Chapter 21

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      Serena invited me over after months of ignoring me and I was laying on my stomach on her bed as she painted her nails. It was a typical girls night out as we watched Netflix and painted our nails, and I watched Serena, realizing how much I missed this. It had been so  long since I got to hang out with my best friend.

      "I can't believe Carson just dumped me like that," Serena whispered, glancing at me. "It was out of nowhere. We were going so well and he just dumped me in front of everyone like he never cared about me. I don't get it."

       I sat up and looked at Serena who sat across from me. She was staring at her nails, but I noticed the tears streaming down her face now. My heart ached for her and I bit my lip, realizing I knew the truth. Serena just thought Carson had randomly dumped her, but I knew the real reason.

      "I loved him so much, you know," Serena said, looking at me with her reddened eyes. "I was really happy with him. I don't understand how he could just throw it all away like that."

       Serena was now shaking with sobs and I slid closer to her, feeling sorry for her. I hated seeing her in pain. Even when we were children and she would hurt her knees from doing something stupid, my heart would hurt as if it was my own pain.

      "I'm so, so sorry Serena," I said, reaching over to hug her. "You didn't deserve this."

      Serena hugged me back and she cried into my shoulder and I held her. For a moment, I let her let it all out as I hugged her and rubbed her back gently.

      "I don't understand," Serena sobbed. "I thought he loved me. We were so happy."

      Serena was shaking and I kept rubbing her back, hoping to soothe her down. My heart felt heavy and my throat hurt at as my own tears began to form in my eyes. It was crazy how I could feel someone else's pain as if it was my own.

      Eventually, Serena calmed down and she pulled away from me. She wiped her tears away and she stared at her me for a moment, her eyes sad. I smiled at her, hoping to cheer her up.

      "Sorry I'm such a mess," Serena said, forcing a smile. "This was supposed to be a fun girls night."

     "It's okay," I said. "You're going through a break up. Let it all out now."

      Serena nodded and she rubbed her eyes and took a deep breath in. She then pushed her blonde hair away from her face and pulled it into a bun. Lying down on her stomach, I watched her lay her head on her covers.

      "Don't you think we should let everyone know the truth before things get worse?" I blurted out, realizing the question had been on my mind for days now. "The longer we wait, the more everyone will hate us for hiding the truth from them."

      "Nivenah, we've been over this," Serena said, sighing heavily. "We can't tell anyone our secret. People will hate me."

      I knew I shouldn't have asked Serena again, but I had to find out if she would ever be willing to let everyone know. With Carson pressuring me to let the truth out, I was on a race against time to get Serena on my side.

      "I know, but they'll hate you more if you don't tell them," I said. "We shouldn't keep hiding this."

      "I rather they not hate me at all," Serena said, shooting Nivenah a look. "Why do you keep bringing this up? I said no the first time and my mind will never change."

      Serena pulled herself up and sat up. Her eyes were hard now - cold, even. Serena hated the thought of the truth coming out and I grew disappointed.

      "It just feels so wrong," I said. "Especially that we lied to Carson who gave you this opportunity. We're lying to everyone."

      "Do you like Carson?" Serena asked, leaving my eyes widening. "Is that why you want the secret to come out? So Carson will go after you instead?"

      "What? No!"

      Blushing, I grew embarrassed by Serena's accusation. She was glaring at me now, her eyes calculating and I grew annoyed. 

      "You can't steal other people's boyfriends, Nivenah," Serena said, crossing her arms over her chest. "That's the girl code. He is - was mine, which means he can never be yours."

      "I don't like him," I said, throwing my hands up. "God, Serena. I don't even know why I keep defending you when you're so... so like this."

      I got off Serena's bed and began to walk to the door, finally tired of what she threw at me. I had been nothing but supportive and nice to Serena, and I was finally realizing that Serena didn't reciprocate anything. In fact, she treated me worse than best friends should treat each other and I was finally tired of it.

      "Nivenah," Serena said before I could exit the room. "I'm sorry. Please stay."

      Sighing, I turned around and looked at Serena who was staring at me with wide eyes. She looked shocked, as if she didn't expect me to walk off and I sighed lightly. Serena drove me mad sometimes, but there was a warmth I had for her due to the years we spent together.

     "I'm sorry," Serena said when I remained standing near the door. "I'm just really upset about Carson, so I'm taking it out on you. That was horrible of me and I'm so, so sorry."

      Forgiving her, I walked back to her bed and sat down on it, and Serena sighed lightly. Her eyebrows were furrowed and she was frowning, and I knew she was stressed about everything that had been going on lately. I could relate.

      "I'm scared," Serena said. "I'm scared of everything related to our secret and I don't know what to do. Like I know it's wrong to lie to everyone and they'll be mad at me if they find out, but... I don't want anyone to hate me. I couldn't bare the thought of the fans who supported me and made me so happy hating me because I can't sing."

      My eyes softened at Serena's words and my heart went out for her. I understood why she didn't want her secret out, even though I didn't agree with keeping our facade going.

      "They'll hate you more if you keep lying to them," I said softly. "It's better if you tell them now. They'll be more willing to forgive you if you're the one to confess rather than one of them finding out."

      "I know, but I rather gamble on them never finding out our secret," Serena said. "I'm so, so scared, Nivenah."

      Nodding, I understood her. I was terrified, too. Although I wanted our secret to come out, I was also scared of the consequences we'd face.

      "You know, Nivenah, I miss you," Serena said, leaving my eyes widening. "I'm sorry I spent so much time caught up with Carson and my new friends. You're my best friend and I'm sorry I put you on the sidelines."

      My eyes remained wide and I stared at Serena for a moment, caught off guard that she had admitted she missed me. Serena looked so happy and fulfilled that I thought she had forgotten about me, so I was happy to hear she missed me.

      "I miss you, too," I said, my eyes softening. "We really should hang out more."

      "We should," Serena said, pulling out her phone. "Let's plan more dates to hang out."

      Smiling, I slid closer to Serena and together, we scrolled through her calendar and planned days to hang out. It had been so long since we'd last did this that I found myself growing emotional as I realized just how much I missed my best friend. After I started singing for her, I had been so alone that it was nice to finally have some company. So smiling at Serena, I wondered if Carson was right - from now on, I would get what I deserved.

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