Hey April, will you text me back? It's Sterling (new phone)
It had been ten minutes since this message made her phone ping with its arrival. April had finished the sentence she'd been writing first and then picked up her phone. Since then she'd been staring at it.
She hadn't expected to hear from Sterling - ever again. She'd thought they were where they had been these last few years - at odds. This message, as simple as it was, had April's heart racing, her palms were sweaty. She'd thought the message would be from Luke or Hannah B.
How do I know it's really you? she typed without being at all sure that she would send it. What was the point of starting a conversation that would most likely lead to them fighting again? Did she even want to talk to Sterling after what Blair had told her the other day?
They'd arrested her dad. She still wasn't too sure about the logistics or even logic of this statement but Blair was quite convincing. All the other stuff, the stuff about her dad, about who he was...
April felt heat flush her face, her stomach twisted with anger. Yes, she was angry. But who with? The Wesleys? Or her dad? Herself maybe?
She pressed send.
It only took seconds for an answer to make her phone buzz and ping in her hand.
How many people know that your lipgloss tastes like cherries?
April closed her eyes. The anger evaporated. This answer was so Sterling. How she missed her!
You, Luke, and probably my Nana, she typed her answer and didn't hesitate before sending it.
It took longer this time for an answer. April thought about putting the phone down and continuing with her essay but the notification of another message made this thought null and void.
So you believe me? Good. I need to talk to you.
What if I don't wanna talk to you? April typed after a few minutes' deliberation. She bit her lip, tapping her pen on her notepad before sending it. This time she did put her phone down and tried to get back to her work.
Not that she was able to, every few seconds her gaze strayed to her phone, she didn't even know what she'd been writing about before Sterling started texting her.
Her phone buzzed and pinged just as there was a knock at her door. She grabbed the phone and hastily threw it in her drawer.
"Come in," she called out.
Her dad pushed her head between door and frame. "Still working?" he asked. "I thought you'd like to come with me to Home Depot? I was thinking of getting a new trimmer."
"Ah, sorry. Not today, I got to finish this essay, and then I've still got math." She hated lying to her dad but she'd learned to lie out of necessity a long time ago. And she knew she was good at it.
"That's too bad, I was looking forward to it. But homework comes first. Next time?"
"Of course, daddy." She smiled at him but her insides twisted. It was so damn hard to ignore all the things she knew, all the things she'd been told and still be the girl who loved her dad, the one who would never doubt him.
"See you at dinner, padawan."
"Yes, master Jedi."
He chuckled and closed the door.
April's smile vanished as soon as her dad did. She wanted to cry, she wanted to scream. She hadn't been this conflicted since the time she admitted to herself that she was gay. What was she supposed to do?
In her desk drawer, her phone buzzed again. She pulled it out.
I guess if you didn't want to talk to me you wouldn't have answered my first message? Look, I know you're angry. I didn't tell you about what happened to your dad, what Blair and I did. I feel bad about that, not for arresting him but not telling you about it after we hooked up. It was Blair and my secret, working as bounty hunters, we didn't tell anyone. I knew you would hate me and I couldn't bear that, not after what happened between us. So this is me saying I'm truly sorry for not telling you, the first message read.
There was a second one:
I know Blair said some things to you, about your dad. She was angry at you because of me. She didn't mean to hurt you, and neither did I.
April didn't answer. She wasn't sure if she wanted to. She put her phone back into the drawer and reread her essay so she could continue. Sterling's words stayed with her, though. They stayed with her as she watched her dad's car back out of the drive, as she went for a run, headphones blaring one of her more energetic playlists into her ears, and later as she sat down to dinner with her mom and dad. He kept smiling at her, tried to confidently convey that nothing had changed between them. It was a lie but, for once, she refused to believe it.