Two Worlds Clashing: Book 1

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Chapter 7

Sweet Designs

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Tori woke up to the sunlight shining through her blinds. She slowly opened her eyes, yawning, when she felt an arm around her waist. She propped herself up and looked behind her. Aiden was sleeping soundly next to her. Slowly, she remembered how he asked to sleep in her room. Breathing a sigh of relief, she laid back down on her back. She couldn’t help but look at his sleeping face. He looked so peaceful.

“If only you could meet people when they were sleeping. I would’ve thought you were the kindest person.” She moved a strand of hair out of his face. “Too bad I know the truth.” Aiden began to stir in his sleep. Tori quickly laid back down and closed her eyes. She felt his grip around her waist briefly get tighter before he sat up.

Aiden sat up and looked around the room. As his vision became clearer, he realized he was in Tori’s room. Looking down, he realized his arm was around Tori.

“Fuck,” he muttered. He quickly, but gently moved his arm from around her. He leaned over, making sure she was still asleep. “Thank God.” He moved over and leaned against the headboard. Looking at the clock on her wall, he reached over and poked her in the back.

“Stop,” she groaned.

“Wake up.”

“You wake up.”

“Come on. Your dad’s probably going to wake you up soon anyway.”

“Yeah. Which means I can get another ten minutes.” Aiden looked at Tori for a moment. He began poking her in her back repeatedly. Tori squirmed under his touch. “Stop!”

“Not until you get up.” He pressed harder into her back until she sat up and smacked his hand.

“I said stop.”

“You’re welcome,” he smiled. Tori rolled her eyes and got out of the bed. She walked over to her desk chair and grabbed the jacket off the back of it. Aiden got out of the bed and sat on the edge.

“Are you always so annoying in the morning?”

“I don’t know. I never had someone to annoy in the morning.”

“What about all the girls you take home from the bars and clubs?”

“I usually kick them out right after I get what I want.”

“Typical asshole,” she scoffed. Aiden burst out laughing.

“I’m just kidding, snappy. They have to leave before I wake up. It’s my rule.”

“You’re sick.”

“What? Am I supposed to take them to breakfast?”

“It would be nice.”

“They’re not my girlfriend. Why should I care?” Tori finished putting her hair back into a ponytail with a huff. She turned around swiftly and marched over in front of him.

“Because she’s still a person!” Aiden stood up, looming over her.

“They don’t act like it. It’s more like playing with a toy.”

“A toy?!”

“But the one that moves and follows directions,” he smirked. Glaring, Tori could feel her body slowly begin to burn out of anger.

“What the…”

Knock! Knock! Knock!

“Tori! Are you awake?” a voice called. Tori’s eyes widened in horror.

“Frick! It’s my dad!” she whispered. “Yes! Hold on!”

“So?”

“You idiot! He can’t find out that you’re in here.”

“You’re right. Don’t want dad to think I’m sleeping with his daughter to sabotage his wedding to my mother.”

“Why would he automatically think that?”

“Because he knows you don’t like the whole engagement idea.” Tori’s dad knocked on the door again.

“I’m changing!” she yelled.

“Trust me, if you were changing, you wouldn’t be speaking right now,” he smirked.

“Shut up and get in the closet.”

“Fine,” he said, rolling his eyes. Tori quickly ushered him into her closet and closed the door. She quickly changed into a pair of leggings and rushed over to her door.

“Good morning, dad,” she smiled.

“Good morning. Is everything alright in here?”

“Yep. I was just changing. What’s up?”

“I just came to tell you that breakfast was ready. Amber cooked a lot of food.”

“Great! I’m starving. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“Also, I wanted to remind you that we’re meeting with the wedding planner today.”

“Got it.”

“Good. Do you mind telling Aiden when he gets out of the bathroom?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks, flower. I’ll see you downstairs.” Tori smiled as her father turned and walked back down the hall. Once he was a good distance away, Tori closed the door.

“Where’s all your short skirts and dresses?” Aiden smirked, walking out of her closet.

“You went through my clothes?”

“Duh. What did you think was going to happen?”

“That for once you would mind your business.”

“You’re the one who stuffed me in the closet.”

“I don’t feel like being questioned by my dad in the morning.”

“You seem like you’ve done this too many times,” he smirked.

“Done what?”

“Shove guys in your closet. You’re dirtier than I thought, snappy.”

“I have not!”

“You could’ve said get under the bed, beside the bed, or behind the door. But, no! You push me into your closet.”

“It was the first thing I thought of,” she shrugged.

“You can tell me, snappy. What am I? The eighth?” Tori glared at him. “Damn! Twentieth?”

“Why did you jump from eight to twenty?”

“You looked at me like eight was too low for you.” Tori let out a frustrated sigh.

“Unlike you, I actually care about who I give myself to.”

“I care!”

“Yeah, right. If you cared, you wouldn’t be known as the biggest playboy and fuckboy in Hollywood!”

“The biggest, huh?” he smirked. “Does that mean I’m number one?” He chuckled to himself. “I’m killing the game!”

“You’re proud of that?!”

“A winner is a winner, no matter the category.”

“It’s a bad category to be in though.” Aiden just shrugged.

“Not as bad as the worst dressed list.” Tori stared at him, confused. “And judging by your closet, you made the top of the list,” he smirked. Tori’s eyes widened in shock. She bit down on the inside of her cheek, feeling her body boil in anger.

“You can leave now.”

“Come on, Tori. It was a joke.”

“Well, you can laugh all the way back to your room,” she said, opening the door.

Aiden rolled his eyes and made his way out of her room. He stopped in front of her and began laughing as he left. Tori closed the door behind him, letting out a frustrated sigh, as she listened to his forced laughter.

“Ugh! I freaking hate him!” Tori waited a few more moments before making her way downstairs.

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As Tori made her way towards the kitchen, an aroma quickly filled her nose. Her stomach grumbled in anticipation. Henry was at the kitchen table, scoffing down the food on his plate. Amber looked up from the cooktop and smiled when she saw Tori walk in.

“Oh, good morning Tori!”

“Morning, Ms. Amber.”

“You can just call me Amber. No need for formalities.”

“Okay. Amber,” she smiled.

“See? It’s so relaxing to say. Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Good. Because I think I accidentally cooked a feast.”

“I was wondering if we were having guests over or something,” Tori laughed.

“The way Aiden eats it’s like having six more stomachs to feed. I’m just glad you got down here before him.”

“Reminder to self. Get your food before Aiden.” Amber laughed, taking some eggs out of the pan.

“And apparently your father, too,” Amber smiled, nodding in Henry’s direction. She dropped her voice and said, “That’s his second plate.”

“Geez.”

“I made french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit parfaits, and fresh orange juice.”

“Sounds good. Thanks.” Tori grabbed the plate and sat down next to her dad. Henry gulped down the rest of his orange juice and smiled at Tori. “Were you hungry?”

“That, and it’s been forever since I had a homestyle breakfast. All I would eat was takeout. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but nothing beats a hot cooked meal.”

“That’s true,” Amber smiled. She sat down on the other side of Henry just as Aiden walked into the kitchen.

“Morning, mom and H-man. Toni.” Tori rolled her eyes, continuing to eat.

“Good morning, son.”

“Morning, Aiden.” Aiden fixed his plate before walking over to sit right next to Tori. Tori internally screamed.

“Now that we’re all here, I wanted to go through today’s plans. After breakfast, we are going to head over to meet the wedding planner. The meeting shouldn’t take that long, but no more than an hour. Afterward, Tori, if you would like, I was hoping we can have some girl time. We can go shopping and pick up some dinner later on.”

“Sure. That sounds nice.” Amber clapped her hands excitedly.

“Yay! This is going to be so much fun.”

“So, what are we supposed to do afterward?” Aiden said.

“I don’t know. I thought Henry was going to meet with some friends afterward.”

“I am. I have some guys to ask about being a part of the wedding.”

“So, does that mean I get the house to myself?”

“I guess. That doesn’t mean you can throw a party like you typically do.”

“I don’t throw parties. I invite a few friends over and we just chill. It’s not my fault that they invite more people.” Amber rolled her eyes at him.

“It doesn’t matter. No parties.”

“I don’t care,” he muttered. Tori rolled her eyes before turning to face her dad.

“Anyway, when’s the wedding?”

“Well, originally we were talking about a spring wedding. But, we don’t want it to interfere with your graduation.”

“Exactly. I want all the focus to be on you. Graduation is too important for you to be outshined. So, we decided to do it early in June.”

“Wow. Uh, thanks. That’s nice of you guys.”

“It’s not a problem, flower.”

“Tch. High school is stupid,” Aiden scoffed.

“Aiden!” Amber exclaimed.

“What?”

“What do you mean by it’s stupid?” Tori asked.

“Come on. It’s a waste of time for a piece of paper to congratulate you on learning nonsense you’ll never need.”

“Who’s the sixteenth president?”

“George Washington Carver, duh.”

“He was a scientist and inventor.”

“Then George Washington.”

“He was the first!”

“Really?”

“Are you serious?”

“I thought he discovered gravity.”

“That was Isaac Newton.”

“The one they made a musical about?”

“Hamilton?”

“Who’s that?”

“Welp, I can tell how much you paid attention in history class.”

“History is only good for people who have nothing better to do with their time than to be a museum curator.” Amber sighed, lowering her head.

“Aiden, those people are there because they love history and their jobs.”

“Not all of them.”

“Well, that’s their way of making a living. It’s not your job to judge.” Aiden rolled his eyes.

“Whatever,” he huffed.

“Anyway, how about we go ahead and get ready to leave?”

“Good idea. We don’t want to be late for the appointment. Breakfast was delicious, honey.”

“Thank you. Aiden, do you mind cleaning up?”

“Yes.”

“Fine. Then clean up.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“Tori, why don’t you help him.”

“What? Why?”

“It’ll make the time go by faster. Besides, it’s a good time to bond.”

“Yeah, alright,” she muttered.

“Thanks, flower. Be quick about it.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Once Amber and Henry were out of sight, Tori stood up and began collecting the plates off the table. Before she could pick up his plate, Aiden moved his hand over it to block her.

“They know there’s a dishwasher, right? So, we don’t have to do anything.”

“I have to wash the pans before I put them in there.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s grease going in there. And I don’t want the machine to break.”

“Do you always worry this much?”

“No!”

“That means yes. You know, you’re a mess.”

“Excuse me?”

“Messy snappy. Snappy messy.” He stood up and began walking out of the kitchen.

“You’re supposed to help!”

“No, the first one is better.” He chuckled to himself saying, “Nevermind. Snappy suits you better.” Tori glared at his back.

“I hope you fall going up the stairs you jerk,” she muttered.

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“Hello. Welcome to Sweet Designs by Jackie. My name is Axel. How may I help you?” the man behind the desk said, eyes focused on his computer screen.

“Hi, Axel. We’re here to see Jackie,” Amber smiled.

“Do you have an appointment?” he sighed.

“Yes. Amber Evansdale.”

“Ha! That’s hilarious. What’s your real name?”

“Axel, it’s me.” Axel finally looked up from the computer. “It’s been a long time.” His eyes filled with excitement as he got up to hug Amber.

“Oh my God! It is you! Congratulations!”

“Thank you,” she laughed. “This is my soon-to-be husband, Henry.”

“Nice to officially meet you. We’ve always waited for the day Amber would walk in here and a man would be on her arm.”

“Same to you,” he smiled, shaking Axel’s hand. “Amber couldn’t stop talking about you and Jackie on the way over here. I didn’t know this place specialized in more than weddings.”

“What don’t we specialize in,” Axel laughed. “Weddings are our priority, but we also do birthdays, proms, dances, balls, company holiday parties, etc. From planning to the perfect outfit, we got you covered.”

“I came here for last-minute parties I had to go to and my red carpet events. Axel is the head designer here.”

“I like to work in the front though. Inspiration tends to always walk in the door. Like her.” He pointed in the direction of Tori, who was staring at the floor.

“Tori.” She looked up at Amber, who was waving her closer to her. “This is Henry’s daughter, Tori. Tori, this is Axel.”

“Uh, hi.” Axel moved in front of her and carefully looked her over.

“Soft, but tough. Pure, but dark. Sweet, but spicy. I love how everything just contradicts each other. Beauty like I’ve never seen. Kathryn!” A woman came running down the hall. She handed him a sketchbook and he began to write something down.

“What’s happening?” Tori whispered, leaning in towards Amber.

“Inspiration. He’s sketching an outfit.”

“Proposition! I will design three dresses for you if you pick one to wear to the wedding. And don’t worry Amber, she will not outshine you of course. What do you say?” Tori looked at Axel for a moment in shock, processing what he just said.

“I don’t know. Dresses aren’t my thing. And it’s so much.”

“Humble, too. Counteroffer! I design the three dresses and you take all three of them and wear one to the wedding. Free of charge.”

“I...”

“No! You’re a part of the family now. Which means you automatically accept. Kathryn! Take the book and place it back on my desk for later.”

“Right away, sir.”

“But…”

“Just give it up,” Aiden whispered in her ear. “Once he makes up his mind, he’s not going to change it.” Tori shrugged.

“Thanks.”

“No problem.” He pressed a button on his headset. “Amber and Henry are here. She’ll be out in a…”

“Amber!” A door down the hall flew open as a woman walked quickly towards Amber, arms outstretched. “Darling! Wonderful to see you again!”

“You too, Jackie.”

“Let me guess. You’re the famous Henry! The one who was able to steal her heart for good. I’ve waited for this moment for so long.”

“Well, I’m glad I was able to steal her heart. She’s amazing.”

“Save the mushy stuff for the wedding vows,” she smiled. She turned slightly and gasped as Aiden caught her eye.

“Aiden! You just get even more handsome than the last time I see you.”

“I try,” he smirked, shrugging.

‘Did he just said he tries? Conceited much?’ Tori thought to herself.

“Hilarious as always. And you must be Tori. How’s living with Aiden? It must be a dream.”

“If dream means nightmare, then yes. It’s a dream.”

“Ooo! I like you. You’re sharp. Aiden’s gonna have his hands full with you.”

“That’s the plan,” he muttered.

“In your dreams, pretty boy,” she scoffed.

“So, you think I’m pretty?”

“No. I was just saying what everyone else claims you to be. If I called you anything else, it would be an insult to them.” Aiden rolled his eyes.

“Says the girl who was feeling me up in her…”

“Hey! That’s a beautiful painting on that wall over there. The colors and things.”

“Good eye. It was a gift from a French director as a thank you for planning his gala,” Jackie smiled. “Anyway, how about we get this meeting started?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Amber smiled.

“Hey, Jackie? Do you mind if I go to the garden?”

“Of course not. You used to practically live there.”

“Cool.”

“Have fun you two.”

“Oh, we will,” he smiled. Jackie, Henry, and Amber walked back down the hall towards Jackie’s office. Axel tossed some keys to Aiden before walking down another hallway. Once they were out of sight, Aiden walked over to a back door. “Come on.”

“Who said I wanted to go with you?”

“You rather stay here in a quiet, empty room for over an hour with nothing to do?”

“It sounds better than being in a garden listening to you talk about yourself.”

“Always so quick to judge.” Tori crossed her arms in a huff. “Come on. Trust me. This is more than just your average garden.” Aiden could see Tori considering going with him in her eyes. “And if you hate it, I’ll make a post listing all the things you hate about me, but make it sound like it came from me. You say that you hate how I walk. I’ll tweet that I hate it. You hate my smile. I hate it. Get it?”

“I got it when you said it. I’m not dumb.” Tori walked over to where he was. “Fine. I’ll go.”

“Snappy got the grumps,” he smirked as he unlocked the door. They stepped through the door together and were immediately faced with a maze. There was a gated entrance with an overhead view of the maze.

“This maze looks huge!”

“That’s because it is. Natura holds many secrets.”

“What?”

“That’s the name of the maze. Natura. I think they named it that ’cause it sounds like a fancy way of saying nature. Jackie tends to be extra.”

“She’s not the only one,” Tori chuckled. “What kind of things does this maze lead to?”

“A garden, of course. But it has other little surprises that are way better.”

“Like?”

“You’ll find out later in life.” Tori sucked her teeth, rolling her eyes, as he laughed. “For now, since snappy the grump is out to play, I have the perfect thing.”

“I’m not grumpy. And I’m not snappy.”

“Snappysayswhat.”

“What? Damn it!” Aiden busted out laughing.

“You fell for it. Snappy!”

“Shut up before I lock you in here.”

“To do that, you would have to search my body for the key. And I love getting frisked,” he smirked, winking at her.

“Kill me.”

“Follow me. Or you can frisk away.” He began walking into the maze, turning a corner. Tori quickly followed after him.

“I would rather pet a sleeping bear,” she muttered.

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After a couple of minutes of turning corners and walking down long, grassy paths, Aiden stopped suddenly, causing Tori to run into him.

“A little warning next time would be nice.”

“My bad. We’re here.”

“So dramatic.” Ignoring her, Aiden turned the corner and opened the gate. He moved aside so Tori could walk in. The sound of water caught Tori’s attention. Straight ahead, was a beautiful brick fountain. On the wall, was a stone, lion head spitting water into the pool below. Lily pads and flowers were growing out of the water.

“Beautiful, huh?”

“It’s incredible. It’s like it’s straight out of a movie or something.”

“That’s one way to put it,” he chuckled. “Come and sit.” Tori walked over and sat beside Aiden on the stone bench in front of the fountain. A butterfly landed on the edge of the fountain.

“Aren’t you pretty?”

“I know. Up close, it really hits you how incredible I look.”

“I was talking about the butterfly.”

“Right. Anyway, this fountain collects wishes.”

“Don’t they all?”

“In a way. But this one works.”

“Aiden, get real. It’s a fountain.”

“I’m serious. Even though it’s kind of tricky. It’s not like you get exactly what you wish for. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s literal. Sometimes it’s a gradual thing.”

“What do you mean?”

“Subtle. You wish for money. You get a job offer. Literal. You wish for a dog. You get a stuffed animal. Gradual. You wish for love. You’re engaged six months later.”

“Sounds promising. What have you wished for in the past.”

“You’re not supposed to reveal wishes, T. It’s the law.”

“It doesn’t count if it already came true. Humor me.” Aiden stared at her for a moment before smiling.

“Alright. I wished I could be the hero on my tv with the same powers when I was nine. Years later, I starred in a movie as the hero. I didn’t have the same powers, but flight and the ability to manipulate time was cool.”

“I know you wished for more than that. What age did you start wishing for money, or girls, or more girls?”

“I’m not a complete ass, Tori. I know I fuck up most of the time. But it’s not like it’s always on purpose.”

“You’re admitting to doing some of the things you do on purpose?”

“Yeah. I don’t regret anything I do. What kind of way is that to live?”

“I agree that you shouldn’t live with regrets, but damn. Have some form of sympathy. Or even just look back and tell yourself to do better.”

“Oh, I do. I look back at those sixteen shots I did and remind myself to shoot for twenty-six next time.” Tori looked at Aiden in disbelief.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Do you feel kidded, Snappy?”

“You’re such a… jerk.”

“Eh. Watch this.” He grabbed a nearby flower and dipped his finger in the pollen. He then grabbed Tori’s chin with his free hand and wiped the pollen on her nose.

“What are y…”

“Shh! It’s not gonna work with you snapping like that.” Tori rolled her eyes but kept her mouth closed. A few seconds later, a butterfly came and landed on her nose. Tori giggled a little as it began to lick the pollen off her nose.

“It feels so weird. I don’t know what to do!”

“Calm down a moment. I’ll get it off,” he laughed. He leaned in closer and gently blew on its wings. Seemingly taking the hint, it flew off.

Tori glanced back down, her eyes meeting with Aiden’s. They looked at each other, lost in the moment, lost in each other’s eyes.

“Uh…” Tori coughed loudly, moving away. “Anyway.”

“Right.” Aiden’s phone buzzed in his pocket from an incoming text. “It’s my mom. They’re finished with the meeting.”

“Great.” Tori stood up quickly and began walking back towards the gate when Aiden grabbed her wrist.

“Wait! There’s something I want to do before we head back.” He dug around in his pockets for two coins. He pulled out two nickels and gave one to Tori. “I always make a wish when I come here. It always brings some kind of luck.” He walked closer to the edge of the fountain and closed his eyes. Tori stood beside him and did the same.

Little did she know, as she closed her eyes and made her wish, a beautiful, red butterfly flew in between them. Landing softly on Aiden’s shoulder, it quickly flapped its wings, flying off over the hedges. The wind gently blew in Tori’s face, causing her to open her eyes. She felt this weird sensation slowly fade away from her body. Not giving it much thought, they began to make their way back to the lobby.

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After Tori and Aiden arrived back inside, everyone went their separate ways. Henry’s friends came and picked him up. Aiden called one of his friends to come and get him. Amber took Tori to the mall nearby for their girl time.

Tori was sitting on a nearby couch, on FaceTime with Lindsey, while Amber tried on different clothes she pulled from the racks.

“You slept with him? Already?”

“Lindsey.”

“Damn. You’re quicker than I thought.”

“Lindsey.”

“And you chose him out of all people to give it to. What happened to you not liking him?”

“Lindsey!”

“What?”

“Can you please stop jumping to conclusions?” she replied, adjusting her headphones.

“How is popping up on my phone and saying, ‘I slept with him,’ jumping to conclusions?”

“Because I couldn’t even finish my freaking sentence before you just assumed that I had sex with him!”

“Oops. My bad. It’s just weird to hear that come out your mouth.

“It’s weird for me to even say. But all we did was sleep. I would never sleep with him.”

“I would. In a heartbeat,” Lindsey laughed.

“That’s disgusting. Trust me, you wouldn’t even get that far with him being so annoying.”

“That man is literally wasted on you.” Tori rolled her eyes.

“Then how about when he’s asleep, I’ll secretly leave him at your house. Best present ever.”

“Isn’t that kidnapping?”

“It’s called a favor. Besides, he won’t care once he sees you. He goes from pretty girl to pretty girl. He’s unstable.”

“No, he’s not. He just hasn’t found his definition of love.”

“Because he has none.” Lindsey sighed, frustrated.

“Anyway, back to the story.”

“Right. So, after I kicked him out of my room and we had breakfast, we had to go meet the wedding planner. While they were in their little meeting, Aiden took me to this maze in the back.”

“He took you to a maze?”

“Yes. I won’t lie, the maze was beautiful. And apparently, there are different things to it. He took me to this “magical” wishing fountain.”

“That is so fucking romantic. I’m so mad at you.”

“It was far from romantic. The company wasn’t enjoyable.”

“The lies you tell. I know he was probably in there saying some cute things and your mind was wandering back and forth about the man you were seeing sitting in front of you.”

“Please, he can hide behind the whole “nice and sensitive guy” routine all he wants. He will still be a conceited, asshole of a man.”

“You like him,” she mocked.

“Is something in the water here? Because you’re starting to speak insanity.”

“I was just kidding. It’s not my fault you have presumptions about him.”

“And it’s not my fault that he keeps proving me right.” Lindsey groaned.

“Oh, come on, T. He hasn’t done or said one thing to you that was nice or even out of character?”

“You mean besides refusing to get my name right and calling me snappy?”

“Aww! He gave you a nickname?! That’s so cute!”

“It’s not cute, Linds. It’s stupid.”

“It is cute. I want a cute nickname from a cute guy. Bunny. Coco. Songbird. Brownie. Sugar. Honey. Kitty. Anything.”

“Does that mean you haven’t made progress with Tyler?” Tori smirked.

“No. Yes.” She paused, sighing. “Damn, I don’t know. He’s so hard to read. And then the thought about this being completely hopeless haunts me every day.”

“Well, has he given you any new signs?”

“I don’t know! He’s been putting his arm behind me lately but it feels so casual. You know? Like he’s just stretching out.”

“I don’t want to give your hopes up or nothing, but knowing him, he at least trusts you. And he’s comfortable around you. But, he could also be pulling a move on you. I would say not to stop fighting for it.”

“You’re right. He has to feel something. I just have to let him come around.”

“Exactly. Tyler’s weird like that. But he’s worth it.”

“You’re right.” Lindsey paused for a moment before saying, “I know this is out of the blue, but why have you never gone after Tyler?” Tori’s eyes widened, caught off guard by the question.

“I don’t think it’s important. I just never did.”

“But, you two seem so close and act more like a couple than anything. It’s just weird.”

“No, it isn’t. Wow. Won’t you look at that? Amber needs my help with something.”

“I didn’t hear…”

“I’ll call you tomorrow, Linds. Bye!” Before Lindsey could say anything, Tori hung up the phone. “Damn.” She breathed a sigh of relief just as Amber came out of the dressing room with multiple clothes draped over her arm.

“Okay! I think that’s enough. Did you want anything?”

“No. I’m good. Not really the shopping type.”

“Oh, come on. You must see a shirt or skirt that you at least like.”

“Yeah, but it’s not my thing.”

“If it’s the price you’re worried about, you don’t have to be. It’s my treat. Pick whatever you want. You never know what special occasion might come your way.”

“Special isn’t in my life’s vocabulary. I go to school, hang out with my friends, come home, do homework, eat, wash, sleep, repeat.”

“What if you go on a date?”

“Not likely. Trust me.”

“Why’s that?”

“Boys aren’t particularly interested in me at the moment. And I’m not worried about them right now either.”

“Not even the cute ones?”

“Haven’t seen any that’s grabbed my attention.”

“Really? None you might’ve seen sitting in the back of the class? Or even in the hallway for a second? Or what about when you go to the library? Nothing?” Tori’s mind began to race when Amber mentioned the library. The image of the guy she saw in the library that day came back to her. The more she thought about it, she hasn’t seen him since. Anywhere.

“Nope.”

“Hmm. Still, life is full of surprises. Just pick a few things out. Better safe than sorry.” Tori thought for a second before nodding. She walked around the store quickly, picking out two tops and a dress. She met Amber at the counter and placed the clothes on top of hers. Once they were done being checked out, they made their way back to the car.

On their way home, Amber stopped at a local pizza parlor to pick up dinner. A couple of minutes later, they pulled into the driveway. Once they got inside, they were met with a strange quietness.

“I thought they were home,” Tori said.

“I don’t know if Aiden’s here. Knowing him, he’s probably still out with his… friends,” she said slightly with a shudder.

“Does that mean you don’t like his friends?”

“No, I do. It’s just one of them is just more out there. He’s a sweet kid, but he doesn’t necessarily handle things responsibly.” Tori nodded, seeming to understand. Amber placed the pizza on the kitchen counter. “Boys! Dinner is here!” Nothing. “We brought pizza and wings!” Immediately, footsteps could be heard running down the stairs all the way into the kitchen.

“You got lucky, Henry! If my mom didn’t call us, you would’ve lost in the next second.”

“No, I refuse to believe that. You were cornered.”

“My character has the ability to disappear and reappear. I would have shot you faster than you could’ve pulled the trigger.”

“Excuse me?” Amber said loudly, interrupting their argument. “What are you even talking about?”

“We were playing a game and your fiance almost lost.”

“I did not. I was seconds from winning.”

“The losers trophy,” Aiden laughed.

“What happened to your friends?” Tori asked.

“Oh, I hung out with them. But then Spence wanted to go to this party up north and I wanted to go but my favorite girl wasn’t going to be there so I just came home.” Tori rolled her eyes.

“How long have you been messing around with her?”

“Not your business, snappy. Anyway, I came home and Henry and I decided to play V.I.C.T.O.R.Y.. And he almost got killed.” Aiden created the symbol for a gun and pointed it at his head.

“When we unpause it we will see.”

“Well, you can get back to your silly game after you eat.”

“I didn’t even know you gamed, dad.”

“I didn’t. Aiden showed me how to play.”

“He’s pretty good. Even though I’ll have to kill him when it becomes unpaused.”

“So you think.”

“Alright, alright. That’s enough game talk. Hurry up and get your food so we can watch a movie!” she smiled. Amber and Henry had quickly made their plates and were already in the living room, leaving Tori and Aiden in the kitchen. Aiden moved closer to Tori, his chest pressed against her arm.

“How was shopping with my mom?”

“You would think there were twenty of her in that dressing room.” Aiden chuckled.

“Does that mean you would rather be with me than her?” Tori looked up at him.

“I’m not going to satisfy you with that answer.”

“That’s fine. There’s other ways you can do that.”

“O-kay! And this conversation is over.”

“I’m just messing with you, T,” he laughed.

“Whatever.” Tori began to walk away from him when he quickly moved in front of her.

“I missed you.”

“That’s nice.” She tried to walk around him, but he blocked her path again. He gently moved her so she was cornered between the counter and him. He leaned in closer to her, staring into her eyes. “What are you doing?”

“I had fun with you today. Even though you judge me, I don’t mind that it’s you. It’s so easy with you. You don’t even want the fame I have. You genuinely hate me.” Tori sighed gently.

“I don’t hate you. I just… don’t like the person you portray yourself as. Don’t get me wrong. I think you’re a self-conceited jerk. But I don’t hate you. I strongly dislike you.” Aiden smirked a little.

“Well,” he moved closer to her, brushing his lips lightly against hers, “I guess I’ll have to work hard to get you to strongly like me.”

“I-I guess.” Aiden looked at her another moment before pulling away, roughly.

“Don’t take forever getting your food, snappy.” He grabbed his plate and walked into the living room. Tori stood there, confused about what had just happened.

‘Why was he so close? Is that considered having a moment? No. Nope. It can’t be. Then why did it have such an effect on me?’ Tori shook her head, not letting her thoughts get to her too much.

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