Two Worlds Clashing

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Chapter 4

Summer Vacation
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For three weeks, Tori sat in the corner of her cell just thinking everything over. How her body felt weak, how cold she would get, and the constant need for that special cigarette and some gin. She felt herself losing her mind every day. She had completely lost herself. While she was there, she called her dad who was furious at her. Not only because he had to fly back from Europe, but because she now had criminal charges under her name.

Before she was set to appear before a judge, she cut her hair. Her eighteen inches cut down to ten. Her crazy blue and purple streaks in her hair were dyed back to her dark brown locks. She continued to sit in the corner and think to herself until it was time for her to appear before the judge. During her court session, this being her first offense, the judge gave her an option. Either go to prison for two years with probation and rehab for four years or rehab for a year and a tutor to keep her on track for graduation instead of being held back another year.

Of course, she chose rehab. She hated feeling as miserable and disgusted as she did right now. She felt that rehab could make her feel like herself again.

A week after Tori got arrested, Mason had broken up with her. The biggest reason was because she cheated on him with one of his teammates. The minor reason, and having nothing to do with his decision, was because he was moving to Hollywood in a month to be in a season of a show. He had always had an interest in action so he gave it a try. Now, he’s a recurring character on the series.

Shockingly, he and Ashley (remember her?) were on the same show playing love interests. Soon, they became their characters and they publicly announced their relationship in February. Tori didn’t know how to feel when she heard the news. On one hand, she was happy for them, but on the other, she was mad at herself for treating Mason the way she did while they were together. But now, was the time to focus on herself.

No boys. No drama. Just herself and school.

Her studies were rough in the beginning, but she was starting to excel in them after a couple of months. Her hair was growing longer and healthier. She could feel that her body felt better and free.

Over the summer, towards the end of May, Tori had finished her rehabilitation and finished her junior year with flying colors. She had officially moved on to her senior year of high school. She couldn’t have been more proud of what she had accomplished.

Summer break has officially begun. Lindsey had moved back in with her parents now that they were here to stay. Henry went back to Europe for a month, before returning to California, traveling upstate for his job. Tori’s sentence was also officially over and she couldn’t have felt better. She was happier, more focused in life, had a goal she wanted to reach, and felt reborn.

The rehab center was in Malibu, two hours away. It was mainly for her protection so no one could find her as easily, but Tori also wanted to be as far away from anyone who could recognize her from school. She was already embarrassed enough as it is. Since her dad was away the day of her release, Lindsey went to go sign her out.

Lindsey arrived at the clinic and flipped her shades over her head. She walked up to the desk and tapped the little bell on the counter. A few seconds later, a young woman walked up behind the counter.

“Hi! Welcome to Acclimate Rehab Center! My name is Crystal. How can I assist you today?” she said with a smile.

“Hi! I’m here to pick up my friend.”

“Okay. Name of the patient?”

“Tori Hale.” Crystal typed in the name on her computer before clicking a few things.

“Yep. I see that today’s her release date. May I have your name?”

“Lindsey Payne.”

“And your relationship to Miss Hale?”

“I’m her best friend.”

“Alright. ID please?” Lindsey took out her driver’s license and handed it to Crystal. “Thanks. Can I get you to sign this form and then the last three lines on the next page and then initial on the last page?”

“No problem.” Lindsey began to sign the forms when Crystal started furiously fixing her hair, looking at the mirror on her desk. “Are you okay?” Crystal nodded.

“I’m… fine. My goodness,” she said, breathing hard. Lindsey looked at her with a confused expression on her face.

“Your face screams otherwise. You look like you stuck your face in the sun for too long,” Lindsey laughed. She continued to sign the papers when Crystal smacked her hand hard next to her.

“Damn!” Lindsey jumped, the pen flying out of her hand and rolling a few feet behind her.

“How does my make-up look?”

“Wha-?! How does your make-up look?” Crystal finished applying lipstick before ruffling her hair a bit.

“Yes! I look normal and not crazy at all?”

“You mean to tell me you scared the crap out of me because of your make-up? What do you need to look cute for anyway?” Lindsey dropped the clipboard on the counter and went over to pick the pen off of the floor. Just as she was reaching for the pen, another hand had already grabbed it.

“Is this yours?” a deep voice asked. Lindsey looked up at the person in front of them. They had on black, ripped jeans, a white t-shirt with a dark blue plaid overshirt, and dark sunglasses. He smirked at her, holding the pen out to her.

“Yes, thank you.” Lindsey grabbed the pen when the man brought her hand to his lips.

“It’s no problem. For such a beautiful woman like yourself.” Lindsey smiled nervously as he smiled at her, still holding her hand.

“Well, um, thank you.” Crystal coughed loudly causing both of them to turn towards her.

“Sorry to interrupt. Not really. But, can I help you?” she said, pushing her chest up with her arms as she leaned over the desk. Lindsey winced, rolling her eyes. The man took off his shades with a smile and leaned over the counter. Lindsey covered her mouth with her hand as she stared at the man.

“Sweet baby Jesus,” she muttered.

“Yes. I’m here to pick up my aunt.”

“Aww! You’re so sweet! You must love your aunt.”

“With all my heart,” he said, flashing a smile. Crystal flipped her hair as she laughed.

“You’re Aiden Evansdale! You’re really him! ” Lindsey said.

“In the flesh. And you are?”

“I’m…”

“A patient!” Crystal blurted. Lindsey turned, raising an eyebrow at her. “Really bad alcohol problem. She’s also being treated for her addiction to prescription drugs.” Aiden looked between Lindsey and Crystal, who had a stupid grin on her face, before looking Lindsey up and down, caressing his chin.

“Really? She’s too hot to be a patient here. I mean, look at her. I wouldn’t complain of doing a kissing scene with her,” he said biting his lower lip. Lindsey looked at Crystal smugly, making her scoff as she sat back down in her chair.

“Whatever. What’s the name of the patient?”

“Aubrey Simmons,” he replied, not turning away from Lindsey. “So, who are you here for?”

“My best friend.”

“Your friend? She seems too young to be in rehab. Aren’t you around nineteen?”

“Seventeen. I turn eighteen in August.” Aiden began to smile.

“Nice. So, you have a boyfriend?”

“No,” she said, blushing a little.

“I don’t have one either. Fyi,” Crystal smiled.

“That’s good to hear,” he smirked, ignoring Crystal’s comment. Lindsey smiled, brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

“I hate to interrupt this moment, not really, but I need you to sign these before we can release your aunt.”

“Sure.” Crystal turned towards Lindsey sharply and frowned.

“If you don’t mind leaving him alone, I can just take those forms from you and you can wait way over there for your friend,” she smiled. Lindsey rolled her eyes and handed her the forms before starting to walk off. Aiden grabbed her arm as he stuffed his phone back into his pocket.

“You don’t have to go anywhere. I have someone that signs things like this for me.” Before Lindsey could react, a man walked up next to Aiden and nodded his head. He began signing, swiftly, as Crystal stared at him, dumbfounded.

“Wait, you’re meaning to tell me that you don’t sign anything? Documents, pre-signed posters, or notebooks? Nothing?”

“Not really. Only the lucky ones can get my personal signature. It makes me and my signature worth even more millions. Because who doesn’t want my autograph?”

“I guess. It’s actually kind of smart in a sense.”

“See you get it. You know what, I like you. You’re cool and cute. Just for that, I want to give you my personal signature.”

“Really?” Aiden smirked and snapped his fingers. The man handed Crystal the papers and then handed Aiden a sharpie.

“Do you have anything that I can sign for you?” Lindsey thought for a moment as she patted herself.

“Uh… I have a phone case,” she said, pulling out her phone. Aiden took her phone and started smiling.

“Is this a Lockheart Academy phone case?”

“I’m a huge fan of the show! I’ve watched it ever since it aired. I never missed an episode. I even watch old seasons to prepare for the next season.”

“You may be the most dedicated fan I’ve ever met,” he laughed.

“What can I say? I followed you ever since you starred in that toothpaste commercial when you were eleven.”

“Damn. I’m impressed,” he smiled. Lindsey smiled, looking down to hide her blush creeping up.

“Aiden!” Lindsey and Aiden turned to the sound of his name being called. A woman was walking down the stairs in a hurry with three workers trailing after her, trying to carry her luggage. When she got to the bottom, she stopped to put on her heels and quickly walked over to Aiden, throwing her arms around his neck. “Nephew Oh my gosh! It’s so good to see your face. These people are so unfashionable it’s disgusting.”

“It’s nice to see you too, auntie,” Aiden sighed. The woman pinched his cheeks, laughing, before noticing Lindsey standing next to him.

“I love your outfit! The purple top and shoes combined with the denim shorts and gold belt is really cute.”

“Thank you,” Lindsey smiled, nervously.

“I like her,” she whispered to Aiden. “Do you know her?”

“Well…”

“Of course not,” she interrupted. “You never find the good ones.” Aiden rolled his eyes. “I’m Aiden’s aunt, Aubrey.”

“Nice to meet you. My name’s Lindsey.”

“I like it. I hope he wasn’t bothering you too much. He tends to be an idiot when it comes to girls.”

“Hey!”

“Hush! It’s bad. You won’t believe how many times I’ve seen him…”

“I think that’s enough from you! Are you trying to embarrass me?” Aubrey looked at him confused.

“What did I do?”

“Will you just check out?”

“Alright, damn. So pushy.” She turned abruptly and walked to the counter. “What was it? Candy?”

“You’re here almost twice a year and you can’t remember my name.”

“Oh, I know! Chloe.”

“It’s Crystal,” she signed. She placed a tablet in front of Aubrey, ready for her to sign.

“So, Cynthia, make sure that you keep that room clean. I do expect to be back sometime in the spring next year so you know, make it pretty and spring-like. Okay?”

“Yes, Miss Simmons,” Crystal sighed.

“Thanks, Cindy.”

“Crystal,” she muttered.

“Cara. Aiden, can we go? Like now!”

“Yeah. The car’s outside. David can show you to it while I finish up here.”

“Okay. Just make it fast. My hair needs to be cleansed and so does my body from drinking water for almost four damn months.” Aiden rolled his eyes. “Bye, Casey!” she waved, as she walked off.

“My name’s Crystal!”

“Clara! Nice meeting you, Lindsey!” Aubrey walked out of the building, with David following behind her.

“I’m confused. Does she just know when she’s going to have a problem?”

“No. She considers this a vacation for a few months. Anyway, how about that autograph before I leave?” Aiden smiled. Lindsey nodded, handing him her phone. He took the cap off with his teeth before scribbling his name on her phone case. He handed her phone back with a smile.

“Wow. I can tell this is yours personally. You write your a’s and e’s differently.”

“You’re pretty smart. I can tell you’re not like other girls. Is it okay if we take a picture together? I never want to forget your pretty face.”

“Sure,” Lindsey blushed. Aiden smiled, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. He positioned his phone before turning quickly, planting a kiss on Lindsey’s cheek just as he snapped the picture. He smirked as he turned to face her, a shocked look on her face.

“Beautiful.”

“You just kissed my cheek!”

“Yep! As I thought, you look pretty when you’re shocked. How about we take a few more?” Lindsey nodded and Aiden got the camera ready, snapping a few more pictures before smiling. “Cute.”

“So, does that mean they turned out okay?”

“Yeah, but I was talking about you.” Lindsey smiled, shyly, looking down. “Do you want me to Airdrop them to you?”

“Sure.” A couple of seconds later, Lindsey’s phone pinged with a request. “Thanks.”

“Aiden! Come on! I need a drink!”

“You’re not supposed to be drinking, auntie!”

“Shut up and move faster!” she shouted, clapping her hands together for each syllable.

“Alright! Get back in the car!” Aubrey groaned loudly, but turned around and walked back outside. Aiden sighed and put his shades back on.

“I better go before she starts throwing her shoes. It was nice meeting you though.”

“You too.” He smiled one last time before jogging out of the building. Lindsey looked down at her phone, swiping through the photos.

“What the hell was that?!” Lindsey jumped at the sound of Crystal’s voice, shouting so close to her ear. She was leaning over the counter, glaring daggers at her.

“What was what?”

“That whole flirting routine you did with Aiden!”

“First, I was not flirting. Second, it is not my fault that he talked to me instead of you. And third, it is also not my fault that you’re supposed to be doing your job instead of hitting on your client’s family members. Which is very unprofessional if I do say so myself. Also yelling at clients in a threatening manner is highly inappropriate.”

“Shut up! You can’t play the victim here. You know what you did. You purposely flirted with him!”

“Wow. I didn’t know they let the crazy work here. I thought the ward was across town.” Lindsey leaned in, dropping her voice to a whisper. “Did you escape?”

“Excuse me?”

“I won’t tell anyone if you check to see if my friend is on her way. Like did you remember to check her out while you were busy undressing Aiden with your eyes?”

“You little bi…!”

“A-hem!” Lindsey and Crystal both turned around to see a man, tapping his foot furiously, with an angry expression on his face. “Are you serious, Crystal? What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Damn it,” Crystal muttered. “Sir, I can explain. I was checking in this new patient and she’s very hostile about the whole situation, so I...”

“Save it, Crystal. She doesn’t even look like a patient and you tried that excuse last time. You can not talk to clients, guests, or even patients that sort of way and you know that. Please go wait in my office.”

“But she…”

“My office. Now!” Crystal groaned, glaring at Lindsey, before walking off. The man fixed his tie before walking up to the counter, putting on a smile. “I want to apologize on behalf of Crystal and her behavior just now. I assure you I will deal with her to the full extent.”

“Thank you.”

“So, what can I do for you?”

“I just want my friend. I already filled out the paperwork.”

“Okay. Name?”

“Tori Hale.” The man shuffled some things out of the way before pushing some numbers on the phone.

“Tori Hale. Room 356. Checking out. And make it fast.” He hung up the phone with a smile. “She’ll be down in a moment. Apparently, they were already getting her packed but didn’t receive the all-clear.”

‘I wonder why.’ Lindsey thought to herself, mentally rolling her eyes. “Great. Thanks!”

“You’re welcome. Have a nice rest of your day.” The man walked off leaving Lindsey at the counter. She didn’t have to wait long before she felt someone jump on her back, laughing.

“Ahh!”

“Surprise!” they screamed. Lindsey turned around to see Tori laughing at her. “You should’ve seen your face.”

“You scared the crap out of me,” Lindsey said, breathing heavily. She pulled Tori into a tight hug.

“That was the point, dummy. I’ve missed you so much!” Tori smiled, hugging Lindsey back just as tight.

“I’ve missed you too! Not being able to just drive down to your house and knock on your door was driving me insane.”

“I can tell.” Lindsey finally let Tori out of her grasp. “The straight purple gives that away.”

“Today is a happy day and happy days mean purple because it makes me even happier. Plus, it gave me a chance to wear my new sparkling shoes.” Lindsey shuffled her feet, making her shoes sparkle in the sunlight.

“Stop. It’s blinding me. It’s so bright.”

“Come on. You need some color in your life.”

“Gray is a color.”

“It’s dull. You need some pink.”

“Eww. How about, no.” Lindsey waved her off and flipped her shades over her eyes. “It’s so… bright.”

“Anyway, let’s go. I have so much to catch you up on.”

“Fun.”

“And I have a surprise for you.”

“Yay,” she muttered. Tori wasn’t a huge fan of Lindsey’s surprises. It was always something about them.

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“This is real?” Tori was staring at Lindsey’s phone, looking hard at the photo with her and Aiden. Lindsey kept her eyes on the road as she smiled.

“Yes, for the last time. The time-stamp is right in front of your face.”

“I know. It’s just… I can’t believe I was in the same building as him being treated for a similar problem.”

“Woah, Woah. Pause. He wasn’t a patient. He was just there picking up his aunt.”

“And making an appointment for himself for next week?”

“What? No! Why would he?”

“Because he figures it’s about time for his yearly check-in,” Tori shrugged.

“Tori,” Lindsey sighed.

“What? Everyone knows he’s a drunk asshole who blames every mistake on alcohol. And y’all just forgive and forget like brainwashed zombies.”

“Not true! We know he can go overboard…”

“Correction! He goes overboard.”

“Anyway! We know he can go overboard sometimes, but that’s only when he’s celebrating. Any other time he’s very responsible.”

“Well, he must be celebrating every damn day then,” Tori muttered. Lindsey rolled her eyes, choosing to ignore Tori’s comment. “And all of you naive fangirls are blinded by his “good looks” and “sexiness.” Ick!”

“He’s not a bad person though.”

“Oh? Last year, he was arrested for aggravated assault for throwing his drink, which was glass, at some dude and then punched him. And it was all over whose drink it was. He says it was because he was drunk and everyone just forgave him and he spent the night in jail.”

“In his defense, it was Aiden’s drink in the end.”

“Oh my gosh.”

“He did visit the guy while he was in the hospital and apologized. He even paid his medical bills.”

“It was probably a bribe to force the guy to say he was mistaken instead of Aiden.”

“In general, Aiden’s a sweet, humble person.” Tori turned sharply to look at Lindsey, with a confused expression.

“Last time I checked, sweet, humble people don’t have short tempers and attitude problems.”

“I’ve never seen it,” Lindsey shrugged, turning onto an exit.

“Of course you haven’t. But, I bet if I ripped his face off and revealed who’s under the mask, y’all would wake up.”

“Then I hope you’re ready to deal with the swarm of Dalehearts that are prepared to attack.”

“The what?”

“The Dalehearts. It’s his last name mashed with his tv show. It’s what his fanbase is called.”

“That’s stupid.”

“But it’s hot,” Lindsey smirked.

“Gag.”

“Anyway! I have something exciting to tell you.”

“Oh boy,” Tori sighed.

“It’s good! I promise. So, do you remember that guy I told you about? Tyler?”

“The dude you met junior year and was obsessed with?”

“I wasn’t obsessed with him!” Tori laughed. “Anyway, after you had… left, we started talking a little bit more and hanging out outside of school work. He would take me to the football games and then we would go out to eat. Or we would go to the movies together.”

“Well, damn, Lindsey. I’m gone for almost a year and you run off and get a boyfriend,” Tori chuckled.

“He’s not my boyfriend! We’re not even dating. We’re just friends.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“But, I’m serious this time. I don’t even think he considers them as dates. Especially since it was always with… other people.”

“So, you’re just friends? Does that mean you never told him that you liked him?”

“Yep. And I probably never will.”

“Why the heck not?”

“Because I think I’m in the friendzone and once you’re there you can’t get out. Besides, I don’t think he’s even interested in me like that. He hasn’t shown any tells.”

“What do you need tells for? Either you grab life by the balls and tell him and get your answer, or you hide and watch as someone claims him. If he says yes, great. If he says no, fuck him ’cause he missed out,” Tori huffed.

“You sound bitter.”

“I do not!”

“Sure,” Lindsey scoffed. Tori rolled her eyes as she folded her arms across her chest, slumping down in her seat, staring outside the window.

“Lindsey? You just turned the wrong way.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Um, I think I know the way back to my own house.”

“Not saying you don’t, but I also told you that I had a surprise for you. So, shh! And listen to Grande,” she smiled, turning up the radio. “And I can be all the things you told me not to be! When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing! Here comes my favorite part! You! You love it how I move you!

“God, please save me!” Tori shouted, smiling. Lindsey continued to sing as Tori held her head down.

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“Why are we at the outlet mall?” Tori was looking up at a store’s sign as Lindsey ran over in front of her, smiling.

“Surprise!”

“You bought me a clothing store?”

“No, silly. I’m taking you shopping!”

“Aww, how nice. Now take me home.”

“Oh, come on. I know you don’t like shopping.”

“Then why take me somewhere you know I hate for a surprise?”

“What better way to start our senior year with a fresh new wardrobe! Especially since the majority of your closet got thrown out.”

“Wait, what?!”

“Did I forget to tell you? My bad.”

“Why were my clothes thrown out?”

“You mean other than the reason they were all dark and gloomy? They represent the old Tori. Don’t you want people to see that you’ve changed?”

‘I don’t want people to see me at all.’ “I guess you’re right. I guess some color wouldn’t hurt.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“No pink! Or yellow. Or orange. I still hate those colors.” Lindsey rolled her eyes before she grabbed Tori’s arm, leading her into the store.

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Tori lazily looked through the racks of clothes, disgusted at almost every little thing. “It’s too hot for this.”

“Tori, we’re inside with the AC. You’re not even trying anymore.”

“This is boring.”

“Did you even find a single thing? I would be happy with a hair tie.”

“No. I just saw a whole bunch of happy colors and kept walking.” Lindsey sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Now I know you didn’t try because I found all of these,” she said, holding up a bunch of clothes.

“I… actually like those. Where did you find them?”

“In the places you skipped over.”

“Must’ve gotten overpowered by the brightness of the orange,” she shrugged.

“Yea, okay. Come over here and look through them.” Lindsey set the clothes down on a nearby chair as Tori looked through her options. “So, uh, weird question. But, uh, have you tried to speak to Mason lately?” Tori dropped the hanger in her hand, freezing.

“I’m sorry?”

“Mason? The guy you broke-up with?”

“I didn’t break-up with him. He broke up with me.”

“Well, you did cheat on him with his teammate,” Lindsey muttered.

“I didn’t cheat! Well, I did. But, I didn’t. Not conscientiously. It’s… whatever. But, why would I talk to him?”

“No reason. I was just wondering since you’re bound to run into him in the hallway or class.”

“Don’t remind me,” Tori scoffed. “I could never face him after what happened. I still feel bad. Seeing him will just… crush me.”

“You still care for him after all this time?”

“Of course. You never forget your firsts.” Tori picked up the pile of clothes and carried them to the check-out counter. “I like all of these. You did good, Linds.” Lindsey’s eyes widened as she followed behind her.

“Wait a picket minute! You mean to tell me that you and Mason… freaked?” she said, almost at a whisper.

“What!? Are you insane? Lindsey, we weren’t even sixteen!”

“You say that like that stops today’s kids.”

“Lindsey!”

“I’m just saying. Children these days are nasty!”

“I didn’t… do it with Mason! I was talking about him being my first boyfriend!”

“Ohh! I knew that. I was just asking.”

“Yea, aight. I wouldn’t even do such a thing and not even tell you afterward.”

“You’re right. My bad.”

“My gosh. I couldn’t even begin to imagine.”

“You’re saying if you two lasted, you wouldn’t want to? With him?”

“I mean, I’m not saying it would be bad. It’s just that me thinking about it now is kind of weird. Maybe back then, but now, no. Why are we even talking about this?”

“You started it,” Lindsey shrugged. “Talking about how you never forget your firsts.”

“And you automatically assumed I met sex? What happened to having the first kiss? First love? First boyfriend? First ‘I love you’?”

“It was just the context of it was off for me.” Tori stared at Lindsey for a second, before nodding her head slowly.

“Sure. Alright.” The cashier handed Tori some bags with her new clothes in it. “Let’s go. I want a cookie.” The girls headed outside of the store and walked down the sidewalk to the cookie place at the end of the street. Tori’s phone buzzed inside her pocket and she reached in her back pocket to get it.

“Oh, my dad’s texting me.” She began to type out her message to send back when she ran into someone, dropping her phone. Thank God for protective cases.

“My bad,” a gruff voice said.

“No, it’s my fault. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.” Tori began to reach down for her phone, but the other person was faster and grabbed it for her. They held it out to her and she finally looked up to see…

“Tori?” Tori stared in disbelief at the person in front of her. Out of all the people to run into.

“Mason?” ’Well, speak of the damn devil! I know it’s only been a year since I last saw him, but wow did football treat him good.’ Tori looked over Mason for the first time in almost a year. She could see a glimpse of his abs through the opening of his shirt.

“It’s been a while. How’ve you been?”

“Imprisoned. You?” she smiled smugly. Mason ran his hand through his hair, chuckling nervously.

“Um…” A girl walked up to Mason, her golden brown hair flowing in the wind.

“Okay! So, I think I got enough napkins and I made sure to grab the other straw for the… Oh! Oh my goodness! Hi, Lindsey!”

“Ashley!” Lindsey hugged her before pulling back. She could see Mason looking at Tori awkwardly out of the corner of her eye. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I wanted to get some things before school started, so Mason here took me out on a date. We’re about to go to the beach when we leave here. You?”

“Wow, that’s cool. Me and Tori are doing some back to school shopping also.” Ashley’s focus shifted to Tori.

“That’s right! Tori!” she tapped her head with the palm of her hand, laughing. “You look so much different than how I remembered. How are you?”

“Fabulous,” she said, putting on her best, fakest smile.

“I’m glad. You had a few of us worried about you. But I’m glad you’re better. You look better.”

“Thanks, Ashley.” Mason cleared his throat, scratching behind his ear.

“Babe, we got to go. We have people waiting on us.”

“Oh, right! Lindsey, I’ll see you at the meetings right?”

“For sure. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Yay! It was nice seeing you! And you too, Tori! I can’t wait to see you in school and maybe even class,” she winked.

“Oh, I hope to be so lucky.”

“Same! Well, bye!” Not catching Tori’s sarcasm, Ashley grabbed Mason’s hand, her phone ringing. “Hello? Calm down! We’re on our way!”

“I’ll catch you later, Lindsey,” Mason smiled gently at her.

“Bye, Mason.” Mason looked at Tori, the words catching in his throat for a moment.

“Um, nice seeing you, Tori.” And with that, he wrapped his arm around Ashley’s shoulder, as she continued to talk on the phone, walking off in the opposite direction. Tori just stared after them, lost for words. Lindsey nudged Tori in her arm a little.

“Come on. Say something.” Tori slowly turned to look at Lindsey.

“What does your heart breaking feel like? Because whatever’s happening hurts. And feels weird. And I hate it.” Lindsey looped her arm with Tori’s and led her into the cookie shop.

“Come on. We’re going to buy one large cookie cake and two large blueberry slushies.”

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Back at Tori’s house, Lindsey and Tori were sitting on the couch watching Real Hollywood as the sun began to set. After finishing her third slice, Tori sighed letting her head fall onto the back of the couch.

“I feel so much better.”

“I’m glad.”

“Good. Because I’ve been wondering, when did you and Ashley become such good friends?”

“Well, after you left, I decided to get more active in student activities. So, I joined the student committee. We plan dances, fundraisers, field trips, pep rallies. I get to boss people around and make things the way I want. It’s fun!”

“Of course that’s why you joined.”

“Ashley became student body president for the Class of 2018, so she’s the head of everything. I’m second in command so we became pretty close.”

“Mmm.”

“Don’t do that. I needed someone to talk to while you were gone. And she’s really nice. It’s not like she took your spot as my bestest friend in the entire universe.”

“It’s just… why her?”

“She’s not bad, T.”

“I know. It’s just… why?”

“Okay. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say this has nothing to do with her and everything to do with Mason.”

“What a genius,” Tori huffed.

“Tori.”

“Geez! Before you even start, I’m not mad they’re together. I’m glad. He deserves someone better than me. I was horrible to him and I have that dark cloud hanging over me.”

“If you would just tell him and talk to him, you won’t anymore.”

“No. He moved on, so I’m leaving it in the past.”

“Obviously, he still cares deeply about you. If you would just talk to him, you might find…”

“Shh. Show’s back on.” Lindsey stared at Tori for a moment as she kept her eyes glued to the TV. Sighing, she shifted to face the screen, knowing Tori’s completely dropped the topic.

“Welcome back to Real Hollywood! As always, I’m your host Sharika and boy do we have some news for you! Over the break, our sources just might have confirmed a new potential romance in Miss Amber Evansdale’s life.”

“Wow, she found a new guy already. What’s it been?”

“Nope. It’s the same guy. It’s been three years. New record for her.”

’She was seen out today with a mysterious guy. It’s the same guy that she was spotted with three years ago and they have still been hushed about their relationship. As long as she’s happy, then we’re all happy. Hopefully, soon enough, we’ll get to see a face or know a name. Right, Amber?” The audience laughed as Sharika winked at the camera.

“This guy has to be special for her to be dating him for three years,” Lindsey sighed. “Must be nice.”

“He’s going to fuck up sooner or later. Three-year relationships are cursed.”

“You can’t put your relationship as a guide on theirs. Besides, they’re grown!”

“So? People get real immature when they’re “in love” or whatever.” Lindsey rolled her eyes and grabbed another slice of cookie cake. “Speaking of Evansdale, I wish I got released just a second early so I could’ve punched Aiden in the dick.”

“Oh my gosh! Tori, leave the man alone!”

“I’m just saying.”

“I’m not about to do this with you.”

“You should let me text him then and I’ll tell him.” Lindsey smacked her forehead with her hand as Tori laughed.

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