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The Charade: Chapter 34

AVA

ELYSE and I tried video-calling our mom, but it immediately went to voicemail.

‘Try again,’ I told my sister. The charity ball should have ended by now, and unless she had suddenly morphed into the early bird that she’d never been before, she should be awake.

Elyse pressed the button to call our mom again, but just like before, we only got her voicemail.

Was she avoiding us?

I grabbed my phone from where I’d dropped it on my bed when I came in and called her from there. But just like the previous two calls from Elyse’s phone, this one ended with my mom’s voicemail as well.

‘Do you think she’s still at the ball?’ Elyse asked when I tried calling a fourth time with the same result.

‘I don’t know,’ I said. And since I was feeling majorly bitter at the moment, I added, ‘She’s probably already heard from Carter’s dad or something and is scrambling for what to do now that her secret is out.’

‘Probably.’ Elyse sat on her bed with a sigh.

I was considering calling Mom a fifth time, but just as I was about to press the button to dial her number a text came through from her.

Mom: Sorry. Can’t talk right now.

Can’t talk, my eye.

‘Did she just message you?’ Elyse asked, noticing I was typing a response back to our mother.

‘Yep.’ I enunciated the p at the end of the word with a pop.

Elyse came over to sit by me so she could watch the conversation I was having with our mom.

Me: Since you seem to be busy, I’m just going to cut to the chase. Has our dad been hiding in Eden Falls this whole time?

I sent the message through, my heart pounding in my temples. My text went from delivered to read , and Elyse and I just waited…

And waited…

And waited for her to respond.

I held my breath as the conversation dots showed on her side of the messaging screen.

But then the dots disappeared.

‘She’s probably scrambling right now,’ I said to Elyse.

The dots reappeared again. I sat up straighter, wondering if she was finally going to tell us the truth for once in our life.

A text came through a moment later.

Mom: I’ll explain everything this weekend.

She’ll explain everything this weekend?

She’d had seventeen freaking years to explain things to us. She could tell us right now.

But before I could text that to her, she sent us another text.

Mom: I’ll tell you everything soon. Until then, please don’t go around asking more people questions.

What? Did she actually have the gall to tell us to stop trying to find the answers on our own, after basically leaving with us no other option but to figure it out ourselves since she was never open about the truth?

My hands shook and rage coursed through me as I typed my response.

Me: Are you serious right now? Don’t ask questions? This is my life, Mom. I freaking deserve to know who my father is. Elyse and I both deserve to know who gave us half of our DNA! You don’t get to decide everything!

I was fuming! Who the heck did she think she was to still keep this from us? I had tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. To believe that she had her reasons and that maybe she was right to keep us from him and him from us.

But if Mr. Hastings was our dad?

If that kind man who I’d only ever heard good things about since moving to this town was my dad, then maybe my mom was actually in the wrong. Maybe I’d been raised by a deranged woman without even knowing it.

My phone vibrated with a text.

Mom: Just give me some time to figure this all out. You’ll have your answers soon enough.

Me: You’ve had 18 freaking years to figure this crap out, Mom. Elyse and I deserve answers.

I rubbed a hand across my forehead, feeling the stress inside me building and building.

Elyse and I watched my phone’s screen for the next few minutes, waiting for our mom to respond. But after five minutes passed and no messages came through, I tossed my phone on the pillow and threw myself back against my mattress. I yelled out, ‘You suck, Mom.’


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