Flawed (Flawed, #1)(7)

Written By: Cecelia Ahern

Art says he likes going to the summit because it gives him perspective. He’s had a tough year. His mother passed away, and I think this place helps him rise above the worries on the ground, to look at it from a height as if he is distanced from the problems, detached from his grief, which is lessening with the months. I, on the other hand, see it as a place where it is Art and me against the rest of the world. While the one million people sleep in the city below us, Art and I are together, and it makes our bond feel even stronger. It makes me feel invincible, alive. I know how the castle feels watching over everybody: untouchable.

It is only over the past six months that I have felt this way about Art. We have been friends since we were twelve, when we started school together. The teacher placed us beside each other on the first day. We hung out together with a group, me with the girls and he with the boys, yet we always found ourselves side by side. We would never have met up alone despite living across the road from each other. It was only a year ago, when his mom passed away, that Art suddenly began to seek me out, not caring about the perception of us to the others. We’d come here together and talk, him grieving and slowly coming to terms with his mom’s death; he watched her slowly die of cancer. And then the grieving gradually flickered out, didn’t become the main reason for our meeting, and it became something else.

That was when the something happened for me. The rush of butterflies when I saw him, the silly smile that would appear on my face at the very thought of him, the nervous bubbles in my stomach, the jolt of electricity when his skin brushed mine. Suddenly I cared about what I wore, what I said, how I looked. This didn’t go unnoticed, particularly by Juniper, who watched me each day as I obsessed over my reflection before I dashed out of the house. Art noticed, too, and then I stopped flustering over myself for a moment to notice it in him. We’ve been together for three months.

I finally reach the summit and seeing his shape lit by the moon turns me into jelly as usual. He is always early, always waiting for me, sitting on a blanket, his face a picture of perfect concentration as he gazes out on the sleeping city below. Perfect is a word I use a lot to describe Art or any moment with him.

“Hello, early bird,” I say.

He looks up, the sadness replaced with a smile. And do I see relief?

“Hello, mouse. If you’re looking for your cheese, I ate it.”

“Worms and cheese,” I say, sitting beside him on the blanket. “Yum.”

We kiss.

“This is yum,” he murmurs, pulling me closer for another, longer, more passionate kiss.

I feel there is something different about him tonight. I pull away slowly and study his face, his eyes.

“How about we make a deal to not talk about any events of tonight?”

“Good idea.” I sigh. “I have a headache just thinking about it.”

He kisses my forehead and leaves his lips there. We’re both silent, lost in our thoughts, both obviously thinking about the sights and sounds of Angelina Tinder being dragged away. We can’t stay quiet for long. Art pulls away.

“My dad tonight…” He trails off, looking out at the tips of roofs and chimneys, and I see his anguish over what happened tonight. Ever since his mom passed away, I’ve seen it as my role to make him feel better, to get rid of the sadness. And despite my conflicted feelings on this evening, I need to pull it together for him.

“Look, Juniper should not have spoken to him the way she did, but you know what Juniper is like. She needs to learn how to keep her trap shut. She’s just like my granddad.”

“Juniper was only saying what she thought,” he says to my absolute surprise.

“She shouldn’t be saying these things to him.”

He smiles sadly. “Everything is so black and white to you, Celestine. We’re neighbors; we were in your dining room celebrating Earth Day, not his courtroom. And he must have known that was going to happen to Angelina tonight. I mean, why wouldn’t he at least tell her, if not us? They’re friends. At least she could have been ready and not dragged out like that in front of her family, her kids.…”

I’m surprised to hear this from him. Art has never spoken out about his dad. They’re buddies, a team, the only two left, a connection made stronger after his mom died. They’re survivors, or at least that’s how they act. The two who came out of her loss alive. I can see he is as confused about all this as I am.

“He was following the rules,” I say simply, and I know it’s not good enough. It doesn’t feel good enough to me, but it’s the truth. “What happened to Angelina was horrible, but I don’t think you can blame your dad for that.”

“No?” he asks, bitterness in his voice.

“It’s his job. A Flawed being taken into custody happens almost every day somewhere in this country. Your dad is under pressure to maintain perfection. What would happen if he turned a blind eye to some and not to others?” I ask, airing some of my own thoughts. “I mean, what then? Judge Crevan on trial for being Flawed for missing a Flawed?”

Art looks at me. “I never thought about it like that.”

“Well, you should. Because he’s your dad. And he’s powerful. And some people adore him, practically worship him. And that makes it harder for you to have a dad like that, but that’s who you’ve got, and he loves you so much. And he’s one half of what made you, and that makes him a genius.”

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