twenty-six

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If I could compare the beat of my racing heart to anything at all, it would be the steady pace of a power drill – loud, fast, pretty obnoxious, and leaving your ears ringing when it stops. That's exactly what happened when Asher pulled away after what felt like ages.

It had been a few minutes since I leant in for the first kiss, and we had moved so I was now pressed against the door, with Asher closely in front of me. We were both panting, the redness of my cheeks was killing me and I didn't know where to look as he studied my face.

"You confronted Trevor today," he said, his lowered voice hoarse. He was so close I could feel his breath on my cheek.

"Yeah," I whispered, not trusting my voice enough to speak up. "He pretended to regret it. He lied."

Asher slightly tilted his head. "I think he does."

"What?" I straightened up a little, quickly clearing my throat. "He's doing the same shit all over again. He wouldn't if he really was sorry."

"He can't even talk to me, Kiri," Asher replied. "Why do you think that is?"

I narrowed my eyes, not understanding why we couldn't just agree on the obvious. Then I sighed, slumping back against the door and reaching for Asher's hand.

"Should I be worried that you're thinking of Trevor right now?"

He smiled, briefly squeezing my hand as he leant in again, crossing the distance between our lips once more for a brief kiss. It was slow, soft, as if our lips would break if we moved too harshly.

"Thank you," he whispered against my lips. I smiled as he kissed me again, and again, our lips only touching briefly each time.

Even though that were only two simple words, I knew how much meaning was hidden behind them. He was thanking me for believing him, for supporting him, for finally not telling him off for the things he felt.

My smile grew as he went from working on my lips to kissing my cheek.

"I see you," I whispered, so quietly I almost didn't even hear myself. But Asher briefly stopped, giving away that he had understood.

"We should probably get back to the others," he said and took a step back, allowing me my own space again. The air around me suddenly felt cold now that his warm body wasn't so close anymore.

"Shit, I'm still covered in flour," I said, glancing down at myself. "Thanks for that, by the way."

Asher cracked a grin, raising his hand to brush some of the flour off my shoulders. "It got us here, didn't it?"

I rolled my eyes, watching the white powder fall to the floor. "Clean me, peasant."

"Shut up," Asher said, pretending to be annoyed but barely containing a grin.

"Make me," I replied.

He briefly glanced at me, then the door. "Nah, we really have to get back. I bet they're gonna get suspicious."

I sighed, not sure what to reply. I was full of questions, not quite understanding what exactly had just happened and what we should do next.

"There you go. Clean and pretty again," Asher said once most of the flour was gone from my uniform. He turned away to pick up his own shirt, and just a moment later his scars were invisible once more.

I opened the door, and we made our way back to the kitchen. It was already smelling like cookies since Gill had already put them in the oven.

"I hope you discovered a secret tunnel in my bathroom," she said once we entered the kitchen. They were all sitting at the table with expectant looks on their faces.

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