Flawed (Flawed, #1)(8)

Written By: Cecelia Ahern

He smiles, takes my face in his hands, makes a disgusted face. “I don’t really want to think of his part in making me, thank you very much.”

“Gross.” I laugh.

“Black and white.”

“All the way.” I smile, but my smile feels a bit wobbly, my footing not as sure as it was before. Convincing Art is easier than convincing myself.

Art clears his throat. “I wasn’t going to do this until your birthday, but after tonight … I think you deserve it now more than ever.”

He lifts his left leg and moves it beside me, pulling me in closer to him so that I am trapped between his thighs. Suddenly my uncertainty disappears and I am right where I want to be.

“I got you this for your eighteenth birthday, but I want to give it to you now to let you know that despite everything else going on in the world, you are the one thing that makes sense to me. You are beautiful.” He runs his finger down my cheek, across my nose, over my lips. “You are clever, you are loyal.” He drops his hand and hands me a small velvet box.

My hands are shaking so much I’m embarrassed. I open it and lift out the delicate silver chain, so fine I’m afraid I’ll break it. On the end is a symbol.

“And you are perfect,” he whispers, and it sends a shiver running through me, and my skin breaks out in goose bumps.

I examine the symbol, unable to believe what I see.

“I had a man at Highland Castle make it for me specially. You know what it means?”

I nod. “Circles are regarded as a symbol of perfection. All the radii bear a ratio of one to one to each other, showing there are no partial differences between them. They are proved to be in a state of harmony. Geometric harmony.”

“Perfection,” he says again, softly. “It’s hard to get one up on the mathematician, you know.” He laughs. “I had to do a lot of research. I think my brain is still sore.”

I laugh through my growing tears. “Thank you.” My words come out as a whisper. I attempt to wrap it around my wrist, but he stops me.

“No. Here.” He takes it from my trembling hands, and he uncrosses my ankles delicately. He moves back from me and straightens my leg, sliding my jeans up my leg slowly, his fingers warm on my skin. He fastens the chain around my ankle, and then he moves forward again, closer this time, wrapping my legs around him.

He lifts my chin and we are nose-to-nose, the moonlight between us. He tilts his head and kisses me softly, smoothly, sweetly. His lips are succulent, his tongue delicious, and I lift my hands through his hair and am lost in him, in this moment.


WHEN I THINK back to that moment, my heart soars as it did then, and everything is heightened, magical, musical, and mystical, almost too good to be true. I could live that moment forever, his lips on mine, our bodies pushed together, both of us hungry for more, our future as wide open as the vista before us, as bright as the moon. It was just us on top of the sleeping world, invincible, untouchable.

It was the most perfect moment in my life.

It was the last perfect moment in my life.


I WAKE UP, and the first thing I do is slide my leg out from under the duvet to check my ankle. Anklet still there. It was not a dream, not some juicy figment of my imagination that dissolves as soon as I wake. I snuggle down under the covers to relive it in my head and then realize that delaying this morning would delay spending time with Art. He will be waiting for me, as he always is, at the bus stop, where we will go on to school together.

Despite my joy, my sleep was fitful, with so much to absorb after the Angelina Tinder scene. I feel unsteady on my feet as I get dressed. Something has been shaken, stirred within me. My feeling of security has been tested, and perhaps my trust, though not with Art, whom I trust more than ever. Oddly, I think it is with my own self.

I don’t need to think when I dress; I never do, not like Juniper, whom I hear swearing and sighing as she pulls yet another outfit over her head in frustration, never happy with how she looks. She gets up a half hour earlier than I do just to get dressed and still ends up being late every morning.

Most people who don’t know our personalities can’t distinguish between me and Juniper. With a black dad and a white mom, we have inherited Dad’s skin. We also have Dad’s brown eyes, his nose, and his hair coloring. We have Mom’s cheekbones, her long limbs. She tried to get us into modeling when we were younger, and Juniper and I did a few shoots together, but neither of us could stay at it. Me because posing for a camera failed to intellectually stimulate me, Juniper because she was even more awkward and clumsy under people’s gazes.

When it comes to how we act, how we dress, and everything else about us, though, we couldn’t be further apart.

I put on a cream linen dress and baby-pink cashmere cardigan, with gold gladiator sandals that spiral up my legs. It’s hot outside, and I always wear pastel colors. Mom likes to buy pastels for all the family. She thinks that we look more like a unit when we’re dressed that way. I know of some families who hire stylists to help coordinate not just the clothes but their overall look as a family. None of us wants to look out of place or like we don’t belong, though Juniper often likes to do her own thing, wearing something that’s not a part of our family color palette. We let her do just that—her loss, though Mom worries that it makes us look fragmented. I think the only person who looks fragmented is Juniper.

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