Home > Love(Secrets in L.A. Book 2)

Love(Secrets in L.A. Book 2)
Author: Molly McAdams

 

 

For Isabel

 

 

I scrambled from my bed and hurried over to the window when rapid knocks sounded on the pane. Hushing the girl I knew I’d find on the other side even though she couldn’t hear me yet.

Quietly easing back my blinds, I held my index finger to my lips and earned an exaggerated eye roll as my best friend impatiently bounced on her toes, waiting for me to unlock and open my window.

“I hate her,” Stevie hissed as soon as she was climbing into my room. “I hate her.”

I stepped back, waiting for her to jump over my dresser the way she did every night she snuck in, then rushed to close the window again.

“Have I mentioned I hate her?” she asked once I was passing her on my way back to my bed.

“Have I mentioned you’re going to get kidnapped or run over one of these times you ride over here?”

She snorted. “I’m too annoying to kidnap.”

“Wait until they find out how much money your dad has,” I teased as I fell onto my bed, holding the comforter back for her. “They might reconsider keeping you around.”

“Good point,” she said on a soft gasp as if she were more intrigued than disturbed. “I’ll be sure to be kidnap-ready next time.”

“You’re such an idiot,” I mumbled and let the comforter fall around us once she was settled.

Her mischievous expression faltered and her voice lowered when she repeated, “I hate her.”

“I know,” I whispered and grabbed her hand in mine. “What happened this time?”

“I found him looking at his wedding ring, crying,” she said in the same soft tone, then let her stare shift to the pillow beneath us.

I squeezed Stevie’s hand tighter as I watched her try to stifle her pain and replace it with anger. The way she’d done ever since her mom left without warning when we were seven. Refusing to ever let anyone see her hurt—a weakness, as she thought of it.

“I don’t understand why he’s still waiting around for her after all these years. And I hate that she still has such a hold on him. I don’t want that. I never want someone to be able to have that kind of ownership over me.” She pushed up on her elbow and looked down at me. “Promise me something.”

“Anything,” I said without thought. Stevie had been my best friend since kindergarten. She was like a sister to me . . . I’d do anything for her.

“Promise me that it will be you and me forever. That we won’t let boys make us forget that relationships are the worst.”

“Hey,” I said, releasing her hand to gesture to myself.

“Or girls,” she added on quickly, apology weaving through the words. “Promise we won’t ever let them have our hearts, that way they can’t destroy them.” She sat up and held out her pinky. “You and me. Forever. Like, old and fat and gray, sitting on a porch making fun of people, never letting anyone get close enough to hurt us.”

I hooked my pinky through hers and vowed, “Forever,” sure that Stevie would be the first one to break, considering she had a new crush every week.

“Thanks, Ari,” she breathed as she flopped back to her side with a shaky breath. “You know, this would be a lot easier if you were attracted to me and if I liked girls.”

A sharp laugh left me, and I hurried to press my lips together to quiet it. “If only you were blonde and not you.”

“I don’t know if I should be offended by that,” she murmured, her face scrunching up before a giggle broke from her. “Do you think your parents know yet?”

I lifted my shoulder. “I think they started assuming after the fiftieth time they found you in my bed after you’d snuck into my room.”

“Sometimes I just need my best friend to fall asleep,” she claimed, all offense.

“Right, because that’s normal for a fourteen-year-old to say,” I said dryly even though my mouth kept twitching into a smirk. “They probably think it’s all your fault.”

“Well . . .” She raised an eyebrow, her next laugh pouring free when I pushed her away.

“Go to sleep, Stevie.”

“Okay, Mom,” she mocked grumpily but snuggled closer. My eyes had just closed when her soft voice sounded. “Hey, best friend?”

“Yeah, best friend?”

“Thanks for being there when I need you.”

I grabbed her hand in mine and squeezed tight. “Always.”

“You and me forever?” she asked uncertainly, a hint of her pain and fear sneaking into her question.

“No relationships and no love,” I acknowledged. “Just us until we’re old and fat and gray.”

 

 

The words, “This has to be some kind of mistake,” fell from my lips as I looked at the large gate that separated us from the equally large driveway and mansion. An uneasy sort of confusion unfurled inside me as I took a hesitant step away from my boyfriend. “Do I—I mean, should I try the code she sent me?”

He glanced over his shoulder at the other mansions lining the street, then studied the keypad in front of us, his dejection and defeat growing deeper by the minute now that we were actually in Los Angeles. “Might as well,” he muttered before folding his arms over his chest.

“It’s going to be fine,” I whispered, trying to assure him as I opened my messages and scrolled to the whole reason I was there. Well, not there as in Los Angeles. Just there as in standing outside a gated driveway.

When I’d gotten my dream job at a Los Angeles hospital over six hundred miles away from home, I’d grabbed it before it could disappear. Afraid it would be just that: A dream.

When an offer to live in a place with four other girls my age—one of whom would be on my new shift—fell into my lap, I didn’t hesitate to sign the contract.

When I’d been sent a four-digit code by one of my new roommates, I’d assumed it would get me inside the door of a building that maybe had bars on the windows and a few bugs here and there. Somewhere we’d be overly cramped and lacking personal space considering my rent was crazy low. Something I could totally laugh about in the future in a they-were-the-best-years-of-my-life kind of way . . .

I hadn’t expected the code to get me onto the driveway leading up to the largest house I’d ever seen.

I located the numbers Ariana had sent me and reached forward to enter them, once again hesitating when my boyfriend asked, “How do you even know she’s a nurse? What if this has all been a setup?”

My eyes rolled and a soft laugh crawled up my throat. “A setup for what?”

“Have you seen the house she sent you to?”

“Yeah, Caleb. I’m looking at it.” My smile widened, all amused affection. “The lady in Human Resources gave me Ariana’s number—I’m sure she’s a nurse and not setting me up for anything you can come up with today to try to talk me out of moving.”

A grunt sounded in his chest and turned into a defeated sigh when the gate opened after I hit enter.

“No way,” I muttered and then twisted, looking up and down the street the way Caleb had just done. An incredulous huff bursting from me. “I did that with the code, right?” My gaze flashed to Caleb for only a moment before searching the street again and then drifting to the driveway. “There isn’t someone leaving or pulling in or something else much more reasonable?”

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