All That Glitters

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The afterparty spills across the white marble floor of the hall like blood in an abattoir. Shards of crystal glisten gold in the morning light and crunch beneath my feet, threatening to cut.

"Nicky," my favourite voice calls from the open doorway.

I look up and Alex is silhouetted against the orange dawn sky, shadows hiding his perfect face. He's standing with his back poker straight, hands in his pockets, and I don't need to see to know he's pouting. God, I love that pout.

"There's been—"

"Don't tell me," I say, catching myself on the broken leg of an upturned table. My bare feet keep sticking to the floor, so I stop for a moment to pull something from my heel. "Did you enjoy the party, darling? I lost you at the end."

He waits, silent, while I pick my way across the floor towards him. I'm half-way there when the sound of something crashing in a distant room makes me cringe. It was inevitable, really, but cutting my feet on the broken pieces of last night makes me cry out in shock.

"You're a mess," Alex snaps, striding across the room and turning these sparkling shards into sand. "Come on, Nicolas. There's—"

"Don't call me that," I mutter. "You never call me that."

"I'm never this pissed off with you." His hands wrap around my arms and tug me so I'm standing properly, despite the pain in my feet. "You need to go out and apologise."

I roll my eyes and lean into his warm hands. Although I'm looking at him through the haze of a hangover, Alex's beauty makes me smile. The blood on his cheek is a smaller scratch than I remember, and even the stern line of his mouth makes butterflies twirl in my stomach.

"Oh, darling." I grin, touching the corner of his mouth with my fingertip. "When have I ever apologised?"

His hands drop from my arms.

"Exactly. Don't disappoint me, for once."

"For once?"

He casts his dark eyes across me, looks twice at the open button of my jeans, and turns away. On his way back to the door, he kicks the remains of glasses and mirrors to make a safe pathway. He's nearly in the sunlight before I start following.

"Alex, darling," I chuckle. "Wait."

"I'm done waiting."

"You're also sober, and I'm—"

"A mess."

He waits. I catch myself on the doorframe and he's on the balcony, dark eyes on the near distance.

My smile drops when I see what he's been trying to tell me.

The grass is charred as far as I can see, as if someone decided green was overrated and lit each blade with a match. On it stands an angry, whispering crowd. I recognise some of the faces and outfits from last night.

There are police. There is an ambulance.


"A girl called Lucy. You didn't know her."

The glittering memory of the party fades to dust.

"Oh, Alex. I'm sorry."

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