You guys all spend a lot of time together, right? I looked up at Caleb with pleading eyes.

I nodded slowly as he walked down the hall, disappearing around the corner. Closing my eyes, I swore under my breath. The good news was that those ghastly images from almost four years ago didn’t resurface, but the ball of acidic emotions did curl around those knots.

No, what was she thinking? It would not be better if he were cruel or ignored her completely. Surely a complicated marriage was better than an unpleasant one. She had to stop being melodramatic. It was not like her. She just needed to find some sort of equilibrium and maintain it.Good evening, Lady Kenworthy.

Iris started with surprise. Richard was poking his head through the partially open doorway that led to the hall. I did knock, he said with an amused expression.I’m sure you did, she said hastily. My mind was elsewhere.His smile grew more sly. Dare I ask where?

Home, she lied, then realized what she’d said. I mean London. This is my home now.Yes, he said, and he entered the room, quietly shutting the door behind him. His head tilted slightly to the side, and he stared at her for just long enough to make her fidget. Have you done something different with your hair?

And just like that, all of her vows to remain indifferent went out the window.

Iris nervously touched her head, just behind her right ear. He’d noticed. She had not thought he would. One of the maids helped me to dress, she said. She’s rather fond of . . .Good God, Ella, I heard what happened to you, he said, and as I leaned back I could see others watching us as they got into their cars. Are you okay? Then his gaze moved to my cheek and below, to my neck. Shit. You can’t be okay.

I’m totally fine, I told him, which is what I told everyone who had asked today—teachers, classmates, and the school resource officer who I’d ran into after lunch.Gavin, I’m okay. Just a little scratched and bruised. Not a big deal. The clown mask formed in the back of my thoughts, and I violently pushed it aside. You weren’t in class today. They called your name in English.

His arms were still around me. Yeah, we didn’t get back from the beach until late and I decided to skip today. I was going to call you later, but I needed to see that you were okay. I figured you went to school when I didn’t see your car in front of your house. He paused, scanning my face and stopping on the strawberry mark. Damn, Ella . . .I drew in a breath, but it got stuck in my throat. Heat flashed across my skin, and suddenly I was too hot. Slipping out of his embrace, I took a step back, needing space. Tugging a lock of hair around my finger, I fixed my gaze on an old Mustang a few spaces down. The engine kept turning over but not kicking on. So . . . we have AP English together, and I’m on A lunch. Are you?

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