Chapter 35

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November 2014

His words hit a sore spot with me. The guilt I carry over the last time around still sits heavy on my heart. He's right. I have been fickle, but not on purpose. I made my choice the first go around when I picked Levi over Martin; it's not my fault that I've been forced to make this same decision again and again. But it wasn't just curiosity that had me in Max's arms during my last lifetime, it was a strategy too. Do everything differently, that's why I chose him, but it didn't end up changing anything. All it did was make things more confusing for me now.

"So are you in love with Derrick too?" He almost laughs at me.

"No." I glare at him. "I'm not in love with Derrick. We just started dating." But even as I say it, I see the doubt creep into Max's eyes. Thankfully Caroline chooses this moment to make an appearance. She puts an arm around me and sways a little bit.

"Happy thanksgiving! Let's get drunk."

"You're on!" Max is with her, grabbing two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter's tray, and catching up in the blink of an eye. He clinks his glass with Caroline before I even have time to object. Derrick returns with my drink and Caroline happily toasts us. This is the first time in a while that she's been around both Derrick and me, of course she's already tipsy but it's a start so I don't give her any grief. Derrick looks around me and I notice his mother glaring at us from across the room.

"Come on guys. Maybe we should take this party out of the line of fire." Caroline follows his gaze and notices her mother staring. She raises her glass toasting her with a saccharine smile.

"Okay," I agree, grabbing hold of Caroline before she gets into any more trouble with her mother and leading her out of the room. "Where too?"

"The pool house?" Derrick suggests. Its fine with me; anywhere is better than here. I push Caroline out the back doors and we all rush through the cold to the pool house out back. Derrick switches on the lights.

I don't know what a normal pool house is supposed to look like, but this place has always been one of my favorite spots. It's done up in a nautical theme of blues and whites. There are plush couches, a television, a poker table, and an incredible sound system that Derrick and Caroline are already bickering over. I'd forgotten that there is also a stocked bar, which apparently Max has no trouble locating.

"This thing is locked." He tugs on the doors of the liquor cabinet. Derrick and Caroline are still fighting over music so neither of them hear him complaining.

"Here," I nudge him out of the way and drag one of the chairs over and stand up on it. Ages ago, right on the edge of the air conditioning vent, Derrick had hid a key. It's still there. I hand it over to Max who looks impressed.

"I always knew you had some bad girl in you Ellie," he laughs as I jump down from the chair, brushing off his assistance.

"I'm going to get us some food," I say as casually as possible. Derrick and Caroline ignore me but Max locks onto me, his eyes full of suspicion. "Will you make me a drink?" I smile, diverting him long enough to slip out the French doors.

I wait until the coast is clear before I open the doors enter the main house. It doesn't take long for me to find Jared. Unfortunately he's in the middle of a conversation with his father, Nina, and her father. I immediately feel the familiar pangs of jealousy at seeing them together. I try to stay out of everyone's line of sight except for Jared's. It takes just a moment before he notices me. I tilt my head in the direction of the stairs with a smile and make my way down into the basement, knowing that he'll follow. I only have to wait in the dark hallway for a moment before he's there with me. His arms slip around my waist and he pulls me towards him. Kissing me deeply, he takes more time then we have, but I don't stop him because it feels too good and frankly it's been too long.

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