Author's Note: Sorry its taken so long with this update but here it is! Thank you all for being patient with me. I'm placing an adult content advisory but I also would like everyone to know that I treat all of my characters the same way I would treat Paily. If sexual situations are not for you then I suggest you skip over italics. I'm truly amazed and blown away with the outpour of love being shown for Marley's POV and she will be around a lot more so don't worry. In a lot of aspects her role is vital to Paige and Emily and I don't plan on giving up on her character. Her success is very important for Paily's future so bear with me as I place her under a microscope and really bring her to life. Reviews and feedback are always welcome, it means so much to hear your favorite parts of the story or any questions you have for their future so thank you! Find Red Velvet Cover Art by: Saii79 on Tumblr at: Paily*Love*Story and Twitter rcampdel Enjoy!

This was one of those moments that would be frozen and replayed over and over again for the rest of your life. No matter where you go or how your life changes you can always come back here. Certain things will always trigger the memory and bring it to the forethought of your mind. Usually its involuntary, a taste or a scent that takes you back, but sometimes the senses have been touched so deeply that you can recall the memory on demand and lose yourself to the feelings all over again. Whenever you want to you can close your eyes and be right back to the heat of the thermal shirt beneath your fingertips and the image of bright blue sky bleeding into the gold fields blurring around you. Close your eyes and relax your body and you smell her hair as your bury your face in her neck, just melting into her and smiling because a moment has never felt so right. This is the memory that will haunt you and pull at you for the rest of your life no matter where you are. It's the simple things that have the strongest power to stay with you forever. The most intricate things are there... but the simple? The moments that don't have to try to be perfect? Those are the memories that you always place themselves effortlessly before your eyes.

She opened her eyes and watched the individual stalks of barley come into focus. Paige tapped her foot down and stopped completely but she couldn't bring herself to let go of her as she took snapshots in her mind of everything she was feeling. The most important one was captured when Paige shifted around and her eyes fell only on her face.

"Em?" Her brown eyes were smiling proudly as the engine died.

Her mind felt hazy from sudden stillness around her and the absence of vibrations through her body. A tingling sensation from thirty minutes of riding coursed through her and left her arms and legs feeling restless as she straightened herself up.

"Okay I think your idea of horsepower is better than mine." She smiled, leaning back to stretch.

"No don't let Ember hear you say that. You'll break his heart." Paige kicked the stand down and reached around for her hand to help her off first.

Her legs felt weak once she stood on solid ground again. "Ember isn't here so I can say it but I'll try to keep it to myself when he's around."

Paige swung her leg over the seat and turned to her. "Good because I've seen him sad and I don't like it so be nice."

"Then don't ever deny Stella skittles and we a deal." She smiled and looked back down the path in the direction they had come from.


The tent that stood higher than the concrete building was nowhere in sight and the only thing she could see for miles was a green tree line in the distance that bordered the field. She felt far enough away from everything to lose herself completely and close enough to feel the comfort of a new family being nearby. It was safe here, separate from everyone and everything yet being just out of sight only made her appreciate the new people around her more and how strongly she already felt for all of them, like she was missing small pieces of herself when she couldn't see them. Movement brought her back as Paige sunk down to the soft field, strands of gold swaying around her shoulders, her eyes falling on the most important piece.

"I used to come out here a lot." She smiled, picking at the long strands. "Riley almost set it all on fire the summer I met him. It's actually where I picked up the annoying braid habit."

"That's not annoying." She shook her head firmly and sunk down beside her. "I love it." Her hand went automatically to twirl the grass braid around her wrist. It wasn't ordinary. Each twist was like a celtic knot braided in on itself in ways that made it impossible to figure out. "It doesn't look as simple as you make it look."

"I can show you." Paige whispered.

As she looked at Paige sitting beside her mind went back to the meadow in Charleston. The same flecks of particles glittered around her head and the breeze teased at the strands of red in her hair. She nodded weakly and Paige went to work pulling long strands from the ground, ripping them down the center to expose softer fibers. They looked so delicate but Paige moved her fingers quickly and carefully over each thread, smoothing away all imperfections. Once they were long and smooth she knotted one end and moved closer.

"Bend your knees up because you're gonna hold the knotted end between them so you can pull the braid tight."

"K." She nodded and brought her knees up to hold the knot securely, looking to Paige for the next direction.

"The easiest way for me to explain this is going to be for me to show you."

"Okay." She smiled at Paige and watched her move, expecting her to start pulling extra strands from the ground for herself. Instead she moved closer, kneeling behind her back and wrapping her arms around shoulders. Paige closed her hands over hers softly and guided her movements. She held her breath.

"Bring this strand over to the right while you cross the right side over and then under..."

Her words made no sense without the guidance of her hands but with Paige leading her movements...the braid began to form.


"See, it's easier than it looks. Now make a knot after each section." Paige smiled and rested her chin on her shoulder, the same way she had done to Paige on the bike. A reversal of their roles.

"No, its easy because you're showing me. If you let go I wouldn't be able to finish this."

"Yes you would." Paige nodded against her neck.

"No, I wouldn't." She insisted.

Paige slowly shifted her hands away, dragging her fingers lightly up her arms as she pulled back. She faltered then focused firmly on continuing the pattern with her fingers. Paige's hands stopped and rested on top of her shoulders, watching as the braid continued to grow. She smiled proudly to herself that she was managing to not screw it up completely.

"I told you." Paige whispered in her ear, making her fingers falter again slightly.

She pressed a kiss to the base of her neck and the heat of her lips sent the braid unraveling as her fingers slipped from it.

"Noooo, I'm sorry." Paige frowned. "That was my fault."

"I thought you letting go would make it fall apart. Apparently you kissing me makes it fall apart." She smiled and dropped the strands back to the ground, craning her neck back to see Paige smiling over her shoulder.

"Then since its already apart..." Paige ran her hand up to her cheek and pressed a light kiss to her lips as she sighed. "Okay, we aren't gonna drop this braid thing." She pulled herself from the ground and brushed off her jeans before extending her hand down. "I'm going to show you again but we aren't going to use grass. I want you to have one that you can keep so we're gonna tear into the ribbon in the costume room. Start thinking of what colors you want."

"Fine, but I like the grass." She smiled, taking Paige's hand and standing to her feet.

The sky was starting to shift into a coral pink around the horizon as the sun sunk lower, bringing the feathers in Ember's mane before her eyes and only igniting the field more until it resembled the gold ribbon. She thought of the coral dress that had inspired Paige to use those feathers in the first place and how it still lay crumpled on the floor of her bathroom in Rosewood. She should have thought to bring it.

"Can I teach you?" Paige whispered.

Paige's voice pulled her from her thoughts and she scolded herself for missing anything in Rosewood. The dress was trivial to where she was at the moment and honestly while the color was beautiful and clearly meant something to Paige it only reminded her of falling to the cold stairs and missing what she never had to begin with. She had Paige now and followed her eyes to the red bike.

"Teach me?" Her face must have shown her confusion because Paige tilted her head towards the bike.

"Let me teach you how to drive it."

"Really?" She furrowed her eyebrows and looked warily at the bike. "I really don't want to crash your bike."

"You're not going to hurt the bike." Paige insisted. "Its metal and we're in a field of barley. It's like a giant pillow. Like Mary's breasts were pillows for Peter to crash into." She smiled.

She laughed and shook her head. Part of her wanted to protest further but she was too intrigued by the idea and she's stepped closer instead. "Okay what first?"

Paige grinned and kicked up the stand, gripping the handlebars as she straddled the front tire and held it steady. "Okay swing your leg over and balance the bike."

She followed this command. Suddenly every nerve in her body felt alive and on edge from what was happening. Most of it was caused by the fact that she was now sitting on a powerful engine while Paige was towering over the front tire. She crossed her arms over her chest to keep from touching anything because the last thing she wanted was to send the bike forward and hurt Paige.

"Now take the handlebars."

"No." She said firmly.

Paige crinkled her eyebrows in confusion. "No?"

"No." She repeated, tightening her arms across her chest and giving Paige an uneasy look.

"Why? You said you wanted to..."

"Because you're standing in front of it! I don't want to touch anything because I don't want the bike to shoot forward and hurt you!"

"It's not even on yet." Paige argued, an amused smile tugging at her lips. It was cute but unintentionally patronizing. Paige would react the same way she was if their roles were reversed. The same way Paige reacted when she found out Ember had thrown her and broken her wrist.

Her voice was climbing. "Yeah but it will be on!"

"Then I'll move when it's on!"

"Can you just move now?"

Paige ducked her head and chuckled, sighing heavily as she swung her left leg back to one side of the bike, joining her right. She walked around and stopped by her left side and her thigh that was straddling the seat. She leaned in, both of her hands reaching and wrapping around each of her own before guiding them gently to the handlebars like she had guided them with the braid.

"Is that better?" Paige whispered, securing her hands in a light grip.

"As long as you don't kiss me." She smiled, earning another chuckle from Paige's throat.

The handlebars were warm beneath her fingers and all she could focus on was the heat of Paige's hands resting over hers and holding them in place. She swallowed hard and managed a weak nod that made the smile on Paige's falter slightly as she focused on making her feel comfortable.

"Okay flip the button." Paige directed, her voice staying much softer than before. Her breathing became ragged as Paige slipped her right hand away from the button on the handlebars, giving her the opportunity to press it while she moved her hand to the small of her back instead.

"Okay." She breathed, flipping the switch. Nothing happened and she frowned, trying to recall if she had missed something.

Paige moved before she could think too much into it. She leaned over the bike across her lap and flipped a silver pedal down by her right boot before returning herself to her previous position, her right hand once again wrapped around her back protectively while the other hand squeezed the left handlebar.

"Okay hold in the clutch." Paige tightened their fingers over silver lever under their left hand. "Now lean forward and slam your boot hard into the pedal. As hard as you can."

She squinted her eyes to concentrate on what Paige was telling her to do, focusing on the memory she had of Paige doing this herself. It made sense when she remembered the pale green shirt that exposed her hip and her brown boots. She brought her right boot up to the pedal, leaning forward off the seat, taking a deep breath and slamming her foot down. Nothing happened.

"Was that wrong?" She asked, looking at Paige. She could feel her cheeks warm because it shouldn't be this hard and she felt embarrassed because Paige made it look so easy...and sexy.

Paige removed her hand from the clutch but she continued to hold it down in her absence. Instead Paige ran her hand down and pressed a button near her knee before returning her hand back to cover hers.

"No not wrong." Paige assured. "Okay this time I want you to put all of your weight into the pedal. Follow through like you're trying to kick it straight into the ground."

"Into the ground." She repeated. "Okay."

She took a deep breath and brought her foot up to the pedal again, closing her eyes briefly to envision the way Paige had done this before. All she could focus on was Paige's hand over hers while the other rested across her lower back, her fingertips gripping into her side.

"Wheeeenever you're ready." Paige teased, with an amused smile.

She sighed and looked at Paige, giving her a sarcastic smile. "I'm trying."

"I know." Paige nodded, softening and losing the smirk. "Take your time just...follow through. Treat that pedal like its something that hurt you."

That was easier than she expected. A whole slew of things came to her mind. She took another breath and automatically she was seeing seven years of her life that were basically wasted. She was seeing girls she loved die and old friends move away and an empty house that had long since held anything for her. Then she saw worry in Paige's eyes as she led her home from the bar and sadness when Paige had said goodbye. She saw herself broken on the stairs and falling to cold porcelain. The things that hurt her stopped there so she quickly replayed them in her mind.

She leaned forward and slammed her boot into the kick-start, jumping when the engine roared to life and sent vibrations through her body. She wasn't expecting it even though probably she should have been considering it was exactly what she was aiming for. She released the hand bars, her right hand grazing over the throttle and sending the bike lurching forward. Paige tightened her grip around her waist and ripped her backwards and off the bike just as it shot forward and crashed over on its side. They stumbled back but Paige managed to keep them from falling completely.

"Okay that was wrong." She breathed, looking to Paige with hesitant eyes. She just laughed and shook her head.

"It's not your fault." Paige smiled. "I didn't tell you to keep holding the clutch in."

"Yeah but you didn't tell me to release it either." She pointed out, her cheeks burning from embarrassment. "I'm sorry."

"Please don't be." Paige whispered, stepping closer and wrapping her arms around her waist. "It happens. I crashed this thing a million times and I never kick started on the second try. In fact when I failed on the tenth try I kicked the bike over and then kicked it again to make sure it stayed down. It actually took me..."

She watched her lips as Paige talked and the way sunset sky was shining pink across her face. It turned red with each passing second and after a few moments she realized that Paige was quietly watching her in the same way. Neither of them speaking anymore and both of them enjoying the breaths leaving each others lungs. The sky shifted into a violet that now reminded her of the collar around Stella's neck and the lounge on the train. It was beautiful to find all of these significant colors of theirs painted in the sky at certain times of the day.

She ran her hands up Paige's arms, burning into the red thermal on their way to become lost in her auburn waves. Another snapshot clicked in her mind, freezing her eyes on Paige's face the second before they touched. Hands tightened around her waist and clutched at the fabric of her back as she pressed lightly to Paige's lips. She pulled away slightly to meet her chocolate eyes before moving back in. How could something so new feel so familiar?

Paige massaged lightly against her lips and she shivered when her hot breath moved across her cheek. Part of her expected her to pull away. Paige always knew when she was cold but she also knew that this shiver had nothing to do with the temperature change that came with the sunset. Even so, her hands burned deeper into her back and pulled her closer. She licked across Paige's bottom lip and they parted, bringing the moisture of Paige's tongue forward and eagerly into her mouth. The taste she found there wasn't laced in candy, Paige was untainted and sweet all on her own. This new flavor mixed with Paige's hands moving under the hem of her shirt sent a jolt down her body and a pressure in the pit of her stomach that had her gasping and breaking away as tremors moved under her skin.

"I'm sorry." Paige whispered, pulling her hands away to rest on her hips.

"That's too many apologies for today. You've reached your daily limit." She bit her lower lip and rested their foreheads together as their breathing slowed. She clutched at the thermal on Paige's hip and shamed herself for shaking so much.

Paige smiled softly and pressed a kiss to the corner of her mouth then moved lightly to her jaw, whispering in her ear. "I don't think I'll ever get used to this."

"Then don't." She breathed

"I won't." Paige retorted, pulling back and shaking her head firmly.

"Good, me either." She smiled again and looked at the bike laying over on the ground. "So that's two things I've failed to grasp without your hands."

Paige furrowed her eyebrows and looked at the bike. "Oh no, that's one thing because of my hands and one thing because of my lips. We aren't done with the bike but my hands are still gonna help so we don't die."

A loud boom cracked through the air and made her jump. Her eyes shot over to the direction they had come from and while she hadn't been able to see the tent earlier, she could barely make out the bright lights of it now lit up against the darkening sky. They were miles and miles away. She smiled as a spark flew up into night and caught fire in a shower of colors.

"That would be Riley." Paige sighed. "Its his bat signal for the circus. We're gonna be busy tomorrow." Another blasts brought purple into the air.

"Bat signal?"

"Yea, now everyone knows we're back in town so bring on the masses."

She watched Paige crinkle her eyebrows as she pulled the bike off its side and turned it around. She looked upset suddenly. Not outwardly upset but something masked and subtle, tugging her away from the moment without her permission. She knew exactly what it was when Paige met her eyes and smiled, attempting to hide what she was feeling. Paige knew that she knew because she was the one that spoke first.

"Not all of the masses are good." Paige added, throwing her leg over the seat of the bike as she waited for her to move. "Come on, I told you we're not done with the bike."

She smiled and walked closer, ready to slip onto the seat behind her when Paige shifted herself back further. "What are you doing?"

"You're driving, my hands are gonna help." Paige grinned and patted the empty space in front of her.

While she knew this was a stupid idea the biggest part her wanted Paige's arms wrapped around her again. She swallowed back the dryness in her throat and slipped her leg over the seat, resting herself down as Paige leaned in closer against her back. So this is what Paige had felt on the ride out. Her breath caught.

"Okay just like before." Paige whispered "Flip the switch."

She used her thumb to flip the small button and sighed when Paige's hands appeared over hers on the handlebars, squeezing the clutch down tightly. "Something that hurt me." She repeated Paige's previous instructions in her mind as she brought her boot up to the silver pedal.

"Kick it into the ground." Paige added, pressing a quick kiss to her shoulder.

The crinkle of Paige's eyebrows a few moments ago circled into her mind. The way Paige tried to be strong and hide it...hurt her. Even with that pain there was relief that Cassie had screwed up because it brought the heat of Paige's body pressed into her back. Paige tightened their hands over the clutch, insuring that they wouldn't crash. She leaned forward slammed her boot into the pedal, smiling when it growled beneath them.

"Perfect, don't release the clutch." Paige smiled against her neck and pulled her hand away to flip another small switch and turned on a headlight on the front of the bike. "Okay down here..." she brought her hand down by her left boot. "...this is how you shift. Tap up with your foot for higher speeds and tap down when you're slowing. The engine will tell you when its time by sounding like a dying cat but I'll help by whispering."

"Whispering sounds better than killing animals." She smiled and focused on Paige behind her instead of the image of the bike crashing forward to ground.

Paige replaced her hands over hers and held them firmly. "Your right hand is the throttle. Thats how we go. The silver lever above are your front brakes. You have back brakes too and you need to use both unless you want to flip the bike so just let me worry about those." When she nodded Paige continued. "We're gonna ease up on the clutch while applying pressure to the throttle. You're in first gear already so if you let go of the clutch at once its going to fly forward again. Ready?"

"Yeah." She squeezed her eyes shut for a second and then focused as Paige loosened her grip on the clutch. She mimicked Paige and released it slighty, smiling as the tires moved forward steadily.

"Good. Now every time you ease up on the clutch transfer that pressure to the throttle."

She followed her instructions and the bike speed up, the engine was strong and then shifted into a choking sound.

"Tap up." Paige directed.

She tapped her foot up and instantly the engine was relieved of the sound and the ground sped by faster, forcing air into her lungs. After a few miles her body relaxed. Some of that was due to her confidence building as she learned to recognize the sound telling her to shift. She managed to catch it on her own the next time around. Most of her relaxation was due to Paige breathing against her neck.


Adrenaline and Paige's body made her lose sight of everything blurring around her. As their speed increased she barely noticed the lights of the tent growing closer. She barely felt the tires plow over the tracks.

"Emily?" Paige whispered urgently against her neck. "Down shift!"

Her focus snapped back at those words. She tapped down and Paige squeezed into her hands, gripping into the clutch and tightening over the front brakes.

"Down again." Paige directed. She felt Paige move faster and slam her boot into the foot brake, skidding the tires across the gravel and barely stopping short of the fence line as the engine choked out and died. Paige shot her boot out to keep the bike from crashing over.

"You should drive next time because I'm pretty sure that was definitely wrong." She looked down sheepishly as Paige slipped off of the back and moved around to the front tire. Paige straddled the front fender and coaxed her eyes back to hers.

"That wasn't wrong. I got distracted and should have warned you sooner." Paige smiled softly, relaxing her weight into the tire as she sat down and rested her arms on the handle bars.

"You can't blame anyone can you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You don't blame Ali for you leaving rosewood and you can't blame me for crashing your bike and then nearly crashing it again with us on it." She wanted to mention the way Paige also couldn't blame anyone for not wanting to be back in Lincoln...but she couldn't. Those were details she didn't have and she had no right bringing it up. She especially had no right to blatantly call Paige out on something that clearly hurt her.

"First of all, Alison was only a minute out of my life so no, no she's not worth it and you...I could never blame you because I'm the experienced rider. That really wasn't your fault."

"Then it was wrong?" She asked, pressing for Paige to at least admit it.

"Maybe but was it fun?" A teasing smile pulled at Paige's lips and made her laugh.

"Yes." She nodded and leaned forward into the bike. It was fun, except for the part where she almost threw them both into a fence. The moments leading up were amazing, adrenaline packed and full of intensity caused by both the speed and Paige wrapped around her. Her mind had been lost to those thoughts the entire ride back and now her eyes were lost in chocolate as she watched Paige smile.

"Paige!" Peter's voice shouted from the far end of the fence. The tent was glowing behind him, light bleeding through the red and white stripes. It cast rippling colors on water that she hadn't noticed before.

"Is that a pond?" She asked, forgetting all about Peter approaching through the darkness. She felt bad but she was curious.


"Yeah, it's just a small one around the backside of the tent. There's a wrap around dock and a pier that venders set games and merchandise out on during shows." Paige paid no attention to the footsteps that were growing closer, intentionally ignoring them like she was hopeful they'd just disappear. She had a cute mischievous smile tugging at her lips and it was amazing how quickly she picked up on what Paige was doing.

"Oh cool. What kind of merchandise?" She asked, resting her head in her hands on gas tank. Paige smiled and continued.

"Frick!" Peter spat. He was closing in but still a few gates down.

"There's a hole there!" Paige shouted, not tearing her eyes away as she lowered her head to her arms still draped between the handlebars. They were close enough to feel each others breath grazing across their cheeks. Paige didn't miss a beat when Peter called out her name again. She began ticking off on her fingers. "They sell a lot of things. Toys and shirts, food of course, jewelry and..."

"Are there stuffed animals? I should send Hanna tiger."

Peter stopped beside them and cleared his throat with his arms crossed over his chest but they didn't falter. It took everything in her not to laugh and cave in but Paige had a good poker face that helped her stay serious. "There's definitely stuffed tigers." Paige nodded. "We could send her a white one with a can of tuna so she trusts that they aren't starving."

"Do tigers eat tuna?" She asked. "I guess they would because house cats do..."

Paige's eyes flickered over to Peter and she gave his a sweet smile and nod. Acknowledging his presence and getting his hopes up before turning away from him again. "Yea but we could always send a chicken or a pot roast."

"Maybe put some on dry ice?"

Paige's eyes lit up more, if that was even possible. "Oh or lets send her an actual tiger."

"Send her a pack of skittles and really confuse her."

"Nice!" Paige nodded her head and gave her an impressed smile.

Peter sighed, reaching forward and grabbing Paige's radio from her back pocket. "Okay enough."

"Damnit!" Paige smiled, snatching it back and tucking it in her pocket again.

"You tell me to keep my radio on and then you shut yours off." Peter laughed.

"We're home. I'm allowed to!"

"Well Riley is hurt and Mary's laughing."

"Damn did she really throw the apple?" Paige choked on a laugh as Peter smiled.

"No but he racked himself with the metal piping."

"You seriously came out here for that? What the hell am I supposed to do?" Paige chuckled. "Have Mary get on it."

"Oh God, Paige!" Peter laughed and shook his head.

"That is not what I meant." Paige squeezed her eyes shut and fought back mental images as she threw in the towel. "We'll be right there." She barely mustered those words in a squeaky voice.

Peter shook his head and turned "Oh and we're having an improv tomorrow afternoon. There's no set time yet but the grounds will be busy so we'll just pull people in."

"Can we be selective about the people we pull, please?" Paige smiled sarcastically, at least, that's what she was trying to portray.

"We can try." Peter called over his shoulder. "But you have better things in front of you at the moment and we're a public establishment."

"The word is 'fuck', Peter...not 'frick'! Paige shouted and smiled as she straightened herself off the fender. "He can't say it."


"The hole didn't move!" Paige called after him.

She pulled herself from the bike and stepped back, stretching her back as Paige pushed it toward the tent. "He can't say fuck?"

"No and I think that's the first time I've heard you say it."

She ducked her head down slightly as her cheeks warmed. "I say it. I just don't have many reasons to." Her hands slipped into her back pockets as they walked.

"We can work on that." Paige smiled. "I like how it sounds on you."

"So, you have something better in front of you at the moment?" She asked, changing the subject back to what Peter did say. She watched the way Paige's eyes crinkled briefly in confusion and then relaxed as she caught on.

"Well, beside me at the moment." Paige corrected. "And there's no comparison. Peter never lies."

She stepped on the kickstand outside of the tent and led Emily inside. It was quieter than it had been earlier, people had cleared out and front gates should be closed by now. Performers usually went home if they had family in town and if not they got hotels and enjoyed sleeping in a bed that wasn't moving. The air was warmer and immediately she sighed, a heavy sigh, as she hung her head in disbelief and moved towards the sound of Mary's voice. This shouldn't surprise her. Riley gets hurt a lot usually at the hands of Mary but there's no doubt that's she's loving the fact that this particular injury wasn't caused by her. Not this time at least. Emily walked close beside her. Her eyebrows were crinkled in concern when Riley groaned so even though she was laughing inside...she slipped her fingers around Emily's and smiled soothingly. Their time spent in the gold field was still circling in her mind and drowning out everything around her. She didn't ever want to be the thing that helped Emily kick-start the bike. She didn't ever want to hurt her. The moment Emily's foot slammed into the pedal she had promised herself that she never would.

"Baaabe, stop." Riley swatted Mary's hand away. She sat stretched out on the grass, ripped jeans and black corset, back pressed against the half wall while Riley's head rested in her lap. His arm was draped over his face as Peter stood by shaking his head.

"I'm just saying...she's not getting any grandkids now." Mary laughed and ran her fingers lightly into his hair. "You didn't cry when Paige stitched your arm up."

"I hurt my balls, Mar!" Riley snapped. "My eyes were watering. I wasn't crying."

"All the same." She smiled, stopping by their side with an amused smile on her lips. "Mine are still bigger...figuratively speaking." She directed the last part at Mary who smiled and tousled her long curls around her shoulder.

"Yeah because mine are back up inside of my body at the moment!" Riley moaned. "I think I coughed blood."

"Hey, cough again." Mary ordered moving her hand to the front of his jeans as she laughed.

"That's for a hernia!" Riley shielded himself from her with his own hand. Mary's smile softened as she sighed and stroked his head again.

"You interrupted us for this?" She turned to Peter. "Only Mary can fix this one."

"I'm not touching this one." Mary shook her head firmly, looking down at Riley. "No offense. I'm sure they're not crushed...completely. I mean I can't tell because there's so much blood."

"Stop." Riley's chest shook as he laughed. "Oh fuck it hurts to laugh."

"Still wanna borrow mine?" She smiled and leaned down to punch his chest playfully as he whined. "So what happened?" She asked, leaning into the half wall beside Mary as she held Emily close to her side, tracing circles over her knuckles while taking in the sections of barrier and the tools scattering the ground.

Mary sighed. "He was laying under the barrier tightening the fire-line and the piping rolled off the top and..."

"It hurts remembering..." Riley whined.

"Oh please." Mary slapped him upside the head. "Don't be a fucking baby."

It was a little aggravating that Peter had fussed and traipsed through the field just to interrupt them for this bullshit. She sighed and forced a deep breath. The heat of Emily standing beside her helped with that process.

"So an improv tomorrow?" She cleared her throat and looked down at Mary sitting on the ground beside her. She used her free hand to tousle a piece of Mary's dark hair and got slapped as she brought her hand up to block her.

"Yeah." Mary sighed, ducking her head away as she smiled. "Molly hasn't seen a show in a while so we're gonna have one for her."

"Yeah but improvs are..." Peter started and shook his head uneasily.

"Unscripted and unrehearsed." She stated, shrugging her shoulders. "Molly's been around a ton of Mary's practices and the public comes in well aware of the risk that profanities can slip through and that issues can arise."

"Talk it over and let me know." Peter smiled and headed for the tent, stopping and looking briefly over his shoulder. "Emily, we took care of the 'through'."

She furrowed her eyebrows and looked at Emily beside her and then back a Peter. "Through?"

"Really?" Emily smiled and flickered her eyes between Peter and Mary, probably Riley too but his eyes were closed at the moment so her wouldn't have noticed.

"Yeah, we've been working on it all day." Peter nodded and with one last smile he turned and left the tent.

Somewhere along the way she had missed something. She knew that obviously from the way Emily's jaw dropped slightly and the way Mary was pulling herself from the ground with a proud smile on her lips. Peter was already long gone so she couldn't squeeze him for details and Riley was basically unconscious. He didn't even moan or protest when his head dropped hard into ground as Mary shifted herself away.

"Do you want to see?" Mary asked, moving closer to face Emily.

She nodded frantically. Answering Mary's question before Emily did which earned an amused smiled from Mary and squeeze of Emily's hand on her own. She couldn't help it really but somehow she had missed something that excited Emily and she couldn't even think of when it had happened. She had barely left Emily's side and yet there was information she didn't have.

"Seriously? Already?" Emily smiled and looked to Mary who grabbed a black remote from the back pocket of her ripped jeans. "I just talked to Peter about this yesterday."

"Luckily Riley got racked after we were already done but we're very fast workers in this business." Mary smiled and turned to face the arena then pressed a button on the remote and brought the lights off completely. "We haven't figured everything out. The details are up to you."

Somehow she knew exactly what Mary was doing because she had done it before for Emily. She just hadn't followed through.

"We have the kinks worked out so..."

"Press 7." She interrupted.

Mary met her eyes and smiled with a slight nod as she pressed into the remote. "And you pretend to be oblivious." She shook her head lightly and squinted at the remote as her eyes focused.

She looked over at Emily in the darkness and pulled her closer, wrapping her arm around her shoulder and the other around her stomach. It felt good holding her this way. Knowing she was close and waiting at the end of her fingertips. She could touch Emily and Emily was touching her back. Nothing could compare to her. Nothing could even come close. Emily breathed slowly and wrapped her arms around her waist in return, resting her head on her shoulder in the dark arena.

"Fuck!" Mary snapped, holding the remote close to her eyes. "Wait it." A press of the button sent a million stars over every inch of the arena. The same stars she used during her act. immediately it wasn't quite right. It wasn't good enough for Emily.

"Press 10?" She asked. Mary nodded and pressed another button turning the arena into a swirl of vibrant colors. She frowned and shook her head firmly, studying the lights until it clicked in her mind. "Try 12."

"Damnit Paige! We can figure this out later just let me show her what we did."

Emily chuckled against her side and made her back down easily. "Fine." She smiled, squeezing her into a hug.

Mary sighed and pressed a button, igniting flames around the three sections of barrier that Riley had been working on. Emily tensed in her arms and then pulled away from her grasp. Her arms missed her instantly but she understood. Emily was lost completely to the fire before her eyes and the glow casting shadows across her face showed an intricate mix of emotions as she inched closer. It was beautiful seeing her standing there. How empowered she was and how strong. Her hands rested on the belt loops of her white jeans instead of being crossed protectively over her chest. Emily wasn't holding the pieces of herself together anymore...she was whole.

Mary was watching Emily warily and they both noticed the way the fire glistened over the moisture forming in her eyes. She wanted to reach for Emily and hold her but she quickly wiped her eye and Mary cleared her throat lightly, her voice breaking through the silence and taking the pressure from Emily to speak when she clearly had no words. The subtlety of Mary's actions around Emily reminded her of a time when she herself had needed someone to lean on. It made her smile to know that Mary was there for Emily too.

"We're gonna space these three sections around the track for fire jumps. There's three more in the back and two that are slightly lower so we can use those to fill in gaps in the course if we need to. We also have six fire posts that you can try if you want but they may take some practice."

"Fire posts?" Emily asked weakly, stepping closer to Mary's side. "Like a weave obstacle?"

"Yeah except we light them up." Mary nodded.

"It might take practice though." She added, watching the fire flicker across Emily's face. "Its more about mastering the weave technique than the fire itself."

Mary nodded in agreement and looked at Emily again. "Are you ready for the 'through' part?"

"Yeah." A smile tugged at Emily's lips as she watched Mary move her fingers quickly over a button sequence on the remote, shooting fire from a large ring that stood a ways down the track from the barriers.

"What the fuck." She breathed, looking at Mary and the proud smile on her face. The barriers were one thing but at the moment she wanted to choke Mary and kick Riley in the nuts again for this absurdity. Thinking of Emily's body being surrounded by fire made the air hitch in her throat and her stomach churn.

"Whoa. " Emily backstepped away from Mary, reaching for her hand in the darkness without tearing her eyes away from the flaming ring.

She wanted to offer Emily some sort of support by squeezing her hand but she was too caught off guard by this to offer anything. She hadn't even realized Peter and Emily had discussed possibilities let alone one that involved the inferno ring that had been out of commission since her grandparents time with the show. It had been in the warehouse and she hadn't even seen it in working order in her lifetime. She bit her tongue until she tasted blood.

"This is amazing." Emily smiled.

"I know right? Its awesome. Check this out." Mary grinned and clicked another button the shot the fire out another foot.

"Please elaborate on its awesomeness." She shot sarcastically at Mary.

Mary rolled her eyes and stepped back to her side, wrapping her arm around her shoulder and squeezing her reassuringly though she didn't dignify her response. The urge to slap the shit out of her was too strong to risk moving at the moment. Mary's health insrance possibly covered being murdered.

"Cool huh?" Riley shouted. They turned to see him pulling himself from the grass and brushing his jeans off. The idea of kicking him down again was still tempting but the smile on Emily's lips told her no.

"Its beautiful." Emily nodded, turning to Mary and wrapping her arms around her neck as she hugged her. "Thank you."

Mary faltered slightly from surprise but she managed to bring her arms and return the embrace. "Anytime." She whispered, meeting her eyes over Emily's shoulder as she pulled away and stepped back. "Okay I'm going to bed. We can work on costumes tomorrow."

Mary handed over the remote and set her smile on Riley, walking past and slapping her ass in the process. It made her jump and her eyes slam shut from the stinging that her hand left behind.


"Tough love." Mary called over her shoulder as she met up with Riley.

"I don't like your idea of tough!"

"That was her being soft." Riley shouted, wrapping his arms around Mary's waist. She brought her hand up and punched him playfully in the shoulder. He flinched but he didn't let go. "That was stronger but you can do better than that." He teased. It was a stupid thing for him to say because Mary brought her knee up slightly and had him throwing himself back to avoid it. Why he always underestimated her was a mystery of the universe.

"Sleep with one eye open." She warned, shoving him again as they walked out into the darkness.

"Back to our earlier conversation..." Emily smiled proudly as they disappeared. "She definitely feels the same way about him."

"Are you kidding me? Mary kicks his ass on a daily basis!" She argued, flipping the remote and bringing the flames to a halt. "I mean I'm happy she does but come on..."

"Come on, Paige." Emily mimicked, looking at her through her top eyelashes and stopping her breath short. "You're intuition is wrong this time. Maybe not wrong but you're definitely on a different frequency than she is."

"Its Mary. She's very upfront about how she feels."

"People are rarely that upfront." Emily smiled and stepped closer. "Most people just need someone to take the time. You did that with me."

"See I definitely can't use my "I'm wiser" psychology on you."

"I'm not using anything except my eyes." Emily sighed, sinking down to the grass in the center ring as she stared at the barriers, her eyes moving from one end to the next.

She looked back at the opening of the tent that Mary and Riley had disappeared through. She knew Riley was crazy about her but it never crossed her mind that Mary might feel the same way. She pushed him so much. She pushed everyone and that was fine because she's Mary. Everyone loves her and she's become the matriarch of their lives. Guilt always came whenever she thought of Mary and the way she had taken advantage of her. It wasn't intential but Mary had never said anything about it and maybe she should have. Maybe she should have said something to Mary. When she found her in the alley outside the bar all she wanted was to protect her but Mary proved so quickly that she didn't need the protection. She never questioned it because Mary was so much stronger than she was and she respected that. She was lucky to have parents as long as she had because Mary never had that. Her pride told her to ignore that Emily may be right because admitting it meant she had failed to pay attention to one of the only people in her life that she loved. One of the only people who had never let her down. Maybe Riley wasn't the one that underestimated Mary.

"Does Mary love Peter too?" She smiled weakly, dropping to the grass beside Emily. It was a weak come back and she knew it but it made her feel less guilty for a moment.

"I'm still trying to figure that one out." Emily laughed and flattened herself back into the grass of the middle ring.

She flipped the remote lightly between her fingers and looked up at the stripes of the tent, then looked back to the remote as she furrowed her eyebrows. Pressing in 12 sent a rich blue glow over every surface as she flattened herself back beside Emily. She could hear Emily's breath hitch. She studied the remote quickly then pressed 15 and smiled. Emily raised herself automatically up on her elbows and watched as ripples cascaded through the blue light, drowning the arena in water. The smile on her lips proved that this was Emily's light.

"What did you press?" Emily looked over at her with her deep eyes.

"These two." She mumbled weakly, pointing to the buttons and swallowing back the dryness in her throat. "I can change it.. I .."

"No don't." Emily looked back at the blue and wiped a tear forming around her eyes before slowly sinking down and resting her head on her shoulder.

She wrapped her arms around Emily, tighter than she ever had and pressed a kiss into her hair. She only vaguely remembered that Emily swam in high-school but she only wanted to make her smile. She squeezed her eyes shut because the last thing she wanted was to see Emily cry again. Heat appeared through her shirt and brought her eyes open to see Emily's hand move across her stomach and up her side as she shift and buried her face into her neck. Her breaths were shallow and she didn't move further. After a few minutes the soft rise and fall of Emily's chest against her side pulled her eyes shut as her mind relaxed into a sea of gold fields and a blue water sky.

Several things she was aware of off and on all night. Her mind would relax and then suddenly at random moments her senses would heighten from every slight movement of the body beside her. Dreams were fleeting and every time her mind would try she would see Paige. She could feel warm thermal pressed against her and images of a flyer blowing on a bulletin board in Rosewood. She dreamed that she was walking the empty streets and ripping all of the posters down because nobody in that town deserved to see Paige and then her mind would resurface to the scent and the red shirt all over again. All of these little changes around her startled her mind and made her struggle to focus and then sleep would fog everything and pull her immediately under its grasp again. Pulling her away from the floral and spice on Paige's skin and away from the grass beneath their bodies. She tried to count every breath leaving Paige's lungs as her head moved with her chest but again sleep would dominate and rip her away. The faint blue light seeping through her eyelids lulled her into a place where nothing could touch her. No one could touch her except the girl she now had encased in her arms. She didn't need dreams as long as she had her.

I groaned and punched my fist into a pillow. "I hate you sometimes!"

Everyone on the train, aside from Peter, is the 'sleep-in', 'leave-me-the-hell-alone', kind of person. Every time Peter does his annoying 'I'm ruling the train' bullshit as he goes around knocking on doors it's all I have in me not to open said door and smack the shit out of him... which is exactly what I always attempt to do regardless.

He's not so bad all things considered but when it comes to mornings he's that baby in the sun on Teletubies. Don't ask me how I know there's a baby being burned to death in the sun on a children's show but just trust me on it. That baby is way too fucking happy with a fiery death. Every time I see Peter in the morning I envision that baby and I remember my moment of self-weakness with him a few months ago. I was so happy to actually get him drunk and let him bury his face because the next morning was the first time we all got to sleep past noon. I'd be lying if I said there were other motives involved there. My reasoning was purely on the side of sleep and the next morning Peter knew he had been scammed and he now sips his drinks slowly. I on the other hand won fifty bucks from Riley.

This morning is no different. The knock sounds and by the time I'm out of bed and to the door Peter is gone, hiding somewhere which is smart of him. Then again if he was smart he'd hang around and wait to be smacked and talked out of banging on Paige's door because she's the worst of morning people usually.

One of the many reasons I love her? She can take my shit and dish it right back with out missing a beat. Then again maybe its me that takes her shit and dishes it back? Possibly, but let's set that aside for now because bottom line.. Paige wears the pants, literally, so nobody should wake her up. I've never seen her in a dress and probably won't live to see the day but one can dream because the day that happens I'll be waiting with a camera and computer ready to upload it to YouTube. Maybe it can go on a blog with the cats being drenched and tortured with baths because that's probably the reaction Paige would have to a dress. I'm rambling but if everyone got to sleep on Paige's schedule then we'd all be happy. So my point is that Peter needs to hike up his dress, calm his shit and sit the fuck down.

I sighed and closed the door in disappointment from not being able to knock Peter on his ass, there's always tomorrow for that, and my eyes fell on the state of the bedroom. The emerald in the wallpaper is usually my favorite part but at the moment it would have to be the body laying haphazardly on my bed. All messy hair and tanned skin. Just the sight of him sleeping somehow pulls the temper from my body while at the same time makes me want to scream from the mix of feelings I have for him. Like I could slap him or kiss him. Riley would argue that both were acceptable behavior at the same time which is kind of why he has a series of small red scratches on the back of his neck. I'm thinking I have an anger issue and I'm not sure if circus insurance covers that seeing as we're all pretty screwed up, so for the time being I'll focus on him and all of our fucked up ideas of a relationship. None of which are his fault but all of which go back to the beginning of my time with the show. That was the final nail in my coffin.

Every time I think about when I met Riley and the first year of my life in the show I think about how happy I was and how incredibly miserable Paige was. That's guilt and also my biggest conflict. I was happy to have the new life but when someone does so much to help you and give you a place to call home and then you're forced to watch powerless as that girl's home falls apart...its hard. That was a rough few years and it was extremely difficult because when Cassie left I naturally wanted to help Paige in any way I could but the reality of it was that whatever her and Cassie were going through, it had gone on longer than I had been hired on. It was hard trying to navigate between the role of 'friend' and 'employee'.

Even now Paige doesn't like coming home to Lincoln which is virtually unavoidable because its 'port of call', as sailors would say. Cassie has a flawless little habit of showing up. Everyone faces their exes sometimes but Paige still gets more annoyed than she should. Part of me wants to tell her to move the fuck on but again...its not my place to mess with that. I don't have any problem battling Paige over small irrelevant things but I wont touch this one. Shes done too much for me to low-blow her like that. It just sucks seeing the pain Cassie somehow brings even after four years. Nothing about that girl makes me comfortable but there's nothing I can do about it. I wear the corsets and the panties, sometimes. Paige wears the boss pants and her undergarments are absolutely none of my business. There's the impasse I've reached and it would be amazing if it could be cleared up already because I'm not the kind of person that copes well with not having a voice. I just know there's nothing I can say because the sad truth is that I know nothing about the details surrounding Paige and Cassie. Given that drunken night four years'd think I would...but you'd be wrong.

Riley shifted under the blanket and I realized my back was pressed to the door just watching him sleep. I moved as quickly as he did, pulling myself out of his line of vision and towards the bathroom. Closing the door quietly behind me I turned to the mirror, taking in the mess of chocolate waves over my shoulders and the slightest smudge of red on my lips. Purely Riley's doing. 'Thanks darling.' After wiping the remaining color away I was ready to reapply until the door squeaked open and I placed the lipstick automatically back to the counter. No use in reapplying twice.

"Why don't you like knocking?" I asked, keeping my voice as flat as possible because some small part of me liked getting him agitated by being oblivious. Riley could follow me around all day with puppy dog eyes but the truth is that he's not gonna stay and our relationship, if you could even call it that, was geared to make each other happy. He's happy. I'm happy. I think. I'm good at lying to myself when I have to so just go with it.

"I like knocking." He smiled, stepping closer to wrap his arms around my waist. "I like knocking things off of the tables and knocking headboards into walls and knocking you into..."

Hes so charming.

I turned to face him because something about the way he came up with these little lists of ways to touch me was endearing but more importantly our situation...was very filling.

"We've never actually knocked headboards into walls." I pointed out, squinting my eyes skeptically. "Maybe you have on your own but that's between you and your hand."

"That's because if I start something in bed you manage to always slip out and lead me somewhere else."

"Hallways are more fun." I shrugged and ticked off a few more locations on my fingers, making Riley smile. "And the dresser and pool table and oh all of the times in the shower."

"We should try the boss' desk." He smiled

"God no!" I snapped. "I'm not tampering with Paige's things! What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"Then whats the pool table?" Riley argued.

"Its common furniture. She never touches it. That desk has been her family's forever."

Why do I get so fired up with this? Don't get me wrong, I love pissing Paige off sometimes... but I also love her. Its one thing to mess around on a pool table or in the hallway but it's another to compromise something that's so personal to her. Riley has known Paige way longer than I have so this is proof of how unsentimental men can be. Sex first think later. I bet you never expected me to be the one who cares so much.

Riley shrugged his shoulders. "So?"

"You're an ass." I raised my eyebrows to drive that point home though I have a feeling this will be a repeated argument.

"I'm sorry." Riley smiled proudly but it faded as his eyes softened.

He ran his hands lightly up my sides and the black lace corset clinging to my body, gripping under my arms to pull me closer against his chest. He could try to be soft all he wanted but the moment passed quickly every time and if it didn't then...I would always make sure that it did. The last thing I need is a serious relationship and the only thing I needed from Riley was the passion of his touch. I don't have the time nor the energy to deal with the emotional side of anything and his head has plenty of things to focus on that are better than me. I'm just patiently waiting for the day when he wakes up on his own and realizes that he deserves better and until that day I'll be ready because I don't know how to be better for him. Its inevitable and only a matter of time before he leaves.

"Have we tested this yet?" Riley rested his hands on the vintage pedestal sink, one on either side of me as he pressed my back into the cold porcelain. "I don't think we've tested this." He whispered huskily and swiped my hair from my shoulder, leaning in to kiss below my ear, tracing his mouth and tongue lightly over my jaw line. Too lightly when combined with soft words. I slipped out of his arms and took a deep breath, hating that I struggle to breathe around him sometimes.

"I piss Paige off enough without breaking pieces of the train." I smiled and bit my bottom lip briefly. "I can handle breaking the smaller things like glass bottles and decor being thrown at you... but I'm not gonna break solid pieces that have been here forever."

"Who said we'd break it?" Riley smirk and inched closer.

It's a move I know well. Its his 'I can't take no for an answer so now I'm gonna try to be cute and attack you like a St. Bernard' move. Not happening. He pulls this shit on Paige a lot and the first time he tried it on me he got knee'd and couldn't walk for hours so its amazing that he's resilient enough to be attempting this especially after being injured last night. In any case I can use it to my advantage because he a least seems to have forgotten the intricate pedestal sink that's probably hundreds of years old. His focus was on me and luckily distractions are my thing. I respect Paige too much to actually destroy all she really has left in home, even though she always has us...she's lost enough.

My eyes flickered back to Riley's slick approach. "Oh no you don't." I reached and caught him by the ear, ripping him towards the door.


I sighed and ignored the string of profanities and whining leaving his lips as he frowned at me. Anything to get him away from the sink and the idea of breaking it but also because I don't take his bullshit and I think he depends on that sometimes to get what he wants.

"Stop being such a fucking bitch!" I released him once we were back inside of the bedroom and turned to him. "Do you know how whiny you sound? You're like a child stamping your little foot when you don't get your way and I'm seriously not surprised every time Paige kicks your ass. Honestly I wish she'd do it more often but she just too nice. I'm not nice Riley I'm not gonna reward you for acting like a baby so just grow the fuck up and take the rejection!"

My body slammed into the carved wall as he pushed me back and I knew instantly that I had won. I knew exactly what to do to pull Riley away from the sweet kisses on my neck and thrust him into that more careless and numb place. Its easier this way and I think he knows it. Its easier than giving him false hope that I'm gonna stay with him forever because I don't know to do that and he always seems to forget. His lips found my neck again and this time the scraping of his teeth told me his head was in the right place.

I gasped as his breath moved across my skin and gripped my fingers into his hair holding him just close enough for leverage. His hands moved faster now, down the strings on the front of the corset and with one tug he had loosened it enough to give himself visual before moving on to graze over the white cotton and black lace between my thighs. A moan left my throat and made me even more impatient than before. Dropping my hands I ran them quickly down the front of his black t-shirt and wrapped around the hem, pulling it up over his head before his lips actually managed to find mine. His tongue melted into my mouth and ignited the string of deeper feelings that I quickly pushed away by biting his lower lip and coaxing a moan from his throat. He brought his hand up to my stomach and shoved me harder into the wall as he sucked my tongue into his mouth. The dizzying effect made my knees cave but I struggled to keep him from seeing that. Seeing it would be counter productive and I'm the one calling the shots here. While he was attempting to slow down...I was craving the opposite. I ran my nails over the muscles of his stomach, pulling at the draw string of his flannel pants and biting his lip harder until I tasted the metallic on my tongue.

"Fuck, Mar." He groaned and his eyes furrowed as they burned into me panting heavily against the wall.

"Exactly." I sighed impatiently. "What's the problem?"

I smiled in victory and bit my lip as he slipped his hand down and wrapped around the thin white cotton, pushing it aside while using his weight to pin me completely. Riley gripped my thigh, bringing it up higher against the wall. He adjusted himself with his free hand and my eyes rolled back as he sunk down slightly and slid easily into my body, ripping all oxygen from my lungs in one sharp cry. This feeling never old, the feeling of someone else filling you completely. More than just physically and in more ways than I could ever admit to Riley or to myself. We have a good thing going and I've seen 'good things' fail. This is working. What Riley and I have has worked for years.

"Shit..." I cringed and slammed my head back against the wall as he moved into me. Somehow I'd never gotten use to the pain that came in such a good way from my body shaping itself to him.

His green eyes met mine briefly, loving my reaction before he reached down and pulled my other leg up, wrapping them around his back so he could drive deeper and press me into the wall. That sinfully good stabbing shot once up my back then vanished as we fell into a faster pace. As seconds passed his breathing grew more ragged and mine was pulled from my body with each thrust as he used his hands to bring me down harder each time. I cried out and tugged at Riley's dark hair as pressure coiled around my center. He smiled when he felt my body begin to clamp down around him and in response he moaned and shifted his hand to the bundle of nerves between my legs, pressing softly as he continued the steady pace of his hips and sending a shudder through every nerve in my body as I found release at his fingertips.

"Fu.." His lips found mine again, silencing my scream and smiling into my mouth.

"Are you okay?" He whispered against my lips, slowing the strokes of his hand and his hips as the waves crashed through my body. He gasped and his eyes darkened when he felt slick heat coat his skin. "Marle.."

I silenced his words with my tongue and pulled him closer, rocking against him as my body calmed. He's too proud about his abilities sometimes but him whispering my name is something that tries to pull at broken pieces and stitch them together again without my consent. It's still my nature to dominate and drown out the things that scare me. The things that I can't bring myself to believe.

I shifted and pushed him back so that he'd release his hold on me, dropping my legs back to floor. I like it this way. Keeping our pleasure separate from each other's was what worked the best for me because it lacked the closeness that I'd seen fall apart too many times. Riley, being a guy, never seemed to notice but I'm always careful. I need him but I don't want to need him because one day soon...he'll realize he doesn't need me. I plan on continuing with my process of denial because the alternative for me is far worse.

I brought my hands up and shoved him in the chest, making him stumble back though he didn't fall. I consider that a failure on my part. Slipping my fingers under the waist band of my shorts I worked them down and off of my legs, keeping my smile in my head as I watched his focus fail. Might as well go overboard on this one, he seems a little more sensitive today. I tugged lightly at the strings of the corset, loosening the threading down my chest and stopped just above my navel. That was all the distraction I needed and I knew it when his breathing picked up.

Inching closer I shoved him again and this time he crashed back onto the red carpet. I moved quickly, straddling his hips and greeting him again. The position pulled a loud groan from my throat and a sharp gasp from his lips as he brought his hands to my waist and pulled me down harder. My chest caved forward from the blow and I buried him in long waves of brown hair. His mouth moved instantly back to my neck, scraping his teeth and soothing with his tongue. He was content staying there usually but his lips were searching for my mouth now and my fight was weakening. I gave in and kissed him the way he really wanted until the stinging in my eyes became a threat. All I could focus on was the movement of my body and his needs, blocking out my own feelings for the sake of following my own rules. The recoiling around my center was lost to me as I struggled to fight it away, pushing it back and thinking only of him.

His arms wrapped around my back and my eyes fell on his shoulder and the purple bruise from being thrown by Ember. It bled under his skin into the colors of the snake on his arm, next to the small jagged scar, making my jaw clench because my rules were trying to fail me so much lately. The way my mind was telling my heart not to care and every time I'm around him it gets harder to convince myself that I make sense. I twisted my fingers into his hair tightly to take out the anger I was feeling towards myself for thinking the way I do and as Riley's hips jerked he slipped away and I slumped forward into him completely, desperate to hide the burn behind my eyes that was only made worse by the peppery scent found in the crook of his neck. Riley's chest panted as he ran his fingers softly up the lace on my back again, bunching his hand lightly into my long curls, trying to bury himself more. I pulled myself away from his arms and smiled at him weakly as I recovered my shorts from the floor and tugged the strings tight against my chest. It usually wasn't this hard. I've had years to perfect my walls and make sure they were structurally sound to keep myself safe. Somethings different now, somethings changed. I can't pinpoint the problem so I moved away before my barriers could crash down completely. Something about the way Paige was hurt and survived should have made me believe that I was strong enough but the image of her in pain was just too fresh in my mind. I have no idea how to change the habits that were created as I watched her cry in her sleep.

I glanced over at Riley still recuperating on the floor and walk over to the closet, pulling a blanket down from the shelf and turning to him again. His arm is draped over his eyes as his breathing slows and it's all I have in me not to fall down beside him and hold him. It's all I can do to keep myself from burying my face in his neck or kissing the purple bruise on his shoulder. I clench my jaw and walk over, draping the white blanket over his body before turning away and grabbing my ripped jeans from the end of the bed.

Closing the bathroom door quietly behind me I turn back to the mirror and pick up the crimson lipstick from the porcelain sink. Nobody is forcing Riley to be here with me and maybe one day he'll wake up and realize that I can't be everything he deserves because im not brave enough to risk being hurt the way Paige was. That alternative that I mentioned? ...I'm not as strong as Paige. I wouldn't be able to come back the way she did. The only comfort I have is seeing the way Emily makes Paige smile. I already love her for being able to do that.

Arms tightened around her stomach, coaxing her eyes to open and face the scent of warm sugar enveloping her nose and the heat pressed into her body. She should feel stiff from sleeping without moving all night but the soft grass paired with her arms wrapped around Emily's shoulders was the most comfortable place in the world. Craning her neck to look down her eyes fell on raven hair sprawled across her chest and Emily's hand placed lightly under the hem of her shirt, resting on the bare skin of her stomach like she had been seeking warmth in the night. The inside of the tent was sweltering at the moment though, humid from the morning sun beating down and igniting the red stripes hanging above. There was a hint of the blue watery light that could still be picked out against the white lines. She could hear workers beginning to move around outside of the tent though the inside was still quiet and still.

Her heart rate increased the longer Emily's fingers stayed on the flat of her stomach but she willed it to slow down. Emily was laying on her chest and every part of her was sure the thundering of her heartbeat would wake her up. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, focusing on short quiet breaths to steady her pulse. After a few minutes Emily shifted and stretched against her side but she kept herself still. She smiled lightly when she felt Emily's hand jerk away, unaware of where she had placed it somewhere in the night. It was cute and made her cheeks heat up because she could tell without opening her eyes that Emily was likely blushing. Her eyes opened in surprise when Emily placed her hand back on her stomach, under her shirt again, bringing the heat with her fingertips to an already hot arena. Emily shifted herself up off the grass, pressing into her stomach as she sat up and looked around.

"Hey." She whispered, calling Emily's eyes to meet her own. Emily had the most beautiful smile on her lips as she brought herself instantly back down on the grass beside her.

"Are we allowed to be sleeping out here all night?" Emily chuckled, bringing her arms over her head as she arched her back off of the grass to stretch.

"We can sleep wherever we want." She smiled, letting her eyes glide shamelessly over Emily's exposed hip. It seemed fair considering Emily's hand had been on her stomach all night.

"I guess that's a benefit of owning everything."

"No that's also a benefit of being an adult without a curfew. But yes...owning it all helps though I don't own all the fields and I would have slept out there too."

"We should." Emily nodded and curled up against her side again.

"We definitely should." She agreed, closing her arms tightly around Emily's body and kissing the top of her head. Emily's hand grazed across her stomach again. She sucked in involuntarily and laughed when it grumbled under her touch. "Okay, I'm hungry." She smiled and shifted up out of Emily's arms pulling herself up from the grass.

"I am too." Emily pulled herself up before she could offer her assistance and smiled proudly.

"Okay so food first." She sighed, looking towards the now empty food table as she frowned.

"Ladies?" They followed the voice to the archway of the tent to see Mary standing arms crossed biting back an amused smile. "Breakfast is ready."

"Thanks." Emily called. Her cheeks flushed but she duck her head and moved immediately in Mary's direction. She followed slowly behind, tucking her hands in her front pockets for some reason, exactly like a child being caught after curfew. The irony.

"Are you seriously making her sleep outside, Paigey?" Mary raised her eyebrows and looked sympathetically at Emily. "She has a bed, Emily. Don't let her fool you."

"Its my fault. I fell asleep first."

"Yes, thanks mom." She added, stopping beside Emily with a smile.

"Yeah well this 'mom'.." Mary waved her hand in front of her face and smiled. "..made you food so be nice."

"Thank you." She caved.

Mary smile as she turned on her heels and walked back out of the tent. "Eat and then I'm stealing her." She sang.

"I assume you're not referring to me?" She shouted.

"Why would I want to steal you Paige? I already own you." Mary laughed shaking her head as she disappeared outside.

"Its true. She owns everybody." She agreed sadly, smiling at Emily with a heavy sigh. "Don't let her own you though."

Emily laughed and shook her head. "Hey if she owns you then what chance do I have?"

She sighed again and slipped her arm around Emily's waist. "You're right. There's no hope for you. Despite Mary's bad shopping skills when it comes to food she's a really good cook so she's always forgiven for discrepancies."

Emily was still laughing when she pulled open the hatch door of the kitchen. "Yea my parents found them up by the engine and apparently they relieved the engineer and accidentally locked on the brakes."

"So much fun." Mary smiled proudly as they entered kitchen. "They shouldn't make that button so easy to hit."

"It's creepy how much you hear." She shook her head and gestured for Emily to sit at a bar stool along the counter. "And its a handle not a button. its impossible to just hit. You have to lift and twist it and then press it in. How the hell did you guys manage that?"

"Skills, babe." Riley grinned, dropping down into the chair beside Emily.

"I hope that you're calling Mary 'babe' because we've already discussed what would happen if you called me that again."

"Please, Ember already kicked my ass." Riley sighed. "Then you proceeded to kick my ass and then my mom put me in my place..."

"And then I put you in your place." Mary smiled "Paige!" She called tossing a large pancake through the air like a frisbee.

She caught them midair with the plate and smiled, grabbing another plate just as Mary tossed another one.

"And exactly what place would that be?" Riley teased, grabbing a pancake from Mary's plate and slapping it down on his own.

"Yeah I'd rather not hear about that thanks..." She sighed, sliding a plate to Emily before turning to the refrigerator.

Mary smiled and ignored her protest. "Well, I was thinking we could..."

"Please don't answer that while we're eating. Or ever." She pleaded, taking a bite as she leaned into the counter across from Emily.

Emily was sitting quietly, observing as her head snapped back and forth between everyone. "Where's Peter?"

Mary snorted and shook her head. "Sydneys probably putting him in his place too."

"Damnit!" She choked on a bite of pancake and slide the plate back onto the counter, turning quickly to spit it into the sink before it became permanently lodged in her airway. "Why can't you people have polite table conversations?"

"This is a counter...not a table." Riley pointed out, enjoying the bite in his mouth while she was washing hers down the sink. Typical.

Mary appeared beside her at the sink and slapped her back, placing a bottle of orange juice on the counter beside her. "Seriously what do you think they're doing? He doesn't have anyone on the train to take care of his needs like we all do."

This time it was Emily that choked and had her slapping Mary in the arm. "Really?" She glared and shook her head in disbelief as she handed the bottle of juice to Emily instead. "I'm sorry." She mumbled.

"Apologize to me one more time and I'm gonna have to put you in your place." Emily smiled, taking a drink of the orange juice.

"I think you just did, Ems." Mary chuckled.

Her mouth fell open slightly as Emily blushed and ate a piece of bacon on her plate. She was only half aware of Mary giving her a playful nudge in the arm and even less aware when Riley left the room and Emily and Mary picked up a conversation between themselves. She wasn't present for any of it. Her mind wasn't anyways. She crinkled her eyebrows down at the food on her plate and picked at small bites. Her thoughts were running away from her from just one little suggestive comment and while it wasn't a bad thing it made her feel completely out of control. Its unreal when the person you thought of almost everyday for years is sitting before you and blending in perfectly with your family and she wants you just as much as you want her. She cleaned her plate quietly and proceeded to clean up the kitchen without even realizing it. She had to stop herself from putting bacon in the cabinet and syrup in the dishwasher. It was easy to assume that using it as dish detergent might be counter productive to the cleaning process.

"Paige?" Peter called, sticking his head in the door with a smile. "Sydney is still looking for you."

She swallowed hard at being pulled from the daze she had been moving around the kitchen in for the last twenty minutes. "Okay tell her I'm on my way." She nodded, tossing a hand towel back to the counter.

"Meet me in the commons in little bit?" Mary smiled at Emily and pulled herself from her stool. "I have to track down the girls first."

"Yeah, sounds good." Emily nodded, finishing the last few bites on her plate.

Mary stopped beside her at the sink to clean her plate. She kept her voice a soft whisper for their ears only. "I like seeing you happy, Paige." She smiled lightly and stepped back a few paces before turning through the door.

Her heart sank in that moment because it was suddenly so clear that Emily was right about Mary. She had failed to see that something might be bothering one of the most important people in her life. Mary was the girl who had been there for her and how had she returned that favor? By failing to pay attention and by failing to realize that a moment of pain and confusion may have very well hurt one of the only people she had left that loves her.

"Mary wants me to try some costumes and throw around ideas." Emily smiled, moving around the bar counter towards the sink

"That's good." She nodded and stole the plate from Emily's hand before she could try to rinse it. "I've gotta go find Sydney and work out a few things but I'll wait with you until she gets back."

"Uh no." Emily shook her head and leaned her back into the counter. "You don't have to. I'm gonna take a shower and change so you do what you have to do and I'll be fine."

"Why?" Her shoulders sunk in disappointment.

"Because you have things to do and I can find my way around." Emily tilted her head to the side and bit lightly on her bottom lip, planning her next words carefully. "Am I what makes you happy?"

Something about Emily's smile in that moment had her moving herself closer before she could stop to think. One hand went to her neck and the other went to her hip as she pressed her back into the counter. She only hesitated for a second before her lips and it was Emily who closed that gap. The fever at which she burned into her mouth was different from the kisses they'd shared before, more eager and full of need to touch and taste. She wanted to learn every flick of Emily's tongue over hers. Emily's hand dropped to the flat of her stomach, toying with the hem of her shirt and tracing her fingers over her skin before tugging her closer by the button of her jeans. She moved one hand into Emily's hair and the other she guided slowly under her shirt, dragging it lightly up her side and stopping short when her finger tips touched lace.

It instantly became clear why Mary and Riley had issues with holding themselves back because Emily was right. She knew Emily was right because she couldn't keep herself from trying to get closer to the girl she...

Emily gasped and broke away, panting as she slumped back into the counter, shaking her head to clear her thoughts. She understood Emily's need to do this because she was doing the same thing at the moment only she was slumping into Emily's body as her lungs tried to relax.

"Use your words, McCullers." She smiled, her eyes closed as she sucked in a weak breath.

"Ye.." Emily pressed a light kiss to her lips, cutting off her reply before breaking away again.

"Go." She smiled. "I have to find Mary and you have to find Sydney so please go."

She sighed heavily and dropped her head in defeat. "I know." Her words were more of a growl but she stepped back and grabbed two apples from the bowl on the counter. "Improv today sometime, you'll love it. I'll find you when I'm done with Sydney so please don't let the girls ruin you."

"Never." Emily smiled and pushed her back off the counter, smiling as she grabbed her bottle of juice and twisted the cap. "Hurry."

The sun was higher in the sky now and the grounds were becoming more crowded with people. It was getting hotter and none of it had anything to do with the sun, unless Emily was the sun. In that case the fire across her skin was most definitely caused by the sun. The gates were open by now and that meant a busy day was ahead of them thanks to Riley's firework display. The smaller tents were already opening and the scent of popcorn and sugar hung in the air. She rolled the apples lightly between her hands as she walked. It was time consuming walking from the train to the offices while fighting crowds, and she had a pit stop to make first. Several small children had to be dodged while others threatened to bring her to the ground as they hugged her legs when she passed or just tried to trip her intentionally. She moved by a small group of girls her age and ducked her head as she slipped by, avoiding their eyes along with dodging a cute little married couple that pushed past her. A few hugs later from neighbors and ten high fives for the kids and she had cleared most of the masses. Peter caught her eyes and smiled. He was leading Ember with a finger twisted in his mane, saving her the trouble of making her planned detour.

"Hey I was gonna bring him closer for Emily. I thought she'd want to see him."

"Did you or do you just want to test the 'through'?" She smiled sarcastically, holding the apple out for Ember.

"Well, I mean if she wants to try its better if he's close." Peter shrugged.

She was glad Ember polished off the apple quickly. "I hate you." She sighed, slapping the other apple into Peter's hand as she pushed around him and continuing her walk to Sydney's office.

"Paige!" He called, earning himself a flip of her finger over her shoulder. He should know better than to think she would be okay with Emily jumping through an inferno ring that was barely wider than Ember's body.

Sydney was head of the administration office and she, along with a few others, handled business while they were away. Paperwork and bills and filing away schedules. Sydney had also been bothering her with inspections that were coming up, among other things. Everything was routine and inspections passed with flying colors but the amount of paperwork was irritating and with Emily nearby it was even more aggravating to be away from her side for any reason let alone signing papers for hours. The only benefit that came from this was the chance of avoiding the person she now knew was on the grounds. If she was locked up in the office then Cassie would hopefully be gone before she was done and the fact that Emily would be with Mary was a comforting thought. Cassie wouldn't be stupid enough to get too close to Mary but then again they're drawn to each other like magnets that want to kill someone. Usually only each other in a very blood-filled way.

She slipped quickly into a pair of light jeans and a pale pink tank top. It would be easy to remove if she had to for sizing costumes but it was also thin enough that it could possibly be left on without getting in the way. After slipping into her boots she stopped in front of the mirror and it was startling to see her appearance. Her mind when back to Rosewood when she had avoided the mirror so she wouldn't have to see the aftermath of her hangover. The changes now were only for the better. Her eyes looked brighter without a trace of dark circles, which was surprising considering she hadn't even slept in a bed. She could still feel Paige pressed against her body and soft grass beneath her back. She could feel the rush of feelings that came when Paige created water out of light. How it made her feel safe because Paige was holding her. The color of her cheeks was brighter now too, just a hint of the pink to match the shirt she was wearing. She swallowed the dryness in her throat and brushed her hair, learning that her fingers were trembling at just the thoughts. So much deeper than physical and so scary at the same time to feel so much for someone she just met. That was Paige though. From the second she saw the picture in her hands there was something different.

The shaking in her hands was gone by the last stroke of the brush. She smiled lightly and pulled her damp hair into a messy bun, leaving tendrils hanging down. Most of that was because her thoughts were so far from being in the current moment, all she could think about was Paige pressing her into the counter and want it fueled inside of her. Touching Paige was like touching a person for the first time, like she had gone her whole life without making physical contact with anyone and then suddenly she was touching perfection in somebody else. It was hard to concentrate on anything other the way they had touched each other in the kitchen. A passion and desire pulling them closer to each other without even having to try. It was effortless and natural. A primal urge to touch Paige in ways she hadn't touched anyone in a long time. Even an hour later the feeling was strong. It wasn't was embedded. The thing she'd learned over the last week was the capability of her heart and how unlimited it could really be. She learned how she could trust in herself to move forward with her life again and the direction had never been more clear.

She grabbed her phone from the floor beside the door and was surprised to see no missed messages but it also made her feel guilty for once again failing to call her parents the day before. She owed them an explanation. Two buttons later and the phone rang. One ring and her mom's voice sounded through the speaker.

"Emily? Thank God are you okay?"

"Yeah mom I'm fine. Better than fine actually."

"Where are you? What are you doing?"

"I'm in Lincoln." she sighed. "What did Hanna tell you I'm doing?"

"Hanna won't tell me anything except that you joined a circus with tattooed guys and naked women and some girl that's witty like she is. I personally wouldn't describe Hanna as witty though." she could tell her mom was shaking her head in confusion. "Also something about buying a zoo and her wanting breast implants which for the life of me I can't figure out how that relates to a circus or a zoo but just please promise me you aren't getting any."

"I'm not getting any."

"Okay good now explain the rest."

"Her name is..."

"Is this a circus that mistreats animals because she said something about tigers starving?"

"No Hanna just..."

"And is this an actual career? Did you put in your two weeks with the stables or did you just quit?"

"Mom!" She snapped, forcing a deep breath. Her mind couldn't begin to process the speed in which her mother's mouth was moving. "Give me a minute and let me answer the first twenty questions you asked."

"Sorry go ahead."

"Yes its a career path. Brian was getting rid of Ember and I met a girl who used to live in Rosewood. She moved away in high-school and their family circus was in town. She was willing to take Ember so he wouldn't have to go to auction."

"Brian was sending him to auction? Why? He's a show horse."

I know. It's because his owners werent paying their bill. She was gonna take him in for me but then I just...she was leaving..." She cut off her own words. It hurt even now remembering the pain she felt when Paige wrote her a check and drove away.

"What's wrong Emmy?"

"I havent been happy in a long time except when I'm with Ember but then...she somehow made me happy. She made me smile and really laugh and..."

"I asked you what's wrong not what's right."

"Nothings wrong but.. "

"Not buts Emily." Her mom scolded. "If you're happy then there's no stumbling around with your words. You don't have to explain your feelings to me. They're yours and if..."

"Do you think there's a 'too soon' to love somebody?"

"No Emmy, I don't think there is. You've had years to learn what you need and now you're trusting yourself for a change."

"Yeah I am."

"So no animals starving just tattooed men and naked women?"

she laughed at how quickly her mom was distracted. "That's just Hanna being Hanna. The animals are fine. Riley has one tattoo that I know of and Mary wears clothes... just not bras...usually."

"Hannas a bit dramatic." She could see her mom rolling her eyes from here. "So what is this? When are we gonna see you? I'm guessing you won't be home for Christmas this year?"

"Why not?"

"Well I don't know... are you traveling year round or?"

"No its just into October. I'm gonna be riding Ember in the show but we're still figuring it all out. I should definitely be home for Christmas probably sooner."

"I want to see you riding. Are you gonna be close to Fort Hood?"

"I don't know maybe. I'll have to ask and find out but I'll call you."

"Okay. I gotta go Emmy, I'm supposed to be meeting you dad for lunch and I have a few errands first but please call when you can and I want contact numbers for someone that's around you in case there's an emergency so text me."

"You know how to text?"

"No not really but I know how to read them. You might only get a smiley face back from me."

"What about the rest of the questions you asked? Do you want me to call back later today?"

"You already told me the most important thing Emily. Just from hearing your voice I can tell that you're happy."

"Yeah." She sighed. "Yeah I am happy."

"What's her name?"

"Paige." Just saying her name made her smile.

"See...I can hear you smiling."

"I love you mom. I'll call soon and I'll get contact info for you."

"I love you too. Wait... did you turn the thermostat down before you left?"

"Yeah and I locked up and gave Hanna the spare."

"Oh dear Lord." She sighed. "Okay, well she can stay there if shes in town I guess but you still have your key right? It's still home, Emily."

"I still have it but it's not the right home for me now." She peeked out her small window and smiled. "Okay I gotta go too mom, I'll call you soon.

"Take care of each other, Emmy."

Her smile widened. "We will."

She glanced out the window again and tossed her phone onto the bed on her way out the door. The commons room was deserted and so was the kitchen which meant she had some time to kill until Mary showed up and that meant that she could spend some time what she saw outside of her bedroom window. Sunlight and warmth poured in through the open hatch door and she smiled when she jumped down to the ground. Deep brown eyes turned to her and watched her approach, his dark coat shimmering red in the daylight. There was a small stake in the ground acting as a makeshift hitching post and a red rope was draped loosely over his neck. It wouldn't have done anything to hold him if he pulled away but Peter likely wanted the illusion that the animals weren't just free to roam over the grounds when there were so many people around. Ember didn't mind leads or saddles and all of the choices to not use them were purely hers but having him safe was better than him getting lost or injured by roaming off. There were too many roads nearby and cars moving through the busy parking lot.

"Hey, baby." She smiled, running her fingers over the length of his neck and tracing her them over the red rope. It was soft and velvety like the ones used to rope off red carpet events or seats at old movie theatres. The only thing she thought of was the jacket. Everything else ever made from this color and fabric paled in comparison.

"He's beautiful."

She turned and looked over her shoulder towards the voice, her eyes falling on chestnut hair and hazel eyes. A girl stood a few feet away, close to her own age with hesitation in her eyes as she looked at Ember. One hand was tucked in the back pocket of her cutoff denim skirt and she scuffed her ankle high cowgirl boots into the dry dirt ground. The warm wind blew her long hair from her shoulders as she smiled at him.

"Thanks." She smiled proudly and looked back to him, stroking her fingers down his nose. He's gorgeous obviously and she still was disgusted by how his owners could have abandoned him the way they did. Dutch warm blood was one the best breeds for show horses and they excelled at jump obstacles. That excited her more when she thought about their act. Fiery rings and barriers was perfect for them.

Movement behind her pulled her out of her thoughts as she turned back to the girl who was now turning away. There were a group of a few other girls waiting nearby chatting among themselves and she forced herself to focus and remember that this was a business that was open to the public and she was part of that business. Her job was to entertain people and she felt bad for failing at that task already.

"You can pet him if you want. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm sorry."

The girl turned around and smiled. "Really?"

"Yeah I'm sorry I just get wrapped up in him sometimes." She smiled lightly and continued her strokes.

"No problem, I mean look at him. It's easy to see why." She inched closer and the wind kicked up the watermelon scent of her bubblegum. "Is he yours?"

"Yeah." She nodded and watched as the girl extended her fingers slowly towards his nose, introducing herself to him before touching. "His owners abandoned him at the stables I worked at so I bought him."

She stepped back so that the girl could pet him, watching as she ran her fingers down Ember's nose. His skin twitched slightly as he looked away passively. He was used to other people and genuinely unphased for the most part. Her eyes flickered over to the bucket of water Peter had set out for him and she smiled when she noticed an apple sitting on a small bale of hay.

"That's unbelievable. My parents own show horses and he's perfect." The girl's smile faltered when her fingers grazed over the gold braid and feathers in Ember's hair. "Are you from here? I havent seen you around before and I know a lot of people."

"No, Pennsylvania actually." She corrected.

"Cool." She smiled and dropped her hand from Ember, crossing her arms casually over her chest. An emerald-green t-shirt clung tight to her body with a faded out vintage logo of an old auto shop. "I've never been but I've heard it beautiful."

"Its overrated." She smiled. "I like it better here."

"It's too hot and dull here actually..." She smirked, raising her eyebrows. "...and the girls from Pennsylvania are beautiful so I might have to visit."

Her breath hitched uneasily as she cleared her throat and adjusted the rope around Ember's neck. "Matter of opinion I guess. Personally there's nothing I want there."

"Well, you're so beautiful that you made me forget my pickup lines."

She chuckled and shook her head in disbelief. "Okay that was seriously cheesy."

"Yeah but did it work?"

"Its sweet but no. Not at all." She looked at the girl apologetically. It wasnt in her nature to be rude if she didn't have to be and she seemed nice enough but her mind was completely wrapped around Paige and that's exactly where she wanted it to be. Thinking of anyone else was the furthest thing from her mind in fact it was nonexistent. "I'm seeing somebody." she added.

"She's a lucky girl." She looked over her shoulder at the group of girls waiting for her, one them waving her hand for her to hurry up. "Seeing somebody has never stopped me and my girlfriend though."

"I'm actually the lucky one." She corrected, suddenly agitated by this girls words. "I have everything I need in her. You and your girlfriend must not."

"Just you saying that proves she's the lucky one. But where's the fun in having everything you need and not wanting more?" The girl smiled and glanced at the train, dropping her arm from Ember's neck as her smile faded. "Hope to see you around, Pennsylvania."

She smiled halfheartedly and watched the girl join her friends, crinkling her eyebrows when she wrapped her arm around another girl's hips and tucked her hand into the back pocket of her jeans. She shook her head and pitied this girl's way of thinking. She knew seven years of wanting someone by her side and that girl clearly didn't realize how good she could have it. She couldn't put into words how lucky she felt to not only have someone now...but to have the right someone. She felt bad for anyone that had to go through life without their very own Paige. Also the way she was given a nickname of a state she didn't even like was annoying and obnoxious.


She turned to see Mary smiling in the kitchen doorway making her instantly forget the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach. She had forgotten that Mary still hadn't met Ember and the encounter was likely to be adorable. Theres no way Mary would smother Ember and regardless Ember would probably be more than okay with leaving this world if it meant he was being loved on by her. Mary's smile told her she was in a loving mood.

Coffee Shop- Landon Pigg (Paily) {I do not own these Lyrics}

I think that possibly, maybe I'm falling for you

Yes, there's a chance that I've fallen quite hard over you

I've seen the paths that your eyes wander down, I wanna come too

I think that possibly, maybe I'm falling for you

No one understands me quite like you do

Through all of the shadowy corners of me

I never knew just what it was

About this old coffee shop I love so much

All of the while I never knew

I never knew just what it was

About this old coffee shop I love so much

All of the while I never knew

I think that possibly, maybe I'm falling for you

Yes, there's a chance that I've fallen quite hard over you

I've seen the waters that make your eyes shine, now I'm shining too

Because, oh, because I've fallen quite hard over over you

If I didn't know you, I'd rather not know

If I couldn't have you, I'd rather be alone

I never knew just what it was

About this old coffee shop I love so much

All of the while I never knew

I never knew just what it was

About this old coffee shop I love so much

All of the while I never knew

All of the while, all of the while it was you

Maybe I'm Just Tired- As Tall As Lions (Marley) [I do not own these Lyrics}

If love comes your way

Don't be afraid

Unlock the box your heart's encased

Hope it wont change

Beware of the games

That she'll want to start playing

Oh, lately babe I stay awake thinking this life gets lonely

Well maybe I'm just scared

Scared to let you go

I want you to know

Right from hello your love just kept me wondering

Well maybe I'm just tired

Tired of never knowing, yeah

But I know I'm not good enough

I know I'm not good enough for you

Yeah I know I'm not good enough

I know I'm not good enough for you

If I can be saved

Show me the way

Help me help myself, baby

Don't be confused

Our love is true

Tell by the way I'm looking at you

Maybe I'm just tired

Tired of never knowing

Cause I know I'm not good enough

I know I'm not good enough for you Yeah I know I'm not good enough

Yeah I know I'm not good enough for you

But I know I'm not good enough

I know I'm not good enough for you

Yeah I know I'm not good enough

I know I'm not good enough for you