“Yeah,” I lie. I don’t want to admit, especially in front of Molly, that Hardin refuses to join me in Seattle.
“So neither of you will be here anymore? That will be so strange,” Steph says with a little frown.
It’ll be strange to start over at a new campus after everything I’ve been through at WCU. That’s exactly what I need, though—a new start. This entire town is tainted with memories of betrayal and false friendships.
“We should have a get-together this weekend—one last hurrah,” Steph says.
I groan. “No, no parties.”
“No, no, not a party, just our group.” She looks at me with something like pleading in her eyes. “Let’s be honest: we’ll probably never see each other again, and Hardin should hang out with his old friends at least one more time.”
I hestitate and have to look away from her, glancing over at the bar area.
Molly’s voice interrupts the silence. “I won’t be there, don’t worry.”
I look back at them, and right then our food arrives.
But I’ve lost my appetite. Are people really saying that I slept with Zed? Has Hardin heard this supposed rumor? Will Zed really put Hardin in jail? My head hurts.
Steph eats a few fries, and before she finishes chewing she says, “Talk to Hardin and let me know. We could have it at someone’s apartment—Tristan and Nate’s, even. That way no random douche bags will show up.”
“I can ask . . . I don’t know if he will or not.” My eyes move down to my screen. Three missed calls. One text: Answer your phone.
I’m leaving after I eat, calm down. Drink some water, I respond and pick at my own fries a little.
But the tension obviously gets to Molly, and she starts talking like a pot boiling over. “Well, he should like that idea—we were his friends long before you came along and ruined him.”
“I didn’t ruin him.”
“Yes, you did. He’s so different now—he doesn’t even call anybody anymore.”
“His friends,” I scoff. “Nobody calls him either. The only one who even contacts him anymore is Nate.”
“That’s because we know—” Molly begins.
But Steph puts her hand in the air. “Enough; oh my God,” she groans, rubbing her temples.
“I’m going to ask for a takeout box and go home. This was a bad idea,” I tell her. I don’t know what she was thinking bringing Molly here anyway; she could have at least warned me.
Steph looks at me sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Tessa. I thought you guys could get along since she’s not trying to fuck with Hardin anymore.” Then she glares at Molly, who shrugs.
“We are getting along—better than before,” Molly says.
I want to smack that smug look off her face. But Steph’s ring tone interrupts my violent thoughts.
A puzzled look crosses her face. Then she says, “It’s Hardin, he’s calling me,” and holds her phone up for me to see.
“I haven’t been texting him back; I’ll call him in a minute,” I tell her, and she nods okay and ignores the call.
“Jeez, stalker much?” Molly bites down on the end of a french fry.
I bite my tongue and ask the server for a to-go box. I’ve barely touched my food, but I don’t want to cause a scene in the middle of a restaurant.
“Please think about Saturday. We can even make it like a dinner thing instead of a party,” Steph offers. Then she gives me her best smile. “Please?”
“I’ll see what I can do, but we’re going on a trip until Saturday morning.”
She nods again agreeably. “You can choose the time.”
“Thanks. I’ll let you know,” I tell her and pay my bill.
I don’t like the idea, but in a way she’s right—we won’t ever see any of them again. Hardin’s going somewhere; maybe not Seattle, but he isn’t staying here now since his expulsion, and he probably should see his old friends one last time.
“He’s calling again,” Steph tells me; she doesn’t bother trying to hide her amusement.
“Tell him I’m on my way.” I stand up and head for the door.
When I turn back around, Steph and Molly are talking, and Steph’s phone is resting on the table in front of them.
Tessa, if you don’t call me back, I’ll come looking for you, hammered or not,” I threaten, then throw my phone against the couch too hard, so it bounces up off the back and hits the concrete.
“She’ll come back,” Dick assures me ever so helpfully.
“I know that!” I shout at him and grab my phone. Fortunately, the screen’s not cracked. I glare at the old drunk and then stalk into the bedroom.
Why the fuck is he here, again? And why the fuck isn’t Tessa? Nothing good can come out of her being in the same room with Molly.
Just as I start plotting how to go out and find her when I have no keys, no car, and a blood alcohol level that is far beyond the legal limit, I hear the front door open.
“He’s, uh, lying down,” Richard says loudly, with incongruous cheerfulness. I suspect he’s trying to give me some sort of warning of Tessa’s arrival.
I pull the door open before she can and sweep a long arm to invite her in. She doesn’t look the least bit intimidated or concerned by the deep scowl on my face.
“Why didn’t you answer when I called you?” I demand.
“Because I told you I was leaving soon. And I did.”