Chapter 28: Astrid Helps Me Figure Out My Life

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"Y/n, wake up love."

"What?"

I opened my eyes, seeing a shirtless Paul next to me, blinking away sleep, a sleepy grin on his face. The all too familiar phrase fell upon my lips: What happened last night? Drinking. Typical, of course, et cetera. I could feel the corduroy of my black pants. Where was my shirt? I was in one of my bras I bought in Soho, a black lacy one.

"What?" I asked again, rubbing my eyes. The blanket fell off my chest. I slipped forwards into Paul's chest. He put his arms around me, kissing the top of my head, but I felt cold. The sunlight streamed through the windows; I could see we were back in... the bakery? My room?

"Let's get a cab home," I remembered George saying, one hand on Anna's slim waist, his fingers slightly curled around the fabric of her belt like his fingers were the belt itself.

"I'm so glad they're finally together," I murmured to Paul, leaning sloppily against him, as George and Anna ran to catch a cab. Soho nightlife was all around us. Juliet and John had disappeared somewhere in the throng. They were gone, just like that, like the blink of an eye, like the pull of a trigger.

"Y/n, this way," Anna called through the throng of people. Someone caught my arm.

"Y/n!"

"A... Astrid?" I glanced back to see the short-haired blonde behind me. "Hallo! Long time no see!"

"Yes... what have you been up to recently?" I called to her as I pulled Anna towards me, away from George. "This is my friend Anna! I work with her at a cafe."

"I thought you sang at the Kaiserkeller," she remarked. Stu came up beside her. "Y/n!"

"Stu!" I flung my arms around him. "It's been too long!"

"Cab's here, darling," George reminded Anna, a slight tug on her waist.

"You all should come over to my place," Astrid said. "George, you've been before. I think we all need to catch up. Where's John and Pete?"

"Pete's out somewhere, and John is with his girlfriend," I told her, giving her a smile.

Hers disappeared, replaced by a confused look, then a blush of embarrassment. "Oh. Sorry. Well... I do suppose this means we all really do need to catch up."

We all followed Astrid back into the crowd, George apologizing to the cab driver. I supposed it was midnight then, or something of the sort. It turned out that Astrid lived only a few blocks away. As we walked, I told her about the situation, carefully leaving out parts which I felt weren't necessary—after all, she was John's friend as well as mine.

"I'm so sorry about that," she said, her accented English mixing in with the different dialects being projected in the crowd.

"I really don't have any spite towards him especially since I broke up with him, but I felt like it needed to be done..." I trailed off. Did I really feel the need to break up with him?

Anna saw my worried glance. "Are you having second thoughts?"

Behind me, I heard a laugh come from Stu, and I smiled. I hadn't heard from the James Dean lookalike in a while.

"Not sure."

Danny's voice: She's never had a boyfriend.

"Paul is here... I don't see the need to talk about this," I said quickly. A look of understanding passed between Astrid and Anna, and Astrid said, "Well, do you want to hear about my new art installation?"

Inside her house, we climbed a flight of rickety steps until we emerged into a small but cozy living room. "Take a seat," Astrid said as she waved her hand freely and disappeared into the kitchen with Stu. "We'll bring out drinks."

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