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Annabelle stood in her small apartment as she surveyed her surroundings and the place she had loved to call home for the past five years. It looked the way she remembered leaving it; the windows closed with a dusty haze poking through her dirty curtains and the heat of the room comforting her like a cup of coffee. She could feel her tears coming, and she quickly cleared her throat and walked towards her bedroom. She didn't think too much about her actions and what they may mean, she simply started packing her clothes into the only suitcase she had lying under her bed.

She could hear Mikayla and Nelly in the background and the hum their companionship brought had her feeling melancholy about leaving. She and Mikayla had spent many nights in her small apartment, talking and being the teenage girls they never were. She wondered if being married meant missing out on those moments in the future. She hoped not, but she didn't know her husband very well.

Annabelle zipped her bag closed and gave her room one last look before leaving to find Mikayla. She had triple checked all her belongings and, knowing that she had missed nothing, she was ready to leave before her tears came barreling through. She hated having to see her room more bare than usual; her bed and side table being all that remained.

Mikayla sat in the living room with a napping Nelly at her feet. Her head moved towards the direction of Annabelle's room when she heard Annabelle's feet shuffling along the carpet. "Are you all packed?" asked Mikayla.

"Yes, I have everything I need." answered Annabelle, before joining her friend for one last sit on her worn out sofa.

"You don't seem thrilled." Mikayla pointed out.

Annabelle laughed dryly. "That sixth sense of yours never ceases to amaze me."

"I'm your best friend. I don't need eyes or the ability to be psychic to know when you're upset."

"That is why I love you Mikayla." She threw her arm around her friend and gave her a tight squeeze.

"So, tell me, why are you upset?"

Annabelle sighed. "Leaving is harder than I thought it would be."

"You don't have to leave." She reminded her.

"I do. It's in the contract."

Mikayla nodded and absently stroked the fur on Nelly's head. "Why did you marry him?"

"For the money. I told you that."

"I know but, you were coping fine before he came along. Does it have anything to do with Jeremy?"

Annabelle flinched at the name. She pulled away from her friend abruptly and stood up. Her fingers trembled, and she could feel her heart hitting her rib cage. Memories threatened to reappear, and she held her head to stop the pain.

"Don't speak of him," she hissed towards Mikayla.

Mikayla frowned and hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry Annabelle. I didn't mean to bring him up. It's just that, you don't seem excited right now. I don't want you to do something you'll regret simply because you made your decision for the wrong reasons."

"I understand Mikayla, but as my friend you should know better. I accepted Nick's offer because I like the idea of stability. I've been coping until now yes, but why should I just cope when Nick can give me enough to not worry anymore?"

"I get that but, you don't know him. Why would you put yourself in such a dangerous situation?"

"There's a contract. It protects us both."

"If you're sure-"

"I am." She answered quickly.

"Well then, I support you. You're my best friend Annabelle and I'll be with you every step of the way; Nelly too." Annabelle laughed and leaned in to grab her friend into another hug.

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by Keri
Nick doesn't believe that a marriage needs love to survive, and he's...
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