Julio’s picture popped up on Aubrey’s phone.
She smiled as she answered. “Happy birthday!”
He snickered. “Thanks.”
“Sooo, what did you do?” She tried not to sound disappointed about not being invited.
“My mom had the whole day planned out. Nothing terribly fun, but…you know.”
She didn’t feel as left out and was glad his mother got to spend the day with him. Aaliyah Corleonesi probably needed a distraction from missing her husband. Maybe they both did. There was something in his voice, however, that didn’t sound as excited as he should have been about starting a new chapter in his life.
“Are you ok? You sound kind of…meh.”
He sighed. “…no…. Aubrey, listen…. My butler told me everything…”
She gasped. “You know what happened?? Tell me, tell me!”
He let out a few breaths like he was weighing his words. “I shouldn’t tell you.”
“Come on! Don’t leave me hanging! We’ve been trying to figure this out for, like, forever!”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He sounded so despondent. It broke her heart to hear him like that. “You really need to hear it from your dad. We can talk about it after you find out.”
She let out a loud, frustrated sigh. What he said made sense, but when was Jonathan going to tell her? He apologized for walking out but he never explained why he was upset in the first place. She wasn’t sure he would ever tell.
“What if he doesn’t tell me?”
The silence on the other end seemed to last forever.
“I don’t know…. You’ll have to try.”
“Talk to your dad.”
He hung up.
She wanted to cry but didn’t know what for. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do, but the tears wouldn’t come. Still feeling upset, she got up and got herself some dinner. She opted for leftover clam chowder instead of making her own dinner like she usually did. Pictures from the television flashed before her eyes, and sound waves went in one ear and swiftly out the other. What happened must have been really bad. If it was, did she still want to know? Would her friendship with Julio be on the line? Would she hate him? Did he hate her? Why did he sound so sad? Part of her wished to remain blissfully ignorant so nothing would have to change, but she desperately needed the information.
“Hey, honey. Why the long face?”
She didn’t even hear him come in and looked up at him wide-eyed.
He chuckled. “Wow. What’s got you so deep in thought?”
She knew it wasn’t the right moment, but she had to try. “Daddy?”
“What’s the matter?”
“…why did you get mad about Julio?”
It was wrong. He wasn’t prepared. She knew it. But, if there was a small chance he was ready to talk, she had to take it. He stood tall and stiff behind her, fists balled and nostrils flared. She could tell he was trying not to let the anger overtake him. It pained her to see him that way especially when she caused it.
Finally, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He looked defeated. “Aubrey…. if I promise to tell you everything…will you not bring this up again?”
Although she knew she wouldn’t get a satisfactory answer, she managed to feel disappointed anyway and turned away from him. She heard a loud sigh behind her. Within seconds, her father was sitting at her side.
“I’m sorry, Aubrey. I know this is frustrating for you, and I’m not helping.”
She continued eating her soup.
“I will tell you what happened. I just…it’s not the best time right now. I’m not emotionally prepared to share that part of my life with you, and when I’m upset, your mother is upset, and I cannot have your mother upset right now. Not with the baby.”
He smiled. “We’ll talk, ok? Just not today or tomorrow…and maybe the next day.”