Klarissa stirred her spoon in wide circles, watching her cereal-islands flood. She picked up the newspaper, skimming the front page article about the Orochimaru—the famous black-turned-white pop singer.
She popped off the cap to her sharpie, drew a speech-bubble, and scribbled, "I like little boys," inside.
It was quiet. The clock ticked. One of the tenants upstairs was fighting with their spouse again. Klarissa set her head down in her arms, and shut her eyes tightly.
She wiped down the counters before she left, vacuumed, and packed her things into boxes. Just in case.
She bought wrapping paper on the way, a small box bulging from her pocket.
The hotel’s security let her pass—which meant Jace hadn’t terminated her room yet, which was probably a positive sign. She took the stairs, trudging up the seven flights grimly, feeling her calves ache when she hit level four. She moved in fast, determined motions, like a warrior, she fancied. She hoped.
Her momentum brought her plodding down the hallway and around the curve until she was directly in front of his door—number 38…
When all of her determination abruptly deserted her. She stared at the golden number 38, and licked her lips, twice. She had gone over this—planned it out down to the last word in the three weeks she had been gone. She knew exactly what was wrong with her—them, and the point she wanted to prove.
Why, then, was she so terrified?
She busied herself with wrapping the box, clumsily smoothing down strips of tape over the plain red wrapping paper.
She took a deep, unsteady breath, and raised her hand.
Her knock was half-assed, too soft for even her to hear. She tried again, still soft but—
Jace opened the door. His eyes widened slightly when he saw her, but he made no comment. The shadows under his eyes had grown since she had last seen him, and he looked thinner.
Whatever she had been about to say abruptly fled from her mind, and she found herself wanting nothing more than to touch him.
After a good five seconds, and still neither of them had said a word, Klarissa was fidgeting terribly. Desperation made her smile as brightly and as falsely as she knew how, and she thrust the box out to him, black ribbon clamped in her other hand. "Can you tie this for me?"
Jace took the ribbon silently after a moment, and curled it around the box, tying a bow around her finger so carefully and meticulously, and it was such a Jace-ish thing to do, that her throat closed, for a second, and her chest ached.
When he finished, she pushed the box into his hands. "This is for you."
Jace looked a little peeved about unwrapping the ribbon he had just tied, but she stared at him expectantly, obviously waiting for him to do so.
Jace opened the box.
It was empty.
"What?" he raised a confused eyebrow at her, and Klarissa swallowed twice before she could speak, her heart suddenly hammering against her ribs.
"It’s—it’s something you can’t buy with money. No matter how much you have." She rushed,...