*Hello! Here's Chapter 2, finally! I was being very particular with the pace and tone I wanted the story to have, so it took longer than I expected to get this out. I promise chapter 3 won't take so long.

As always, feedback would be awesome and HIGHLY appreciated! =) Enjoy!

-I do not own any Faking It characters.


CHAPTER TWO

When Dreaming Ends

"Yes, mom, I understand." Karma had been on the phone with her mother for about 20 minutes now, much to Shane's dismay. He expected this ride to be some last-minute bestie-time, and not a soul-cleansing session on the way to the rehab center. He loved Karma's mom and thought her tree-hugger antics were hilarious, but sometimes it could get suffocating.

"I'll call you as soon as I get settled," she sighed. "Mom, I have to go. I promise I'll let you do as many aura-cleansing mantras as you want when you visit." She gave Shane a "kill me now" look that made him chuckle. "I love you, too, bye."

"That was intense," he teased. Karma laughed and lay back against the seat. Her parents always had a way of making her feel smothered and incredibly loved all at once. They were disappointed to find out about her addiction, and scolded her for not communicating about her troubles, but they were there to support her through anything. As much as she complained about their hippie ways, she wouldn't trade them for the world.

"Turn left at 300 feet," blurted the GPS, making Karma jump in her seat. They were almost at their destination and she could feel her chest start to tighten. It had been over 24-hours since her last fix and she could already feel her skin crawling from the craving. Can I really go through this? It's been one day and I'm ready to scratch my skin off. How can I handle ninety? God, I wish Liam was here.

Shane noticed her uneasiness and turned the radio on to distract her. After years of working so closely with Karma, he could read her body language like a book.

"It sucks that I won't be able to call you after my date tonight," he said, sending his sweetest pout in Karma's direction as he fiddled with the tuner. "It's with this cute guy named Pablo, and I swear, Karma, I feel like he's finally 'the one.' " He let out a soft, happy sigh and settled for the station playing Bruno Mars's Locked Out of Heaven.

"You said that about Ben, and then ran out of his apartment as soon as he said the "L" word," Karma said, rolling her eyes. "And how about the guy before him who asked you to move in after dating only three weeks? Wasn't he the 'Romeo to your Juliet?' " Karma "gracefully" placed her hands under her chin as comfortably as her cast would allow, and bat her eyelashes at him. He gave her a disapproving look as he swatted at her with his right hand. "You dropped him and found Ben in the span of 4 hours!" she finished with a laugh.

"Doubt all you want, but you'll see. You'll be stuck married to a man who abuses his face with Botox to retain his handsome youth, and I'll be married to the most caring man in the world, who saves stray animals on his days off, and will be the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize," Shane defended with a cheeky grin.

"Yea, well, I'll make sure your wedding invitation gets lost in the mail," she teased. Karma knew Shane wasn't Liam's biggest fan. His exact words were, "never trust a straight man with a pretty face." She learned to deal with it and take his relationship with Liam as it was. At least they had the decency to keep it civil around each other. Karma was in love with Liam, and Shane loved her enough to respect that.

She leaned over and turned off the radio. "Hey!" he yelled, clicking it back on.

"I hate that song!"

"Sorry, but I left all my Karma CDs in the other car, you diva!"

They pulled into the parking lot of the Soleil Recovery Center (SRC)—one of the best addiction-fighting centers in California. There were no paparazzi in sight, and Karma sent a quick "thanks" up to the heavens. Hester Records really knows how to keep it low key, she thought.

It wasn't too large of a facility and it had a very homey feel with its green lawns and beautifully kempt flowers. Karma could see the entrance to a huge garden at the side of the building, and immediately knew she'd spend a lot of time writing there. After all, she'll need new material for when her contract gets extended. Okay, this isn't so bad. It's like a little vacation. You can get through this.

They got out of the car and made their way inside. The lobby was very modern and clean, decorated with colorful, potted plants. All this nature was starting to remind Karma of her parents, and it brought a slight sense of calm to her very tense posture. There was an older woman at the reception desk with blonde hair and soft green eyes. She smiled in their direction as she got off the phone. "Hello there, welcome to the Soleil Recovery Center. How can I help you today?

Shane looked at her name-tag, and wrapped his right arm around Karma pulling her into his side. "My dear Susan, I need you guys to give my little princess here some TLC and whip her back into shape." He gave her a loud kiss on the forehead, and Karma shrugged him off with a laugh.

"I'm Karma Ashcroft. My agent, Marcus James, has made some arrangements for my stay."

"Ah, yes!" she said, remembering the registration. Susan picked up the phone, again, and called for a resident assistant to come retrieve Karma's bags and escort her to her room. "Just a few minutes and we'll get you all settled, honey."

Karma gave her a stiff nod and turned to Shane, pulling him in for a hug. "So I'll sneak out the back and meet you in the parking lot in 15?" she joked with a tremble in her voice.

"You'll be fine, sweetie. You were happy and talented way before the drugs. Hopefully this place can serve to finally knock some sense into that thick skull of yours," he replied, hugging her tighter.

"I get it. I've been a bad girl, and now I'm on time-out," she scoffed, not wanting this to turn into a lecture.

"Don't get sassy with me." He smacked her ass as he let go of the hug. "Anyway, before I head out"—he stuck out his hands expectantly—"cell phone and purse, please."

"Oh, come on!" she whined. She knew there would be restrictions, but her phone was like her life. She needed it!

"Sorry, Marcus's orders," he said motioning "give it here" with his hands.

"Okay, fine, just let me—"

"Now."

Karma slumped her shoulders and gave her things over. "No visiting hours for you," she huffed.

"Like you could go ninety days without seeing this face," he joked, giving her his signature, charming smile. She softened up knowing he was right. He had been her guru since the day they met on the set of her first video. She was a nervous wreck that day, and Shane was the only one who was able to calm her down. He gave her a pep talk and made her look so beautiful. She would always cherish that day as one of her best memories.

"I'm really sorry Liam couldn't be here," he said with a concerned expression. He didn't like the guy, but he knew she was happiest when he was around.

"It's okay. I know he has a lot of things lined up and has that big meeting with the people at Marc Jacobs next week. He's been working really hard for a chance like this." She hoped Liam was going to surprise her before she left the hospital this morning, but had to settle for a FaceTime session on her iPhone instead. He was scheduled for a few "go sees"—a model's appointment to see a potential client—and couldn't make it. Just seeing that apologetic smile of his made her forget all her troubles. He wished her luck and blew kisses at her till she was blushing like a schoolgirl.

"Miss Ashcroft." Karma's thoughts were interrupted by a deep male voice. He was a tall brunette with a slight Spanish accent, and looked like he spent every free second at the gym. "I'm Mateo. I'll be escorting you to your room."

With teary eyes, Karma gave Shane one last, tight hug. "Call me as soon as you get some good gossip on all the people here. The darker the better," he whispered in her ear. She let out a hard laugh and wiped her eyes.

"See you later, gorgeous," he winked and made his way out. She inhaled deeply trying to calm her nerves. She didn't need to have an anxiety attack on her first day.

Mateo gave Karma a quick tour of the place as he carted her luggage to her room. There was a music room, much to her delight; an art room; a modest-sized library; cooking and dance classes; and an outdoor swimming pool on the other end of the garden she saw earlier. The place was surprisingly spacious and beautiful. Karma made a mental note to have Marcus pass on her thanks to the label for giving her another chance, and for not sticking her in some hellhole. She'd work out the proper wording later.

As they neared the cafeteria, Karma's mouth began to water. She hadn't had breakfast yet and the smells coming from the room were amazing. "The cafeteria is open from 8am to 11:30pm and serves three meals a day. The self-serve dessert bar on the left wall is open from 12pm to 11pm," Mateo explained. "It's 12:45 now, so lunch will be served in 15 minutes."

They rounded the corner and started towards an open-spaced recreation area. There was a large flat-screen TV with couches and comfortable-looking chairs arranged around it; a few game systems hooked up to a smaller TV at the opposite end of the room; and lots of board and card games neatly arranged on shelves with plenty of tables and chairs to play them on.

There were only a few people in the area, and they were all gathered around the flat-screen. A much older, dark-skinned woman with short, peppered hair and a full frame was sat on the couch closest to the TV. Slouched next to her was a man, probably in his late-twenties, with long, curly-blonde hair. He had a long goatee, which you could tell he was proud of by the way he rubbed the length of it, and looked like he had been wearing the same shirt for days. A pale redhead sat in a chair behind them, intensely biting her nails like she was punishing them for growing, and a few others were sprinkled about, not very interested in the movie.

They happened to be playing one of Karma's all-time favorites—Moulin Rouge. She could belt out every song, and recite every part, which is probably why everyone hated watching it with her. Shane even threw the DVD out the window during one of their movie nights because she wouldn't let him hear anything. How could you not sing out to this?! She felt herself getting sucked into the movie already.

A young, slender, blonde, carrying a large plate of donuts suddenly walked in front of the TV causing Karma to break her trance. "Goatee guy" sucked his teeth from the couch and yelled obscenities at her about making him miss his favorite part.

Unfazed by the howler, the blonde plopped herself on one of the empty couches towards the back. She began to devour her tray of sweets almost immediately, savoring each doughy ringlet like it was the last time she'd ever have them. Karma found herself amused by the woman's behavior. She seemed to be in her own little world and didn't give a damn how much strawberry frosting got on her chin.

Just then, the blonde looked up from her plate and caught Karma's stare. Furrowing her eyebrows, she made an exaggerated gesture of looking behind her to see what could possibly be so interesting. Confirming there was nothing there, she turned back in confusion and slowly started to chew, again, wondering why the hell this woman was looking at her. She grabbed another donut and slowly shoved it in her mouth, all the while not breaking eye contact.

Sensing the blonde's eyes on her, Karma quickly diverted her gaze, not realizing she had been staring. Mentally kicking herself for looking like a creep, she gave Mateo a slight head nod signaling that they could move on. As they made their way towards the bedrooms, she risked a quick look back at the blonde to see that her attention was already back on the TV and the sugary treasures on her lap.

After thanking Mateo for ushering her to the room, Karma let herself fall back on her bed. Glaring at the ceiling had become some kind of weird tradition for her every time she got to whatever hotel she'd be staying during her travels. It was like her mind would take a mini vacation before she propelled herself into the mayhem that was the day's events.

When she finally came to, Karma rolled onto her side and caught sight of a large, yellow envelope on her dresser labeled WELCOME PACKET. Inside was a small book on the facility rules—mostly about respecting other people's personal space and the consequences for the different levels of misconduct; a sheet detailing the times the meals were served and the "hours of operation" for the telephone booths they passed on their way to the cafeteria; and a schedule specifying what days and times she'd see her psychologist, Samuel Crawford—Oh, Joy.

Karma spent the next few hours unpacking her things, and making calls to her parents, Shane, and Liam. It felt so good to hear their voices that she had to keep from bursting into tears throughout each conversation. She has spent the last years of her life surrounded by tons of people everyday, and now here she was, isolated from the world.

Emotionally drained and physically aching, Karma decided she'd skip dinner and just call it a night. This was the first time in over a year that she'd gone this long without a hit of cocaine, and it was making her extremely anxious. She thought back to when this all started and her spiral into addiction. She made such a mess for herself, and now she's drowning with no one to save her. How was she supposed to keep this up when she got out? Liam was still using, and if she was going to be with him, how could she keep herself from relapsing? Granted, he didn't use as much as she did. His line of work, though also crazy, wasn't as chaotically demanding as hers. Still, she had to attend events and after parties as a young, chart-topping musician was expected to.

"What the fuck am I going to do?" She asked out loud as she lay in bed.

Feeling her eyelids growing heavy, she turned over and pressed the AM button on the alarm clock beside her bed. The sports announcers were having a heated debate on the current baseball game, and she lowered it to just above a whisper, pretending it was Shane and the rest of her entourage cracking jokes in the background instead. She closed her eyes and hummed the melody to One Day I'll Fly Away from Moulin Rouge. It was everything she felt right now.

Soon she fell asleep, with fear and insecurity weighing heavy on her heart.