Keep The Guilt At Bay
Jenny had called Valerie in the evening, asking if they could meet at the cafe the next day. Valerie had agreed but now that she was here, she felt nauseous. How would she get through this chat without spilling the beans about Ethan?
After she had told him everything about Havencrest and Mr. Dalton, Ethan had promised to try to find a way to get her in within one week. If he didn’t, he would tell Jenny about the other girl. It had seemed like a good deal at the time. Valerie wouldn’t even have to tell Jenny herself, the thing she was afraid of the most. But when she thought about it now, she felt incredibly guilty about the whole agreement. She wanted Havencrest more than anything else, but Jenny was her friend. It felt like betrayal. Are we friends though? We hardly know each other anymore. Ethan is her problem. At least, that was what Valerie told herself to keep the guilt at bay. A small part of her hoped that Ethan would fail and the whole thing would be over quickly. But an even bigger part of her hoped that he would succeed and right the injustice of her rejection. If she hadn’t got in because of grades or by lottery, she wouldn’t have given it much thought. But this was another level… it’s so unfair!
In this moment, Jenny arrived at the cafe. She spotted Valerie and came over to her table.
“Hey, Val, so good to see you!”, she smiled and sat down. Valerie managed to fake a smile.
“Good to see you too, Jen.”
“It’s so nict that we finally have time for some catching up, don’t you think?”, Jenny cut right to the point. Valerie only nodded.
“Now, you have to tell me everything. How was Windenburg? How was school? Were there… boys?”, she giggled.
“Windenburg was great, really, it’s… nice.”
“Just nice? Come on Val, don’t let me interrogate you! Tell me, do you have a boyfriend back in Switzerland?”, her voice had gone from the happy giggling to a serious tone within seconds. Valerie felt the heat rise in her cheeks. Great topic.
“Well, no… there used to be this… guy from my school. I guess we kind of dated for a while, but it didn’t work out”, she said vaguely.
“Oh, okay. And is there anyone you’re interested in here?”, Jenny asked. Valerie felt strange answering all these questions about her love life. Jenny seemed to have developed a great interest in boys over the time. Only the wrong ones…
“Jen, I’ve been here for a week. The only guys I met were the ones at the party and there were so many, I can’t even remember them”, Valerie explained. She had bigger problems than finding a boyfriend.
“But you remember Ethan right?”
Valerie didn’t like the direction the conversation was taking. And she was especially uncomfortable with talking about Ethan.
“Of course, he’s your boyfriend, Jen”, she said but avoided Jenny’s gaze.
“So, what did you think of him?”
Oh god, why. Valerie’s cheeks were burning and she didn’t know what to say.
“Yeah, I mean, he seemed… nice. It looks like you love him a lot”, she finally managed to say. That last part at least was true. Jenny sighed.
“Val… I’m really not sure if we can be friends if you’re trying to steal my boyfriend from me”, she announced. Valerie stared at her wide eyed the fake smile still etched into her face.
“I saw you two in front of my house a few days ago. Did you meet him in secret?”, Jenny narrowed her eyes and her voice became aggravated.
“Jenny, I’m not trying to steal your boyfriend”, Valerie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. But of course, from Jenny’s perspective it must seem just like that.
“Just admit it! I saw you two exchange numbers. I can’t believe it, my best friend…”, Jenny almost yelled, every hint of friendliness now gone from her voice.
“Jen, calm down!”, Valerie was getting angry. Ethan was the cheating poobah and she was being blamed?!
“I’m not going to calm down! Just… stay away from me and Ethan!”
Valerie angrily got up. If Jenny was so intent on jumping to conclusions why did she even bother?
“Fine!”, she yelled and stomped away. Jenny could see for herself what Ethan was up to. She officially didn’t care anymore.
Next: Chapter 10