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CHAPTER ONE

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CHAPTER ONE

BEHAVIORISM

( — a theory that psychology is essentially a study of external human behavior rather than internal consciousness and desires. )

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          "YOU MAY NOW KISS THE BRIDE."

          Aaron Harvey's hand cups the back of Stephanie Ford's head to pull her close, she giggles as her eyes flutter shut and Rhiannon Ford tries really, really hard not to throw up. It's not even because the scene unraveling in front of her left her sick to her stomach, or anything remotely similar to that (really! She is genuinely happy for her sister; besides, what kind of sister would she be if she felt any other way, even if she never got to be a bridesmaid?).

          The problem is that both Stephanie and Aaron insisted on having rose petals drop from the ceiling of the cathedral as soon as they finished their vows and Rhiannon accidentally swallowed one. After the stupid amount of time she had spent trying to be invisible so as to not cause any more problems for her family (according to her parents), she just had to mess things up like that.

          Both of them shoot her a warning look from across the aisle while clapping and pretending to only feel happiness at that very moment. Rhiannon gulps, covering her mouth with a paper tissue as she coughs out the crimson petal, and he turns around to briefly glance at her over his shoulder.

          It lasts only for a fleeting moment, but their eyes met. They both know they weren't welcome in the ceremony, that both of them are only there because someone was doing them a favor, but Mr. and Mrs. Ford insisted on reminding Stephanie they were doing it for her, not for Rhiannon.

          Rhiannon takes in a sharp breath, one that feels as though she has inhaled smoke, and forces herself to not let the tears scorching the corners of her eyes roll down her cheeks. Not just because of her make-up (at least she remembered to use waterproof mascara, knowing just how well her parents manage to get to her sometimes), but because everyone around her has seen her break for one second too long.

          She knows it would seem like she was overreacting to anyone who looked at her and thought she was on the verge of tears just because she had nearly choked on a rose petal. Hell, Rhiannon would be thrilled if that was the real reason why she doesn't want to spend another minute around her family, but running around and telling people her parents were terrible people has never struck her as the best idea she could have.

          Truth be told, Rhiannon kept her mouth shut because she was determined to be a much better person than they were, refusing to step as low as they had. They had disowned her, for Christ's sake, and never forgot to remind her they were only paying for her education because she needed to graduate and go live her life some place far away, as far away from them as possible.

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