Title: You Never Know
Author: aquaxeyes
Rating: T for language, may change in later chapters
Full Description: Serena Laraway gave her career up in hot pursuit of love. Three years later, the ex-supermodel returns to L.A. alone and heartbroken, with only a screenplay-in-the-making to her name. She's swearing off love this time, but what she doesn't know is that love's been waiting to snag her back at home all along..and it comes in the form of Darien Scott!

Author's Announcements: Thanks to Silver Moonlight-81, rosebudjamie, Peaceful Moon, jessicam242, Fire Dolphin, sarahr85, Macala Armstrong, ffgirlmoonie, Dertupio, supersaiyanx, Uhamilton, maccasapplepie, Mercedes Jay, kireisnowtenshi, Goddess of Elements, fireangel621 and whoknoez for reading and reviewing. I can't remember which reviews I responded to but I do appreciate that you took the time to give me feedback. Updates on this fic are so random that I'm constantly wondering if anyone actually still reads this, but your comments keep me from deleting it. Thanks for your support!

So far this fic has gotten over 12,000 hits and is on 47 favorite and 89 alert lists.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story.

Part Seven. The Past.
"I'll meet you halfway."

Brandon matched her gaze. "I don't believe you."

Serena sighed, knowing that he was going to say that. Why else would he have asked her to step out and made sure no one would hear him mentioning Beau to her before he spoke? And her reaction to bringing him up was probably a big clue. "Brandon, we've got a lot of work to do. We're already behind pre-production schedule--"

"It's him, isn't it?"

She threw her hand up. "Are you listening to me?"

"Yes, and I have to tell you that I don't care about lines right now," Brandon replied, eyes still on her. "Why is he calling the studio?"

"I don't know. To stir up trouble, maybe." She took a step toward the window behind them, not really looking out for the view. She'd been asking herself the same question for a few minutes already. Why was he trying to get to her? It didn't make sense. They'd been over for months. What could he possibly have to say to her? 'Maybe he wants a second chance.. to completely ruin my life.'

Serena gave Brandon a quick glance and saw how worried he really was. Her stress ignored for the moment, she tried to give him a smile. "It's okay. He'll give up eventually. Plus, Elsa can be quite terse when she wants to be."

Brandon smiled with what looked to be as much effort as she'd put into one. "I don't want you to be upset, Ren."

She mentally crossed her fingers and tried to look brave. "I won't be."

Darien watched as Serena sighed once again. She'd been like that ever since Brandon pulled her aside. Whatever he'd said bothered her, which bothered him. Was it about them? Were they behind, and was Brandon pissed that they were running behind? It was to be expected, since Natalie was just now getting her act together with Ren's help, so what could he have possibly said? What news was that bad that would have her shaken up?

It was ten. She was two hours late. Then again, if she felt she really had a choice, she wouldn't have even shown up. But she had to. The man had given her his driver's license! She was morally obligated to return it.

By the time she'd finally coaxed herself into going, it was eight-thirty. Now the place was deserted. She looked around, hoping to see him, but he wasn't there. She'd lost her chance to give that back, or more importantly, see him again.

Serena took a deep breath and, clutching Beau's license in her hand, stepped up to the ticket master. "What can I do for you?" the woman asked, not even looking up.

"Do you have some sort of lost and found I can give this to?" Serena asked and pressed the ID against the window.

The woman reluctantly looked up, squinted at the ID then beckoned for her to slide it through the ticket box. Serena did so just as reluctantly.

The second the woman picked the ID up she nodded. "Oh yes," she said. "He told me you would come. Here.."

She reached behind her and produced a card on a lanyard. Serena read the letters. V.I.P. She furrowed her brow. "Umm, are you sure we're talking about the same person?"

"Yeah, yeah," she said, handing the ID back and waving Serena's protests away. "You'd better hurry, you might be able to catch one song."

Not understanding what the hell the woman was saying to her, Serena took Beau's ID and the lanyard and walked into the Glass House. When she got inside a buff-looking bouncer spotted her lanyard and escorted her through a great big crowd of people her age. As she trailed the man's muscular back, she heard the crowd going wild as a rock song ended. She winced as they passed a group of screaming teens, wishing they'd finish puberty so their voices would drop a few octaves.

In no time they reached the backstage, Serena still not seeing Beau anywhere. She hoped he wasn't dragging her on a wild goose chase, because as much as she wanted to see him, she wasn't going to hunt him down like a scavenger. She thanked the bouncer and stepped away from a sound crew member as he stormed through. And that's when she finally laid eyes on the act.

Beau was the act. Front and center with his metallic black electric guitar, microphone to his face, his presence swamped the stage even with the rest of his band behind him. Ren shook her head, not believing it. Beau Cassidy really was a big deal.

She stayed in the shadows and watched two women with more leathery-tanned skin than clothes approach him and throw their arms around him intimately. Fans? She scoffed. More like his private entourage.

Again, her brain was scolding her, telling her, "See? He's got groupies, all the attention he could want. You just happened to be yesterday's news." She really wanted to shut that mental voice up, but as she watched him respond to those women in kind, she realized that voice was right. She didn't fit in with that man. He was bold, brash, sexy.. Not that she was saying she couldn't be--she wouldn't have been a supermodel if she wasn't, but Beau was most definitely a wild child at heart. Where Serena had to be trained to be in-your-face daring in her early toddler years, Beau was born with his rocker persona.

No, she didn't belong there.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped back, ready to walk away. However, she had the misfortune of stepping directly under a light.

As soon as he saw her, he stopped. She might've been seeing things but she thought she saw his jaw drop. The women were long forgotten, but Serena raised a skeptical eyebrow anyway. He took his arms off them and walked straight up to her. "I thought you decided not to come, Serena," he softly said.

"I didn't have a choice," she said, smiling sickeningly sweet. She brought her hand up and produced his ID. "Surprised you actually remember my name, considering I'm not a fan or anything."

He gave her a lopsided grin. "No, you're most definitely not a fan."

Serena shook her head. "I don't know what the hell that means," she said in a no-nonsense voice, "but here's your license. Hope you didn't waste too much money on our lowly, Western taxi services." With that she practically jammed the card back into his hand.

"Hey," he said, grabbing her wrist just as she would've pulled away, "Why are you acting so obtuse?"

"Obtuse?" she echoed, barely believing her ears. "You, monsieur, were the one playing a game with me. Is this how you get your kicks abroad? Crash a party and hit on the closest American chick you can get your hands on?"

"If I'm not mistaken, chère, you were the one hitting on me," he had the impudence to point out. When he saw her inability to deny his accusation he went on. "Is that how you and your lovely friends get your kicks? Take bets on who can seduce the closest, sexiest male you can get--"

"That's not what we were doing--"

"So you weren't trying to seduce me?"

"Trying?" Serena raised her brow. "I'm standing here because you invited me to come here, so no, I wouldn't say I was trying to do anything."

"Semantics. Were you, or were you not, put up by your friends to seduce me?"

"I was," she conceded spitefully.

"So it had nothing to do with you being attracted to me?"

She threw up her hands. "I don't understand why we're having this conversation. Let's just chalk this all up to a bad chance meeting and call it a night."

In a move she wasn't expecting he pulled her by the wrist and held her to him, his arm dangerously low around her waist. She gasped, getting so close to his warm body, and shivered when his fingers absently stroked her side. He looked down at her lips and brought his eyes up slowly, the visual scan of just her face leaving her boneless all over. "What if I don't want to call it a night?"

"I'm not really up for an after-party," she said, glancing at the two impatient fans he left in pursuit of her.

"Me either," he agreed, refusing to look at anything but her.

Serena's heart fluttered. Even though her mind was trying to remind her that she should be pulling away, should be telling him "screw you" and that she wasn't attracted to him at all--well, her body wasn't listening. "Are you trying to seduce me?"

"Trying?" he mocked.

Somehow, a warning bell struck in her mind. "You're not just.. trying to get even with me, are you?"

He smiled, making her warm all over. "Let's just put it this way," he said, pulling her hips to meet his.

She gasped again, feeling just how wrong she'd been. And suddenly, she was shaking with need. "Point taken," she replied breathlessly.

Just when she thought the air was too thick for her to keep breathing, he leaned over and brushed his lips over hers. Teasing, at first, then he kissed her in the most possessive of ways. Serena had never been kissed like this before, so passionately, so completely. There was no question as to whether he would be just as skilled in other.. intimate ways. Just thinking about it had her grabbing onto him for dear life.

He pulled back eventually, placing his forehead against hers as he struggled for air. "This is going to sound too forward," he said between breaths, "but I really, really want you."


He looked at her, amused.

"I picked up a few words while I was in Prague," she replied.

He smiled, an act that warmed her more. "Should I take that as a green light?"

She bit her lip. Inside, she knew she should say no. He was a stranger, a celebrity, a man too handsome and too interested in sleeping with her for it to be a good idea. She would've probably been given the cold shoulder in the morning. It could've been the worst mistake of her life. But as she stared into his bright, hazel eyes, she couldn't focus on anything but the present. "Where are you staying?"

Serena sighed, placing a hand over her forehead. She couldn't believe that she was lying naked in a hotel room with the most gorgeous man she'd ever laid eyes on. Especially not after what they did. She smiled, wanting to laugh at how absurd the situation was.

Beau lazily rolled on his side, and propped his head on his hand to look down at her. "Regrets?"

"No," she breathed, "Just tired."

"Don't I know it," he commented, smiling.

She laughed. The man was too adorable to be chided for his brashness. And he was looking very delectable at that moment, waves clinging to his glistening face, his body a Greek sculpture come to life. "You are quite the sight."


She furrowed her brow in fake annoyance. "What? Nothing to say back?"

He chuckled, planting a kiss on the crook of her neck. He breathed in deeply, making the spot tingle. "Do I need to?"

"Well, you look like you've just stepped off of the set of "300" and I'm.. I'm not.." When he just smiled at her, she said, "Just saying any woman in my shoes would start to feel insecure at this point."

"A lesser woman, maybe," he conceded. "Not you. You seem comfortable with every part of your body." He ran a finger up her arm sensually. "I know I am."

Serena felt a goofy grin spread across her face. "Smooth."

Those were the last words they exchanged before they both fell asleep. When morning came, Serena woke first. She sat up, stretched and got out of bed. She'd gotten her jeans on just as Beau woke, too. "What are you doing?" he asked, his voice full of sleep.

She had a fitting to go to and she wanted to get breakfast beforehand, but she didn't need to tell him that, did she? They had a one-night stand, roughly put. She knew the score, knew that he was indulging her in casual talk before the grand goodbye. It was better to be truthful than pleasant, she supposed, so she answered, "Leaving."

She heard rustling behind her and then, "It's eight in the morning."

"Yeah," she confirmed, "Got a full day."

"Is your night free?"

She paused and turned, looking at Beau like he'd grown a second head. "Why do you ask?"

"Isn't it obvious?" He furrowed his brow at her confusion. "I want to see you."

Serena shrugged her shirt on. "Beau, we both got what we wanted last night. Why mess it up with an awkward attempt at round two?"

"I didn't want to just sleep with you last night, Serena," he argued.

"You didn't. We had sex," she said.

The crudeness of her words had him taken aback. "We did," he agreed cautiously. "Wild, crazy, ecliptic--"

"I was there," Serena interrupted. She gave an apologetic smile. "I really did enjoy last night." With that, she grabbed her bag and started heading for the door.

That had Beau up and in his boxers quickly. "Serena, wait. Wait," he said, making her reluctantly pause without physically stopping her. A million questions seemed to fly through his eyes, but he just looked incredulously at her and asked, "How can you be so quick to let this go?"

She shrugged, trying not to feel any emotional attachment to him or his lovely words at all. "That's just it. There's nothing to let go of."

"You're wrong," he said with passion. "I knew, from the moment you smiled at me, that you were.. special."

"And that's when you decided to give me your license?"

Beau gave her a shy smile that made her want to smile. "No. I was sold when our fingers touched and I felt electricity race all over my body. Don't tell me you didn't feel it."

She decided to stay silent, neither confirming nor denying the statement.

His eyes softened, and he took her hand and gently placed them in his. "I've never done something like this before," he said. Ignoring her skeptical brow, he continued, "But I have no regrets. You fascinate me, mind-blowing sex aside. I would very much like to spend time with you."

She remained still, though his confession had her heart doing all sorts of crazy things. "How long are you staying here?"

Serena made a daring S-pose, kicking one leg out and bringing her chin to her left shoulder. Thankfully, she was supposed to be looking across the river so the flashes from the camera and surrounding lights weren't so bad. She reversed the pose, moving to her right, focused now on the bridge overlooking the river. More flashes. More poses. More relocations. She was exhausted by the time the photographer and crew called it a day, but she didn't complain. Mentally, she was still on cloud nine.

It had been two months since her one-night stand with Beau, and they were still together. Apparently he was on a contracted one-year tour in the United States and was on month three when they met. Which meant that there was plenty of time for them to see if things could work out between them. Their lives were hectic--his tour, her schooling and modeling--but they made sure to see each other at least twice a week. If either was out of town, she would fly to him one time and he would fly to her the next. And, of course, there was a lot of romance in between. Serena'd never received so many flowers, candy grams and random, sweet phone calls in any relationship previous to that one. It was no wonder the paparazzi were following her day and night, trying to figure out who her mystery boyfriend was.

The high of being in a relationship still in its honeymoon state didn't prepare her for the surprise waiting for her when she got home.

She could hear Beau yelling in French the second she walked past the door. She found him in the living room, stalking back and forth, livid as he spoke into his cell phone. She placed her bag down watching him, trying to figure out what he was saying, but he was speaking too fast. When he finally saw her, he mumbled something and hung up. "I thought you weren't supposed to be back from Houston for another three days."

"Yeah, well, surprise," he snapped.

Serena paused, ignoring the spike in her temper, and gave him a concerned expression. "What happened?"

"They cancelled it. They fucking cancelled my tour!"

She bit her lip at his anger. "Why would they do such a thing?" she asked.

"One of our fellow tour bands decided to cut loose to finish recording which, for some unheavenly known reason, made another band drop out. We brought this up with management and they decided to shut us down. They're telling all our fans that we're cancelling for "internal issues"," he said, using his fingers to quote that last bit. He brought his leg up to kick thin air. "Miserable Americans." (A/N: this was not in any way written to offend Americans or the French.)

Again, Serena forced herself to stay passive. "That's terrible news--"

"It's the worst!" he spat.

Before he went on a swearing rampage, she softly asked, "What are you going to do?"

"Go back to France, of course," he said without hesitation. "If they think they can screw us over, they thought wrong. Many countries have been begging for a tour. This way, I can go back home."

She didn't think he realized the words he said in anger were tearing away at her insides. "You're going to leave," she said.

"I can drive my own car, speak in my own language--"

"You're going to leave," she repeated.

Beau paused, turning and looking at her. "I have no other choice."

"You have plenty of choices," Serena said. "You could get another touring contract with another company, start recording here--"

"Not without my bandmates," he interrupted. "They're already looking for flight tickets. They're homesick and frankly, so am I."

Serena tried not to scowl, but it was impossible at the moment. "I know this is selfish to ask, but.. where does this leave us?"

Beau turned away and resumed prowling back and forth. Finally, he stopped and stared at her. "Nowhere."

Tears sprang to her eyes instantaneously. "Wow," she gasped, not realizing she'd been holding her breath, "Way to keep it simple."

His eyes turned apologetic. "Nothing with us is simple, Ren. I have to go back and you have to stay here."

"You could stay. At the very least you could come back. I could come see you," she said, hating how desperate she sounded.

"I just don't see us going anywhere."

As if she'd never heard that line delivered many times in movies, in broadway, hell, especially in soap operas. But she never understood how tormenting those words could be. That they could sum up the current situation. That they had the power to destroy the future of the best relationship she'd had.

It was as if an optimistic part of her suddenly came to light, because she looked him straight in the eye and said, "We can do this. I know we can."

Even with all the conviction in her words, even with the tears pooling in her eyes, he shook his head. "I don't know how we could possibly make this work." At her still-hopeful look, he added, "I'm sorry."

Those words were a nightmare. Her nightmare come to life. He turned what they had into a cliché. And the worst part was he couldn't even muster up the effort to care. "For what? Sorry you're saying goodbye for no good reason? Sorry for not wanting to actually try to meet me halfway? Do you even know what the hell you're saying sorry for?"

"Our lives are too different!" he shouted, overpowering her tirade with a voice trained to project. "You know this. I belong in France. You belong to the multinational modeling world."

He made sense, but at the same time he didn't make any sense whatsoever. Serena sighed in frustration, tears dripping as she stared at the beautiful man she'd fallen in love with in practically no time at all. "You should've let me walk away that first night. Would've saved me a lot of heartache."

On his way out, he angled his head, back still facing her. "I do love you," he said, "but I know myself. I can't share you with the rest of the world and someday, you'll see that you can't do the same for me, either."

Serena tried, really tried to get over him. She erased his number from her phone, tried to distract herself with work and school, to no avail. Beau was constantly on her mind. How sweet he was, everything he said right before he left. If she wasn't thinking about him she was dreaming about him, his curly, ravenous hair, his brooding eyes and his devastating smile. He plagued her, night and day, relentlessly. When the semester ended, she wound up skipping a few key gigs. They weren't as important to her anymore, as she'd lost her enthusiasm for modeling.

Three days--which were like three weeks in model time--after her hibernation, she found herself dialing a familiar number.

"Hello?" came the reply.


"Honey, thank all the deities known to man! When you didn't show up for that photo shoot for Vogue I didn't know what to do--do you know what kind of panic you sent Jackie and I into? I swore a kidney to her--"

"That's so.. touching," she said, sounding unconvinced, "But Kristophe, I'm afraid I have more bad news."

"You have a zit, don't you? I guess that would sort of explain--"

"No, it's nothing that.. small." She sighed, wishing she'd known it would be this hard. "I'm terminating my contract. Effective immediately."



More silence.

"Kristophe, honey?"

"Have you gone completely all-work-no-play-makes-Jack-a-dull-boy crazy?!"

For some reason she was comforted by the fact that he was yelling into the phone. "I guess that makes you Wendy Torrance. Now, before you start hyperventilating--"

"Already happening."

"--I want to explain why."

"Yes, please do, because I cannot imagine why one of the most famous, glamorous, successful, self-promoting and wonderfully sweet supermodels is telling me why she. Is. Leaving. My. Agency." If she wasn't mistaken he was stomping his foot with every panicked word.

"I'm not just leaving you and this agency, Kris. I'm going to stop modeling altogether."

Now he was definitely wheezing.

"Kris, you're taking this terribly."

"You're right. I should be jumping for joy!" he exclaimed sarcastically.

"Look, I just want to finish school before I go back to this."

Kristophe paused. "I thought you were going to try and do both."

"Yeah, and I almost failed both semesters because of all of these gigs. I can't model and further my education at the same time. I just can't. And I've thought about which option means more to me.."

Another pause. "You're not acting out because of that boy."

"Kris," she said, a warning.

"No," he argued, "You're not acting out because of that boy. Please tell me you are not acting out because of that boy."

"Careful what you beg for."

"What was that?"

"Nothing. Kris, you know me. You know what I've been going through not only with Beau.. but with everything else." Man, it had hurt to actually say his name. "Truth is, I can't do this anymore. I can't balance my modeling career with my life. You've been wonderful, the agency has been wonderful, but I won't be satisfied with flexibility. I need to let it go."

Kristophe didn't say anything for a long time, so long that she had to glance at her phone to make sure they hadn't disconnected. Eventually, she heard, "Nothing pains me more than you telling me this, but I appreciate your honesty. I sincerely hope that you'll be happy."

A mixture of emotions overwhelmed her. "Thank you--"

"But if you do change your mind, you know who to call."

Serena smirked. "I do. Take care of yourself, Kristophe."

"Kisses," he ended in a flourish.

Serena pressed end and immediately dialed another number.

"Hey," Mina said as a way of greeting.

"Hey," Serena mirrored, "Didn't catch you at a bad time, did I?"

"It's your lucky day. Everything's gone wrong today, so no, this isn't the worst I've had to deal with."

"Thanks," she replied sarcastically.

Mina chuckled. "What can I do for you?"

"Nothing. Scratch that," she corrected herself, "You may want to sit down for this."

"Already there. Spill."

"I kind of, sort of, quit modeling."


"Mina, at least tell me you are still breathing."

"Ren! Are you serious? How can you possibly be serious?"

"I don't know, it's just everything," Serena confessed. "I'm frazzled by how close I came to failing this semester, flying everywhere, and my love life is dead."

"You're sure, though? That you want to quit modeling, I mean."

Serena ignored the static that was coming from the other line. "Yeah. I mean, it's not meant to be indefinite. I want to finish college first and.. there's just so many things I want to do."

Mina sighed. "Ren, I'm so glad you decided to quit."

Surprised, Serena asked, "You are?"

"Yeah. I mean, I didn't want to be the one to have to quit first--"

"You were thinking of quitting?" Serena boomed.

"Volume much?" Mina spat back. "And yeah, the fun was kind of sucked out of modeling once we reached the top--or however near to the top a supermodel can be. The challenge isn't there anymore, either. I was thinking of creating my own line, maybe makeup.. Maybe just clothing.. What do you think?"

"I think you should do whatever you feel you do best," she actually had the confidence to say. "Just wait a day or two before calling Kristophe. Don't want him to suffer an angina attack."

Ren waited twelve hours before she went to her parents'. She'd been debating whether or not she should put off telling them about her decision, but the fear that she wouldn't be the first one to tell them won her over. As she loped around the dining room, searching for them, she managed to compose herself. That is, until she found them in the living room.

"Ren! What a surprise," her father said happily.

"I meant to call first," she said meekly as she hugged him. She turned to her mother, but she was already poised to attack, arms on her hips.

"Yes. You should've told us you were coming first, just as you should've given us early warning as to what you've done," Emilie said coolly.

Heat flooded her face. Michael looked from mother to daughter. "What on earth do you mean, Em?"

Serena opened her mouth to explain, but Emilie took that opportunity from her. "Our daughter has decided to quit modeling. Contract termination already pending, as per her vocal request."

Michael's jaw actually drop. "Ren? This is true, n'est-ce pas?"

Serena was too dumbstruck by what was quickly happening to do anything but nod.

"But why? I don't understand."

"I couldn't handle it. Modeling. School.."

"There's an easy solution to that. You stick to modeling," Emilie said, her hands flying everywhere as she used them to emphasize what she was saying.

"I want to finish school. It's a dream I've always had. That's no secret."

Emilie huffed, but Michael hushed her. "What does this mean? What do you plan on doing now?"

"Well," Serena said slowly, "I've been thinking about studying abroad--"

"You cannot be serious," Emilie interrupted. "This is about that man. Serena, he left you."

"He didn't want to," she said, heat starting to rise to her cheeks. "He made the choice to leave based on his career."

"And so you're making the choice to leave your career based on what? Chasing around Europe, trying to get back with him? Let us not forget what your decisions are doing to dear Mina."

"What about Mina?"

"You're ruining Mina's future as well as your own, all for a single man!" Emilie had yelled.

"Don't put all the blame on me!" Serena said, her anger completely unfolded. "Mina chose to quit on her own!"

Michael had to stop Emilie again from speaking. Looking at his daughter he softly asked, "So what will happen to you, then? Do you plan to marry this man?"

Serena shook her head. She wasn't sure she was going to leave the country, much less find a way to cross paths with Beau. "I don't know, Papa."

"Then think this through, Ren. Do you really want to give your career up for an insecure future?"

Again, she had no answer for him. "I don't know, Papa."

"Tell us what you do know!" Emilie shrieked, on the verge of throwing a three-hundred dollar vase at the wall.

"I'm not throwing my life away, if that's what you think I plan on doing! I have other dreams, one that includes a man, yes, but that's only a part of it. I want to make something of myself, I actually want to earn my own name!" By this time she was shaking, her anger rising to a new level with each heaving breath.

"You see, Michael?" Emilie cried, throwing her hands in the air, "This is why we shouldn't have sent her to college."

Serena had left with her head held high, but by the time she was in her car and out of her parents' driveway she was steaming mad and crying. She'd stumbled a few times, tiny yet sharp rocks getting into her feet, but she didn't care. She had to get away from her mom, her dad. How could her mom be such a viper? Was it so abnormal that she wanted to go to college? Why couldn't she have supported her instead of picking a fight in front of her dad? To see that many emotions crossing his face as she was being torn apart was the most unforgivable thing her mother had done to date.

She slid into her car and shut the door with a deafening slam that made the silence that followed much more intense. And then she was choking and leaning forward, tears spilling onto her steering wheel. Whatever. She didn't care. The people that she'd put her faith in had fallen through. Beau, and now her mother. What was so bad about her that they looked at her with disapproval? Wasn't she enough? All she could hear in her mind was a resounding 'no'.

Shaking her head, she dug into her pocket for her cell phone.

Rei answered on the first half-ring. "What's happening?" she asked distractedly.

Serena took a breath, hoping to find something to say. Nothing.


Not enough air yet.

"Ren. Say something."

She took a very shaky breath. "Too much."

"What?" Rei ask, stumped.

"Too much is happening for my brain to follow," Serena amended, and suddenly the words were flowing out of her overwhelmingly fast. "Just.. everything with Beau, then with my recent failures with school and work. I mean.. I don't know. I need to get out of here, I need--"

"Whoa, whoa," Rei interjected. "Where are you?"

"My parents," Serena clarified. "They.. Rei, it's a long and winded story that I shouldn't have called and bothered you about--"

"Nonsense," Rei replied, her voice revealing she would brook no arguments on the matter. "I'll meet you halfway."

Of course, had she been in her right mind, she wouldn't have bothered to read into that simple statement. Since she wasn't, and since her best friend was already proving why she was her best friend, she read into it and found the strength to keep breathing. "Thanks."

End Part Seven.

A glimpse at the next chapter, Part Eight. The Explanation.

She couldn't believe it. He really didn't remember her. She placed a hand on her face, fingers going every feature. Before she knew it, she was grabbing at her hair, trying to recall how she put her hair up. It felt the same, nothing out of place. She scrambled to find the mirror in her purse and took a look at herself. Same lip gloss, too.

She watched her brows furrow in confusion and stared off into the distance, expecting to see him coming back as he realized his mistake. He did know the cute-looking blonde who'd bumped into him and called him by his name.