Defining Us (Book 2 of Discovering Me Series)

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Chapter 23: Dark Doo Wop - MsMr

{Isabella}

“Why are both of you snoring your lungs out?”

I jolted awake at the sound of Ryan’s voice.

“Not.” I wiped the small string of drool from my mouth.

“He sure is.” He pointed to Milo, whom was still passed out. It was a medium volume snore, not too loud, but enough to draw attention.

“He was in really rough shape last night.” I sat up, rubbing my eye with the back of my hand.

“What do you mean?” He sat down on the coffee table.

“I just got this feeling that something was wrong, so I called him. I found him outside on the beach. He was completely wasted. He threw up while he was on the phone with his dad. He kept doing it as I took over talking to him. I was eventually able to get him inside.”

“You should have called me; I would’ve gotten him in without a problem.”

“If there is a next time, I will. We will no longer be dating.” I looked down at my lap.

“I get it. You can go back to your room. I’ll take it from here.”

“You’re a good guy, Ry.” I touched my hand to his shoulder as I stood up. I kissed Milo’s forehead and tucked him in before leaving.

I walked across the hall and went into my room.

“Morning.” I smiled at Elle as I walked in.

She was already showered and dressed. She was dolled up in her usual Elle fashion. She was making our bed and simultaneously watching TV. The wall mounted plasma screen was tuned into the news. The queen’s departure was overshadowed by speculation of a new woman in the king’s life.

I recognized her as the woman on Milo’s computer. There was footage of him visiting the conservatory on several different occasions, far more frequently than he had in the past. There were clips of them interacting. They were laughing together in one of them. They both appeared so natural, oblivious to the outside world and the people around. In another, she was explaining one of her projects during one of his press junkets; he was holding onto her every word, a soft smile firmly in place throughout. The last was labeled as footage from the previous night; she was bombarded with questions and cameras as she was trying to walk to her car alone. She held her hand up and turned away, refusing to engage them.

“Has it been like this all morning?” I sat down on the couch as my eyes were locked on the screen.

“Yeah, apparently they went to college together. They were engaged for a while.”

“Do you think he still loves her?”

“Obviously. Those eyes scream unrequited love. Sad, really, he’s such a cutie. Is it safe to assume you abandoned me for Miles last night?”

“Yeah, I found him outside drinking. It wasn’t pretty. He was still asleep when I left. Ryan said he’d look after him for me.” I looked back at her from my seat.

“I’m sure he will. He’s good at that.” She smoothed out the comforter.

“Are you okay? I forgot to ask how your doctor’s appointment went.” I asked gently.

“I’m doing relatively well. He put me on a new medication. I’m feeling better than before, but it’s going to be a little while before I no longer need to do this.” She rearranged the pillows.

“Do you need to say it?”

She shook her head with a smile. “I’m still amped up from last time. I love you for actually being there when it got bad.”

“We made a pact. Those are sacred.” I folded my arms and placed them on the back of the couch, resting my head on top.

“Do you know what you’re doing next year?”

“Not yet. I have seven job offers. They are all over the place. I’m trying to figure out where I want to live.”

“Where are they?”

“Los Angeles, Paris, Seattle, Listonenia, and three in New York.”

“What are you thinking so far?” She coaxed.

“I can’t see myself returning to New York. There’s too much history. The people I grew up with donate to them and attend shows regularly. I’d be forced to smile to their faces to ensure they keep writing checks. It’d make me so uncomfortable. I can’t be there when Colt gets out.” Tears collected in my eyes as I thought about him.

“Oh, Honey.” She walked over to the couch and gave me a hug.

I clenched my eyes shut and held her close. She rubbed my back soothingly.

“Forget New York. The other four are viable options. I can even help you decide.”

“Will you make me a PowerPoint?” I sniffled.

“Of course, complete with a pros and cons list for each city.”

I smiled. “I can’t wait.” I pulled away from her and dried my eyes.

“I’m going to go get ready. I’m hungry.” I stood up from the couch.

“That doesn’t make sense.” She giggled.

“It does in a roundabout way.” I smiled and shrugged.

I grabbed my toiletry bag and went to our ensuite bathroom. When I picked up my phone after I finished showering and getting dressed, I saw a missed call from Audrey. I took that opportunity to call her back.

“Hey, you called me?” I greeted when she answered the phone.

“Just thought I’d check in.”

I heard a high pitched giggle in the background. I smiled widely, knowing it was Emelia.

“What’s my niece so happy about?” I inquired.

“Daddy’s playing peek-a-boo with her. I told him not to because it’s almost bath and bedtime. She’s going to be too riled to sleep. I have work tomorrow. I can’t stay up with them.”

“Daddy?” I teased.

“We’re determined to make her first word ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’. We call ourselves and each other ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ whenever she’s around. He’s keeping her up late to cheat. I know he is.”

I smiled. “What else has she been up to?”

“Teething, mostly. She’s on baby food. We’ve baby proofed everything in the house; she could attempt to crawl any day now.”

“What is she wearing?”

“Why do you always ask that?” She giggled.

“Because she always looks so cute. Don’t judge me!” I cried in my defense, wrapping my free arm around myself.

“A dress with cupcakes on it. I put socks on her earlier, but she pulled them off almost immediately.”

“Does she have on a matching headband?”

“No, her hair has grown a lot. We put a little ponytail in the front. She likes it better than bows and headbands.”

“That’s it. You have to send me pictures. I need to experience her cuteness for myself.”

“Okay, I will.”

“And one of her in her pajamas after her bath.” I added quickly.

“Footie ones?” I could hear the smile in her voice.

“Of course. They keep her itty bitty toesies warm.”

She laughed. “I’ll text you soon with the photos you requested. Would you like to babysit when you return? Daddy has an award show and asked Mommy to go with him.”

“Definitely! I need to make sure Emmy’s super close to her Aunt Izzie.”

“Great. We’ve yet to leave her with a real sitter. His parents are busy that night.”

“I can’t wait.” I smiled.

“I love you. Tell everyone we said ‘hello’.”

“I love you too. Don’t forget my pictures.”

She laughed. “I won’t. Bye.”

“Bye.” I hung up and eased my phone into my phone into my pocket.

I left the room in pursuit of Milo. I checked his room first. When no one replied to my knocks on the door, I popped my head inside.

“Hello?” I called out as I walked in. I saw him standing on the balcony through the glass windows of the French doors. The gray hood of his zip-up hoodie was on his head. I shut the door and made my way towards him.

“Hi.” I put my arms on the railing and leaned on it the way he was.

“I am so sorry.” He looked over at me.

“You remember last night?”

“It is coming to me in flashes. I should have never put you in that situation.”

“Or yourself.”

“And the way I spoke to you - it will never happen again.”

“It better not. I meant what I said last night.”

“I know.”

“Love’s such a weird thing.” I thought aloud as I shifted my attention to the water.

“Did I frighten you?”

“Yes.” I tightened my hold on the railing.

He gently twirled me to face him. “I never want you to feel unsafe around me. I hate that I did it for even a few minutes. I will make this up to you.”

I averted my gaze. “It’s fine.”

“It’s not. You can’t even look at me.”

I pressed my lips in a line and did it. “Something could have happened to you. I couldn’t imagine a world you were not in before last night; you forced me to do it.” My eyes pricked with tears.

“Was it that bad?”

“You threw up a lot. You could’ve needed to go to the hospital. I didn’t call; I thought I could handle it. I could have been wrong.” My lip quivered.

“You weren’t. But I understand what you are saying. That’s not a decision you should be forced to make.“He caressed my cheek with one of his thumbs.

“Never again.”

“You have my word.“He softly pressed his lips to mine. “I love you so much.” He rested his forehead against mine.

“I love you too.” I kissed him again. “What about your mom?”

“She leaves this afternoon.”

“I know you are angry right now, but you should say goodbye. I know you will regret it if you don’t.”

He thought to himself a moment. “After I do, I need you to keep being more stubborn than usual.” One corner of his lips curled up, creating a half-smile.

I smiled at his attempt to lighten the mood. “I can do that. Take my not snoring as an example.”

He chuckled lightly. “You said it, not me.”

“You basically asked me to.” I pecked him. He pulled away from me.

“When you go home in a few days, will you still do it?” He shifted to a much more serious tone.

“I promise.” I offered him my pinky.

“What is this?” He eyed it with an eyebrow raised.

“A pinky promise or swear -- same thing, slightly different name. Don’t question its legitimacy. Your pinky please, kind sir.” I inched my pinky closer to him.

“I am still very confused.” He offered it to me.

“Shhh. Don’t question it. We can wrap that into this bundle of sacred swears.”

“What else is incorporated into this promise package?”

“Regardless of the time, we can call each other and expect to be heard. We won’t confront each other with media rumors. Instead, we trust each other to explain the truth. I won’t tell anyone I made you physically interlock your pinky with mine.” I looped my pinky around his.

I shook his hand once and let go.

“Seal it with a kiss.” I got up on my tiptoes and kissed his lips.

“He has always wanted someone else. She was my family’s selection. They had me to fulfill their duty. They resent me and blame each other for their unhappiness.”

“No, they have explained the truth to you many times over. They love you and appreciate each other for your creation.” I massaged his shoulders.

He exhaled and looked down. “The others are downstairs for brunch. We should join them in our usual late manner before I leave. ”

“I’d love to.” I stepped out of his arms and offered him my hand. “When will you be back?”

“As soon as she is gone. I need to do this alone.” He took my hand into his.

The two of us ventured inside.

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