Kaiden had the day off on Friday and decided to check up on Kori. He had neither seen nor heard from her since Phoenix’s birthday party on Tuesday. Apart from being very drunk, she was very upset about betraying her friend. He thought it was a good idea to let her know he hadn’t forgotten about her predicament and remind her that she could talk to him if she needed. When he arrived at the Dandridge house, however, she was not there. Her parents wore tense scowls across their faces and made him extremely nervous. “W-what’s happened? Where is Kori? Is she ok?”
They regarded each other with disappointment. Finally, Mr. Dandridge spoke. “She moved out.”
“What? Why? Did she get a job?”
Mrs. Dandridge handed him a piece of paper. “This is her address. You two have a lot to catch up on.”
They turned around and went back into the house, leaving him alone on the porch completely confused.
So, he went to the Fashion District in San Myshuno. The address was the apartment across the hall from Kolby and Fernanda. He knocked, and a familiar male voice granted him entry, further confusing his poor brain.
The apartment was nice enough though it seemed even smaller than Kolby’s studio. At least the rent was probably reasonable for someone with an entry level job. The male voice from a few minutes ago came out of the bathroom. It was Nick! What was he doing in Kori’s apartment? Were they a thing now?
“Hey,” Kaiden said hesitantly. “What’s going on, man?”
Nick turned on the TV. “Kori went to talk to the landlord. She’ll be back in a sec.”
Kaiden had never seen him looking so despondent. What in the world happened?
“Why is everyone so upset and secretive? It’s freaking me out. Are you guys, like, toge-“
“Oh, hey, Kaiden,” Kori said as she entered the apartment. She looked scared. Embarrassed even. “We should talk.”
He followed her into the master bedroom anxious to solve the mystery. When she faced him, he saw that her eyes were glassy as if she were crying earlier. And her cheeks were flushed too. Whatever this was about, it embarrassed her a great deal.
“You talked to my parents,” she said more matter-of-factly than as a question.
“Your mom said you moved out. Said I could find you here. What’s going on, Kori? And why is Nick here?”
Her mouth opened a few times as if she tried to start sentences that didn’t seem quite right. Finally, she gave up and stared at the floor, exhaling all her breath. “Kaiden… I’m pregnant.”
At first, his eyes got as large as eggs. His mouth dropped to the floor. He felt disappointed yet sympathetic but still not entirely sure of how to feel. “Ok…” His eyes narrowed as if to shield himself from whatever came next.
“My parents were so mad. They started yelling about this is why they keep tabs on me, and how could I do this…” She shook her head. “They made me call Nick to meet his parents. The four of them agreed that we should get married.”
Oh. Sweet. Watcher. “They made you guys get married?”
She nodded. “My dad said since we wanted to act grown, we could handle it like grown people.”
Tears rolled down her face, and Kaiden’s heart went out to her. Nick too. What a way to begin their young adult life! Having a kid on the way was one thing, but to be forced into a union with someone they didn’t love? It seemed cruel. Yet, he understood why the decision was made.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” she yelled. “It’s not like I go out and do this kind of thing every weekend! My parents are always so hard on me!”
Kaiden gathered her in his arms and sat on the bed. “I wish I knew what to say. I’m sorry.”
It was amazing how different all of their lives were, and each one thought theirs was normal. Jared and Asia were easy going for the most part. His father set the rules and was more strict than his mother, but Kaiden couldn’t imagine him doing anything like this to any of the Pruett kids in this situation.
“Will you let me know if there’s anything I can do?”
She attempted to smile and pulled away from him. “Sure. Thank you, Kaiden. I wish it would have been you.”
Kaiden shifted uncomfortably in the bed. Did she have feelings for him? Maybe she only meant if she had to be stuck in that situation with someone, she preferred her best friend. Could he get into a situation like that? If he were wasted that night, would he have ended up in the closet with her? She was very attractive. His judgment could have been cloudy enough to be stupid. No matter what she meant, the awkward conversation reached critical levels of weird, and he had to get out of there.
“I’m gonna go hang with my brother. Call me, ok?”
She nodded and watched him leave hurriedly.
Kolby’s place was a nice contrast to the gloomy prison across the hall, and Kaiden felt a hundred times better though he was still conflicted.
“Kaiden! This is a nice surprise!”
“Yeah. I was across the hall, so I figured I’d swing by.”
“Oh? Who moved in?”
“Two of my friends.”
Kolby’s cheerful grin faded away. “Uh oh. What did I say?”
“Why do relationships have so much drama?”
“Uh oh. I think we need to sit on this one,” Kolby said. “What’s happened now?”
“You remember Phoenix, right?”
“Oh. The blonde from next door. Right, yes.”
“Her birthday was a few days ago, and she invited us out. We went to this club in Windenburg-“
“Ooh. You guys partied for real. Nice!”
“Kori and Nick got drunk, and they… They did it. In the closet!
“They don’t really even like each other like that. But, Phoenix likes Nick! And she and Kori are good friends!”
“Whooooa. That’s foul.”
“That’s not even the worst of it. Kori got pregnant! Her parents and Nick’s parents made them get married!”
“What? That’s a bit much.”
“I know. Between this and the Breanne drama, I’m so conflicted about everything. I met this beautiful girl that night. We have so much in common. I would love to be friends with her, but with all this drama happening around me, I don’t know if I want to chance it! I can’t escape the drama!”
Kolby nodded. “I understand how you would feel that way, and it’s ok. You should probably give yourself some time to get over what Breanne did and heal, you know? If this girl really is special, you don’t want to ruin it for her.”
“What should I do?”
“Maybe try to forget about her now. Focus on you. When you’re ready, call her. Tell her why it took you so long, and be honest about it. She’ll appreciate it.”
Forget about her? But he just asked her if she wanted to hang out. If he didn’t follow up, he’d be just like all the other d-bags she’d probably been approached by in clubs. Maybe he could just call her to say hi. “I get what you’re saying, but I don’t know.”
Kolby chuckled. “Sounds like somebody’s got a little crush.”
“It’s not like that.”
“Sure. Whatever you end up doing though, just understand this. Every relationship has it’s own drama. It may not be crazy stuff like this all the time, but there’s always something. It’s part of life, and you can’t hide from it…unless you go live in Granite Falls or something.”
Kaiden was intrigued. “You and Fernanda have drama?”
“Sure! Mom can’t stand her.”
Kaiden’s jaw dropped. “No. I can’t imagine mom not liking anyone.”
“She tries to hide it, but I know she doesn’t like her.”
“Wow. I had no idea.”
“Yeah, so I guess instead of running from relationships to avoid drama, maybe you should learn how to deal with it instead.”
Kaiden snorted. “When did you become a relationship expert?”
“Live and learn, kid. Live and learn.”