Stay Close(3)

By: Alexa Riley

He isn’t my normal type, not that I really have a type at all. I’m only eighteen, so I’m not sure I’ve decided that yet. The boys I talk to at school would fall under the preppy category, but that’s pretty much every guy there. It’s private and caters to kids with some of the richest parents in New York City. No one there is running around with tattoos covering their body.

“Not this one, Penny.”

I jump a little at my sister’s soft words. She’s standing next to me with her back against the wall as well, as if she’s been there the whole time.

“How do you do that?” I whisper at her. Jesus. Everyone in this freaking house is like a spy or something. They move around like cats, never making a noise. When I move, people don’t normally miss me coming. I’m loud and pretty clumsy.

She shoots me a smirk, and I roll my eyes. She reaches out her hand and links it with mine. “You weren’t in bed.”

“Because I’m spying,” I whisper a little too loudly and cringe at myself.

I’m sure I’m doing a terrible job at sneaking around. You’d think living with Pandora and my parents, I would have picked up some tricks. But I should have known my sister would catch me. We’re twins and have had our own rooms since we turned thirteen, but she still ends up in my bed most nights. She doesn’t sleep well when she’s alone. I like it, though. Pandora has always been the strong one, even when we were growing up. She gives no shits, whereas I’m the girly girl who gets her feelings hurt about everything. But at the end of the day, Pandora is still the one crawling into my bed. It makes me feel like I also have a way of making her feel safe. Just like she always did with me growing up. From school playgrounds to asshole boys, Pandora was always there to put someone in their place.

“They probably know you’re out here,” she whispers back, and I shrug.

I don’t care. I want another look at the dark stranger. Something about him has piqued my curiosity, and I feel drawn to him. Maybe it’s the mystery, or maybe it’s that he seems like a challenge. It could be that while I find the darkness in his eyes sexy, they still seem a little lonely. My weakness is seeing someone else hurting, and I caught a glimpse of that. It calls to me.

“Not him, Penny. Stick to the boys at school.”

I look over at her. We look exactly the same, but I have my father’s green eyes and Pandora has our mother’s deep blue eyes. We’re both built like her, though. We’re both petite with small features and deep red hair. Our eyes are really the only way to tell us apart. That is, until one of us opens our mouth. Then it’s easy to tell who’s who.

I feel warmth hit my cheeks. I’m not shocked she knew I was standing out here trying to get another look at him, but I’m still a little embarrassed. I’ve always been a little boy crazy, but it never lasts long. I crush for a second and then jump on to the next. For some reason, when I know they like me back, I lose interest fast. Pandora always jokes that I’m in love with having a crush, and once the crush is gone, so am I.

“Something feels off. I can’t put my finger on it, but he’s rough around the edges. You need someone sweet.”

She’s right. Something does feel different with him, but it’s a kind of different I don’t want to stay away from. As crazy as it sounds I think he’s mine. I don’t know why but when I saw him, it was all I could think.

“Fuck,” she mumbles, probably reading my face.

The door to our parents’ office opens, making us both jump away from the wall. Our mom stands in the doorway, her hands on her hips. “What are you two doing?”

“I wanted to see if we could stay late after school tomorrow to study for finals,” Pandora says quickly.

She’s fast on her toes to cover up for us. She’s always been that way, even when we were little. I would get a bright idea, like covering our room in sparkles, and she’d tell me not to. Then I would do it anyway, because, well, I have terrible impulse control, and when we’d get busted she’d always say it was her idea. Always my protector.

She squeezes my hand, still locked in hers.

Mom rolls her eyes, clearly not believing her. My gaze goes to the shadow behind her. He’s looking right at me. My heart jumps into my throat. I can’t look away from him. Pandora gives my hand another hard squeeze, silently telling me to stop staring. Finally I drop my eyes from his, instantly missing the connection.

“Fine. Your dad and I have a meeting tomorrow and will be working late. Your security will be waiting outside the school for the both of you.”

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