Focus (Page 40)

“We’ve never spent Thanksgiving apart.” The disappointment in her voice hurt, but I didn’t see any way around it. It had only been a few weeks since the fire, and although the buzz was finally dying out on campus, I wasn’t over it. I couldn’t believe that because of me, hundreds of people could have died, including a good friend.

“I’m sorry.”

“If you weren’t okay, you’d tell me, right?”

“Yes.” I hated lying, but I didn’t have any choice.

“You need to do what you need to do. You’re an adult, and I can’t force you to do anything anymore. If you change your mind, you know we’d love to have you.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

I wanted to go, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to go home if it meant bringing guards with me, and taking the chance of endangering the people I loved. It was bad enough my friends were involved.

I hung up and tried to fight off the tears I knew were threatening to spill. I gave up the fight just as I heard a soft knock on the door.

“Are you okay?” Tiffany took a seat next to me on my bed.

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Do you still want to go for manicures, or do you want to skip?”

“I want to go.” I wiped my eyes.

“Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Tiffany had to be the nicest friend I’d ever had. I loved Hailey, and Anne was cool, but Tiffany was just so sweet.

“I had to tell my mom I wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving.”

Tiffany put a hand on my arm. “Oh, I’m sorry. That must have been rough. Are you sure you can’t just ask Levi to go with you?”

“Theoretically, I could, but he’s so busy with his dad right now, and honestly I don’t think I’m ready to bring him home.”

Some people might have pushed me, but Tiffany just smiled. “Well, at least you get to spend it with Hailey and Owen. That should be fun, right?”

“Definitely. I’m curious what a Pteron Thanksgiving is like.” I loved that I didn’t have to hide The Society from my friends anymore. Tiffany had taken it about as well as Anne. She said she always knew there was something different about the guys and Hailey.

“Speaking of Hailey, where is she? Isn’t she coming with us?”

“Nope. She had to meet for a group project.”

“Wait, so they’re actually letting you out on your own?”

I laughed. “Yeah right. Let me out without a chaperone?”

“Then who’s coming with us?”

“Jared.”

The look of horror that crossed Tiffany’s face was almost comical. “Jared’s coming with us to get manicures?”

“Well, I doubt he’s going to get his nails done. When Hailey cancelled, I had to find an alternative. Jared was more than happy to oblige when he found out you were coming.”

Tiffany blushed. “Come on, that’s not true.”

“Yes it is. I don’t know what happened the night of the fire, but he’s been acting even weirder than usual ever since.”

“I already told you, I don’t remember what happened. I just remember feeling really dizzy and light-headed and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.”

“I know. But I think Jared was scared he was too late.”

“I can’t believe I slept through a hot guy flying me to safety.”

I laughed. “It was more than sleeping. But if you want to try flying, I’m sure Jared would oblige. But, I’d make him swear to be on good behavior.”

“Sometimes I think this is all a dream. Like I fell asleep reading one of my Paranormal Romance’s or something.”

“Don’t I know.”

“Are you ready to go?”

I got up. “Sure. Jared’s waiting.”

Before we could walk out the door, my phone rang. I debated picking up when I saw my dad’s name on the screen, but I was tired of fighting with him.

“Hi, Dad.”

Tiffany gestured that she’d wait in her room.

“Hi, sweetie. I owe you an apology.” His voice was soft, and I could tell he meant it.

“You do, but I understand.”

“Everything is okay now.”

“Really?” I asked with surprise.

“Yes. We got some new investors, and I think we can go ahead with the openings we had planned for next year.” I could hear him smiling through the phone.

“Wow, that’s great.”

“Isn’t it? These investors came out of nowhere, but they checked out.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Are you spending Thanksgiving with your mom?”

It was rare enough to talk to one parent in a day, now I was talking to two. “Nope, I’m going to spend it with my roommate’s family.”

“Oh. This isn’t because of your mother’s boyfriend, is it?”

“No, not at all.”

“Are you sure? I can fly back from China early if you want me to.”

China? I had no idea he was in Asia. “No, I’m all set.”

“Okay, just let me know if you change your mind.”

“I will, but my friend is waiting for me. I love you, Dad.”

“I love you, too. Have fun.”

I was finally on speaking terms with both parents—hopefully it could stay that way for a while.

***

“The least I can do is help cook. It is my fault the royal family is coming.” I washed my hands in the large farmhouse sink in the kitchen of Hailey’s childhood home.

Jan laughed. “Are my nerves that obvious? I am honored they decided to come to my home for the holiday.”

“I wouldn’t say they were obvious, but if they were, it would be understandable.”

It was the night before Thanksgiving and Hailey’s mom was rushing to finish the rest of her preparations. I hadn’t really considered that Levi would want to spend Thanksgiving with me, but he insisted on it. Originally, he wanted me to spend it at his house, but I’d already accepted Hailey’s invitation. His solution was to invite himself, which also meant his parents.

Jan filled a large pot with water. “You wouldn’t happen to know how to make cranberry sauce, would you?”

“You just add sugar with water and boil the cranberries, right?”

“That’s pretty much it. The cranberries are in the fridge.”

“I’ll take care of it.”