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“Yeah, that’s part of the new rules Mom is going to talk to us about, I think.” He slips my purse strap back on my shoulder, grinning. The sound of a ding makes us turn, and we enter the private elevator for the Saddington family’s penthouse. It’s the only one that can go from the ground floor to the top. Even making it work is a whole ordeal. He punches the code, then uses his thumbprint to start the thing, and… up we go. It’s so smooth and fast, we are there before I can even comment.

The elevator opens to vast elegance and an incredible view of Manhattan. Thank God, I’m not scared of heights. Mozart’s playing softly in the background.

Reed stops me, caging me in. “Kitten, Mom is going to try and guilt you. Do not let her!” He rubs my bottom lip with his thumb, and I quickly kiss it. My pulse speeds up.

“What is going on today? First my mom, now Caroline. You know I hate this kind of stuff.”

When he cocks his head—he’s so hot!—his blue eyes are filled with tenderness.

“You’re mine. That’s all you need to know. She’s going to give us the ‘we’re too young’ speech.” He shakes his head, his eyes locked on mine. “I don’t care, Tess. I will not have her dictate what is mine. Especially, when I get you for two whole weeks.” His warm, clean breath caresses my lips. He rubs his nose on mine, and I can’t help but smile.

“This is practice for when we get our place together.” I nod. He grins and takes my hand, pulling me behind him. I love when he gets all possessive.

“I have no idea why we need rules, but she is insisting. So, let’s get it over with, and we’ll go to Zack’s party.”

“Maybe because we are only fourteen, Reed!” Okay, so we’re almost fifteen. My birthday is in April, which is a month away, and the boys are early August. They’re tall, so they look older. We walk into Caroline’s award-winning living room. She actually won an award and a big spread in Architectural Digest. I love all of Reed’s penthouse, but this room with the large windows and the panoramic view of Manhattan makes you feel like you are a king or queen ruling your empire. The celery-green walls and priceless art have a calming effect.

“You’re so weird, Reed.” I shake my head, teasing him.

His eyes turn a shade darker. “You love that about me.”

And I do—I honestly do. Most people would feel insulted or insecure by someone thinking them weird. Reed. Does. Not. Care. I envy that. His self-confidence is amazing.

Also, I don’t truly think he’s weird. Brilliant, domineering, and intense yeah, but weird no. Maybe that is the definition of weird, I think, smirking. Whatever, I want him, and unfortunately, so does everyone else. It’s like his weirdness makes him more desirable. His lack of conformity makes him a leader, which then makes everyone want to please him, including me.

“Sit,” he commands. I do, sinking down onto one of Caroline’s uncomfortable couches. I’m sure it cost a fortune, but it’s the worst for your back.

“I’ll go tell my mom you’re here.”

My eyes follow him as he leaves the room. Obviously, he is not worried about The Rules, so why should I be? Sucking on my bottom lip, I look around. It’s perfect. Everything Caroline does is perfect. From the huge display of white orchids to the immense Andy Warhol hanging above the fireplace

Inhaling, I take a deep breath and remember the first time I was in this room. I found my soul mate in this room, my true love at eight years old. I start to pick at my manicure that I just got yesterday. Reed leaving the room makes my anxiety kick up a notch. Taking a breath, I chastise myself. I can’t always have him with me twenty-four hours a day. I brush the pink chips of polish off my Diesel jeans. I have always been a nervous person and having my mom be the way she is doesn’t help. When my parents informed me we were leaving Los Angeles and going to New York, I was terrified. Literally, I cried for a solid week. The thought of the plane crashing made my anxiety unbearable. So, my mom gave me my first Valium at age eight!

Manhattan, in general, upsets me. Too many people, which I hate. Only I hate being alone more! I despise that we go months without sunshine. Okay, the sun does shine in the summer. But who wants to be out in it with the humidity making it seem as though you can’t breathe. I guess that’s how I have always felt. Like I can’t breathe, like I don’t know who I am. Until I looked into a pair of turquoise eyes and suddenly I had oxygen!

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