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SAMUEL VANDEPUTTE WAS BEAUTIFUL. He always had had the face of an angel and the mind of a crack addict, but more importantly, he always had been so fun. The way he existed only in extremes had been adorable to her - he never was a mere breeze, always a full on storm. Once he had been able to sweep her off her feet easily, later on all it did was make her unable to breathe.

"Nora," he said, the nickname only he used for her soft on his tongue, like a caress.

"He's your ex?" Ava whispered to her, looking impressed. "The boy is fine."

"Oh no," Will said, eyes widening," he looks way friendlier than Levi." He placed a hand on Ella's shoulder. "El, remember than beneath that scowl of his there's a sweet guy."

"There's not," Ava said.

"Who's Levi?" Sam frowned.

They had been staring at each other through the shelves, but it seemed Levi's name had shaken him out of that stupor. Without even blinking Ella put the milk carton back on the shelf, closing the gap so he couldn't see her, and continued on walking.

"That was wildly uncomfortable," she said," let's move on."

"Are you alright?" Mia frowned, worry tinging her voice.

"Yeah," Ella said," just not about to be caught up in any drama."

"Nora! Nora, wait!"

She didn't listen, continuing to walk down the aisle. It wasn't like she was still angry at Sam for how messily their relationship had ended, but her interest in having an awkward conversation about it now was non-existent. Unfortunately for her it didn't look like Sam was thinking the same thing, because he rounded the corner then. He was just about to grab her by the wrist when Will stepped in between, none of his usual warmth visible.

"She walked away," he said," I don't think she wants to talk to you."

Sam pulled his wrist free, annoyance flashing through his eyes.

"I've known her for four years now," he said," I think I know her a bit better than you."

"Don't make this a competition, Sam," Ella said," I really don't care for it."

Whatever bright flame had burned in his eyes at Will's words, it died to a candlelight at hers. He took a step back, vulnerability coloring him soft. They had been best friends long before they had been anything else, back when everything was simpler between them. It had been a year after they had met that Sam had fallen in love with her and it didn't take her long to notice.

He never had been subtle, so once he started to insist on taking her home and stared at her dreamily during the lessons, she already had started to wonder what was off. Still, she wasn't sure if she felt the same, so she didn't say anything. It took him two months to gather the courage to ask her out, but she shot him down. They were fourteen - love was far from her mind at that time.

Sam didn't mind that much. They remained best friends and didn't speak about his crush again. It wasn't like they needed to, not when his girlfriends came as quickly as they went. She knew it wasn't because he was a player, but Sam said yes to anyone who asked him out. He always told her it was because he didn't want to break anyone's heart, but she didn't think that was the way to go.

They all broke up with him eventually anyway, because Sam apparently kept talking about her. He would skip dates to visit her, put his phone on silent when he was with her - hell, he even didn't go to meet the parents of the girl he was dating for her quinceañera. Only when she told him off for not prioritizing his girlfriends did he stop and when she had to miss him for two weeks she realized that her feelings had evolved into something more.

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