Become a Book Nerd
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The running up group from the junior cl*** took the school’s accommodations in our place. The official story was that our parents did not approve. The group was happy and so were we. At least I was until a bodyguard and an advisor were in my room bright and early the morning we were scheduled to leave for New York. I was annoyed the moment they opened their mouths. Gaston riffled through my belongings. As he did, Verna gave me my friends’ background checks to read.
Instead of invading my friends’ personal lives, I pretended to read them without my contacts or glasses on. It’s a trick I started doing years prior. Unfortunately, Verna caught on to what I was doing when I had to slip on my glasses to read a text message from Iz. She then resumed pressuring me to read them. I chose that moment to announce that I hadn’t packed and needed to do so. It wasn’t a complete deflection tactic, I really didn’t pack prior to their arrival. I thought I had successfully dodged her. At least I didn’t until she started reading them aloud.
“Your Highness, Isabella is not a suitable match for you.” Verna broke down for me gently.
“For the trillionth time, call me Milo — not Prince Milo, not ‘Your Highness’ — just Milo. I know you have not been told to discuss Izzie. Wilmer told me yesterday.” I shoved clothes into my suitcase at random.
“The Queen requested as I was — ” Verna started to say.
“Tell my mother to call me and voice her grievances herself if she disapproves of my current companion.”
“Prince Milo, you must understand both of your parents are very busy. We are here to aid in all aspects of your lives.”
“This particular aspect is none of your business. I am not at will to listen to you speak ill of someone I care about.” I stated sternly.
I looked at her pointedly.
“I mean Milo, I’m going to step out to make a call. Let me know if you need anything.” She curtsied and exited my room.
“I don’t have anything. May I have five seconds to myself?” I zipped up my suitcase in frustration.
“Yes, Sir.” He bowed and left the room.
I lay down on my bed and closed my eyes. I took a deep cleansing breath. My phone vibrated in my pocket and I brought it to my ear without reading the name.
“Hello?” I glumly sighed into the phone.
“Getting along great with our new travel buddies?” Iz replied lightly.
“Oh, yeah. I had background checks read to me by my advisor as I packed. My bodyguard riffled through all my stuff looking for drugs and alcohol. I feel bad for being such a party ****** and not having anything for him to find.” I played along, feeling a little better after I did.
“Fun! I’m bummed I missed out. Settle a bet I made with myself. What was mentioned first: my stay in rehab or my professional party girl status?”
“Party girl status. Did you win your bet?”
“Yes. I knew they’d save the eye-opener for last. It’s one of the principles of storytelling. They seem like rule following people to me. I can’t wait to feel their judgment.” She said playfully.
I smiled into the phone. “How can you joke about this? It is pretty serious.”
“I partied as an attempt to feel something when I felt empty. I spent my summer in a rehabilitation facility because I had an eating disorder. It happened. It’s mine. I can do what I want with it. And I feel like laughing.”
My smile widened. “I love you.”
“I know. That’s why I called to make sure you were still Milo.”
“And if I wasn’t?”
“I’d coax you back out. I almost had to. I called just in the nick of time. I might have superpowers.”
I chuckled. “That would explain a lot of things.”
There was a knock on my door. “You may enter.” I called to them in response.
“Ryan’s doing something stupid.” Nick informed me.
I breathed a laugh. “I’m going to need to you be way more specific.”
“He initiated and is participating in a weightlifting/staring contest with your bodyguard.”
“What?” I stood up from my bed. “Babe, I’m going to have to call you back in a second.”
“Better yet, show up at my place so we can leave.”
I smiled. “Okay. I can handle that. Bye.”
“Bye.” She kissed me through the phone.
I followed Nick into our living room. There, I saw Ryan and Gaston sitting in the armchairs on opposite sides of the room, keeping their eyes focused on each other as they lifted dumbbells.
“Ryan, what the **** are you doing?” I cried in confusion.
“I’m proving to Gaston that I’m stronger than I was last spring break. I am fully capable of kicking his *** if the need to do so arises.” He kept his eyes locked on Gaston as he curled and uncurled the weight he was holding.
Oddly enough, my bodyguard seemed to be just as into their contest as he was.
“I took you down easily last time. I can certainly do it again.” Gaston taunted.
“You got lucky, old man!” Ryan started lifting his dumbbell twice as fast.
“Sams and I have a bet going to see who will break eye contact first.” Finn informed me from his prime seat on the couch between them. I finally noticed Sami was sitting beside him.
“Hey, Sami.” I greeted.
“Your bodyguard better lose. I’m banking on Ry.”
“You’re a true friend. Imagine me glaring at you, Finnegan.” Ryan commented.
“Being strong is one of his job requirements. He is the logical choice.” He retorted.
“Are we really going to watch this stupid contest all of spring break?” I called to them.
Before they could answer, Gaston and Ryan both shot their heads in my direction at the same time, disqualifying them both.
“It’s not stupid!” They shouted in unison.
“******, MILES! Do you understand how close I was to winning?!” Ryan cried dramatically, standing up from his chair.
“This will commence later. The hotel has a gym.” He pointed to Gaston before storming off to his room.
I shook my head at him before returning to mine. I packed up the final things I needed for New York. Within fifteen minutes, we were on our way to the girls’ suite to pick them up. I knocked on the door and hoped Izzie would be the one to open it.
“Good morning. I’m Elle. Welcome to our home.” She smiled and opened the door for us.
“Eleanor?” Verna prepared her roster.
“We’re nickname people. Elle or Ellen, never Eleanor.” She corrected politely.
“I will make a note of that.”
“And Morgan and Isabella?” She looked to Elle when she was done.
“Morgan’s fine with her name. It’s Izzie or Iz, rarely Isabella. She writes it on things, but never says it.”
“Where is she?” I asked.
“In her room last minute packing. Mom’s helping.”
“Mom?” Verna stopped typing and looked up to Elle with an eyebrow raised.
“That’s what we call Morgan. She has maternal ways. We’re the only ones allowed to call her that.”
“Lookin good, Elle.” Ryan checked her out.
Instead of dressing for comfort like the rest of us, she was in one of her signature outfits — a dress, heels, and perfectly coordinating accessories.
She looked at him. “Are you complimenting my style choices or imagining me naked?”
“Both.” He kept his eyes on hers.
Sami kicked his shin to knock him down a peg.
I headed in the direction of Izzie’s room. I knocked on the door once before entering. Izzie was sitting down on her suitcase to keep it closed as Morgan zipped it.
“You are slowing us down, Miss.” I joked.
She looked to me, fighting off a smile. “You just finished packing too. We’re equally bad procrastinators.”
“Hey, Morgan. Thanks for helping her along.”
She giggled. “It’s what I do.” She finished zipping.
Izzie hopped down and placed her suitcase on the floor.
“They are driving me crazy.” I wrapped my arms around her waist.
“Not in a good way?” She smiled up at me.
I poked out my bottom lip and shook my head.
“Poor princey.” She leaned up and kissed me.
“Is this mine?” I pinched a clump of the cardigan she was wearing.
“Finder’s keepers.” She smiled cheekily.
“Is this an official relationship rule?”
She nodded. “It’s practically a royal decree.” She fought off a smile.
“Very cute.” I leaned down and kissed her once more.
I rolled her suitcase to the front room. She walked beside me with her backpack.
Verna greeted Morgan in a warm and inviting manner. When her eyes shifted to Izzie, she was ice.
“My name is Izzie. It’s nice to meet you.” She smiled from ear to ear and offered her her hand.
She was clearly taken off guard by her attempt at courteousness. “V-Verna.”
“My sister’s middle name is Vera. I know it’s a completely different name, but I really don’t know what else to say.” She giggled in discomfort.
“That is quite alright. We should leave now to remain on schedule.”
The lot of us clamored out of their suite. Elle locked the door behind us.
“I apologize for her rudeness. She had no right to treat you that way.”
“It was to be expected. Relax. I’m okay with it.” She intertwined her fingers with mine as we walked.
I kissed the top of her head.
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