Please have a look and let me know if these first few pages clearly indicate Lana made a decision to move out because she has something to hide.
CHAPTER ONE (Lana)
“You did what?” My best friend Bree stares at me stunned. Her brown irises remind of little chocolate buttons against the white of her eyes. A strand of spaghetti dotted with spicy sauce hangs out her fuchsia pink lips.
“I told my parents I want my trust fund,” I tell her calmly. “They offered it to me after I graduated and I told them I’d let them know when I needed it.”
Bree shakes her head and glares at me as if I’ve committed the ultimate sin. She sucks in the spaghetti. “You shouldn’t have been so hasty, Lana. You could have used that money later.”
Bree thinks long term – as in ten years down the line. Right now all I want is to live my life the way I want and ten years is a really long time…
“My writing gig’s doing pretty well,” I tell her, “And I’m enjoying studying through correspondence.” I’m doing my Honors in Journalism through UNISA, a distance education university. “I don’t want to wait until later start living the life I want.”
“I don’t believe you.” Bree points her sauce tipped fork at me. “You’re out of your mind,” she whispers. “Do you even know what you’re going to do with the money?” Her wild, red curls tremble when she mock shudders at what I’ve done.
We’re at a tiny Italian restaurant in Ballito – Pavarotti’s – Bree’s favorite eatery on the Kwa-Zulu Natal North coast. I haven’t told Bree the rest of my news yet. God only knows how she’ll react.
I shrug. “Buy a house.” I blurt the first thing that comes to mind.
She twirls spaghetti around her fork and eyes me surreptitiously. “Buy a house? You’re only twenty. You could rent. Why buy when you’re obviously going to up and move in a few years?”
“I prefer stability.”
“Stability? What the fuck’s gotten into you?” Spots of color appear on Bree’s cheeks. “Is there something you’re not telling me? Did you and parents fall out?”
“No.” I shake my head. “This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.”
Bree pours herself more wine. “I swear you’ve been kidnapped by aliens or something.”
Bree is such a drama queen.
“We were supposed to take a gap year, Lana, remember?”
“I’m taking my gap year now.” I look away from her when emotion threatens to fill my eyes with tears.
“Now?” Bree stops eating. “I know you love attending school full time.”
“I need a cha –” a sharp jolt of pain paralyzes me. Shit. Why now? I hold my head between my hands and concentrate on my breathing for a while.
“Lana?” Panic rises in her voice. “I’m calling a doctor,” she screams when I don’t respond immediately to her.
“No,” I gasp, “It’s nothing – just the stress of moving and stuff…” Please let her buy my lie, I pray. The blinding spasms cease after a few minutes leaving me weak and nauseous.
“Have you been to a doctor?”
“Yes,” I nod.
“He ran some tests.”
“Shit, you’re shaking like a fucking leaf.” She holds a glass of water to my lips. “Drink.”
I manage to take a few sips. The headaches strike when I least expect it. There’s no particular pattern, warning or interval. They just happen spontaneously.
Bree calls for the bill. “I’m going to drop you off at home,” she insists after she’s paid. She stands up and holds my hand, ready to catch me if I fall.
“No. I…” Bree doesn’t know I moved out last weekend.
She narrows her eyes. “Why don’t you want to go home?”
I might as well tell Bree the truth and get it over with. The nausea fades away and most of my strength returns. “I moved out.”
She sits in her chair with a heavy thud. “What the fuck did you that for?”
“I needed space and time to focus on my writing –” it’s partly true. My freelance writing career’s really kicked off in the last few months. “And since Beauty Bulletin decided to make my column a permanent fixture, I decided I needed more space to focus on my career…” Beauty Bulletin is one of the most popular magazines in South Africa.
Bree sighs and shakes her head. She’s not buying my excuses. “I don’t know what you’re not telling me but I can promise you one thing, Lana. Whatever it is you’re hiding– I’ll find out sooner or later,” she vows. She watches me closely as I wake up. “You could tell me now and get it over with,” she whispers.
“I’ve told you everything.” Bree’s a tough cookie to convince. “My parents have been really supportive of my decision. Dad even bought me a car so I could be more independent.”
Bree eyes my Ford hatchback. “I can’t believe your dad bought you a car as a moving out gift.” Bree borrows her brother’s VW Golf to move around.
“He’s pretty awesome.” My dad and I have always been close. I’m grateful he didn’t ask me too many questions when I told him and Mom I wanted to move out. Dad’s always been supportive of my decisions. The car was a gift from Dad when Beauty Bulletin told me they’d decided to make my column a permanent part of their magazine.
She shakes her head. ” There’s more to this. I feel it in my bones.”
“Your bones are wrong.” Bree and I have been close since fifth grade. We’ve cried with each other over failed crushes, shared fashion disasters and each other’s happiness. Lying to Bree is more difficult than lying to my family.
“My bones have never been wrong.” She looks up sharply. “Are you sure this isn’t about Zane?” Her brown eyes darken.
“Positive,” I assure Bree on our way to the parking lot. Zane and I dated briefly. He’s a model and fitness fanatic with a heart of gold. After two dates both of us agreed it’d be better to remain friends.
Bree sighs. “I’m happy things are working out your way, Lana, but I know you’re hiding something from me. She places her hands on either side of my shoulders. “Just because I’m dropping the topic now doesn’t mean I’ll forget.” Our eyes meet. “So where did you move to?”
She stares at me blankly. “Where the fuck is that?”
“About twenty minutes from here.”
Bree still has no clue what I’m talking about. “North or south?”
“North.” She’s going to freak out in five seconds. I count down mentally in my mind. Five, four, three, two, one…
“Are you kidding me?” She’s about a head shorter than me. Bree stands on tip toes to look me straight in the eyes. “You moved to the fucking heart of a sugar cane farm. I don’t believe this. You’re twenty. Not sixty. Sugar cane farms are for retirement – not starting out.”
“There’s barely any sugar cane farms left. Besides it’s on the beach. I love it there.” I try and sound as convincing as possible. “It’s quiet and peaceful and good for my writing.”
“Don’t use your writing to cover up. You’re going there to hide.” She leans against my car. “Are you pregnant?” she asks suddenly.
“What?” I laugh. “By who?”
“Zane,” she whispers. “I wouldn’t blame you for messing around with him. He’s got a great body and personality.”
I shake my head. “Zane prefers messing around with the opposite sex.”
“Shit. I’d have never guessed he was gay.” She shakes her head. Her phone rings then cutting our conversation short. “Fuck. I forgot I have to pick Mom up from the mall.”
Bree’s Mom’s a shopaholic.
“I’ll call you later.” She jumps into her car and takes off.
Thank God I didn’t get caught this time. I sigh in relief before driving to my new home.