chapter 4

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     The ride home was worse than the conversation with Darcy. Brian was furious that Emma wouldn't just "pull the plug" on her mother and "get it over with." She didn't reply.

     They arrived at the house and she bolted out of the car. She walked in through the garage door and almost fainted when she saw Oliver and Michael sitting at the island working on homework. Oliver glanced up and his eyes went wide when he saw her.

     She quickly hid her puffy eyes with her hand and slipped off her shoes as Michael noticed Olivers absence in the homework scene. He leaned over to look at what was going on as Oliver scrambled to get Michael to look somewhere else.

     "Emma? I didn't know you were coming." Michael remarked, watching as she ignored him and sped past him and up the stairs. She wasn't hungry, and planned on locking herself in her room for as long as she could.

     Oliver was now in a sticky situation. He had promised her not to tell anyone anything about anything, not even that they were step-cousins. Just friends.

     "Where did she go?" Michael pressed, looking at the stairs as if she just vanished. "Why didn't she say anything?"

     "Uhh... She—let's just get back to English. In what scene did John Proctor confess his crime of lechery?" He read from their packet, trying to distract his confused friend. There was an audible door slam.

     "No-no," he turned to look at Oliver. "Where did she go?" He bit his tongue, trying to think of an answer. He didn't want to lie to Michael, they were really good friends. But he didn't want to break his promise to Emma either. But, for the greater good, he had to tell at least part of the truth.

     "She's living here," Oliver said, looking down to the paper again. "Her parents are... away... and she has to stay with us for awhile." He hoped he said it in a manner that didn't sound like he was partially lying.

     "Oh. Is she okay? She seemed distraught." He asked, opening The Crucible to find the scene in which John Proctor became a child predator.

     "Uhhh, honestly? No, but she'll be fine in awhile." He nodded.

     Michael waited a bit until he said he had to use the bathroom and walked upstairs. He continued to the one room with a closed door. He hesitated for a moment and he heard small sniffs from the other side. He swallowed the pit in his stomach before knocking lightly on the door.

     The sniffing stopped. Emma figured it was Leah, Olivers mom, and opened the door. As soon as she saw Michael, the door was abruptly shut on his face. He knocked again, and she didn't answer.

     "Hey... Don't ignore me, I just want to see if you're okay." He replied to her harsh movement.

     "I'm fine." Two words Michael couldn't help but roll his eyes at.

     "No, you're not. What's wrong?" He asked, genuine kindness and concern in his voice. There was a second delay before the door opened again. Emma was standing there, staring right into his eyes. He looked at her puffy eyes and red nose. She sniffed.

     There was another delay before Michael closed the couple feet in between them and hugged her. This is what she needed.  In any other situation, she wouldn't have opened the door the second time, but she knew how he felt towards her. She figured he'd let his emotion cloud his thoughts and comfort her, which is something she needed.

     Emma hugged him back, standing on her tiptoes to rest her head on his shoulder. He was so warm, and she could hear how fast his heart was beating. His scent intoxicated her and she wanted more. She could have stayed there forever, sniffing in his ear and warming herself up.

     "I don't know what happened, but I'm sorry," Michael murmured, slowly breaking the hug. She didn't look at him, the realization of her action hitting her. "I have to go, or Oliver will wonder what I'm doing to his bathroom."

     He kept his eyes on her figure, hoping he would get something back from her, but as he backed out of her room, the only thing he got was another door shut in his face. He groaned in defeat and walked away.

a/n: hey! thanks for reading my book, i appreciate it. if you would like, please vote or comment on my chapters if you're enjoying it <3

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