"Lucas, I'm your sister. Well...uh... half-sister, anyways..."
There it was. The bomb had dropped. She'd told him. What was supposed to happen now?
Lucas stared at her for a long time, and she felt pretty stupid for thinking he would believe her. Honestly, it had sounded a lot more believable in her mind. But now, with the cowboy staring at her as if she'd grown a second head, she didn't feel nearly as confident as she had before.
"... Maya, what the heck are you talking about?" Lucas finally broke the silence.
Maya let out a soft sigh. "Your dad is also my dad."
"What?! How- what do you mean?!"
"Exactly what I said, Ranger Rick," she snapped, a little harsher than she meant to be. "Are you deaf?"
"Ha-ha," Lucas deadpanned. "But what are you talking about?! How do you know this? You're joking, right?"
"Do I look like I'm joking?" Maya asked as she gave the boy her best death glare. When he didn't reply, she took it as a cue for her to continue. "Look, I wouldn't lie to you about something like this, would I? Riley met your dad a couple days ago, right?"
Lucas nodded, still looking confused, and slightly freaked out. If this hadn't been such a serious and important conversation, Maya would have enjoyed seeing him this flustered. She had finally gotten to him.
But this was different. Things weren't the same as they were a couple of days ago. And because the universe was such a strange and confusing place, they probably would never be the same again.
"Well, Riley and I were looking through a bunch of old photos and stuff and she found a picture of my parents, when my mom was still pregnant with me. She recognized Daniel; our father."
Lucas stared at her for a few seconds, then closed his eyes, taking a couple of deep breaths. "You're not kidding... are you?" his voice was hoarse with disbelief.
Maya looked at him, holding his green gaze. She didn't answer right away, just letting everything that was happening sink in for a few seconds. She turned away from her little brother and sighed.
"That's for you to decide." she finally said, and opened the door, disappearing into the hallway and leaving Lucas standing in the janitor's office, completely dumbfounded.
What the heck was that about? Lucas wondered for what felt like the thousandth time as his brain tried to compute what Maya had just said. She was his sister?
His father might have mentioned him having an older sister, when he thought back many years ago. His father would leave on what his mother called 'business trips' every once in a while, but even at three years old, Lucas hadn't been fooled.
But it just didn't make sense to him. He had to believe that it was just another one of Maya's practical jokes, yet it didn't feel like one to him.
It bothered him all day, until he was able to partially forget about it after school, hanging out with Riley.
With everything that had been going on at home lately, being with Riley was the most amazing thing ever. He could relax, and let his guard down around her, especially since she knew about the dad situation. And her smile was like magic.
"So what do you want to do?" Riley asked as she skipped alongside him. The two of them were walking through Central Park together. The sky was getting slightly dark, and a cool breeze blew through, ruffling Riley's snowflake-laced brown hair.
Lucas smiled. There was something different about Riley, too, when they were away from the crowds of school and the bickering of Maya and Farkle- shoot, thinking about Maya was a mistake- his mind tried to whirl off to configure what the rebellious blonde had told him earlier. He managed to brush the thought away, but it was a close one.
"I don't know," he said with a shrug. As it was getting darker, it was getting colder. He still wasn't used to the cold New York winters, even after living there for the past few years. "It's startin' to get cold, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Riley agreed, pulling her jacket closer to her small frame. "I could go for some h-hot chocolate."
"Topanga's?" Lucas asked with a smile.
Riley's eyes widened, and she grinned. "Topanga's it is!"
The young couple left the park, not in much of a hurry. By the time they got to the bakery, it was already completely dark, but neither of them cared. They were having fun. They were together.
"What'll it be?" the lady asked as they approached the counter.
"Two hot chocolates, please," Lucas ordered.
"Lucas and Riley."
The lady didn't even look up from writing the names on the cups. "Coming right up."
They walked to a booth and sat down to wait for their drinks.
"I love it here," Riley breathed. "Not hard to see why it's Auggie's favorite place, huh?"
Lucas smiled. "Yeah," he agreed. "This place is special. It's like an escape from the modern world, you know?" he asked her.
Riley nodded. "That's why I love it so much."
A few minutes passed, and soon they were delightfully sipping their hot chocolates and talking as if no time was passing. Like Lucas didn't have to go home to an abusive father later that night. Like the entire world was just the two of them; perfect.
"Hey!" Riley giggled as she looked at her cup.
Lucas looked at her, confused. She shook her head and showed him the hot chocolate, where the lady at the counter had scribbled was the name 'Rylie.'
"They spelled my name wrong!" she laughed. "How hard is it for them to spell out R-I-L-E-Y?"
Lucas smiled. "Apparently very hard," he laughed. "But you're not the first one to get your name smirked wrong, and you won't be the last. It's not a huge deal."
"Easy for you to say! How many different ways to spell Lucas are there?"
The two laughed and sipped their drinks.
"I'll be right back," Riley stood up from her seat after a few minutes. "Gotta go to the bathroom." she blushed, smiling sheepishly.
"I'll be here," Lucas smiled, watching her go. Once she was gone, he reached for his mug of hot cocoa without paying attention to his surroundings. His elbow hit something- Riley's purse- and it fell to the ground with a barely audible thump!
What the-? a piece of paper flew out of the bag, fluttering to the ground a few feet away from the booth. He leaned forward and picked it up, planning to just stick it back in the purse and tell Riley what happened if she asked. He wouldn't lie to her. he didn't even bother to read the writing on it.
But the underside of the paper felt smooth, almost like it wasn't a piece of paper at all... but a photograph.
Okay, no huge deal, Lucas thought to himself. Riley had been big on photography, ever since her Uncle Shawn had given her one of his cameras. But his curiosity got the best of him.
He turned the picture over, and two familiar faces looked back up at him. One of a young woman, with blonde hair and a broad smile on her face- Maya's mother, Katy Hart. And the second, also with a broad smile, was a young man.
A young man by the name of Daniel.
"Lucas?" Riley's voice pierced his whirling thoughts. He tried to keep t together, but was having a bit of a hard time.
"R-Riley..." he stammered hoarsely, praying that she wouldn't think he was going through her purse. He should have known- Riley was too understanding for that. She was at his side in the blink of an eye, a concerned look on her face as she saw the photo in his hands.
"Lucas..." she whispered. "I should have told you sooner. I-"
"Maya already told me," he interrupted her. "I didn't believe her... but this..." he held up the picture. It fell out of your bag. I'm sorry-"
"No, don't apologize," Riley said quickly, her brown eyes wide. "So you know that Maya is...?
"My older sister? Well, no denying it now.." He was still kind of in shock as he handed Riley the picture. Maya is really my sister- er, half-sister? "I don't if I'm more shocked that she's my sister or that I didn't believe her when she told me this."
Riley sighed, wrapping him in one of her wonderful hugs. "I'm sorry," she whispered softly, her breath tickling his ear. "If there's anything I can do to help-"
A smile tugged at the corners of Lucas's mouth. "Believe me, Riley; just being with you is helping more than you could ever imagine."
She pulled away from him, revealing a blushing face and a sheepish smile.
"Ready to go, ma'am?" Lucas asked her, standing up. Riley nodded, taking one last swig of her chocolate.
"Now I am!" she placed the cup down on the table. The two linked arms as they walked out of the bakery. She must have noticed the time on their way out of the door, because her eyes widened. "Oh no!"
"Huh?" Lucas blinked.
"I'm gonna be late for curfew!"
Lucas laughed. "Riley, you have ten minutes. And you live right upstairs. You'll be fine."
Riley smiled sheepishly, looking down. "Oh..." She giggled. "I knew that."
To Be Continued