AUTHOR'S NOTE:

This chapter has a some Griffin in it, and the next chapter will be the dance.

There's also a bit of Mercedes in it and some family bonding as well as a cliffhanger.

This is kind of short, but another chapter will be up tomorrow sometime.

WARNINGS: Innuendo, mild language, themes

ENJOY!

xxxx

Lena wasn't that worried about Mercedes showing up, and she definitely enjoyed the fact that everyone was going to get to spend time together right now. Angela had been feeling a bit homesick and she felt like maybe Mercedes would help because Angela, Mercedes and Jenna used to spend time together a lot. Besides…knowing where Mercedes was, was going to make it easier for Lena to talk to her uncle.

It wasn't that Lena didn't get along with her uncle—she did—it was just that from an early age, Lena wanted to get along on her own. She wanted to do things the way that she wanted to do them, and she didn't want people to associate her with her rich uncle and just hand things to her. Lena wanted to get things done on her own time in her own way…she wanted to be able to be proud of herself and her hard work.

"You're doing quite well here, Lena," Griffin told her as he stood in her office.

Lena nodded slowly. "Yeah, I like to think so."

"You'd have more opportunities open up to you if you let me tell Gustavo you're my niece." Griffin said, sighing when Lena shook her head quickly. "Why are you so stubborn?"

"As much as I love that you want to show me off and rub me in peoples' faces, please don't, Uncle Griffin." Lena begged him, standing up and moving from her desk. "I like where I am and I like knowing that I got here all on my own."

"What's going on in here?" Kelly asked as she opened up the door and saw Griffin standing there. "Is something wrong?"

Griffin turned to her. "No, nothing is wrong—in fact she's my favorite. She's a keeper."

Lena gave Griffin a look, but then she shot him a smile when Kelly shot her a look. No one knew that Griffin was Lena's uncle so as far as Kelly was concerned, Lena wasn't allowed to be making faces at him. He owned her…so she had to show him some respect and if she wanted to keep up the façade, Lena was going to have to act like he was simply her boss and nothing more.

"Thank you," Lena told him sincerely. "I appreciate the vote of confidence."

Griffin nodded slowly. "In fact she should get a raise."

"Done," Kelly said, a giant smile on her face.

"That's really not necessary!" Lena told her uncle, she and Griffin making eye contact. "I get by on my regular salary."

Lena hated that her uncle was doing this to her, but at the same time she knew she couldn't argue about it right now. At least she was here and the girls were with Mercedes having a day out of it—she could cope. Still, after hours, Griffin was her uncle and he was going to be getting a rather stern talking to about this raise nonsense.

"Why don't you just buy the whole store?" Angela groaned, putting her head in her hands as Jenna filed her nails, Mercedes trying on the ninetieth outfit since they'd gotten to the mall. "I'm sick and tired of giving you opinions on all of this. Lets go do something else."

Jenna nodded in agreement. "I want to go eat food, or something fun like that. This was fun maybe an hour ago, but now I'm bored."

"You know, I could pay someone to take your place," Mercedes told the two girls.

"Okay, then done." Jenna responded, standing up. "Pay someone else to tell you what they think of the outfits you're wearing. We're off to get food."

"How come you still don't like me?" Mercedes asked her.

Jenna laughed a bit. "Mer, I love you, but this is boring and you know how I get when I get super bored."

Mercedes sighed loudly and nodded, dumping her clothes on the fitting room lady and then heading with her cousin and her friend to the food court. While the young girl liked to be in control, she knew to relinquish it to Jenna or feel Jenna's wrath and she wanted to have a pleasant visit. That prospect was brought into better focus when she saw the boys show up, her eyes zeroing in on Kendall.

"If you're looking at my boyfriend, don't you dare," Jenna warned her. "James!"

James beamed and walked over to her, kissing her gently and then wrapping an arm around her as Logan made his way over to Angela with a smile on his face. He and Angela had been trying to make it to a more comfortable place with each other and Mercedes felt like she could hit on Carlos or Kendall and not piss a single person off. At the same time…she didn't know just how wrong that she was.

xx

"I don't understand why you don't just tell everyone," Griffin told Lena sighing.

Lena rubbed her temples as they sat in her living room at the town house. "Because I don't want to make my way with your name. As much as I love you and I love this family, I want to make it on my own, okay? I want everyone to know that I did it because I could, not because being your niece made all of my decisions for me."

"I get that, I just…I'm worried about you sometimes." Griffin admitted as he finished off his coffee and stood up. "Keep up the good work and let Mercedes spend a night or two, will you? The girl needs some girl time."

"Yeah, I can do that," Lena said smiling and giving her uncle a hug. "Call Mom would you? She wants to talk to her older brother."

Griffin nodded and headed out, Lena cleaning a bit before the boys and Mercedes, Angela and Jenna got there, Amy there now too. Lena immediately started to make snacks, but watching Mercedes hit on Kendall was irking her…and she couldn't do a thing about it. She was determined to make him her boyfriend and have him take her to the dance since the others were taking the girls and one look from Jenna always silenced Mercedes on the matter. Still, all in all, it seemed like a pretty good day and when Mercedes was told she got to spend the night, Lena offered to drive the boys home.

Kendall was so excited to accept that the boys thought that something might be up, but Mercedes had been pretty clingy and they wanted rid of her. So they let Lena drive them home and then Kendall decided that he needed to run to the store and Lena reluctantly agreed. Actually, Lena wanted to—desperately—but she had to make it look like she didn't and Kendall was happy about that. Right now, they wanted to spend some time together alone and it was worth it.

"I thought we'd never have any peace—and what is up with Mercedes?" Kendall asked as Lena parked in the parking lot.

Lena laughed a little bit. "She's always been like that, actually. I can't remember a time when she wasn't."

"Remember a time?" Kendall asked her as he unbuckled his seat belt.

"Yeah…" Lena said and then she sighed loudly. "I can't keep it from you, and I shouldn't. If we're going to be in a relationship someday, you need to know, right?"

"Know what?" Kendall asked as he reached out to stroke Lena's hair.

He hated to see her so distraught and he knew that she wanted to get something off of her chest and he was going to let her. He cared too much about her to just ignore it all and he wanted to help her through whatever it was that she was going through. Besides, Lena was right—relationships only worked if both partied talked things out and didn't keep secrets from each other.

"Mercedes is my cousin," Lena said, shrugging a little bit at him with a smile on her face.

Kendall's eyes widened. "That makes Griffin your uncle!"

"Yes, but I don't want anyone to know!" Lena told him quickly. "I want to make it without his name and his money backing me up. I want to do this all by myself and so he and my mother agreed to the keep the secret until I was ready to share."

"He owns so much!" Kendall exclaimed, letting it all sink in. "Wow…this is big."

"And a secret…"

"Of course it is—I'd never tell if you didn't want it out there."

Lena smiled at Kendall when he said that and unbuckled too, leaning in to kiss him. She was glad that he was on her side here and she wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, but they didn't have time. They had to get something so that he could come back with something from the store and so they did, Kendall turning to Lena in the car when she was dropping him off.

"Oh, and there is one more thing," Kendall said slowly.

Lena took a deep breath. "Sounds to me like you're going to tell me something that I don't want to hear."

"Jo asked me to the dance and since the boys don't know, James accepted for me and it was rude to turn her down." Kendall explained, shaking his head. "So I'll be going with her and she wants to coordinate colors with me even though I just wanted to coordinate the red with you."

"It's only fair you do what she wants…" Lena told him slowly, but she was jealous and Kendall could tell she was a little hurt. "I can still wear red and it can be a lucky coincidence, right?"

Kendall nodded, but smiled at her. "Just know that you're the one I want to be there with. Save me a dance?"

"Yeah," Lena chuckled as she shook her head, "because that's not suspicious."

Note: Dance chapter next! I wonder if you guys are even still around, lol. Feedback is always appreciated!