“Long.” I chuckle. “You look great,” I tell her, stepping out of her hold.
I’ve always been uncomfortable when people hug me. It comes from a lifetime of never being hugged, I guess.
Ava is really pretty and my total opposite. Where I’m tall and blonde, she’s small and brunette. And she’s a little older than me. Ava is twenty-eight, and I’m twenty-five.
“The California sun is really working for you,” I tell her. “Those highlights or sun-bleached?”
“Sun-bleached.” She flicks a hand through her poker-straight hair.
“I’m seriously envying your tan right now as well.” I glance down at my white arms. Even though it was hot in Nashville, I didn’t catch a tan. I’m one of those people who has to sunbathe for hours to catch even a little color.
“Yeah, but you look great, and I’m loving your hair,” she says, moving to the side to examine my hair. “Is that pink and purple you have in there?”
“Pink and lavender,” I tell her.
“I might have to get some in my hair.”
“You totally should.”
“Cool. Something for us to do together while we’re here.” She threads her arm through mine. “We should get moving. I parked in short-term.”
“Thanks for coming to pick me up,” I say as we walk through the airport. “I thought I’d be grabbing a cab.”
“As if!” She laughs.
We push through the doors into the LA sunshine.
“Welcome to LA.” She squeezes my arm with hers. “You been here before?”
“You’re gonna love it!”
She leads me over to her car, which is one of those Smart cars.
“Um, will my case fit in there?” I ask, skeptically eyeing the car.
“Course it will.” She laughs a bright and breezy sound, opening the trunk.
Surprisingly, my case fits in easily, with room to spare. Guess they’re bigger than they look.
I climb in the passenger seat and strap myself in. The car feels really light and not sturdy at all.
“You sure we won’t blow away with a strong gust of wind?” I ask as she turns the engine on.
The sound of Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s “Bad Things” blasts out her stereo. I love this song.
She rolls her eyes at me. “Don’t be hating on Sunny,” she says over the music. “And do you see any wind around here?”
“First off, you named your car Sunny? And, second, you can’t see wind. It’s invisible.”
She laughs loudly. “God, I forgot what a smart-ass you are! I’ve missed you, babe. So glad you’re here.”
There’s something in her tone that doesn’t sound like she’s totally happy, but I don’t ask. She’ll tell me if and when she wants to.
“That’s why you love me—my smart mouth.”
“And your ability to sniff out a designer sale in a ten-mile radius.”
“It’s a gift.” I dramatically flick my hand, making her laugh again.
“Where are you staying?” Ava asks as she pulls onto the highway.
“Um…” I dig out the paperwork I printed last night from my bag. “The Comfort Inn on Sunset Boulevard.”
“God, the studio is cheap.”
“I’m guessing the Chateau Marmont was all booked up.” I give her a sarcastic grin.
“You could have stayed with me…but Jeremy…”
“Ava, it’s fine.” I wave her off. “The hotel has a pool, which is always a plus.”
“And it’s only a five-minute walk to the studio.”
“Another bonus. See? I’ll be fine. And I’ll only be here for, what?”
“Three weeks max. Then, we’re heading to Vegas.”
“Vegas, baby! Vegas!” I cheer.
“Have you ever been to Vegas?” she asks me.
“Once. Years ago. So, tell me more about the movie,” I say, quickly changing the subject. I don’t want her asking why I was in Vegas all those years ago.
I give her a stupid look. “The one we’re working on, you numpty. The film with Makes Me Wet West in it.”
“Numpty?” She throws me a confused glance, totally ignoring my new nickname for Vaughn West.
I think it’s a great nickname. I should get it printed on T-shirts. I could make a killing.
“It’s British. Means dumbass.”
“And you’re British? Since when?”
“I’m not. I just like their curse words. They’re way more fun than ours.”
“You’re so odd.” She laughs.
“I prefer the term unconventional.” I playfully stick my tongue out at her.
She makes a lane change, and the car in front cuts her off. She honks her horn.
“Mirrors, asshole!” she yells at the driver of the car, who obviously can’t hear a word she’s saying, as she angrily waves her hand around. “Fucking asshole needs to learn how to drive a car. And they say women are bad drivers. Dickhead!”
Note to self: Never piss off Ava while in a car.
“Steady there, Ronda Rousey.”
She glances at me, her face moving from pissed to embarrassed. “Sorry.” She grimaces. “Idiots like that just piss me off.”
“No kidding. Remind me never to get on your bad side,” I say, making her laugh. “So, the film?”