chapter two

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Nude liquid lipstick or rose-gold lip gloss?

I had been asking myself this question for ten minutes as I stood in front of the floor-length mirror in my dorm. I darted my eyes between the dusty-rose colored bodycon dress on my body and the expensive lip products in my hands that, being my cheap self, came free with a perfume I purchased at the mall.

I tested them both out, smacking my lips obnoxiously and pouting them like Kylie Jenner. The plus to the lip gloss? My lips didn't look like a cracked road in the middle of winter.

Ultimately, I went with it and then hunted around my closet for a pair of heels. I was tall, almost five-foot-nine, but I still loved heels, since I somehow ended up around tall people most of the time. Jeffrey was six-two, albeit a rather lanky six-two. And Aimee was around five-seven on a good day, as she claimed.

Speaking of Aimee, she was still stuck in her math final, so I had our room to myself. I had already packed up my bag to head home after dinner with Jeffrey and found out I had gotten an A in one of my hardest classes of the semester, so the rest of the day couldn't get any better.

Throwing on a gray coat over my dress and grabbing my bag and phone, I headed out. I texted Aimee "good luck" as I walked to my freedom: aka the parking lot.

My feet froze in my nude heels as they clacked against the asphalt with each step I took. I began to regret wearing them when I realized how much of the ground was iced over from a recent snow and rainstorm hybrid. I really wondered what went through my parents' minds when they chose the middle of New York state to be their permanent home in America. Did they forget winter was a thing?

There was no use in debating their logic when I had to focus on not dying—well more realistically, not breaking my ankle. I could see my car in the distance and began to count the steps until I reached it. I was about three feet away from the coupe when one large stride sent me slipping and sliding over a patch of the blackest ice I had never seen.

I lurched forward and tried to regain my balance until I felt someone grab me from behind. His large hands wrapped around my waist, one higher up than the other, and by instinct, I thrashed out of his grip, but he wouldn't let go of me.

The harder his grip became, the more I recognized those arms that had held onto me more than once before.

I swiveled my head backwards and found a familiar face in the dark, his smug grin growing. I wiped it off by jutting my elbow with maximum force into his stomach.

There it was, that annoying whine of pain that hadn't changed since we shoved each other off the swings for fun in first grade.

"Benjamin, what the hell was that?" I snapped, adjusting the front of my coat and taking a step backwards. He coughed out and rubbed the area of his hard abdomen that received my punch with a wince.

"Just seeing how much you missed me," he responded with a wry smile and adjusted the dark green beanie that hid his brown hair. I hated beanies, but they looked good on him.

"By making me think that I was about to get assaulted in a parking lot?" I unlocked my car and threw my large bag in. I leaned against the trunk and stared him down with my arms indignantly folded across my chest.

"Well, when you put it that way..." He took a step forward, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his black jeans. "But I also saved you from dying, so you could look at this positively."

"Oh, you think you're so funny." I rolled my eyes and clacked my way to the driver's side of my car. "Please, Ben, if we were dying, you would make sure to save yourself before me."

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