew an interest in this story... Review and it'll help! I recognize the gems, but I also recognize the mistakes in it...