The mansion was so empty, acutely quiet. For a moment, I felt that I was losing my mind. I was alone with my thoughts, and it was the worst torture. That aching feeling lingered within me. That feeling of longing for something so bad that you can imagine yourself living the moment that you so desperately hope for; only to be highly disappointed when reality hits you right in the face, and tells you that things were never meant to be that way. That feeling when you've invested your emotions into something, only to be left unrewarded.

I missed the way I was two months ago. That Thalia would brush off these thoughts within seconds. No, she wouldn't even have these thoughts. But I wasn't that Thalia anymore. This experience had turned me into someone different, someone I couldn't recognise.

I paced along a corridor in an attempt to distract myself from the pain. Sitting down and doing nothing only amplified it. As though yanked by an invisible hand, I jerked when I saw a shadow creep up behind a marble sculpture. It looked a lot like Damian. I was calmed when I realised that it was only a figment of my imagination, a creation of my worries.

I found myself I inching toward the room where I had seen Harry's personal paintings. The padlock was there, but it hadn't been properly locked. It was broken, probably. I was itching to know why he had gotten so worked up over me going in there, and why he had painted a picture of me. But the last thing I needed right now was a reminder of him so I scurried past the room.

When I decided that walking wasn't any better than sitting around, I perched myself on the stairs. I rested my head against the railing and pushed a little too hard, deliberately hurting myself. I felt that I deserved it. For being so stupid. And yet I still wondered what Harry was doing right now. Maybe he had already picked out a ring for Kaylee, a beautiful one with a huge diamond cohered on top. Maybe they were having those cake pops at the cute French bakery downtown. Maybe he was kissing her now.

Suddenly, my attention was diverted to the curtains. Through the narrow opening, I caught a glimpse of some fast movements, but I was too far away to make out what it actually was. Hoping it wasn't just my mind playing tricks on me again, I ambled down the stairs and parted the curtains.  My breath caught in my throat when I saw Darren frantically waving his hands at the front gate. When he saw me, he pointed toward the mansion's backyard.

I was ecstatic to see him, and equally in disbelief. This was dangerous for him, for my family. I understood what he was trying to tell me and quickly unsealed the locks of the door. I rushed outside to the backyard where Darren was trying to cross over the fence. I flinched as he pushed himself over the spikes. When he succeeded and tumbled to the grass below, he managed a smile. I forced one out of myself, which came easier than I expected.

"You look as healthy as ever." He commented, dusting bits of grass off his jeans before extending a hand.

"Funny, I don't feel healthy." I gave him my hand and he pulled me in for a hug. I was instantly relaxed. "Darren, it's dangerous for you to be here. I think Damian is always on the watch. And there's one really nosy neighbour." I pulled back.

"Don't worry. We're totally alone. See? I came earlier and saw the guy leave. But just to be sure you were alone, I waited for a while." He shrugged. "I just wanted to check up on you."

I nodded, exhaling a sigh. "Have you been crying?" He asked.

"I have been for the past two months." I shrugged my shoulders.

"That guy giving you problems? Taking advantage of you?" He inquired. Darren had always been protective over me. When we were in school together, he always stood up for me when I was picked on. And that bitter look he had on his face made it clear that he wasn't afraid to do it now. I couldn't believe I thought he would betray me.

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