Unedited from my current work-in-progress, which is book 6 in my Deep Secrets and Hope series.
I sighed and finished shoving books into my backpack. Until my mother spread the word, no one in town had even known about Jim’s past. He’d trusted me enough to tell me, or maybe he’d told me because he hoped I would leave him alone. And I’d told my parents because I didn’t hide things from them. I figured if I was going to keep spending time with Jim, they should know the whole truth, even if it meant them telling me to stay away from him.
Jim’s mistake had been trusting me. Mine had been trusting my parents. As soon as they heard the news, Mom was on the phone to her friends. People went ballistic. Some of the business owners in town had told Delia to keep Jim away from their shops. And some morons from my school had spray painted threats and slurs all over Delia’s shop windows.
In the two weeks since, things had calmed down a little. Jim wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms, but most people left him and Delia alone. Mom had talked to Jim and Delia, and she and Dad had agreed that they didn’t have a problem if Jim and I were friends. They even let him come to our house, which I’d never expected. Mom’s main reason for flipping out in the first place was that I had an eleven-year-old sister. At first, my parents had insisted that Jim never come anywhere near Jae. But once Mom met Jim and understood him a little better, she and Dad had no problem with Jim spending time at our house.
Not that he did. I’d invited him over a few times, and every time, he’d turned me down. I had a pretty strong feeling he didn’t actually want to be friends with me, but I hadn’t actually asked. I just went along acting as if I considered him my friend and ignored his attempts to push me away. Delia backed me on that. According to her, Jim needed people more than he wanted to admit, but he’d gotten too used to not having anyone to count on. So I tried to show him he could count on me, whether he wanted to or not.
I left school and headed toward the small downtown area that ended at the edge of Lake Michigan. It was finally warm outside, a more than welcome change from the freezing cold and snow we’d dealt with up until the end of April. Even now that it was May, snow and ice was still visible in some spots, but most of it had melted.
As I walked, I mentally composed my excuse for showing up at the art supply shop today. It wasn’t Wednesday, which meant I couldn’t say it had anything to do with the school’s art club. The sketchbook I’d ordered wouldn’t be in until Friday, three days away, because I hadn’t wanted to pay extra to get it sooner. I’d only ordered it because I liked the look of the maroon pseudo-leather cover and the fact that it had a lock, like a diary. I didn’t have a problem sharing my sketches most of the time, but some of the things I drew were more private.
Like the portraits I’d done of Jim over the past couple of weeks. He didn’t know about them and neither did anyone else, and I planned to keep it that way. The best that would happen if anyone found them would be them asking why I’d drawn him. And I didn’t want to answer that, because I wasn’t totally sure myself.