"Well then, let's lay down some ground rules," I suggested, sitting up to face him. "Hand holding is more than okay," I said slipping a hand into his. Then, I waggled my eyebrows and added, "and I'm down for snuggling, if you are."

He snorted, shaking his head with amusement.

Our eyes met once more, and I leaned closer. I noticed the shift in his eyes immediately, the way they darkened slightly, as I whispered,

"And I'm definitely down for kissing."

Our lips had barely touched when footsteps down the hall made us lurch apart. I'd only just jumped up when Jade entered the room—the door had been wide open and I mentally smacked myself. We hadn't told her yet—we couldn't shock her like that! She was my friend, and she was pregnant and on stress alert and I couldn't afford to let her find out like this.

Guilt sank through every inch of my bones.

"Hey," she said slowly, eyeing the two of us suspiciously. She quickly brushed it off as she added, "so, uh... I'm going to talk to Nathan."

I raised an eyebrow.

"Nathan? You are?" I asked.

"Yeah. I'm going now—he texted me and asked if we could talk. I saw the livestream... and I guess he's probably going to apologise for what he did to me."

I frowned.

"Are you sure? I mean, you don't have to... or I could come with you?"

She shook her head.

"No... I think it's best if I do this alone. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know where I was going, and also that I spoke to Asher. He's going to try and organise lunch with Brielle for you both tomorrow so that you can talk to her."

"Oh!" I said. "Ah—okay. Sounds good."

"I'll see you two later," she said, turning to leave.

"Be careful!" Wesley called after her. He still didn't trust Nathan. I couldn't really blame him... after everything he'd done, and everything Lana had done to Asher and Jade.

I turned back to Wesley, and grimaced.

"How are we going to tell her?" I asked, in a hushed tone.

"We'll figure it out," he promised. "Just... not right now. Let's wait until things settle down a bit."

I sighed, but then nodded. My eyes fell upon our discarded bags.

"I guess we should unpack those," I said, dread filling my chest at the thought. My brain was exhausted and my eyelids kept drooping.

"You can—I'm not touching them right now," Wesley said, clearly feeling the same way I was.

I managed to walk over to the bags before changing my mind and flopping back down on the bed.

"I'll do it later," I decided, and I felt Wesley lie down next to me.

Before I knew it, the two of us had passed out.

***

We were woken hours later by Connor calling us for dinner. Groggily, the two of us tidied our appearance and went down to join everyone in the den. They'd cooked pizzas—one was vegetarian, which I appreciated.

As we sat in the den, watching a movie, we chatted about the Japan trip to Connor, Asher and Jade, which led to us explaining exactly how everything had gone down between Lana and me.

They'd been shocked to hear about the incident at the airport, as it happened from my own mouth.

This then led to the question Jade posed,

"Well, if you're not working for LA Beauty anymore, what are you going to do?"

I told her about my idea to start a business helping aspiring YouTubers. Her eyes lit up with excitement at the idea.

"That would be amazing!" she exclaimed. "We have to get you some equipment! Come shopping with me tomorrow, we'll get a camera and a tripod—oooh, and there's a place online that has really nice backdrops!"

"Wren has lunch with Brielle tomorrow at 12," Asher reminded her, and she deflated instantly.

"Oh... well, we could go afterwards?"

"I have to get my passport replaced too," I said. "So that would actually work out well. I don't even know where a post office is around here."

Everyone laughed. Even though I'd been here for months now, it was a big place and I was still unfamiliar with a lot of things.

"Oh," Asher perked up, turning his gaze to Conner and Kurt. "Did you two decide on whether you're doing that trip yet?"

Trip?

Connor beamed. "Yeah! We're going on a road trip to film an abandoned buildings exploration series—starting with our hometown, West Chester."

"Wait... West Chester? As in, West Chester Pennsylvania?"

Kurt exchanged a look with Connor. "Yeah, why?"

"That's near Princeton! You guys are from across the country too?"

"Yeah! We... we moved together, and we had each other, so it wasn't as difficult I guess," Kurt explained, rubbing the back of his head. "That's why we understood your situation when we met you."

This was crazy.

I couldn't believe my own ears.

"Wow," I breathed. It seemed so surreal. Maybe I was overreacting, but little things like this always made me think about what a small world it was. "Well... have fun I guess."

I'd come to LA to pursue freedom... but with everything going on, it felt more like I was suffocating now. The desire to escape, even for a little while, and go somewhere different like West Chester was... strangely overwhelming.

But I couldn't leave. I had to go to court, and deal with Lana and Audrey, and set up my business somehow before I ran out of money.

My home was here in LA, and right now that's where I needed to stay. 

***

Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed this update!

The next update will be on September 26th

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