This is the second time today I've cried in Trace's arms. I feel bad that he's seeing me like this, but between my dad disowning me, and the pain from him beating me, I can't hold back anymore. Stupid dad.
"Viv, do you want to go start looking for a new apartment?"
I nod and look up. His dark eyes are flooded with concern. Why is he so concerned about me? I don't deserve him, or anything he's done for me. The way these classes are divided by money, I don't even have the right to look at him.
Trace steps back and opens the door for me. Numbly, I get inside and lean my head against the cool window. Silently, Trace gets in the car and starts driving. I don't look out the window because I don't want to see that hell-hole again. I finally manage a small smile. I'm getting what I want, a one way ticket out of there.
Trace notices my smile and looks relieved that I look happy. "Starting to cheer up?" he asks as he turns down another road.
"I'm finally getting what I've always wanted, to get out of there."
Trace returns my smile. "See? I told you things would get better."
I laugh and look out the window. Trace pulls into a parking lot in front of many very nice apartment buildings, like the kind where you have to at least know someone to even look at the pale stucco walls and bright red roof.
"This is where you want me to stay?" I ask as I continue staring at the buildings.
"Yeah. Well, I know it's not much, but…"
"Not much?" I ask as I turn and face him. "Not much? The month's rent for this apartment could probably pay for the rent at my old place for a year!"
Trace smiles. "Just giving you what you deserve to have."
I blush. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."
Trace smiles again as he gets out of the car. "Well I'm glad could say it."
I step out of his car and look, still in awe, at the beautiful apartments.
He puts his arm loosely around my shoulders. "Come on, let's find you somewhere new to stay."
Acutely aware of his arm pressing against my shoulders, I walk with him inside the lobby. The inside is even more impressive than the outside. Huge paintings in sleek platinum frames hang on pale blue walls. Glass and crystal chandeliers hang from the vaulted ceiling. This is the fanciest place I've ever been in.
"Excuse me, can I help you?" asks an older woman with white-blonde hair pulled tightly back into a bun. She waits for Trace to respond as she stares at him over small glasses perched on the end of her long nose.
"Yes, actually, you can. I'm looking for a new apartment," he says, and I can suddenly see the rich boy used to using his money to get what he wants.
The woman looks down in a file of papers in her hand and flips through them. "And your name is?"
"Daniels. Trace Daniels."
The woman looks back up. "Daniels? As in son of Seth Daniels?"
He nods. They continue talking, and I wander away to look around the room. Huge windows, like larger versions of the one in my old room, are framed by silk blue curtains that hang heavily from brass rods.
"Vivian?" Trace calls.
I turn around and find him and the woman waiting for me.
"We're going to go look at an apartment, ready?"
I nod silently and fall into step beside him. "What's with the act?" I ask quietly as we step into an elevator.
He smiles and puts his arm back around my shoulder. "It helps out in situations like this. I have to act like a rich boy to get what I want sometimes."
The three of us ride the elevator up twelve floors to the top. This is one of the smaller apartment buildings.
The woman starts talking about the apartment when I hear the word "penthouse."
"Penthouse? You want me to stay in the penthouse?" I hiss at Trace.
He nods. "I told you that you deserved better, and I'm showing you how much you deserve."
"But I can't afford a penthouse, Trace. You know that."
He lifts a finger to his lips. "I'll negotiate it for you."
I close my mouth, knowing I won't win. Why can't I win something with him?
"And there's a great view of the sunrise in the east window," says the woman as she pulls back white curtains. "And a great view of the sunset over the ocean in the west window," she says as she crosses the floor, her black heels clicking loudly against the wood.
Trace turns to me. "Is this the one you want?"
I look around. "It's better than anything I've ever lived in."
He smiles. "Is that a yes?"
"We'll take it," says Trace.
The woman smiles. "You're a man of good taste, Mr. Daniels. Now if you'll step over here in the kitchen, we can negotiate the sale, and let your…girlfriend look around."
I blush as Trace smiles and walks behind her into the kitchen. I look around the living room again. This is my new home.