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Kat can’t help herself. Every new run she tells herself that this time she’ll keep her distance. This time she won’t pretend like anything could be different. This time she’ll spend her evenings doing edits, making cuts, being objective, and then she will absolutely not feel anything at all about the situation.

This time it’s just a job.

This time she’s just a contestant.

Yeah, right.

She might as well say that this time she’ll put herself in a tank and erase ever having met her. That would be the only way any of that would ever be true.

Kat can’t help herself.

That first night—every first night— when the date is finally over and she’s all alone, headed up to her room, she has this look. That look she’d had when they’d reached the boat and found it sabotaged. (Before Kat had read manual after manual on engine repair. On rudder maintenance. On electrical wiring in the steering system. On airplane repair, of literally everything. Before she’d understood how much she didn’t but had to know.) It’s a look that Kat can’t stand to see on her face. Overwhelmed. Despondent. So close to defeated.

When she thinks no one is watching and she finally lets that calm, confident, charming face drop.

Kat tells herself that she won’t look this time. She’ll let her be. Let her rest. Let her have the time for her situation to sink in.

She doesn’t.

Kat always looks. She’s always looking at her because how can she not? This is her hero. Even with no memories (she’d almost forgotten her name), she’s still always the woman she’d first fallen in love with. And Kat can’t help herself. She needs to get that look off her face. She needs her to smile again. Smile at Kat. She needs her to be okay.

So Kat goes to her. Sits on her bed like she belongs there (and she lets her—every time, she lets her— with that confused but indulgent twinkle in her eyes) and pretends like she is just the hostess. Just the producer. Just giving her the best tips on falling in love with someone else. Kat sits there and talks about soulmate candidates and pretends like she doesn’t desperately want to kiss her.

Pretends like she doesn’t know her.

Like she doesn’t care.

Like she doesn’t love her.

And when she smiles at her anyway? Kat wonders if soulmates do exist, because she’s there. Still. Always. In her smile. In her eyes.

She’s there and Kat can’t help herself.

She loves her.