Hey everyone, guess what? I'm not dead! I am so sorry for not updating in ages (for those of you who still follow this story/ship. I know people have apparently jumped Jeroy ship?) but I was busy. Thank you for the wonderful reviews and hope you enjoy this chapter. As always, reviews are welcomed. Would love to hear all your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Enjoy!

The kiss was different.

It wasn't like their usual kisses. It wasn't hot nor was it passionate. It wasn't filled with desire or was it sinful. No, it was desperate. Desperate and yearnfull, filled with unspoken promises and a sense of belonging. It felt right, but at the same time, it was wrong.

It was a kiss of the damned. And somewhere in the back of her hazy mind, Mara knew that she was the one who ignited it.

She pulled away, and leaned her head back against the lockers. "No." She murmured, covering her eyes with her hands. "No, no, no, no!" What on earth was she doing? Kissing him was wrong. Kissing him meant that she had already accepted his proposal, that they belonged together. That they worked.

And it scared her.

It frightened her to bits. This new and preposterous idea of completion. A sense of balancing and openness. That being with him meant that she could let her whole self-show. Could have the parts of her that she tamed away, let loose. Could let her ugly side resurface. But most of all, what scared here was that to be with him, she would have to hurt Brandon even more.

Guilt and remorse churned within her, chocking her from the inside out. A stray tear slipped down her cheek. To be with Jerome mean t that she would hate herself.

"Mara." Jerome's soft voice brought her back and she felt him rest his forehead on top of her head. "Mara, look at me. Please."

She swallowed at the note of desperation in his voice and shook her head, refusing to move her fingers from her eyes. "I can't"

"Why not?" He asked, fingers drawing a delicate patter on the back of her hand.

"Because," she whispered, curling her hands into fits. "I'm afraid."

His fingers stilled. "Of what, Mara?"

She didn't answer.

"Mara," He asked again. "What are you afraid of?"

She squeezed her eyes tighter. "Of you." She finally answered. "Jerome, I'm afraid of you."

As soon as those words left her lips, Mara felt his body lurch away, and instantly she knew the wrong words had slipped out. Mara stiffened, missing the warm contact immediately, and slowly lowered her hands from her face.

Jerome stood in front of her, blue eyes wide, and body ridged in unconcealed shock. "What?"

She swallowed, guilt gnawing at her chest at his crestfallen expression. "Jerome, no," she desperately started, reaching out toward him "I didn't mean it like that-"

"Then how exactly did you mean it like, Mara?" He spat, recoiling from her outstretched hand. Hurt and anger fueled his rage and he took another step back. "I'm sorry that I scare you that much, Mara. If I had known this before, I would have made my presence scarce."

He gave her one final chilling smile, hollow and empty; turned, and walked the opposite way. She felt her stomach drop at his retreating back. He was taking her declaration all wrong. She wasn't particularly afraid of him, just the strange new feeling he evoked in her. His presence in her life was frightening, real, and unexpected. He'd made her yell, cry, laugh, be a bolder person, and the most important thing, he made her feel. She felt more alive in the past two weeks than she had in months, and it was all because of him. Even though Mara didn't particularly approve of his methods, it was clear that she was grateful to him.

So grateful, that she had hurt him. Badly.

But she couldn't give up now, she had to try again. Try and explain herself correctly, and salvage whatever progress they had made in their relationship. Did they even have a relationship? A tiny voice at the back of her mind whispered no. What they had was a mesh of emotions, clash of lust, and a tug of war. But whatever they had-have- was still developing, and whatever it was, it was important to her. It was all that mattered at the moment.

With that in mind, Mara sprinted off after him, hoping to catch him before he did something drastic.

Fifteen minutes and extreme searching later, Mara found herself wandering around in the gardens out back. The crisp May air sent a shiver down her spine, but despite being cold, Mara forced herself to tread through the quite sanctuary. The grass felt damp beneath her feet and the roses were coated with early morning dew. She traced one, catching the tiny droplet of water on her fingertip and watched it tremble down the length of her arm. It glimmered in the sunlight, like a tiny diamond tear.

A small smile curved its way across her mouth. How long had it been since she last enjoyed the gardens? Two, maybe three years at most? She remembered the first time she had found the place. Freshly dropped off at the age of twelve, wide eyed, and lost. She had accidently stumbled into it, mistaking it for the school court yard entrance, and fell instantly in love. The soft smell of flowers and the rustle of trees had made her feel like it was her own home garden back at her home town.

"I see you found your way back here again."

Her eyes snapped open and she whirled around to face the voice. Behind her, Jerome stood leaning against a tree, and refusing to look at her. He held a delicate pink rose between his fingertips, twirling it and watching the dew sprinkle off all over the place. Mara watched, mesmerized as the sunlight inked its way through the tree top, brightening the red paint streaks down his face and making them stand out even more against his pale skin. He looked like freshly done painting, blending perfectly in with the rest of the surrounding scenery.

"Didn't anyone tell you it's not polite to stare?" He asked, snapping her out of her thoughts. He still didn't look at her, his attention solely on the flower at hand, and suddenly Mara felt her desperation kick into high gear.

"Jerome," She called out, taking an attentive step toward him. When he didn't react, she took another, and another, until there was only an arm's length of distance between the two. "Jerome, look at me."

"Why are you here?" Was his only response.

"You know why I am here." She replied, frustrating ebbing away her desperation. "I came here to apologize. What I said back there was not what I meant. I mean, I did mean it, but not in the context that you're thing of, and, and, look at me damn it!"

At her last statement his head snapped up. "What do you want from me, Mara?"

She almost laughed at his response. "What do I want from you? What do I want? Ha! Let's see, for the past week you have been barging into my life for no apparent reason, always putting your two cents in. Claiming this, and ordering that, and never letting me do what I want! Always imposing!" Her breath hitched and angry tears began to prick her eyes at every word. "And now, when I say something that hurt your feelings, you run away to lick your wounds, and when I try to apologize, to explain what I meant, you act like a three year old sodding child and refuse to even make eye contact! What do I want from you Jerome? Nothing! No bloody thing at all! I don't even know why I bothered to waste my time trying to fix whatever this," She pointed a finger between them "is. But guess what? My mistake. Have a good day Jerome." She spat, furiously swiping away angry tears with that back of her hand.

She turned to go, fully contemplating to storm back to the Anubis house and hide away the rest of her day in her bed. Maybe then this whole mess could be blown over peacefully. No Jerome, no Brandon, no rumors, and no vandalism.

Slowly, she walked away. One step, then another, then another; all the while silently hoping that Jerome would call her back, stop her from leaving. But when she reached the end of the garden and still heard no peep from Jerome, her heart sank. She knew he wouldn't call out for her.

And she didn't know what hurt more, the fact that he didn't stop her or the fact that she wanted him too.

Hope you like it. Please review and I will post more chapters up. Thank You!