I nodded even though she was driving and probably couldn’t see me. She pulled up in front of my house and turned toward me.

“What your brother did? It wasn’t right. He should’ve asked your permission.”


“He kind of did. On the video itself.”

“You and I both know he should’ve asked in a better way. Mocking someone else to make us seem deep or intelligent only proves the exact opposite.”

“He knew it would bother me. It’s not like he thought I’d be fine with it. Otherwise he would’ve wanted me to come.”

“I’m sorry, Gia. And I know you’re embarrassed. I hope you’ll talk to your parents about it. Tell them how it made you feel. Let them bring your family together over this.”

I gave a humorless laugh. “We’re not like your family. We keep everything on the surface. Or completely inside.”

“Well, maybe you’re the one who’s going to change that with your newfound depth.”

I smiled. “Maybe.” I reached for the door handle.

“And Gia?”

“Yes?”

“My son doesn’t like shallow girls, so there must be a lot more to you than you think.”

“Hayden doesn’t like me. We’ve just had a mutually beneficial arrangement that is now, unfortunately, over.” He had felt like he owed me a favor after the party. But now that favor was paid. We were even. And I realized after spending the day with him that I was sad about that. I wanted him to like me because as much as I’d tried, I could no longer deny the fact that I liked him.

I gave her a half smile and climbed out of the car. “Thank you so much for the ride.”

CHAPTER 24

My parents greeted me when I walked in the house.

“How was it?” my dad asked, his face hopeful. I wanted to do exactly what Mrs. Reynolds suggested and tell my parents everything. But I wanted to give Drew a chance to explain first. Because I didn’t want to hurt my parents and hoped beyond anything that maybe I had just seen the worst part of the video, that maybe I’d go online and see that really his piece wasn’t mocking his entire family in one fell swoop.

“It was okay. Can we talk about it tomorrow? All that driving made me tired.”

“Of course. I’m so happy you got to be there for your brother,” my mom said. “I’m regretting now that we didn’t go.”

“No. It was probably better that you didn’t. He was busy.” I paused while staring at my mom. “You’re still wearing your makeup.”

The subject change seemed to throw her for a moment. She brought her hand to her cheek. “Yes, of course.”

“It’s late.”

“I haven’t gotten ready for bed yet.”

“Sorry to make you wait up.” On my way to my room my phone chimed. I pulled it out.

Don’t watch the video. It isn’t pretty.

Hayden’s text didn’t stop me. I had to watch it. I had to know what was up on the internet for the entire world to see. I changed into my pajamas and grabbed my laptop. I tried to watch the piece as if it weren’t me on the screen. As if it were some other seventeen-year-old girl. Even though I couldn’t do it completely, even for the small moment I tried to visualize it, I was still humiliated for the girl with the social media addiction. The girl addicted to the validation of strangers. She didn’t even know what she thought until someone told her what to think. She didn’t even know who she was. It killed me to know that Hayden had watched this.

I shut the laptop a little too hard then buried my head under my pillow. Hayden was right. I shouldn’t have watched that. I should’ve left well enough alone with the three minutes I’d already seen.

Drew called around nine a.m. I didn’t want to answer the phone but I wanted to hear his excuse. I wanted him to have one.

“Hello.”

“Gia, you weren’t supposed to come.”

I didn’t speak. I didn’t think I could. If that was his excuse, it wasn’t a very good one.

His tone became defensive as he rushed on. “I told you right there on the video that I was going to use it for a school project.”

Tears pricked my eyes. I forced them down like I always did. “It’s just . . . I thought you wanted to talk to me because you cared about me not because you were doing some project.”

“Gia, of course I care about you. I’m trying to help you and a lot of other people by bringing this out in the open. Did you know that it’s actually been proven that Facebook can cause depression? Comparing yourself to others, the need for validation, it’s not good for our mental health.”

“Well, your film managed to do that better than Facebook ever has for me, Drew. It made me feel like crap. Like some shallow, idiotic girl who doesn’t even know her own mind.” It took a lot to admit that to him. It was hard enough admitting it to Hayden’s mom.

“That was the message I wanted the audience to get. They were supposed to see themselves in you.”

“I don’t think it worked. I was made fun of after the ceremony.”

“Then those people were idiots.”

“That didn’t sound like an apology.”

“I should’ve told you about it.”

That still didn’t sound like an apology. “When did you turn into a pretentious jerk?”

“I posted it on Facebook. Didn’t you notice?”

I let out a small gasp.

“Gia, I—”

I hung up the phone then because it was that or yell obscenities at him and my head already hurt enough.

I ripped a piece of paper out of the notebook sitting on my desk and wrote down the website where his video could be found. Then I marched into the kitchen, my chest so tight with anger that I thought I might pass out. My parents were sitting at the table, my dad reading the Sunday paper, my mom the real estate section. They both looked up when I slammed the piece of paper onto the table.

“Whoa,” my dad said, a smile coming to his lips. “What’s that all about?”

“Your son is a douche. Just thought you should know. Dad, I’m borrowing your car. I’ll be at the library.” With that, I marched out of the kitchen.

My parents were shocked into silence behind me.

The librarian lowered her brow disapprovingly. “I don’t think we have any biographies on people who had to deal with d-bags.”

“What about pretentious jerks? Who do you think is the biggest pretentious jerk in history? I want to read his biography.” Mrs. Reynolds had told me to learn people’s stories. I thought this was a great start and maybe it would help me deal with the one in my life.

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