"Did you unpack her from one of those boxes?" he asked Jesse, giving him the thumbs-up. Emily backed up a step and leaned against the counter.

"Hey, Bailey, this is my friend Emily," Jesse said. "Em, meet our new manager. Bailey is the man responsible for why we're standing in this kitchen right now, and for buying most of the beer in that fridge."

"Emily Watts, right?" Bailey asked, extending his hand to her. She nodded. "I thought so. Your picture has been everywhere lately."

"Um, yeah. I guess it has been." She bit her lip, then turned to look at the cardboard boxes piled against the wall in front of her. "Hey, Jess, maybe I can help you unpack some of this kitchen stuff." She started to open one of the boxes.

"Don't worry about that." Jesse closed the lid of the box she'd opened. "I didn't ask you to come over to do our dirty work."

"A house with five guys?" She sounded doubtful. "You're going to need all the female touch that you can get."

"Aren't you saving that for Mr. Sampson?"

Her face fell at the mention of Cory. Jesse mistook her reaction for a response to his question. "What, I can't tease you now that you're a kept woman?"

"If I'm a kept woman, the tabloids I read this morning definitely didn't mention it," she mumbled.

"Uh oh."

Emily saw that Bailey was hanging onto their every word and tried to ignore him. "What's with you musician boys, anyway?" she asked.

"Double uh oh," Jesse replied. "We're being generalized. Define what you mean by 'what's with us,' please."

"Believe me when I say you don't want me to. At least not today."

"Cheer up," he told her. "I have no idea what Cory did, but I guarantee it's something stupid. Just know that we're guys. We do stupid things sometimes."

She saw Bailey staring at her, as though he was waiting for her response. Her eyes darted over to Jesse. "Do I get to see the rest of this place, or what?"

"Right this way." Jesse gestured to the living room, just off of the kitchen. She started walking ahead of him, and he followed.

"So what's the deal?" he asked. "Did you guys have a fight?"

"Not really," she said. "I just haven't heard from him since he made it pretty clear that we're not a couple, so no, we didn't have a fight."

"Have you tried calling him since then?"

"Yes. He's the master of dropping off the face of the Earth when he wants to, or so I've been learning over the last week. Even if I did talk to him, he'd probably make up some excuse about being busy rehearsing, or doing a session with his friend in the studio, and find a reason to bail on the conversation."

"He probably is busy. Rehearsing and recording can go all-hours, you know."

"Typical musician answer." She saw Bailey move from where he'd been standing in the kitchen to the doorway of the living room, typing something on his phone.

"Hey, you know I'm on your side," Jesse told her. "I guess you've just hit that patch where Cory's realized that he's getting really close to you and now he's probably pulling back a little. Give him some space and I guarantee you he'll get over it."

"And if he doesn't, I'm sure your dating life won't suffer for it," Bailey chimed in. Emily turned around to stare at him. "I meant that as a compliment," he added.

She nodded and turned back to Jesse. If it had been physically possible, her eyes would have bored a hole straight through his head. There was no reason for Bailey to be following them and eavesdropping on their conversation.

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