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Discovering Me (Book 1 of Discovering Me Series)

By @ess1223

Four Walls - Broods

{Isabella}

We weren’t completely sure about what we would be walking into accommodations wise. We all had a general idea that they’d be nice because Milo’s family was paying, but that didn’t keep us from being floored by what we walked into. The hotel did not have a single suite that could house ten of us, not including Milo’s distance guards. To solve the problem, they rented the entire top floor. They stated it was for security purposes. We were far from challenging them on that decision. It was the top floor of a luxury Manhattan hotel, the views were nothing short of spectacular and every amenity imaginable was within reach.

Our first order of business was to stake a claim on our rooms. We certainly had the space to have our own, but I didn’t want one. I was scared it would feel too much like my penthouse, which was only a few short blocks away.

~

I knocked on the door I watched Elle walk into. She answered almost immediately.

“How may I help you?” She smiled, placing one of her hands on her hip.

“This will probably sound weird, but I was wondering if I could room with you.”

“Not weird at all. There are two beds and only one me.” She ushered me inside.

“Thank you. I don’t want to be alone here.” I wheeled my purple suitcase inside the room. “Which one’s yours?” I pointed to the beds.

“The one by the window.” 

I placed my suitcase on the other bed. 

“You don’t like it here in New York, do you?” She resumed unpacking. 

I unzipped my suitcase and started to do the same. 

“It’s hard to be back after leaving, especially with you guys. You’re my fresh start, and this is the city I burned to the ground. It’s hard for me to feel comfortable here.”

“I don’t mind helping.” She walked over to the dresser and pulled open the top drawer.

I ran a hand through my hair. “I don’t know how you can.”

“I won’t leave you.” She looked over her shoulder to look at me.

I fought off a smile and flickered my eyes to her. “You’d do that?”

“Absolutely. We do it all the time. We have our late night cry sessions. We vent about the things going on in our heads. We don’t belittle or demean each other’s problems. Whatever we say, we regard it as real because it matters to us. It’s nice to be heard. I’m all ears.” She placed a stack of clothes into her drawer. 

“Thank you.” I walked over to the other side of the drawers.

“No need. You’re the sister I’ve always wanted.” She picked up another stack.

“Really?” 

“Bad, good or whatever, I know you’ll be there. Why wouldn’t I do the same for you?” She shrugged.

“It’s tough for me to feel worth it sometimes. Burning diamonds.” I initiated our pact agreement when my negative thoughts started trickling in.

“I adore your silly sense of humor. I can giggle about anything with you. You’re relentlessly loyal. You give good hugs. You’re a sweetheart, but you don’t let people walk all over you. You’re a divine dancer. Oh, and your randomness keeps things interesting.” She offered me a warm smile. 

“Aw, you really think that about me?” I couldn’t keep a smile off my face as I placed my hand on my chest.

“You need to stop acting so surprised when I compliment you. You’re amazing and I love you.”

“I love you too.” I flashed her a smile of my own.

 After we finished unpacking, we went to check out everyone else’s rooms. We walked across the hall and knocked on the door. Verna opened the door. 

“Oh, sorry. We thought Milo –” I started to apologize. 

“He’s in here. First room on the left.” She opened the door wider for us. 

We discovered that he was staying in a two-bedroom suite with a living room. I picked up an apple from the fruit basket we passed on our way to his room and took a bite. Elle knocked on his door while I enjoyed my snack.

“Hello, ladies. Where are you residing?” He leaned onto his doorway.

“The room across the hall.” Elle pointed. 

I nodded to contribute with my mouth full. 

 “You are sharing?” Confusion was written all over his face. 

“Slumber parties are fun. You’re missing out with a single room.” She smiled.

 “My babysitter is sharing a suite with me. My room will be the exact opposite of yours.” 

“We’ll be over here for snacks. You’ll have some residual fun.” I chimed in between bites.

He chuckled. “I will be counting on that.”

“Dude, have you felt these bathrobes? I want to live in mine.” Ryan showed up behind us.

Elle made no attempt to hide the fact that she was checking him out. 

“Like what you see?” His signature smirk crept onto his face.

She narrowed her eyes. 

“Baby, there’s no need to fight this. We’d look great together.” 

“Grow a brain and I’ll think about it.” She patted him on the chest and walked past. 

“Let’s go, Iz.” She took my hand. 

“Later, fellas.” I called over my shoulder as she led me out of Milo’s suite. 

“That boy is beautiful.” She told me as soon as we were in the hall.

I giggled. “And you ran away from him.”

“He can’t know I think he looks good. He’s already full of himself. Imagine how bad he’d be if I gave him my stamp of approval. This is a war, Iz. I will be winning it.” She stated over-dramatically.

I giggled. “I know you will. You’re very tactful and cunning.” 

“He’s actually really smart. I hate that he sells himself short.” She informed me as she knocked on the next door.

“Have you checked out the robes? They’re amazing.” Sami opened the door wearing a robe identical to Ryan’s. 

“Ryan informed us. You’re right next door to us.” Elle replied.

“Where’d you get the apple?” She eyed my snack.

“Milo’s suite. They have a fruit basket along a million other things.” 

“Score.” She walked past us and went to his door. 

“She gets easily distracted when food’s involved.” Elle informed me as we moved on to the next door. 

“Hi, Finn, I’ll have to hit you if you mention the bathrobe.” She smiled when he opened the door.

“We have robes?” He turned around and started looking for it.

“******! It is just a robe! Not a miracle!” She cried in frustration. I giggled.

“Where’s food?” He reappeared at the door in his plush robe.

“Milo’s suite.” Elle groaned, pointing to it. 

“Sweet.” He walked over there in his robe, exactly like Sami did.

“I’m convinced they are the same person.” I giggled. 

“You can’t say stuff like that to their faces. They will deny it in every way imaginable. They are barely speaking at this point.” She started to knock on the next door. 

“Hey, Nick, how are you?” She made a conscious decision not to mention the robe the others fell in love with.

“Fine. How are you?” He offered us a sweet smile as he smoothed down his sandy blonde hair. 

Elle walked forward and hugged him. “Nick, thank you for not mentioning the robe.”

“We have robes?” He tried to pull away.

“Don’t you dare. No, you’re going to be my favorite.” She tightened her hold on him.

I giggled. 

“At least tell me where you got the food.” He compromised. 

She sighed heavily. “Milo’s suite.” She pointed to it. 

“Awesome.” He went past us. 

“Morgan’s my last hope. ” We went to her door. 

“Hey. Where is everybody?” She smiled at us. 

“Milo’s room, freaking out about bathrobes.” Elle answered dryly.

“Why? It’s just a robe.” Morgan shrugged.

“THANK YOU!” Elle immediately engulfed her into a constricting hug. “I’ve always loved you, Mom.” 

She giggled and patted her back. “I love you too.” 

“Since they are all over there, we might as well join them.” I suggested.

“You went back for the robe, Nicholas?!” Elle cried when she noticed Nick was wearing one too.

“Milo gave me the second one in his room. It’s so soft.” He replied timidly. 

“Baby, you will be much happier if you just gave into the power of the robe.” Ryan told her. 

“You sound like a cult leader.” She retorted. 

“You’d have a good time. I don’t see the issue.” He shrugged. 

I threw my apple core in the trash and walked up to Milo. I couldn’t resist the urge to laugh because he was wearing the beloved bathrobe too. 

“Ry lured you into his cult?”

“He was very convincing. You are the one that sent them over here to attack my fruit basket.” He retorted with a smirk.

I started petting his bathrobe. “It’s like a puppy.” 

“I know. It is amazing.”

“I’d go get mine, but Elle would be furious if I sided with the frenemy. I’ll just have to soak up the greatness that exudes from yours.” I thought aloud, still petting him.

He chuckled lightly. “You are so cute.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Mhmm.” He leaned down to kiss me.

I turned my face, his lips landing on my cheek.

“Why-?”

I nodded over to his bodyguards, who were all eying me with distain.

“It is impossible to win them over. You might as well behave normally.”

“There’s already so much they think they know about me. I can control this. I don’t want them to think this is what you keep me around for.”

“I understand.” He failed to mask his disappointment.

“Milo, I have a phone call for you.” Verna extended her cellphone to him.

He walked away to speak to the caller in private.

I could feel her silently judging me in his absence. I ran a hand through my hair and took a deep breath. I did my best to ignore her and the others who were a part of Milo’s royal entourage by engaging with my friends. I learned early on that they had made their minds up about me. I was watching Ryan and Elle bicker about the bathrobe when a familiar arm encircle my waist.

“I missed you.” I smiled up at him.

“So needy.” He joked. 

I fought off a smile and rolled my eyes. 

We wasted no time starting our educational excursion. We spent most of the day at museums. Our evening involved dinner at a fine restaurant and tickets to see the New York Ballet Company perform.

A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I walked into the David H. Koch theatre.

It was a place I always loved, even as a child. I would wear my nicest dress, have my hair styled, and my shoes polished to a brilliant shine. It was long before I felt like I needed to be their perfect doll. I was still under the naïve impression that I was my father’s little princess, the one he wanted me to look nice because she deserved it. And to an eight year old whose mother rained insults on her 24/7, having him take care of me and escort me to a magical place where all of my favorite fairytales came to life was everything I ever wanted. Sharing my dream with him and silently listening as he ripped it to shreds is how I came to terms with the reality of our relationship. He needed to keep up appearances and that included me the moment I was placed in his custody. He stopped taking me, fearing that he was giving me the wrong impression of whom I was able to grow up to be. Bosworth took his place. The first time, he pointed to the name listed beside prima ballerina and said, “you’ll be here one day. I know it”. The Koch was a place of love in a city of darkness.

I held onto Milo’s arm as I confidently strode through the lobby.

“You have not stopped smiling since dinner.” He smiled down at me as we waited in line.

“Can you keep a secret?”

“Depends on how good it is.”

“This is my favorite place in the world.”

“Are you sure you can make that sort of declaration? You have yet to travel to every part of the world. You have not even been to Listonenia.”

“This is your first time in New York.”

“Touché. I will have to return the favor.”

“And what, show me your favorite place in Listonenia?”

“Only if you knew how to swim.”

“I know how to swim. I can’t do it well. There’s a difference.”

“My apologies, Miss.”

“You’re cute. I like you.” I softly pressed my lips to his. 

Verna handed our tickets to the usher. Our seats were on a private balcony. I read the program as we waited for the show to start. As I skimmed the list of sponsors, I recognized Colt’s grandparents’ names.

“Excuse me.” I clambered through the aisle disgracefully.

I rushed to the bathroom and locked myself inside of a stall. I called Audrey as my hands violently vibrated.

“Hi, Sweetie, I thought you were attending the ballet tonight.”

The room slowly shrank inside and the majority of oxygen was eliminated each time I inhaled. I felt as though I would vomit if I opened my mouth without preparation.

I swallowed hard to keep from retching. “I am. I’m here. I can’t–“

“Where are you? What is going on?” Her abrupt tone allowed me to register what she was saying.

“His family funded the show. He’s everywhere, Aud. I can’t –“ I wheezed.

“I have talked to the lawyer. There will be a trial. He won’t walk away free and clear of all charges. They have really added up and you’re not the only one.”

“What?” 

“You are not the only one he has done this to. Another girl has come forward. They suspect there are others who are too scared to do the same.”

“Who? Do I know her?”

“Probably. I can’t remember specifics. I’m sorry. Emmy has been keeping Ev and I up all night.”

“I’m sorry for the added pressure. Get some sleep.”

“I’m fine. I want you to be too. Enjoy the show. You’ve always loved NYBC. Don’t let him take it away.”

I nodded and exhaled. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Izzie Bee. Hold your head up high. You’re doing the right thing.”

“Is everyone on your end doing okay?”

“Yes. Your niece is looking forward to meeting you this week.”

“I can’t wait to shower her with kisses.”

“I’m sure you will.-“

“Izzie–?” Elle’s voice echoed in the vacated restroom.

“I’ll be right out!” I called back in response.

“Elle’s here. I have to go, but I’ll be in touch.”

“Call me tomorrow. I want to know how the rest of your night goes.”

“I will. Bye.” I returned my phone to my clutch.

I timidly exited the bathroom stall. “Please say you haven’t been looking for me.”

“I have, but I played it off as a pair ladies room visit.”

“I’m fine. Really. I’ve regrouped. Did Milo say anything?” I washed my hands.

“No. It’s easy to see that he’s still in the dark, but I get it.”

“I laugh far more than I cry. I try to keep it light, take as much pressure off of him as I can. He contributed to none of this. I don’t want to hold him accountable for it.”

“I’ve done all of that. Lately, it’s gotten to the point to where I’ll gauge whether or not they can handle all of me. If they lack the maturity, I cut all ties. I’m better off alone than faking it.”

“It’s different for you. You get asked out a lot.” I watched as she smoothed on a fresh layer of lipstick.

“Simply subtract the boys who like me as a person from the ones who think I’m hot and we’re pulling similar numbers. I’m a lot to handle; I’ve more than come to terms with that.”

We returned to our seats just before the show started. Milo and I held hands on our shared armrest. I allowed the show to transport me to a different time. 

It was close to midnight by the time we were back at our hotel. I texted Milo and asked him to stay awake before I hopped in the shower. Elle was fast asleep when I crept out of our room. I used my phone to notify him of my arrival at his suite. He granted me access without a sound. We convened on the terrace. We shared a lounge chair, needing the body heat for adequate warmth.

“You asked me to let you in the other day. I think I’m ready.” I rested my head on his shoulder.

“I want you to know, not think.”

“And I want you to. It will help you understand where my head will be at while we are here.” 

“Start whenever you are ready.” He placed a kiss on the top of my head. He rubbed my back soothingly.

I told him the whole story. He listened; he even had questions. I preferred them to silent judgment or inference. I answered them with complete honesty, aware of the consequences of their weight. We didn’t talk much after my explanations concluded. He held me close as we both mentally processed my admissions. 

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