A Month In Sin
The day carried on in a much lighter spirit after coming face-to-face with that life. When we stopped for lunch, it was easy to find that picture of us on Twitter and Instragram, and like I told them I would, I followed both Anna and Sarah. Luke did the same, and I was actually quite amazed by the picture they had gotten.
There was love. There was genuine happiness, and even the comments at the bottom talking about how out of place I was due to my eyes, or my dull face, didn’t bring me down.
Yes, my eyes were two different colors, but at least I wasn’t a hateful person on the inside. At least I could see the picture for what it was. There was nothing forced, nothing that shouldn’t have been there.
I was in love, and he was smitten.
Eventually, we had to call it a day and went back to the house, and from there, we had our final video to create. It was a bit longer than we anticipated, as Luke kept interrupting me every time I tried to say something with a joke or even just a noise, and had it not been so funny, I might’ve smacked him.
The video was over, with us saying that whatever our decision was in the end, we had a great deal of respect for one another, and that would never change.
When the camera was turned off—and I verified that it was no longer recording—I immediately started trying to rip his clothes from his body. He stopped me, however, and murmured that we were expecting company.
Almost on cue, the doorbell rang, and I realized that the guys were here. They obviously had to be, since 5 Seconds of Summer were performing on Ellen tomorrow, but I hadn’t thought much about when they would actually show up.
My mind told me that they got here early, but in reality, they had gotten here just in time because it was tomorrow morning.
This was the last day before we had to make our decision.
The three of them didn’t plan to stay long, but they had to stop by and check on us—and meet Luke’s newest love, of course. Rosemary was in love with all of them almost immediately, and she yelped and jumped between them so excitedly that she slipped on the concrete floors beneath her fluffy feet.
With the guys all doting on Rosemary, and Luke acting like a proud father, it gave me a chance to think. Most times, I would’ve absolutely hated that, but right now, I needed to think. I needed to face what was coming.
The past thirty days had been the most unexpected and fun time in all of my life. Even one day couldn’t compare to the best times in my life otherwise, and I couldn’t explain that. There was no fear. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder and worry that someone might hurt me. I never once thought about that because Luke consumed me so fully, all I could think about was burying myself into his arms and getting to know him any way I could.
I wanted him to be in my life. I wanted him to stay in my life. It was the only hope I had for a good one, for the kind of life that I had had over the past month. What memories lay ahead if we chose to do this? Obviously there were ups and downs, but what would we get to experience together?
Anything . . . everything.
Unless we didn’t. Unless we chose to end this now, and then these past thirty days would be nothing more than the best memories of my life. Even if I found someone else and married one day, I didn’t imagine it would compare to my first marriage, my first love.
There was a place where he had implanted into my heart, and no amount of trying could take that back. He would always be there, one way or another.
I shifted my position on the couch, and I happened to catch a glimpse of the room around me. The guys were all sitting there, watching me. There was a bit of humor in Luke’s eyes, but it was more understanding than anything else.
Did he know what was on my mind? Probably.
Calum let out a breath of a laugh. “You get very lost, don’t you?”
“Yep.” I tried to ignore the way my cheeks burned, and I really hoped they didn’t see it. “What are you guys staring at me for?”
“We were checking to see how long it would take to get you back to planet earth,” Ashton informed me. “It didn’t take a minute, though.”
“Hmm.” That was a nice thought, and I might’ve been convinced had they not continued to still stare at me. There was a silence hanging in the air that explained their reasoning more than their words had. “You wanna know what the best part of thoughts are?”
Luke rubbed his lips together and leaned a bit closer to me. “What?”
“No one else can hear them.”
Michael scoffed. “Rude.”
That made me laugh, despite the knotting in the pit of my stomach. Were they going to keep asking until I admitted it out-loud? I didn’t wanna do that, especially not around other people. When I finally just said what was on my mind, I wanted it to be only Luke and me.
“What do you want from me?” I asked.
“We’re just . . . curious,” Calum said, choosing the word with caution.
“If you two have stopped to realize what tomorrow is,” Mikey said.
Luke sank back into the cushion of the couch behind him, letting out a loud sigh. “We have.”
“He says that, but we’re kinda procrastinating that,” I disagreed, but both of our statements were true. Yes, we had acknowledged what tomorrow was, but we hadn’t talked about any of the important things that came with knowing what tomorrow was.
Ashton’s stare moved between the two of us frequently, but he rubbed his lips together. “Can you really procrastinate this?”
“We have done quite well to do so, actually,” Luke said, but the corners of his eyes were tightening. Maybe it was the reality that it was all over soon that had his mood slowly falling south, but he didn’t seem too thrilled anymore.
Yeah, we had procrastinated, but the day was over soon. It was late in the afternoon, and we had to be up very early in the morning. We couldn’t just stay up late into the night to continue avoiding it.
The time to avoid it was over. We had to face it.
The conversation was cut short when the doorbell rang again, and I turned towards the sound the fastest. Rosemary jumped down from Calum’s lap and took off for the door, and the others seemed as lost as I was.
Except Luke. He wasn’t lost at all. In fact, there was a smile growing out across his eyes and his lips again.
My brow scrunched. “Were you expecting anyone else?”
“Of course I was, love.” He stood from the couch and went straight for the door, not bothering to explain further, but he stopped a few steps short and turned back towards me. “Would you like to greet our company?”
That was all the explanation I needed. Who else would show up at Luke’s house at this point, during this time?
My triplet sister maybe?
I was scrambling to my feet and taking off faster than I probably should have. The socks on my feet slid against the concrete beneath them, but Luke reached a hand out to keep me balanced, long enough that I could reach the door.
Ori wasn’t the only one outside of the door, but she was the first one I cared about. I took less than a second to engulf her in the tightest hug I had ever given her, and she was quick to do the same.
Even through my tears, I noticed the people standing behind her. I noticed Andrew and Claire, and Elys. It hadn’t been that long since I had seen him, and the fact that he didn’t even bother mentioning that they were coming would’ve annoyed me had I not been so damn elated to see them all.
I don’t know how long I stood there, clinging to my triplet sister and crying until it soaked the sleeve of her shirt. I would’ve felt guilty had I not felt the same thing on the shoulder she laid her head on, but this was the purest form of elation. In this moment, every piece of me was in one place. Luke stood behind me. Ori stood in my arms. Elys stood right behind her.
Was it so wrong to want this forever?
Eventually, the amount of tears I was actually crying became overwhelming, dehydrating even, and I had to untangle myself from Ori’s arms. That didn’t mean my smile dimmed, no matter how much my cheeks hurt.
I was just so happy right now.
I used the back of my hand to wipe away some of the wet on my cheeks. “Sorry, Ori. I’m a bit exhausted, if I’m being honest.”
Ori immediately glared at the man behind me. “You promised she wouldn’t be worn out from . . . strenuous activities.”
That made him laugh, to hear her so actively avoid the word sex, but he put both hands onto my shoulders. “I kept my promise. I swear. I just showed her around LA a bit, or most of the day.”
“That’s where that picture came from.” She smiled at me now. “You looked so cute, it actually hurt.”
I laughed. “It only hurt because you missed me.”
“Damn right I did!” She took a deep breath. “No matter what happens tomorrow, we will live in the same city!”
“So does that mean we’re not getting houses next door to one another anymore?”
She took a deep breath, and I saw the pink of her cheeks before I think it even registered in her mind. “I can adapt.”
“Oh.” I watched the pink turn red, so I distracted everyone from it—mostly just her since she was probably still struggling to come to terms with a piece of her life plan not going just so—and reached out to hug Claire. “I didn’t know when you’d be back from Venice. Was it everything you hoped?”
“And so much more,” she groaned. “Obviously, I got back just in time. Come on, you didn’t really think I wouldn’t be here for this, did you?”
“You are pretty much entirely responsible for it all,” I agreed. “It’d be rude not to show up.”
She pulled away from me, a frown darkening her beautiful face. “We went over this on the ride over. I am not responsible for what you four decided to do while shit faced.”
My lips pursed. “Except for the part where you helped Ori into the cab.”
“Except that part.”
I felt Luke leaning in closer to me until his lips pressed against the back of my head, and his body slid past mine with ease. He wasn’t the only one slipping past me, though, and when Ashton passed, he had the nerve to mess up my beautiful hair.
No, really, it was already probably not that great looking, so it didn’t even annoy me.
Michael, however, couldn’t just step past. He wrapped his arms around me, so tightly that Calum didn’t get to do anything but smirk on his way past me, where Ashton and a very annoyed Luke stood in waiting.
“Where are you guys going?” I asked.
Calum snorted, but he reached out to grab onto Elys’ arm, who didn’t even flinch. “Uh, hello? Bachelor party at Niall’s?”
Bachelor party? Fuck, that had a lot of implications, things that told of a bright future. Bachelor parties were for men about to get married, or in our case, about to agree to stay in a marriage.
If Luke and I hadn’t even thought about it, though, it was nothing more than an opportunity to get drunk.
The skin of my face burned, and the same thing showed on Ori’s soft cheeks, through the makeup she wore.
“I think it’s just seven guys finding an excuse to get drunk,” she grumbled.
No one had much protest to that because they were too busy laughing. I think Luke found it soothing more than humorous, though. To go to his bachelor party without even knowing what he wanted to do would’ve been horrifying, but if he could call it an excuse to get drunk? It made it easier to face.
It would’ve for me anyways, and I wondered, as even Andrew followed behind them, into the SUV that sat in the very steep driveway.
It left the three of us alone, the only females in this endeavor.
Well . . . not the only females.
I smiled widely and gestured them inside. “Come on. I want you guys to meet Rosemary.”
“I saw a picture of her on Luke’s Instagram, and I swooned!” Ori exclaimed. “I swear, he put perfect focus on her brown and blue eyes. He also called her the newest member of the Hemmings family.”
There was a hint of something in her sing-song last few words, but I ignored them and stepped in, to pick up the eager bundle from my feet. Seriously, Rosemary was probably the sweetest little puppy I’d ever met, and even if I had never had a pet of my own, I’d met quite a few over the years.
Claire took her from me. “You are just the cutest little thing in the entire world!”
“She really is,” I said, and my eyes shifted away from the two, towards my darling triplet sister. She stood next to Claire, watching the two with a smile, but it was distant, with her beautiful green eyes focusing on something else.
She noticed me watching her and folded her arms over her chest. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
My mind was spinning, but the thoughts were scattered, not really able to focus on any one thing she might be talking about. I tried to blink extra, to see if it gave me a better picture, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what Ori was so clearly bothered that I hadn’t told her.
Dad and Elys had promised they wouldn’t tell her, that they would let me do it, so why was she hurt by something I didn’t tell her? There were very few secrets I had ever kept from Ori, but most of them were attempts at surprise parties.
Even though the three of us shared a birthday, we liked to have separate parties sometimes, to help us and the people around us remember that we were three separate people connected by the experience of sharing the womb for nine months.
“What are you talking about?” I finally asked, when I realized I wouldn’t find answers on my own.
“Why did you never tell me about your shelter?”
It was like being punched in the stomach, but it didn’t hurt. It just made my stomach twist into knots, and I couldn’t see past the confusion. I couldn’t think straight, as my thoughts almost seemed frozen.
Claire stared at Ori with her head tilted to the side and her eyes narrow, so how did Ori know but Claire didn’t? Dad and Elys wouldn’t have just told Ori.
Ori didn’t say anything, simply pulled out her phone, but Claire reached over to take it from her before she could hand it over to me.
I watched her stare at the screen, watched her blue eyes flicker back and forth as it scanned whatever she was reading. It was lengthy, whatever it was, and with every passing second, I could feel the pounding of my heartbeat in my veins.
What was she reading? How did she find out?
Claire sent the phone my way to free up a hand, and she used that hand to fan her eyes. “You two make Elys and me look like monsters.”
“What are you talking about?” I demanded, but with the phone in my hands, I got all the answers I needed.
There was a picture, posted on Instagram, of me. I recognized it because it was the day we had gone to get Rosemary, and before leaving, I did a check on everything, to see if there was anything more we needed.
I was approached by a little boy, and he hugged me, to thank me for all I had done for his family. That was what the picture captured, from the side so that you saw both my face and his.
I knew it was Luke that had done this without seeing his name at the top of the caption, but I saw it, clear as day, before reading the long caption.
“Here’s the way I see it. Everyone is born without a choice. They’re born into a situation beyond their control. Life is horrible, but I can do something about that. I can help those in situations beyond their control get control of their lives, help them towards a better future. If there’s a better future for even one more person, there’s a better world ahead.” Those are the words this beautiful woman said to this four-year-old boy who may not have had much hope before. The place around her? A homeless shelter she started in some of the poverty stricken streets of Las Vegas, with nothing more than her allowance. To all of you telling me that she is nothing more than thirty days of a mistake, a gold digger, some whore I by accident ended up hitched to, please kindly shut the fuck up. How about we all take a page from Eris’s book? Instead of judging people, why don’t we try to see good in them? To spread love and light instead of darkness? Because that’s the only way the world might become a better place.
I wasn’t sure when the tears started falling, but one fell onto the screen in almost perfect timing with me finishing it. How could I explain this? How could I justify why I had never told her?
With the truth.
“No one knew,” I admitted, and I reached out, to hand her the phone back. With the truth pouring out of me, it was hard to think about the true gravity of the situation. Luke had posted this, knowing that I didn’t want anyone else to know. “Not until John went looking for me at the house. Mom and Dad had no idea who he was, so he had to tell them. He’s the manager of the shelter, of sorts. He keeps things running when I’m away, which is most of the time. The only reason Luke found out was because John called me after talking to Mom and Dad and getting the number that only family can call, and he was there when he called me. Well, I stepped outside, but I sort of had to tell him why I was being all shady.” It was getting harder to breathe right, the more I went on. “He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, especially the entire world.”
How could I not get mad at him, and then how could I be mad at him? Right now, this wasn’t what our focus needed to be on. I could kill him for this later. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
Sure, he went behind my back and did this, but the things he had said . . . it was easy to see why he did it. It wasn’t to lift me up and make me seem better than others. The wording made me believe it was something he had done because of something he had read about me.
If this was his way of defending me, I’d want him to find a new way, but I couldn’t get mad at him for trying to protect me in the only way he knew how.
“There’s nothing wrong with people knowing there’s good in you,” Claire informed me.
My eyes fell. “Yes there is.”
“Why?” Ori demanded. “What’s so wrong about that?”
“I hate expectations.”
Though Claire and I weren’t as connected as Ori and I, or Elys and I, she understood what I was saying as well as Ori. That was why they both pulled me into a hug, a real and genuine and heartfelt hug that my terrified heart needed right now, from the people who would always be there no matter what.
“You should’ve told me,” Ori whispered, though she still clung to me like I was her lifeline.
“I didn’t wanna take away from all the good you were doing,” I said.
“It wouldn’t,” she insisted, and she pulled away now, to let me get a clear view of the pain in her eyes. “We could’ve done stuff together. We could’ve done more for the people in Vegas if we had just done this together.”
“She’s right,” Claire said. “I would’ve even chipped in my shoe fund.”
It was the perfect way to break up the tension so the three of us could all dissolve into laughter. That was what I desperately needed right now, was a chance to laugh.
With the tension broken, with all the truth out on the table, things sort of moved in the way they usually did with my sisters around. It went from talking to rom-coms usually, and that’s where we were, logging onto Vudu on Luke’s Smart TV in the living room, curled up on the couch with our legs tangled together. Usually, Elys was at the end, or in the middle, and we laid all over him like the nuisances we were.
It was just the three of us today, and Ori did not have a rom-com in mind.
I groaned at the sight of her loading up 50 Shades of Grey. “Seriously?”
“Oh, come on,” Ori insisted. “If they’re having a ‘bachelor party,’ this is what we’re doing for our bachelorette party.”
Claire snorted. “Excuse me, but this party is very dry.”
Ori shot a glare Claire’s way, over my head. “We’re not getting drunk.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, which made them both do a double-take. I was saying that I didn’t want to drink? “We have to be up bright and early in the morning to watch Ori officially start calling herself Mrs. Horan.”
“Yeah, and what about you?” Ori asked, and she paused the movie as it actually began to start up. “How is life treating you, Mrs. Hemmings?”
It wasn’t the first time I had been called that, but to hear Ori say it, in a way that made it sound like it might actually be my last name from this point on, brought the warmth to my cheeks that had been there on and off since the guys had arrived.
I wasn’t one to blush often, but when I did . . . it was this situation I found myself in.
“We haven’t . . . talked about it all yet,” I mumbled, and I ignored the way their jaws dropped, almost in unison. “We’re notorious procrastinators, but we’ve already decided that we’re gonna talk about it when Luke gets back tonight.”
“Okay, seriously?” Ori groaned. “One movie it is. This was not the night I wanted, but I suppose we can spend the entire day together tomorrow, no matter the choices.”
“Yes, and then the four of us will go out and explore LA together,” Claire added on.
Hearing that said out-loud, the four of us . . . it brought everything around full circle in a way. It started out as the four of us, and our lives were spent inside more than outside. It wasn’t until we were much older that we were even allowed to go around Las Vegas and explore the place that was our home.
“We’ve never gotten to do that, have we?” I asked.
Claire smiled. “No, and I’d say it’s overdue.”
It was overdue, and it was our first breath of fresh air. The isolation we had lived in for most of our lives had been necessary, and we were finally free from that. Everything was safe, and we could go outside without looking over our shoulders.
Well, I said that, but the truth was, Ori and I were getting ourselves into a whole new definition of that. We would have to look over our shoulder, just to see if we were being followed. We would have to look and see if people were trying to take our picture, or if anyone even noticed us at all.
That was the life I was willing to accept because it was still better than anything I had gotten thus far. If I had to keep my head down to get some privacy, so be it.
I would know freedom and happiness. I would know what it means to really live.
Hello all! How has everybody been?
I hope you all have had a great Memorial Day, if you're American. If you aren't, well, I hope you have had a great Monday!
Let us know what you think of this chapter! My sister sent this to me and I cried. Lol.
I love you all! I can't believe this story is about to come to an end. We have two more chapters until we get to Ellen, which will be two chapters. :) After Ellen, we have the epilogue, and then we will be done with this story! I can't believe how close we are to the end of this story! We ARE still doing a sequel... we just haven't named it yet. We're kind of tossing names back and forth, trying to figure out what we want. We will let you know as soon as we find out!