A few hours later

Michael and Tessa tried to convince me to keep the dinner and dance on the schedule, but I did not see the point of that. What was there to celebrate? Liberation, sure. But it wasn't right for someone to celebrate that, was it? I could be wrong. At this point, I've been wrong about a lot. And I was just at the beginning of my streak of being wrong.

After Dick went on his way to be with his pregnant girlfriend (To which I keep reminding myself that I need to tell Ashton), I could say that Luke, Michael, Calum, Xander, even Tessa did not let Dick off that easily. They walked after him and "took care of him" behind closed doors while I muttered my apologies to all the guests who came to witness the mockery on love that Dick and I created, but instead were entertained with the laughable scene of a runaway groom. It was mortifying only because I felt so credulous. There I was, believing he was studying for his admission test this entire time. How could I have not sensed that Dick was going behind my back with the girl that had taken so much away from me already? Was I a terrible person in my past life? And that's why Sarah is here now, repaying me for things that I'd done in that life? I used to believe the whole world was out to get me, but now I've realized that it's only Sarah who is doing that. Taking away and ruining everything that has ever made me happy. The worst sort of people are capable of getting away with so much.

She has joy at arms length of her; Ashton. She has her equal right where she wants him; Dick. And a baby, I would not put it past me that she has no clue who the farther is and she's reeling both of these guys in. She's Sarah Johnston, that's what she does after all.

"Hey darling, there's someone here to see you before you leave." My dad called out as I carried Ella's luggage to the front door. Ashton. Ashton. Ashton. Please be Ashton.

There was nothing left for me in Malibu right now. I needed out of this place, I needed to distract myself, I needed to reevaluate everything I've done wrong to end up at this point. The kids, Luke, and myself were catching the next red-eye back to New York. Luke, himself, did not want me here. Our tensions were washed away and we focused on the bigger picture: the kids.

"Hi Talia." Richard's mom chirped, removing her satin white gloves. Who wears satin gloves in March? Who wears satin gloves period if they aren't royalty? Dianne has always been a little too extravagant for my families liking. She always dressed in the nicest pieces of clothing, not once had I ever seen her dressed in casual clothing. I could guess it's been quite awhile since she's served a dinner meal that costs under a grand. Everything, in her opinion, had to be big, showy, overdone, and expensive. That would explain the appearance of my engagement ring. That jewelry was going to get sold, and the money would be put into a college fund for the kids.

"Hey Dianne." I deadpanned. Ella hid behind me. I'd hide behind someone too, so I didn't have to look at Dianne.

"Richard told me everything. I'm so sorry for all the trouble he has caused."

"I don't need your sympathy, Dianne." I huffed, adjusting the strap of Ella's bag. "I need space from you, from your son, from anyone who has ties to your son."

"I wish this could've turned out differently." She said with sympathy still coating her tone. Dianne and Dick were similar, both can be manipulative. Both will try to make you feel terrible about something that makes you feel happy and then pretend as if they've done nothing wrong. It was almost genetic in their cases.

"Well," I exaggerated the simple word. "I don't."

A honk from outside brought to my attention that it was time to leave this place once more, only to be back for the next bad thing to happen whenever life decided to call me.

"Mom the cab is here." I shouted and she popped out from a corner. She was definitely eavesdropping on the conversation with Dianne. Mom didn't like Dianne any more than I liked Dick. She'd gone to great extents to avoid Dianne during the wedding planning because she was sure she'd rip the woman's head off if she made the slightest of rude comment.

Luke seemingly let himself in the house like he used to. "Ready to go?" I did not know if Luke was going back to New York to finish off rehearsals or to babysit me because all the convincing he'd done, saying he needed to get more rehearsing in, was not enough to make me believe him.

"Are you sure you want to leave so soon?" Mom had brought out every excuse to make me stay so she could make sure I was okay firsthand. The lack of faith my family had in me to stay sane was quite disappointing.

"Yeah, I need to get the kids back and well-rested for school. I don't want them missing anymore."


A few hours of sleep on the plane would be enough to fuel me for an unexpected Sunday morning at work. Distractions. Distractions. Distractions. Luke made sure the twins were sound asleep in their room as he carried Jack around, watching me run the apartment like crazy looking for a pair of shoes. I felt bad about leaving Luke with the kids, so I tried to get him to let me stay home but he wasn't having it.

"I'll watch them, you go on to work." He whispered, afraid of waking up Jack. But Jack was heavy sleeper to my advantage. "I know you're dying for a distraction." Dying? I'm already dead for distraction.

I slipped on a blazer to keep me warm in the office because the first day back is always the coldest for an odd reason. Nerves I suppose. "If you talk to Ashton, could you tell him that I need to talk to him...that it's important."

"I'll do that." Luke nodded. "Have a good day."

"Thank you, Luke."



"And the orders are placed." I turned to Trixy who watched on as I ordered more merchandise for the store. This would be the only time I'd be able to do such a thing without Noelle and Jet present, they let it slide and promised to keep it a secret since they were still both stuck at LAX with major delays on their flights.

"Do you need anything?" Trixy blurted.

"I'm okay!" I really was starting to thing I was okay. The more I distracted myself and told myself that I was okay, I would become okay. Fake it till you make it, right? "I need to respond to a few emails so it'd be nice to have some privacy."

It was quiet with only five people tops working the offices today. Typically we'd never work Sunday's in the office, but sometimes there were other things that needed to be done other than lounging in your PJ's all day and catching up on reality television while dreading the oncoming Monday.

Luke: I talked to him...
Me: And?
Luke: He kindly asked you to fuck off.
Luke: What the hell did you do to him?
Me: Something bad enough to have him ask me to fuck off. "kindly," of course.
Luke: Did you break his heart?! I'll make you sleep in the bathroom if you did.
Me: Boo-fucking-hoo. He's done much worse to me.
Luke: I don't know, T. You can be pretty cold-hearted when you try...
Me: Yeah whatever. I have to go. I'm treating the intern and assistant to lunch.

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