TWO

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My journey home each night usually took two hours by bus, and was never a pleasant experience. The traffic was always horrendous at this time of the evening, what with everyone scrambling to get home, and the bus was incredibly unhygienic. But money was tight, and I had no idea how long the remainder of my savings were going to last. And taxis were expensive— though I had been considering trying Uber. Still, in the short time I'd been in LA, I'd only explored a very small part of the city, so I hadn't had a lot of time to find an alternative way home. Not to mention that the bus was definitely my cheapest option right now, aside from walking— except walking the streets late at night wasn't the smartest thing to do. So, I was avoiding that option as long as possible.

By the time I reached the shabby, run-down building my minuscule apartment was located in, I was exhausted. To the point that I was so very tempted to skip dinner and go straight to bed. But one thing my mom had always instilled in me was the importance of keeping my strength up— especially while on a vegan diet.

I'd made the choice to go vegan when I was sixteen, and my parents took me on a holiday to the countryside. I'd seen so many animals at the time, and it had changed my entire perspective on life and food choices.

My mom had accepted it, but with strict rules; I had to eat three healthy meals a day, because if I didn't, I'd wind up too sick to work. And that was definitely a situation I couldn't afford to land myself in.

So, I dragged myself up the rickety, metal staircase, the cool summer breeze tangling in my hair, until I reached my level and stepped onto the narrow corridor leading to my door.

My heart stopped, hand tightening around the railing.

There was someone standing out the front of my apartment.

Oh, crap, I thought. Am I being robbed already? It's only been five weeks!

Under the dim glow of the orange lighting, I couldn't make out their face, and they were dressed in black. My stomach flipped as I stood there, debating what to do. I was about to turn around and call the police when their gaze drifted my way, and they noticed me. I froze.

Uh oh.

They straightened up.

"Wren?" the stranger called. I held my breath, eyes bulging from my sockets. I knew that voice. But it couldn't be...

He moved into the light, and that's when my stomach dropped. It was.

"Oh, thank god!" he said, jogging over to me. "I didn't know if I had the right place— or if you were still alive for that matter."

He went to hug me, but I stepped back, jaw falling open. I was still trying to process that this was really happening.

"Daniel," the word tumbled from my mouth, but everything felt disconnected. Slowly, I shook my head, and reached out again to grip the handrail for support. "What are you doing here?"

He offered me a small smile, sticking his hands into his pant pockets.

"Perhaps we should talk about it inside—"

"No," I said firmly. "You can't just show up here and expect me to invite you in. Tell me why you're here, now."

I folded my arms and waited. He sighed, and ran a hand through his perfect, blonde hair.

"Your parents sent me to talk some sense into you."

I held back a snort of shock.

"And they thought I'd listen to you?" I retorted. My parents most definitely hadn't been thrilled about my adventurous move to LA, but I hadn't expected them to be this persistent about keeping me in Princeton, New Jersey.

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