"Do you know what you're going to do?" Sharon, my case manager, asked me as I rode with her to the courthouse downtown.
"Keep that for the judge. What about the boy?"
I looked at her focusing figure that was staring at the road in front of her. I realized she was talking about Chace. "What about him?"
"...Nothing...Boys are trouble." Sharon reprimanded me like a mother should have.
"Chace isn't trouble. I really like him. He's special to me. He's kind, caring, affectionate, and we have feelings for each other."
"But he's famous, and celebrities will tell you anything. Remember that."
"I will." We walked into the building a bit later, a chop full folder in Sharon's arms.
"The preceeding starts in five minutes. Go sit down in the reserved seat at the front. I'll be there in a few," she said to me. I nodded and went to go do as told. When I entered the courtroom, in the middle row on the right sat an exhibit I really needed to take a picture of. Gabrielle sat on the inside of the row and Chace sat on the outside, Josh in between the two. That's not what surprised me. What made my jaw drop was that Chace and Josh were talking and laughing with each other! They were jovial, smiling, and enjoying each other's company. I continued down the aisle, stopping at their side.
"Hi, Chace, Josh." They halted their conversation and both smiled up at me.
"Hey," Josh greeted. "Chace and I were just talking about how tourists in L.A. are comic relief." The corners of my mouth tugged upward.
"That's all I wanted: the two boys I feel for the most to get along. Thank you." That was by far the wrong thing to say. It triggered a questionable look on Josh's face and a satisfied expression on Chace's. There was a lingering silence filled with an awkward throat clearing by Chace. "Well I've got to get going. I'll talk to you later," I said to neither in particular.
"See ya," Josh waved.
"Bye," Chace answered and they sat down as I took my place at the front.
"Ready?" Sharon asked, sliding in next to me.
"Yes. Nervous, though." I looked around at the filling courtroom.
"You'll be fine, sweetie. Just breathe." I tried inhaling and exhaling deeply. It didn't help one bit. I had thought about my decision deeply after what Chace said to me last night in his room. It wasn't that I was doubting what I was going to do, it was that I was a bit scared of all the changes that would come with it. But you do what you have to do.
"All rise," said the bailiff. The room stood as the same judge from the last time took his place, slamming his gavel to start court. "So, Miss Moore, I suppose you have a decision."
I walked up to the wooden stand in front of me. "Yes, your honor."
"Well then I ask you, Alicia, would you like to be taken into custody by your aunt, Emily Levins, or would you like to be released from all sources of custody as emancipation? If you choose the latter, you would have to provide evidence of financial stability and well being."
I looked at Emily at the podium on the other side of the room. She was looking at me apologetically. I turned to Sharon behind me. She raised her brow and gestured to hurry up. "Um..." My mind was racing, running through a twisted labyrinth. I decided on finalizing what Chace had unhappily convinced me of. "I want to go with my aunt..." No one questioned what I said, and court was adjourned.
I approached Emily in the main entrance hall of the courthouse. She engulfed me in a huge hug. "Thank you, Alicia. I swear, it turned into much more than what you thought it to be."
"I just figured that I'm only a teenager once, and I want that experience."
"You won't regret it. We can turn the guest room into your room and we can decorate it, and we'll enroll you in school at West Quinton, and - " In order to stop her rambling I embraced her once again and asked when we'd be leaving. "How about Sunday? 9 a.m.? Just so you have one last day to pack, say goodbye, and all that."
"Sounds great." I waved to her and walked over to Josh, pulling him to the side. "Can you be at Chace's house on Sunday at 8:30 in the morning?"
"That's when I'm leaving, and I want to say goodbye."
"Absolutely. Alicia, I'm proud of you." Didn't see that coming.
"Why? I mean, after all the crap I put you through, I don't get why you'd even care."
"I guess that some people just aren't compatible as more than friends, and we're gonna have to accept that. We have to put it in the past. So, while we're at it... Hi, I'm Joshua." He held his hand out.
I shook it while saying, "Hi, I'm Alicia. Tell me, where are you from?"
"San Fran; born and bred." We chatted aimlessly as we walked outside, being pulled into the California sun.
I quietly entered the house about forty-five minutes later. Chace was waiting expectantly at the kitchen counter. He just looked at me. It was a mix of a disappointed and understanding expression that confused the hell out of me. Was everything about him contradictory? "Say something," I muttered.
Still, he stayed in place, thinking. He said simply, "Why?"
"I have to finish school. That's my top priority. And you're the one who told me last night that it'd be best if I were to leave with Emily."
"But I didn't think you would actually do it!" I crossed my arms. I hadn't realized that this had turned from mumbling into a full-blown yelling fest.
"Do you really think I won't take your advice?! You are supposed to want what's best for me, and if you don't, then our relationship once I leave is screwed!" I inched closer and he receded.
"Or maybe it's already done..." It took a while for his implication to sink in, but when it did, it hit hard.
"What are you trying to say?" But that was the thing, he said nothing. Chace just stood there and looked at me, forlorn, godforsaken. I wiped the tears in my eyes. "I get it. I've screwed up another relationship. I'm going to bed." I started down the hall.
"It's 1:30," he said from the other room.
"Then I'm taking a fucking nap." The remark didn't come out as sarcastic as I wanted it to because I was still choked up. It wasn't until I was in under the covers that I noticed how Chace didn't come after me.
A/N - Hey, everyone. So after this there are only two more chapters of A New Life, but guess what? THERE IS A SEQUEL. I'm so excited to carry on with another era of the story, and I hope you'll stay with me. Your support has been amazing and I can't thank you enough.