My gaze flipped to the ceiling. “I’m fine and I’m pretty sure Abbi’s head would spin right off her shoulders if she heard you ask me that.”
“Abbi is just being—”
“A bitch?” I finished for her, and then immediately felt bad. Closing my eyes, I shook my head. “No. That’s not right. She’s just...”
“She’s just having a hard time dealing with everything.” Dary squeezed my arm. “But she wasn’t being nice in there.”
I knocked the hair off my face as I glanced back at the mouth of the cafeteria. “Has she told you anything?”
“About me and that night—Keith’s party.”
Dary dropped her hand. “She told me about you and Sebastian kind of arguing and some stuff about her and Keith.” She paused. “Why?”
Obviously Abbi hadn’t talked to her about me. “I was just wondering.”
“Is there something I should know about that night?” she asked.
Now. Now I could tell her what Abbi knew and she would know why Abbi was so upset. But when I opened my mouth, I couldn’t find the words.
A moment passed and Dary dropped her arm around my shoulders. “Everything is going to be okay again. I know it doesn’t seem that way right now, but it will. It has to be.”
I didn’t answer, because I knew just because you wanted something so badly to be okay didn’t mean it would be that way.
Dary rested her forehead against the side of my head. “I just want things to go back to the way they were before,” she whispered. “We can’t get Megan back—we’ll never get her back—but we’ll get ourselves back. I believe that. I really do.”
Monday was literally one of those days that just wouldn’t curl up and die.
By the time the last bell rang and I walked to my locker, I was already done with the day, and when I saw Coach Rogers striding toward me, I wanted to shove myself into my locker.
Stringing together an atrocity of F-bombs, I shoved my Chem book in and hoped that he wasn’t coming to see me. That he was just out for a lazy afternoon stroll through the hallways, lulled by the sound of slamming metal doors and loud conversations.
I was pulling out my History text when I heard Coach say my name—my full name, because of course, it was going to be one of those days.
“Hey,” I answered, shoving my text into my bag.
“You heading to practice?” he asked, stopping beside me.
Wishing I was far away from here, because I was so not ready for this conversation, I shook my head as I zipped up my bag.
“I know you can’t practice with those injuries, but I really want you at the practices, Lena,” he said, and without even looking at him, I knew he folded his arms. “It would be good for you—for the team.”
“I know, but...” I swallowed as I closed my locker door. “I can’t.”
“Are you not medically cleared to sit on a bench?” he replied, and I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not.
Seeing the relatively bland expression, I was going to go with a nope. “I’m sure I’m allowed, but I’m...I’m not going to do the volleyball thing anymore.”
His dark brows lifted. “You’re quitting the team?”
Feeling my stomach sink, I nodded. “Yeah. I’m sorry, but with these injuries and getting caught up with school, it’s just the best thing for me.”
Coach Rogers gave a little shake of his head. “Lena, you’re a valuable member of the team. We can—”
“Thank you for saying that.” I shifted my weight from one foot to the next as a group of students skirted around us. “And I really appreciate all the opportunity you’ve given me, but I’m going to miss so many games and practices. I’m going to be completely out of it and it’s for the best.”
“If your arm comes out of that cast by the end of the month, you have all of October to play and any tournaments we might make it to,” Coach reasoned. “You still have a chance to catch the eye of a scout. Remember how we talked about scholarships?”
“Megan would’ve gotten a scholarship,” I said before I could stop myself. “She wouldn’t need it, but she would’ve gotten one. Not me.”
Surprise registered across his face. “You have a good chance—”
“It’s not what I want to do anymore,” I cut in, taking a step back. Over his shoulder, I saw Sebastian approaching. I drew in a shallow breath. “I’m sorry.” I stepped around him. “I’ve got to catch my ride.”
Coach Rogers turned. “I think you’re making a mistake.”
If so, then I’d just tack that right next to the last one I made.
“If you change your mind, you come see me,” he said. “We can make it right.”
I wasn’t going to change my mind, but I nodded and walked to where Sebastian was waiting.
Sebastian glanced down the hall, his gaze lingering on where Coach had been standing. “Everything good?”
“Yeah. Of course,” I said, letting him take my backpack from me. “I’m ready to go.”
His gaze flickered to mine and I thought for a moment he was going to say something else, but he didn’t. As we walked down the hall in silence, I couldn’t shake what Coach Rogers had said.
The twisting motion in my stomach increased. Had I done the right thing? I must have, because it was already too late if I hadn’t.
* * *
I sat at the kitchen table that night, pushing peas around on my plate with my fork. I couldn’t believe Mom still put them on my plate like I was five and thought I was actually going to eat them.
Mom had asked about my session with Dr. Perry, and I’d given her the general gist of what was going on. She then asked about Abbi and Dary, since she hadn’t seen Abbi in a while. I’d lied, claiming Abbi was busy. Mom didn’t ask about Sebastian, which for some reason made me think that she knew full well about his late-night visits but for whatever reason wasn’t saying anything.
“Lori was thinking about coming home this weekend,” Mom said, cutting into her slice of the meat loaf she’d had in the Crock-Pot all day.
“Really?” I stabbed my fork into the meat, hungry but not. “That’s a lot of traveling for her.”
“It is, but she wants to see you.” Mom looked at me from across the table. “She’s been worried.”
A piece of my meat loaf turned to dust in my throat. “Is Dad still around?”
Mom stiffened just the slightest. “He had to get back to Seattle. I do believe he tried to call you and see you before he left.”
I shrugged one shoulder. The funny thing about my dad? Nothing was stopping him from seeing me if he really wanted to. Yeah, I didn’t answer his calls, but he could’ve come over. Mom would let him. So he could’ve seen me. I also recognized how backward it was that I was angry that he didn’t try hard enough to see me when I didn’t want to see him.
I was a hot mess.
“He’s going to come back.” Mom placed her glass back down. “Over Thanksgiving. We’re going to have a dinner—”
“Like we’re one big happy family?” I replied, admittedly snottily.
“Lena.” Mom sighed, laying her fork down. “He is your father. He is a good man, and I understand that you have...unresolved issues with him, but he is, at the end of the day, your dad.”
“A good man?” I couldn’t believe my mom was defending him. “He left you—left us—because he couldn’t deal with anything. Like, legit, anything.”
“Honey.” Mom shook her head as she put her arm on the table. “It was more than his business failing and us having money issues. Way more than that. I loved your father. Part of me still does and probably always will.”
Pressing my lips together, my gaze flipped to the ceiling. Knowing what I always suspected, that Mom still loved him, just ticked me off more.
“There’s something you need to understand about me and your father,” she said, drawing in a shallow breath. “Your father—Alan—he simply didn’t love me as much as I loved him,” she said, dropping that bomb like she’d said nothing.