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King of Sloth: Epilogue


Eighteen months later

Per the terms of my father’s will, I received an installment of my inheritance every time I passed an evaluation. I’d just aced my third one last week, and the number before the zeroes in my bank account ticked up exponentially, even after I donated half the payment to various charities.

Ironically, the Vault was doing so well I didn’t need my inheritance anymore, but it was nice to have that cushion. After its smash opening night and Mode de Vie’s subsequent profile of me in its Movers and Shakers section, the club skyrocketed into fame. I was already making plans to open a new location in Miami, but first, I had an even bigger change to settle at home.

“I think that’s it.” Sloane planted her hands on her hips and looked around the living room. “Everything is unloaded and accounted for.”

Piles of cardboard boxes covered the floor, each one neatly labeled with its contents. Clothing (fall/winter). Clothing (spring-summer). Books. Office supplies. So on and so forth.

Movers had spent the day transporting those boxes from Sloane’s old apartment to my town house. Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be more stuff, another truckload arrived.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “You packed so light.”

“Very funny,” she huffed. She patted one of the boxes. “I couldn’t leave my Louboutin collection or my review notebooks.”

“You have an entire box of review notebooks?” Jesus, how many had she written?

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sloane said. “I couldn’t fit them into one box. I split them up into two.”

I shook my head with a mock appalled expression. “I changed my mind; you can’t move in anymore. You’re clearly not human, and that’s a dealbreaker for me.”

“Fine.” She turned and started unpacking a box labeled Candles. “I’d planned on christening every room in this house to celebrate my move-in, but if you don’t want me around…” She squealed when I wrapped an arm around her waist from behind and pulled her toward me.

“You don’t play fair,” I growled. “But who am I to disrupt your plans for such a thorough christening? I take back what I said. You can move in again.”

“How generous of you.” Sloane was still laughing when I turned her around to kiss her.

Since we started dating, we’d dined at the finest restaurants, enjoyed the most exclusive shows, and luxuriated in weekend getaways everywhere from St. Lucia to Malibu, but these types of moments were my favorite—the casual, comfortable ones where we could be ourselves and nothing else.

We were taking things slow, but moving in together felt like a natural progression after dating for so long. Honestly, I’d been ready a long time ago, but I’d waited until Sloane felt comfortable enough to give up her apartment and, in turn, a piece of her independence.

It was a big move for her, so I hadn’t taken it for granted when she told me she’d rather move into the town house than stay in her old building.

An alarm chimed on Sloane’s phone, breaking our kiss. “Shoot.” She pulled away and silenced the sound. “I didn’t realize it was six already. We have to get ready soon, or we’ll be late for Isa’s party.”

Isabella and Kai had gotten married shortly after the Vault’s opening, and she’d taken a short hiatus from writing to enjoy their honeymoon. However, she’d recently finished her latest novel and was celebrating its publication with a book launch party that night. “Luna, Isabella will be late to Isabella’s party,” I said. “And before we start getting ready, I have a housewarming gift for you.”

“You’ve lived here for years; the house is already warmed.”

Sloane’s eyes sparkled at my sigh of exasperation. “But I love a good gift. What is it?”

“It’s in here.” I guided her to the hall next to the living room.

I’d been sure it was the right gift when I bought it, but a ripple of anxiety ran down my spine when we turned the corner and the latest member of our household came into view.

Sloane drew a sharp inhale of breath. “Is that…?”

“A goldfish,” I confirmed.

My worry that I’d overstepped melted when she touched the mini aquarium, her eyes suspiciously bright. The bright orange-yellow fish inside swam toward her hand and examined it for a second, his fins wagging, before he returned to the little pagoda the pet store had set up in the middle of his habitat. Apparently, he was more interested in exploring his new home than the humans hovering over him.

“I didn’t think I’d miss having a goldfish ignore me so much,” Sloane said, her voice thick. “He’s perfect. Thank you.”

“I’m glad you like him. The store said he was the feistiest one.” We stared at the fish as it lazily circled the pagoda. “But they didn’t define what they meant by feisty.”

“Feisty.” Sloane pursed her lips in thought. “That should be his name.”

Feisty the Fish? My God.

“If the store said he was the goldest one, would you have named him Goldie?” I asked, my cheeks hurting from the force of my grin.

Her pensive expression gave way to a stern glare. “Very funny,” she said, her cheeks pink. “I’m not great at naming pets, okay?”

“No, no, I think Feisty is a great name. A proud name. A literal name!” I called after her as she stalked back to the living room. Laughter warped around me as I followed her.

“Shut up before I throw a lamp at you,” she threatened. “If you’re so great at names, you choose one.”

“Nope, he’s for you and whatever name you choose is the one that sticks. At least Feisty is a better option than The Fish 2.0.” I corralled my face into some semblance of seriousness. “Every fish deserves a name, and his is Feisty.”

I almost made it through the entire sentence without cracking up again. Almost.

My failure resulted in Sloane throwing a cushion at my head, but it was worth it.

Feisty the Fish. I chortled.

“If I tell Dr. Hatfield about this and she says break up with you, I’ll do it without hesitation,” Sloane warned.

“Aw, come on, Luna, I’m just poking fun.” I swallowed another bubble of laughter. “Besides, Dr. Hatfield would never say that. She loves me.”

“She doesn’t know you.”

“She knows me by proxy.”

Dr. Hatfield was her new therapist.

Sloane and I had both resumed therapy last year with different practitioners who specialized in (extremely dysfunctional) family issues. It took a few tries before we found the right fits, but I’d forgotten how, well, therapeutic it was to discuss my problems with a stranger whose job was to listen to those problems.

Therapy had been Sloane’s idea. She would never patch things up with her father or Georgia, but Pen was still part of that family. Sloane thought therapy would help her better navigate her relationship with Pen versus the rest of the Kensingtons now that she was seeing her sister on a weekly basis, which meant increased contact with George and Caroline. Sometimes, I accompanied her to see Pen; other times, I left them to their sisters-only bonding.

Surprisingly, therapy helped me more this time around than when I underwent it as a teenager. Maybe I was more open to it now that I wasn’t mired in resentment and guilt. Whatever it was, my bi-weekly sessions had helped me come to terms with my past and my relationship with my father. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter why he’d put the loophole in his will or why he did any of the things he did.

That chapter was behind me, and I was ready to move on to the next one.

“I forgot to tell you. Guess who I ran into the other day?” Sloane asked after we got past the Feisty episode and walked upstairs to shower and change. “I had a meeting with a columnist from Modern Manhattan. They have the same parent company as Fast and Furriness, and when I was in the elevator up…”

“Don’t say it.” I grinned, already anticipating her next words.

“Perry Wilson walked in.” Sloane laughed. “You should’ve seen his face. He tried to leave, but the doors had already closed. We spent ten floors pretending the other didn’t exist.”

Perry had lost his libel lawsuit last year, and Kai bought out his blog soon after. He’d renamed it Confidential Matters, deleted every trace of Perry from the site, and installed a professional team of writers and fact checkers. It was currently pulling in double the traffic Perry had attracted during his peak. People were tired of clickbait articles and baseless mudslinging, and an increasing number were gravitating toward better-quality news.

Meanwhile, Perry had been reduced to manning the phones at Fast and Furriness. I couldn’t say I felt sorry for him.

Sloane and I entered our room.

Our. It didn’t sound as strange as I’d expected. I guess in my mind, I’d already considered the house ours before she moved in.

That being said, it wouldn’t be proper to skip an official celebration, would it?

“So,” I said casually as Sloane stripped off her clothes in preparation for a shower. “Did you mean—”

“No.” She knew what I was going to say before I said it. “We don’t have time. We’ll be la—aaaate!” Sloane shrieked with laughter as I grabbed her and hauled her onto the bed.

She was right. We did show up late to Isabella’s party, but we’d also christened the first of many rooms in our house.

I couldn’t think of a better way to start the next chapter of our lives together.


“You were right. This was exactly what I needed.” I stretched my arms over my head with a content sigh. “I could stay here forever.”

“Say that again,” Xavier said.


“The first three words. You were right.”

I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t restrain a smile. “You’re insufferable.”

“Yet you’re here with me. What does that say about you?” he teased. A breeze swept through his hair, ruffling the black strands as we walked along the beach.

“That I’m a masochist.”

“Ah. I knew there was a reason why I loved you.”

I laughed, unable to keep up my pretense when he looked so relaxed and happy, and I felt so relaxed and happy.

We were nearing the end of our month-long trip to Spain. Xavier had surprised me with the tickets last Christmas, but we’d waited for the weather to warm up before we came.

Our housekeeper was taking care of Feisty, the Vault was finally running smoothly enough on its own for Xavier to take that much time off, and I’d left Kensington PR in Jillian’s capable hands. I’d promoted her to my Director of Office Operations last year, with a matching pay raise, and I had full confidence in her ability to run the ship while I was gone. I still checked my email compulsively whenever Xavier was in the shower or getting us drinks, but I no longer felt the need to control everything that came across my inbox.

After all, I was on vacation.

So for the past three and a half weeks, Xavier and I had eaten, slept, and drank our way through Madrid, Seville, Valencia, and Barcelona before ending in the place that’d started it all: Mallorca.

The island had marked the first big turning point in our relationship. Since our first vacation here had been cut short, it seemed appropriate to return and finish what we’d started.

“What do you want to do tonight?” Xavier asked, lacing his fingers through mine. “We can go dancing again, or we can stay in.”

“Let’s stay in. If I dance anymore, my feet are going to fall off.” We’d gone to a different club every night for the past three nights, often staying out until the sun rose, and my body was ready to sue.

At least my dancing skills had improved, thanks to Xavier.

We lapsed into comfortable silence as the sun dipped below the horizon, transforming the sky into a palette of tangerines and lavenders. The clouds seemed to catch fire at the edges, a spectacle captured by the tranquil mirror of the ocean.

I waited for a familiar stab of sadness, but it never came. In hindsight, I hadn’t felt it for a while, but I’d never noticed its absence until now.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Xavier said. “You look like you’re surprised about something.”

A smile touched my lips. He always knew me so well.

“I used to hate sunsets,” I admitted. “I thought they were depressing. Sunsets represented endings, and they reminded me that every good thing comes to an end. I always felt sad when I saw one, but now…I don’t think they’re so bad.” I shrugged. “I like nights better than days, anyway.”

Nights meant dinners at home, beneath the chandelier we’d fallen in love with during our last trip to Paris. They meant crackling fires and conversations in bed, the type that meandered easily until one or both of us fell asleep. Nights were love and warmth and moonlight, my safe haven from the world.

Without sunsets, there would be no nights, and just like that, my decades-old animosity toward the otherwise beloved phenomena dissolved as quietly as if it’d never existed.

“Good,” Xavier said softly. “I like nights better, too.”

Later that evening, when we curled up on the couch to watch a movie, I didn’t bother retrieving my review notebook.

I just wanted to enjoy the film, and I did. The office meet-cute, the montage of cute dates, the hero running through the airport for his grand gesture, even the happy ending featuring a pet dog and a ring—I loved it all.

I had no business judging others’ clichés.

After all, I was on a romantic European getaway with my long-term boyfriend, who’d started as a client I hated before we gradually fell in love—only I’d been too stubborn to admit it—and I’d almost lost him before I came to my senses and reconciled with him at the top of the Empire State Building.

Now we lived together in a town house with a pet fish and a rooftop movie theater, and we were nauseatingly, disgustingly blissful.

Who said happily ever afters were unrealistic?


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