My heart accelerates at hearing those words again so soon, blinking against the loaded command.

“You always have a choice,” he says, reiterating the claim he made to me. “Choose whichever you like best. You have a range of options. A rainbow, really.”

I jolt at that, looking at him warily, the mention of a rainbow and the way he says it clearly alluding to Mindy’s Rainbeau Service. My eyes twitch with the urge to roll despite my apprehension, incredulous that this deviant patron of said service is patronizing me for joining—the whole reason I’m here.

I scan the floating selection, my eyes flitting over the varied assortment of colors and sizes. The paperclips bob gently in the water, their metal clips glinting in the low light. There must be at least twenty different ones, a veritable rainbow of options just as he said. I hesitate, not wanting to actually make a choice. My hands squeeze around the balls within them impulsively, and I register hints of a smirk or something akin to it on Frost’s pretty mouth at their obvious inability to actually pick anything, and I can’t exactly tell him my hands are full.

Reluctantly, I nudge one with my knuckles at random, remembering what happened the last time I refused to “pick” something. The paperclip I brushed drifts lazily across the surface of the water, retreating back into the chaotic flotilla.

He reaches out and plucks a paperclip from the water, holding it up between long, graceful fingers. The simple action seems charged, intimate even, and goosebumps erupt over my skin.

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