When Kale finally speaks again, his voice is a coiled snake. “Kit, listen to me. You need to come home. Right the hell now. Do you hear me?”
“We have a show tonight.”
“So? Shawn is a fuc—”
“I’m not going to let the rest of the guys down just because Shawn’s an asshole.”
“Are you really sure they didn’t know about that night too?” Kale snaps, and my heart sinks even further into my bottomless hole of a stomach.
“Mike didn’t,” I answer as I continue staring hopelessly out the coffee shop window. The sun is too bright, the glass is too clean, and I’m too many worlds away from home. I do just want to go home, but I can’t. Not yet. “I don’t think Adam or Joel do either,” I finish.
“Just like you thought Shawn didn’t . . . ”
My knuckles gravitate to my eye again. “I don’t know, Kale. This whole fucking thing is so fucking fucked.”
A woman at a nearby table clears her throat in an obvious objection to my language, but I’d sooner bite her head off than worry about one more thing.
“Kit,” Kale pleads, “just come home. This isn’t worth it.”
It’s what he’s been saying from the start—and from the start, he’s probably been right. But here I am, with one show left to do, one day left to bear. “I’ll be home tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow, Kale. I’m finishing this.”
It takes me forever to get Kale off the line, and after I finally manage it, I just sit there, staring at my phone and remembering Shawn’s unopened text. I haven’t wanted to want to read it—but here I am, wanting, staring. I watch the black screen until I light it up and make one final call.
“Did you just get off the phone with your brother?” Leti asks by way of greeting. He and I have kept in touch these past few weeks, but I haven’t told him a thing about Shawn. He’s asked, I’ve avoided, he’s persisted, and I’ve changed the subject by getting him to dish about Kale.
“Yeah, why?” I rest my elbows on the table and slouch forward, burying a set of fingers under my hair. My forehead hovers over the laminate surface until I give up the good fight and let my head thump down against it.
“He’s blowing up my phone.”
“Tell him to get bent,” I mutter to the floor.
“Oh, I just might, Kiterina. Do you know what he said to me the other day?”
“That it was easier for me to come out than it would be for him. Just because I won prom queen does not mean it was easier!”
I wish I could laugh, but without the energy to even fake it, silence is all I can give.
“Okay,” Leti says after I’ve been quiet too long. His tone has changed, becoming the tone of the guy who knew we were going to be friends before I even knew who he was, and who has always been there for me when I’ve needed him. “Tell me everything.”
I unstick my forehead from the table and sit up, resting it heavily on the heel of my palm instead. “What did Kale tell you?”
“Nothing. I’ve been talking to you and ignoring his closeted ass.”
The impatience in Leti’s voice might sound like a joke to anyone else, but I know he’s getting irritated, and I know Kale knows it too. Ever since Out, he and my look-alike have been kind of an item, but Kale wants to keep Leti a secret, and that’s not the way to keep Leti at all.
“So are you going to start talking,” Leti continues, “or should I start going into detail about the prom king and all the scandalous things we did in the limo after the—”
I interrupt Leti to tell him everything—everything I told Kale, from the beginning to the end. When he asks for details, I give them. When I realize I’ve forgotten something, I go back. I tell him every secret, every lie, every mistake.
“What did Kale say?” he asks when I’m finished.
“He told me to come home.”
“Which means you decided you’re staying.”
“Do you think I should?” The question leaves me in a moment of weakness. I shouldn’t need him to tell me what to do, but I just need someone—someone who hasn’t inherited my stubbornness or infamous last name—to tell me something, anything, that will make this better.
“I think you’re a bona fide rock goddess,” Leti says. “I think you should do whatever the hell you want to do.”
“What would you do?”
“Hmm,” he hums, and I get a pang of homesickness as I picture his face and the vintage cartoon tee he’s probably wearing. My Little Pony? Rainbow Brite? He pauses for a moment, and then he suggests, “Is Mike still single?”
I roll my eyes. “Thanks for the talk, Leti.”
He snickers into the phone. “Look, Kit-stand, I’m not going to give you advice—”
“Because you don’t really want it. You only want me to tell you what you want to hear.”
“And what’s that?” I counter, not even trying to hide how frustrated I am. He’s as bad as Kale. Worse.
“Shawn is an asshole and you should castrate him while he sleeps.”
“Is that what I need to hear?” I counter, and a faint sigh drifts through the phone.
“Beats me. You’re asking someone who’s dating a guy who’s still in the freaking closet.”