The Impossible Vastness Of Us
I sat down in a lounge chair on the back patio and let the muted sun warm my face as my teeth tore into a huge chunk of the fresh croissant I’d gotten from the kitchen. Mmm, flaky goodness.
And that was the second best part of my day.
Like I suspected, Eloise had no intention of being friends with me. She took off with Charlotte and Bryce for the day. I had a swim in the gigantic pool despite the cool air and then spent the rest of the day studying. The best part of my day was when Anna FaceTimed me. We talked for a couple of hours before she had to get ready for a party at Kiersten’s. I did my best not to look glum when we said goodbye because I knew Anna would spend the rest of the night worrying about me if she detected I was sad.
When I came out of my room it was to discover that Eloise was off to a party. Theo thought I was with her so he and Hayley had gone out for dinner and Gretchen had taken off for the night. I was a little intimidated by the cook so I didn’t want to go into her kitchen and start moving things around. When the head housekeeper, Rosa, realized my predicament she gave me this look of sympathy that was akin to a knife in the chest. Rosa offered to make me something to eat, but her sympathy and the fact that I had been left out of my “family’s” plans just pissed me off.
Rosa scrutinized me. “Can you drive, Miss India?”
Although Hayley couldn’t afford to get me a car, I’d gotten my driver’s license that summer. “Yeah.”
“Miss Eloise’s car is in the garage. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you borrowing it, if you’d like to eat out this evening.”
Eloise had a car...that was something I did not know. I’d never seen her use it. I smiled at the thought of the freedom it would bring me. Really, I just wanted to get out of this godforsaken house. “That sounds perfect.”
I ran upstairs to get my purse and shoes and when I came back down Rosa was waiting on me. She handed me the keys to the garage house. “It’s the red Jaguar. Miss Eloise doesn’t like driving so it will be nice for the car to see some use.”
The large separate garage house was on the west of the property. Pressing a button on the keys I watched as one of the large doors automatically opened, revealing a number of cars. I wandered around the garage, checking out each one. There was a black Range Rover Sport, a white Mercedes SLK that Theo had gifted to Hayley a few days ago, a black Porsche 911 Carrera and a Jaguar F-type convertible.
The Jaguar was gorgeous. I ran my eyes over it, a little taken aback by how much I was drawn to a freaking car. I wondered if I had drool dribbling down my chin as I admired the deep metallic red.
Why did Eloise not drive this thing?
I walked over to the wall of hooks near the side door entrance and found the keys to the Jaguar. With excitement in my belly at the thought of driving the hot car, I slowly, carefully, got into the Jaguar. It still smelled of new leather.
I wrapped my fingers around the leather steering wheel and grinned.
Okay, so maybe there were perks to Theo’s world.
When I pulled out of the garage, I decided there was no maybe about it. The Jaguar was smooth and swift, and fit around my body like it had been built just for me. I’d lowered the roof to allow the cool night air to whisper over me as I drove, that whisper turning into a rougher caress as I picked up speed.
I didn’t know where I was going but in a car like this I didn’t even care. I headed east on the Boston Post Road until I saw signs for a diner called Maggie’s. I ended up about fifteen minutes outside Weston in a place called Waltham.
The diner had a retro look about it. Even the waitresses wore pink retro aprons over a cute white button-down shirt and a short black pencil skirt. Both girls had long hair pulled up into a high ponytail, tied with a pink ribbon, and they wore white bobby socks and white sneakers.
“Take a seat, honey,” a girl who didn’t look that much older than me called out.
I nodded and found a two-seater table in the corner out of the way. The smell of fried food made my stomach grumble.
After the waitress took my order, I slid the book I’d stuck in my purse out and I started to read.
And that’s how I whiled away my Saturday night.
It wasn’t depressing at all. Nope. Not. At. All.
I had to admit, though, I was pretty sad to put the Jag back in the garage. I couldn’t believe Eloise didn’t drive it more.
“India.” Theo practically ambushed me when I stepped inside the main house, striding into the entrance with Hayley at his back.
“Theo,” I said warily, wondering what had put the concern in his eyes.
“Your mother and I got home an hour ago only to discover you weren’t at the party. Rosa told us she gave you Eloise’s keys so you could get something to eat.”
“Yeah.” I shrugged, not wanting them to think that I thought it was a big deal. “I found a diner in Waltham. I ate and read there for a while.”
Both Theo and Hayley looked upset and not a little guilty. “We assumed Eloise had taken you to Bryce’s party. If we’d known she hadn’t, of course we would have arranged for you to have dinner with us.”
I clenched my jaw, my blood hot with humiliation. “I’m fine, okay? I told Eloise I didn’t want to go to the party.” Don’t ask me why I covered for her. I didn’t know the answer to that.
“Sweetheart, it’s not fine.” Hayley looked almost near tears. “I want us to be a family, not for you to feel alone.”
“It was one dinner, Hayley. Not exactly scarred here.”
She narrowed her eyes at my sarcasm, the tears having dissolved at my tone. “I’m trying to apologize.”
“Apology accepted. May I go to my room now?”
Annoyingly, Hayley looked to Theo for the answer to this. He didn’t look happy, but he nodded, and I quickly skirted past them and up the stairs.
Of course I’d lied to Hayley. It wasn’t fine. In fact, I could feel my resentment simmering on a higher heat day after day.
* * *
A shadow fell over me as I lazed on a lounge chair by the pool the next morning. I’m sure Theo and Hayley thought my absence from breakfast was some teenage tantrum about what happened last night, but honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood to face them. I’d nabbed a bowl of cereal in the kitchen while Gretchen was out of sight.
I sighed, thinking the shadow belonged to Hayley, and looked up and to my side.
Eloise stood over me, studying me, a million questions in her eyes. Once she had my attention she sat down on the chair next to mine.
This time she was the one who gave a heavy, almost defeated-sounding sigh. “You told Daddy you didn’t want to go to the party instead of telling him I didn’t invite you.”
Since it wasn’t really a question, I didn’t answer.
Her expression was guarded. “Why?”
A few seconds of silence passed between us but it felt more like minutes.
“I didn’t spread those rumors at school,” she suddenly said.
Surprised that she felt the need to proclaim her innocence to me, I kept my own expression guarded, wondering what she was up to. “I know.”
Eloise raised one slim, perfect eyebrow. “You do?”
“Gabe told me he spread the rehab rumor. And I heard Bryce was responsible for that b.s. about my being bulimic.”