Tuesday, August 16th
I didn’t realize the time I got off for summer break would end up being literal—that the summer would break me. But when I got to London two months ago, I threw myself into my internship and ran into Augie—well, Prince Augie.
Although I’ve known him for years, we had never spent much time together. Needless to say, he turned my summer around. The last few months have seriously been the best of my life. All because of him.
“I don’t want to leave.” My eyes fill with tears as Augie escorts me from his car to the plane waiting for me on the tarmac.
“It’s only for a few weeks, Arrington,” he says, wrapping an arm around me and giving me a sweet kiss on the cheek. “You’ll be back before you know it.”
I stare at the perfection that is Augie. Six feet tall with a mop of blond curls, pale blue eyes, and a fittingly regal jawline. As the British girls would say, he’s very fit. And when I’m with him, I feel very grown up. Like the woman I’m supposed to be.
“Why do you look so stressed?” Augie asks.
“Because I’m freaking out! Even though I had a great interview with the headmaster, I still haven’t heard from Kensington School. And if I don’t get in, there’s no way my parents will even consider letting me live in London, especially when they have been dreaming about me going to the boarding school they attended.”
“Kensington has equal, if not more, prestige than Eastbrooke Academy,” he counters. “Surely, they will understand that. I’m royal, and I go there. Plus, we have to figure it out because I think I’m in—”
“Augie, if they don’t let me, I don’t know when I’ll get to see you again.”
“No, my little lark,” he says, gently caressing my cheek. “Don’t even let your mind go there. You’re smart, driven, and quite beautiful. Kensington will be begging for you.”
“Somehow I doubt my looks will play into the headmaster’s decision,” I scoff.
“That’s where you are wrong. Your green eyes are mesmerizing. Anyone who looks at them falls immediately in love. They are quite possibly infused with some kind of magic. Not even our headmaster could be immune.”
“You’re silly,” I say with a laugh.
Augie moves closer to me. “No, Arrington, I’m serious.”
And I know he is. Even though I’ve been trying my best to keep things casual between us, it’s been a struggle. Because Augie is dreamy. And we always have so much fun together, whether we’re with friends or hanging out alone.
“You’ve become a really good friend, Augie,” I say, knowing my heart can’t handle being broken twice in one summer. “I swear, I could tell you anything.”
He winces slightly and it makes me wonder if he knows. Somehow knows that when I came to London, I was heartbroken. Or if he knows why and wonders why I didn’t tell him. Of course, I haven’t said anything. I haven’t had much dating experience, but I do know that you don’t talk about an ex when you’re with someone new. And in my case, the guy isn’t even an ex. He was my best friend. And breaking up—so to speak—with your lifelong best friend might possibly be worse than breaking up with an actual boyfriend.
“Maybe I should fly home with you,” Augie offers, the wince gone and his eyes dancing flirtatiously. “We could talk to your parents together. I’ve been trained in diplomacy and can be very convincing.”
“That, I know,” I say, holding back a grin. “But it would be wasted on my parents because I don’t want them to think I want to go to Kensington because I like you.”
He gives me a sexy grin. “But you do like me.”
“I do. But I need to sell them on the school’s merit. Not for them to think I randomly decided I wanted to live in London because of a boy.”
“What about a prince?”
I just shrug my shoulders.
“I’ll have to trust your judgment then.” When I let out a pathetic sigh, he adds, “I promise it will all work out.”
“You don’t know my parents.”
“But I do,” he counters with a smirk. And he’s right. Our parents have been friends for quite some time.
I laugh. “You know what I mean.”
He moves to stand in front of me and tucks the blonde strands of hair blowing across my face back behind my ear, then stares into my eyes. I lift my chin slightly, just in case he might want to kiss my lips instead of my cheek.
But he doesn’t.
And I know why.
People are watching.
Instead, he turns and gestures to his porter, who takes my bags out of the car.
“When you get back, I’d like to take you on a date,” he says.
“Really?” I smile big. Although we’ve never been on an actual date—unless you consider him showing up at my family’s suite at our club, drinking champagne, watching old movies all night, and doing some things I certainly wouldn’t want my parents to know about—we’ve spent a ton of time together. Pretty much anytime I wasn’t working and even when I was.
He looks around, quickly surveying the area, then grabs my hand and pulls me up the airstairs and into the plane.
“Are you coming home with me?” I say with a laugh.
“No, but I saw a man out there with a camera, and I need to kiss you properly before you leave.”
I smile at him, slip my arms around his neck, and pull him toward my lips, eager for a proper kiss. While he’s given me lots of steamy kisses, this one is filled with emotion.
And for some reason, probably the desperation I’m feeling, it causes things to heat up quickly.
He deepens the kiss and pulls me onto the seat with him. I rake my fingers through his curls and let out a throaty sigh. Because I might be slightly obsessed with Augie’s tongue.
Other than some friendly making out with someone this past New Year’s Eve, when I came to London, I had very little experience. But now, I feel … I don’t know … more worldly. Happy.
I unbutton his shirt, sliding my hand down his chest and flitting it around his waistband as my lips trail down the side of his neck and then onto his chest, kissing my way down.
I know we shouldn’t go any further. After all, the crew could walk in on us at any minute.
“Although I really don’t want to stop kissing you, we probably shouldn’t make the crew wait much longer,” I tell him.
Instead of replying, he gives me another steamy kiss and slides his hand up under my skirt.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful of their time,” I add, blowing out a breath of air when he reaches the edge of my underwear.
“You’re paying them for their time.”
“Actually, my parents are, and you’re kind of a mess.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re all disheveled. You can’t go back out there, looking like we just had a quick romp. That would really get the press talking.”
“Maybe we should have one then,” he says with a sexy smirk.
I roll my eyes, get up, and grab a tissue, knowing I need to put some distance between us. Because this isn’t the time or place. “Let me at least get the pink lip gloss off your face.”
“Fine. Fix me up.”
I sit down next to him, swipe the gloss off the side of his face, smooth his hair in an attempt to control his curls, and then button up his shirt.
“I like when you dress me.”
I can’t help but chuckle. “You like when I undress you.”
“Oh, yes. That too.” He pulls me back into his arms as emotion fills his eyes.
I don’t want to start crying, so I lean back and tighten his tie, pulling it up a little too much, squeezing around his neck. “Am I going to have to kick you off my plane?”
“That’s quite possible.”
I move away, grabbing his jacket, then handing it to him. “Shoo.”
“You’re dismissing His Royal Highness?” He gives me a cocky grin. “It doesn’t actually work that way.”
“It does now.” I do an exaggerated curtsy. “Please, Your Royal Highmess, get the heck off my plane so I can go home.”
“Fine,” he says, stealing one last kiss before moving toward the door.
At the top of the stairs, he gives me a peck on the cheek. Because he’s in the public eye, he shows a lot of restraint when we are out together. A kiss on the cheek, a quick peck on the lips, or maybe our fingers brushing—that’s about it.
And there’s something about having to wait.
Because after a night of dancing and drinking, we’d barely get the door closed before he was all over me. The anticipation just adding to the excitement.
I watch as he walks regally down the airstairs, glancing over his shoulder to look back at me every few steps. When he finally gets to his car, he turns around and gives me an adorable salute.
I wave back at him, feeling like a girl at the end of one of my mom’s movies. Only this isn’t my happy ending.
But it just might be the start of a very happy beginning.
I tape up the last moving box and place it near a pile by the front door. The movers are loading all the boxes and taking everything to a storage facility.
I’ve been on my own for a short time, and I’m still not used to it. I’m not over what happened, and honestly, I might never be.
But even though I’m only sixteen, I’m an adult now—at least legally—and I don’t really have a choice.
I have to keep going.
“I think that’s everything,” the mover says, handing me some documents to sign.
“Thank you,” I tell him, thinking back to how I ended up in this situation. How circumstances beyond my control forced me to grow up way faster than I should have. And how this place holds so many memories—some good ones, some bad ones, and some truly heartbreaking ones.
I let out a deep sigh, knowing that I need to get going. I’m due to report to my new home—well, technically, it’s a boarding school—later today.
I give the apartment one more look, close the door on my former life, and go get into my beat-up car, hoping it will hold together long enough to get me there.
My next stop is Eastbrooke Academy.
I’ve been home for a few days and am now in full-on panic mode. Even my horse knows something is up. My being agitated means that she is too. I finally give up, trotting her back to the corral, giving her an apple, and thanking her for the ride.
My problem is this: I’m supposed to leave for Eastbrooke Academy in just three days. And I still haven’t heard from Kensington.
I take off Sparky’s riding gear and put her up. Then, I sit on one of the leather couches in the barn, pull out my phone, close my eyes, and make a wish that I will find an email waiting for me. And that it holds good news.
I open my eyes, hit the Mail app on my phone, and am shocked to find one.
Dear Aubrey Lane Arrington,
We are pleased to announce your acceptance to Kensington School.
Oh my gosh!
I don’t read the rest, just stand up and let out a whoop, scaring my horse. She whinnies and looks at me.
I go over to her and use my gentle voice. “It’s okay, girl. I’m just happy. Very, very happy.”
But my happiness quickly fades because, now, I have to tell my parents that I’m not going to their beloved alma mater. The schools are comparable, both elite preparatory schools where I would get an excellent education. Kensington isn’t a boarding school like Eastbrooke is, but that’s okay because we have a house in Chelsea, and it’s only a short walk.
I close my eyes again, dreaming of London. The little shops where you can sit for hours over tea and pastries. The history. The people. The formality. I’ll be able to continue interning at The Arrington, the flagship location of my dad’s private club chain—the company I eventually want to run. And of course, a certain handsome prince does reside there.
London felt like home. It’s the place I want to be.
Need to be.
As I make my way across the stone path that leads to the back entrance of our house, I stop for a moment and take in the view. Rows of grapes in the fields, the ocean in the distance.
I take a fortifying breath and stand up straight and tall, like I’m preparing to go to battle.
Probably because I am. Against my mother.
“I’d like you to be packed for school by tomorrow, Lane,” my mother, the actress Keatyn Arrington, says from the kitchen the second I walk through the door. “I put a packing list in your room. If you need help or need anything, let me know. You must be so excited! It’s hard to believe that my first three babies will be off to Eastbrooke in a few days.”
I consider telling her now, but when her eyes get misty, I decide it might be smarter to wait until the rest of the family is present.
Which doesn’t take long.
My dad and two of my brothers, Aspen and Monroe, come barreling in through the front door, grumbling about how hungry they are.
“I’m just going to run upstairs and change real quick,” I say, starting to feel nervous.
“Hurry up,” my brothers say in unison.
The three of us are triplets. First born was Asher Monroe. Firstborns are usually the overachievers in the family, but Monroe seems to have no goals or direction in his life. He likes to play guitar, nick wine from our vast cellar, and smoke weed. He’s smart and artistic, but he doesn’t seem to really care about anything. He can be infuriating when you want him to do something and awesome when you just need to chill.
Then, there’s his polar opposite, Aspen Stevens. He’s a little shorter than Monroe, more muscular, and always has his hair perfectly brushed. He’s the ultimate go-getter, is driven, and thrives at any and all competition—from sports, to getting girls, to drinking said wine. He wants—no, needs—to be the best and always seems to be trying to prove that he is. Both boys take after my mom from a personality standpoint, which is funny because they are so different.
Me? I’m like my dad. We act alike. Share the same emerald-green eyes. Are levelheaded. Balanced. Fair. The only thing I got from my mom is that I hate to be told what to do. Which is hopefully something she’ll relate to.
I’m changing out of my riding clothes and into a simple dress when my phone buzzes with a text.
I pick it up, expecting it to be from Augie. But when I see that it’s not, I let go of my phone immediately, dropping it. Shit.
Branson: Please talk to me. It was just a kiss.
I could reply to my ex-best friend, Branson Johnson.
I could rant.
Say it’s because he’s an asshole. A jerk. A liar. And that I am most definitely not his friend anymore. Not after the way he treated me. But before I get a chance to reply, I get another text.
Branson: We’ve waited so long to be at Eastbrooke together, and I just … I miss you, Laneybug.
I cringe at the nickname he gave me when we were young. Back then, I thought it was sweet. Now, it sounds like a dirty word.
I literally hate it so much that when I went to London, I started using my last name instead. Everyone there knows me as Arrington. And while he is correct that we were both upset when he got to go to Eastbrooke our freshman year and I didn’t—my parents opting to make me and my brothers wait until we were juniors—I’m pretty sure it’s a moot point. Especially since I have no intention of being anywhere near him.
Because I don’t ever want to hear him call me Laneybug again.
I think back to last Christmas. How he told me that he’d like our lifelong friendship to change. That he wanted us to date. And how he went on about how if we kissed on New Year’s Eve, it would make me his for the year.
My mind goes back to that night.
“Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One,” was shouted out by the crowd.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to find him.
“Happy New Year, Laneybug,” he said sweetly.
Then, he leaned in and finally kissed me. And maybe it was because it was midnight at the start of a new year, but it felt special.
“That was an amazing first kiss,” he said tenderly, leaning his forehead against mine.
Except it wasn’t technically my first kiss. But in that moment, it didn’t matter because it was our first kiss. Something I’d been dreaming about.
“I told you I’d kiss you at midnight,” he said with a grin. “And you know what that means.”
“That I’ll be yours all year?” I said, repeating what he’d told me earlier.
“Yes,” he said.
He told me I would be his this year. And really, if we weren’t going to work out romantically, I could have totally handled it. Yes, I loved him. Yes, I did want to kiss him. I did want to see if there might be more to our relationship.
What I didn’t expect was for him to be a liar.
I don’t reply to his text.
Because since the kiss that was just a kiss happened two months ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. Really, all his texts do is remind me of why it’s so important that I convince my parents to let me go to school in London.
I leave my phone in my room and go downstairs to join my family, taking a seat at the dining room table and noticing that our younger siblings, Arden and Steele, are nowhere in sight.
Dad fills the wineglasses in front of us. “Your mother and I have been saving this vintage since you were born,” he says, showing us the bottle. “And it is our sincere hope that you love Eastbrooke as much as we did.” He holds his glass up in the air, and we all follow suit. “To learning, life, and love.”
We clink our glasses together and drink to the toast. Since we live on a vineyard, we’ve been taught about fine wine since we were young, and this one is exceptional.
My mom looks like she’s ready to say something equally heartwarming, and while I’m sure we would all appreciate the sentiment, I know I need to get this over with.
“I have a couple of announcements to make,” I blurt out.
“What is it, Lane?” Aspen asks.
“First off, I’d like to be called Arrington from here on out.”
“Just Arrington?” My mother narrows her eyes at me.
“Why?” Aspen asks. “It’s our last name. Isn’t that kind of weird?”
“I don’t think it’s weird at all. I think it’s a strong name, and it’s what I’m going by now. I hope you will get on board with it,” I say, narrowing my eyes at him.
“Okay, Arrington,” my dad says, making me love him even more. “What else?”
“I’m not going to school at Eastbrooke this year. I will be—”
“What do you mean?” Monroe interrupts.
“Going to Kensington School in London,” I say proudly.
“The school a certain member of the British royal family attends?” my mother asks with a smug smile.
I don’t comment on that. Instead, I launch into the points I’ve been practicing because I don’t want them to think this is about a boy. Even though it sort of is—just not the boy they might think. “It’s close to our home there. I’ll be able to walk to classes. I’ve already met and made friends with some of the students.”
“And how did you get in?” Monroe asks. “It’s gotta be like Eastbrooke with waiting lists and all that.”
“I applied earlier this summer, had an interview with the headmaster, and just found out a few minutes ago that I was accepted.”
My family is all staring at me, their expressions showing a mix of confusion and anger, but I keep going. “I thought I would fly with the boys to Connecticut, drop them off at Eastbrooke, and then have the plane take me back to London.”
“And you didn’t think it might be a good idea to discuss this with your parents?” Mom asks, clearly upset.
“I didn’t want to discuss it with anyone until I got in. And, as I said, that just happened.”
“It happened,” she counters, “because Augie had his father make a call.”
My mouth drops open in shock. “What?! I didn’t get in on my own? I spent so much time on the application. I wrote an amazing essay. Like, I did it all myself. I wanted to do it all myself.”
“They were full,” my dad says casually, like my whole life isn’t hanging in the balance right now.
I can’t go to Eastbrooke. Please, don’t let them make me.
“You could have saved everyone, including yourself, a lot of time and energy if you had discussed it with us first, Aubrey Lane,” my mom says, pulling out my first name, which no one ever uses.
And while I’m upset that I didn’t get in on my own merit, it doesn’t change my decision because under no circumstances am I going to the same school as Branson.
“You always tell me to be my own woman. To make my own decisions,” I argue. “Dad, you tell me that about business all the time. You say that I have a good head on my shoulders. You both know that I want to take over The Arrington clubs someday, but the good news is, I don’t have to wait for someday. I can live in London, go to school, and keep working at our flagship location.”
“Are you telling us this has nothing to do with you dating Augie?” my mother says, and I realize she’s probably known about my acceptance for longer than I have and was just waiting for me to confess.
“While I do enjoy spending time with Augie, we aren’t dating.” At least, not officially. “I also knew his dad could make a call and get me in”—I snap my fingers—“just like that. But I wanted you to take this seriously, so I treated it as such.” I don’t pout. I know better. I sit with my back straight, my posture tall and proud. “Aside from the previously mentioned reasons, I also have a lovely group of friends there.”
“Your brothers are going to Eastbrooke—” Mom says, but I quickly interrupt her.
“Have you even asked them if they still want to go?” I counter. “I mean, Monroe would be happy to stay here and write songs, and Aspen doesn’t really want to leave his soccer team.”
I half-expect Aspen to disagree with me because he’s a bit of a brown-noser when it comes to our parents, but he knows when Mom and I are debating something, it’s probably best to keep his mouth shut.
My mother sighs big, like I’ve pushed her to her limit.
Dad must know it, too, because he speaks up. One thing I love about my dad is that he’s always on my side. “Sorry, Lane—”
“Arrington,” I correct.
“I apologize, Arrington, but you’re going to Eastbrooke. I’d add whether you like it or not and sound like the parent that I am, but the fact is, I know if you give it a chance, you will love it. All three of you will. And to be honest, I’m shocked. You and Branson have been petitioning us for the last two years to let you go to Eastbrooke. Going on about splitting up best friends.”
“He is not my best friend anymore,” I say simply, not wanting to get into that whole situation.
Because it still hurts.
“This conversation is over, and our decision is final,” my dad says. “You’re all going to Eastbrooke. Now, let’s enjoy our dinner and this amazing wine.”
My dad is usually not so inflexible. Which means he’s serious. And I know I’d better just shut up about it.
Fortunately, my brothers have plenty to talk about and keep the conversation going. I listen but don’t add much, then conveniently feign jet lag and head to my room.
I’m at the top of the stairs when I hear my dad’s voice coming from the kitchen
“You’ve got to admit, it is impressive she took the initiative to get into Kensington on her own. That she had everything all set up. Granted, she shouldn’t have sprung it on us like that.”
“No, she shouldn’t have,” my mom agrees. “It was completely disrespectful. To us. To her brothers.”
“We raised her to be a confident young woman. I see so much of you in her. I don’t know why you two always seem to clash.”
“Because she thinks she’s the boss of us,” Mom says.
“I had a call today with the general manager at the London Arrington. He was very impressed with her. I know you think she only wants to do internships so she can travel during the summer, but she works really hard.”
“She wants to take over that side of the business someday. Follow in your footsteps. Because she doesn’t want to be like me,” my mother counters.
That’s not true, I nearly say before slapping my hand across my mouth. I think my mom is an incredible businesswoman and very talented. I just have no desire to be in the movie industry.
“And she needs to understand that she can’t just go anywhere or do anything she wants, whenever she wants.”
I hear my dad chuckle. “Like you did when you were her age? What about your summer in Europe with your boyfriend? If I remember it right from the movies, your parents weren’t too happy about that, but you went anyway.”
I tilt my head and try to hear what Mom’s response is, but they must have moved out of the kitchen.
When I get to my room, my mind is spinning. Could Mom have disobeyed her parents? I mean, she acts like she’s perfect.
Dad must have been referring to the movie series about my mom’s battle with a stalker, much of which was set at Eastbrooke. We were never allowed to watch it when we were younger, and I still haven’t because the thought of seeing Mom go through what she did—even when played by an actor—just doesn’t appeal to me.
But spending a summer in Europe with her boyfriend? What is that all about?
Was she in love with someone who wasn’t Dad?
All of a sudden, I know what I have to do. I run out of my room and into Monroe’s. There’s a pile of clothes tossed on his bed and some suitcases sprawled out, but he’s lounging on a beanbag, strumming a few chords on his guitar. Knowing that inspiration might have struck, I stay quiet until he looks up at me.
“Were you really considering going to a different school without me?” he asks, and I can see the hurt on his face.
“I need to, Roe,” I say. “It’s what’s best for me.”
“Does that mean you’re in love with Augie? Because I always thought you loved Branson.”
“I don’t want to talk about Branson, but I will tell you that I am thoroughly in love with London. That’s not why I’m here though. I have a serious question for you.”
He sits up a little straighter and gives me a grin. “You usually go to Aspen with the serious stuff.”
Which makes me laugh. I look at my brother. He is, in one word, beautiful. And I’m not just talking about his ridiculously handsome face. He’s got the purest soul of anyone I’ve ever met, and I trust him implicitly.
“Have you ever watched The Keatyn Chronicles movie series?”
He’s a little taken aback. I don’t think that was the question he was expecting. “Uh, no. I don’t think I’d be able to handle it, knowing it was what Mom went through. Why?”
“Because it’s set at Eastbrooke.”
He narrows his eyes at me, not convinced.
“Okay, fine. I overheard Dad saying he was kind of impressed that I did all the work to get into Kensington on my own. Then, Mom said that I shouldn’t think I can just do whatever I want. And Dad’s response was about how Mom did something like it in the movie—in her life—before him.”
“And you’re dying to find out what she did?”
“Yeah, kind of. Aren’t you? Come on. We’ll do a marathon. Watch all three movies. Stay up all night.”
“What movies?” Aspen says from the doorway.
“The Keatyn Chronicles,” I tell him. “Have you ever watched them?”
“No, we weren’t allowed to.”
“We’re being sent to Eastbrooke. Don’t you think we should see what all the fuss is about?”
“You might be right about that.” Aspen grins. “Tell you what. I’ll go make our favorite hot-wing popcorn. Roe, you grab some wine. What do you think—a nice brut champagne or a Zinfandel?”
“Champagne for sure,” I say. “And no flutes. I suspect we’ll have to drink straight from the bottle to get through this.”
“We need to go somewhere private,” Monroe says. “I don’t want Mom and Dad to know about this. Or for Steele and Arden to overhear.”
“We could sneak into the Captive Films offices,” Aspen says, referring to the company Mom owns on a nearby property. “And watch it in the screening room. They aren’t filming right now. No one would be around.”
And I can’t help but gasp. “You want to break into the offices?” I tease because Aspen runs on the straight and narrow. He’s always been the perfect child.
“I have a better idea,” Monroe says. “Let’s go out to one of the guesthouses once everyone is asleep.”
The sun is starting to rise when we watch the ending scene in the last movie, where the character playing our mom gives the character playing our dad the deed to a vineyard property. She tells him about how she bought it for him when she didn’t think she’d survive her showdown with the stalker, and he tells her they are going to build their mansion of love on that very spot. I have tears running down my face, and my brothers seem to be equally touched—mostly because we live in their mansion of love on that piece of property.
“Wow,” Monroe says. “I had no idea.”
“Me neither,” Aspen agrees. “And to think, right after the series premiere, Dad took Mom to the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset and proposed.”
“And Mom told Dad she was pregnant,” I say.
“With us,” Monroe adds. “You have to admit, Eastbrooke looks like a really good time.”
“Mom certainly had fun there,” I say.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get over the emotional scars of seeing her sleep with Uncle Dawson,” Monroe says. “I know he’s not technically our uncle, but eww.”
“Not to mention, Dad!” I say. “He was a total player! The kind of guy he would want me to avoid. He always says that when I’m old enough to date, I should like a nice young man.”
“But then he met Mom,” Aspen counters dreamily.
“Still, my point is that Mom slept around. She partied, smoked, and spent money like it was going out of style. She spent a summer traveling all over Europe with her surfer boyfriend when she was our age, and she had the nerve to get mad at me for wanting to go to the school of my choice?” I take another swig from my bottle of champagne but then realize it’s empty.
Monroe runs his hand through what’s left of the buffalo-wing popcorn. “And while I think it’s cool and all that Dad made this kind of popcorn for Grandma while she had cancer … I don’t know if I can forget Mom and Dad on the kitchen counter.”
“And what about their first time? At Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding. Really?” I say.
“That was hot,” Aspen says, surprising both me and Monroe. He must see the look of horror on our faces because he goes, “What? It’s not like it was actually Mom and Dad in the scene. They were actors. I can also see why they loved Eastbrooke so much. And why they are still friends with so many of their classmates.”
Monroe leans back and looks up at the ceiling. “It’s no wonder they never let us watch this. They are so strict, but now, we know. We don’t need to bother trying to hide the fact that we smoke a little when we want to chill. We don’t need to pretend we were good in the Hamptons this summer and never drank once when, in fact, we were rarely not drinking. We can literally do anything they did, and they can’t get mad at us.” A smile forms on his face. “We’re gonna have some fun at school.”
We sneak back into our rooms and sleep most of the morning. And although I don’t want to go to a different school than my brothers, I have to go to London.
So, I lie in bed, wrapped up in a blanket, and write down counterpoints as to why I should be allowed to. If Mom could go abroad with her boyfriend at sixteen, surely, I can go live in a fully staffed home we already own and to a prestigious school, where I’ve already made friends.
My phone buzzes. I see a text from HRH—the name Prince Augie put for himself, obviously standing for His Royal Highness.
HRH: I heard you finally got in! We’re going to have a top-notch year together!
I start typing a reply, explaining how my parents reacted. How they said I couldn’t go to school in London.
But then I stop and think about what else I want to say. How I was right to be worried about when I’d see him again. How much I’m going to miss him. How I hope he’s not mad at me. And how I’m thinking of disobeying my parents and going anyway.
I write it all out.
Read through it.
Rewrite it four more times.
But none of my responses are able to convey the full spectrum of emotions I am feeling.
Finally, I give up and toss my phone into a chair across the room, needing some distance from it. Because I know I’m probably not going to reply at all.
I just can’t send him those words. If I do, it will make this all real.
My phone vibrates from the chair.
I ignore it.
It vibrates again, taunting me.
I sigh loudly and give in, jumping off the bed to see what else he said.
HRH: I know it’s only been ninety-eight and three-quarters hours—not that I’m counting—but tell me you’re busy packing.
I think back to when we were saying goodbye on the plane. How I’m pretty sure he was going to say he was in love with me.
And how I didn’t know if I could handle hearing it and then having to leave.
Now, I’m wishing I had heard those words. Soaked them in. Told him I felt the same way.
What I need to do is convince my parents that my decision isn’t just about Augie. It’s about a specific someone who I don’t want to go to school with. Someone who took the dream I had of what Eastbrooke would be like and smashed it into a million pieces.
A brilliant idea pops into my head.
I rush to my desk, open the bottom drawer, dig around to find my Eastbrooke acceptance packet, and rifle through the papers until I find the one with pertinent dates.
Check-in at Eastbrooke is on Monday with new-student orientation and rush following. Classes start on August 29th.
But classes don’t start at Kensington until September 7th.
And I know exactly what I’ve got to do.