Ashton's PoV

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Why am I so emotional?
No, it's not a good look,
Gain some self-control.
And deep down I know this never works,
But you can lay with me so it doesn't hurt.

"Stay With Me" -Sam Smith

"Why are you still here?" Nate asked when he stepped out of his bathroom in his suit for the dance, to find me lying on his bed. "Shouldn't you be getting ready?"

I shrugged. "I don't know if I want to go."

"Aren't you going with Elena?"

I shook my head even though I knew he wasn't looking at me.

"Why not?" he asked, correctly assuming my silence as a 'no' to his previous question. "I thought you really liked her."

I stopped. Is it obvious? "I never said that," I replied, glancing over at him.

He gave me a flat look. "You think you're subtle about it?"


"Jacen asked her," I told him.

"So she's going with Jacen?"

As if I'd ever let that happen.

"Not exactly."

He raised an eyebrow. "What did you do?"

"What makes you think I did something?"

"Because I'm not the dumbass you think I am," he replied flatly, leaning against the doorframe of his bathroom.

"I punched him," I admitted.

Nate blinked."Did you ask her after, then?"

I didn't reply.

"Of course you didn't," he said, filling in the blanks himself. "Otherwise you wouldn't be here, you'd be getting ready."

I shrugged, knowing I wouldn't win with him.

"Ness will kill you if you don't go, you know," he remarked.

No, she'd probably kill Elena.

But, of course, I didn't voice that thought.

"Are you going with Keira?" I asked, changing the subject. As far as I knew, Nate wanted to and had tried to bargain with the police to let her out for just tonight. Well, really, let her out completely, but 'you know, baby steps' as he put it.

Nate's expression darkened. "She's free for a couple hours tonight, but they didn't clear her for the dance. Said it was too much of a risk. So I'm just taking her out to dinner."

What? "That doesn't make any sense." So it was fine for her to go out in public, but not to a school dance?

"That's what I said," he told me, turning to face the mirror and fixing his tie. "But they threatened to take it away altogether so I didn't argue."

Before I could reply, there was a noise from downstairs, the front foyer, I think. We both froze, staring at each other. Mom and Dad were still on their business trip, and all our staff, the maids, cooks, and such, had left for the night.

"You're the older one," I whispered to Nate.

"You're the one who punches people often," he replied. "And I'm in a penguin suit."

Sighing at his complete uselessness, I grabbed a baseball bat off from under his ground and crept into the hallway. I cautiously made my way down the hall, careful to keep my steps light. Then around the corner, I saw the shadow of a person and heard some rustling. I gripped the bat tighter and prepared to swing...

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