Chapter 16

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Camila was growing frantic. She stalked rapidly around her kitchen with her phone gripped tightly in one of her sweaty hands, just waiting for it to ring. Nobody had contacted her since the night before, when she'd been informed over a staggered phone conversation that Lauren was stung by a man 'o war while drunkenly surfing in the dark.

It was a sitcom, ridiculous.

Now nobody in Florida would answer Camila's calls. She'd tried them all—Lauren, Normani, Niall, Louis, Dinah, Shawn, and Clara—and decided that it couldn't be a coincidence that not a single one had picked up.

The end was coming. Either Lauren was in an awful condition—too awful to communicate over the phone, with every person she'd ever known gathered at her bedside—or she was planning a break up. Camila's stomach roiled at both possibilities. She sighed despairingly and tipped forward against the kitchen counter, pressing her forehead against the cool granite.

"Lauren, Lauren, Lauren." She said lowly, lolling her head from side to side.

She knew Lauren wouldn't be this cruel on purpose. She'd at least send Camila a text, an "I'm alive. Chill out." Camila rolled her eyes over to the clock on the microwave. It was four pm. A whole day had passed without any news.

Camila's head shot up from the counter when her phone vibrated in her hand. She pressed it to her ear without checking the name and growled throatily at Ally's "Hey Mila."

Ally hummed sympathetically. "Nobody's called you back yet?"

"Nope!" Camila nearly shrieked. She thudded a fist absently against her counter and spun around. "Nobody has called me. Nobody has answered. Either they're all trapped in the eye of a hurricane, or they've lost all consideration and every manner they've ever learned. It's so rude, Ally."

"I'm sure there's an explanation."

Camila scoffed. "There better be."

These people were driving her out of her mind. Her weekly laze-around Sunday had turned into a twisted rush of nerves and worry.

"Have you tried calling the shop?" Ally wondered.

"It's Sunday."

Ally made a short noise of realization. "Closed for church."

Camila hopped up onto her kitchen island and gasped at the cold surface against her thighs. She lay back until she was staring up at the double pendant light hanging from the ceiling, knocking her feet impatiently against the cabinets.

"Give them until tonight." Ally suggested gently. "If you don't hear anything by midnight our time, we'll call somebody else."

Camila begrudgingly asked, "Who?"

She thought she'd exhausted all of her options. If Ally hadn't called, she'd probably be on the phone with the Palm Beach County Police Department.

"I have a friend at the hotel." Ally offered. "And at that coffee shop on the corner. We have people who can check, Camila. Don't worry."

Camila remained silent. She shut her eyes when they started to burn.

"Do you need me to come over?" Ally asked. Her voice was soft, warm.

Camila shook her head. "No, just-"

She swallowed the rest of her sentence as her phone vibrated again, hot against her cheek. The display read "Normani," and Camila rolled right off the island in a panic. She landed on her bare feet, clutching the edge of the counter, and managed "Ally, I'll call you back. My phone's ringing," before switching calls.

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