TWENTY-TWO.

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(hello friends! i'm very jetlagged but also very excited for you to read this one

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(hello friends! i'm very jetlagged but also very excited for you to read this one. it's lacking in jess but will be made up for in time spent with a new character who will be entering into the story. interested to see what y'all think.)

(also. you're meeting marley's dad this chapter. yes, the word mija will be used. no, i cannot write it without thinking of riverdale. yes, i will personally beat your ass if you mention it. that is all. love u all tons.) -mags

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"AND YOU'RE SURE that you don't want me to come with you?"

That was the question Jess Mariano posed to Marley Acosta just minutes before she exited her apartment in Philidelphia to leave not only for her father's event in New York, but for the summer. It was a question she brushed off with a stern look and a laugh and subsequently rejected, knowing the amount of work he had to do within this next week.

It was a question that she knew that she should have said yes to as soon as she stepped into the event and saw what exactly it was that she was walking into.

"Seriously," Jess had said as he sat on the arm of her couch, one of the only things left in the practically empty apartment. "I can take the train in and meet you and Jacob there, suffer through your dad's thing and then we can hang out in New York the next day. We'll make a weekend out of it."

Marley glanced up as she finished taping her box. "Don't you guys have a meeting with that guy from the bank on Saturday?"

"You say that like Chris and Matthew actually want me there."

"Oh, c'mon. I think you've gotten better at talking to people," she offered, remembering the stories her friends had told her about the last time Jess had sat down to talk business with a possible associate. "You don't get disinterested as easily. It's something I've noticed."

"You're just trying to get me to stay here," he said.

"Only because you're trying to come with me," she replied, giving him a soft smile. "This is something I need to do on my own, Mariano. You know that."

Defeated, Jess played his last card. "Jacob's bringing a date."

He was met with an eye roll. "Jacob's bringing his girlfriend of two years."

"And I've known you for six."

Marley laughed and attempted to look exhausted by the conversation they were having, but the smile on her face gave her away. "As much as I appreciate this, I'm going to be okay. Seriously," she said, moving her box toward the door. "It's one night. I'll survive without you." She hit him lightly on the arm as she moved into her room to grab the last box she had. "Now make yourself useful and help bring these down to my car."

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