the homecoming.

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- nora's pov -

it was about two in the morning when what i thought was thunder woke me up, but then i heard the giggle echoing in the hallway.  i stuck my head out the door, wondering if arabella had come home early.  i caught a glimpse of charlie and a skanky, dark complected girl staggering down the hallway toward charlie's room.

my blood boiled.  i grabbed the edge of the door and slammed it as hard as i could, making sure it made a loud enough noise for them to hear.  a canvas julio had painted for d.j. came clamoring to the ground.

i ran to the bathroom and turned on the shower, needing to think.  as the water warmed, i yanked my phone out of my pocket and prayed that d.j. was still awake.

he wasn't.

i left a messy voicemail, leaving out details, and then stripped down to take my shower.

i fell asleep in my towel, strung out across d.j.'s bed.  i was awoken the next morning by something hitting the floor.  my eyes stayed shut tight, in case it was charlie.

then suddenly, i felt a warm, heavy weight on top of my body.  "good morning!" he exclaimed.

my eyes flew open.  "what are you doing here?!" i screeched, wrapping my arms around d.j.

"got your message at like, one this morning when i got up to go to the bathroom, and as soon as i heard you crying, i woke my dad and josiah up so we could charter a plane back here."

"you guys cut your trip short because i called you crying?" i asked with a whine.

d.j. rolled off of me.  "nah, just me.  my dad loves being in baja to come back."  he exhaled.  "the people love us down there, especially me, my dad, and arabella." he laughed.

"well, they're obsessed with your mom, too," i added.

"yeah, but hispanic people love having latino royals, ya know?  charlie doesn't get as much respect because he's too much of a gringo, but still."

i rolled my eyes.  "whatever.  you just like it because you have the whole gay-minority thing on your side." i teased.

d.j. yawned and stretched out.  "fair warning, julio might stop by for a bit, but he won't stay long.  i told him you and i needed to spend the whole day together."

"you didn't have to do that," i said quietly.

"i'd do anything for you, nora," he said.

i kicked his leg.  "then go make me breakfast.  the staff's still not here."

d.j. chuckled as he rolled off the bed and meandered out the door, leaving me alone.

- charlie's pov - 

annie was annoying as fuck.  the most notable quotes from her the night before were, and i quote:

"ya know, if we had babies, they could list their race as mixican... mixed and mexican."

"if i were princess, i think that i would spend everyday riding the rollercoasters you guy have... and you."

"so this was a fantastic first date, right?"

did i mention these were all during sex?  usually, i could count on peter to come usher girls like this out of the palace as soon as we were done, but not this time.  i was instantly regretting letting him have the extra time off, and i was stuck cuddling with her afterward.  she yapped the entire time like we were engaged.

after about an hour, i faked a yawn.  "well," i said, stretching my arms, "i have early meeting tomorrow, so, ya know," i trailed off, staring her down.

she looked surprised.  "oh, uh, yeah," she giggled nervously, "do you have like a t-shirt or something i could sleep in?"

i sighed.  "uh, yeah, that's not really how this works-"  i said, not looking at her.

"ohh," annie said, blushing, "i just thought with the girl that spent the night a few weeks ago-"

"yeahh," i said awkwardly, "that was a one time thing."

she stood there quietly for a minute before scooping up her clothes and running to the bathroom to change.  after annie was gone, i laid in bed watching my fan go around and around. i knew nora was going to be pissed at me, but she wasn't even on the senate's radar for princess, so there was no point in even trying with her anymore, which sucked, especially since she was the only thing i could think about.

i pulled my basketball shorts from my dresser drawer, slid them on, and ambled down the hallway to d.j. and nora's room.  there were seven guest rooms in this palace, but she insisted on staying in the same wing as us.

without knocking, i slid the door open, and peeked in.  nora was lying spread out across the bed in nothing but a towel.  she was dead asleep and lightly snoring.  i sighed and walked to the bed, stopping at her dresser and pulling out her paisley pajamas that she loved so much.  i dressed her, tossing d.j.'s quilt on top of her, and went back to my room to sleep.

the next morning, i went back to check on her, but ran into d.j. in the hall.

"whoa, man," i said, surprised, "what are you doing here?"

he shrugged.  "nora called me crying last night, saying she missed me.  i think the whole ambrose thing is getting to her.  did she tell you about that?"

i looked over his shoulder.  "uh, yeah, she mentioned it when the whole kara thing went down."

"yeah," d.j. said bouncing from one foot to the other, "sorry to hear about that."

i shrugged.  "it's good.  mom and dad back yet?"

d.j. shook his head.  "nah, they're gonna stay the whole time. lynette and josiah are coming back in a few days, and bella said she'll come back if mom and dad get too honeymoonish."

"cool," i said, nodding my head.

my relationship with my brother was strained, and i hated it.  we hadn't had a real conversation since i was maybe thirteen.  hell, he hadn't even come out to me yet, if he'd even come out to himself yet.  we stood there awkwardly for a minute before d.j. excused himself to go make breakfast.

i waited until he was bounding down the staircase to turn and walk into his room.  nora was tucked into the bed, looking at her phone.

"hey," i said quietly.

"get out," she said, emotionlessly and without looking at me.


"get. out."

i sighed and staggered to the bed.  "nora, let me explain-"



"don't talk to me, charles," she snapped.

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