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Thea


“I’m going to kill my husband.”

My best friend, Rae, looks up from the box she’s packing as I flop onto her bed with a groan.

“Why? What’d he do?” she asks, folding a shirt neatly before putting it in the box.

The four of us—Rae, her fiancé and my brother, Cade, and my husband, Xander, have lived together in this house since the summer before Rae and I started our sophomore year of college. That was three years ago, and in that time, so much has changed. Rae and Cade got engaged, my mom lived with us for a while, Xander surprised me with a car of my own … So many more memories, but the four of us decided that with Rae and me graduating this year, there was no need to keep living here. Rae and Cade are getting married later in the year, and Xander and I are already married. In other words, it’s time for all of us to move on.

“He just kicked me out of our room, because he needs to pack.” I roll onto my stomach and lean over the bed to watch her.

“What’s so bad about that?”

“Oh, no.” I wave my hand. “Not pack our stuff to move—no, he needs to pack our stuff for the honeymoon we’re going on.”

“You’re going on a honeymoon?” Her nose crinkles in confusion, and she sets down the shirt she was folding.

“Exactly.” I snap my fingers. “Apparently, he planned a honeymoon, since we never had one, and now he has to pack my bag since this is a surprise and he doesn’t want me to know where we’re going. But you know how I feel about my clothes. He better pack the right things.”

“I’m sure he’ll do fine.” She shrugs and resumes her packing, like my meltdown isn’t important to her.

“He’ll probably only pack lingerie,” I grumble.

She laughs. “Like you’d complain about that.”

I crack a smile. “True. I hate surprises, though. I wish he’d given me more warning, but we leave tomorrow after graduation.”

“That’s probably exactly why he didn’t tell you—he knows you’d try to find a way out of it.”

“But now I have to worry about all the things he might have forgotten to do. Like, what if we get to this mysterious destination and he’s like, ‘Oh shit I forgot to book the hotel’?”

Rae snickers and tapes up the box she’s done packing. “This is Xander we’re talking about. He’s not like that.”

“Ugh,” I groan.

“You’re being dramatic,” she tells me. Which is true, I know.

“I just hate it when he springs things on me. I figured we’d spend the next two weeks before he goes off to training camp hanging around our house and getting everything unpacked. Oh, my God.” I sit straight up. “Seriously, what the hell is he thinking? The movers are coming tomorrow after graduation and now he’s telling me we’re leaving then. Oh, no. Boy’s about to give me a heart attack,” I ramble.

I shoot up off her bed and scurry out the door then down the hall.

“Xander!” I burst into our room.

“Jesus Christ, you scared me.” He jumps a foot away from the closed suitcase on the bed.

Prue, our dog, jumps up from her bed in the corner and growls. When she realizes I’m the cause of the intrusion, she sits back down.

“We can’t leave tomorrow—the movers are coming to pick up our stuff and take it to the new house. They’re not going to know what’s ours and where to put everything.” I can feel my anxiety building.

“Relax.” He closes the distance between us and takes my hands in his. “I have it covered.”

“What? How?”

“Jace and Nova are going to make sure everything is put where it’s supposed to. It’ll be fine. You trust me, right?”

I frown. “I do, but you’re pushing your luck at the moment.”

He chuckles and cups my cheeks. “I’ve got this. I’ve thought of everything, believe me.”

I wrinkle my nose, not believing him, but I choose not to say that. “It just feels like bad timing,” I argue.

He smiles, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “It’s the perfect time. We need a break, Thea. We’ve been going non-stop since we got married. This is our last chance, since you’re graduating and don’t have class, I don’t have training yet, and you haven’t started a job.”

“Don’t remind me,” I grumble. I’m not looking forward to job searching.

“If we don’t do this now, then your five-year plan will kick in and we won’t ever be able to do it.” He eyes me, waiting for my response.

“I’m sure I could pencil it in somewhere,” I mumble.

He raises a brow. “That’s cute.”

I fight a smile. “Okay, so maybe it’d be a tight squeeze.”

His hands find my waist, and he pulls me into his body. “We’re going on vacation, and that’s final.” He grins. “You know, you might be the only girl that’d complain about a spontaneous trip.”

I wrap my arms around his neck. “I gotta keep you on your toes,” I joke, and stand on my tiptoes to kiss him. He smiles against my lips and pushes away.

“Now go. Let me finish.”

I sigh. “Okay, okay.” I raise my hands in surrender and leave the room.

I head back down the hall to Rae and Cade’s room.

Rae now stands, pulling the last of their clothes out of the closet to pack.

Tonight is both of our last nights in this house before we move on.

Cade and Rae got an apartment in the city, close to where Jace and Nova live, while Xander and I bought a house in the suburbs. We looked at apartments in the city but they were all so cold and not homey. The house we bought has too much room for us now, but I know we’ll grow into it one day.

“You weren’t gone long,” Rae comments, laying a bunch of Cade’s dress shirts on the bed.

I shrug. “He says he has it covered, so I’m letting it go and trusting him.”

Rae looks at me in disbelief. “Good for you.”

“Am I really that much of a control freak?”

She laughs. “No, you just hate surprises, which is understandable after everything you went through.”

I sigh. “Yeah, that.”

Having your dad break into your house, which subsequently resulted in your mom shooting him, would make anyone a little crazy.

“I can’t believe we’re graduating tomorrow.” Rae changes the subject. She folds one of Cade’s shirts and clutches it to her chest. “Four years of classes, and tests, and grades, and it’s finally over.”

“It’s surreal,” I agree, picking up one of the shirts and folding it for her. “It feels like we’re finally grown-ups.”

Rae places the shirt in a box. “I’m going to miss living with you and Xander. It’s been nice having you guys around.”

I begin to tear up. “Not as much as I’ll miss you guys. With all the time Xander’s gone it’s been great to not be alone. Now …”

“Aw, Thea.” Rae hugs me. “We’ll always be around if you need us. You know that.”

“I know.” I nod into her shoulder, my fingers clutching her shirt.

 
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