“What?” Ryland and I asked in unison.

“San-Francisco is where Alia lives,” he murmured.

“Who?” I asked.

“Alia,” Ryland said with disgust thick in his voice. “His ex. Horrible woman.”

I thought back to Carson and I’s first date and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The woman who the mixologist reminded him of. The ex who cheated on him and broke his heart. “Why would he go to see her? Didn’t they end really badly?” I said.

“She must be up to something,” Ian said. “We have to go.”

“To San-Francisco?” I yelped.

“Yeah. I’ll book us three tickets right away,” Ian replied.

“Better make it two,” Ryland said. “Someone needs to stay and hold down the fort. I’ll keep things running here, you two go figure out what’s going on.”

“We’ll keep you posted,” Ian said. “Come on, Sascha.”

I couldn’t believe what was happening. This morning, I just woke up wondering why one of my boyfriends was so upset with me, and suddenly I was in a taxi in California, speeding towards some model’s home. If anyone had asked me a year ago where I’d be in a year, none of my current life’s events would have even crossed my mind.

“So, what exactly went on with this girl?” I asked as we made our way through San-Francisco.

“You know how all these celebrities get a little bit of fame and suddenly think the whole world cares about their everyday lives? Well Alia was one of those celebrities. She decided she wanted to write a tell-all book about the modeling industry and her experiences. At the time she was working in Vegas and came to us to edit and publish it,” Ian explained. “Carson fell for her hard and quick. I thought it was just a physical thing at first, but he’d never been like that before. It was okay at first, but then suddenly he started seeing all these tabloids about all these other men she was sleeping with.”

“Tabloids often lie though, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, but pictures and videos don’t, and there were plenty of both. It wasn’t even just newspapers either. He started getting random pictures and videos from the guys, bragging to him that they were sleeping with his woman,” Ian explained.

“Gross,” I said. “Why did he let it go on for so long?”

“Love?” Ian replied. “I’m honestly not sure. He finally got sick of it and showed her the door. Ryland and I were over-the-moon when he told us he was done with her for good. When you came along, I thought for sure that he wouldn’t go back. Turns out I was wrong.”

Ian seemed almost more upset than I was. He, Carson and Ryland’s relationship to one another was a little different than my relationship to them, but in the end, we were all in it together. To have the foundation of a friendship and then add something like our situation to the mix, it had to be manifesting some pretty odd feelings inside of the three men.

“It’ll be okay,” I said. “We’ll figure this out together.”

Ian smiled. “Yeah.”

We eventually arrived at this huge, pristine, white house at the end of a row of luxurious homes. We got out and approached the door. Both Ian and I were struggling to keep our emotions in check, but we had each other to help keep grounded, and if it meant helping Carson, we could remain calm. Ian knocked on the door, and for a few minutes, no one answered. Ian knocked again, and finally the door opened, revealing Carson on the other side.

Carson’s jaw dropped. “What are you two doing here?”

I reached out and grabbed Carson and pulled him into a hug. I was at least happy to see that he was okay. “I’m happy to see you,” I said. “We were all so worried about you.”

Carson hugged me back, but there was pain to his voice when he said, “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Um, excuse me.” Carson backed away from me, and behind him stood a tall, slender woman, with short brown hair and a very obvious baby bump. She set her hand on her stomach and threw a nasty smirk in my and Ian’s direction. “Please keep your hands off of my baby’s father, thank you.”

Ian

Did this woman think we were stupid or something? As soon as she and Carson turned to re-enter the home, I pushed my way in, pulling Sascha with me.

“Carson, please tell me you aren’t buying anything this woman is saying. After all the men she slept with, she’s obviously pregnant by someone else.” That’s when it hit me like a semi-truck. “As a matter of fact, did you two officially call it off just a month ago?” I pointed at Alia’s belly. “She’s further than a month along.”

Carson’s eyes widened and he turned to look at Alia. She poked out her bottom lip at him and I wanted to gag. “It’s true, I was already pregnant when we broke up,” Alia said. “I wanted to be sure I was pregnant before I said anything to you, and then before I could, you said all that awful stuff to me and called things off.” She pointed at Carson’s pocket. “You can’t deny for yourself what I’ve already proven. Show them.”

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