chapter nineteen

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"Happy birthday!"

The words jolt her awake, and she sits up, ready to beat up the intruder who just so happens to know it's her birthday, but then she comes to her senses and sees her roommates huddled around her bed, Ally holding one of her amazing homemade cakes with four candles stuck in it.

Camila laughs at the cake. "Wow, I can't believe I'm turning four today!"

Normani rolls her eyes. "Shut up, they're the only candles we have."

Ally nods in agreement, "And I refuse to stick twenty candles in a cake that I spent so much time icing. That's a little too much."

Camila reads the 'happy 20th birthday, Camila' written in white icing across the chocolate fudge icing on the actual cake, and she smiles, blowing out the candles. She closes her eyes and makes her wish – that she and Lauren will live a long and happy life together – and that's when she realises her girlfriend isn't here.

Naturally, she's inquisitive. "Where's Lauren?"

She knows that Lauren knows to come over; she'd filmed with her on Wednesday, half because she wanted to hang out with her and half because Lauren hadn't been on her channel since Camila had actually mentioned that they're girlfriends on Instagram.

"Wow, I bake a whole cake for her and that's the first thing she asks," Ally mutters to herself, "what am I, chopped liver?"

"Thanks for the cake, Ally," Camila says, and then turns to Dinah, "where's Lauren? She promised she'd be here. Is she okay? Have you seen her?"

Dinah exchanges a look with Normani as Ally goes to take the cake back downstairs. "She's not coming."

That really wakes Camila up. "What? Why not?"

Normani sighs. "She called a little while ago, said something came up at college and she can't be here until later."

Camila feels like crying at the words. "What? But- but-"

"Oh my god, oh my god, they're joking, don't cry!" Lauren bursts into the room and dives onto Camila's bed, wrapping her arms around her in a hug. "I just wanted to surprise you, I'm sorry."

Dinah coughs. "Whipped."

Lauren glares at her, but pulls Camila close and kisses the top of her head. "Dinah isn't invited to our day out. But hi, yes, hello, I'm here. Even if something had come up, you know I would've ditched it to be with you."

This time, it's Normani who mutters, "Whipped."

"Oh, look at that, Normani isn't invited either," Lauren announces, "just you and me. And Ally if she feels like third wheeling."

Camila frowns. "We're going out?"

"Yep, we have birthday plans," Lauren tells her, and Camila hadn't been informed of any plans, and easily catches on. "So I'm going to need you to hurry up and get ready."

Camila smirks, but gets out of bed, stretching, "Basically, you're the diversion while these three set up a party I don't want and then I have to pretend to be surprised."

Dinah and Normani look like a couple of deer in headlights, and they hurry from the room before Camila can laugh at their plan. When they've gone, Lauren shrugs. "That's exactly their plan."

"Thought so," Camila replies, "are you staying for the party? I know you don't like house parties, but... um, nobody I know will have any... substances. So, it's safe."

"Of course I'm staying," Lauren assures her, "I'll sleep over if you want."

"Yes please," Camila quickly accepts, and nods over to her bathroom. "I'm going to go shower, okay?"

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