Two Worlds Clashing: Book 1

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Chapter 6

Engagement

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“Dad?”

“Tori, are you alright? You spaced out there.” When Tori didn’t respond, Lindsey waved her hand in front of her face. “Tori?”

“Did I just see my father with Amber Evansdale?”

“Yeah. And so did the rest of the world.”

“My father… is engaged?”

“Seems like it.” Tori seemed to snap out of it as she stood up abruptly.

“I-I have to meet them in less than a minute! I don’t know how to feel right now!”

“Confused. Happy. Confused.”

“Not helping.”

“I’m just giving you options,” Lindsey shrugged. “Tori, you just have to calm down. I’m sure your father didn’t want you to find out this way.”

“I think he did! He just didn’t have the guts to tell me himself. So, he figured, why not have the hyper blonde lady tell my daughter and the rest of America!” Lindsey walked over to Tori and placed her hands on her shoulders.

“Calm down. Imma need you to breathe. Breathe.” Tori took a couple of deep breaths, slowing her heartbeat back to normal.

“You’re right. I’m calm. It’s just weird to hear.”

“I know. How often do you get the chance to hear that you’re going to be living with Aiden Evansdale?”

“Oh my gosh! I have to live with him!”

“Only for like a couple of months. No more than eight.”

“That’s almost an eternity!” Tori whined.

“Oh, get a grip. It will go by quicker than you can snap a finger.” Tori snapped her fingers just as the doorbell rang. Tori’s eyes widened in shock. “How did you do that?”

“It’s them! Kill me. No, hide me. No! Pretend to be me.” Lindsey rolled her eyes.

“As much as I would love to switch places with you, I love my parents too much.” The doorbell rang again. “Now go and open the door.”

“Ack! Fine.” Tori sluggishly walked towards the door. She stopped, straightened up, and pulled the door open. Standing in front of her was none other than Aiden Evansdale. His charming smile was plastered on his face.

“Hey, do you mind taking these in for me?”

“Excuse me?”

“Aren’t you the maid?”

“The maid?! Are you insane?”

“So, yes or no?” Before Tori could say anything else, Lindsey pushed in front of her with a smile on her face.

“Hi! I’m Lindsey! You may not remember me but I met you…”

“At the rehab center. I could never forget a pretty face,” he smiled, winking at her. Lindsey squealed a little as he took her hand in his. “I didn’t know you were Henry’s daughter.”

“I’m not his daughter,” she giggled. “She is.” Lindsey nodded towards Tori. Aiden looked Tori up and down, a faint smile hanging at the corner of his lips.

“I thought she was the maid.”

“Why would you think I was the maid?” Tori huffed.

“Because you opened the door.”

“That doesn’t automatically make me the damn maid.” Lindsey swiftly moved in front of Tori, pushing her back a few feet.

“Tori, calm down. It was just an honest mistake.” Tori glanced over Lindsey’s shoulder to see Aiden’s eyes roaming her body. When his eyes eventually met hers, he smirked at her. Tori glared straight back at him but that only seemed to amuse him even more.

“Aiden! There’s more than just your bags you know!” a voice yelled. Rolling his eyes, Aiden turned around and headed back outside. Once he was out of earshot, Tori turned angrily towards Lindsey.

“He called me the fucking maid!”

“How was he supposed to know?”

“Do I look like a damn maid?”

“No, but getting angry about it isn’t going to help the situation.”

“He’s not helping his situation of me punching him where it hurts!”

“You can’t get upset over every little thing, T. Flirting is his personality.”

“His personality sucks,” Tori muttered.

“Where’s my little flower?” Tori looked towards the door to see her dad shuffling in with some bags tucked under his arms.

“Dad!” Henry placed the bags on the ground just in time to greet Tori with a hug.

“I missed you so much.”

“Me too, dad.”

“You give me a hug too, Lindsey.” Lindsey smiled as she hugged Henry. Henry then wrapped his arms around both of the girl’s shoulders, pulling them in close. “You’ve both grown so much since I last saw you in person.”

“It’s only been a couple of months, dad.”

“That’s long enough.”

“Not enough to grow, but it’s enough to change.” Henry sighed.

“Tori…”

“Henry! I need some help.”

“Coming.” Henry walked outside for a moment before returning with suitcases in both of his hands. Following closely behind him, Amber walked in smiling as she set a duffle bag on the floor.

“Henry, it’s beautiful,” she sighed, looking around the foyer. She finally saw Tori and Lindsey and squealed. “You must be Tori! It’s nice to finally meet you!” Amber pulled Tori into a tight hug.

“You too,” Tori laughed, nervously.

“And you must be Lindsey.” Amber pulled Lindsey into a tight hug.

“Hi,” Lindsey said, breathless.

“I’ve heard so much about you girls.”

“And I’ve heard so little about you,” Tori muttered. Lindsey elbowed Tori’s side, making her shrug a little. Amber didn’t seem to hear her as she walked over by the door.

“Aiden! Come on! You don’t have to make one trip!”

“Why walk back outside for six bags?” he yelled back.

“Just hurry up! You’re letting all the heat out!”

“Yeah, yeah!” A few seconds later, Aiden walked in carrying the last of the bags from the car. He dropped them on the floor and closed the door behind him.

“Don’t just drop them like that.”

“Not my stuff.” Amber rolled her eyes before grabbing Aiden’s arm, pulling him closer to the girls.

“Have you met them yet?”

“Yeah. That’s the maid and Lindsey.” Tori turned her head, chuckling under her breath.

“If he calls me the maid one more damn time I swear imma hurt him.”

“Calm down, T.”

“You calm up.”

“She’s not the maid, crazy. That’s Tori, Henry’s daughter.”

“Her?”

“Yes, her. Don’t say it like that.”

“I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean, she’s prettier in person. No wonder you were hiding her.”

“Hiding me?”

“I’ll explain it in a minute,” Henry said.

“And her best friend, Lindsey.”

“Wait, best friend?” Aiden looked between the two girls for a minute. “You were there to pick her up that day?”

“Yes, why?”

“You would never know, huh?” he said under his breath. “She just doesn’t look like the kind of person to end up there.”

“I had a dark moment.”

“What happened?” he smirked.

“Nothing that concerns you.”

“Ouch,” he laughed. “You got a mouth on you.”

“And you passed basic anatomy,” Tori smiled.

“With flying colors,” he winked. Tori rolled her eyes.

“I like her,” Amber laughed. “It’s refreshing from the screams I hear almost every day.”

“You won’t get any screams from her. I don’t think she knows who he is,” Henry said.

“Oh, I know who he is, dad.” Tori turned her head sharply towards Aiden. “I just don’t like him.”

“I, on the other hand, do,” Lindsey smiled. “Do you mind if I get a quick picture with you?”

“Sure, sweetheart. Why don’t you stand on this side and Aiden stands next to you?” Lindsey handed Tori her phone and stood where Amber pointed.

“On three. Three… two… one.”

Click!

“Thanks, T. Why don’t I take a picture of you and your family?” Tori’s eyes widened as Lindsey just smiled back at her.

“That’s a wonderful idea, Lindsey,” Henry said.

“Our first family picture! I love it!”

“I hate you,” Tori whispered to Lindsey as Henry pulled her along. Lindsey smiled, ignoring Tori’s comment, as she watched Tori get pushed next to Aiden.

“Alright. Get ready.” Amber and Henry wrapped their arms around each other. Tori put on her best, fake, smile when Aiden put his arm around her shoulder. Tori immediately felt herself tense up.

“Three… two… one. Aww! That’s so cute!”

“Thanks for taking our picture, Lindsey,” Henry smiled.

“No problem, Mr. H. I think I’m going to head home. Let me go grab my bag.”

“I’ll help you!” Tori pushed Aiden’s arm off her and dragged Lindsey up the stairs as fast as she could. Once they were in Tori’s room, Lindsey pulled her arm out of Tori’s grip.

“Damn! What’s your rush?”

“What are you leaving for?”

“Because I know you’re gonna want to talk to your dad and Amber and figure out what’s going on. Besides, you should spend time with your dad.”

“But, you can’t leave me with… him.”

“You say that like you’re here by yourself. He’s probably just gonna be in his room unpacking and minding his business.”

“You’re right. Let’s just hope he stays there until I leave in a couple of months.”

“Besides, he’ll probably only bother you when his clothes need to be washed,” Lindsey laughed. Tori glared at Lindsey as she laughed.

“Alright. Bye!”

“I was just messing with you, T. He’ll probably only need you to clean his room,” she laughed.

“Lindsey.”

“I’m sorry. I’m done. I’ll see you later.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to pretend to be me?” Lindsey laughed, pulling Tori in for a hug.

“Tempting as it sounds, I’m sure. You’ll be fine.” Tori sighed, giving up.

“Whatever. I’ll walk you out. To your car. Until I’m touching the car door.”

“Okay,” Lindsey laughed.

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Tori stood outside as long as she could. Even as Lindsey’s car disappeared into the darkness. Reluctantly, she eventually went back inside and made her way into the dining room. She sat down on the opposite side of her father and stared at Amber and him whispering among themselves.

‘This is so weird,’ she thought to herself. Aiden walked into the dining room with a glass of orange juice in his hand. He plopped down in the chair next to Tori and smiled at her.

“You’re staring mighty hard at them,” he said, in a low voice.

“I’m too shocked and weirded out to do anything else.”

“Hmm. You could be reminiscing about someone.”

“Why would they remind me of someone?”

“The giggling and personal space invasion could trigger some thoughts.”

“One, I don’t giggle. And two, I have no one to be thinking about in such a way.”

“Wow. Could you be any more subtle?” he smirked.

“What?”

“Hitting on me like that in front of our parents? You’re a brave little thing.”

“Who said I was hitting on you?!”

“You’re the one who told me that you were single. I didn’t need to know but you told me anyway.” Tori stared at him in disbelief.

“Are you insane?”

“Alright, you two!” Amber laughed. “We got wrapped up in some wedding details and didn’t realize you two were back.”

“It’s okay, mom. I learned something new about my sister,” he winked at Tori.

“Step-sister. And you learned nothing.” Aiden chuckled.

“I’m so glad you two are getting along,” Amber sighed.

“Yeah. I know that this is kind of unexpected to you both,” Henry said.

“More me than him,” Tori muttered.

“But, we want to answer your questions and explain everything.”

“I would like to know how you even met. How does a model and a negotiator even meet?”

“In a business meeting to discuss her new contract. Duh!” Aiden laughed. Henry and Amber chuckled at Aiden’s joke. Tori just shook her head unamused.

“Ha, ha. Seriously, explain.” Henry leaned back in his chair and placed his arm around the back of Amber’s chair.

“Well, it was a month before I had to come back and deal with the incident.”

“Do you mean when she was in the rehab center?”

“Shut up. Continue,” Tori snapped.

“Why were you even there?”

“It’s not your business. Continue.”

“What did you do?”

“Dad, please continue.” Aiden rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair.

“Alright. Like I said, it was a month before the incident. I think I was still over in France. Yes, I was. July tenth. I remember because I was hired by this company to negotiate and write up some contracts for their summer models. It took forever but I guess the check was worth it,” he chuckled. “Anyway, it was late and I didn’t want to go back to the hotel just yet, so I decided to go with a few of the guys to this bar a few blocks away.”

“Wait. Mom, when did you go to France?”

“I told you I was leaving for a few weeks to do a fashion show and a photoshoot.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“I told you when you left with Spencer, at breakfast, when you called me over some nonsense, a week and days before, and then literally when I was leaving.”

“I don’t remember any of those. I must’ve been on the phone or something.”

“Or not listening, as usual.” Aiden suddenly snapped up straight.

“Sorry, what?”

“My point exactly. Anyway, I had just got done for a photoshoot and went to the local bar in the area. Nothing V.I.P., but not just anyone could get in. It was more status and who you knew than anything.”

“I realized that when I walked in. It wasn’t crowded, it was quiet and upscale. Best whiskey I ever had.” Amber chuckled.

“While he was enjoying the alcohol, I was busy keeping a low profile. Photographers in France are crazier than the ones here. They’re everywhere. But, they are nicer. It just seems like those camera’s flashes are powered by the sun or something.”

“I think I went blind a couple of times,” Aiden said.

“Dramatic as always,” Amber chuckled.

“I noticed when she walked in but since she was wearing a disguise, I didn’t know who she was. I eventually went back up to the bar to order another round and ended up sitting next to her.”

“I, of course, initiated the conversation,” Amber smiled.

“I got distracted by her beauty. I forgot I was staring. I didn’t know I was.”

“You couldn’t have been more subtle. He was fidgeting like crazy,” Amber laughed. Tori smiled to herself.

“Just like when you met mom,” she said quietly. Henry looked at her and smiled. Amber continued to talk, not hearing Tori.

“Now, sometimes I wear a disguise to help blend in with normal people. I just wanted to relax and enjoy a couple of drinks before heading back to my room. As I was sitting there enjoying my drink, your father finally spoke to me.”

“The several shots I had before and the whiskey I was drinking was kicking in,” he chuckled. “I think it was hitting strong because I said the craziest thing for a pickup line. I told her that she reminded me of Amber Evansdale.”

“And what a compliment it was,” Amber laughed. “Since I was being “regular” for the night, it was very flattering to me. The blonde wig and glasses do tend to throw people off.”

“It threw me way off. I don’t know if I like you better with blonde or brown hair. But, I do know you look sexy in glasses,” he smiled. Amber giggled and kissed Henry.

“Maybe I’ll wear them for you later tonight.” Tori and Aiden scrunched their faces in disgust.

“I wish I could unhear that,” Tori said.

“Mom! We’re still sitting here. God!” Amber rolled her eyes.

“Anyway! We continued to talk and it started to seem like love at first sight. He seemed different from the rest of them. But, I wasn’t sure how he would be when he found out the truth. So, I gave him my number and he called the next day.”

“I almost called her that same night, but I passed out as soon as I got back to my hotel room. When I called, she invited me over to her hotel that was way fancier than I could’ve imagined. I just kept thinking about who this woman was that I met. I found out when I went to the room and saw her instead of the blonde woman.”

“The confusion on his face was so adorable. It took me forever to convince him that I was the same woman. I’m just glad he understood when I told him why I wore a wig to the bar. I think I really fell for him when he treated me the same. He didn’t care about my money or my status. He wanted to know my heart and soul.”

“After that, we went out on a couple of dates before I had to come back to America. When she came back a few weeks later, the media began to pick it up.”

“Your father wanted to keep it a secret to protect you.”

“From what?”

“I didn’t want anyone to give you a hard time if and when they found out. I was already worried about people giving you a hard time about the incident. I didn’t want to add this on top of it.”

“Well, you broadcasted it to the whole country, so a fantastic job well done.”

“Tori, I had your best interest at heart. I wanted to tell you, but it never seemed like the right time.”

“So, when you called me earlier, that wasn’t the right time? ‘Hey, Tori! Just a heads up. I’m engaged and my fianceé and her son are arriving today! Oh! By the way, it’s Amber and Aiden Evansdale!’ It’s not that hard!”

“I admit, I could’ve told you way earlier. And, I’m sorry that I just sprung this on you. I thought I was helping you, but I guess I didn’t think about how you would feel towards everything.” Tori sighed, folding her arms across her chest as she stared at her dad.

“It’s okay. It’s just so new.”

“I know, sweetheart. But, we’ll find our own groove.”

“Does he have to be a part of our “groove” or can he go elsewhere?”

“I’m right here!”

“So?”

“Tori, you really are a breath of fresh air,” Amber laughed.

“I’m not one to obsess over a guy. Let alone one who’s self-absorbed.”

“I’m not self-absorbed!”

“Really? Then what’s my name?”

“Uh… Traci?”

“Wow.”

“It’s not Traci?”

“You really don’t pay attention.” Aiden’s phone buzzed on the table. He immediately grabbed it and started laughing. He typed something out before standing up.

“Are we done here?”

“Why?” Amber asked.

“I’ve got a phone call to make.”

“Don’t you want to unpack first?”

“No. I can do that tomorrow.”

“We’re meeting with the wedding planner tomorrow.” Aiden just shrugged and leaned against the entryway. “And you have to come.”

“Why?” he groaned.

“Because I said so. Just unpack something tonight and then you can do the rest tomorrow.”

“That’s so much work!”

“Stop being dramatic,” Amber sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Well, maybe Tori could help you,” Henry shrugged.

“Dad!”

“What? You have to show him his room anyway. Besides, this would be a great way for you to get to know each other.”

“I don’t want to get to know him.”

“Come on, sweetheart. You might bond over something.” Tori thought to herself for a moment before sighing, reluctantly.

“Fine,” she huffed.

“Great. Don’t stay up too late. We have a wedding planner to meet,” Henry smiled.

“Hearing you say that makes it so real! I think I’m going to be too excited to sleep.” Amber stood up, followed by Henry, out of the dining room. “Goodnight, kids.”

“Night,” Tori and Aiden said in unison. Once they were gone, Aiden walked up behind Tori and whispered in her ear.

“So, where are you sleeping?”

“In my room.”

“Which is?”

“None of your business.”

“Why?” Tori stood up abruptly, causing Aiden to stumble backward a little.

“Why do you care where the maid sleeps?”

“It was just a joke.”

“Funny. I’ll make sure to laugh as you unpack your stuff by yourself.”

“Dad said you were supposed to help me.” Tori’s breath caught in her throat for a moment, thrown off.

“Whatever. Just follow me.” Aiden walked up close behind her. “From a distance.” He rolled his eyes but moved back.

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Tori was laying on her bed, staring at the clock on the wall. She was waiting for Aiden to finish his phone call so they could unpack some of his things. She looked at her phone.

11:30 p.m.

“What is taking this man so long?!” Tori groaned. “It’s been over an hour.” She pushed herself off her bed and straightened her shirt. “I’m not staying up with him for his stupid phone call.” Making up her mind, she made her way towards Aiden’s room.

About to knock, she noticed the door was cracked open. She could still hear Aiden talking to someone on the phone. Peering inside, she saw Aiden unpacking some of his clothes into his dresser.

He’s been unpacking this whole time?’ Confused, Tori continued to look on.

“I don’t know. Some wedding planner… Yeah, I met her… She’s cuter than the picture her father showed me… No, I’m not sending you a picture!”

What the what?

“Because that’s weird… They were different. She’s my step-sister… Whatever, man. You’re just weird… I don’t know. From the way she was acting earlier, I don’t think she was as informed as I believed… Angry and confused… You’re right. Not a cute mix,” he laughed.

‘Jerk,’ Tori thought, rolling her eyes. She accidentally pushed against the door a little, making the door creak. She immediately pressed her back against the wall, holding her breath. Aiden turned around, pausing for a moment, before continuing his conversation. Tori moved closer to the opening in the door.

“Nah, I thought I heard something… Yeah, I’m pretty much finished unpacking. I just got this last pile of clothes and some things for my desk… What maid?... Right. I knew she wasn’t the maid the moment I saw her… Because it was funny… She’s in her room probably wondering why I haven’t asked her to help me yet… Or maybe,” Aiden pulled open the door, “she’s eavesdropping on my conversation.” Tori stumbled forward a little bit.

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just got here,” she said, flustered. “About to knock and things.” Aiden raised an eyebrow at her, a smile at the corner of his lips.

“Yeah… No!... Spence, I’ll call you tomorrow… Cool.” Once he hung up, he leaned against the doorway with a smug look on his face. “Well, well, well.”

“It’s not what you think! I wasn’t listening to your conversation.”

“Then what were you doing?”

“Preparing to knock.”

“Did you forget how to knock?”

“No! I just… didn’t want to interrupt your conversation.”

“That you were eavesdropping on.”

“No!”

“Right. I hope you don’t mind that I sent your picture to my friend.”

“What? I thought you said you didn’t send it?” Aiden smirked at her. Realizing that she just told on herself, Tori quickly closed her mouth.

“Damn. That long.”

“Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I came here to ask why it was taking you so long and I heard you were still on the phone. So, instead of walking away, I just… stayed.” Aiden just stared at her, still smiling. “What?”

“Nothing, snappy.”

“I’m not snappy!”

“I thought I was supposed to be snappy. You were eavesdropping on my conversation.”

“It was an accident! And I see what you’re doing.”

“What am I doing?”

“You’re trying to flip the guilt on me! But, it’s not gonna work. Because you didn’t come get me and it’s almost midnight.”

“I forgot,” he shrugged.

“You didn’t just forget.” Tori caught a clear glimpse of his room and saw that everything seemed to be unpacked. Except for a few clothes and a box on the floor, it seemed like he did everything.

“What? You want to snap at something in my room too?”

“What? No! I… Did you unpack everything?”

“For the most part.”

“Why?”

“Don’t tell me you’re upset because you didn’t get to help me unpack?”

“No. Just curious.”

“I didn’t want to bother you.”

“Then why bother asking me?”

“I didn’t ask you. Your father told you to. I knew you didn’t want to, so I left you alone. To be honest, I thought you were asleep.”

‘He thought about my feelings? Weird.’ “Uh, okay. Well, you could’ve told me that earlier.”

“Thought I would surprise you. Guess it worked.”

“Yeah. So much I feel sleep-deprived.”

“You say that like you wanted to help me unpack.”

“No! It’s just that I could’ve got an extra hour or so of sleep. But instead, I was up waiting for you.”

“To fulfill one of your little fantasies?”

“What?!”

“Chill out, Tori. No need to get all flustered.”

“I’m not flustered!”

“The cheeks don’t lie,” he said, touching her cheeks. “Red’s a pretty color on you.”

“Get off me. I don’t blush.” Aiden scoffed. ‘Wait. Did he just call me by my name?’

“Since you’re so upset about me unpacking, I did leave a box just for you. You’re welcome.”

“Thanks?”

“Come on. You can help save me fifteen minutes. I’ll put up the rest of my clothes, and you can organize my desk. You seem like the organized type.” Aiden walked over to the pile of clothes on the floor and began to put them in his dresser. Not bothering to try to argue, Tori walked over to the box and began to work on his desk.

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Tori was in her room changing into her pajamas. She removed the towel from her head and combed through with her fingers. She reached down on her dresser for her brush but didn’t feel it. Looking down frantically, she looked around her room for her hairbrush.

“Damn it! I think I left it in the bathroom.” Picking up her towel, she quietly made her way down the hallway. Aiden’s door was still closed, causing Tori to feel relieved. She reached for the doorknob, when suddenly the door swung open. Aiden was standing in front of her, drying his hair with a towel with one hand, and holding a shirt with the other. His bare chest seemed to glisten in front of her face.

“Well, if it isn’t snappy trying to sneak a peek?”

“Excuse me?!”

“What? My phone conversation wasn’t enough for you?”

“Did you overheat in there or something? I wasn’t trying to look at you.”

“Pictures of me in that state could make you a lot of money, though.”

“Earth to Aiden! I didn’t even know you were in there.”

“Right. You didn’t see the light on? The door closed?”

“I leave the light sometimes and it feels nice when the bathroom’s all warm.”

“I expected a better excuse from you, snappy.”

“Excuse? I wasn’t trying to spy on you! I came for my hairbrush.” Aiden threw his towel back into the bathroom and reached for something on the counter.

“This hairbrush?”

“Yes. Can you kindly hand it over?”

“You didn’t say please.”

“Please.”

“Here you go, snappy.”

“Thank you.” Tori grabbed the brush from Aiden and hurried off towards her room.

“Goodnight, Tori.” Tori stopped in her tracks, surprised he said her name.

“Goodnight. Aiden.”

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“Snappy… Snappy!... Come on. Wake up… Snappy!”

“No, I want tacos,” Tori muttered.

“Is she dreaming about food? Snappy!” Tori turned over, groaning. “Sna-ppy!” Aiden said louder, shaking her. Tori propped herself up on her elbow, eyes half-closed.

“What could you possibly want?”

“A little bird told me that you could cook.”

“So?”

“Could you make me something? All that unpacking made me unhungry.”

“What time is it?”

“Around three.”

“Three?” she groaned. “You can’t wait six more hours?”

“I’ll be dead in six hours from my stomach eating itself. Come on, please?” Tori couldn’t lie to herself. She could go for something about now and still eat later on. She rubbed her eyes, sleepily.

“Fine.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Find the… thingy for the brightness.”

“The light switch?” Tori nodded and reached for her lamp, lazily. She began to lean forward, but Aiden caught her before she could fall on the floor. He turned on her lamp and helped her stand up. “Thanks,” she yawned, as she stretched out her arms.

“No problem. Are you awake?”

“As I’ll get. Let’s get this over with.” Tori shuffled out of her room with Aiden following closely behind her, so she wouldn’t fall. By the time they reached the kitchen, it seemed Tori had woken up. “Do you have anything specific in mind?”

“Surprise me.” Tori thought to herself and shrugged. She turned on the stove and placed a pan on the cooktop. She grabbed some berries and eggs out of the fridge before heading to the pantry. Aiden stared in awe as Tori quickly mixed the ingredients and placed them into the pan. A few seconds later, she placed the finished product on a plate and set it in front of him.

“Berry pancakes. Enjoy.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice.” He quickly poured some syrup over them and took a bite. “I think I just died. These are so good.” Tori laughed as she took a seat next to Aiden at the bar.

“Thanks.”

“Seriously, these are better than any pancakes I’ve ever had. Don’t tell my mom.”

“No problem.” For a few moments, they sat in silence as they ate their pancakes.

“Where did you learn to cook?”

“My mom. Well, more like Lindsey’s mom. I was young when my mother died, but my dad always told me how she loved to cook. Baking was her favorite thing to do. She wanted to own her own bakery one day, but she never got the chance.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. I didn’t know her. I just have pictures and ideas.”

“I don’t know what I would do without my mom. Her parents never really believed in her acting career until she brought home a check. That’s why she always pushed my dream into becoming a reality. It’s her fault that I’m so competitive.”

“Sure,” she laughed. “Your mom seems great.”

“I’m sure yours was too.” They stared at each other, in the silence, not knowing what to say next.

“Well, it’s late,” Tori sighed. “I’m already up early and if I don’t get the rest of sleep now, imma be pissed.” She grabbed her and Aiden’s plate and placed them in the sink along with the other dishes.

“Hey, snappy? Can I sleep in your room?”

“Why?”

“It’s too cold in mine.” Tori looked up at him and for the first time, she seemed to notice that he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Snapping out of it, she dried her hands on a towel.

“Maybe if you put on a shirt you wouldn’t be so cold.”

“But then I would be hot. I like to be warm. Just right.”

“Who are you? Goldilocks?”

“Only if you be my baby bear,” he laughed. Tori rolled her eyes and began to walk off. “Wait!” Aiden grabbed her arm, pulling her into him. “Answer my question.”

“I’m gonna regret this,” she muttered. “You have to promise me that you will sleep on the left side and stay there. The moment you try anything is the moment you lose your balls.”

“That’s dark, snappy.”

“Aiden.”

“Chill. I promise. I would never sleep with the maid,” he laughed, running off.

“You son of a…”

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