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Chapter One- The House On The Steep Driveway

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I parked my car hesitantly in front of the garage. I didn't have to do this. I could back-up and drive away. Honestly, I could hit neutral and roll down the hill. Why is a drive-way so steep, anyways? Whose grand idea was that?

I sighed. My dignity would be bruised, along with my honesty. I tried to pride myself in those two things, because there are few others I can brag about.

I pulled my keys out of the slot, shoving them in the pocket of my cardigan. It's the 2nd of November, and California definitely wasn't as warm as it was back in August.

I opened the car door, stepping out on the concrete. It was partially white, but a good portion was brown and stained- in desperate need of a power wash. I reached in the car, taking my purse from the passenger's seat, and casually shut the door with my heel. Damn, I needed to quit that habit! The dealership would press payment if I returned a car with chips on the door. I was only renting the stupid car while I was in Los Angeles. It was a 2008 Chevy Malibu; a fine car, but the color stuck out like a sore thumb. It was a weird bright red, leaning more towards a fuchsia. I was not a fan of fuchsia.

I popped the trunk, dragging out my suitcase, laptop case, and a bag of necessities. My suitcase had to lean against the front of my leg, squished between the bumper and my shin. Otherwise, gravity would subtly pull the luggage downhill. Luckily, my other bags did not give in to peer pressure easily and stayed put while I closed the trunk. I gathered my things, locked the car twice (another habit), and approached the door. Should I knock? Ring the bell? Send a text, alerting that I'm here? Call the house phone?

I didn't have time to decide- a very eager Shannon Leto yanked the door open, nearly taking off the handle.

"Fawn!" he cried, tackling me in a hug.

I tightened my grip on my luggage, trying not to let go.
"Shannon!" I exclaimed, surprised but happy to see my old friend.

"How've you been? How's New York? How was your flight? Is that your stuff? Here, I'll help you inside. Do you like my house? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Did ya miss me?"

I graciously let Shannon take my suitcase and laptop bag in the house. "Thanks, Shan," I said, ignoring his other questions.

He set my suitcase by the steps, laptop bag on the table in the hall.
"Your room is the second door on the right- I expect to have a full report on the last 6 and a half years of your life when you are finished unpacking." Shannon directed, and disappeared to the kitchen. I couldn't help but smile- Shannon looked the same as he did in 2005- he had a little more scruff going on, but he was still sporting the same buzzed brown hair, the same hazel eyes. He was usually the peacemaker- never did anything to make anybody angry for longer than a couple hours. You just couldn't stay mad at him. He also tended  to be very calm, cool, and collected. He was a good listener, and his words consoled more than advised. It wasn't surprising when he was the one I contacted, instead of Jared.

Oh, Jared Leto. The bane of my existence. I knew that if I came out to visit Shannon, at some point I would encounter Jared. It took Shannon two long years of begging and pleading to coax me out here; I could only hope that I wouldn't run into Jared too soon and completely ruin my stay. I was just happy they had two separate houses.

I sighed, and began dragging my suitcase up the steps. 15 clunks later, I was on the second floor. I poked my nose through the doors, noting which room was where. The only room on the left was the Master bedroom. The first room on the right was an extra room with no clear use- it had a table and an inflatable mattress crumpled in a corner. The second room- my room- had a Queen sized bed, an oak nightstand, a matching dresser, and nice closet space. The window overlooked the driveway, fuchsia car painfully visible. The next door lead to a nicely sized bathroom, featuring a wide shower that doubled as a tub. The last room was a spacious storage closet. I strolled back to my room, unpacking my clothes and putting them away neatly. Jeans on shelves, shirts and jackets on hangers, shoes on the floor, nightclothes, socks, and underwear in the drawers. I didn't pack too much- I only planned on staying for a couple weeks.

My task now completed, I walked down the steps and into the kitchen. I took an accomplished seat at a table, positioned in a little nook of windows, and watched Shannon pour hot coffee. The kitchen was big- stainless steel appliances, black granite countertops, maple cabinets, and an island. I would have fun in there. I loved to cook- my mother, Shelby, was an expert in the kitchen. She taught Wendy, my younger sister, and I all the ropes. I didn't cook as much when I moved to New York- I had a tiny kitchen in a studio apartment and lived off of cereal and take-out.

Shannon tore the top off of 3 packets of Splenda, dumping the contents into my cup. He poured in some creamer, eye-balling the amount. After a quick stir, he set the mug on the bar. I got up from my seat at the table, taking one at the counter top instead. I watched Shannon finish making his coffee, adding no Splenda and more creamer.

"Cheers." He held his mug in the air.

I leaned forward, clinking the two glasses. "Cheers," I repeated, and took a sip of my coffee. The hot liquid burned my tongue, but it warmed me up significantly. Like I said, it was getting chilly.

"So," Shannon started, setting down his mug and looking at me. "Tell me about yourself."

I couldn't help but laugh lightly. "Shannon, you already know everything about me."

"Alright then, pretend you just met me." Shannon suggested.

"Okay." I thrust my hand towards him. "Fawn Leern. 34. Podiatrics major, Musician on the side. Resides in Manhattan."

Shannon shook my hand firmly. "Shannon Leto. 41. Musician. Resides in Los Angeles."

I nodded curtly.
"Pleased to meet you, Mister Leto."

Shannon kissed my fingers.
"And you, Miss Leern." He dropped my hand, and I pulled it back to my lap.

"So, Miss Leern," Shannon continued. "Tell me about yourself."

"Well, I-"
My phone vibrated in my pocket, and Coldplay's Yellow started playing.
"-gotta take this."

I walked out of the room and down a few steps to the living room, which I knew had a door to the backyard. I checked the Caller ID, and smiled before answering.

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