Lessons in Love

Lessons in Love by Clarissa Carlyle Read Free Book Online

Book: Lessons in Love by Clarissa Carlyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Clarissa Carlyle
Woodsdale High, and there she ceased to be Alexandra Heron, violinist and mathlete. Instead she became Alex Heron, cheerleader; blonde and vacuous, she soon fitted in among the elite.
    “Are you sick?” Claire queried.
    Alex knew she couldn’t tell her friend the truth, couldn’t risk shattering the illusion of herself she had so painstakingly crafted.
    “Yeah, I must be.” Alex forced a small cough for emphasis.
    “At least it’s Friday,” Claire said brightly.
    “Yeah.” Alex smiled back, but she felt numb inside, completely detached from the world around her as though she were falling and powerless to feel anything until she eventually landed.
    “Can we talk about Dad?” Alex asked over dinner.
    Jackie Heron had already noticed how pale her daughter looked, how sunken and red her eyes were. She feared something had happened but didn’t dare ask what. She herself worked hard to force a smile beneath her lipstick mask each and every day. She couldn’t risk it falling away even for a moment. Her children depended on her too much for that.
    “Do you want some more peas?” Jackie asked, ignoring the question and piling a spoonful of peas onto Alex’s plate, where they settled against the mashed potatoes and meatloaf.
    “I asked if we could talk about Dad,” Alex reiterated.
    Andy looked up from his dinner and glanced nervously between his mother and sister. They never, ever discussed their father.
    “Let’s just eat dinner,” Jackie said calmly.
    “I think we should talk about Dad,” Alex persisted. She could see how Jackie had tensed, struggling to maintain her composed exterior.
    “There is nothing to talk about,” Jackie snapped.
    “But we never talk about him.”
    “He’s dead. What else do we need to say?” Jackie yelled at her daughter, her eyes clouded with tears.
    Alex shrank down in her chair. Sometimes she forgot how her mother must be feeling. She’d lost the man she loved, the home she knew, and now lived only to work to support their life in a dismal trailer. It was easier for them all to try to endure it rather than discuss the woeful events that led them there.
    “I’m sorry,” Alex said, her voice small as she stared at her plate.
    “It’s okay.” Jackie reached out and patted her daughter’s hand.
    “Can I have some more peas?” Andy asked innocently, extending his plate towards his mother.
    “Sure, honey.” Jackie forced a smile, and just like that, Alex’s deceased father resumed his position as the constant elephant in the room.
    “Sucks that we have math first thing.” Claire shook her head. They were now at her locker, and she was rummaging around inside for her textbook. The metal door was covered in pictures of her and her friends smiling and beaming into the camera, usually wearing their cheerleading outfits.
    Next to her, Alex opened her own locker, which was undecorated. Alex didn’t feel comfortable sticking pictures all over it like the other girls did. She didn’t like leaving aspects of herself anywhere, fearing that if she got shot one day, it would just mean that someone had to come clear out her locker, taking down the pictures of her smiling, then crying because they knew she was gone. She wanted to spare someone that pain. Her locker was barren. If it had to be cleaned out, no one would feel overly sentimental about it.
    “We’ve got math?” Alex asked, concerned. The last time she’d seen Mr. Simmons she’d stormed out of the room and demanded he never again ask her about her father. She suddenly felt sick with dread, fearing that he would bring the issue up in front of her friends and peers.
    “Yep, sucky, sucky math.” Claire found the textbook she was seeking and shoved it into her bag.
    “But at least we get to check out Mr. Simmons,” Claire added, smiling cheekily. “I was talking to Emma Laddon about him, and

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