Sophie's phone vibrated inside her purse, startling her. She was settled in the family car with her parents and Ted. She promptly extracted her phone from her purse. It was a text. From Ian. It read "Hey, I was thinking about joining you at church tonight, what time does youth group start?". Sophie smiled sheepishly at her screen. " 7pm :)" she sent back.
"What are you smiling about, Sophie?" Carol asked, as she peered at her daughter in the visor mirror. "Ian's coming to church tonight." Sophie beamed. "Oh good! How is he doing?". Sophie instantly flashed back to Monday in the studio. "He's better, I guess." "Good. He's been through a lot lately, I'm glad you've been so kind towards him." Sophie nodded, tight lipped.
They drove onward in silence for a few minutes. Carol searching for something in her bottomless purse. Mr.Duval focusing keenly on the road in front of him. Sophie texting Ian about how she couldn't wait to see him, and Ted, staring out the window.
Ever since Sophie had questioned him about how he got the money for his business, the money he told his colleagues he got from an aunt, he had been ignoring Sophie all together. While Sophie had been trying to push any thoughts she had on the matter as far back into her mind as possible. If her brother didn't want to talk about it then there was no making him. He was as stubborn as they come. She only hoped and prayed he wasn't doing something that could get him in trouble.
Soon they were nearing the church. Sophie scanned the parking lot in hopes that Ian night already be there. Nope. Although then again she was a little early, as always.
Mr.Duval turned onto the lot, eying the spaces to ensure he would pick the best one. Once he had settled on one he swiftly swung the car into the spot. He turned the engine off and they all piled out. Mr.Duval popped the trunk. When Sophie has gathered her choir books in her arms and secured her purse on her shoulders she tried to catch Ian's gaze. But he remained shut off, re-tucking his pin-stripe shirt into his belted pants. Sophie rolled her eyes in disbelief.
Mr.Duval handed Carol her Bible and slammed the trunk shut and locked it. When they were inside the church they were hospitably greeted by one of the ushers. He handed each of them a prayer list, smiling.
"Hey Sophie!". Sophie whirled her head around to see June. "Hi June!". "Have you thought about the youth Christmas party yet?". Kurt had assigned Sophie the task of organizing the youth Christmas party this year. She had a few ideas, but nothing concrete. To be honest she couldn't help but wish that maybe June would be given the reins. Since Sophie already organized most of the youth events.
"Yes, I have. I don't have anything in stone as of now, but when I do, you'll be the first to know." Sophie assured June. "Oh I know! Just curious!". "Curiosity killed the cat!" "But satisfaction brought him back." Sophie cast a puzzled look at June. "It's something my aunt used to say." June explained. "Hmm I'll have to use that sometime." June smiled warmly. "So how was your day June?".
Sophie sat down on a cushioned back pew, June joined her. "Not bad. I student taught the 4:30 class today in Olivia's place." "Why?" "She had a doctor's appointment. Probably just checking her out because of her disappearance." Sophie nodded.
They heard the church door open. In came Ian. His hair was gently tousled and he had his hands shoved deep in his pockets. Sophie stood up and Ian immediately took notice, walking towards her. They embraced warmly. Neither of them gave a though to the fact that they'd never done that in public with each other before. For a moment they forgot about everything around them. Until something caught Sophie's eye. Dean.
He was coming down the stairs that led to the old classrooms, and the offices. Rev.Grant was right behind him.
It was only when they had released each other Ian noticed Sophie staring behind him. "What?" he muttered as he turned to look.
It took him only a few seconds to reach Dean. "What are you doing here?" Ian demanded. "I could ask you the same thing." Dean shot right back. "You could. But then again I'm not the one who's being looked at as a suspect, am I?" "True. But I'm not the one who's out for blood. And I'm pretty sure the police don't have a problem with me seeing the pastor. Unless, of course you're the police now!"
June shot an apprehensive glance at Sophie. Sophie shrugged, figuring they would soon realize they were in public.
"So you're seeing the pastor. Guilty conscious perhaps?" Ian arrogantly said. Dean practically cackled at Ian's remark. "Guilty conscious? Nah. Not me. You wanna know why?" "Let's see, maybe it's the lack of soul." "Nope, it's because I'm not a kidnapper! But if you wanna talk about a soulless person why don't you talk to your sister."
Ian lunged for Dean, but Dean ducked, making Ian fall into the wall. Rev.Grant finally stepped in. "If you young men can't behave in a civil manner I'll have to ask you both to leave." Rev.Grant spoke in a hushed yet firm tone. "That won't be necessary Reverend, I was just leaving." Dean replied. "It was splendid to see you Ian, just splendid!" Dean said, dripping with sarcasm as he pushed open the door with his back.
Once the door swung back into place Rev.Grant left June, Ian, and Sophie there, smiling politely.
"I need to make some copies of the youth calendar. I'll see y'all." June said as she strutted away. Sophie stood beside Ian and gently slipped her hand into his. "You alright?" she asked. Ian looked down at her and squeezed her hand. "Yeah, I'm fine." "It's going to be okay. You know that, right?" "I know. But it's nice having someone to remind me.". Sophie nodded. "How's Olivia?" she asked. "Fine. I guess." "What did the doctor say? Does she have any injuries they didn't know about before?". "She didn't see that kind of doctor..." Sophie furrowed her brows together. "Then what kind of doctor did she see?". "A therapist.". "Really! Why?" "The police just want to make sure she's in her right mind and that she's not giving them false information.". "Well how did it go?". "It didn't. She wouldn't even talk. Wait. How did you know about her seeing a doctor?". "June told me.". A look of understanding came to Ian's face. "By the way, I'm really glad you came tonight." she said smiling at him warmly. He brushed her hair back from her face. "Me too." Sophie could see the wall clock out of the corner of her eye. 6:58. "It's almost time for youth group." she announced. "Oh okay. We better go then, before Dean decides to join us."
"What about Chinese?" Lars asked. Carson and Lars were nestled on Lars's sofa discussing what to have for dinner. Carson shook her head. "Nah. I was thinking about Mexican.". "I had that last night." Carson tried to think of something else. "I know. Italian. There's this sort of new place over on crest street. My parents took me there. They have the best ziti!" Lars piped up. "Perfect. I'm starving baby." she said, handing him his house phone. "I'll go get their menu." "No need. Ziti sounds great.". Lars raised his eyebrows at her. "Well good. I'll order." He took the phone for her and proceeded to dial the number.
As he ordered their dinner Carson meticulously fluffed the mix-matched pillows on the sofa. She had just started to organize the various papers and magazines on his coffee table when he had finished. "What are you doing?" he asked slowly, his thumb still pressed to the 'end' button. "Nobody likes disorder." she singsonged. "Do you know what I do like?". He wrapped his arms around her waist. "You." he whispered in her ear. He kissed her cheek gently. "I need to go put my clothes in the dryer, but I'll be back." Carson smiled at him as he scurried to the laundry room.
She opened one of the coffee table drawers looking for space for some of his papers, but it was chopped full of papers already. She checked the next one and found that it wasn't nearly as full. Then a vibrant blue sticky note caught her eye. She picked it up, holding it as carefully as one would hold an antique brooch. It read "meet me after class xoxo". Carson let the note flutter down to the dust-laden coffee table.
She tried to remember if she had left that note for Lars. No, she couldn't have. She couldn't be that careless, she thought. Who could've left that note? It could be his mom? Moms left notes like that, right? It couldn't be, another girl. Could it? All of those thoughts raced through her mind before Lars came back. She abruptly hid the note under the other papers in the drawer before he could see what she was looking at.
"They said our take-out should be ready in twenty minutes, so I think I should go now." he said, grabbing his jacket from the hook. "Okay." He stooped to kiss her goodbye. He started for the door but stopped short. "Wait, did you happen to see a coupon on the coffee table? They were giving them out when I went last." he asked. "No. I didn't." she replied hastily. "Oh. I guess I'll use it next time." He smiled sweetly at her and slipped out the door, locking it behind him.
When she heard his car speed down the street she pulled the drawer back open. She fished the sticky note out of the sea of papers. After studying it for a few moments she stuck it inside her purse.
The distant sounds of the 11 o'clock news traveled up the stairs of the Duval's house, as Sophie brushed her teeth forcefully.
Youth group had gone well. Ian seemed to fit right in with the others. And best of all the Dean situation didn't have to involve the police. As far as Sophie was concerned the night was one of the most normal nights she had had in a long time.
Ted popped his head in the bathroom as Sophie wiped her mouth. "You almost done?". "Um, yeah. I'm almost done.". Ted nodded and began to walk back to his room. "Ted." Sophie finally piped up, once he was almost to his bedroom door. Ted turned around, waiting. "What is your problem?" she asked, saying it a little more rudely than she had intended. "I don't know what you're talking about.". "You're not a very good liar." "Well, I'm not lying. So I don't have to be."
Sophie turned around and leaned back on the counter's ledge. "The weird thing is you've never been able to be honest. That was the one thing Mom always had to punish you for. Most of the time you hadn't even done anything to lie about. You just had some bent about keeping yourself hidden I guess. I don't know from what though." Sophie swallowed hard before she went on. "An awful liar who hates honesty. That's a bad combination." A mocking expression spread over Ted's face. He brought his hand to his face as though to wipe it clean of the expression. "You can't analyze me." "I'm not trying to do that.". "Then what are you trying to, play Nancy Drew?" "Help you. I don't know. You didn't rob a bank did you?" "Listen sis. I can't tell you now what's going on. But I will. Just give me time. Trust me though, it's not as bad as you think." Sophie assessed Ted for a moment to see if she could believe him. "I really hope you're telling the truth." Ted smirked mildly. "Of course I am. I'm a bad lair."
"Katie, do you have your ballet shoes?" It was Thursday and Sophie was student teaching just like every Thursday. And as usual one of the girls had absentmindedly left their ballet shoes. "Yes Miss Sophie!" "What about you Ellie?" Sophie asked.
As soon as Sophie had said that Meredith popped into the studio. "Sophie, don't worry about it! Turns out they were Carly's. I just gave them to her mom." "Oh good, thanks!"
Soon they had all of the students dismissed from the room and only a few lingering in the lobby. Most of them playing with the frayed rug while their mothers talked about when their children's recital costumed would be ordered.
Sophie and Meredith sat in the office. Sophie placed the cds they had used for the class back in the slots of the cd rack, while Meredith tried to organize the shoes that were for sale, by size. Even though she knew they would be in disarray by the time the next class started.
Mr.Lars entered the office making Sophie and Meredith lift their heads up from their work. "Did y'all find out whose shoes they were?" he asked, rubbing his hands together in an anxious manner. "Yes we did! Well, Meredith did actually." Sophie answered. "Oh, good job Meredith!" He winked audaciously at Meredith as he strolled across the office to sit down on the bench. Methodically he began to slip off his ballets shoes and put on his tennis shoes.
"Sophie, don't bother putting the circus cd or the Swan Lake cd away. I plan to go through some possible choreography at home later tonight." he mentioned. "The circus and Swan Lake? I don't usually hear those two things together." Sophie fished the two cds out of the stack she had organized and laid them on the desk. Mr.Lars chuckled softly, shaking his head. "Don't worry, it won't be a mash-up. Honestly my mom is really pushing for a circus dance. You see, she's having a fund raiser for her church and the theme is circus of course. So naturally she's been pestering me for weeks to convince some of the students to participate in a dance routine to perform there. I'm thinking of asking some of the eight year olds.". "I can help if you need me." Meredith offered. "Oh. That's okay, I have it handled." he answered abruptly. Meredith nodded and smiled halfheartedly. "I'm done! Mr.Lars is the hours books in the student's lounge?" Sophie asked, not even noticing the slight awkwardness between Mr.Lars and Meredith. Mr.Lars nodded. Sophie power-walked down the hall to the student's lounge.
Meredith edged towards Mr.Lars, who was still seated firmly on the bench, pretending to be blissfully unaware of her concern. "What was that?!" Meredith whispered. Mr.Lars leaned forward, his hands pressed tightly on the edge of the bench. "What was what?". "When I asked if you needed help with the circus dance you said 'I have it handled'. You always need help. Did I do something wrong?" "No, you didn't. I just don't need help this time. Besides I can't have people suspecting we're together. Which they could get wise to if you all of a sudden start helping me with outside projects."
Meredith rubbed the back of her neck. "I guess you're right. I'm sorry for being all paranoid.". Mr.Lars stood up, put his hands on Meredith's shoulders, rubbing them tenderly. "It's okay, you have absolutely nothing to be paranoid about."
Sophie walked back up the hall towards the office. She had to ask Mr.Lars a question about the hours book. She was almost to the doorway of the office when she saw Meredith and Mr.Lars, his lips pressed intimately to her neck. She hid herself cautiously by sticking herself to the wall outside of the office. "Lars, someone might see us!" Meredith murmured, giggling softly as he ran his hands over her body. "You're right." Mr.Lars admitted and withdrew his lips from her, regretfully.
"Come by my house later. No earlier than seven." Sophie heard him whisper. Sophie couldn't believe her ears. At first she was convinced it was all part of a dream. A bizarre, shocking, gross, dream. There was no way Mr.Lars would hit on Meredith while he was dating Carson. Then she remembered he was dating his student after all. Apparently he didn't stop at one student.
Okay! Why no earlier than seven though?" Meredith questioned. Lars casually scratched the top of his head and squinted his eyes slightly. "Oh, my parents are coming by. You know, just a little visit." Meredith smiled warmly, a sign she understood.
Sophie still stood helplessly in the hallway, hidden from their view. She bit down hard on her tongue, thinking of the complications of the situation at hand. As soon as she could see them start to separate she crept into the office. "Mr.Lars can you look at this for me?" Sophie asked, thrusting the book towards him. "Of course, Ms.Sophie!" exclaimed, taking the book from her hands, and flashing a smile like crystal. Sophie blurted out everything she needed to ask at a break neck speed in an effort to get out of there as fast as possible. Once Mr.Lars had answered her questions she sauntered back down the hall to the student's lounge.
"Soph, do you have any band-aids?" Meredith asked as Sophie quietly collected her things from the room. "Um, no. Sorry." Sophie answered briefly. "I guess I should check the office." Meredith said, completely oblivious.
When Meredith left for the office Sophie hightailed it out of the studio. She made no eye contact with the mothers in the lobby, or Mrs.Emma in the parking lot. She barely even checked her mirrors as she pulled out of her parking spot, headed anywhere but there.
When she arrived where she was headed, which turned out to be The Morning Roast, it was just beginning to turn dark.
At first she thought of the obvious choice of home, but decided against it since she didn't want to have to deal with Ted. She knew she would have to eventually but felt like putting if off, if only for a few hours, couldn't hurt.
Of course she though about Carson too. Someone had to tell her. Lars sure wouldn't. Or Meredith for that matter.
Sophie wasn't sure how she felt about the Meredith part of the equation. Carson was her best friend, so naturally she was appalled by the recent development. Then again Meredith was her friend too, and she certainly didn't deserve this either.
She kept trying to piece everything together. Who had he seduced first? Did Meredith or Carson know about the other one? Were they the only two? These thoughts, among numerous others, sprinted through her head faster than she was able to comprehend them. So she finally got out of her car and walked into The Morning Roast.
There was only a few people inside, but enough people to make it not appear deserted. Sophie decided to do something she only did when she needed to calm herself down. She made mental commentary of everyone in the room and what they were doing. For some reason focusing on what was happening around her was like people on soap operas breathing into paper bags.
There was a woman in a burgundy jumper, sipping green tea, knitting a hat. A group of college students, maybe from the college her father taught at, talking (rather loudly at that) about the hidden meanings in Willy Wonka. A man in a gray suit checking his Blackberry.
Finally she spotted a girl with almost black hair, which fell just at her shoulders. Her back was turned to Sophie. Sophie could see she was lost in a rather thick book. She reached for her bookmark on the table beside her and tucked it into her book. She turned her to the left slightly. It was Olivia.
At first Sophie thought it would be best to leave. She didn't care to talk with Olivia at that moment, on account of how evasive she had been lately. Then she remembered that not too long ago she only hoped of seeing Olivia there. Evasive and all. Who knew maybe talking to Olivia would give Sophie some perspective. As long as it wasn't perspective into Olivia.
"Hey" she called to Olivia. Olivia jumped slightly, before she turned around to see Sophie directly behind he chair. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Sophie remorse-ed. "Oh you didn't. I just get so involved in a book that I forget where I am." Olivia replied. "I can understand that. May I sit?" Sophie asked. Olivia nodded, pursing her lips.
Sophie took a seat in the chair across from Olivia. "So what have you been up?" Olivia questioned. "Well I just finished student teaching." "Whose class?" "Mr.Lars." Olivia smiled, almost knowingly. "What I wouldn't give for an hour with Mr.Lars." Sophie rolled her eyes.
"You have any coffee yet?" Sophie asked. "No, I had tea." "Oh I see. I think I'll get some. Do you want anything?" "No thanks."
Sophie got up to walk to the counter, she ordered a medium dark roast, paid, put cream and sugar in it and then sat back down with Olivia. "Could I have your advice on something?" Sophie asked. "If you really want my opinion, sure." Sophie swallowed stiffly before she spoke. "If you found out something that could hurt not only one friend but two and could possibly ruin their friendship, and your friendship with them, forever, would you tell them?" Olivia searched Sophie's face coolly. "What's the benefit to telling them?" Olivia asked. "So they don't get hurt more in the long run I guess." "They can only get hurt if they find out. The way I see things is people are way too in love with the idea of not keeping secrets from each other. The truth has been overly romanticized since the beginning of time. The truth is great and and everything but it's not everything. If you have the choice of the ugly truth or a dressed up lie your best bet is to go with the lie. No one ever tried to protect some using the truth." "But what if it's something they shouldn't be involved in in the first place?" "That's their problem and you can't do anything about it. People make bad choices without anyone's permission. Trust me Soph, no one stays friends with the messenger."
Sophie digested her advice like cough syrup, It was hard to take but yet she felt relieved. Hearing that it wasn't her place to intervene, whether or not it was right, made her feel just a little lighter.
It was then that it hit her Olivia had come alone. "Meeting someone?" she asked. "No. Just thought it was time to be out by myself. I can't hide behind other people forever." "What do you mean?" "Just what I said." Olivia smiled and Sophie knew there wasn't a question she could ask her and get a straight answer.