Thu. Feb 8th, 2024








I wake up to an empty bed the following morning. I rub my eyes and blink them. The bustling and rustling of the busy city below us can be heard. I mean this is New York , what am I supposed to expect.


I push the blanket aside and sit up on the bed with my feet not even close to the floor. I sigh and walk to the floor to ceiling glass walls that view the city. I itch my eyelids and push the white drapes aside. I look down at the city below the penthouse and they look tiny.


I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and yesterday’s incident flows into my head. Gangsters. Gangsters who wants him dead and also they want me as bait to get whatever thing they need from Gray. I don’t even blame them that much. What ever shitty business Gray did , I’m sure he hurt a lot of people. And this stupid shooting stunt isn’t ending any time soon. I drop the toothbrush and stare at my



reflection. I look a bit weird because of last night’s stunt. I walk out of the bathroom and wonder where Gray is. I look around the living room and the sight of smoke almost made me panic. Faint music plays in the living room and there’s smoke coming from the kitchen.


Jesus..” I cough. Gray just burnt an entire breakfast.


What are you doing ?” I ask him and cough slightly.


He pouts and shrugs. I chuckle and look around the kitchen. He was trying to cook and obviously , he burnt the kitchen.


What did you do ?” I ask and pick up the spatula to point at him. He chuckles. Thank God the smoke is almost out.


You were sleeping and I wanted to be a good boyfriend , so i thought I should prepare you something. I’m sorry , it’s stupid , I burnt it.” He shrugs and run his fingers through his hair.


I throw my head back and laugh. Now he’s amused cause I just laughed at him.


” Jesus , Jamal.”


He rolls his eyes and watch me carefully.


You look pretty when you laugh at me.” He says dryly. I roll my eyes and help him clean the table.


I should be at school today. Today is Monday.”


You’re skipping class.”


I raise my head to look at him. He winks at me above the rim of his glass as he drinks the water. I sigh and bite my tongue.


What about work ?”


Same thing.”


Gray , really. I won’t go to school today and i won’t go to work. What am I supposed to tell Theo.”


That your boyfriend , Gray Carter ask you to skip work today because he wants to have an alone time with his girlfriend. He doesn’t have a choice.”


I sigh and drop the napkin.” But that’s not fair. It’s like you’re intimidating him.”


That’s exactly what I’m doing. He’s a d**k.” He scoffs and drops the glass on the counter.


I’m gonna think about it. I can’t stay at home all day with you.”


I’m not hot enough ?” He leans his elbows on the counter and watch me with his seductive smirk.


I chuckle and bite my bottom lip.” You’re such a jerk. I didn’t say that.”


Then what are you saying ?” He asks softly as he made his way to my side of the counter.


Yes , Tinkerbell.” He whispers in my ears and wraps his hands around my waist. I breathe into the new feeling and blush.


The closeness of our body makes my body want him so badly. I lean against his chest as he kisses my neck. Now i forgot I’m supposed to be asking about his arm.


How’s your arm ?” I ask.


Better than ever.” He answers against the skin of my neck.



I turn around to inspect his wound and he presses me against the counter so I can’t escape. I trace my fingers along the wound careful and he looks better. I mean he always looks better. He doesn’t even act like someone who got shot.


This got me scared.” I murmur and trace my fingers on the bandage.


Thank God you’re fine.” I breathe out and wrap my arms around his torso.


So you care about me this much ?” He asks and furrows his brows.


Shut up ! You know I will always care about you. You make me happy Gray.” I say and rest my head on his chest still holding his waist.


You make me happy too.” He replies , barely above a whisper.


His right hand runs through my hair and he kisses my temple. I trace my fingers down his spine and he gently lift me off the ground and sit me on the counter.


I’m going home today , Gray.”


You know I won’t let you.” He says softly.


I chuckle and roll my eyes. ” I have to. I’ve stayed with you more than two weeks now. Don’t you think I should go back to the apartment.”


What if someone comes after you and I’m not there to protect you ?” I sigh and look up at his face.


Gray , how long am i supposed to hide from all this drama. I’m serious , I’m tired of it. You don’t expect me to go around town being self cautious because of this stupid gangsters. I’m tired Gray. I don’t mean to sound selfish but I want my normal life back.” I sigh and hop out of the counter.


I set out the bowl and ingredients to make pancakes for Gray and i. He isn’t saying a word and I’m in need of a word from him. I want him to say something. If



he’s not tired of this awkward situation whereby any minute from now, some men are just gonna barge into our privacy just to shoot at us. I swear , I’m already tired.


Is Cage part of yesterday’s shoot out ?” I ask mixing the ingredients.


You ain’t giving up , are you ?”


Gray , if you want us to work out , you need to start telling me everything about you.”


I thought you know almost everything about me.” He says sarcastically.


I huff and tap my finger on the countertop. He’s being annoying right now.


Are you also a gangster ?” He looks irritated and bored.


I don’t wanna talk about it.”


So that’s it ? He doesn’t wanna talk about it. It’s no longer Vladimir now it’s Cage. A green eyed freak who’s also his rival. How did I get myself in this mess ? I wasn’t thinking obviously. Now I’m a bait to everyone. To everyone who thinks it’s smart to come after me just to get at Gray. I mix the items on the bowl and place the pan on the stove to start cooking.


After taking out the pancakes on two different plates. I swirl syrup over my pancakes and little on Gray’s. I carry both plates to the living room and drop them on the glass table close to the couch opposite the TV. Gray’s watching a football game with the volume low. I bet he’s not even concentrating on it. It’s obvious his mind has traveled to God knows where.


I ignore him completely and eat my breakfast in silence. He hasn’t touched his yet and seriously , I’m bothered. I look at him at the corner of my eyes and he looks deep in thoughts. I wanted to ask him if he’s okay and then i remembered I’m supposed to be angry at him. He owe me an explanation and also an apology for making my life complicated.



“So you’re not asking me if I’m eating or not , hmm ?” He asks and turns to look at me. Damn , that smirk. It literally makes my heart beat.


I look straight at the TV and bite the inside of my cheek to keep me from blushing.


What happened to the syrup ? Mine is empty.”


I thought you don’t like it.” I reply dryly , making sure I don’t make eye contact with him. I feel him smirk and he leans closer to me on the couch. I swallow and try to keep up with my angry facade. Of course it’s not possible. Gray’s my addiction and my distraction.


He gently snatches my plate from me and chuckle at my playful glare at him.


I can’t believe you try to stay angry at me ?” He muses with a smirk and eat my pancakes.


Gray that isn’t yours.” I whine.


I see nothing wrong in wanting your food.”


I roll my eyes and take a slice from his and eat. He only chuckles beside me and finish both plates.




I wipe the plates with the napkin and arrange them back to their place. Gray walks into the kitchen and I’m still mad at him. I ignore him and turn on the tap of the sink to wash my hands. Suddenly , Gray wraps his arms around my waist from behind and kiss my nape. I shudder , trying not to get tempted with his seduction.


He kisses down my nape to my shoulder blade as he kiss up to the side of my neck.


” Gray , don’t.” I warn but he doesn’t listen.



He smirks against my skin and gently bites my neck. Surprisingly , I shut my eyes and collapse to his touch. I bite my tongue to stop me from moaning but it’s fruitless.


I’m sorry.” He whispers and kiss my hair.


Sorry , for ?”


Everything that I’ve put you through. I’m such an idiot for wanting something as beautiful as you. And maybe I’m selfish for keeping you.” He sighs and turns me around leaning me against the counter.


His hands stay at the sides of my body as he kisses me. I part my lips giving him more entrance and I moan.


” Take a shower with me ?” He asks after breaking from our intense make out.


I roll my eyes and swat his hands. He chuckles and lift me off the ground as my legs curl around his waist. I squeal when he pinches my hips all the way to the bathroom. I’m visiting Alexa today and Piper and Brandon texted me to ask if I’ll be checking up on her. I rest both hands on the cold wall of the bathroom as Gray sponge my skin gently. He kisses my hair from behind me as the warm water rinse our skins. I get out of the shower while Gray stay back to rinse himself off the lather.








I sing along the song from the radio as Gray drive us to the hospital. He chose to follow me for security reasons. Said he doesn’t want me to get hurt.


” You are sounding like Kennedy right now.” He says.



I scrunch my face and jab my elbows on his ribs. He laughs to my crazy attempt of hurting him. He didn’t feel it at all.


Why would you say that ?” I whine.


Your voice.”


I sing great.” I protest.


I know. You sing really good but right now you’re sounding like Kennedy.” I roll my eyes and cross my arms.


Don’t tell me you’re mad.” Gray says and place his hand on my lap.


I smile and swat his hand off my lap and I pull my knees to my chest.


I’m sorry.” He says. I bite my bottom lip and burst into laughter.


You’re cuter when you care.” I smile and turn to look at him. I poke his cheek and pinch it.


He glares playfully at me. I watch him handle the wheel as we pull up at the hospital. We walk inside the hospital and I’m nervous again. Most times i can’t believe the fact that Alexa got shot. It’s so hard to believe. I open the door to her room and peek my head inside before stepping in. She look just the same , pale and not even responding. Gray shuts the door and lean against the wall close to the door with his hands tuck in his pockets.


Why would Vladimir shot her ?” I ask no one in particular. I sit on the chair close to her bed and sigh. Probably I’m the reason for her laying in the hospital. Maybe he wanted me dead and she didn’t want it to happen.


Manny. Where are you ?” Gray speaks on the phone.


I didn’t hear the other voice from the background. With one hand holding his phone , his other hand smooth his hair.



Vladimir is not in the country ?” Gray sighs and hangs up , shoving his phone in his jacket.


What happened ?” I ask.


Vlad flew out of the country. I think he’s in Russia. Maybe he shot her afterwards and left the country. He’s such a pu**y.”


I sigh and look at the monitor. She’s not even showing any sign of survival.


Oh my God. I’m sorry we….” I dart my head to the door to see Piper and Brandon. I don’t know what made them freeze but I’m certain it’s Gray.


I chuckle and shake my head sideways.


Oh. Hey , hi.” They say to Gray. Gray smiles warmly and nods.


When did you arrive ?” Piper asks sitting next to me on Alexa’s bed.


Not quite long.”


Have you seen the doctor ?” Brandon asks.


No. Haven’t seen any doctor since I arrive.” I heave a deep breath and slide my hand down my face.


I’m gonna wait outside. Gotta take this.” Gray waves his phone at me and walks out.


We didn’t expect you’d bring your boyfriend , girl.” They muses.


I roll my eyes and cross my arms.


” You skip school today. Are you gonna go to work ?”



Gray won’t let me. I can’t protest on that. He called Theo and told him I’ll not be coming to work today.”


They giggles and ruffles my hair.


” Stop it.” I laugh and swat their hands away.


The doctor from the other day walks in holding her clipboard. She smiles at us and walk to the other side of Alexa’s bed. She’s still breathing through oxygen.


How’s she ?” We ask the doctor.


Same. We hope she’s gonna get better though.” The doctor sighs and holds Alexa’s wrist to check her pulse .


She scribbles something on her clipboard and look back at her heart rate on the monitor. She sighs deeply and lastly move her gaze back to Alexa.


You should keep on hoping. She might get better. She bled so much before she was brought here. It’s one of the reasons she’s barely responding.”


I nod and the doctor walks out. I look at Brandon and Piper who looks speechless as well.


So what’s gonna happen if she doesn’t make it ?” I ask.


Ariel , I thought you wanted to be a nun. Where’s your faith ?” Piper asks and smirks.


I chuckle and stare at her in awe.” Piper , you’re not religious.” Brandon laughs too and shakes his head.


Sincerely , I believe she’ll will be fine. She’s gonna fight it out. She’s a strong woman.” Brandon says.


So who else thinks Brandon should be a therapist or maybe a motivational speaker ?” I ask. Piper and Brandon throws their head back and laugh.



I support.” Piper adds. Brandon rolls his eyes and shove his hands in his pockets.


How was class ?”


Terrible as f**k. I also need to copy from your statistics paper.” Piper says.


You’re tripping.”


I ain’t f**kin kidding , boo. I can’t think about anything actually. So tomorrow when coming to school , bring it to school.”


Yes , mother.” I huff and bite my tongue.


What’s up with Jamie ?” I ask.


Damn girl. That nigga is a virgin.” Piper burst out.


What the f**k !” Brandon exclaims.


Can you please be easy ? You don’t wanna wake her up.” I utter. The guys chuckles.


Fuck , Ariel she’s in coma. And by the way, we want her to be awake.”


Whatever. Back to that Jamie. Piper you took his virginity ?”


Fuck , yeah.” She smirks and shuts her eyes trying to fantasize whatever thing she did with Jamie.


You need to see his face when I go down on him. Shit.” Piper emphasizes.


Okay , that’s gross. It’s enough.”


Yeah , totally gross.” Brandon adds and burst into laughter.







We left after spending hours at Alexa’s hospital room. I had to argue with Gray countless times about sending me home but he didn’t listen. After taking some strange call he decides to take me back to my apartment. I walk into the apartment and shut the door behind me. This feels like forever. I hear chatters coming from the kitchen and i know that voice. Leslie and her best friend , Hazel.


Look who decides to show up.” Leslie smirks at me.


Hi , Ariel.” Hazel grins and stuff her mouth with baked beans.


So you got rid of it ? And you’re celebrating it? ” I cross my arms and lean against the doorframe.


Yeah , Hallelujah.” Leslie glares at me and roll her eyes.


You’re such a shitty disgrace.” I retort.


I beg your pardon ! Bitch mind your business.” Leslie fires back.


I wish you can also listen to your dumb advice of minding your business. It’s stupid your precious parents didn’t find out about it.” I scoff and turn to go to my room.






Piper and I walk quickly down the hospital hallway the following day after school. Gray as usual asked Nick to drive me to school even if I’m hanging around my apartment now. My parents called earlier today , saying I should come home with Leslie for family dinner that she misses us and would love to see us.


We open the door and step inside the room. I shut the door and stare at Alexa’s supposed room. It wasn’t the same as yesterday. Piper and I look around and it’s obviously her room. But something is wrong , she’s missing.












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