I lay on my bed face down, crying into my pillow. I couldn’t believe Aiden would do something like that. How could he? How could Jonnie? Skyler? Was I the only person not in on this huge secret everyone else seemed to know?
My phone vibrated with a text and I dug it out from my pocket.
Let me explain, Aiden’s text read. Please call me.
Heck no! He didn’t deserve the chance to explain. I didn’t even text him back.
Instagram. I had to see for myself. There had been a million photos posted that night. Jonnie’s dress had been my greatest shopping accomplishment. She’d always been such a tomboy and I’d waved a magic wand and made her into a beautiful girl. Jonnie had been the topic of conversation for days afterward. Heck, she’d been the talk of the town since she’d returned from summer vacation looking like a supermodel.
All the guys had a crush on her. They made fools of themselves trying to get her attention. Not Skyler. He had stayed by my side, barely looking at Jonnie as if he was mad at her or something.
Skyler wasn’t mad at Jonnie. He was mad at himself for liking her. He went out of his way to distance himself from her. And yet he didn’t. They were together all the time. Football practice, driving to and from school, running together during warm-ups and cool-downs. They had an easy excuse. They needed to be in sync for making plays. Jonnie needed to know what Skyler was thinking so she could be in the right position, either as a decoy or the intended receiver. Their minds were in sync all right. So were their hearts.
I opened the Instagram app on my phone and scrolled back through my feed several weeks to when homecoming photos started showing up. At first there were just random photos from friends. Grand Haven was a big high school and I have lots of friends.
Finally, a picture of Jonnie. It was hard to miss that polka dotted dress. Most photos were completely innocent. Others… not so much.
Someone had created a montage of photos involving Jonnie and Skyler. Him lifting her into the air while celebrating in the end zone after the winning touchdown the night before the dance. Him with his arm around her while in the lineup for photos at the gazebo, their heads close together while I was distracted talking to someone else, barely acknowledging my own date.
Was this partially my fault? Had I neglected my commitment to Skyler? Taken him for granted? Or was this just a case of a relationship that was doomed to failure from the beginning?
One photo made me gasp. How had I never noticed this before today? The photo was grainy and dark, barely recognizable other than Jonnie’s unmistakable polka-dotted dress and a clear shot of Skyler’s face. He was holding her on the dancefloor with their cheeks close together. Skyler’s eyes were closed, as if reveling in the treasure of holding the woman he loved in his arms for one brief stolen moment. His love for her and the torment it brought him was written as clearly on his face as if someone had used a Sharpie marker.
I kept scrolling, fresh tears pooling in my eyes.
Videos had been posted of their argument, with captions like “Trouble in the end zone?” and “Has the winning streak come to an end?” and “What did Skyler do to anger his best receiver?”
Most photos and videos were complimentary toward Jonnie, her sexy calf muscles and three-inch heels, her touchdowns, her dress, her hair. I smiled through my tears. I totally took credit for the hair, makeup and dress.
The captions weren’t necessarily uncomplimentary toward Skyler, rather more questioning, “What happened to break up the dream couple?”
None of them seemed to remember that Skyler and Jonnie weren’t a couple.
Only one photo caption asked, “How does Amberlyn feel about Jonnie moving in on her man?”
How did I feel? The suspicion had been tickling the back of my mind for months, maybe years. The two of them had been best friends long before Skyler had met me. Jealousy hadn’t lifted its ugly head until Jonnie had gotten back from summer vacation. All the girls were jealous of Jonnie. She had the entire football team wrapped around her beautiful long fingers, including my boyfriend.
A soft knock sounded and Jonnie creaked open my bedroom door, a crease in her brow, biting her lower lip. “Mind if I come in?”
She didn’t wait for an answer to her rhetorical question, just slipped in and clicked the door quietly back into place. She padded across the room and climbed onto my bed, lying beside me and resting her head against mine.
“Aiden called,” Jonnie whispered.
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“He’s really worried you’re mad at him.”
“Gee, what would make him think that?” I scoffed.
“Don’t blame Aiden,” Jonnie said. “He didn’t instigate the inevitable. Aiden isn’t the reason Skyler broke up with you.”
“Yeah, you are the reason Skyler broke up with me.”
“What would you rather have us do?” she asked. “Sneak around behind your back.”
“That’s not what I meant. You shouldn’t have,” —I stopped.
“Shouldn’t have what? Fallen in love with him?”
“I don’t know. I’m just really confused.”
“You have every right to be confused.”
“Aiden should have told me.”
“I should have told you,” she said. “And Skyler should have told you.”
“I’m sorry.” She pulled me into her arms like I was her little baby. “If you won’t forgive me and Skyler, at the very least forgive Aiden.”
“I don’t know if I can,” I said.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Good. You got any Moose Tracks?”
“I think so.”
“Come on.” She pulled me to a sitting position. “Let’s go eat ice cream and talk about something other than boys.”
“Okay.” I scooted to the edge of the bed and slung my feet over the edge, sinking into the plush carpet.
“Did you hear?” Jonnie asked. “That Christine Townsend signed with University of Michigan to play basketball next year?”
“We haven’t even started this year’s season,” I said.
“They’re basing their commitment on last year’s stats,” Jonnie said. She kept talking for another half hour about the upcoming girls’ basketball season while we ate ice cream sitting on the bar stools at the center island in my parent’s kitchen.
I really should have been paying attention. I’d have to cheer for these girls. Cheerleading season didn’t end just because football season did. The looming basketball season forced my mind ahead to baseball season. Would I be cheering in the stands for our baseball team as well? In particular for our hot first baseman? The guy who could hit 95-mile-an-hour pitches. Maybe. I took another bite of my ice cream, trying not to think about Aiden.