Chapter 29

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T H I R T Y—N I N E

      I WAS STILL curled up on the counter after what felt like hours when Ryder came back. My eyes felt undeniably heavy, but somewhere inside me I knew it would be a bad idea to close them.

      "Here, put these on," he said, slightly out of breath from rushing. I stared at the clothes blankly before taking them from his hands.

      I stood from the counter, suddenly careless as to whether or not he was watching as I tugged off my shirt, leaving me in a pair of black underwear and a black and gray bra. Wordlessly, I tugged on the baggy, long sleeve shirt and sweatpants he'd handed me before turning around.

      Ryder had his head turned to the side, cheeks flushed red from embarrassment and shock. He cleared his throat and turned back to me, letting out a deep breath before speaking. "There's a bath—you know what, never mind. Too late now," he sputtered out.

      He let out a deep breath and tugged off his jacket, refusing to make eye contact with me as he stepped closer and hung it around my shoulders. He glanced up at my head as he tugged off his beanie and pulled it over my head and ears, letting his hands drop to my arms as he rubbed them for friction.

      "We need to get you warmed up, okay?" I nodded and let him guide me to the fireplace, despite how hot I currently felt. He lightly pushed my shoulders down so that I was sitting on the floor when we got there. "Stay here and try to warm up; I'll be right back."

      I did as he asked and focused on the fire in front of me, placing my hands just close enough for the heat to slightly sting my palms.

      I heard the faucet running behind me a few seconds before Ryder came back. My eyes shifted to the glass of what horrifyingly looked like milk-water in his hand. "What's that?"

      He glanced down at the glass, then back at me. "Sugar water," he said as he sat down beside me—pretty closely, if I might add. "I looked up what might help hypothermia when I was getting you some clothes. Sugar water was one thing, though it didn't say why."

      I carefully took the glass from his hand. "Thanks."

      He nodded, then sighed before wrapping an arm around me and tugging me closer. I didn't question it; I knew he was trying to warm me up, but I couldn't help the feeling of guilt in my chest as I sipped the warm cup of sugar and water.

      Ryder was in love with Selena, and it didn't seem fair of me to be cuddled up next to him when he might finally get his chance with her, despite the fact that we didn't feel that way about each other. No matter the circumstances, he belonged to her, and I'd have to accept that, especially with him having never been mine in the first place.

      "Skye?" he asked, glancing over at me with a curious expression. "What's wrong?"

      "Nothing," I answered simply, setting down the empty glass and shivering. "I'm just freezing."

      Ryder let out a huge sigh of relief. "Thank god," he muttered, pulling me closer to him. "I thought you were done for."

      I snacked his arm with a slight laugh, though I still felt like a walking ice cube. My hands were the only thing that weren't numb because of how close to the fire I'd had them, but it was nice to finally be fully aware of what's going on instead of stuck in a haze. "That's reassuring."

      "Well, you're fine now, aren't you?" He said, grinning at his award winning jokes.

      I'm kidding. They suck.

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