Sandra’s excited expression turned to one of immediate concern when she got a good look at Nick’s face.
“Nick, what happened?”
He shook his head slowly as he threw his keys on the kitchen counter. Looking in her eyes, he let out a sigh. “San, it’s not like anything we could have imagined.”
“Did she.. something really is wrong, isn’t it?” She asked him, eyes wide.
He nodded somberly as she walked into his outstretched arms. “It’s bad, too,” he whispered. “Real bad.”
Tears stung Sandra’s eyes as his words sank in, letting a wave of guilt wash over her. Where was she, what was she doing, that didn’t allow her to be with her best friend when all this happened? What kind of a friend was she to begin with?
“I need to talk to her,” she whispered.
“Not tonight,” Nick told her gently. “She’s done all the talking she can do for one day.”
The paleness in Nick’s face, and the wary look in his eyes told her that he’d probably heard all he could for the day as well.
Somehow, her conversation with AJ from earlier in the day didn’t seem so important anymore.
She drummed her fingers incessantly on the countertop, eyeing the phone as she contemplated her next move.
It was true, she felt drained. Emotionally more than physically, but she was tired just the same.
Something didn’t feel right, however.
She needed San. Needed her to know. She knew Nick wasn’t going to talk about this; he’d told her that much. He respected the trust she had in him, and he wasn’t going to say a word unless she asked him to.
She wasn’t going to put him in that position though. Sandra would have questions, no doubt. Ones he wouldn’t be able to answer.
So, in the end, it was up to her.
The sound of AJ’s voice brought her out of her thoughts. “Yeah?”
She nodded, finding herself unable to form any words at the moment. Her head hadn’t stopped spinning since she’d talked to Nick three days ago. So much, in fact, that she didn’t even feel up to her daily bouts of arguing with AJ.
“I don’t think you are,” he said slowly, sliding into the chair beside her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she whispered. How could she even fathom telling him? Him, of all people? She’d have to be certifiably insane to do such a thing.
“I’m not gonna push your buttons today,” he sighed. “But I’m worried about you. I wish you’d talk to me.”
She turned to face him, finally, and the warmth of his gaze threatened to knock down one of the final, crumbling walls around her heart. This time, she didn’t even bother to fight it. It was just no use anymore.
“I wish I could talk to you,” she sighed. “But I can’t. I just... the one person I want to talk to..”
“Is San,” AJ finished for her.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “And I don’t even know if I want to tell HER yet.”
“Whatever you decide,” he began. “Will be for the best. I’ve got faith in your decision making, Manda. You’ll do what’s right for you.”
“Glad to see someone believes it,” she sighed as AJ walked out of the room, leaving her alone with her thoughts again.
After a few more minutes of silence, she drew in a deep breath and moved to the phone.
Sandra answered on the second ring. “Roadkill Cafe. You kill ‘em, we grill ‘em!”
“That is SO old, San,” Amanda chuckled.
“Not older than you,” Sandra pointed out, laughing. “What’s up, dude?”
“Nothing, really,” Amanda shrugged. “Well.. I’m lying. Something’s up.”
“Yeah. Listen.. can we..”
“Yeah,” Sandra said then. “We can. I’ll pick you up.”
[chapter list | chapter sixteen]