Regardless of what time it was, or how much homework I had, I would have to ask Dad to take me to Jim’s. Life would have been easier if I had my driver’s license, but Mom vetoed the idea every time I brought it up. As far as she was concerned, I didn’t need to be behind the wheel until college at the earliest.
I knew better than to give Jim a heads-up I was going out there, though. He would argue, and if I showed up anyway, it would give him another reason to push me away. He would be angry if I went to his place unexpectedly, but not as much as if I did it after he told me not to.
Before I even got off my bed, the phone rang. Surprised, I pressed the screen to answer. Jim never called me.
“Don’t even think about coming over,” he said before I even said hello. “I know how you are. When I say Delia’s busy, I mean she asked me not to interrupt her. And it’s none of your business.”
“I wasn’t going to ask.” I took a deep breath.
“Good.” He paused. “I’m going to tell her as soon as I can. I’ll be fine until then. I’m worried, but I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’ll call my therapist in the morning, if it makes you feel better.”
“Call me too,” I said. “Or text me. I don’t care if you even just send a blank text. At least I’ll know you’re still okay.”
“You’re a pain in the ass.” He made a noise that might have been a laugh. I couldn’t really tell. “Fine. I’ll text you in the morning. I’ll tell Delia as soon as I can. Be honest. Why did you tell me about it? You had to know I was going to be upset about it.”
“You would have been more upset if you found out I knew about it and didn’t tell you.”
“Point.” He was silent again for a moment. “Okay. I promise I’ll tell Delia as soon as I can, I’ll call Terry in the morning, and I’ll text you. And you promise me you won’t come out here. If you hear anything more about your sister’s friend or those girls who came in today, you’ll tell me even if you think I’ll get upset?”
I took a second to register what he was saying. What he was asking. He almost never asked for anything. And he sounded scared. He was actually letting me hear how he felt. That wasn’t like him.
“I promise,” I said.
“Good. Go finish your homework or whatever you were doing. I was getting ready for bed.” He made the sound again. “Like I’ll be able to. Anyway, if you don’t hear from me by…. You have school tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah. No days off until Memorial Day.”
“Thought so. If you don’t hear from me by the end of your first class, you can text me.”
“I’m only saying that because I don’t get up as early as you,” he said quickly. “I keep my promises.”
“I know.” I didn’t, actually. He’d never made me any promises before that I remembered.
I started to say the same thing, but I didn’t quite get the word out before he hung up.
I put down the phone and picked up my book again. For the next hour, I stared at the pages, hoping somehow the words would flow from there into my brain.