Twisted love by ANA HUANG ,chapter 39,AVA

Bridget convinced Rhys not to tell the palace what happened in Philadelphia. I didn’t know how, because Rhys was such a stickler for the rules—even if telling the truth meant getting himself in trouble, since Bridget had been kidnapped on his watch—but she did. The press also never picked up on the real story. Other than a small item about an “accidental house fire that resulted in the death of former Archer Group CEO Ivan Volkov,” it was like the worst six hours of my life hadn’t happened. I suspected Alex had a hand in both the fire and the lack of media coverage, but I tried not to think of him these days. Once or twice, I succeeded. “I brought cake.” Jules slid a red velvet cupcake in my direction. “Your fave.” Her face glowed with hope as she waited for my response. My friends tried their best to put on happy faces around me, but I heard their whispers and saw their sidelong glances—they were worried. Really worried. So was Josh, who quit his volunteer program and moved back to Hazelburg for “moral support.” He’d landed a few days after the Philly incident for his belated holiday break, and when he found out what happened, he went berserk. That’d been almost two months ago. I was grateful for my friends’ support, but I needed more time. Space. They meant well, but I couldn’t breathe with them hovering all the time. “I don’t want it.” I pushed the cupcake away from me. Red velvet. Like the cookies I’d baked for Alex as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift a lifetime ago.
I couldn’t stand anything red velvet these days. “You haven’t eaten yet, and it’s already late afternoon.” For once, Stella wasn’t glued to her phone. Instead, she stared at me with concern scrawled all over her face. “I’m not hungry.” Jules, Bridget, and Stella exchanged glances. I’d moved in with Bridget because I couldn’t stand living near Alex anymore. Even though he’d moved out soon after I did, I couldn’t look at that house without thinking of him, and every time I thought of him, I felt like I was drowning. Helpless. Unmoored. Unable to breathe. “Your birthday’s coming up. We should celebrate.” Bridget switched topics. “How about a spa day? You love massages, and it’ll be on me.” I shook my head. “Or maybe something simple like a movie night?” Stella suggested. “PJs, junk food, junk movies.” “Movies so bad they’re almost good,” Jules added. “Okay.” I didn’t feel like celebrating, but I also didn’t feel like arguing, and they would bug me until I agreed to something. “I’m going to take a nap.” I didn’t wait for them to answer before I pushed my chair back and went upstairs to my room. I locked the door and climbed into bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I’d stopped having so many nightmares after I regained my memories, but it was now my waking hours that I dreaded. I lay in the dark, listening to the rain outside and watching the shadows dance across my ceiling. The past two months had both flown by and dragged on, with each day bleeding into the next in an endless sludge of numbness. Yet I woke up every morning, surprised I’d survived another day. Between Michael’s and Alex’s betrayals, I had depleted my capacity to cry. I hadn’t shed a single tear since I returned from Philadelphia. My phone pinged with a new email notification on the nightstand. I ignored it. It was probably a stupid ten percent off coupon for something I didn’t need. Then again, it wasn’t like I could sleep, and the sound lingered in the silence. I sighed and grabbed my cell, opening the new email with all the enthusiasm of a prisoner on their way to Death Row. It was the orientation package for the WYP fellowship, complete with a calendar of classes and
activities for the year, a list of housing suggestions, and a mini travel guide to New York City.

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