The Wanderers

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chapter 14

I was up before Dean which no surprise. I thought I’d be nice and let him sleep in. I was pretty sure he would have a massive hangover from last and did not want to deal with his grumpy butt.

“Hey, Ella!” Josie said, carrying a large wrapped box inside with her. I pressed my finger to my lips, prompting her to keep her voice down, pointing at Dean still sleeping.

“What’s that?” I asked, referring to the neatly wrapped box with a giant red bow on it.

“It’s for you.”

“You got me a present?” I asked surprised.

“No, this was outside our door. It had your name on it,” she said, handing it to me. I looked at her confused, but took the present anyways. “Who’s it from?” she asked.

I shrugged. There was no card but that didn’t stop me from tearing into it. I loved presents.

I ripped off the bow and pulled the lid off the box. Inside was a brand new white parka. I lifted it out of the box and a piece of paper spilled out onto the floor. Josie bent down and picked it up. I held the coat up admiring it. It was beautiful and looked expensive. I took the note from Josie and read it quietly to myself.

I figured I owed you one.

Consider it a peace offering.

That was it. No name, no nothing. But he didn’t have to say who it was from. I already knew. “Who’s it from?” Josie asked, curiosity piqued.

I sat down on the bed holding my new coat and staring at the note. I read the last line over and over again. ‘Consider it a peace offering’.


“Tristan,” I said simply. “It’s from Tristan.”

“The boy’s got good taste.” She took the jacket from me and held it up.

“You can have it,” I told her.

She looked at me like I was crazy. “No way, I can’t take this. You don’t like it?”

It wasn’t that. I definitely liked it. It looked warm and cozy and something I probably would have picked out myself, but I couldn’t keep it. The intention behind it wasn’t right. I didn’t want Tristan thinking he can just buy his way out of things.

I took the coat from Josie and marched right down to Tristan’s room and banged on the door. As soon as he opened the door I threw the coat at him. He looked beaten and battered, like he hadn’t slept all night. He had dark circles under his eyes, his hair was messier than normal, and he was wearing the same clothes as yesterday. I felt a twinge of guilt for my abruptness, but then shook away the thought. He had to know I would not tolerate this behavior.

“I don’t want this. I will not be bought,” I said, crossing my arms and standing my ground. One look at those eyes and I could see the guilt he was feeling for what he had done. I looked away, knowing I wouldn’t be able to stay angry if I kept looking at him.

“Ella, it’s a gift,” he said, handing it back to me.

“I don’t want it.”

He sighed, dropping his arm, too tired to argue. “I understand if you don’t want to forgive me. I wouldn’t want to either.” He looked down at the floor unable to meet my eyes. “I caused you to ruin your last one, so I thought I owed you.” He tried handing me the coat again, pleading with me to take it. “I won’t bother you any more if that’s what you want, but at least take this. It’s nothing more than a gift. No strings attached.”

His eyes meet mine and this time I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t stay angry anymore. As much as I wanted to, as much as he deserved it, I couldn’t. I took the coat from him. “Fine, I’ll take it, but only because I need a coat,” I said with a little more attitude than I intended.

The corners of his lips started to turn up into a slight smile. I knew I should have left then, but I just couldn’t help myself. “Why did you do it? Why did you attack Jack?”

He closed his eyes as he struggled to find an explanation. When he looked at me I could see pain in his eyes. “I thought he was hurting you. And the thought of anyone hurting you,” he paused to collect himself. “I just couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t live with someone getting away with that.”

“But he wasn’t hurting me.”

“Please Ella, you have to understand. If you would have seen what I saw, the look of fear on your face,” he winced at the memory.

“No, I get it, I just...I don’t know. I’m sorry I have to go,” I said quickly and walked back to my room. I wasn’t ready to deal with this yet. I mostly just wanted to forget it but I knew that would be impossible.

By the time I got back to my room Dean was awake. “When are we going to eat? I’m starving,” he whined. I rolled my eyes. He could have just eaten a whole meal and he’d still be hungry. I told him I needed to take a shower and then we could grab some food.

I ran into Jack on my way to the bathroom. “Jack, how are you?”

“I’m alright,” he said, rubbing his neck. The way Tristan grabbed him, I would have thought for sure there would be some bruising, but his neck looked perfectly fine and I was thankful for that.

“Jack, I’m really sorry about what happened last night.”

“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.”

“I just...” I was finding it hard to find the right words to say. What did you really say to a guy who you almost got choked to death? I managed to find something inside that scrambled brain of mine. “How about I take you to dinner?” That was the best I could come up with. The moment I said it I knew I should have said something else.

“You don’t have to do that,” he said, thinking I was offering out of pity.

“No, I want to,” I said, trying to sound convincing. “Weren’t we supposed to have that date?”

“What about Tristan?” he asked, eyes turning angry.

“You don’t have to worry about him, I promise.” It wasn’t a complete lie. After talking to Tristan and then seeing Jack, all my conflicting feelings came rushing back. So I knew staying away from Tristan would be better – for all of us.

“How about Friday?” Jack asked timidly.

“I can’t Friday. That’s when they’re having Skylar’s memorial service,” I said, reminding myself. “I don’t have any plans Saturday though?”

“Saturday it is,” he said, instantly perking up.

“Okay, see you Saturday then.” I waved goodbye and headed to the bathroom to take a much needed shower.

When I got back to my room, Josie and Dean were sitting on her bed sharing a box of doughnuts. “You couldn’t wait till I was done?” I looked in the box to see Dean take the last doughnut. “And you didn’t even save me any?”

“Why, we’re going to breakfast,” Dean said, mouth full of sugary dough. I just shook my head and told Dean to turn around while I got dressed.

On our way out we ran into Tristan. Dean took one look at him and extended his hand. “No hard feelings?”

“Nah man, you’re alright in my book,” Tristan said, accepting Dean’s gesture.

“We’re heading to breakfast, wanna join? It’s on the girls,” Dean said and Josie laughed sarcastically.

Tristan looked to me for an answer. “I’m sure Tristan has other plans.”

His face told me he understood. I wasn’t ready and he nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I’m still feeling uneasy from last night,” he said, trying to force a smile.

“Amateur. Alright man, take it easy,” Dean said, patting him on the back. I took a quick look over my shoulder at him only to turn right back around. I couldn’t stand to see that look on his face, but what he did last night...I wasn’t ready to forgive him yet. I know he was just trying to protect me, but his actions caused more harm than good.

After we ate, I said goodbye to Dean and headed back to my room. I decided to skip my classes today. I didn’t care much to be around people and would much rather spend the day in my room...alone.

Dean had told me before he left to call Mom and let her know I was okay. He said he would do the same but knew Mom wouldn’t rest until she heard from me. I was too tired to deal with her now so I decided to take a nap before calling. “Just a few more hours,” I yawned, desperately needing some rest.

I did not get the rest I so ached for. Somewhere in the middle of my restless sleep, I slipped into the landscape of a dream. I was somewhere in the middle of a forest, one I did not recognize. I walked aimlessly through the dense trees and brush that covered the thick muddy floor of the forest.

It was raining, but the trees blocked the heavy fall of the drops, creating a thick, dewy mist that clouded my vision, and made it muggy and warm. I looked down and saw I had no shoes on and I was wearing a light, white cotton sundress. I was covered in mud from the shins down, my hands wet and dirty from using the trees for guidance. My hair was dripping wet, even though I was blocked from most of the rain.

I trudged through the mud, constantly looking over my shoulder, knowing someone was out there, coming after me. I tripped over a branch, falling flat on my stomach, dirt and mud now soaking my dress and covering my upper body. I turned over, panicked, looking in every direction for who was after me. And that was when I saw him, standing off in the distance.

His eyes were glowing bigger and brighter than ever.

He let out a low growl and charged for me.

I screamed and struggled to get up, crawling on my hands and knees, trying to get back up on my feet. I ran as hard and as fast as I could right into a clearing. I stopped and turned around, realizing there was nowhere to hide.

I saw a figure blur by me and I spun to the right and then again to my left. He was there by the trees, I knew he was, but he was too fast. Tears were spilling down my cheeks. “What do you want?” I fell to my knees crying out in fear.

“You,” he growled as he shifted positions to the other side of me. He moved so fast it was like a flash, impossibly human.

I whipped my head to the side trying to follow his movement. I was about to give up. Let him take me, when...


I gasped, turning to look behind me. “Tristan! Help me!” I cried out in sheer terror.

I stood up ready to run to him, to take the first step to safety, when Tristan stopped me. “Ella, don’t move!” He called out to me and I froze. I didn’t understand, but I still did what he said.

I slowly turned my head in the direction of Tristan’s icy stare and I saw him. The man from my nightmares. Ready for the attack, and only a few feet away from me.

Afraid to take my eyes off of him, I took a step backwards.

He leapt at me.

I threw my hands up screaming.

“Ella! Ella! Wake up!” I heard Tristan pleading. “Wake up, Ella,” he said, over and over again.

I opened my eyes startled, gasping for air. I saw Tristan leaning over me, hands on my shoulders and I freaked throwing myself back against my headboard. He put his hands up in surrender. Worry and fear written all over his face. “Ella, it’s okay. You were just having a bad dream.”

“What are you doing in my room,” I spat accusingly.

“I heard you screaming and I thought you were in trouble.”

I looked into his eyes and saw the same twinge of fear I saw in my dream. And that was when I broke down crying. Shoulder shaking, body heaving, crying.

Tristan slowly and carefully sat next to me on the bed and wrapped his arms around me. I leaned into him, taking comfort in the warmth and strength of his gentle caress. “Shh...It’s okay now...shh,” he said, trying to comfort me while softly stroking my hair.

I pulled myself back, wiping the tears from my face. “Hey,” he said, tucking a piece of my unruly hair behind my ear. “You want to talk about it?” I shook my head. “It’s okay. We don’t have to,” he reached behind him and retrieved some tissues from my night stand. “Here.”

I blew all the disgusting snot out of my nose and wiped off my face. I dangled my legs off the bed, ran a shaky hand through my hair, and let out a slow, deep breath. I never felt so scared in my life. The dream felt so real, as if I was really there, like it was really happening.

I looked at Tristan, his brows were slightly furrowed and hard lines crinkled his smooth skin. I knew there was something else bothering him. “Ella,” Tristan said softly. “I really am sorry about last night. You have to know that wasn’t me I...” he stopped, pulling his perfect lips into a tight line, his eyes shifting away from mine.

I wanted to tell him to save his apology. That it didn’t matter I already made up my mind. But when I looked into those deep, dark blues eyes, I lost all my senses. Despite recent actions I knew deep down he cared and was willing to do anything to protect me from anyone and anything. The only downside was the one thing he couldn’t protect me from, him. “Tristan –”

He stopped me. The nervous shake of his hand said he needed to get this out before he lost all nerve. “I feel a certain way when I’m around you. I don’t know how to explain it, but when I saw how scared you were and Jack...” he broke off, taking a moment to take a breath. “I thought he was hurting you. I’m sorry I never meant...”

“Tristan, it’s okay.”

“No it’s not.”

“I understand why you did what you did. That doesn’t mean I agree with it, but in a way I understand. I also would suggest some anger management classes,” I joked, trying to lighten the mood.

He chuckled. “Who needs that when you have good booze?”

“Yeah, how’s that working out for ya?” I laughed.

“Next time I’ll stick to what I know instead of switching it up.” I rolled my eyes at him. “Are we…okay?” he asked nervously.

“Yeah, we’re good.” For some reason I couldn’t stay mad at him. Avoiding him sometimes was almost impossible and even then the more time I spent away the crazier my head spun with confused emotions.

We both sat there silently for a moment, not sure what else to say. His outstretched pinkie brushed mine sending goose bumps up my arm. I got up quickly. “I’m sorry. I must look a mess,” I said, wiping at my tear streaked face and imagining I had the worst case of bed-head ever.

Tristan reached for my hand and pulled me back down on the bed. “Ella, you look fine,” he smiled, wiping a tear from my cheek with his thumb. “Are you really okay? You were pretty freaked out when I tried to wake you up.”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” I said. “It was just a dream, right?”

He didn’t say anything.

I placed my hand on his knee and gave a light squeeze as a silent thank you. Josie walked into the room and took one look at me knowing right away something was wrong. “Oh my God Ella, what happened?”

She came running over to the bed and Tristan stood up letting her sit next to me. “I’m...gonna go,” he said, turning to leave.

“Tristan?” I looked up at him. “Thank you.” He curled his lips into a half smile and left.

“Okay seriously Ella, what the hell is going on?”

I let out a long breath and told Josie everything. I started from the very beginning and told her all about the dreams I’d been having since the accident. How they started to change slightly after we started school. I even told her the one about Tristan, including the one I just had. I also told her what happened last night adding a small lecture for her leaving me to deal with Dean and Tristan on my own. She apologized profusely and even said she thought Tristan’s ‘heroic action’ was romantic. I rolled my eyes and reminded her that almost choking someone to death was far from romantic nor was it heroic. She was staring so far out in la-la land that I had to snap my fingers to bring her attention back.

“Sorry, I was just imagining Tristan’s bulging biceps rippling as he swooped in to save the day,” she said, gazing off into space.

“You need to get your head out of the clouds because it was nothing like that,” I said, shivering at the memory.

“Sorry I wasn’t there,” she said, placing a hand on mine.

“There wouldn’t have been anything you could have done.” I looked away and started to fidget with my blanket.

“Is there something else bothering you?”

What I needed to tell her next was the hardest part of all. The one thing I had never told anyone. I collected myself enough to get the words out. I told her about the man from the accident, how I saw him in my dreams and how I saw him last night in the lobby or imagined I did. “Do you think I’m crazy?” I asked in a hushed voice.

She shook her head. “No, I don’t think you’re crazy,” she said, pulling me in for a tight hug.

“But what about the guy I saw? Do you believe me? Or do you think I made him up?”

“I believe you believe you saw him.”

“What does that mean?” I said defensively.

“It means you’re a girl who’s been through a lot and this is your mind’s way of dealing. Creating an image of something to help you better understand what really happened that night.”

“Josie he was real. I didn’t make him up...I knew you wouldn’t believe me,” I said, getting up from the bed.

Josie looked at me sympathetically, like I was going to crack, and completely lose it. “Ella, I want to believe you but think about it. If I told you the same story would you believe me?”

“Yes,” I snapped. Then quickly realized how ridiculous I was being. “Okay maybe not, but I swear Josie, I didn’t make him up.” I felt the tears start to pool in my eyes again. I tried hard to hold them back, but one managed to escape and run down my cheek.

Josie looked at me, really looked at me, and knew I wasn’t making it up. She didn’t have to say it. Her face said it all. Josie knew when I was lying and knew when I was telling the truth. She hugged me tightly and I rested my head on her shoulders. She pulled back just enough to look into my eyes. “Whatever this is? We’ll figure it out, together.” I just nodded. “Now, in the meantime I think you could use a stiff drink.”

“You really think that’s a good idea?” I asked skeptically.

“Absolutely,” she grinned. “Have I ever steered you wrong?” I opened my mouth to comment when she said, “That was a rhetorical question.”

I let out a much needed laugh. “And where exactly are we going to get this drink?” I asked, taking her up on her offer. She smiled big, raising a brow. “Josie, no,” I protested, but she was out the door before I could stop her.

I hurried off the bed and checked out myself in the mirror. Ugh! I looked horrible. I could only imagine what I looked like all snotty when Tristan was here. I was sure he only said I looked fine so I wouldn’t feel worse than I did. No way was I going to leave this room looking like this. I attempted to fix my bloodshot eyes with some drops, but it was hopeless. Instead I opted for some quick concealer, a little clear mascara, and my favorite mint flavored lip gloss. I painfully pulled a brush through my knotted hair. When I was done I looked down at what I was wearing; pajama pants with cute little penguins all over them and a tank top. I grabbed a sweater from my closet and went to put on different pants when Josie came back in the room dragging me out the door before I had a chance to protest.

“He said yes, but we have to drink in his room.” I rolled my eyes. Of course he would say that.

Josie opened the door to Tristan’s room. He was standing behind a mini bar, with a shaker in hand, already mixing a drink. I took a look around. This was the first time I was actually really seeing it. His room was huge, three times the size of all the other dorms. He had a full size fridge, big screen TV, couch and of course his own collection of the best liquors.

“How in the hell did you get a room like this?” I asked.

He just gave me his cocky smile. “What’s your poison?” he asked, pouring Josie a red colored drink into a martini glass.

“Umm...surprise me.” That cocky smile turned into a devilish one and I suddenly regretted saying that. He picked up at least five different liquors and poured them into a glass with some other mixes, shook it up, and handed it to me. “What is it?” I asked nervously.

“A Long Island ice tea,” he smiled.

“Oh, I like ice tea,” I said, taking a sip, instantly puckering at the sweet and sour taste. Josie giggled at my expression.

“What do you think?” Tristan asked, trying not to laugh.

“Um, it’s not bad,” I said, swallowing and causing Josie and Tristan to laugh harder.

“I can make you something else? Maybe something not as strong, a Shirley Temple?” he offered, chuckling under his breath.

I glared at him. “No, this is fine.” I joined Josie on the couch to prove I could hold my own.

Tristan poured himself some scotch and leaned back casually against the window ledge, watching me sip my drink, while Josie downed hers. She jumped up and handed Tristan her glass so he could make her another. “I see someone wore her big girl pants tonight,” Tristan said, and I sheepishly looked down at my penguin pajama pants wishing I had time to change even though that was not what he was implying.

About three drinks later, I had forgotten all about my bad dream. Josie remembered she had forgotten her cell and wanted to run back to our room real quick to retrieve it. She claimed she was waiting for a text from her new boy toy. I shrugged not caring. Tristan refilled his drink and joined me on the couch. My stomach started to do flip flops and suddenly I worried whether it was the alcohol or because how close Tristan was to me.

I looked away feeling my cheeks get hot. “Are you feeling any better?” he asked cautiously.

“Yes, thank you. You know you didn’t have to do this,” I said.

He just shrugged. I finally looked up at him. He had his one arm thrown over the back of the couch and the other holding his drink while he watched me with curiosity. “Why do you do that?” I asked. He wrinkled his brow in confusion. “Watch me like that.”

“You intrigue me,” he said smiling. “How old are you?”

I looked at him wondering if this was a trick question. “I’m eighteen, why?”

“You don’t look like any eighteen year old I’ve meet.”

“What are eighteen years olds supposed to look like?” I challenged, annoyed.

“Young and innocent.”

“What are you trying to say?” I asked offended.

“Just that you look a lot older than you claim to be,” he said, like it was no big deal but of course I had a hard time letting it go.

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it,” he smiled.

“How old do you think I look?”

“If I didn’t know you I would say late twenties.” I scoffed. “I’d take it as a compliment. Most girls your age want to look older.”

“Well I’m not most girls,” I said, crossing my arms.

“So I’ve noticed,” he winked, leaning in closer. So close that everything inside of me started to stir. I thought he was going to kiss me but then Josie walked in.

“Found it, but he didn’t text me,” she pouted, sitting down next to me on the couch.

“Right,” Tristan said, getting up. “His loss.” He made another drink for himself and then walked over to his bed and had a seat. “Now what do you girls want to do?”

“How about Truth or Dare?” Josie suggested.

“Josie, we’re not twelve,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“I actually think it’s a great idea,” Tristan chimed in.

“You would.”

“What’s the matter, you too scared?” Tristan taunted, making me narrow my eyes at him.

“No,” I said, sitting up taller. “I’ll even go first.”

“Truth or dare?” he challenged.

“Truth,” I said.

He let out a smug laugh and sat back. “Okay, when’s the last time you did something that didn’t require you to ask permission?” I knew this had to do with the conversation we had on our date about me not living my own life. The look on his face told me that was exactly what he was referring to.

“Josie and I went skinny dipping this past summer with our friends,” I said proudly, proving to him I did what I want when I wanted.

“I see you don’t quite exercise the prudence you claim to,” Tristan said with a teasing smile.

“I never said I was a prude,” I said, narrowing my eyes at him.

“Prove it,” he goaded.

“I don’t have to prove anything,” I said, accidentally spilling some of my drink on the floor.

“You totally are a prude,” Josie hiccupped. She clenched her side, throwing herself into a fit of giggles.

“Shut up,” I said, pushing her.

Tristan lay back on his bed, putting his arms behind his head. “Wake me up when you girls are ready to have some fun.”

“Fine, I change my mind. I pick dare.”

Tristan, suddenly interested, sat up. “Okay, I dare you to kiss me.” His eyes locked on mine waiting for me to come up with an excuse to back down. I stood up, straightened out my shirt, and walked right over to him. His eyes widened in surprise as I bent down and pressed a quick kiss to his lips.

Not satisfied, he grabbed me, and pulled me down on top of him. I yelped throwing my arms out for balance. I pushed him away and he just laughed. “Ha-ha very funny,” I said, feeling myself start to blush. Josie just sat there shaking her head. I tried to get up but Tristan kept me pinned where I was.

“You’re more than welcome to join us,” Tristan said to Josie. I fought the urge to smack him.

Surprising us both, Josie stood up and walked over to the bed. She pushed Tristan down and gave me a cunning smile prompting me to follow her lead. I knew Josie would never do anything like what Tristan was suggesting so I had to trust she had something else in mind.

I took Tristan’s drink from his hand and placed it on the floor while Josie pulled off his shirt. She gave me a sly look and I knew she definitely had something up her sleeve. Josie and I both ran our hands across his chest seductively. “Now we’re talking,” Tristan said, trying to hide the surprised and somewhat nervous look on his face.

Josie got up and retrieved a pair of handcuffs from the dresser. I saw them earlier, but tried hard not to think about what he had used them for. I scraped the image from my mind and watched as Josie cuffed his hands to the bed post. “I’ll be right back,” she said, getting up and leaving the room.

I had no idea what she was up to and was feeling nervous being left alone with Tristan again. The only upside was that he was handcuffed. Oddly that didn’t make me feel any better. “So what do you plan to do with me now?” Tristan asked, his cocky smile dancing on his lips.

“You’ll see,” I teased.

Frankly I had no idea.

Josie returned and knelt down on the other side of Tristan. She slipped a small plastic tube into my hand and I had to hide my smile. “What’s that?” Tristan asked nervously.

“Just sit back and relax,” Josie said, pushing him down. She turned to me with a slight nod. I uncapped the lipstick she slipped me and noticed she had one of her own. I gave Tristan my best devilish smile and started to create my own masterpiece all over his chest.

“Hey!” he jerked back giving Josie the ammunition to join in. Josie and I laughed as we drew smiley faces and butterflies all over his upper body. To top it off Josie wrote ‘I like boys’ across the top of his chest sending us into a fit of giggles. “Ha-ha very funny. You had your fun can you please un-cuff me now?” Tristan didn’t see the humor in our little prank. He pulled at his wrists hoping to break out of the cuffs.

“Nope, not yet,” I said, having way too much fun. Josie and I both applied some lipstick to our lips each giving him a kiss on the cheek. I pulled out my cellphone and started to take pictures.

He tried to turn his head. “Alright Ella, enough, it’s not funny anymore,” he said, wrestling with the restraints.

“I think it is.” Josie and I hopped on either side of him to take a picture of all three of us. This would definitely come in handy if I ever needed to blackmail him. Looking at the pictures Josie and I collapsed to the floor with belly clutching laughter.

“Okay seriously, fun time is over now. Can you please let me go?” Tristan pleaded.

I swiped a tear from my eye from laughing so hard. Then I walked over to the nightstand to get the key, but didn’t find one. “Where’s the key?”

“It was with the cuffs,” Tristan said.

“Sorry, there’s no key here.”

“Ha-ha very funny, Ella.”

“I’m not kidding.” Josie got up and joined me over by the dresser to help me look, but we both came up empty. “I think you’re stuck.”

He jerked at the cuffs again trying to break free, but all that did was cause them to tighten more around his wrists. “I got it!” Josie shouted.

“You found the key?” Tristan asked, craning his neck to look.

“No, but I know someone who might have one.” Josie smiled as if a light bulb just went on inside her head. “George! He carries a set of cuffs with him. He should have a key.”

“Great idea,” I agreed.

“Um...ladies, I prefer not to involve anyone else if possible,” Tristan said, voice pleading. We ignored him, too excited by our bright idea. We raced out of the room. “Ella! Josie!” Tristan called after us with desperation in his voice, hoping we’d come to our senses and not involve anyone else, but that was not happening.

When we asked George to help us, he was a little surprised at the request. We left out a few of the details. When we returned to the room with George, Tristan blushed, embarrassed. George didn’t say anything. He just looked at us, then back at Tristan, shaking his head. Josie and I had a hard time containing our laughter, but we controlled it the best we could.

George even chuckled a little when he un-cuffed Tristan and tried to hide it with a cough. He nodded at us on his way out still not saying a word. I closed the door and Josie and I started to bust up laughing.

“Ha-ha, you got me. You’re so clever,” Tristan mocked, rubbing his wrists. He walked over to what I thought was a closet.

“No way! You got your own bathroom?” I got up to investigate closer.

“And this surprises you?” he asked, raising a brow.

“With you, nothing surprises me anymore.”

“Care to join me in the shower?” he asked with a sly smile, pulling me into the bathroom with him.

“Nice try,” I said, pushing him back and closing the door on him.

“Someday Ella, someday,” he sang. I just shook my head and joined Josie over by the bar as she made herself another drink. She made me one and then we headed back over to the couch to have a seat to wait until Tristan was finished cleaning up.

Tristan stepped out of the bathroom lipstick free and made himself a drink. “Alright, now it’s my turn,” he said, looking at the two of us. Josie and I froze for a minute, worried what he could possibly come up with. “Grab your coat and shoes,” he smiled. “We’re going on a little trip.”

“Will we be coming back from this trip?” I joked nervously. Tristan laughed and finished his drink in one gulp, not making me feel any better. Josie leapt off the couch ready for anything. I, on the other hand, was not so eager. “No worries love. Trust me,” Tristan winked, extending a hand to help me up.

I watched for a change of expression, one that would tip me off and let me know if he was up to something. But his face stayed the same. He wore a sweet and innocent smile that scared me more than anything.

“C’mon Ella!” Josie called, already out the door.

Tristan leaned in closely and whispered, “I dare you.”

I stared him down and finished off my drink. Determined to prove to him I wasn’t the prude he thought I was. “Fine,” I said, getting up from the couch. “Let’s go.”

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