True Lies Page 13

’’That\'s what you tell yourself, Sutton,’’ Laurel says. Her voice is light enough, but there\'s an edge underneath it. I decide to ignore it for now and just concentrate on what\'s going right.

But as I\'m walking down the stairs, my phone rings. I stare at it in my hand, my heart leaping to my throat.

It\'s Thayer.

Laurel, who\'s in front of me, spins around and looks at me curiously. ’’Everything okay?’’

’’Um . . .’’ I stammer, at a loss for a second. ’’Yeah. I\'ll be right with you.’’

I run back up the stairs to my room and shut the door tight, wondering if Laurel\'s going to have her ear pressed to the door. Cautiously, I say, ’’Hello?’’

’’Sutton, I\'m sorry.’’ Thayer sounds choked and urgent.

I inhale sharply. ’’Sorry for what?’’

’’I miss you so much,’’ he continues. ’’I don\'t want us to be apart. I should never have told you I needed space. Not talking to you has been torture.’’

My heart catches in my throat. Across the room, the image of Garrett is still on my computer screen. His eyes twinkle at me. His smile makes my heart do a cartwheel. I picture him at home right now, composing one of his sweet, poignant, happy little texts. Texts he sends promptly, not six hours later.

But I feel that same pull for Thayer I always do. ’’Come home, then,’’ I challenge.

Thayer pauses. ’’I . . . can\'t.’’

’’Why not?’’ I demand.

He sighs.

’’Thayer, at the very least, let me tell Mads where you are,’’ I demand. ’’She\'s going crazy with worry. Can\'t I give her something?’’

’’Not now. I\'ll tell her myself.’’

’’Why can\'t I tell her now?’’

He sighs. ’’Because I\'m somewhere, getting help. And I just need time.’’

’’Help for what?’’

His words come out in a rush. ’’I can\'t explain. Not right now. But I will, I promise . . . when things are different for me. Please just know that I\'m doing the best thing for me, and for us, for the long run.’’

I stare out the window. What does that mean?

’’I\'m going to come back a changed person.’’ Thayer\'s voice cracks slightly. ’’I\'m going to be ready to be your boyfriend, for real.’’

A tiny flare of hope blooms in my chest. For real. Two weeks ago, that was all I wanted to hear from him, but now it might be too little, too late. There\'s Garrett to think about now.

Still, I can\'t keep myself from asking in a small voice, ’’So, you didn\'t run off with Mary?’’

’’Mary?’’ The line crackles. ’’God, no, Sutton. Absolutely not. You\'re the only one I want to be with.’’ He pauses again, and I hear the steady rhythm of his breathing. ’’So, what do you say? Will you wait a little bit longer for me? We\'ll find a way to be together, soon.’’

My heart pounds. What should I do? Who do I choose? The boy who\'s here, who\'s cute and stable and sweet? Or the boy who\'s se*y and mysterious . . . but also mysteriously absent?

I wait for a beat before bringing the phone back to my ear. And then I clear my throat and say what I never imagined saying before.

’’I don\'t know, Thayer,’’ I say. ’’I just don\'t know.’’

’’Sutton, what do you ’’

’’I have to go,’’ I say quickly, the words clogging my throat. Then I hang up.

And maybe let Thayer go, for real.

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