Page 21

 Sara Shepard

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“Thought she was going to what?” Mike asked.
Hanna shook her head. “I just thought she was going to say something nasty about me.” Hanna had thought Kate was going to tell everyone that she used to make herself throw up, something she’d unfortunately admitted to Kate in a moment of weakness. And she was pretty sure Kate would have said it, if Hanna hadn’t said the herpes thing first.
Mike smiled empathetically. “Sometimes you have to play dirty.”
“Cheers to that.” Hanna raised her water glass and clinked it with Mike’s, thankful he hadn’t pressed to know what the nasty thing was that Kate was going to spill.
They finished eating their dinners and sucked on the orange wedges that came with the check. Mike suggestively complimented Hanna on her sucking abilities and advised her to save some sucking power for later. Then he excused himself to the bathroom. Hanna watched him snake around the tables, realizing her chance to get him back. Slowly, she stood, laid her napkin on her plate, and crept down the hall. She waited until the men’s room door swung closed, counted to ten, and burst inside. “Oops!” she called out. Her voice echoed throughout the shiny, empty room.
There was a line of urinals, but Mike wasn’t at any of them. Nor did she see his Tod’s loafers underneath the stall doors. She heard a small noise coming from the walled-off sink area and walked over. Mike was standing at the sink, a comb, a can of deodorant, and a tube of toothpaste on the counter next to him. He held a toothbrush in his hand. When he saw Hanna in the mirror, the color drained from his face.
Hanna bleated out a laugh. “Are you primping?”
“What are you doing here?” he croaked.
“Sorry, I thought this was a dressing room,” Hanna recited. It didn’t quite have the effect she was going for.
Mike blinked and quickly shoved his toiletries back into his Jack Spade messenger bag. Hanna felt a little bad—he didn’t have to stop. She backed out of the sink area. “I’ll be outside,” she muttered. She pushed her way out the door and returned to her seat, smiling to herself. Mike had been brushing his teeth. Did that mean he wanted to kiss her?
On the drive back to Mike’s house, they listened to “Whole Lotta Love,” again belting out the lyrics. She pulled up to Mike’s curb and turned off the ignition. “Want to walk me to my door?”
“Sure,” Hanna answered, realizing her heart was pounding. She followed Mike up the stone steps to the Montgomerys’ porch. There was a Zen rock garden to the left of the door, but it had frozen over by now, a thin crust of ice on the sand.
Mike faced her. Hanna liked that he was quite a bit taller—Lucas had been about her height, and Sean, her ex-ex, had been a tad shorter. “So this was almost as fun as when I go out with my hookers,” Mike announced.
Hanna rolled her eyes. “Maybe you can give the hookers a night off this Saturday too. Come with me to the Radley opening.”
Mike put his thumb to his chin, pretending to give it some thought. “I think that could be arranged.”
Hanna giggled. Mike touched the inside of her arm lightly. His breath smelled minty. Almost unconsciously, she leaned in a little more.
The door flung open. Bright light streamed out from the Montgomerys’ foyer, and Hanna shot back. A tall brunette stood inside. It wasn’t Mike’s mom, and it certainly wasn’t Aria. Hanna’s heart plummeted.
“Kate?” she shrieked.
“Hi, Mike!” Kate whooped at the same time.
Hanna pointed at her. “What are you doing here?”
Kate blinked innocently. “I got here early, so Mike’s mom let me in.” She looked at Mike. “She’s super nice. And her artwork is amazing. She told me that she has a piece that’s going to be in the lobby of the Radley—and that there’s a big opening this Saturday. We should totally go together, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean, you got here early?” Hanna interrupted.
Kate put her hand to her chest. “Didn’t Mike tell you? We have a date.”
Hanna faced Mike. “No, Mike didn’t tell me.”
Mike licked his lips, looking guilty.
“Well, that’s strange!” Kate bleated. “We set it up yesterday.”
Mike gazed at Kate. “But you told me not to say anyth—”
“Besides,” Kate interrupted, using her innocent sweetie-pie voice again. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the library, Han? When I didn’t see you in the auditorium during Hamlet practice, I called Tom. He said you needed to study for a big French test.”
She pushed around Hanna and took Mike’s arm. “You ready? I’m taking you to this awesome place for dessert.”
Mike nodded, then glanced back at Hanna, whose jaw was practically on the stoop. He apologetically raised his shoulders, as though to say, We’re not exclusive, are we?
Dumbstruck, Hanna watched them walk back down the steps to the driveway, where the Audi that belonged to Isabel, Kate’s mother, was parked. Hanna had been so distracted about how to end her date with Mike, she hadn’t even noticed it. Was this why Mike had been primping at the restaurant? To freshen up for date number two? After their fabulous date, why was Mike still keeping his options open? How could he not want to be exclusive?
The Audi growled to life, rolled down the driveway, and disappeared. In the ensuing silence, Hanna heard a sniff behind her. She whipped around, her body tense. Another sniff. It sounded like someone was stifling a laugh.
“Hello?” Hanna called quietly into the Montgomerys’ dark yard. No one answered, but Hanna still had the distinct feeling that someone was there. A? An eerie chill came over her, burrowing deep to her bones, and she scampered off the porch as fast as she could.
That same night, Spencer perched on the arm of the sofa in the media room, watching the news. A reporter was talking yet again about how the police had vacated the woods behind her house and were now searching the United States for Ian. Today, someone on the police force had received a hot tip about where he might be, but they weren’t disclosing any more details at this time.
Spencer groaned. Then, the news broke to yet another new commercial for the Elk Ridge Ski Resort—they’d opened six more runs and were introducing Girls Ski for Free Thursdays.
The doorbell rang, and Spencer bounded up, eager to focus her attention on more positive things. Andrew stood on the stoop, shivering. “I have so much to tell you,” Spencer squealed.
“Really?” Andrew walked in, carrying his AP econ textbook under his arm. Spencer sniffed apathetically. AP econ hardly mattered anymore.
Spencer led him by the hand into the media room, shut the door, and turned off the TV. “So you know how I e-mailed my biological mom on Monday? She e-mailed me back. And yesterday, I went to see her in New York.”
Andrew blinked quickly. “New York?”
Spencer nodded. “She sent me an Amtrak ticket and told me to meet her at Penn Station. And it was wonderful.” She squeezed Andrew’s hands. “Olivia’s young, she’s smart, and she’s…normal. We instantly clicked. Isn’t that awesome?” She pulled out her phone and showed him a text Olivia had written late last night, presumably when she reached the airport. Dear Spencer, I miss you already! See you soon! XX, O. Spencer had written Olivia back, saying she had her accordion folder, and Olivia had responded that she should just hold on to it—she and Morgan would look it over once they returned.
Andrew picked at a piece of dry skin on his thumb. “When I asked you what you were doing yesterday, you said you were having dinner with your family. So…you lied?”
Spencer lowered her shoulders. Why was Andrew quibbling about semantics? “I didn’t want to talk about it before I met her. I was afraid it would jinx things. I was going to tell you in school, but we had a busy day.” She leaned back. “I’m seriously considering moving to New York to be with Olivia. We’ve been separated for so long, and I don’t want to spend another minute apart. She and her husband moved into this great neighborhood in the Village, and there are so many great schools in the city, and…” She noticed Andrew’s dour expression and stopped. “Are you okay?”
Andrew stared at the floor. “Sure,” he mumbled. “That’s great news. I’m happy for you.”
Spencer ran her hands over the back of her neck, suddenly feeling insecure. She’d expected Andrew to be thrilled that she’d found her birth mother—he was the one who’d pushed her to register for the bio mom–matching site in the first place. “You don’t sound that happy,” she said slowly.
“No, I am.” Andrew jumped up, bumping his knee hard on the coffee table. “Um, I forgot. I…I left my calc book back at school. I should probably go get it. We have all those problem sets for homework.” He grabbed his books and headed for the door.
Spencer grabbed his arm. He stopped, but he wouldn’t look at her. “What’s going on?” she urged, her heart beating fast.
Andrew clutched his books tightly to his chest. “Well…I mean…maybe you’re moving a little fast with all this New York stuff. Shouldn’t you discuss it with your parents?”
Spencer frowned. “They’d probably be happy I was gone.”
“You don’t know that,” Andrew argued, glancing at her cagily, then quickly cutting his eyes away. “Your parents are mad at you, but I’m sure they don’t hate you. You’re still their kid. They might not let you go to New York at all.”
Spencer opened her mouth, then quickly shut it again. Her parents wouldn’t stand in the way of this opportunity…would they?
“And you just met your mom,” Andrew mumbled, looking more and more pained. “I mean, you barely know her. Don’t you think you’re moving a little too fast?”
“Yeah, but it felt right,” Spencer urged, wishing that he could understand. “And if I’m closer to her, I can get to know her.”
Andrew shrugged, then turned away again. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“What do you mean?” Spencer pressed, frustrated. “Olivia would never hurt me.”
Andrew mashed his lips together. In the kitchen, one of the family’s labradoodles started drinking from his water bowl. The phone rang, but Spencer made no motion to get it, waiting for Andrew to explain himself. She looked at Andrew’s pile of books in his arms. On top of their AP econ text was a small, square invitation. Please join us for the opening of the Radley hotel, the invitation said in elegant script.
“What’s that?” Spencer pointed at it.
Andrew glanced at the invitation, then pushed it under his notebook. “Just this thing I got in the mail. I must have picked it up by mistake.”
Spencer stared at him. Andrew’s cheeks were blotchy, as though he was trying hard not to cry. Suddenly…she got it. She imagined Andrew receiving the Radley invitation and rushing over here, eager to ask her to be his date. This will make up for Foxy, he might have planned to say, referring to the disastrous benefit they’d attended together this fall. Maybe all this nonsense about Spencer taking things slow and not wanting her to get hurt was really because Andrew didn’t want her to leave.