Dear Ms. Bouchard,
sadly, we must inform you that you have been rejected from Havencrest University as you have not passed the mandatory background check. The background check is performed to make sure that future students fit in with the values and principles of Havencrest University. We hope that you understand this decision. Please refrain from applying again.
Head of Havencrest University Admissions Office
Valerie stared at the letter, speechless. Background check?! How on earth could this be? There must have been a mistake, a misunderstanding. She stormed inside to tell her parents. Surely her dad could fix this by making a few calls. Yes, it’s a misunderstanding, that’s all, she told herself. She couldn’t bear thinking about the possibility of being rejected from Havencrest – permanently.
When her parents had told her that they were moving back to their hometown, Willow Creek, Valerie had been furious. After uprooting her five years ago, they were doing it again, after she had settled in and found new friends. But later she had figured that this was a chance. She had wanted to become a psychologist since 10th grade. And Havencrest University was THE college for aspiring psychologists. It was the best in the world. If you graduated from Havencrest, all the possibilities would open up to you. It wasn’t far from Willow Creek either. It was perfect. Valerie’s grades were flawless and she had studied hard so she would get accepted. And now this…
She found her parents in the living room, watching a comedy show.
Her mother turned and looked at her expectantly.
“What is it, sweetie?”, her mother asked.
Valerie swallowed the lump in her throat as she handed her the letter. Her mother’s face darkened as she read it.
“I don’t understand. It must be a misunderstanding”, she mumbled.
“I think so, too”, Valerie nodded as she sat down next to her mother, “We can fix this, right?”
“Yes, of course. We will call the university now”, Suzanne Bouchard passed the letter to her husband who read it quietly.
“So you are sure this is a mistake? There’s nothing that they could be talking about?”, Valerie wanted to make sure she was right before calling Havencrest.
“No, of course not”, her mother looked over to her husband whose face had turned pale. He was visibly uncomfortable. Suzanne’s brows furrowed.
“Philippe…”, she said with a dangerously demanding tone.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart, it’s my fault… Suzanne. It’s him. Geoffrey Dalton, you remember…”, his shoulders slumped. Valerie didn’t understand what was going on.
“Papa, what are you saying? What is this about? Tell me!”, she all but yelled as tears welled up in her eyes. Was there something she didn’t know? Philippe sighed.
“This man, Geoffrey Dalton…”, Philippe looked helpless as if he didn’t know how to explain. “I made a mistake. A few years ago. He… he hates me for it.”
Valerie couldn’t believe it. She was going to be rejected from her dream college. Because her father made a mistake. Years ago.
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart…”, Philippe tried to console her, “I will try to fix this. It’s not fair to you.”
Valerie nodded but said nothing. She was afraid she would cry if she did. He’s going to fix it, he’s going to fix it.
“Would you leave us alone for a minute? I’d rather make this call in private”, her father said as he grabbed his phone. Valerie blindly obeyed. As she stood in the hallway she breathed in deeply. Papa is going to fix this. But she was still worried. What if he didn’t? Then she would never be able to go to Havencrest. And for what? Why does this guy hate my Papa?
She heard her fathers voice from the living room. I have a right to know, she told herself. On her tiptoes, she went back to the doorway and listened intently.
“… I beg you… my daughter’s future…I told you over and over… sorry … even the court said … not my fault … How can you … No! … You wouldn’t …”
The tidbits she heard had made her even more confused. A court was involved? She couldn’t remember her father going to court. When she heard the shuffling of feet, she quickly stepped away from the door and pretend to walk down the hall. She turned around as her father came out of the living room and looked at her. The look on his face was pure defeat.
Next: Chapter 9