CHAPTER FIVE

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Everyone decides to turn in around midnight (once Tanner calms down about Teddy's little revelation).

They all file through the deck doors and walk into a high-ceilinged, open living room that connects to the kitchen. A stone fireplace takes up most of the wall to the right, bracketed by shelves overflowing with books and picture frames. It's a trip to look at books under the same roof as someone who's actually written one—Teddy does a quick scan and spots Parachutes and its sequel on one of the top shelves.

There's a staircase leading down to the basement in the back corner and a hallway leading out of the kitchen opposite of it. Mrs. Caldwell says Teddy can sleep downstairs in the guest room before she and Mr. Caldwell wave good night. Tanner follows suit, rounding out of the kitchen and disappearing down the hallway.

"Thanks again for having me, Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell," Teddy calls after them.

"Your room's down here," Bennett says, moving past him toward the back staircase.

Teddy follows her down the steps, careful not to bang the feet of his rolling bag against the hardwoods along the way. His brain takes this time to remind him again of what an asshole he is for blowing Bennett's cover in front of her brother. As soon as they get to the bottom of the steps and round the banister, Teddy can't hold it in anymore.

"Okay, holy shit—I'm so sorry, Bennett," he grovels. "I didn't mean to—"

Bennett turns around immediately, like she'd been expecting it, and holds up a hand. "It's fine, I promise. I was going to tell Tanner this weekend anyway."

"But—"

"Teddy."

"No, I—"

"Seriously, it's okay," she says. There's humor in her eyes, but mostly shut up and stop apologizing. "I'd tell you if I were mad."

Would she, though? The girl is mystifying.

"You're over here," she says, waving for him to follow her around a corner.

Teddy's definitely not done talking about this yet, and he's expecting to have at least a hallway's length of time to collect his thoughts. Instead he walks straight into a bedroom with lime green walls—a little lighter shade than what's used on film sets for special effects scenes, actually. Teddy can't help himself.

"Holy Chroma key," Teddy laughs, looking around. "So, is this where Parachutes is gonna film special effects? Or is it gonna be more of a situational thing?"

"Movie jokes. You're funny," Bennett says, twirling the tied off end of her braid around her finger. "Cell service is bad down here—I can give you the Wi-Fi password if you want. Bathroom's down the hall."

Teddy crosses the room and drops his bags at the foot of the bed, then takes a seat on the duvet cover to test it out.

"Your family's awesome, by the way," he says, standing up again.

Bennett grins. "They're a little ridiculous sometimes."

"You promise you're not mad at me for telling—okay, noted," he says when she shoots him a dirty look. He puts up his hands in defense and switches gears. "Are you guys doing anything else this weekend? Do you have a boat?"

"We do. We'll probably get out on the lake and float around. No concrete plans, though."

"Sounds nice," Teddy says, and he's a little surprised by how much he means it.

"Yeah." Bennett eyes the ceiling and takes a half step back toward the door. "Way nicer than LA, probably."

"Probably," he laughs, though there's more truth behind it than he wants to let on. Teddy hates flying back to an empty apartment to begin with, and it'll be even worse when he gets back and has to deal with Chelsea stuff. Maybe he'll go see his parents, now that he has no concrete plans either. Actually wait, no—his parents are on vacation in San Francisco this weekend. Damn it.

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