“Did she want to date Del?”
“She wanted everything that you had, if you ask me.” She continued winding the hair around her hand. “It was freaky, honestly, how much she tried to be like you. I always thought she was two seconds from going Single White Female on your ass. So did Scott.”
“So you think I was with Del only because everyone expected us to be together?” My brain rebelled against the idea. All the reasons she’d listed were so damn shallow it was pathetic.
“I think so.” She twisted toward me, tilting her head to the side. “When we were younger, in middle school, you had the biggest crush on Carson.”
My stomach tightened at his name.
“You two hung out so much, but then Cassie came into the picture,” she said, almost sadly. “And then Del.”
Shame and guilt swirled in my stomach, and I lowered my chin. “I don’t understand where I went wrong. How I could just dump people and be okay with what Del did?”
“I don’t think you were ever okay with it. You acted like you were.” She sighed. “But I knew better. You were embarrassed when the pics started getting sent around. And it pissed me off so much that you acted like it was okay. It was so passive, and I wanted to hit you. Seriously.”
“You probably should have.”
Jules laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
I smiled. “It couldn’t have just been Cassie and Del that changed me.”
“I don’t think it was.” She pushed way from the table. “I think your mom had a lot to do with it. She hated our friendship because I’m not in a country club or whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “And God knows she hates that Scott loves me. Your dad seems cool with it, or at least he’s good at pretending that he is. Anyway, you became just like your mom. I really don’t know how Scott turned out so different.” She let go of her ponytail, flinging it over her shoulder as she grabbed her bag. “You acted like your parents, Sam. They’d do anything to make themselves look good. Even if it meant lying to save face, which is what you did when the pics went live. You acted just like them, and I’m sure that if your mom thought she could get away with killing me and stashing my body somewhere to ensure her son was no longer dating a commoner, she would.”
I wanted to laugh, but I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not.
Mom was waiting for me when I got home after school, crystal wine goblet in hand. From the displeased twist of her lips, I knew this wasn’t going to be good. Going to the small sitting room, I dropped my bag on the couch and flopped down.
She followed. “Del’s mother called me this afternoon.”
Picking up a magazine, I pretended to have no idea what she was talking about. “Did you guys have a nice chat?”
“Not really,” she said, sitting in the leather chair. “She told me that Scott hit him? And that you broke up with him? I assured her that all this must be a misunderstanding.”
I made a face. “Are you not even curious why Scott hit him?” I watched her sip from her glass and felt a surge of anger. “He wouldn’t leave. That was after I tried to break up with him and found out about those pictures, Mom.”
Her hand trembled as she set the glass down on the small table beside her. “Samantha…”
Twisting toward her, I wanted her to understand where I was coming from. Maybe I wanted her to see me for who I was now. “Mom, I didn’t know he took those pictures. And I wasn’t okay with it.”
She blinked, smoothing her linen pants with a hand. “That’s good to know. I’d hate to believe that you were okay with something so…trashy.”
Trashy wasn’t the only word I would have gone for. Disgusting. Violating. “Then you have to understand why I can’t be with him.”
“Honey, what he did was wrong, but he made a mistake. Everyone does.”
Shocked into silence, I stared at her.
Running her fingers along the gold bangles circling her wrists, she sat straight and stiff in the seat. “Your father—he’s made mistakes. And we wouldn’t have been married for so long if neither of us learned how to forgive.”
Gradually, I came out of my stupor. “Del took pictures of me giving him a blow—”
“I understand that, Samantha.” Her nose wrinkled. “But this incident happened so long ago. And I’m sure he feels terrible about it. He has to feel terrible about it.”
“I really don’t care if he feels terrible,” I admitted, and wondered if I should feel bad for that. “I can’t believe you’d ever be okay with me being with him after that.”
My mom sighed. “I’m not okay with the fact that he did that, Samantha, but he’s young and he’s a male. God knows this won’t be the last stupid choice he makes in his life.”
“It will be the last stupid choice he makes that involves me!”
She ignored that. “You have every reason to be upset with him. I don’t blame you for that, but I think you should talk with him. His mom and I were saying that after…well, after everything, both of you could use some time to get reacquainted without all these outside influences confusing you.”
I thought there was a good chance that when I had left school that day, I had veered straight into crazy land. Part of me wanted to laugh at the absurdity of my mom defending Del for doing something so vile, but the other part of me, the huge part, was stuck somewhere between being ticked off and being disturbed.
“Outside influences confusing me?” I said finally.
She nodded. “Well, with Cassie and your memory, it’s understandable that it would take some time before you—”
“Why do you want me to be with Del so badly?” I cut her off. “I don’t get it. Is this normal? Do moms usually get this involved?”
Something flashed in her eyes, gone too quickly before I could name it. “It’s important to your father and me that you are involved with someone who can take care of you and is of your same…stature.”
There was more to it. I knew it, but like everything else, it was too far out of reach. Uncertain if it even mattered, I let it drop. “Mom, I’m not getting back with Del. I’m pretty much disgusted with him on a cellular level.”
Picking up her glass, she watched me over the rim. “You haven’t been spending any time with your friends.”