"Sure. Everything go okay?" April craned her neck to the side and tossed the question over her shoulder as I went into the kitchen to get the bacon started. "Did Caitlin get signed up for the cast?" Shifting noises on the couch, punctuated by some swearing under her breath. Yeah, she was definitely cutting back on the pain medication. The next few days would be bumpy.
"Everything went fine. They said they can't take everyone, but they're sending out an email next week to everyone who made the cast."
"Next week? Oof. I don't know if I can live with her long enough for her to find out if she's in."
"She'll get in." I punched down the bread in the toaster and started slicing tomatoes. "If they don't let her in, they don't get me. Thanks for that, by the way. You totally set me up."
"What? No, I didn't. I told you not to go in there. All you were supposed to do was drop her off."
"Yeah, well." I got down three plates and started assembling sandwiches. "Caitlin can't be in the cast without a parent volunteering. They said you were going to volunteer, you know, before..." There was no good way to end that sentence.
"What?" April was repeating herself now, and it had nothing to do with meds. "I...oh." Yep. There it was. She remembered now. "Shit." I glanced through the pass-through to see her sag against the back of the couch. "I did set you up. I completely forgot."
"Don't worry about it. I have it on good authority that it'll be fun." I put the plates on the pass-through and tossed a bag of chips up there beside them. I thought about Mitch and his promised kilt. That would certainly be fun. Then I thought about Simon and his disapproving face. Less fun. I brought lunch out to the living room, and we ate on TV trays so April wouldn't have to get up. I left the third plate on the counter; Caitlin would be along for it eventually.
"Fun," April repeated as she reached for her sandwich. She didn't sound convinced. She took a bite and shrugged. "I guess. I mean, what else have you got going on, right?"
I crunched a chip and half squinted at her. She couldn't be serious. I had a list-making app completely dedicated to their schedules. Surely she remembered what a nonstop life she and her kid had before one guy ran a red light one night and changed everything.
She met my gaze and squinted back with an exaggerated face. She wasn't serious after all. I wasn't used to a sister who joked around with me. But she was trying, so I played along, throwing a chip at her. "You're right. In fact, I picked up a box of chocolates so we could lie around all weekend and watch television."
"Good plan." She leaned forward and snagged the bag of chips. She shook her head at me. "You're too defensive. That Jake guy did a number on you, huh? You know, when Mom told me about him I said he was no good. You broke up, what, a couple months ago?"
"Yeah." I sighed. Of course Mom had told her. April and I had always gotten along fine, but the age difference, plus all the moving away from home and starting our own lives, had kept us from being as close as sisters usually were. Hence Mom acting as a kind of conduit between us, filling us in on each other's lives. It was a weird system, but it worked for us. "Yeah, it was a week or so before your accident.
So you know, good timing."
"Well, it saved you from being homeless."
"I wasn't homeless." But I frowned into my sandwich because she was right. When Jake had left for his fancy lawyer job he'd not only dumped me like unwanted baggage (which I guess I was), but he'd canceled our lease on the way out the door. I'd been panicked, scrambling to find another apartment I could afford with my two part-time jobs, when Mom had called from the hospital about April's accident. It'd been a no-brainer to throw my stuff into storage, drive the four-hundred-something miles from Boston to Maryland, and transfer my panic away from myself and onto them.
But I didn't want to talk about Jake. That wound was still too fresh. Time to change the subject. "Stacey says hi, by the way."
"Stacey?" Had I gotten the name wrong? "Blond hair, about my height, big smile? She acted like she knew you. She knew Caitlin, anyway, and she knew who I was."
"Ugh." April rolled her eyes and took a sip of her Diet Coke. "That's the one thing about living in a small town. Everyone knows your business. Even people you don't know that well."
"So...you don't know Stacey?"
"No, I do. She works at our dentist's office, and we say hi every time Cait or I have an appointment. Nice, but..." She shrugged.
I got it. "...But not someone who should know that much about you."
I thought about that, considered my next question. "I don't suppose you know a guy named Mitch, do you?" Now, there was someone I wouldn't mind knowing a little better.
This excerpt ends on page 14 of the paperback edition.