Chapter 50

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Guess what, guys! We're over halfway finished with the book. Pretty soon, after a few more main plot points, I'll finally have this puppy completed and you guys won't have to wait for updates (unless you're reading any of my other books. Sorry.)

F I F T Y

AFTER A WHILE of us driving around the city and staring at the beautiful lights, I realized it was starting I got pretty late and I'd talked to some of the guys about me still staying with Tyler. They said it was fine, if course, but I still felt like an inconvenience. It took a good bit of difficulty to get ahold of them all to tell them they were acting like dumbasses, but it worked out for the best. I could have just alienated myself from all of them and lost the only work friends I'd ever had.

"It's getting kind of late," I told Julian, watching him from the corner of my eye. He'd smiled more today than I'd seen him do in total since we first met. "I should probably start heading back."

"Sure," he agreed. "Where am I taking you?"

A part of me—the part embarrassed to be a foster child—wanted to make him drop me off at Roger's and let me deal with the consequences of the guys finding out I walked from there to Tyler's house on my own. The other part of me—the more lazy and confident half—wanted me to suck it up and deal with the wrath of the four when they realized Julian dropped me off at Tyler's for the night.

I let out a heavy sigh. Roger's irritation cut me way more deeply than the guys' shunning me for a boyfriend—not that Julian was in any way my boyfriend. At least they actually cared about me. "To Tyler's, please."

His eyebrows furrowed. "Why Tyler's?"

I averted my eyes to the passing scenery. "Everyone's going to be staying there."

      He sent me a sideways glance. "Everybody?"

      "Selena, Dakota, and the other three," I clarified.

"I knew you were friends with them," he said, "but I didn't know you were close enough to be having sleepovers."

Maybe it was inappropriate, but I had been sleeping at Tyler's since the beginning of our friendship. It hadn't really occurred to me that others might find it strange.

It wasn't anybody else's business whether it was strange or not.

I remained silent most of the ride to Tyler's, except for a few needed directions here and there. It wasn't until Julian shifted the gear into park and started to climb out of the car that I even realized we'd pulled into the driveway. He walked around to the passenger side door and opened it for me, stepping out of the way for me to climb out.

"What are you doing?" I asked him as he shut the door behind me.

"Walking you to the door," he said, his lip twitching with amusement. "It's the gentlemanly thing to do."

I turned quickly and started for Tyler's front to hide the heat rising to my cheeks. "Right."

Each step that lead me closer to the door increased my nerves tenfold. I'd known Tyler would find out about my date with Julian when I'd told Julian where to take me, but that didn't help ease my anxiety in the slightest.

I wasn't sure what I was planning to say to Julian when I turned to face him, but whatever voice I had died in my throat when I saw how close he was standing. Our chests were nearly touching and I could feel his warm, minty breath fan my cheeks as he puffed out a surprised breath. He apparently hadn't planned on being this close, either. My memories flashed to the kiss we were dared to share at the party and my toes nearly curled at the thought. Something in me told me I shouldn't, but I wanted so desperately to lean in and feel his lips on mine again. He seemed to have the same thought because his face was slowly coming closer to mine and I wasn't so sure I wanted to fight it.

Voices inside the house carried outside and shut down whatever thoughts I'd been having about kissing Julian again. I lowered my head and stepped away just as the door opened and light flooded out onto the porch.

Tyler looked from Julian to the flowers and finally to me. Whatever emotions he felt about my situation, he wasn't showing them. Not in front of Julian. "You staying?" When I nodded, he stepped aside and let me in, then looked back to the accented brunette. "Thanks for bringing her here," he said stiffly.

Whatever response Julian gave Tyler was lost to me. I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd almost done. I couldn't kiss him again, not when I had feelings for Ryder. I couldn't ruin things before I even had the chance to find out how he felt. I wouldn't.

Tyler sighed after he was sure Julian was out of sight. "The others aren't going to be happy about this."

I knew he meant Jay and Ryder wouldn't be happy about this, but didn't bother correcting him. I was more concerned with the confirmation in his words—everybody really was here tonight, and I would be forced to deal with the repercussions of my actions.

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