I stared at the text, dread pooling in my belly and making my mouth dry. The sounds of the coffee shop seemed to dim as I picked up my phone off the table. I’d been worrying about this happening when I’d asked my friend—and ex—to be my date for the party and reunion. Why in the hell did I ask Spencer of all people? Oh, right. Because he was my last option. I could hear my sisters and cousins asking about this mythical boyfriend who they thought I’d made up.
I’d stalled as long as I could before finally calling him. Spencer answered on the second ring.
“Hey,” he said.
Bile rose in my throat. “Hi.”
“I’m sorry to have to do this, Lou,” he started, and my shoulders drooped.
“Seriously, Spence? Fuck.”
“It turns out that Amie doesn’t have to go on her trip.”
“And what does that have to do with you coming to Elkwood with me?”
“What do you expect me to do? Tell my current girlfriend I’ll be gone for a week while pretending to be my ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend? She made some plans for us next weekend, and I can’t cancel on her.”
He’d had no trouble canceling on me every freaking chance he got when we were together. It was one of the reasons we broke up. I’d been stupid to ask him to fill the role of my boyfriend while in Elkwood. He couldn’t even keep his word when he was my actual boyfriend and I asked him to go home with me last Christmas. But I’d called or texted every guy I knew and none of them could go with me. Either they had prior engagements or didn’t want to do it.
It had been a last-ditch effort to ask Spencer, and now I was regretting my decision. What the fuck was I going to do now?
“Lou. You understand, right? And you can’t be mad at me about this,” he added after I hadn’t spoken for a few moments.
I hung up on him, dropping my head into my hands. My eyes prickled with unshed tears and that pissed me off more. When my phone started buzzing, I expected it to be Spencer calling back. It was worse.
“What do you want, Cheyenne?”
“I’m here too,” Savannah added. “We were talking, and Cheyenne insisted on calling you since Mama wanted to know—”
“Ma wants to know if you’re going to need an extra bedroom for your guest,” Cheyenne put in, cutting off our younger sister.
I bit my tongue to stop myself from trying to defend Savannah. She needed to learn how to stand up to Cheyenne, and I was dealing with my own shit right now.
“About that…” I started.
Cheyenne’s cackling laugh made me pause. “I told you she wasn’t bringing anyone, and it was all a fucking lie like every other time. So damn pathetic and can’t own up to your pitiful love life.”
I clutched my phone tighter, my blood starting to boil. “Tell Ma I only need one room. My boyfriend will be staying with me.”
For the second time in only five minutes, I hung up on someone, though I felt bad about hanging up on Savannah. I sent her a text apologizing and turned my phone on silent. The anger dissipated as fast as it’d sparked, and I felt drained. Those stupid tears were back, and I was trying hard not to cry in the middle of this busy coffee shop.
I brought my eyes up to meet clear blue ones that held genuine concern. What the hell was he doing here?