33 | Beware the Ides of March

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It wasn't love

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It wasn't love. Really, it wasn't.

At least, that's what Sebastian kept trying to tell himself.

Even as he gazed down at his mother's copy of W Magazine, his girlfriend's face staring up at him from the cover, he still refused to admit it. And why should he? It wasn't like it was true or anything. But he had to say, the longer he stared, the more he was beginning to doubt that.

To anyone who casually glanced at the magazine cover, Taliana's expression may have looked contrived, but Sebastian knew that whatever annoyance she had felt the moment that picture had been snapped was absolutely genuine. In fact, she looked like she desperately wanted to punch someone, and that was one expression he knew all too well.

After two months of fake dating and five months of real dating, Sebastian was proud to say that he had become familiar with the nuances of her face. He knew just by one simple glance when she was annoyed or amused, barely tolerating him or wanting to drag him to bed, and even when she was close to tears despite the smile that rarely left her lips. Even in these photographs, without the aid of having her directly in front of him, he could still tell when an emotion was genuine.

The flip of a few pages revealed her face again, this time with eyes glinting deviously and her mouth quirked into that half-smirk she always wore. Diamonds dripped down into her lace covered cleavage, glinted at her ears, sparkled on the hand pressed to her chest, and gleamed on her dainty wrist. But he barely paid attention to the millions of dollars in jewels that she was draped in. No, he was too busy wondering what thought had brought out that dangerous glimmer in her ice-blue eyes.

He was pleasantly surprised fifty pages later when she appeared again, this time occupying an editorial, aptly named Free Taliana. The ten page spread revolved around a theme Sebastian was sure she could relate to: a socialite-gone-wild and arrested for something or other. He hated to say it, but she looked right at home behind bars. And the fake mug shot? If her real ones looked anything like this, it was honestly no wonder why she'd been pushed towards modeling. True, Sebastian knew she wanted nothing to do with the fashion scene, but it looked like she had a bright future ahead of her.

Looking at these made him remember what she had said just minutes before boarding a plane to New York, her ninth trip there in a mere five months.

"Swear to me you won't buy whatever magazine I end up in," she had growled, shoving a threatening finger into his chest. "Do you understand?"

Oh, he understood. That's why he sent his mother to pick up copies of Vogue and W Magazine as soon as they hit newsstands.

In the week she had been gone this time, choosing to spend spring break in New York with her mother, Sebastian had finally come to realize just how much she meant to him. He had never been convinced that absence made the heart grow fonder, but this had made him a believer, no matter how unwilling he was to admit it. Luckily, in a couple days she would be back in D.C. where she belonged.

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