I never felt so alone as when I was surrounded.
Jade stood next to me, her fingers entwined in mine. Julianna and Ellie stood at the foot of Nick's hospital bed, and the petite nurse bent over him. The smell of antiseptic had become all too familiar to me over the past few months, and nausea boiled in my stomach as I tried to keep my lunch down.
I could feel my palm sweating in Jade's, and she turned to look at me with knowing green eyes. She winked at me, and I forced a smile.
I didn't know what to think of our new "couple" status. Jade was amazing and one of my closest friends, and the strangest thing was, she loved me. But I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go. Not after Laura. Not after Ellie.
And what about that Raiku kid? The little brat was like something straight out of a manga book. And he'd said Jade hated me.
I clenched my fists, not thinking, and felt Jade stiffen beside me. Quickly I relaxed my grip and shot her an apologetic smile. She rose up on her toes and kissed me on the cheek.
"Hey," she murmured in my ear. "I still love you. No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone does. I've been to hell and back and there is no way I'm leaving you again."
I smiled at her, noting that color had returned to her cheeks. It was still odd, seeing her solid again. Seized by a sudden impulse, I slid my free hand behind her neck and tilted her head back, meeting her lips with mine. She kissed me back, passionately, twining her fingers through my hair.
Time stopped. We were alone, nothing existed except me and her and that moment. It went on for eternity and lasted for a heartbeat.
Wen we finally broke apart, Jade looked up at me with wide green eyes, and smiled. That was when I knew for sure. She loved me, and I could finally admit to myself--I loved her back.