Liv. just us tonight

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Liv

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Liv. JUST US TONIGHT

I stare, eyes wide, as Ace picks me up from the carpet and gently places me onto the couch. He takes a seat next to me without a word. Nothing is really different, only now, he's sitting a little closer than usual. What did I do?

I just kissed Ace.

"Are you okay, Cupcake?" He smirks.

My face is bright red. My gaze fixates on the skyscrapers outside, refusing to make contact with him. "Yeah I'm good. What about you?"

He chuckles. "Never been better."

My swallow audibly echoes into the room. "Should we talk about what happened?"

"Let's talk about why that didn't happen earlier."

I bury my face in my hands. Jesus Italian Salami Subs. "Fine," I sigh. "The truth is, I've been in bad relationships before. I just didn't want to risk it... again."

"Hey, hey, hey," Ace consoles, bringing me into his chest. "I'm glad you told me. I was starting to think you didn't feel the same way that I felt for you."

I rest my head on his shoulder. He wraps an arm around me. "So, Banana Bread, what you're saying is... that you feel things for me?" I tease.

"Of course I feel things. Particularly disgust and trauma," he deadpans.

"Oh thank god. Glad we're on the same page. Although I would have prefered the terms 'disenchantment' and 'puke-inducing'."

He rolls his eyes. Slowly, Ace begins to take off his shirt. The slightest peak of abdominal muscles meets my eyes.

"What are you doing?" I splutter.

"I was trying to induce puke. The best way to do so would be to take off my shirt since you find me horrendous."

I smack his chest. "Quid quo pro. Stop that before I do the same."

He raises an eyebrow, throwing his shirt off. I spin around after realizing my mistake. He's undoubtedly grinning. "Bet. Go ahead Cupcake. You don't scare me."

"This is entrapment."

"Consider yourself entrapped."

"Consider yourself an asshole."

"Consider yourself having a weird obsession with assholes, you asshole-phile."

That's it. I turn around, two middle fingers shoved into the air. "One more word out of you and I'm hacking into your social security account and changing your legal name from Ace Blackwell to Asshole McAsswipe."

"Then you'll someday become Mrs. McAsswipe."

A scoff comes out instinctively. "What makes you think I wouldn't keep my last name? What makes you think I'd marry you in the first place?"

He gives a knowing shug, grabs his sweater from the ground and walks away to his room. I run a hand through my hair with frustration. He shuts the door, closing it behind him, and the clicking sound of his door is audible against ghost-silent walls. "You're not going to tell anyone that we kissed, right?" I yell after him.

"Of course not," a muffled sound comes out the other side of his room. "I'm embarrassed that it happened."

"Are you 80% percent of strokes? Because you sure feel like a ischemic stroke."

"87%!" He corrects. "You forget who's been through medical training."

"Go to hell and suck my—"

Ace's head pops out of the door with an amused expression.

I sigh, realizing just how much I play myself. "—Old sock. Go suck my old sock."

"Better luck next time," he says. I can practically see the smirk imprinted onto his face. How is it possible that we just kissed, yet I still want to strangle him?

~

Ace's lips still linger on my own as I walk into my own room. I can't help but smile. Swiftly, the sweatshirt I'm wearing is replaced with soft pajamas.

A letter lays on my bed. It's an innocent white color that blends into my sheets. I roll my eyes at the prospect that Ace has written something for me; hell, he probably predicted my moves in advance. Well there is no way I'd be subject to his games.

Slightly agitated, I decide to confront him. I knock on the door. No response. I knock again.

An amused load of Banana Bread opens the door. His frame towers over mine, and as I begin to speak, he interrupts me. "Back for round two?"

"Well I—No," I narrow my eyes. "I'm here because of your letter. What year is this, the 1700s? Are you trying to channel a my-husband-is-at-war vibe?"

He cocks his head. "What are you talking about? It's too late for riddles. The only things I'm up for right now is sleeping or making babies—"

"—You should really keep most thoughts to yourself," I splutter. Before Ace could say anything else, I hand him his letter.

He takes the small, white envelope with an incredulous look. "I hate to tell you this, but I didn't write this."

"Well if you didn't write it, who did? Some sort of ghost from Georgian era Pride and Prejudice?"

"Snow. Stop being sarcastic before I make you share a shower with Chase and Xavier."

I grab the letter from his hands. My eyes lock directly with his as I rip open the letter. White pieces fall to the floor, and Ace gives me a weird look at my overconfidence.

The letter opens to reveal a maroon seal reading "IL" coupled with regal calligraphy. Ace and I look to one another with bewildered expressions.

The letter reads: "Hey Darling, the Director, and most regrettably, Blackwell. How are you doing?"

We grimace. Ace's browns knit with anger and annoyance. Thirteen. IL had stood for Ian Lochland. He was as annoying as that one kid in class that always asked if the teacher would collect homework.

"I'm sure, by now, you must have found my Queen. Do not fret. Once I am finally reunited with her, my reign as the leader of the Thorned Kings will be over. Let's strike a deal. Turn her in to me, and you will have peace, Darling."

I shudder. The image of Thirteen calling me Darling made my heart drop.

" I'd say that Snow should meet me alone. But we all know that Ace will kill himself if his poor Octavia is alone with me again. Both of you, meet with me, and we'll discuss the details. Don't do anything fucking stupid. This is my only olive branch. If you don't agree, then prepare for war."

Ace's jawline tenses. "What do we do?"

A tremor runs through my body. "We can't sacrifice anyone to him. Thirteen can't be trusted."

"We have no alternatives then."

"You're right. We prepare for war."

Ace: "Vote if you want Octavia to become Mrs. Asswipe... or Mrs. Blackwell."

Octavia: "I'd rather be Mrs. Asswipe."

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