Chapter Twenty-Two

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The loud clanking of steel pots and pans resonated through the room and teared through my eardrums straight to my brain, and I could feel the pounding against my skull deepening. I groaned as I rolled over the soft cushions of the couch and onto my back, forcing my eyelids apart and blinking against the morning light. I was still in the living-room sprawled out on the couch, with the pillows scattered around the carpeted floor.

With another disgruntled groan, I laid my palms flat against the couch and pushed my heavy body into a sitting position. I was more tired than earlier, as if the disrupted sleep did more damage to my brain than the overall sleep deprivation had.

I dragged my feet lazily towards the source of the noise, the clanking of pots getting louder by each step. I found a swinging door that led to another room and I pushed my way through, finding myself greeted by an amusing scene - Seth positioned behind the kitchen counter with his torso covered by a plain white apron, his hand circling around a bowl as he mixed its contents.

As the door swung shut, his head snapped up and his gaze fell on me. He offered me a wide grin. "Morning, Sunshine," he continued on mixing the mixtures in the bowl as I proppled down on a stool across from him. "Why didn't you take one of the rooms upstairs? There are plenty of beds in this house, you know."

I nodded. "I couldn't find the energy to move away from the couch." My gaze shifted around the kitchen, surveying my surrounding. It was an elegant, light-colored kitchen with marbled counters and silver stools. It was the first time I had visited Seth's parents' house. "Your parents have a gorgeous house, by the way."

He smiled appreciatively as he turned to move towards the stove, fixing a pan over and igniting a faint fire. "Thanks. How did you sleep last night?" Seth glanced over his shoulder at me as he waited for the pan to heat up. "Or should I say, the entirety of yesterday?"

I rolled my eyes. "I barely got four hours of sleep."

He frowned at my reply, the skin on his forehead creasing disapprovingly. "But you were knocked out cold the whole day."

"I was in and out. My body had shut down but I was wide awake." My hands traveled to my eyes and I began to rub them tiredly. Seth frowned some more.

Before he had a chance to comment, the kitchen door was swung open and in walked Ariel and Elliot. They mumbled a greeting and reached out for the stools on each side of me, Ariel sitting down to my right while Elliot took my left's. Seth returned to his pan and began pouring the eggs he mixed earlier with chopped vegetables into the heated pan, making omletes.

"Wow, you look like shit." Ariel commented, inspecting my reddened eyes. I rolled my eyes, not answering back with a petty comback because I knew she was absolutely right.

I pushed myself off the stool and hopped down on wobbly legs. "Well, I'll go freshen up. Let me know when breakfast's ready." I turned towards the door when I suddenly realized I didn't even know where the bathrooms were and stopped in my tracks. As if sensing my confusion, Seth immediately spoke up.

"Find any room on the first floor that isn't occupied and it's yours. Each have their own bathroom."

I nodded and mumbled a thanks, reaching the living room and grabbing the only remaining suitcase from the hallway. I strolled towards the long stairway, carrying my suitcase with both hands until the first floor. I was breathing heavily by the time I reached the top, my body too weak from malnutrition.

I reached out for the first door to my right and lowered the handle, peeking through the darkness. Noah was sprawled out on the king-sized bed positioned in the middle of the spacious room, his arm draped over his eyes and his chest bare. I closed the door shut and reached for the one across from Noah's claimed bedroom. To my luck, it was unoccupied. I set my suitcase down by the king-sized bed, unzipping it and digging through for my toiletries and a fresh pair of clothing. Once I had what I needed, I made my way towards the bathroom.

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