Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
“Ana?” I looked up from my notebook and poked my friend.
“Yes?” she did the same.
“Do you want to be my date to the Grammys?”
She laughed. “I thought you were going with Asher.”
“Nope. He’s going with his band, I go alone or with a date,” I explained. “It’s how this kind of stuff works.”
“Weird,” she shook her head. “But I’d love to go with you.”
“Sweet. Now we have to worry about clothes.”
A sparkle entered her eye. “No we don’t.”
My brow furrowed, and she flipped her sketchbook around to show me a sketch of a brown lace gown so stunning it made my jaw drop.
“You know I’m a designer,” she scolded me. “Did you really think you were going to have a clothing crisis?”
I was still speechless, admiring the sketch.
“Nice to know you like your dress,” she laughed. “Now go find your boyfriend so I can get to work on it, and also think about going brunette, like chocolate-colored.”
I hugged her quickly, the comment about my hair color not even registering. “Thank you best friendddddd.”
She laughed, and then wiggled out of my arms and ran to her workroom. I smiled after her, then went to Cullen’s room, where my boyfriend and his bandmate were playing video games.
The boys were somehow wrestling while also playing Mario Kart, and I paused in the doorway to watch them. It appeared that the reason for the wrestling was that Asher was winning, but Cullen wasn’t far behind and was trying to distract him. The sight was so foreign to me and what I knew of them that I was stunned for a moment, but it was only a few seconds before a waterfall of giggles escaped my lips.
They paused mid-roll and looked over at me, causing me to become immediately awkward. Asher bit his lip and looked away, and Cullen rolled off of him quickly.
I motioned to the door. “I’ll just….” Turning on my heel, I ran to my room, where not two seconds later I was joined by my boyfriend.
He scooped me into his chest, and I purred contentedly. “You’re warm,” I smiled.
Asher laughed softly before picking me up and carrying me over to my bed. “Thanks baby girl.”
I blushed at the pet name and curled into him as he laid himself down next to me. “I hate hiding from them though.”
He kissed my hair and held me close. “I know, but it’s only temporary. Remember, we’re telling people at the Grammys.”
Suddenly, the comment Ana had made earlier about my hair color registered with my brain, and it sent me into a slight panic.
I shook my head furiously. “Won’t work.” The words spilled out of my mouth before I could stop them.
“I think Ana wants me to dye my hair brown.”
It still didn’t register with him as he looked back at me with a blank look of confusion.
“Your girlfriend, Lauren, who went missing around the same time as Cailin Eden? She had brown hair, the same shade Ana wants me to dye mine. People are going to put two and two together,” I told him, and he groaned.
“It’s not like we’ve done anything that was illegal! We were waiting for you to turn 18,” he sighed.
“But you were 21 and we told everyone that I was 19 while it was well-known that Cailin was 16. They’re going to assume we did stuff.”
His fist and my pillow collided, and I took his hand and kissed it softly. “Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” I soothed him. “I either talk Ana out of wanting me to dye my hair brown, or we wait a little while.”
Asher buried his face in my hair. “I always thought you were prettier as a blonde,” he murmured. “And I don’t want to wait any longer than I have to.”
I chuckled softly at how cute he was, one thing that hadn't changed since I'd left. “Me either. We’ll figure something out.”
That night at dinner, the four of us were sitting around my small kitchen table eating something Ana had made when she again brought up my hair color.
“So, Lauren, any more thought on dyeing your hair?”
I gulped and looked at Asher for reassurance, even though in front of our friends he could offer me very little. “Ummm...I’ll pass.”
“Why? It’s just hair,” she said flippantly.
Asher looked like I felt - scared as hell. “I’d prefer to keep my hair blonde.”
Cullen’s look of confusion suddenly shifted to one of understanding, and I saw him and Asher exchange something under the table that Asher then tucked into his pocket.
“Lauren come on. It’s literally just hair, you can change it back anytime,” she pressed, and I felt like I was grabbing for reasons that didn’t exist.
“You know what, I think she looks fine blonde,” Cullen spoke softly, looking up from his plate. “She shouldn’t dye her hair if she doesn’t want to.”
Ana shot him the evil eye as I sighed in relief. “It would look better if your hair was brown.”
“I think she looks better as a blonde,” Asher muttered, before looking around to see if anyone had heard him and blushing when he realized that we all did.
I bit my lip and looked away from him, awkwardness and embarrassment flooding my face. He’d never mentioned that he preferred me with blonde hair. Was this something new?
“Can you two just fix whatever happened between you so that this stops happening, please and thanks?” Ana asked, groaning. “It’s getting old.”
I sighed and stood up, taking my plate to the kitchen and wrapping it before placing it in the fridge. “I think I’m just gonna go upstairs,” I said quietly. “‘M not hungry anymore.”
Ana sighed after me as I headed to the fridge, “Lauren, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to….”
Asher cut her off gently with a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll get her, she’ll be fine,” he assured my friend. “Just let her calm down.”
I heard my boyfriend’s chair push back, and seconds later he had joined me on the stairs and wrapped me in a hug, my head on his chest and his soothing words telling me that it was all going to be okay. However, it seemed that the two of us had changed so much that I was left wondering, for the first time in our relationship, if he was right.