Now she knew she was in trouble. Sergei was only sarcastic with her when he was furious.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” she lied. “Nothing.” But her gaze was fixed firmly on her plate, Seri knowing that the boys would guess the truth the moment they saw her eyes.

Nothing…

Except for the fact that it had been three months since…

She didn’t even want to think about it.

It was that bad.

****

But not thinking about it was easier said than done.

Seri was on her back in her bed, still as a corpse. In many ways, she was one, had been so the moment an evil spirit took possession of her heart and made Seri feel the weirdest things.

Bad things.

Things that she also couldn’t ever forget.

Since that day in the rain, she had done her best to avoid Vassi without anyone noticing, and especially not Vassi. She pretended to miss his calls because of one thing or another and only answered his texts when she was sure he was sleeping, and even went as far as making sure she had the right time zone for this.

She had thought that perhaps, she could survive just by watching clips of him on YouTube, but…it only made things worse, only made her heart ache like it was literally breaking into two, only made her miss him so badly.

She missed her brother so much.

And that was fine, wasn’t it?

She was allowed to miss her brother, wasn’t she?

So why didn’t it feel right?

****

“Wow,” Davey said when she joined him for lunch at school the next day. “You look like you’re dying.”

“I am.” She slumped over the table and hid her face between her arms. Every day that she couldn’t hear Vassi’s voice, couldn’t see his face, couldn’t touch his hand—-

Days like this made her feel like she was dying bit by bit.

“Why don’t you just admit it?” Davey asked reasonably. “You’re—-”

She straightened on her seat and hissed, “No!”

Davey blinked. “Umm, hello, Little Miss Moody.”

Seri flushed. “Sorry.” But when her friend started to open his mouth again, she told him seriously, “Don’t try saying it again. I mean it.” Because if he did, then she would be forced to acknowledge why she was feeling what she was feeling.

And she wasn’t ready for that.

She would never be ready for that.

Misha and Sergei came to join them then, and she shot Davey a warning look before she turned to her brothers with a bright smile. She thought she had fooled them, but she hadn’t. As she forced herself to eat her pasta, she missed the looks exchanged between the two.

Whatever was bothering Seri, their baby sister was clearly not going to tell them, and they knew Davey well enough to even bother forcing the truth out of Seri’s gay best friend.

And so this left them to do only one thing…

****

Another empty day, she thought listlessly.

It was only eight in the evening and normally, Seri liked to stay up until ten, either doing vocal exercises or if not that, then spending every spare minute collecting online clips about Vassi and adding it to her digital scrapbook.

But these days, that was impossible.

She only had to hear his name and she already felt like she was about to explode with pain, and chancing upon one of his countless commercials randomly playing on a website was more than enough to have her bursting into tears.

She knew this had to stop.

But she just couldn’t.

Switching off the lights, she flopped onto the bed on her back, arms spread wide.

Day 105 of her self-medication, Seri thought. She had read online about addicts managing to quit by cold turkey but so far, it wasn’t doing anything except to make Seri miss Vassi even more.

If only she could tell Fyodor she needed to go to rehab without having any questions asked.

She didn’t think she could last another month like this.

It felt like she was wasting away—-

Someone knocked on the door.

Forcing herself up, she walked towards the door, not bothering to turn the lights back on. She opened the door, asking, “What—-”

Her mouth snapped shut.

Vassi was staring coldly at her, dressed in a leather jacket, with a white dress shirt and tie underneath. No ordinary guy could have even pulled off something like it with California’s current temperature, but since this was Vassi—-

He looked perfect.

So much that her heart started doing its weird thing again.

Oh no.

For a moment, they simply stared at each other, her face pale, while Vassi had a hard expression on his.

“Sergei called me.” He crossed his arms over his chest.

Her heart dropped to her stomach.

His silver eyes narrowed at her. “And now I see that things are even worse than what he’s told me.”

She gulped.

“This has got to stop, Seri.” The anger made her flinch, but it didn’t stop Vassi, who gritted his teeth at her. “I’m not an idiot. I know you’ve been avoiding me. I have no fucking idea what I’ve done or said to make you angry at me and to be honest, I would rather see hell freeze over before speaking to you first—-”


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