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Beautifully Damaged(7)

By:L.A. Fiore

I finished the race beating my personal best time and started to warm down. The sky was an amazing blue and the clouds were like cotton balls so I took a moment to lay down on the grass and stare up. I remembered as a kid looking for shapes in the clouds with my dad. I always loved looking up at the sky because I couldn't help but wonder what was beyond it? I think it was why I loved Star Wars so much. We got a glimpse into what could be out there in that vast open and unknown space.

A shadow fell over me and when I looked there was Trace looking down at me with a smile. It was a nice sight but also a figment of my imagination so even as I smiled back I closed my eyes and willed myself awake. His deep voice had my eyes snapping open.

"Are you okay?"

"You're really standing there."

His smile was more a grin when he replied, "As you see."

"That's just it, I don't trust my eyes," I muttered.

"Excuse me?" He asked.


There was a devilish gleam in his eyes as he offered to me his hand and as I took it, I felt heat burn up my arm. One look at his face and I knew he felt it, too. We just stood there, his hand still wrapped around mine, as we stared at each other.

He seemed to recover before me when he offered rather softly.

"It was nice to see you again, Ember."

"You, too."

He started away from me and I heard myself calling after him.


He stopped and looked back at me.

"I run here every morning at nine starting at the Gapstow Bridge and after my runs I go to the Starbucks on Fifth Avenue near the Park. If you're ever in the mood for a run I'd welcome the company."

His smile was sheer perfection before he replied, "I'll keep that in mind, Ember."

And then he was gone, disappearing into the crowd as I stood there staring after him.

I arrived at home a short time later fantasizing about a nice hot bath. As soon as I closed the door I heard the sounds which should have clued me in but I wasn't really paying close enough attention since my thoughts were preoccupied with the race and seeing and talking to Trace. It was only when I turned and looked into the living room that I blushed and quickly averted my eyes because Lena and Todd were having sex on the sofa. I rushed down the hall to my room when I heard Lena's cry of outrage directed at me.

"Ember, really!"

"Aren't you supposed to put a sock on the door, Lena."

"You weren't supposed to be home until later."

I couldn't actually believe we were having an argument while Todd was still thrusting. Perhaps I had stepped into an alternate universe because today was just full of surprises.

"Well go, Ember. Are you going to stand there and watch?"

She was pricking my temper so to be belligerent I walked around the sofa and just stared at her. The fact that I got to see more of Todd was an unpleasant side effect of my anger-induced move.

"You aren't really giving me shit for walking into my own apartment, are you Lena? If you and Todd want to get naked that's your business but if you choose to do so in the living room when you have a perfectly private bedroom, then you're going to have to expect interruptions."

I started down the hall and though I couldn't make out what Todd was saying I knew that he was talking about me.

I took an extra long bath so when I finally climbed out I looked like a prune but at least my temper had fizzled. I changed into some sweats, dried my hair and headed out into the kitchen. Lena was there, sitting at the table eating my leftover Chinese food. It was something she did all the time and usually I let it go but I was beginning to observe a pattern with Lena that I never saw before. She was selfish.

"You're eating my lunch, Lena."

She looked up at me and I could see she was still angry so I cocked my hip and held her gaze.

"Sex on the sofa, Lena, with a man you barely know."

She tried for haughty when she replied, "One thing led to another."

"Well, next time lead it down the hall to your bedroom because walking in and seeing your boyfriend's pasty-white ass is not high on my list of must sees. Hell, it isn't even on my list."

"You're just jealous." She said as she stood, leaving her plate on the table, as she started to her room.

I stood there watching her and realized that my best friend was turning into a bitch.

Chapter Two

The following morning I went for my run and I won't lie; I was disappointed when I arrived and Trace wasn't there. I didn't really think that he was going to join me because, well, I wasn't all that interesting but I really wished he had. After my run I went for my coffee and then headed home. Todd was over again; I could hear them but at least they were in Lena's room so I won that argument. I showered and changed before settling in the living room to read. I didn't really like Todd because the man never spoke to me -- not even a hello or a goodbye. I didn't understand what it was that Lena saw in him. Yes, he was attractive but he had the personality of a dead fish. Another negative about Todd: Lena being with him was turning her into an uber bitch. I didn't want to think about them any more so I grabbed my book and lost myself in the world of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.