Notorious by Allison Brennan
Some people say that it takes a village; for me, it takes a family.
My kids, Katie, Kelly, Luke, Mary, and Mark;
my mom, Claudia;
and my husband, Dan.
I love you.
Hester has returned.
Lindy Ames double-underlined the sentence, the ballpoint pen leaving a deep gouge in the paper. She slammed the diary shut and slid it back onto the bookshelf, the spine blending in with all the other books that no one would read. Decoration. Stately books in a handsome room.
It had been luck—or maybe some cruel god rubbing her face in her own failings—that she’d seen the slut at the clinic and put two and two together. The timing was right. Why should Lindy be upset? It wasn’t like she and William had an exclusive relationship—they were both sneaking around behind the backs of their friends and significant others.
But sitting down, talking to the girl, finding out the truth … it was eye-opening. Lindy saw her future and it sucked.
She was just as bad as William. Worse, there was no one she could talk to about it because they’d agreed to keep their relationship secret. Friends with benefits, she’d told him.
Lindy ran up to her bedroom; her bed still smelled of sex even though William had left fifteen minutes ago. Why had she even slept with him?
Because you wanted to.
Their fight had been the worst yet, but at the same time she finally felt free. She didn’t want to be his girlfriend. She never had. She’d wanted William because others coveted him—he was gorgeous and smart and richly arrogant. And he was a Revere—who wouldn’t want to marry into that family? But she’d lost so much playing this game with him, and after Kevin broke up with her, she realized that she needed to get her life in order before she left for college, or she’d continue to make the same, stupid mistakes.
William didn’t understand—for the first time, he said, they were both free, they could go public with their relationship. But all the secrets and lies and sneaking around for the last year had caught up with her. She couldn’t even pretend with him anymore, not even for the summer.
Determined to forget William, she gathered up her sheets and put them in the washing machine. “There.”
The low hum of the washer reminded Lindy that she was alone. The mansion was empty—her mother had joined her dad on his business trip to New York. She considered calling Kevin, but he wasn’t talking to her. Their breakup had been bad, and when she tried to talk to him yesterday, they’d argued all over again. She couldn’t blame him. He’d found out she was sleeping with another guy and wanted to know who; she hadn’t told him. How could she? They were all friends. If Kevin found out she’d screwed William a half dozen times while she purported to be Kevin’s girlfriend, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his mouth shut. And then everyone would be mad at her. She thought of calling Maxine, but even her best friend had been acting aloof. Or was Max just preoccupied with preparing for college? Or so wrapped up in her own boyfriend problems that she didn’t have time anymore? Or maybe—maybe it was Lindy’s fault. Max had this uncanny way of knowing when Lindy was lying.
Max was blunt and smart and didn’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. Lindy missed her and had screwed up their friendship, just like everything else.
It was time to break away, she told herself. Clean slate. She was going to college in three months, she’d put William and Kevin and even Max behind her. If her best friend was going to be so damn judgmental, she didn’t need her.
Lindy left the house and walked across the lawn to her clubhouse, built into a grove of trees in the back corner of her property. As soon as she entered, she felt at peace. More than a mere clubhouse, it was a three-story guesthouse with a full kitchen and pool table (from when her brother was still at home) and television and huge collection of movies. It might seem odd to forsake a nine-thousand-square-foot mansion for a thousand-square-foot bungalow, but it had been her sanctuary ever since she was little.
They’d had a club, she and Caitlin and Olivia primarily, and others through the years, and when Max moved to Atherton, she hung out with them, too. They had sleepovers and parties and on occasion got drunk or stoned. And more recently, since Kevin left and all the weirdness with William, it had become Lindy’s private haven, where she could disappear.
Sometimes, she wished she could get away from herself. To be someone else. Sometimes, she wondered what would happen if she just came clean with everyone, spilled all the secrets she knew, and let the shit fly. It might be fun.
But it would hurt everyone she cared about. Which is why she didn’t tell William the real reason she was calling it off. He’d find out soon enough, anyway.
Lindy opened her clubhouse refrigerator and took out a beer. If her parents knew she kept a stock of drinks in here, they’d never said anything. Probably thought it was better for her to drink at home than risk driving drunk to parties all over town.
She sensed the door opening more than she heard it. She turned around and stared at her visitor, surprised. The last thing she needed was more drama in her life.
“Go away.” She turned her back to the door, determined to postpone any confrontation. “I’m not in the mood for you to bitch at me again.”
Maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Get rid of all her baggage, once and for all.