A/N: Okay, guys. Four chapters left before I finish this series! This has been running for a long time now but I feel it's coming to an end. Anywho, there's still four chapters left to go on this (excluding this chapter) so don't start with the hysterics yet. Things will be heating up in these last few chapters, all leading up to a big surprise at the end! Please review. Don't forget to review. I kind of need reviews. Thank ya!

Chapter 26: Glitter in the Air

Song: Glitter in the Air

Artist: P!nk

Summary: Just because I like messing with you, I'm writing this here instead of an actual summary. Seriously, does anyone read these anymore?

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hand? Close your eyes and trust it, just trust it. Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air? Have you ever looked fear in the face and said 'I just don't care?'

Maddy Shannon knows what it's like to fall in love. She never thought she would, given the track record of how people treated her in her past. And yet, she knows what this feeling is. Love is frightening, because it relies on more than yourself. Maddy's never been dependent on outsiders before. She learned a long time ago that people outside of her family should never be trusted. Between the bullies and those looking to turn Zoe in for a reward, it seemed the world was against her. But love isn't possible with just yourself. Sometimes you just have to trust.

Love could be frightening in a more literal sense, too, because being smeared in mud and hiding in the treetops had not been among the things she had planned on doing that day. And even if she had been a bit scared, she had felt oddly secure with Mark. Like she just instinctively knew that nothing would happen to her as long as he was around. He solidified that feeling with his promise to her that night and he had yet to let her down.

It's only half past the point of no return, the tip of the iceberg, the sun before the burn. The thunder before the lightning and the breath before the phrase. Have you ever felt this way?

And now that Maddy has experienced what love is—real love, not the fake love that people shower you with when they want something from you—she knows she can't go back. She can't live without this feeling that she's been deprived of for so long. Because deep down inside, she knew all along that her family's love and care would never be enough. She longed for something more. And she has it. And she won't give it up, because she's in much too deep.

Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone? Your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you're not alone. Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry? Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?

Mark Reynolds knows what it's like to fall in love. Real love. That's really returned. He used to think that love was all about the giving. It's how he lived his life. It's how he lives his life now. But he's learned that love can't be all about giving. You need to take a little too. But not too much, because then you'll have nothing. It's a balance, really, and he hadn't reached that perfect equilibrium until he came across Maddy Shannon.

She was a stranger to him when they first met, but that changed quickly as they became friends—best friends, even—and then something more. He had taken a chance in asking her out. She was nervous and she distrusted people, and on top of that her father was overprotective with permission to carry a weapon. A lot could have gone wrong.

A lot did go wrong once they had gone out. What had started out as a romantic idea similar to those he had read in classic literature had turned into a night in the treetops trying to hide from dinosaurs, which also seemed like a plot from classic literature. Just not the classic literature he had been looking to imitate. But he had learned something that night—Maddy Shannon trusted him entirely. And as he learned more about her, he realized that it must have taken a lot for her to work up the courage to trust anyone.

It's only half past the point of oblivion, the hourglass on the table, the walk before the run. The breath before the kiss and the fear before the flames. Have you ever felt this way?

She left to meet him at their arranged point—the orchards again. In a colony so small, there were very few places to go, but they had carved out a little part of the orchard as 'theirs' and they met at that point frequently during the late evening when it was still warm enough to be outdoors but dark enough to see the moon and the stars.

There you are sitting in the garden clutching my coffee, calling me sugar…

The sight of her was breathtaking as she stepped hurriedly across the path to rendezvous with him. He rose as soon as he spotted her, meeting her halfway down the path and putting his arm over her shoulder as he walked her to the point he had selected for the evening, just below the full moon. Ancient superstition held that the full moon was a bad omen (Zoe had inundated her with warnings to protect herself against werewolves) but there was something that both found alluring about the moon. He brushed aside her hair and planted a kiss to her cheek as she sat in his lap, his hands locking across her abdomen as he laid back against the grass. She nestled her head against his neck and they were both content. It was a full, wonderful feeling to be in one another's company, and if time could have frozen right there, neither would mind.

Have you ever wished for an endless night? Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight? Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself if it would ever get better than tonight? Tonight…

So it was a bit short. Sorry about that, but I wanted to get my point across without overdoing the romantic sappiness. Number one rule as an author is to know your audience and I know you guys like fluffy stuff (that's the reason this series exists) but there comes a point where you want to have a little more reflection and a little less tooth-decay-causing sweetness and …please review. Before I end up talking myself into a stupor.