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“Nothing, nothing at all. I bet you he’s still the same ol’ Landon he was all those years ago, except with more expensive cars.”

She said the words as if she didn’t care, but I knew she was nervous. Shay picked at her fingernails when her nerves were high, and she hadn’t stopped doing so since I’d told her about the party.

We knocked on the front door, and Greyson opened it, giving us a small smile. “Hey, you two, you look amazing. I’m just finishing up my hair,” he said as he brushed gel into it to slick it back.

He wore an all-black tuxedo, and it fit him like a glove, showing off every muscle on his body and his best…well, assets.

He turned to walk away and Shay lowered her voice. “Left cheek, right cheek, cheek cheek cheek…” she whispered.

I nudged her, feeling my face blush, because yes, I had noticed his butt.

Oh, how cheeky Grey’s cheeks can be.

When he came back out, he was sliding his wallet into his back pocket with a bright smile on his face. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Wait, you’re all going?” Karla asked, coming into the living room. “Don’t tell me Madison is coming over to babysit us.”

“No,” Greyson told her, fixing the cuffs of his sleeves. “I figured you could look after your sister.”

Karla’s eyes widened, and I swore I saw her jaw hit the floor. “What? You want me to watch Lorelai?”

“Well, yes. I just don’t think it makes sense to have someone come and babysit, when you’re old enough to do it. I mean, if you’re up for it,” Greyson said, cocking an eyebrow. “If not, I can call—”

“No!” Karla shot back quickly, tossing her hands into the air. She then realized her exaggerated response, lowered her arms, and cleared her throat. “I mean, it’s whatever. I’ll watch her.”

“Thanks, Karla. That means a lot to me. Have a good night. Call if you need anything,” Greyson told her.

“Yeah, okay, bye.”

As Greyson turned away from his stunned daughter, he looked at me and smiled as he mouthed, Thank you.

I nodded once, feeling as if that win was exactly what both he and his daughter needed.

Greyson led me and Shay to the limo, and he opened the door for us to climb in.

Gosh, I felt like I was going to prom—a really expensive, star-studded, high-class prom.

Greyson climbed in, and the driver shut the door for us. “Okay, so, I didn’t want to freak you out, Ellie, because I know you’re an introvert by nature, but there is a red carpet we’re going to have to walk—you know, for promotional purposes. There will be a lot of people from the press there, especially with the list of celebrities Landon had invited, so I just don’t want you to be overwhelmed.”

I cringed at the thought.

Seriously my biggest nightmare.

Greyson must’ve noticed, and he placed his hand on my knee, squeezing it lightly. “Don’t worry. I’ll be there the whole time to get you through it.”

And just like that, I was taken back to when he was a teenager escorting me to my first dance, telling me everything would be okay. It was funny how memories came so quick to leave impressions on one’s heart.

I smiled and nodded, trying to ignore my wild thoughts.

“What about you, Shay? Are you comfortable with walking the red carpet with us?”

Shay laughed, shaking her head. “Greyson, I’ve been pretending to walk the red carpet since I was two years old. This is history in the making. I was born for this.”

She wasn’t lying. When we were kids, she’d dress up in my aunt’s heels and walk back and forth, posing as if the paparazzi were following her everywhere. This was Shay’s dream come true.

As we pulled up to the venue, everything looked make-believe. There were dozens upon dozens of people walking the long red carpet. Flashes of light popped up everywhere, and the amount of security was beyond insane. There was a fence to keep the public from getting too close to the celebrities, and oh, my gosh I am going to vomit. Right there, in front of all those cameras, I was going to freaking vomit.

Greyson squeezed my knee again, and I pretended it didn’t make every inch of me melt into his touch.

“Okay, ladies, ready? It’s showtime,” he said as the door of the limo was opened. He stepped out first then reached for Shay’s hand. He helped her out of the vehicle, and then he reached for me next.

My body was trembling.

My forehead was sweating, and I was really angry at myself for not wearing extra-strength deodorant. Just when I was about to fall apart, just when I was about to dash away and break into an awkward run, Greyson’s hand landed on my lower back. He leaned to whisper against my ear. “Don’t worry, Ellie. I got you. And also…” He pulled back a little and locked eyes with me “—you look beyond beautiful tonight.”


Chills all across my body.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Ready,” I replied.

As ready as I would ever be.

Greyson linked one of his arms with Shay’s and the other with mine as we walked to the red carpet. We posed in place every so often as cameras flashed. I was certain my smile was awful. I was positive that my knees were buckling. I knew when I saw the images online the next day, I’d be mortified, but Greyson kept holding me up, so I didn’t try to run away.

“Mr. East! Mr. East! Over here!” a reporter shouted.

“No, over here, Mr. East!” someone screamed.

“Who are the ladies with you tonight?” another asked.

“Two old high school friends,” Greyson commented with a smile.

Yup, that was me, just an old buddy of a really successful man. Honestly, I hadn’t realized how successful Greyson was until that moment right there.

“Does it feel weird being here without your wife? How are you dealing with her death?” another reporter asked.

“How are you coping with the loss? Is that why these two women are your arm candy?”

I felt Greyson tense up, but he kept that smile of his in place. He thanked them for their time, and we walked off the carpet toward the party.

“That was freaking rude,” I hissed, annoyed with the carelessness of the reporters.

Once we made it inside, Greyson released our arms and gave me a small smile with a slight shrug. “Just a part of the job.”

“Well, that’s ridiculous. You know, if you want, I can go kick their asses for you. I’ve been doing Pilates, and I’m really building up my strength,” I remarked.

Greyson smiled as we walked into the room. “Or, we can just forget them, and take shots of the new whiskey,” he said as a tray of them was presented in front of us. Greyson pointed out the different types. “This one is cinnamon flavored, this one is apple, and this one is kind of like a citrusy-thing. You have to try all three. It’s the rule,” he said.

Well, bottoms up.

The three of us picked up shot after shot, and even though it burned a bit, it was smooth on the way down. Apple was my favorite.

“Oh, my gosh, Greyson! Those are amazing!” Shay exclaimed.

“Which is your favorite?” a voice asked from behind us. We turned to see Landon standing there in a tailored navy suit, looking as dapper as ever. His blond hair was combed back, he wore a burgundy tie that matched his shoes, and I couldn’t lie—he looked amazing.

I was guessing Shay thought the same, because her mouth was currently agape.

I leaned into her. “Shay?”


“Close your mouth or you’re going to catch flies.”

Her lips formed a tight line and she pulled herself together, standing tall.

“Eleanor, it’s good to see you again.” Landon slid his hands into his pockets, and gave Shay that sly Hollywood smile. “And Shay, long time no see. You look as beautiful as I remember.”

“Whatever, Landon. You look fine.”

He chuckled. “I see you still have that fiery personality.”

“And I see you still haven’t grown into your ears,” she shot back.

They shared a glare for a while, almost as if they were in a staring contest and whoever looked away first would be the loser.

It was becoming very odd, to say the least.

“Uh, okay. Well, I’m gonna go show Ellie around,” Greyson said, placing his hand on my lower back.

I wished he’d stop doing that.

He didn’t realize what kind of nervousness it provoked within me.

“Why do I get the feeling Landon and Shay are going to end up sleeping together by the end of the night?” Greyson whispered against my ear. I swore his lips gently brushed against my lobe. Or maybe I just dreamed of such a thing happening. Either way, my body reacted to his close proximity.

“Oh, because Landon and Shay are totally going to end up sleeping together,” I explained.

We started walking off, and every time a tray of whiskey passed me, I took a shot to help my nerves. The drunker I was for this, the better off I’d be.

Someone bumped into my shoulder and apologized, touching my forearm lightly. I swore it was Captain America and oh my gosh, I am never washing my arm again.

“I want to show you something,” Greyson said, walking me through the crowd of people. We headed toward the VIP area, and when we walked through a door, there was a long hallway with more closed doors. We walked down the halls, and when we reached one of the rooms, I raised an eyebrow. The door was tagged with my name.

“What is this?” I asked.

Greyson pulled out a key card to open it, and when he did, my eyes watered over.

There were strings of white lights hanging across the room, and the floor was covered in blankets and pillows. There was a table with snacks and another with stacks of novels.

“What is this, Grey?”

“I know how overwhelming parties can be for you. So, I made you a reading nook. You know, so you could escape if you needed to.”