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Ryan’s POV
1 week later

I’ve never seen Ella so nervous about going to California though I can’t say I’m thrilled about it either. My next movie is set to start filming soon but we have to go through the trial first. The production company was understanding, they’ll start with scenes that don’t involve my character. Laura has been working hard to make our stay safe and comfortable for us. Instead of staying at a hotel, 2 beach houses were rented for us and the bodyguards. Laura assured me that going in and out of court would be safe for us as we’ll be able to use a private entrance. Fences will be up preventing fans and the media from getting too close. The only thing we’re unable to control is Jake. No information on where he’ll be coming from has been given although we know the police will be escorting him.

Ella is clinging to my arm as we enter the place, she asked that Cooper and Max look around as a precaution. After a few minutes, they meet us by the door confirming we can come in. Still holding onto me, she walks to the backyard area looking at the pool. I knew she’d most likely refuse to go to the beach so I made sure we’d have access to one. It’s still warm in California even if Fall is already here. She finally lets go of my arm not that I didn’t want her to hold onto me, but I wish she weren’t so scared. She’s walking around exploring the place before going to the bathroom.

I’m sitting on a chair when she comes out of there after a few minutes. A knock at the door is heard suddenly. Giving Cooper, who’s standing right by her, Ella then throws herself in his arms, her body visibly shaking. He leads her back to me while Max goes to get the door. Laura got groceries delivered to us, she must have forgotten to tell me.

“I’m sorry Cooper. I didn’t mean to do that,” she apologizes to him once the delivery guy is gone. Naturally, she’s more at ease with Max than Cooper. We do spend a lot of time just the four of us but she’s never been alone with my bodyguard. I don’t even think she has ever had a “one on one” conversation with him. “It’s not a problem, Ella. I may be Ryan’s bodyguard but I’m also here to protect you. I care about you both,” he reassures her. She smiles, her warm smile that she only shares with those she trusts and loves.

Our lawyer stops by to go over some details we didn’t cover over our zoom meetings. Ella and I are coached on how to answer hard questions. Where to look, what to say, what not to say. Remembering everything is a bit overwhelming especially knowing Jake will sit there and we’ll have to remain calm. Once Mr. Hale feels that we’re ready, he tells us he’ll see us tomorrow morning at court.
Ella goes to unpack our suitcase while Cooper, Max, and I turn on the gaming system. I have to remember to thank Laura for thinking of everything. The friendly competition allows me to relax after the long day we’ve just had. “Is It okay if I hang out with you guys?” Ella asks with a timid voice. “Come, baby,” I open my arms for her to curl up on my lap making sure not to block my view. I can see her messaging her friends while we resume our game. I was worried about her being so quiet all day and I’m glad she’s at least talking to them.

I never noticed when we first met but I’ve come to realize that no matter what climate she’s in, she always gets cold at some point. She pulls on the blanket from the top of the couch covering part of her body and half of mine in the process. Before the end of our game, she’s sound asleep on my chest. Having her in my arms always makes me feel mushy inside, I’ll never get used to the way she affects me physically and mentally. Her body is warm against mine, I feel myself sweating but I refuse to move her. Instead, I ask Max to turn up the AC. “You guys make me sick sometimes,” Cooper laughs. “I can’t help it, I love her so much,” I kiss the top of her head. “I know, I like watching you interact with each other. I wish I could fall in love with someone. You know someone who wouldn’t cheat on me!” He continues, bitterly. I remember him opening up about his ex-fiancée’s betrayal. “Yeah or one who won’t “ghost” you after telling you they love you,” Max says, his eyes get sad. I often feel grateful to have found Ella but they’re reminding me that what we share is a blessing. “I’m sorry guys, I wish I could help. Maybe we should create profiles on dating apps for you?” I say in an attempt to cheer them up. “We’ll have a profile for each city we visit regularly. Don’t feel bad though. You and Ella are giving me hope that love exists and we will find the perfect girl for us, right Max?” He lays a friendly punch on his friend’s shoulder. Ella moves around wrapping the blanket over the part of our bodies that weren’t covered already. She then cuddles even closer hiding her cold nose into my neck. “Aww isn’t she adorable?” Max says, laughing and reaching the AC to turn it up again.
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