Thirty Six

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She missed breakfast. That's fine. I pretended not to even notice when the others asked where she was.

She missed lunch. That's okay. I pretended not to be nervous when the others expressed their worries.

She missed dinner. I'm going crazy. But I pretend not to care while the others go check her room.

I pretend not to care, because I don't want to care.

There's a thing about rejection, it hurts like hell.

Arden not telling me she feels the same way as me, is one thing. Her not wanting to even hear me say it, is another.

Maybe I should thank her. If I had said those words, I'd never be able to take them back. Not that I would want to anyways.

Arden Pierce is a girl you can't help but fall for.

The thing with love, is that you can't stop it. You don't expect it. It started off as me tripping a couple times, but then I fell. I fell face first in the pile of pain she would bring me.

   I like to think she can't help but be the way she is.

I like to think she doesn't notice the hold and affect she has on me.

I like to think she doesn't know how beautiful she really is.

   She thinks everyone stares at her because who her father is. And maybe they did at first, but that's not why they do now.

   She's beautiful. So abnormally beautiful, it's annoying.

   Whether she means to or not, she commands attention. And everyone gives it to her, fascinated by the girl they expected to be the farthest thing from good. Fascinated by the girl who proved everyone wrong.

   Her beauty isn't what got me to fall for her. I can't lie to myself and say I didn't notice it at first, because I did. The day I saw her in the cell I was shocked. Levi and Carter tried warning me ahead of time, told me she wasn't what I would expect.

And they were right. I've seen her father, I know what he looks like. He's a decent looking man. I just would never had thought something so pretty could be the product of something so vial.

It pissed me off.

   Her beauty did nothing but that. What made her so intriguing to me, was the look of sadness always coated deep in her eyes. The feeling of it I always felt from her. Other mistaken it as pure hatred and anger, and she was good at acting like that was all she felt.

   But I felt it. As much as I tried to ignore it, I felt the yearning. Not of freedom, not of power, but of wanting to be good. Wanting nothing more, to be the thing others thought she was not.

   I got closer to her, not because I wanted to. I had to.

   I wanted nothing more than to stay away from her. Not feel sympathy for her. Not feel guilt for what was happening to her.

   But the closer I got, the harder it was to ignore. She wasn't bad. She was far from it.

   She was kind, and brave. Confident, and smart. Beautiful inside, just as much as the out.

   It always amazed me how badly she felt about herself. I loved when I knew everything she felt. It helped me know it was real, not some type of trick.

   But I also hated it. Hated that I felt what she thought of herself. Hated that every time she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, a bitter taste would coat her mind.

I try not to jump out of my seat when the others come. I try not to blurt out the question. I try, but fail.

"What is she..." I stop. Their faces make my stomach twist.

Gwen was the first to speak. "She's not here."

I have a feeling in my chest, it's difficult to explain. It's as if someone had reached into my chest, wrapped a hand around my heart, and decided to squeeze it.

Lily puts a hand on my arm, I forgot she was still next to me. "So she left?" It came off as a question, but I know she thought it was the truth.

Anger boiled in me. "Of course she didn't. Why would you even say that?" It was Gwen who said it. If she hadn't, I know those words would've been coming out of my mouth.

"She hated it here." Lily bit back. I had to bite my tongue to not tell her to shut up.

Gwen looks at me, everyone looks at me. I know better then to get in a battle between Gwen and Lily. Gwen has been my best friend since I was a boy. Lily, well she's a whole other story.

I always thought I'd marry her.

You don't meet a lot of new people here. And Gwen, I'd be too scared to ever give that a chance. Don't get me wrong, she's beautiful and a great girl. But I know I couldn't feel anything for her. And I wouldn't risk our friendship trying to.

Lily, we haven't been friends for too long. And I know I she's a nice girl. I know she likes me, and I always thought I could like her.

That was until Arden. Damn, she really had to fuck things up.

"Maybe she's going for a walk." Carter says. Why the hell is everyone still looking at me?

"I don't know, I don't care." I lie, getting up and leaving. I need space.

"Did they get in a fight or something?" I hear Levi whisper.

Did she leave because of me?

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