1 I'm Dying and Burning. Great.

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Part 1: Auriga


            I'm dying.

            Six months and it's still the same. The pain hasn't gotten any better. I still ache. I still hurt. I should be over this. Her. Us. But I'm not.

            Even I'm fed up with how melodramatic I'm being.

            I mean, this is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. There is a reason why ridiculous comes from ridicule.

            And maybe I could have gotten over her if it hadn't been for that. That newspaper.

            A picture of Vienna, hidden behind Abella, the princess of France, lies on the desk. Not my desk though. No, I'm not in my office. That'd be nice. More private. I wouldn't have to worry about nine cousins, a brother and a sister, an annoying girlfriend of my brother, my mother, and my father bursting in and seeing this picture. We, no, not we, my mother and father decided— Jonas didn't come up with it but agreed to it—thought it would be a good idea for the Order to take a vacation. A two-week long one in Oregon.

            "So let the country burn?" I asked when I was told about this.

            But Jonas had already figured it out. Our parents made him be the one to figure it out. He's letting the old Order be in charge while we're gone, minus of course my father. The house we rented is nice. Nothing like the Estate though.

            This trip is how I found the newspaper. Back home someone would have made sure it didn't cross my eyes. But walking on an unknown street, in an unknown town, censorship proves harder to enact, and one finds newspapers which hold very interesting information.

            That's exactly what happened.

            The photo made the front page. More specifically Abella is what made the headlines. Vienna's in France. Erik's in France. I'm not supposed to know this so what do I do with it? I can't go to France lest I forget about my older, very dominating brother. I can't. I can't go, but I have to. No, no, I don't have to.

            "Colton?" Iris' head pokes through the door, and I snatch the newspaper, intending to hide it between me and the desk, but I'm too sluggish, Iris having already lunged for it and stolen it from me. She stares down at it, her eyes wide, and slowly she brings that green pair up to look at me. "They're in France." She shuts the door with her foot, knowing no one else can hear what could pass between us.

            Why lie? She can see the picture as it's in her hands.

            "If you say anything to Jonas, I will kill you."

            "Relax, Colton, I'm not going to bother him with this. He doesn't need to know. It will only cause him stress." Her eyes scan the page. "But you're going to France then?"

            "No, I can't."

            "I know you're lying."

            "I'm not going and that's final."

            "Colton, don't—"

            "I'm not going, and it's frankly none of your concern—"

            "Erik's there so it's—"

            "You're with Jonas, and Erik's not your concern anymore. What he does with his life is his choice, and we have to accept that."

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