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City of Light, Love and Longing

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Duke University, North Carolina, 2012

Sebastian Stanton knocked briefly on Lana Davies’ door and, without awaiting an invitation, pushed it open. He was met with darkness, despite the fact that the sun was shining outside. He sighed and walked straight over to the window and pulled up the blinds, letting the afternoon sun shine on the slim form in the bed.

The girl in the bed groaned in protest and rolled over to face the wall, pulling the covers over her head.

Sebastian leaned against the window sill, his arms folded across his broad chest. This was the third day in a row that Lana hadn’t made it to class, and he was starting to really worry about her. The spring semester would be over in a couple of days, and he’d be damned if she was going to spend her summer vacation hiding in her room because yet another jerk broke her heart. No, sirree, that was not going to happen to his best friend of nine odd years.

”Okay, this has gone on too long,” he said decisively and pushed off the window sill. “Pack a bag, Mopey, we’re backpacking through Europe this summer,” he said and walked up to the bed to give Lana a little pat on the butt – if she could even feel it through the big fluffy down comforter she’d covered herself with, that is.

“Sebastian… get out,” she said, her groans muffled.

“Time to get up,” Sebastian said chirpily, unceremoniously pulling off the covers.

Lana shrieked and grabbed at the covers Sebastian had snatched away from her. “Sebastian! What if I had been naked?”

“I would have been completely grossed out and spent the next hour washing my eyes in the science lab,” Sebastian quipped.

Lana tossed her pillow at him, and he caught it easily, laughing.

“Oh, please, like you’d miss out on an opportunity to ogle any member of the opposite sex,” she muttered, but climbed out of bed. “What were you going on about when you came in here?” she asked as she walked over to her closet, pulling her gray tank top over her head and finding a purple loose-fitting top to replace it.

Sebastian plopped down on his best friend’s bed, picking up a worn book from the night stand. “My trust fund kicked in last week. I’m spending my hard-earned money on you, kiddo,” he said, flipping through the pages.

“What is this crap you’re reading?” he frowned.

Lana yanked the book from his hands. “It’s called romance,” she snapped. “Ask your father, it’s his publishing house that put it out. What would he say to you spending his money on a lowlife like me, by the way?”

“He’d say, ‘son, I’m very disappointed in you’,” Sebastian said in a deep voice, mimicking Gerald Stanton’s authoritative tone.

Lana sighed, stepping out of her sweat pants and shimmying into a pair of skinny jeans.

“And you’re not a lowlife, Lala,” Sebastian said, sitting up on the bed. “I don’t know where you got that idea.”

“Um… from your dad?” Lana raised her eyebrows .

“You’re not telling me he said anything like that to you, are you? Because I’d…”

“No,” Lana cut him off before he could get worked up about his dad. “I just know that’s what he thinks whenever he sees us together – the prodigal son and his loser best friend.”

“Like I’d care what he thinks,” Sebastian scoffed. “You shouldn’t either. Besides, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t love you. Look at yourself – you’re adorable. Even though you could do with a haircut and some highlights…”

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