fifteen.

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Darkness overtook the skies by 6:00 PM, which was normally what made the fall time great for sneaking around, but with winter creeping in slowly, it became harder and harder for me to slip out of Grey's bedroom by midnight without turning into a human icicle as I biked back to my house.

"Are you sure you won't stay just a little longer?" Grey pleaded with devious, glinting eyes. He shifted in bed to face me, brushing his hand over mine.

I sat on the edge of his bed, pulling my wool socks on over my regular ones. I gave him a playful shove before standing up and zipping my puffer coat up.

"There's no fun in always getting what you want," I said coyly, giving him a sideways smirk. "Work for it a little."

Grey rolled his eyes as he flopped back into bed, but gave me a smile as I tip-toed out of his bedroom. The carpeted floors muffled the sound of my footsteps, and thankfully Grey's parents' room was at the other end of the hallway. When I passed Leah's bedroom, the door was cracked open and the lights were out, with her unmade bed still empty.

I carefully slunk out the back door, making sure it didn't creak behind me as I closed it shut. Once I was in the clear, I dashed down the Fischer's back deck and made a beeline for my bike, hidden behind thick shrubbery on the other side of the house. I moved as quickly as I could to keep my blood warm, but a figure meandering up the driveway froze me where I stood. I could recognize Leah's highlighter orange jacket from a mile away.

I was about to duck back behind the shrubbery when I heard a thud. Leah had fallen onto the driveway, barely keeping herself propped up on her hands and knees.

"Shit," I muttered under my breath. I approached her cautiously, and as I got closer, her faint moans and groans became louder.

"Leah?" I whispered, placing my hand on her back.

When she looked up at me, my heart sank. Mascara ran in little rivers down her cheeks, and hurt veiled her bloodshot eyes.

"I got you," I whispered as I pulled her to her feet. "Don't worry, I got you."

"I'm sorry Mom," she mumbled. Her words poured from her mouth, the smell of whiskey entwined in her breath. "I won't stay out past my bedtime anymore."

"I..." I bit down on my lip. She wouldn't remember any of this in the morning anyway. I breathed a sigh of relief. "Let's just get you inside."


When my eyes fluttered open, the first thing I noticed was light - bright light that practically had me seeing stars

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When my eyes fluttered open, the first thing I noticed was light - bright light that practically had me seeing stars. The second thing I noticed was a bed that was most definitely not mine, with heavy cotton sheets draped over me that reeked of cigarettes. The third thing was the warmness of the spot on the bed beside me, which meant a body had definitely been there at some point.

After my eyes had adjusted, it took me a moment to place myself in Grey's room. When I had shuffled him to bed in his drunken stupor, everything was dark. I realized how little had changed - his dark oak dresser, the cracked mirror that hung over the door, the desk chair he always put his dirty jean jacket - all in the same exact spot it was before I left. It made my heart hurt in a way I couldn't quite place. It was a hollow and dreary hurt.

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