Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Eighty:

Joey Grace (Morning of September 14, 1992)

“What’d you say to her?” I questioned Addie as we were entering the school zone. Up until then, the drive had been completely restrained.

“To who?” Addie had been too focused on touching up her russet lips to even notice the tension.

“Amy. What exactly did you say to her that would provoke her?”

“Hell if I know,” Addie scoffed, closing the overhead mirror, then sliding the lipstick into the small front pocket of her bag.

“I think you do know, Addie. I think you know as well as I do Amy’s not a violent person. She wouldn’t just hit you for no reason.”

“Are you defending her?”

“No, that’s not—”

“It sure sounds like it!” she raised her voice at me.

“Well, I’m not!” I shouted back, then sighed, calming myself down. “I just want you to be honest with me. Is that so hard?”

“I just said what was on everyone’s mind.”

“Which was?” When she didn’t answer me, I asked again.

“She’s married, Dad. You’re sleeping with a married woman,” she finally responded, looking over at me with a somewhat pitiful expression on her face. “It’s not going to last forever. You know that, right?”

I didn’t say much after that. I wasn’t ready to admit it to her, or myself for that matter, but deep down, I knew she was right. Amy and I had been going through a rough patch for, hell, most of our relationship. We were doomed from the start, but in those first couple of weeks, we didn’t care. It was selfish of us both, really, to keep going like this.

Pulling up to the dropoff, Addie unbuckled her seat belt and was about to get out when I stopped her. “What now?”

“Next time you have a problem with who I date, you come talk to me about it. You leave Amy be. Do you I make myself clear?”

“Crystal,” she said, flashing me a fake smile before stepping out of the car. As she was leaving, I noticed Piper run up to her on the stairs.

That means Amy must be not too far behind me, I immediately thought. I contemplated on whether or not I should go and talk to her. I didn’t like how we left things earlier, but at the same time, I was still pissed at her for ever thinking it was okay to lay hands on my child. Therefore, I didn’t want to say or do anything I would regret. Still, though, I wanted to see her. I slightly adjusted my rearview mirror to get a better look at the cars behind me. I found Amy’s, but what really caught my eye was Adriene. I watched her get into Amy’s car in a hurry, as if she were on some sort of mission. Amy then drove off just as fast. What are they up to?

Suddenly, I heard a knock on the passenger’s side’s window. It was Sasha McNealy: Liv’s former coworker, Adeline’s current guidance counselor. She took the job at the high school about five years back and no one I talked to was really sure why. All they knew was that it had something to do with her falling out with Walter Ricci. Anyway, even though we knew each other for so many years, we never really talked much until as of lately. I mainly just saw her as an acquaintance rather than a friend.

“Hey, sorry to bother you,” she said as I rolled down her window.

“Oh, no bother at all. What’s on your mind?”

“I was wondering if could talk about Adeline for a bit.”

I rubbed my neck and exhaled. “Is it urgent because I’m kind of on my way to work right now?”

“I’m afraid this cannot wait,” she noted, opening the door and sliding into the passenger’s seat before I could even say anything about it. She went on to tell me about the concerning interaction she had with Addie in her office the day before. “Something about her felt off as soon as she entered the room. I can’t quite explained it, but she seemed absent, panicked almost. When I asked what was wrong, she hesitated instantly, as if she were scared to tell me. Still, I’m a persistent person.”

“And? What’d she say?” Get to the point, Sasha.

“Well, she told me she felt she was being watched, stalked, rather. She said it’s been going on for months, but now, she feels like her life is in danger and that’s why she’s coming to me now about it.”

“Shit. Did she say who it is?”

Sasha shook her head. “Like I said, she didn’t spare too many details. That’s why I wanted to talk to you before bringing in the police. I was hoping, if anyone, you could some more out of her. I know you two are pretty close.”

“Yeah, I’ll try my best,” I told her, still trying to make sense of it all. Why wouldn’t Addie come to me first? How did I not notice something was up with her? I guess we’re not as close as I thought. “Meanwhile, get those cops on the phone, will ’ya?”

Sasha nodded as she opened the door and got out. I watched her walk up the brick staircase leading to the school’s main entrance.

Not long after, I was honked at by the Nissan behind to move. Getting back onto the main road, I noticed Adriene again. She was walking back towards the school. Well, that didn’t take long. I wonder what she’s thinking about.

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