“Cass- what’s wrong?” Jace said as his voice filled with concerned. Cassandra looked like she was on the verge of tears- she had been expecting to be the first person called after her amazing time with Jace last night. The fact that she wasn’t was making her question everything, had she just been imaging the spark between them? Did he not like her as much as he liked someone else? Jace had already explained that it was for the TV element of things- but what did it even matter? She didn’t entirely trust what he was saying…
“You… this whole thing. I don’t know.” Cassandra shrugged lightly and looked down. Suddenly she felt Jace’s hands on her arms and a pulse of heat rushed through her body.
“It won’t always be like this…” Jace said quietly and rubbed Cassandra’s arms. Even though he barely knew her, he hated seeing her hurt like this. The second he met her- he knew that she wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe he should have sent her home out of the kindness of his own heart? Maybe that would have been better for her, but would it have been better for him?
“I know.” she replied lightly and looked up at him for the first time since the ceremony.
Jace could see the pain behind her eyes, pain that she was trying to hide to make him feel better. He thought that she really was too good for him.
“Okay.” Jace replied and let his arms drop away from Cassandras. He hadn’t realized that this would hurt her like this- already and if she stayed it would only get much worse. “You know- you can leave if you want… this is only going to get more complicated.” Jace said thoughtfully.
Cassandra was taken aback immediately- years worth of self doubt flooded through her. “Do you want me to leave?” she asked meekly.
Jace thought quietly to himself for a moment before he responded. Cassandra could feel the tears building up in her eyes- she wasn’t sure why she was having such an emotional reaction over Jace. Although, Jace was the first man to really look at her- she could tell that when he looked at her, really looked at, that he was only seeing her and not the “Goth” family name.
“No- I don’t want you to leave.” Jace said despite his better judgement. He wanted Cassandra to stay- and he knew there was something between them, but he didn’t want to hurt her again and if she stayed- that could happen again.
“Okay, then I am staying.” Cassandra said and threw her arms tightly around Jace. She never realized just how amazing he smelled- one would think a man left alone in the middle of no where would have a certain odor to him, but Jace smelled of the finest cologne mixed with the scent of fresh flowers. It was intoxicating. “Sorry.” Cassandra said and dropped her arms after a second- she knew she probably shouldn’t be displaying affection like this in front of Nina and Luna. She certainly didn’t want to see them hurt the way she had been.
“It’s okay.” Jace smiled warmly at her.
“Well- I better let you go…” Cassandra said reluctantly.
“I’ll see you soon.” Jace replied and squeezed Cassandra hands lightly before walking over to the other women.
“Thanks for calling me first.” Nina said flirtatiously as she followed behind Jace to go have their one on one time. She was pleasently surprised that she had been the first one chosen- Cassandra was clearly competition, and Luna- well… she didn’t really stand a chance with that sour attitude.
Once Jace and Nina were away from the crowd, she threw herself into his strong arms.
“I’ve missed you.” she whispered into his ear and nipped it lightly. Jace couldn’t deny the attraction between him and Nina- but he wondered if that’s all there was… he barely knew her.
“I’ve missed you, too.” Jace replied kindly. “How was your evening?”
“Long.” Nina rolled her eyes and Jace could tell there was a story behind it.
He laughed, “How so?”.
Without another word, Nina launched into a long story about how she barely got any sleep with Luna snoring, and Elsa listening to loud music through her headphones and finally Cassandra scribbling all night. The way she spoke about the other girls sounded… malicious and it was a bit of a turn off for Jace. He was never one to judge anyone, while it seemed like Nina judged everyone.
“Wow- that sounds… crappy.” Jace laughed awkwardly.
“It would be nothing like sleeping out here- with you. Though- I must admit I am loud… in bed.” Nina said coyly.
“Err…” Jace stammered surprised by Nina’s- admission?
“So, tell me more about you.” Jace said quickly changing the subject. He definitely wasn’t comfortable talking about sex on camera… especially with countless strangers watching.
“What do you want to know about me?” Nina asked and looked puzzled as to why Jace was asking her about herself.
“I don’t know- your family, hobbies… job?” Jace laughed and nervously ran his hand through his hair. There was just something that was so disarming about Nina.
“My family.” Nina laughed lightly “My Mom is dating a guy my age and my Sister… well she’s the golden child.” she sounded bitter… clearly she had some family issues.
“Wow… I’m sorry.” Jace replied.
“It’s fine.” Nina said and pulled her hands out of Jace’s. “You better get running along, huh?”
Jace was confused at the sudden rejection he felt from Nina- but he shrugged it off… clearly he approached a topic that she was not interested in talking about.
“Yeah, I guess…” Jace replied and eyed Nina speculatively “I’ll see you… soon?”
“Yep.” Nina replied and quickly turned her back and walked away.
“Hey, dream-boat.” Luna called to Jace sarcastically as he approached her. “Surprised you picked me… Clara is probably going to roast you over an open flame, for not picking her adolescent daughter… you know?”
Jace roared with laughter. “Yeah, that’s not really something I am into.” he replied in between laughs.
“Hmph… weird.” Luna shrugged and Jace saw her guard go back up instantly. He knew there was maybe one way to relate to her- but Cassandra had told him it in confidence and it did have a chance of back firing.
“So- there’s something I want to talk to you about…” Jace said hesitantly.
“What is it?” Luna asked as she stared skeptically at Jace.
“Er… well I… heard… that your parents passed away. I wanted to say I am sorry.” Jace said carefully.
“What’s it to you?” Luna snapped. “let me guess- you kept me around to have a little pity party about it? Mmm… No thanks.” Luna huffed and quickly turned around to walk away.
“Luna, wait.” Jace said and caught her arm. “My parents died too- so no I am not here to throw a pity party about it. I just-…” Jace hesitated, why was he pouring out his feelings to this girl who he knew nothing about, and who clearly didn’t care either way. “Nevermind.”
“I’m sorry.” Luna replied quietly.
“It’s fine.” Jace replied and turned away from her.
“Jace, wait. Really I am sorry-” Luna sighed “I shouldn’t have snapped at you- and I shouldn’t have made assumptions about you.”
“Oh god- what assumptions?” Jace laughed despite feeling like his heart was being tugged apart again with the memory of his Mom.
“Well, you are Mr. Perfect.” Luna stated plainly and laughed. Her laugh pulled Jace out of his feelings almost immediately- it was contagious and a little nasally, but surprisingly charming.
Jace laughed along with Luna. “So we’re both pretty fucked up then, huh?” he said playfully.
“I guess we are.” Luna shrugged and laughed.
“You don’t have to put up a guard around me, you know that right?” Jace said seriously and Luna shrugged… she was trying to keep up her casual hard personality as usual, but Jace saw right through her… he saw a mirror image of himself.
Jace moved cautiously closer to Luna and to his surprise she didn’t pull away like he’d expected. Lightly, he placed his hand on her chin and pulled up her face to look at him. Luna let out a quick, quiet gasp.
Luna looked at Jace… really looked at him for the first time since she arrived here and she was surprised at what she saw in his open expression. There was no doubt in Luna’s mind that Jace was definitely a kind, genuine, and yet very sad man. Without thinking, she quickly threw her arms around his neck and leaned in to lightly place her lips on his.
The kiss started off quick and gentle but before Luna or Jace knew it had quickly turned into one of the most passionate kisses of their lives. The physical spark between them was undeniable as they locked lips… neither of them held back- if anything they continued to get closer, and closer until Luna was practically wrapped around Jace’s entire body.
“That was… something.” Luna said as her and Jace unhinged themselves from each other. She definitely was not expecting the white hot spark that coursed through her body when they had kissed.
“Yeah. It was.” Jace said and smiled his mega watt smile at Luna. She couldn’t help noticing that her lipstick was smudged all over his perfect face… his neck… his collar- she wanted to throw herself at him again just thinking about it but she restrained herself.
“You have to go.” Luna said as she noticed the camera crew sending signals their way.
Jace sighed. “Yeah, I guess I do.”
“Err… okay. Well, I’ll see you soon then?” Luna questioned.
Jace took a deliberate step toward her, and the
want- need was there for him all over again. “Soon.” Jace whispered into her ear and lightly stroked the side of her face- which sent chills up through Luna’s body.
As Jace walked away, he allowed himself one last glance at Luna. She was beautiful and so similar to him… but he couldn’t help to think of Cassandra. This was shaping up to be much more complicated than Jace had bargained for.