It’s got to be about seeing Hayden and I kissing. That what it has to be. That is the only thing that makes sense. She is not responding to any of my texts. She isn’t in class, even though she told me that she came early to work with someone on a project. I knew that was a lie the minute I read it. Bianca hardly does homework, let alone group projects. I just wish she had come up with a better lie. After her not showing up for first period, I figured that was fine, she’s just mad, but she hasn’t shown up for lunch, and she hasn’t replied to my messages, or Duke and Remi’s. I even got Alec to text her and nothing. I know she probably doesn’t want to see Hayden but come on, it’s the last few days of school, she has got to show up. Her attendance record is already pretty low because she hates coming to school. She knows that she has to show up.
Finally, during last period, completely frustrated, I send one last text. ‘Can you at least let me know if you are okay.’
Almost instantly, I got a reply. ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine. Spending the day with my aunt. I will talk to you later.’
I instantly relax. She doesn’t spend that much time with her aunt, so Sarah probably offered for her to take a ‘R and R’ day. Good, I think they should get to know each other way better. They’ve come along way in the past six months.
After class, I am walking out to my car when I run into Duke.
“Hey, did you hear from her?” He asks, meaning Rose.
“Yeah, she said she was spending the day with Sarah.”
Duke looks at me funny.
“Really? She said that?”
“Nothing. I just thought my mom said she was doing something with my dad today.”
“Maybe Bianca tagged along,” I say, trying more to convince myself than him.
“Yeah, maybe,” he says, but he doesn’t look convinced.
“Look, she’s fine. She’s Bianca,” I say, and this I actually believe. She is the strongest person I know.
“Yeah, but you have got to admit, she’s been acting weird lately.”
“I mean, sure she’s a little moody, but she’s been stressed.”
“Stressed with what? Yeah, seeing you kissing Hayden probably brought her down, but it’s been going on since before that. Since before Hayden even showed up.”
“I don’t know, alright?” I say on a sigh. I run my hand through my hair. “Yeah, I’ve noticed something but you know how she is. You have to wait for her to come to you otherwise she shuts down.”
Duke rolls her eyes. “I get that, but I think this time around you have to go to her first. I’m worried about her.”
Knowing he’s right, I nod.
“Alright. Tonight. I’ll talk to her tonight.”
“Thank you,” he says. He plants a reasurring hand on my shoulder before walking past me to his car.
Turning, I jog over to my car. I should just go over there now. Duke is probably going to Remi’s. Sarah should still be out with Damen. This way we have the place to ourselves to talk. We don’t have to worry about anyone listening in. I can be up front and she can just be honest.
I pull out of the parking lot at school, and book it over to Rose’s house. There are no lights on in the house, and no cars in the driveway. I turn off my car, walk up the walkway, and knock on the door. After waiting a few seconds, there is no answer. I pull my phone out of my pocket, dial Rose, and place it at my ear. It goes to voicemail. I knock on the door again, but there is still no answer. So, I do the only thing I can think of. I take a seat on the front steps and wait.
Jesus my ass hurts. That is the only thing I can think about. It’s easier than thinking about where Rose is. Why she isn’t answering her phone. I’ve been sitting her for almost three hours waiting. I could’ve gone into my car awhile ago, but then chances are I would’ve fallen asleep, and then I would have missed her coming home. Not how I wanted that to play out. So, I’ve been sitting here. Watching people come and go. Jerking my head up everytime I hear footsteps hoping that its her. Or everytime a car drives by, hoping they’ll stop at the house and she will get out. But no such luck.
Duke texted about half an hour ago, asking if I had talked to her yet. I haven’t replied because I don’t really know what to say. I don’t want him to know that I can’t get ahold of her because that will just make him worry more than he probably already is.
Footsteps sound again, but this time I don’t look up. It probably isn’t her. She’s probably god knows where, doing god knows what, getting in some kind of trouble, and –
The footsteps turn, coming closer. I glance up from my phone to find Rose. She stops a few feet away and stares at me. We don’t say anything for a few seconds.
I am overjoyed to see her. My eyes go over her body to make she that she is okay. Physically, she seems fine. No wounds or anything that I need to worry about but… there are dark circles under her eyes. Her hair is greasy and stringy like it has been awhile since she washes it. Her skin looks pale and ashy. She looks malnourished like she hasn’t eaten a real meal in a long time. I don’t know how this has happened all of a sudden. Yesterday, she looked fine. Yesterday, she was fine.
She on the otherhand looks like I came at the worst possible time. Like I am a guy who killed her cat, rather than her boyfriend.
“What are you doing here?” She finally speaks, and I barely recognize her voice. It’s scratchy, and low almost like she is trying to be threatening.
“I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve called you like a dozen times.”
She simply shrugs. “I texted you earlier.”
She doesn’t respond, just watches me.
“Can we – can we go inside?” I ask.
Rose takes a deep breath, and then wordlessly takes her keys out of her pocket, and unlocks the front door. I follow her in, closing the door behind me. She still doesn’t say anything as she walks into the kitchen.
“How are you?” I ask, watching as she goes to the fridge and pulls out a can of pop. She opens it, presses it to her lips, and chugs for a few seconds. When she lowers the can she looks over at me.
“I’m fine,” she says, with wide eyes like the answer should be totally obvious.
I take a few steps towards her, trying to reach out, but she backs away. I drop my arm.
“Are you sure? You don’t look too well.”
“Thanks,” she says, rolling her eyes.
“You know I’m not trying to be mean, but you look like your sick. I just want to make sure that you are okay.”
“And I already told you that I am fine. Why are you here?”
“I wanted to check in on you. I feel like I haven’t seen you. I miss you.”
“Check in on me? What am I, a dog? I already told you, I’m fine. I don’t need you to come and ‘check in on me’. I’m fine.”
“Okay, so ‘check in on you’ wasn’t the right thing to say, but I am serious. I want to spend time with you.”
She closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. When she reopens them she doesn’t look like the girl I know and love. Her eyes are cold. Detached.
“Not today, okay? Maybe tomorrow?” But in the way she says it, I know that isn’t going to happen.
“You want me to leave?” I ask, knowing this is what she is trying to say underneath it all.
She purses her lips. “Yes.”
I nod. “Fine. I’m gone.”
I don’t say anything else as I walk out of the kitchen, and through the front door. I slam the front door shut, and then my truck door. What the hell is going on?
He slams the front door shut and I don’t even flinch.
What exactly did he expect? I told him some lie today, and if he knew it was a lie then what is there really to question? Take the hint. Stay away.
“Finally, he’s gone,” my mother says, exasperated. She appears in the doorway of the kitchen where Chase was standing a few seconds ago.
My eyes meet hers, and she grins.
“Now, we’ve got work to do.”