“Does your tiger have rabies or something?”

“Sometimes I wonder if you do.” She pushes away from the counter. “Come on, let me do your makeup.” I groan at the idea. This is a game we’ve played for years, but she has nothing to barter with. “I’ll get all this stuff out of here if you let me. All the pink will be removed from this apartment before you come back home tonight.”


I weigh her offer. I could simply throw all the shit in the hallway.

As if reading my thoughts, she trims her deal. “Just mascara and this lipstick I got that will match your top.” Without waiting for a response, she heads for her old room.

When I enter, she’s digging through one of her makeup bags. I glance around her room and think about how fast things have changed. We haven’t really been in New York long, but for some reason it feels longer. Most of Mal’s stuff is still here. From what I can tell of the clothes she’s been wearing, Miles must have filled her closet with new ones at their place.

Mal stops rifling through her bag and places her head on my shoulder, her fingers locking with mine. “It’s going to be weird not living with you,” she finally says. I lean my head against hers, thinking the same thing.

“You’re just a few floors up,” I remind her, and myself.

“I know. I know. Still.” She pulls me over to the bed, and I sit down as she starts putting mascara on me. “What will you do with the room?”

“Nothing.” The word is simple, but it holds so much weight. I can’t think of a single thing to do with the room. Nothing. What does that say about me? What am I going to do? Make up some secret room where I plot my father’s death? Coat the walls with pictures and maps like you see on all the spy movies, because that’s literally the only thing going on in my life right now? It’s my one driving goal. I haven’t ever thought past the point of getting my revenge. What would I want after that? If there even is an after. The reality is I could be in a room like this, only smaller, with bars on one side. But now it seems like there are a lot of possibilities if I want them. The risk count is higher now. There’s more to lose.

“Pout your lips,” Mal demands, and I do it. “God, Captain is going to lose it. Maybe he’ll even let you hold his shield.” The lame joke makes me laugh. “Take it. It looks great with your eyes.” Mal hands me the lipstick, and I look in the mirror.

The dark plum lipstick does look good. Hell, it looks freaking sexy against my pale skin. I look like a woman. A lot of the time I feel like a girl, given how small I am. Maybe I should cover up the freckles on my nose.

A knock sounds from the other room, and I glance over at the clock. Captain isn’t supposed to be here yet.

“It’s Oz. I’m surprised he lasted this long.”

I follow Mal out of the room and open the front door. Miles immediately pulls her into his arms, his mouth connecting with hers. I watch as Mal blushes, still shy about a public make-out session, but she doesn’t push him away. She lets him kiss her, and even though it’s a little gross, I’m happy for her. Weeks ago I would have told someone who was making out like that to get a room, but now envy lights inside me. There’s a new want that’s taken hold, and I know who put it there.

Finally, he gives her one last kiss and they separate.

“Hi, Paige.” He smiles and hugs Mal close.

“Hey.” I give a half wave, not sure what else to do. I still feel a little off after this morning’s conversation. Mal looks from me to Miles, and he wraps an arm around her waist, pulling her even closer.

“I have movers coming,” he says, and beams at Mallory.

“You’ve said that ten times today, Oz. I know and everyone in the whole building knows you have movers coming today. You’re moving me upstairs and never letting me escape.”

Miles doesn’t seem bothered by Mal making fun of him. He merely pulls her to the side to let the movers in, and starts giving orders.

“How’d the wedding planner go this morning?” I ask Mal, ignoring everything else going on.

“You don’t think they’re packing my panties, do you?” Mal says offhandedly, not answering my question. Miles lets out a weird sound, and after Mal’s tiger move in the kitchen, I wonder what animal sounds these two are going to teach their kid. Miles releases Mallory and goes to her room, I assume to collect her underwear.

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