Chapter One

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Nova

"I fucking hate weddings."

I glance up in time to see my friend Jace drop down into the seat beside me. He fiddles with his tie, loosening it, and then undoing the top button of his white dress shirt.

"I never want that to be me," he continues, waving his fingers lazily to where our just married friends dance, their smiles blinding and their laughter nearly louder than the music.

"Allergic to love?" I raise a brow.

His top lip curls. "No—it's just that love makes you weak. Look at them. They've willingly handed their heart to the other person, giving them permission to break it at any time." He shakes his head and rolls up his sleeves, revealing the intricate tattoos that snake around one forearm. "It's not for me." He makes a face like something tastes bad.

"Can't say I don't agree with you," I mutter.

He raises a brow. "Really? You're a girl, so I can't believe you're not about to give me some spiel on true love and how love conquers everything." He pulls his cigarette pack out of his pocket and taps the box against the white-tablecloth-covered table.

I sigh. "I believed that once, but in my experience, it's not true. Love doesn't conquer everything, it destroys you instead."

Jace looks at me seriously, and I swear it's like his eyes see right through me. "Huh."

"Huh?" I repeat. "What does that mean?"

He shrugs. "Nothing."

"What?" I prompt again. "You're thinking something."

He shrugs, and the motion stretches the shirt tight across his shoulders. "Just that you and I are so alike it scares me sometimes."

I smile at that, and he chuckles. "I didn't think anything could possibly scare you."

He slips the cigarette pack back into his pocket without ever grabbing one. He stands then and holds his hand out to me.

"Dance with me?"

"You dance?" I eye him.

He grins, and I know I'm in trouble. Jace doesn't smile much, but when he does, it means trouble.

"I have sex. Dancing is practically the same thing. You just have your clothes on."

I roll my eyes.

He wiggles his fingers. "Come on, little star, dance with me."

I sigh, slipping my hand in his as I stand, and he guides me onto the dance floor. He towers above my short frame, and I place my hands flat on his chest since I can't wrap them around his neck.

Xander and Thea—who had a quickie wedding in Vegas and are now having this wedding so all of us could attend—twirl around us.

Jace might mock them for what they have, but I can't help but feel a slight sting of jealousy.

I thought I had that once. A love that was impenetrable and everlasting. I was young, though, and so naïve.

Jace's hands cup the small of my waist, and he moves us effortlessly around the dance floor. There's only a handful of people dancing, but everyone seems to be having a good time. Xander and Thea chose to keep the wedding small and only had their closest family and friends come.

"You actually can dance," I comment, unable to hide the surprise in my voice.

Jace chuckles. "Confession, I took dance lessons as a kid."

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