Let me start by saying that I've missed this story so much, and that not once in the months that I've been away from it has it left my mind. I know my hiatus was a bit abrupt and probably longer than most expected but I'm so grateful to everyone who stuck by me and the story in my absence and continued to spread their love of the story to new Paily shippers and found themselves lost in rereading the story all over again. It means the world to me that you all have been so supportive and haven't hesitated to tell me how much you love and miss this unique group of misfits because it pulled me back all the faster and I thank you for that. I want heartache and I want to write angst and drama and fights and tears and the sometimes...risque. Most of all I want all of those things to lead to the best happy endings possible for these amazing people. They aren't just characters to me, they're my muse's and they're always in my head, placed somewhere doing something. (Paige has been the peeved and she's been doing that 'shifting her weight between both feet a with her arms crossed and glaring at me...' until Em enters the room and she melts and kindly asks me to start writing again, please.)
So...I'm gonna keep this as short as possible but I'm starting a disclaimer, (aside from Paige and Emily and any mention of Rosewood or Ali, which are not of my creation.) My disclaimer is simple and this. At heart...this is the same Emily and Paige from the show but they stand alone in my stories and they're strong without it. They are very different, stronger, and their possibilities in this story are all but limitless. Their choices may not be the same as they'd make in Pretty Little Liars because they're in a whole other world and around completely different people. I don't have many limits when I write, I write what I want and what comes naturally to each person under any given circumstance. They have minds of their own and they tell me what to do, I don't tell them. They also have a habit of throwing out their own little twists to the people around them. I always say that they leave roads...choices...for another person to make. There's no wrong choice and each one is for someone else to decide and can change how things play out entirely. I never know until said muse is making their choice on their own. If anything good has come from this hiatus, aside from me saving my sanity a little, it's that they're all so much stronger in my head and more opinionated, a certain little blue-eyed muse in particular. All of my OC's, Marley, Riley, Peter, Sadie, Faye, Cassie, Cole, The Harper Family, Sydney, Stella and Ember... are completely mine and are to stay that way. There will also be some very important little additions to this Red Velvet family. Not one of them is in this story to be anything but supportive, and helpful in some way, with Paige and Emily's growing relationships, and their future. Even the bad can create a stronger Paily. But...this is not just a typical Paily Story, it's a family story, and I like to do justice to each character. I love them all and they're a testament to me as a writer. Their success is mine and helps inspire me to keep going because I don't get paid to write and no one is forced to read. I appreciate every one who does and I love you all. A few of you know me personally and the ones who do know I have two little babies to take care of as well so this is really my heart and my escape and me pouring out my overflow of words in my head. I want full and happy endings for everyone.
That all being said, thank you all again for sticking with me. This is only the official prologue and the entire bones of this story are mapped and outlined fully so I plan on sticking with notes. However I'd always love to hear any hopes and wants for beloved characters along the way. Your opinion matters to me and I want you all happy as well. This prologue has been mostly complete since I stopped writing RV so finally...
"We fight, laugh, love, cry, scream, yell, talk about our future, wanting to have a family. That's why I love you...because no matter what we say or do to one another, we always are able to work it out in the end."
"We're almost there." Riley declared, his hand moving to roll down his window to let fresh warm air move through the car. "Welcome to the big sky state."
Emily's eye fluttered open to his voice, shifting up from Paige's shoulder in the back seat to look out the window at the vast gold plain, flat, and mostly barren with purple shapes of tall mountains touching the sky in the distance. The sky itself seemed larger here and with Riley's words she noted the bright blue, speckled with white fluffy clouds.
"Thank God..." Marley sat up from where she'd spent the last few hours sleeping against Riley's lap, a soft whimper every now and then meant the queasy feeling in her stomach hadn't diminished yet. Riley had kept his hand raking lightly through her hair most of the drive, his eyes flickering in concern between her and the road.
"Just so you all know..." Paige started, scooting herself up in the seat and slipping out of her arms to lean forward with a playful smile, resting her elbows on the back of the front seat. "I love you both...but aside from Emily I don't want to see either of you for a very long time after this. And I may never want to see the inside of this car again so you can just leave it behind at this stop."
Riley chuckled and shook his head in a stern 'no' but it was Marley who spoke. "I promise, Paige...the feeling is mutual." Marley nodded in agreement and moved to reach for the visor mirror to check her appearance only to stop herself and give up instead, fighting with a furrow of her eyebrows as she winced and sunk lower in the seat again.
"Are you okay?" She asked, leaning up beside Paige to peer over at her.
Marley turned her head and gave her a reassuring smile which both eased her mind and made her more concerned. Marley was always strong even when she didn't have to be. "I'm okay enough, Ems. I just better be okay for the show tomorrow or I'm going to be livid." she stated honestly.
"I promise, Mar...the feeling is mutual." Paige sighed, annoyed that she was now repeating Marley's words with her own truth. "Sadie and Faye will be lucky to survive the day after I'm done with them so I really need you tomorrow."
"They'll be lucky to survive me long enough for you to get to them. Sick or not I'm gonna deal with it."
"No, I pull boss card on this one." Paige smiled, shaking her head in protest. "Me first."
"Awe...then what about Peter?" Marley teased. "You don't get to punish all of them and I'd be a bad employee if I didn't offer to help out."
"You're not an employee anymore. Or...yet? Again?" Paige sighed heavily. "Paperwork for you right when we get back please." She mumbled, Marley nodding in agreement. "And I kind of already laid into Peter before I got off the train, and then when I called from the diner... so I guess you can take him this time."
She recalled the moment before they'd left Lincoln, quickly. Peter, tall and strong, reduced to looking meek and broken beside Paige just seeing how hurt she was when Marley and Riley were gone. Her heart hurt for him in that moment because like herself and like Riley at times...he was caught in the crossfire and torn between the two girls he cares for the most. It was no wonder he couldn't catch a break. Between Paige and Marley...choosing a side would be next to impossible. It was almost dangerous. Obviously it was an easy decision for Riley and herself but Peter was the odd man out who wouldn't want to make either of them upset, quite literally caught in the middle. That's a hard thing to avoid with large families, or so she was learning. You love them all but there's always going be something that forces sides or a space where you're forced to hover in between. The thing about this family that felt the most special was that they'd all lost something or were missing something and that similarity had brought them all together. They're all together by chance but they're a family by choice and she'd never be able to pick one better suited for herself than all of them, whether she was sometimes caught in the middle or not. There was no place she'd rather be.
"Is it bad that I'm still slightly disappointed by only getting to deal with Peter?" Marley sighed. "I know you think I'm a handful but you'd be surprised by how much I keep the girls in line for you without you even realizing it. Seriously, they're saints for you."
Paige shrugged passively and brought one hand up to rest her chin on. "I don't know, I've never noticed anything too extreme with them... aside from endless whining and fussing over their clothing allowance, which is plentiful, ok."
Marley turned in her seat with pointed eyes and her slightly amused smile that said she knew more than Paige in this department. "Ever wonder why?" She pressed. "I mean...I'll take the flack for shit sometimes...but not for them. I save you a world of grief by catching them hoarding your private bar stash and tossing empty bottles out the windows when we pass through towns. Peter gets a radio instead of me and he drops it out the damn window. I'm gonna point out that I've never thrown anything from the train because it's just not fucking safe. So, you're welcome in your hasty attempt to thank me."
"I'm gonna kill them." Paige breathed surely, shaking her head. "And I'll work on getting you a radio before I replace his. How about that?" Paige soothed with a soft chuckle, reaching over to touch Marley's curls.
"I', sick, it's not cool to tease me, Paige." She ducked away. "Just some fair warning."
"I know, baby." Paige smiled playfully but it was lost on Marley with her eyes closing again. "I'd never tease. That's your specialty."
Marley moaned in discomfort again and Riley's hand moved over to rub into the back of her neck but she pulled away from him restlessly and leaned her head against her cool window instead, squeezing her eyes shut and likely trying to focus on breathing without being touched.
"If you don't kill the girls then one of these days I really will." Marley mumbled. "File that away as a death threat if you want but I'll plead temporary insanity because I feel like shit right now."
"Steer clear of their room though." Riley warned, making Marley nod against the glass in agreement with a silent 'amen'. "Its a safety hazard. Remember the shows I almost missed last year?" He asked. "When I had to cut out my back-flips?" Paige nodded as he continued, leaning forward more. "I rolled my ankle over a wine bottle they tossed out in the hallway."
"Yes, and remember when Sadie and Faye were sitting in the commons crying the entire day?" Marley quipped, her eyes still closed in concentration and each bump in the highway that made her squeeze them tighter. "Because I spent two hours screaming at them for it and bitch slapped Sadie with a pillow. I'd feel bad...but it was a pillow so I'd say she's lucky to be honest because I could have used said wine bottle."
"Wait..." Paige put a hand up to speak. "Wine bottle? I only keep a few on the train and they're too lazy to buy their own."
"Yes, wine bottle." Riley nodded. "Cupcake Vineyards. I remember the pretty blue label of death that almost killed me."
"Don't be all dramatic or anything." Marley quipped, her voice laden with sarcasm as she rolled her eyes over to look at him.
"Red Velvet..." Paige groaned like she's was cursing. "I'm going to kill them." She slapped the seat making Marley jump.
"Honestly it's better that wine than the Cabernet Franc." Marley mumbled. "God or my Moscato." she groaned. "They wouldn't be breathing right now if they'd touched that one."
"Agreed...but still." Paige shook her head bitterly. "I hide the Red Velvet and they found it anyways. Dead, they're dead. Mandatory fun day for everyone."
Riley perked up behind the wheel and smiled, his green eyes turning to look at Paige like he was an excited child. "I miss those."
Marley however snapped her head to glare at Paige over the seat, her blue eyes flaming. "I better be excused from this one. You know I love them because I enjoy watching Sadie and Faye cry...a lot...but I'll throw up on someone if this doesn't pass soon so the last thing you want is to have me doing 'mandatory fun anything'. I can't, and quite fucking frankly I always participate without whining and I think me being forced to do..."
"I'll write you a doctor's note or I'll find a doctor to write you one." Paige joked with a warm smile, letting Marley sigh in relief followed by her wincing in discomfort. "I want to see them cry too and this works without fail every time. I mean there's really no reason to be giving Peter a hard time at all...at least...not before them. This is my job anyways...and yours apparently." She gestured towards Marley who fought a smile behind closed eyes.
"Um...Red velvet?" She asked, leaning up from the backseat like Paige was. It seemed those words would always jump out at her when spoken, likely for the rest of her life. It wasn't just a color and a fabric anymore, it was Paige. No matter where she was in her life, hearing those words would always bring Paige.
Paige smiled and her cheeks blushed guiltily."Remember back in Charleston when you asked me what my favorite drink was and I didn't tell you?"
"Yeah..." she eyed her suspiciously with a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "You said you wouldn't make it that easy on me."
"Well, given there probably isn't any left..." Paige smirked. "Red wine. Red Velvet wine to be exact. That's my favorite. Aside from the vodka." she shrugged lightly
"That sounds so much better than vodka."
"It is..." Paige agreed, playfully leaning closer and pressing her back into the turquoise leather seat while keeping her voice a whisper under the hum of the engine. "But vodka is a very close second which is why I didn't want you breathing on me outside of the bar. I wouldn't have been able to stop myself."
"Right because me throwing up on your boots wasn't deterring enough?" she teased.
"You missed my boots." Paige admitted warmly.
The heat of Paige's breath ghosted across her lips as she closed in and nuzzled against her nose to tilt her chin up. She didn't kiss her quickly. Instead Paige grazed her lips over hers lightly, not a kiss...just a soft brush of silk skin all the while the scent of Paige's mouth was making her breathing more of a struggle. She couldn't stop hoping that these kinds of moments with Paige would never end. That as time passed they'd still always touch in small ways. It's not the direct touches that are the most vivid in her mind, her time with Paige in the gold fields was so special but the small touches, the little things were the most clear. She'd always want the slight brushes of Paige's arm and the way Paige held her hand so lightly the night they fell asleep together on the couch on the commons. She'd always need those small things and they were a signature of Paige. The lack of them wouldn't be the same girl, not the same girl with cream skin and auburn waves around her shoulders who had walked her home to keep her from falling. Her heart had no limits to how much she could love this girl.
"Welcome to Great Falls." Riley announced, pulling their attention away from each other in that moment to look out the window at the small city still a few miles away. There was too much relief that came with the knowledge that they'd be out of this car soon. The kiss could wait. The idea of stretching their legs had everyone shifting around in their seats.
Marley groaned hearing the chipper in Riley's voice and straightened herself up slowly in the front seat. "It's about damn time."
Paige moved to shuffle around with the things in the backseat, bunching up the purple blanket and leaving it on the seat before reaching to shove random water bottles and left-over snacks into the plastic shopping bag from the gas station. She lifted her feet from the floor to help her, careful to move around Riley's guitar on the floor without banging into it. Being this close to the polished wood she could see the small details of its coloring and design. The wood was dark blue, a cool steel tone, but the sunlight through the window picked up flecks of glitter in the paint, almost like a shiny new car...the slightest sparkle of purple. The marbled guitar pick stuck between the strings was now automatically one of her new favorite things. Something so tiny but significant to her now...purple marble with gold writing.
The songs were now ingrained in her mind when she replayed the night's events through her head, sound-tracking every path Paige's fingers took across her body and just the feelings that came with being free enough to make her own choices. The main thing she had hated about Rosewood wasn't just being alone it was that she didn't feel like an adult living there. Maybe it's because she hadn't ventured or tried to change anything about her mindless routine but she had felt like a teenager regardless. She lived in her childhood home in the same bedroom she'd had pretty much her whole life and just...nothing ever changed because she hadn't let it. Now it was different. Last night, somehow, the pieces just clicked that she was free to do whatever she wanted without fear of being scolded or shamed. Maybe it was Marley, the way she bit softly at Riley's neck and the way that she wasn't afraid or ashamed to touch him in any way that she wanted even if they weren't alone. She wasn't hiding herself or her natural desires, she was confident and she owned it. Everyone around her was like that and now it made perfect sense why. It's the freedom they all have that she'd been missing for seven years in Rosewood. It wasn't just the town trapping her, she had trapped herself...stunted her own growth, limited herself. The spark of excitement in Paige's voice last night had made her skin burn but ultimately it had been Marley's confidence that had brought out her own urges last night. She felt braver thanks to them all, Riley and Marley, Peter...especially Paige. All of them had been through their own personal wars but still they touched the lives around them and now...she could only hope to touch their lives as deeply as they were touching hers.
Her eyes moved to look out the window as the four-lane highway began to slow and break into the city. Great Falls, central Montana on a sunny day, with shady trees while the surrounding terrain was flat and void of anything other than tall grass and farm lands and plenty of livestock. The city was like an oasis in the middle of nowhere, lush and green in a sea of gold. There was still the busy bustle of traffic and people going about their business and still the mom and pop shops that gave it the small town feel, though there were plenty of franchises as well, normal middle class houses and every chain business you could want.
"Have you guys been here before?" she asked, bringing her eyes back to glance over everyone.
Paige stopped shuffling with things and finally leaned back into the seat again. "Yeah...two years ago I think? That was the last time."
Riley nodded silently in agreement and reached over to touch Marley's thigh as her eyes closed again for a moment. He turned down a busy main street, 10th Avenue south, and franchises started zipping past outside the windows as they pushed through to the other side of town. After twenty minutes of stop and go traffic, Marley groaning with each red light, they finally reached a stone bridge crossing the Missouri River that dumped them into a quieter suburb of the city and an iron archway over the road that lead to what was clearly the large lot of the fair grounds. This was the side of the circus she hadn't seen yet. Both the Charleston and Lincoln grounds were covered in soft green grass and while there was still grass here...the Great Falls Fairgrounds held more pavement than the others. Some semi trucks were parked and some still moving through the parking lot, backing in and out to unload equipment for the tent.
"Oh my God, Riley." Paige groaned impatiently, eager for the car to stop moving so they could all be free from it. "Hurry up, just don't hit anyone or I'll have to pay for their medical bills which means you'll have to pay for their medical bills.."
The cougar sped up through the lot towards the back side, past dozens of workers carrying wooden tent posts and rolls of Persian rugs in rich colors that she recognized from the vendor's tables, spools of vibrant reds and purples, deep emerald. One couple was walking together holding hands and laughing and she straightened up at seeing them. The train was clearly here already because Seth and Claire were meandering around together. Her eyes had spotted a flash of flame red hair before they fell on the train stopped on a third section of tracks that ran separate from the other two, likely to allow the travel of other locomotives passing through. It was stopped beside a small strip of soft grass shaded with tall oak trees and a few scattered wooden picnic tables where people were gathered lounging around and stretching after being cooped up on the train. She recognized all of them and her heart bounced like she was seeing her family again for the first time in ages. Peter...even Sadie and Faye, a couple of men of different sizes that she knew as the clowns and a tiny woman playing with a small monkey on her shoulder. She was happy to see all of them, even the ones she didn't know by name...but Peter...she was surprisingly happy to see him and couldn't keep the excited smile from pulling at her lips. The car hadn't stopped before everyone turned to look at them approaching and Marley straightened up in her seat. She feared for Peter with the fire now in her blue eyes.
"Okay..." Marley sighed, looking more rejuvenated than before. "A deals a deal. You take the girls and I've got Peter."
The look of warning in Paige's eyes told her that she was second guessing this deal but without another word Marley threw open the door and climbed out and they all followed quickly. Her purple shirt bright in the sunlight against her cream skin and her brown curls whipped back off her shoulders as she stormed towards everyone...or...towards Peter. Dark denim clung tight to her legs and a pair of brown slouch boots hugged her calves, silent on her steps despite her pace as she marched over to him. Peter was standing uncomfortably, completely suspecting of what was coming, like a deer caught in the headlights of Marley's eyes. It seemed he didn't want to risk moving. Maybe if he stayed still she wouldn't see him but she was pretty sure that technique wouldn't work on Marley. Her eyes were trained and his grey eyes were hesitant but there was a glimmer of happiness under the surface at seeing Marley again. It was clear that he expected the temper in her eyes and his shoulders tensed which just conflicted more with the twinkle in his eyes and the way they melted. It was a whole internal struggle of whether to run or...not. Tough love, as Marley had called it. He'd take all the 'tough' from Marley that she could dish out and he'd take it gladly because at least it meant that she was back and as she closed in on him...she pounced hard. Her boots left the ground as she jumped into his arms and wrapped her legs around his waist, hugging him tightly and bringing a surprised smile to his lips as he brought his arms around her to hug her back and hold her to him to keep her from falling, her smaller frame so easy for the taller man.
"Miss me, Baby?" She beamed with a devious smile, pressing a quick kiss to his lips as she released him and let her boots plant back to the ground. "Because I've been sick with missing you and if I'm contagious I'd give it a good forty-eight hours before you are too."
"No..." Paige groaned with a disbelieving laugh, nearly falling down as she hunched over and rested her palms on her knees, a scolding shake of her head. "If you get him sick with this stomach shit that you've had then I feel like you're really just punishing me because I need his help. Don't punish me, Mar."
"Oh please. Give me a radio and I'll take over for him." Marley suggested, turning from Peter and leaving him with pleading and stunned eyes as Riley chuckled at him.
"How sick?" Peter asked after her, half worried and half uncaring because Marley had just kissed him and he didn't know if it was right to complain too much about that.
"Such a predicament, Peter." Riley quipped with a smile, calling him out the blush on his cheeks. "You look so torn, Dude."
"Hey!" Peter pointed at him firmly. "This a very welcome event after having to see your ass flying by out the train window." His cheeks reddened more as his eyes flickered to Marley smiling proudly beside him because he'd seen a bit more of her.
"See guys? I'm such a welcome relief today." She teased, adjusting the v-neck of her shirt and making him blush more. "And I'm sure you'll be fine, Peter. I'm probably not too sick." She soothed. "It's probably just...I don't know...being in a car for two days with you people." She pointed accusingly at them. "Well...minus Emily of course because I love her, but at least on the train we have more space to move around and avoid each other. However in like...six feet of space that's basically all windows and landscaping zipping past... it's fucking nauseating and I cant wait to not see you ever again. Minus Emily again..of course...no offense."
"Oh clearly no offense." Paige snorted a playful laugh. "When have you ever been offensive?"
Marley squinted her eyes a Paige and didn't look quite as amused. "Clearly Paige, thank you for the obvious that you're so good at pointing out."
"What?" Paige laughed. "I'm just saying if, for sake of argument, there was ever question as to whether or not you're offensive...I'm just stating in advance that you are and that...I'm pro-offensive. I love that you're offensive."
"Over compensate much?" Riley laughed.
"Its fine...I'm offensive and luckily I'm feeling much better." Marley sighed reassuringly. "So it's right back to being offensive instead of miserable in a car with all of you. Again Emily..."
"You love me and I'm not included." she smiled, finishing her thought for her with a wide smile.
"Exactly." Marley smiled proudly and looked over her shoulder towards the crew gathered around the picnic tables.
Paige chuckled and shook her head lightly. "That's good that you're feeling better because I was about to kill Riley if he got you pregnant." she joked, turning her head instantly toward Sadie and Faye at a picnic table. "Hey! You two!" Paige snapped angrily. "Sit the fuck down and don't move." The girl's eyes landed on Paige and they looked guilty as she walked over to a picnic table where they were now sitting...very still.
Her own eyes moved back to Peter and he smiled warmly at her, happy to see her too. She moved to walk closer to him and left the cougar behind but one glance at Marley had her hesitating in her steps as she walked to Peter's side, her blue eyes were to the ground with a crinkle of concentration between her eyebrows that worried her. Maybe she wasn't feeling as well as she thought but as Riley moved to wrap his arm around her shoulder she shrugged him off hard and marched towards the train, leaving them all staring after her until she was halfway there and stopped to hunch over a metal trash can to throw up again. Riley was running quickly to her side and even with him helping and reaching to hold her hair back she tried to push him away, her hand pressing into his stomach to stop him from touching her.
She knew that feeling. She'd had plenty of self-inflicted drunk nights and hung-over mornings and even at her sickest she'd always hated anyone being present while she was throwing up her mistakes so it made sense that Marley wouldn't want Riley to see her that way.
"I hope you don't get sick." She smiled, looking back at Peter standing beside her. "I mean not that it matters now...its a little too late since she kissed you already but...just know that it's the thought that counts and I hope you're spared."
"What happened to the quiet and unsure girl from a few days ago?" Peter teased, nudging her shoulder. "I liked that girl. Too much Paige and Mary for you."
"It's Marley again." she smiled, looking at Peter as his smile widened hearing that news. Her cheeks felt like fire as she smiled back at him proudly. "And the quiet and unsure girl took part in adult behavior in Riley's car."
Peter's groaned and chuckled uncomfortably but she ignored it and wrapped her arms around him for a hug anyways. "Is Ember okay?" She asked, the smile pulling harder at her mouth.
"Yes he's fine." Peter grinned. "I think might actually like me a little bit. Fifty apples later..." he laughed, bringing his hand up to point towards the train.
Past the picnic tables across the shady strip of grass...she saw him, standing loosely tied to a hitching post under a giant Oak tree. His ears kept perked up as he listened to the different voices and sounds passing through the air around him and then his coat twitched when he went back to pulling at a bale of hay with his teeth. She smiled widely at seeing him and out of excitement stood on her toes to plant a fast kiss to Peter's cheek before moving quickly in Ember's direction.
"Missed you too..." Peter called.
"I'll make you soup when you're sick." She shot, picking up her pace and shivering when she stepped under the shade of the trees.
Ember's ears perked up again and his brown eyes found her instantly, a swish starting in his tail acknowledging that he saw her. The sunlight sparkled down through the leaves, casting shadows of the branches that looked painted across Ember's coat and set fire the red in his hair. Her heart ached just seeing him as she walked closer, her eyes melting just thinking about how warm he always was and her hands found him the second he was in her reach, running up his side. Her eyes closed touching him. She didn't need her sight to feel her way but she always felt everything when she touched him. Safe...not alone. It had always been Ember in Rosewood, before she had Paige, and right now it was like coming home to her best and oldest friend. Ember was a comfort greater than Paige in a lot of ways because he'd been all she'd had for so long, when she was hurting the most, and as she ran her fingers blindly up his neck she heard the soft bray leave his mouth as he turned his head to nudge gently into her shoulder, resting his cheek against her to get more contact. He found the same comfort in her. Her hand moved to clutch at the muscle of his jaw while she pressed her nose to the soft spot between his eyes and took a deep breath, warm and earthy from the straw, comforting.
"I missed you." She smiled, running her fingers up and down his cheek and pulling a soft grunt from his throat. He was enjoying the touch just as much as she was, his eyes closing for a moment.
"Well he clearly missed you."
She jumped slightly, surprised by Paige stopping beside her. Ember hadn't budged and she would have expected him to acknowledge someone else approaching, she trusted his senses and was used to them but...he didn't move. He went lazily back to the bale of hay as she turned to Paige and smiled.
"Sorry..." Paige breathed. "I didn't mean to sneak up on you or interrupt."
She shook her head dismissively and shrugged, a soft smile spreading on her lips. "Apparently Ember's a little off his game today because he didn't seem to notice you."
"Oooor..." Paige stepped closer to him and ran her fingers down his nose. "Maybe he missed me too and he's done being pushy." His eyes closed and he stayed still while Paige touched him, which was a nice change from the pushing after the improv.
"Where's Stella?" She asked "Is she out already?"
"I'm going to get her right now actually." Paige sighed and dropped her hand back down to tuck in her front pocket. "I need to take her over to the tent and then I was gonna shower and change but..." Paige sighed again and looked a bit annoyed as she cut herself off. "Sadie and Faye have been mouthing off to Peter all day and just terrorizing him with their whining so I'm issuing that mandatory fun day."
"Why do I get the feeling that it's not very fun?"
"Maybe because I'm not smiling about it?" Paige teased. "It's not bad." She clarified quickly. "It just usually brings out more whining from the girls until it breaks them so the end result is good. Everyone has fun except for them but they usually come out of it with a better attitude ... for like a day or two. If we have time I try to do it a few times over the course of the season."
"Is it like a field day or something? Like games as a group or..."
"Yeah, basically." Paige nodded. "We usually do a group run though. Three miles or more, which is the part where Sadie and Faye start crying, somewhere around a quarter-mile." she smiled proudly, rolling her eyes to shrug it off.
"Sounds good to me." She nodded. The idea of getting out and stretching her legs with a run sounded like Heaven after being the car for so long. The idea of doing it as a group just sounded even better.
"Well...we'll see how it goes." Paige shrugged playfully. "It might not go over well with the girls but I try to stay behind them and scream at them to run faster. It's more fun for me that way."
"Just get a whistle to keep them going." she chuckled.
"I have a whistle actually." Paige laughed. "Its one of those wooden train whistles from when I was little, but it works." She smiled and leaned in to press a soft kiss to her lips, warm and soft, and the second she closed her eyes at the touch...Paige was gone, broken away by Ember moving. He nudged his head into her shoulder and sent Paige stepping back bitterly to avoid him. "Seriously, Dude." She warned. "I have a tiger."
She frowned as she looked at Ember herself and scolded him with her eyes but he moved and nudged his nose into Paige's empty hand, keeping his head low while looking pointedly up at her. Paige chuckled now and rubbed her fingers up his nose.
"I guess I'm stopping by the kitchen for an apple before I get Stella." Paige pressed another quick kiss to her lips and she smiled as she back-stepped towards the train resting a mere twenty feet away. "I'll be back in a minute?"
She nodded and her cheeks warmed seeing the playful smirk on Paige's lips before she turned around to walk away, the sunlight trickling through the leaves in the trees that danced across Paige's hair and the cream skin of her bare arms. She brought her eyes back to Ember once Paige jumped easily onto the small platform step of the lounge car, the one that housed the purple room with the white couches and the plum satin curtains.
"You need to be nice." She scolded, scratching her nails briefly across his neck as he tended to the hay bale.
She stretched her arms over her head and rotated her back slowly, feeling her muscles relax and lose the tension they'd gained from beginning cramped in the car. Sitting didn't sound appealing in the least but for some reason she found herself doing just that, plopping down on the bale of hay while Ember continued to pull strands out beside her thigh. The warm wind blew her hair and tickled her neck and her hands moved to push up the sleeves of Paige's emerald thermal while her eyes moved to look around her. People hurried in all directions moving crates with forklifts and teaming up to carry large roles of striped fabric. One man stopped to light a cigarette before resuming his trek carrying a string of the crystal lights. It was probably loud with so many people but somehow the only sounds that reached her ears from the shady spot was that of the wind in the trees and a few of the voices that she recognized well. Peter was standing leaning over a picnic table with a large stack of different colored folders. The same type Paige had placed her contract and paperwork inside of back in Charleston. Peter wasn't alone though, there was group of people gathering around him, maybe other performers or extras. Paige had mentioned that new stops brought out new people looking for work or a chance to perform, whether it be the workers or an extra juggler walking around the grounds amusing children. Hiring temps for a few days seemed better than loading the train up with smaller acts and crowded everyone even more.
Her eyes scrolled lightly over the people, fifty at least, males and females of various ages but mostly the same age as herself or a few years older. Only a few of them stood out to be much younger. Peter was passing out the colored folders to each of them and they scattered to picnic tables to bury their faces in what was probably a liability clause of sorts or a basic application requesting the basic information. Name? Age? Are you clinically insane because we all might be? She chuckled lightly at that and pulled her eyes away and back to Ember.
"We wouldn't have it any other way, would we?"
She rolled her eyes because he isn't even looking at her let alone listening. The hay was too tempting and he was probably enjoying the silence and the stillness as much as she was. After him being on the train and her being cramped in the car...not moving and not talking for a few minutes were two very welcome events. Simultaneously it felt like Heaven. The wind kicked up in the trees overhead and rustled the leaves but even in the shade it was too warm to shiver from it, though a shiver came anyways from the way it blew her hair across her neck. Casually she tugged down the sleeves of Paige's green thermal again and hunched over to rest her forearms on her knees as she watched people pass. If there was any time or any place to become a people watcher it was here, behind the scenes of a circus where there were people of every shape and size and background. The beautiful thing was everyone working together like a family would. Even the workers unloading trucks stopped to laugh with each other on the way to lift another roll of fabric or forklift another crate. Everyone was happy. Well, almost everyone.
Her dark brown eyes landed on Marley leaning against the bark of a large shady tree about twenty yards away with her eyes closed as she forced deep breaths, one hand hovering over the rim of the trashcan warily, just waiting to have to rely on it again to hold the contents of her stomach which would sadly be next to nothing at this point. Riley stood beside her, a wrinkle of concern between his eyes and his mouth moving as he spoke to her. Even with her blue eyes closed it was obvious that she was mentally telling him off, refusing his help and ignoring him, pleading with him to shut up, though as she moved suddenly to lean over the can again Riley ignored her silent protests and combed his fingers into her chocolate curls to hold them back from her face. She pulled her eyes away from them quickly as Marley regained her composure, her hand going to Riley's chest to press him away from her as she started a determined pace to the open door of the train car housing their bedrooms, leaving Riley unsure and worried, hesitating and rocking on his heels before he decided to follow after her.
Her thoughts now spun off in a million directions all at once, hoping Marley felt better soon and still heavy excitement for being a part of this new life, Ember at her side and not at auction, people around her who cared about her already even in this short amount of time, Marley, Riley and Peter. She cared for all of them already, immensely. Paige...
"I don't know how much closer I should get."
Paige's voice pulled her to look over her shoulder, eyes falling on a pair of warm brown, her heart fluttering in her chest just from missing her in her short absence. Just as quickly her eyes met with the pair of blue at Paige's waist and she glanced quickly at Ember, his body tense and still as he noticed Stella at Paige's side. She stood from the bale of hay, placing one hand soothingly on Ember's shoulder. She didn't know how either animal would react, well...she wasn't so worried about Stella's reaction. The Siberian tiger was used to being around other animals and she plopped down lazily at Paige's feet, flopping onto her side to enjoy the warm grass and the sunlight that was trickling through tall trees. She was completely unphased. Ember on the other hand had locked his legs, completely still and watching, and she had to double-check that he was even still breathing. She noted that he wasn't, holding his breath instead.
"Um..." she started, glancing uneasily at Paige. "I don't know...I mean I'm not worried about him I just don't want him scaring Stella and causing any problems."
Paige shrugged casually and stepped closer, pulling Stella back to her feet as she moved. "Stella won't hurt him. He could probably trample her and she'd just lay down and take it." she chuckled. "She's like me. I'd let you trample me."
She breathed a soft laugh and nodded with a warm smile, looking back to Ember and moving closer to stand by his head, placing her arms on his neck lightly to keep him standing steady as Paige walked closer with the tiger. Ember only tensed more with each step they took, shaking his head to try to shake her hands off of him so he could keep eye contact with Stella who now watched him too, cautious naturally, but she seemed relaxed in her stride, just wary of the new animal addition. As Paige closed in Ember stamped his front hooves into the ground and she hummed softly to try and reassure him with her voice, keeping his focus on her more than the tiger. Stella reached his side, opting to sniff the ground around him than Ember directly. She swallowed weakly, meeting Paige's eyes and then melting because Paige was unbothered and just as relaxed as Stella was, confident.
"She won't hurt him." Paige repeated, smiling warmly while Stella inched closer to sniff the air at Ember's side.
"I know." she admitted. "I'm more worried about him hurting her."
Paige's smile widened and she ducked her head with a soft pink rising to her cream cheeks, a beautiful color on her. "He's fine I promise."
Just seeing Paige smile pulled one to her own lips and her fingers picked up soothing strokes on Ember's neck, holding Paige's eyes and becoming more lost to them than she realized until Paige cleared her throat blatantly and gestured with her head. Her eyes followed Paige's gaze to Stella who'd parked herself near Ember's back legs, her paw lifting from the ground to bat passively at Ember's tail as he swished it through the air. Looking back to Ember's eyes he looked as annoyed as a parent rolling their eyes at an unruly child. His tail kept stopping and he focused on keeping it still but he failed in the same breath, unable to help it even though he tried.
"He doesn't seem to mind her too much." Paige pointed out proudly, her free hand moving to pet Ember's side while her other still held tight to Stella's purple rope. Ember turned his head more then, buzzing his lips when Paige touched him. "I think he minds me more." she stated. As if to test that theory Paige ran her hand up Ember's neck to her own, placing it lightly over hers, the warmth making her breathing hitch silently in her throat and making Ember jerk his head slightly to brush her off. "Yeah I think he hates me." Paige laughed, moving her hand back to tuck casually in her front pocket.
"He doesn't" she reassured, almost embarrassed that Ember was being stubborn. "It's probably all just a lot to take in." she sighed. She hoped that's all it was, the stubborn stare in Ember's eyes making her question that though.
"It is a lot." Paige agreed. "New people, new places. He's been on the train for two days too and then I'm the nice person that brings out a predator for a meet and greet." she chuckled, her brown eyes softening as they met her own and held them. "And to be fair I said I'd bring him an apple." Paige admitted, reaching under the arm she held Stella's rope with and presenting the candy red of the fresh fruit and offering it out to Ember in her palm. It was almost funny to her how she could see Ember's ear perk more enthusiastically and his eyes spark genuine interest for the apple, not a blink of hesitation before he swiped it into his mouth, losing small pieces to the ground that he fished for in his haste, pulling a light laugh from her lips. Paige mirrored the sound and that only made her smile more bright, loving that sound leaving her mouth after the lost look in her brown eyes over the last few days. She felt like she could live purely for that sound.
Dropping her hand back to her side Paige sighed in her contentment, glancing down at Stella sitting still at her boots. "I'm gonna take her over to the tent. They should have a stall set up for Ember if you wanna bring him too?"
"Yeah, of course." She nodded, a soft smile spreading on her lips as she tugged automatically on the rope lightly draped around the temporary post, pulling it free and walking him back so she could fall in step with Paige. Her smile only spread as Paige switched hands with Stella, throwing her leg over the tiger's back to stumble on the other side of her and placing both of them in the middle of the animals, Paige dropping her hand gently to take hers. She tried to keep her mind away from how cute this actually was, both of them leading their animal selves as they walked together, Paige brushing her thumb gently over her knuckles while her brown eyes flickered quickly over the grounds, people passing carrying crates and rolls of fabric. Even now, holding her hand and relaxed, Paige was still Paige, she was still working, making note of where things were going and making sure people were getting their work done the way they were supposed to.
Her dark eyes glanced up as the view of vast blue sky was interrupted by the rising of the striped fabric, the tent being hoisted up in sections. The men were working on the main arena as they approached, working from one end of the tent straight across to the other like an assembly line, leaving the section for the animals complete, more priority than the other sections for a number of reasons. With the heat of the day it was probably a good idea to get animals into a shaded area, her own body finding instant relief as they stepped inside, cooler air being filtered in by portable units to keep the temperature more controlled. The last thing the show needed was an over-heated and irritable tiger, paired with every animal around said tiger being uncomfortable too. Her eyes adjusted quickly, the bright sun gone and now seeping gently through the stripes in the tent, the red creating almost a pink tint to the space around them.
Paige stepped ahead of her a few paces, moving with Stella towards the large steel enclosure in the corner and sliding open the gate that held several locks left hanging open for her. Stella seemed to know the way things worked by now and she jumped easily into the cage, turning to Paige with expectant eyes once she was inside, her blue eyes closing as Paige her hand to brush over her head as a reward.
"She really is just a baby." she chuckled, her dark eyes moving to the horse stall she recognized and leading Ember over. One click of her tongue and he obliged, making it possible for her eyes to move back to Paige as she heard her laugh too.
"She is definitely a baby." Paige smiled proudly, clicking the locks on Stella's cage before turning to her with teasing eyes. "I told you she's like me."
"Oh no..." she retorted, closing the gate behind Ember and leaning her back into it, her arms coming up to cross in challenge over her chest. She couldn't fight the smirk pulling at her lips and Paige's face shifted to be almost mockingly surprised which only pushed her to explain. "See I don't think that you are. I think you think you are but...after last night I'm not sure there is anything 'baby' about you."
Paige's mouth gaped, chuckling just as quickly as she ducked her head and took a slow and deliberate step closer. "Okay but...you are just as guilty." Paige pointed out. "Actually I think you're even more guilty because if I remember correctly..." Paige started, closing the gap between them and bringing the heat of her hands to her hips to grip firmly, pressing her back into the gate, her brown eyes darkening and her thumbs tracing light circles against the emerald thermal, slipping just under to touch her skin. "You said something about needing me to be really quiet."
Her cheeks warmed feeling Paige this close, her breath catching hard in her throat as a knowing hum formed. "Mm...and you were really good at following directions." she smiled, Paige's head jutting back to look at her, her smile almost proud of the way she returned the teasing banter just as quickly. She shared that sentiment with Paige, feeling proud of herself too and just...happier today than she'd ever felt, whole, like nothing in the world could get better than being here surrounded by people she was growing to love more and more every day, people who loved her.
"I try to be a good listener." Paige smiled sweetly, leaning in to press into her lips and bringing one hand to the side of her neck, her thumb brushing over her cheek.
The warmth that spread through her body just tasting Paige on her lips made her weak, her mind going back to car 12 and the first time she'd kissed her, the days leading up, new and scary, but so exciting being apart of this new life. The first time Paige kissed her was the moment she finally felt like she was home, not the years spent alone in Rosewood, not even Ember being there for her every day, even now. It was Paige that felt like home, Paige walking her home from a local bar, Paige noble and stepping up to take on the responsibility of Ember, Paige being forced to sit and watch helplessly beside her as she'd allowed her hometown to hold the broken pieces of her life, listening to the sound of Paige's truck drive away from her house and not realizing how hard that was for Paige to do, how much it hurt her too, not knowing Paige's feelings for her at the time. Home was the look on Paige's face when she appeared at the front of the train, her brown eyes full of worry seeing Hanna's car over the tracks and then instant relief when Paige saw that she was okay. Home was the gold braid in Ember's mane, put their by Paige's hands, a same hand that held hers as they slept closer than ever before on the couch in the commons. Home was sharing a brownie in a small cafe and the pride in Paige's eyes as she watched her jump fire with Ember in the hills of Charleston and the love in those same warm eyes as Paige held her hand on the roof of the train that sped through mountains at midnight. Home was the first kiss and every kiss that's followed, every pure and gentle touch in a gold field on fire from the setting sun, on fire from them. Home was watching the way Paige's heart broke when she was missing pieces of her family, her fight to get them back and keep them close, needing them, her loyalty. Home was how Paige needed her in the same way, the same way she needed Paige. Home was everything about her.
Paige pressed deeper now, parting her lips to brush her tongue over her lower, gently nipping it between her own and she mirrored that gesture, her tongue rolling forward and a heavy sigh falling into Paige's mouth as they touched, moving in soft stroke over each other. She felt Paige flex her fingers lightly against her neck, pressing deeper still, her hips pressing her firmer into the gate as she forgot how to breathe, focusing on stealing the air that escaped Paige's lungs and holding it tight in her own. She craved it.
A light rumble from Stella behind Paige's back pulled them apart on reflex, curiosity kicking in to find origin and reason for the sound, boots sounding against the grass. Paige's head snapped to look over her shoulder, a crinkle of confusion between her eyes as they both watched a man come into the space, not even noticing them standing against Ember's stall, oblivious as he traipsed across, his eyes looking with wonder up at the fabric hanging over head. He looked more like a child on a field-trip than a worker, his eyes lighting up and his jaw dropping as he saw Stella pacing in the corner. He froze in his tracks, a smile of amazement spreading on his lips.
"Who are you?" It was Paige's voice that made that smile fall from his face and a look of 'oh shit' appear instead, his eyes finding them quickly, the direct question lingering in Paige's eyes, as she arched her eyebrow pointedly just waiting for him to answer.
Looking at him more carefully she noted he was a but younger than them...twenty would be really pushing it when guessing his age.
Bringing a hand up he brushed it uneasily through shaggy blonde hair. "I um..."
"You're too young to be a worker and I know I never hired you." Paige added firmly, probably more peeved that he'd interrupted their moment and now letting that detail fuel the tone of her voice. It only made her cheeks warm more, an amused smile pulling at her lips though for the sake of the man and his heart that was likely pounding in his chest...she tried to pay her respects to his life by biting it back.
"I um...no I'm not hired...y yet." he answered quickly, shaking his head with his words. "ma'am." he added quickly, bringing a hand up to ruffle his blonde hair nervously again before he just decided to tuck his hands in his pockets.
"Yet?" Paige asked, more confusion laden in her voice, now more informative than pushy, simply enlightening the man to avoid further confusion. "We don't really just 'hire' anyone and I'm also not looking for anyone." she shook her head. "So your 'yet'...isn't going to happen, sorry."
"No um...the tall guy..." he clarified, holding one hand at full stretch over his head as if to measure height, albeit a bit dramatically on his part. "He's hiring people outside."
Peter. Her mind recalled back to the people with folders and now it made sense to her and she found herself nodding in agreement to what he was saying, acknowledging that it was a possibility. Paige's head however...didn't nod at all, in fact her mouth gaped and she shook her head in a firm 'no' and released her.
"No I'm pretty sure I'm the only person that hires people." she chuckled in disagreement, though it was weak, the possibility of the young man's words being true sinking into her skin and rubbing her the wrong way. It rubbed her the wrong way because it caught her off guard and if there was anything Paige liked having...it was control where the show was concerned. Movement found her body fast and she stepped closer to the him, making him flinch from how close she got and how fast, her hand shooting out to grab his and pulling his arm into the air to measure height again, knowing exactly how high to go before stopping. "Peter is this tall." she corrected, her eyes dark and final because her annoyance had returned with the thought of Peter doing something...well...behind her back again. "And you're not hired." She added, dropping her hand from his and looking over her shoulder to meet her eyes again, her heart stopping from the way they softened so instantly as they fell on her now, loving so effortlessly. "Wanna come or stay with Ember?" she asked softly, always giving her the option to voice her own choice which was something she loved so much about her. "Killing Peter won't take long."
"Oh please...I'd always rather see a fight." she joked, rolling her eyes and falling into step beside her as she pushed through the tent back outside, the heat of the sun making her shiver from the sudden change after being inside the tent.
Dropping her hand softly down the inside of Paige's wrist she laced their fingers together, her brown eyes flickering over to Paige's out of the corner of her and capturing the way her stern and darkened eyes softened and a smile pulled at her lips. Just as quickly as they crossed the lot and neared the train that smile faded and she brought her eyes to follow Paige's gaze, the masses of people still taking up residence at or on any table they could find. Some were sitting in the grass with their colored folders in their laps while others leaned against tress and side of the train itself as they jotted information on the forms. Her stomach twisted slightly, nervous, not for herself but them and more accurately...for Peter, always Peter. Paige released her hand then and part of her was grateful that she had, her eyes spotting Marley sitting on top of a picnic table a ways back from the crowd like she proudly had front row seats to a show. Maybe she did and now she herself was torn, rocking on her heels awkwardly and trying to decide between standing by Paige's side, saving Peter, or sitting with Marley to watch the end of the world.
"What are you doing?" Paige snapped, bringing her attention back to her and making her choice to just stand frozen in her tracks watching, seem like the only choice. It seemed Peter had the same plan as his head shot up from behind a clipboard. She expected the deer in headlights look but what surprised her was the unusual amount of confidence in his eyes as Paige closed the gap, her eyes mostly questioning like she was silently begging Peter to say this was just a group full or random people on some sort of club field trip.
Peter sighed lightly and thumped his hand into his clipboard, glancing down at the forms it held. "I'm hiring people."
"No." Paige shook her head firmly, crossing her arms over her chest and making the few people closest to where she stood scoot a little further away. "No you're not hiring people. I hire people and I'm not hiring people right now."
"Well, Paige. Seeing as you were so kind on the phone and told me you weren't even gonna make it to this stop, or likely the next, or likely any of them, I had to take it upon myself to find help and that meant finding possible fill-ins for four main acts. Yours, Riley's, Mar's and then the slot that I had so kindly taken upon myself to create for Emily. So...I called ahead and got some people to put out an ad for open casting and now here we all are."
"No...here I am telling you no." Paige repeated, looking around at the people and shaking her head before she found Peter's eyes again. "They can all go home because we're here now and regardless there's no way that I'm sifting through fifty-some acts before our show tomorrow. It's not gonna happen."
"Well, then you can tell them all to leave and tell them to support the show and buy some confessions on the way out." Peter smiled, crossing his arms over his chest just as sternly as Paige had.
Her eyes left Paige then, glancing over the people before they fell on Marley a few tables away, the sparkle in her blue eyes that hinted at internal laughter at this entire thing. Taking a step back from Paige she turned and walked over to her, careful not to step on the people littering the grass, her boot stepping up onto the seat of the bench so she could sit on the top beside her.
"Peter's making a statement, isn't he?" she asked, glancing over at the girl beside her and watching the way her lips twitched in a smile. "He's getting brave." she smiled back.
Mar's lips twitched more, almost proudly of Peter but not fully showing it. "Yes he is and I think he's making a pretty good statement." She sighed. "I mean...I feel really bad for leaving the way that I did but...this show is Paige's life and I wish she wouldn't have been so quick to give it up for me. For you...yes but...no not for me. It was her being her passionately reckless self though, and I love her for it but Peter's just reminding her of that passion, pulling the drive and fire out of her. Plus she was a bit of a bitch to him on the phone and I really think that man gets the worst of everyone's flack." Marley chuckled, bringing a hand up to run through her curls and stirring the air around them, the scent of lavender hitting her nose.
The sinking of Marley's expression told her her stomach wasn't all too pleased with her shampoo today and she brought a hand up to rub soothingly across her back, making her ocean-colored eyes fall closed for a second with the slightest furrow of concentration. "I think I agree with her though." she admitted. "Her reasons for staying behind to find you. I know I already said it before but...she's not the only who needs you around."
"I'm keeping you, Ems." Marley breathed a soft laughed, glancing over at her and she returned the smile, ducking her head in silent approval of being kept.
"Mar?" Paige's voice pulled their attention to land on her stopping in front of them, her body almost shaking in eagerness like she was waiting to spill news that she was overly excited about. "Are you feeling better?"
A soft groan left Marley's lips and she hung her head low in defeat for a second before she raised it again. "Yeah...sure I'm great." she mumbled, forcing a smile to spread across her lips though her blue eyes lacked the amusement. "What do you need?"
"Um..." Paige sighed, looking over her shoulder before she found Mar's eyes again. "I have fifty-two people and I can't hire them all and I also don't want to sit through interviews with them all but I also don't want to be a bitch and and yell at them to leave because Peter says I'm supposed to be running a business here."
A true smile spread on Marley's lips now as a chuckle bubbled up behind them. "So you want me to be the bitch?"
"And...get rid of as many as you can." Paige added, shifting her weight between her feet like she was ready for fight, her and Marley verses a crowd of innocent people.
It only took a second before Marley shrugged and hopped back to the ground. "Yeah I've got this." She declared, her boot catching on the leg of a guy sprawled out in the grass, his forms filled out and his hands busy typing away at his phone. She caught herself easily, a flawless stumble before she snapped around to him. "Hey, you...fucking safety hazard, get out of here!" Holding up one finger proudly to Paige she turned to set her sights on someone else as the guy gathered his things and sauntered off with his nose to his screen.
"She should be able to knock out a few." she smiled, meeting Paige's warm eyes.
"Yeah I mean between physical violence, threats and topless-induced heart attacks she should be able to clear out a decent amount." Paige laughed, shaking her head as she turned around to see Marley interrogating a man like he'd touched the liquor stash at the bar and she wasn't happy about it.
"What about the rest?" she asked curiously.
Paige shrugged and scrunched her nose as she thought. "They can run with us and we can watch them all drop like flies, like a trapeze performer falling without a safety net." she smiled, her eyes full of humor and a bit too much excitement.
"Did you just make a circus reference?" Her smile widened, slipping her arms around Paige's waist to pull her closer.
"Why was it bad?" Paige asked, her excitement sinking slightly though she still smiled.
She scrunched her nose at Paige now, taking a long moment to think about her question when in reality she was just secretly admiring her girlfriend's features, loving her more. "It was cute." she admitted finally, leaning in to press a warm kiss to her lips.
"Well hey though..." Paige pressed, pulling back from her lips to look at her. "Maybe I can least find replacements for Sadie and Faye when they drop without a safety net." she smiled proudly.
"I love you." she whispered, leaning back in to kiss her again, feeling Paige's lips ghost over her own, her words mumbled softly.
"I love you too." Paige breathed, bringing her hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear for her. "Wanna help me run this show?"
"Yes." She didn't need a second to think before she replied, no other future she wanted more than all of this, more than her.
Paige was home.
Wake Me Up- Avicii
Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start
They tell me I'm too young to understand
They say I'm caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes
Well that's fine by me
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn't know I was lost
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn't know I was lost
I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
Hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don't have any plans
Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life's a game made for everyone
And love is a prize
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn't know I was lost
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know