13.0 Scarlett's Art Of Letting Him stay

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I knew Aiden would drop by tonight like he promised. What I did not expect is for him to appear on my balcony door with a black eye and split lip.

"Oh my God, what happened to you?"

His breathing is heavy and he refuses to meet my gaze, looking almost embarrassed of his state. I stare at him, trying not to react inappropriately. It's not that I'm scared of him. I'm worried to death and want to make sure he's okay, not only physically but also internally, but I hold myself back. I don't know what's going on but I'm sure he'll tell me eventually.

"I'm sorry," he mumbles, sounding choked.

All my plans to give him space evaporate into thin air and I lift a hand to caress his face. Aiden's eyes flutter closed at my touch and I shift closer, comforted by the fact that he leans his face into my palm. His skin is warm under mine, and I use my other hand to push back his black hair.

"Are you okay?" I whisper, trying not to cry. I know he's not okay. He doesn't look okay.

Aiden sighs mournfully before opening his eyes to show me his moisture-filled hazel orbs. "I'm going back to Boston."

The revelation hits me hard, and I feel the physical blow that causes me to stumble back a step. Not only is Aiden showing up to see me with his face bashed in, but he's also telling me he's going back without spending any time with me. That's not what I'm most upset at, though, because I'm just internally freaking out at whatever may have happened in the day when he was out of touch with me.

"So soon?" I ask.

Aiden nods a little. "I think it's for the best," he mumbles.

"Whose best?"

He hesitates and I see him swallow before answering. "Everyone's."

I lean towards him, leaving only an inch between us. "Not mine," I tell him, closing my eyes.

Aiden sighs again, appearing more depressed than anxious today. "I'm sorry," he repeats.

Opening my eyes, I look up into his sad eyes and take his hand in mine. "Come here," I say, leading him into my room and closing the door behind him. He doesn't resist, letting me steer him towards my bed and guide him into sitting on the edge. Once he's seated, I place my hands on either side of his face, making sure not to touch the bruised areas.

He looks up at me, anticipation evident in his eyes. So when I lean down and place my lips to his, he stiffens considerably. My eyes closed, I allow my lips to mold with his, waiting for him to give into me. He does, at last, kissing me back with a hunger I've never felt from him before. He doesn't even seem to notice his split lip, placing his hands on either side of my waist and pulling me onto his lap so that I'm straddling him.

I don't know why I considered kissing him, maybe simply because I wanted to break down the walls he has built around himself to lock everyone -- including me -- out of his head and heart. I can sense a fear in him today, a kind of defense against showing how weak and vulnerable he is. Kissing me like this, though, his hands clutching desperately to me, he lets go of all his insecurities and doubts. At this moment, it's just Aiden and Scarlett, just us and nothing else.

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