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CHAPTER TWO

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CHAPTER TWO

GROUPTHINK

( — decision making by a group. )

— ♡ —

          JUDE LIKES TO THINK HE ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING. That's probably why he and Rhiannon have always gotten along so well, being masters at trying to come up with reasons as to why their lives aren't falling apart as much as other people think they are. He's doing a lot better than she is, with his parents not absolutely hating his guts, and it's not like having her parents dislike him is something new for him.

          She hates that she only made things worse. His reputation around her family only reached critically low levels through association, as he'd still be in safe territory along with Ezra if he and Rhiannon weren't close; she told him that countless times, that sticking with her wouldn't bring him any good consequences, but Jude always found the right words.

           "I'd like to be the one deciding which consequences are good or bad for me, thank you," he'd say. Rhiannon has always known better than trying to argue with him when he has already made up his mind regarding anything, whatever it might be, but it still made guilt crawl under her skin. It still does.

          It was never fair to drag him to the middle of this mess with her—it was an abominable decision, one Rhiannon will never stop regretting, for as long as she lives, but she needed someone and he was the only one willing to stand by her at the time. Not even Stephanie wanted to do it, arguing their loyalties should ultimately lie with their family, but Rhiannon wanted to remind her she, too, was a Ford and needed someone to be on her side for once in her life.

          She never meant to cause them harm. She thought she was doing the right thing, right before it all began to crumble down on them, and, like Mr. and Mrs. Ford enjoy reminding her, it was a miracle they escaped unscathed, but there would be serious consequences for her; you can't simply threaten to destroy an empire—especially the Ford one—and expect to escape from the falling debris.

          Though Rhiannon has never been one to keep wallowing in self-pity, thinking about all the ways she could have done things differently (for starters, now that she knows better, she knows she wouldn't get caught if it was happening in the present time), it pisses her off. It pisses her off because it ruined her life, both on a personal, social and financial level, but also because she thought she was better than that. She truly thought she'd never reach the point of turning to the Sargents for help, in case her parents decided to stop paying for her education, as any jobs she can get now wouldn't help.

          Crowcrest University is prestigious and, therefore, insanely expensive. There's no way Rhiannon would be able to get through her senior year on her own, with barely any money in her bank account because her summer jobs are nothing but that and there's only so much you can earn from one, but she hates feeling like a leech around that family. Fortunately, they've welcomed her with open arms—even if she suspects they've done it mostly to spite the Fords, but she'll take what she can get.

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