Chapter Thirteen

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Emily cruised up Laurel Canyon Boulevard and kept an eye on the street signs to her right, watching for the street name Jesse had given her. When she saw it, she signaled and slowed to turn. The townhome she pulled up in front of about a minute later of was older-looking, and even verging on run down, but so were many of the other homes in the neighborhood Jesse and the other members of Ashes of Brooklyn had moved into.

"Home sweet band home," she murmured as she parked her car. A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed her the same dark circles under her eyes she'd seen before leaving her apartment, which even her makeup hadn't been able to hide. Sleep had been hard to come by this week, since her conversation with Cory had been on repeat in her mind as she tried to figure out where things had taken a wrong turn. They hadn't spoken since then.

Emily turned her eyes away from the mirror and opened her car door. As her feet hit the sidewalk, she closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the feeling of sunshine on her skin and the warmth of the air around her. It was warmer here in the valley than at her place, and the blue sky and warm air around her brightened her mood.

She heard a screen door bang shut. "Well you can't just stand there, you know," a familiar voice called out. "It's not Bel Air, but it's safe to come inside."

"Welcome home," she said to Jesse, who stood barefoot in his driveway.

"Luxury living," he replied with a smile. "Although I have to admit, it's better than a New York studio apartment."

"And you don't have to deal with humidity or all that snow and cold in the winter." She walked up to the driveway to where he stood.

"Yeah, seasons are overrated."

"Hey, we have seasons," she chided him. "You'll see."

"Just because your lips turn blue when it's 65 degrees and it rains once in a while, doesn't mean I agree with you on calling any of those things seasons."

"You will," she promised. "Give it time."

They walked inside, where they were met with a mountain of cardboard boxes piled in the entranceway.

Jesse gestured to the boxes. "As you can see, we're still getting organized. The TV is unpacked and set up, though. Same with the surround sound system."

"I'd expect nothing less in a house full of guys," Emily said. They rounded a corner and walked into the kitchen. "Where's the beer fridge?"

"Gavin's room," he answered.

"I was kidding."

"So was I. Open the fridge."

She reached over to open the fridge door and peered inside. "Looks like someone found their neighborhood liquor store. Which of you jokers drinks Labatt's 50, and where did that come from?"

"You'll have to talk to Jamie about that. He still won't tell us how it escaped from Canada and ended up chilling in our fridge, but I think he'll share."

"Sweet, but I think I may pass. I've heard stories about that beer that would make urban legends scream." Emily closed the fridge again.

"You probably heard them from us."

"You might be right. I think one of them involved a trip to the ER."

"Most of those stories do. How about a Guinness?"

She wrinkled her nose. "Ew, another pass. I like to drink my drinks, not eat them."

The sound of footsteps approaching the kitchen caused her to turn toward the entrance. A man who looked to be in his late thirties walked into the kitchen. He stopped when he saw her.

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