❝ stop holding your breath ❞

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I'm friends with the monster,
That's under my bed,
Get along with the voices,
Inside of my head.
You're trying to save me,
Stop holding your breath.

"The Monster"- Eminem ft. Rihanna

I've never really liked plane rides.

I've never associated them with good memories. When Jared and Haley died, I took a plan ride to New York to live with Blake and Avril. When they died, it was another plane ride to Sydcot, where Raine and Kaden lived.

I had gone on a couple vacations that needed a plane ride before, of course, but they didn't really measure up to my previous memories of airplanes.

Even with first class accommodations –pillows and blankets, and endless supply of drinks and mini-pretzels and Wi-Fi– I found myself getting restless. Sleeping was out of questions, since there was only a little more than half an hour left of the flight. Pretzels and sprite weren't exactly ideal at entertaining.

I had my laptop with me, but I didn't know what to do on it. I wasn't the social network kind of person; all I had was Skype, to talk to Raine and Kaden when they were away, or other family friends, and an abandoned Facebook, from when I was thirteen.

After my fifth failed attempt at beating Minesweeper, I decided to give up on finding distractions. Maybe it would be better to do a little thinking anyway. After all, I was meeting my birth mother.

Just as I was about to shut down my laptop, a Skype window popped up. Before I had time to read who it was from, the call connected. To my surprise, Vanessa's smiling face showed up.

"Hey!" she exclaimed, loud enough that several people turned to stare. I scrambled to plug my earphones in, wincing when they let out a burst of static. "Where are you?"

"I'm on a plane to New York," I replied. "Where are you?"

I didn't recognize the dark grey walls behind her, or the floor to ceiling bookshelves. All the walls, as far as I knew, in the Merrick house were a pale peach colour.

She grinned. "We're at Nathan's! Ashton left his laptop out so I'm using it." They're at the Ashton's?

"How'd you find my Skype?" I had never told any of them about it...

Vanessa shrugged. "It was on Ashton's list."

But I've never Skyped him before...

Anyone could call me on Skype; I had never gotten around to changing that setting since I didn't use it often and kept forgetting that I needed to change it. Still, though, how had he found me in the first place?

Before I could ask, a new voice interrupted, from Vanessa's end. "Who are you talking to?" No, no, no, no, no. I didn't want to talk to Jacen. I didn't even want to freaking see him.

Vanessa glanced at him. "Elena." She looked at me, then back at Jacen, then at the door. "I think I hear Ashton coming. You keep Elena entertained, I'll go distract him."

"Wait, Vanessa!" I started.

...And she was already gone.


Jacen sat down in the seat Vanessa had been in and raised an eyebrow, watching me expectantly.

I ignored him.

I wasn't going to blow up at him; I wouldn't give him that satisfaction and open a gaping weakness like that to him. He was probably expecting me to be angry enough to slip up, expecting me to show he had gotten under my skin. I wouldn't.

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