A HUGE thank you to Shweta (aka spobyheartswin) for her magnificent review of Déjà Vu over on her blog. Check it out! the-literary . tumblr . com (without the spaces).
Previously on Déjà Vu:
I decided on the truth. It's not like she could get angry with Jake for asking questions when it was really stupid Alec's fault in the first place. "Well… I don't really know why… But Jake was asking me all these weird questions about you and dad and how you met and stuff and I got really angry. What was it to him, you know? So he was apologizing in the hallway and I was yelling at him and then we got detention. But in detention, I realized that this kid Alec Molina put him up to it and he actually was sorry. I really believe that he is. But now I don't know how to forgive Jake, but also make him understand that what he did was wrong."
When I had finished my story, my mother looked pale. She was still holding my hand, but it was warmer, somehow. "What?" I asked.
"Mommy?" I whispered. "Please calm down. Breathe slowly. You are fine."
"Yeah. Mmmm… I'm good. I have to-"
She quickly jumped out of her seat and raced the steps to her bedroom.
What. The. Hell?
A released a heavy breath. The third of it's kind in a row. My fingers ran through my hair- a nervous trait I picked up from Spencer.
I paced across the room and debated my options. I could confront Ezra head on about the situation, or I could ask Zoey to talk to Alec, or… my brain was fried.
I decided upon calling the girls because they've always managed to clear my head when it got cloudy and helped put things in perspective.
However juvenile, typing the old message provided me with a surge of warmth and familiarity. SOS.
10 minutes later I had replies of concern from Spencer, Emily and Hanna who agreed to meet me at the Rosewood Grill. As I stumbled towards my bedroom door, it swung open with a troubled looking Ezra on the other end.
He stepped towards me cautiously, "Aria, Zoey told me you were acting kind of strange downstairs. Talk to me. What's bothering y-" He paused as I tried to walk past him.
He spun be back around, "Baby, talk to me." He pleaded. I shook free of his grasp and fled out the door.
"Well you can't just sit there and sip your water!" Hanna announced at our usual table. "Aria, you have us all worried sick! What's going on?"
I finished my gulp and looked up from my drink. Emily's face was plastered with concern, her eyes glued to mine. Spencer's were darting between all of us.
"Zoey came home today…" I began. They nodded encouragingly. "From detention." Spencer stiffened. Detention is the equivalent of an extreme drug addiction to a Hastings. "Because she's been fighting with a boy she likes."
Hanna smiled, "Aria, trust me. I can talk to her. I've had to deal with enough break ups to last a lifetime."
I shook my head, "No, this isn't about that. They were fighting because there has been another boy, Alec, who's been asking questions about Ezra and I for awhile." I took another sip of my water, "Zoey said since 2nd grade."
Emily gasped and then mumbled a "sorry."
Spencer sat pensively, "Okay, I'm sure there's more to this. Continue."
"Apparently, Alec has been asking about how we met and when we dated and things like that. Personal stuff. Things that Zoey doesn't even know the answer to! And I know that if this were just a random questioning, we would deal with it. But it's not. Alec's last name is Molina."
Hanna's eyes widened, "No. NO! I thought we ended that bitch."
"I'm sure… I think… Well, Ezra would never… How could this kid…?" Emily's thoughts were as jumbled and as unresolved as my own.
"I don't know what to think," I stared down at my food.
Spencer took the lead, "Hey, let's not jump to any conclusions here. Let's think about this rationally, alright?" She attempted a reassuring smile, but I detected some weariness in her voice. "This kid, Alec, has been asking questions. And his last name is Molina. So assuming he's that bitch's son, let's think. Why would she want information that she already has? It could be to confuse Zoey, or bother you…"
"Or to make you paranoid and ruin your family dynamic" Emily stated bluntly.
"Uh, okay." Spencer continued, "But that leaves another question: Why does she care? Why would she want to ruin your family dynamic? Because she still loves Ezra? Because she hates you?"
"Or maybe Ezra and Jackie have been seeing each other and she wants to find out just how tight we are. So she will know how long it will take her to rip Ezra away from me." I said.
"Aria…" Hanna began, "Don't go there. No offense, but you've always had an insecure spot where Jackie is concerned, and rightfully so. But don't go there. Ezra loves you, and you can't shut him out because of this. You need to stick together now more than ever. To protect Zoey." The others nodded.
"But what if he really is seeing her! He was engaged to her, for god's sake! You don't just forget those feelings." I said.
"That was like 900 years ago. You two battled her out 7 years ago, too. I doubt he even remembers her."
"Guys!" Spencer said, with triumph in her eyes. She held up her iPhone proudly. "Jackie lives in New York."
I released the breath I didn't know I was holding.
"Spencer, put the pieces together now. Why the hell does this bitch care?" Hanna said.
I placed myself in Jackie's shoes: Living in New York, probably teaching at the college level. Getting nostalgic and thinking about Ezra… Wait. "Zoey spent the summer in New York with her camp friend."
Spencer nodded, "I know. I couldn't get Sarah to shut up about how unfair it was and why she couldn't int-"
"Zoey met Jake on the train… who was visiting a friend… and his mother back in New York!"
"So the bitch reproduced." Hanna said.
"That's not the important part, Han." Spencer said. "So Alec really is Jackie's son."
"This is the funniest thing I've ever heard. This woman is clinging to a man she broke up with a bajillion years ago by forcing her son to harass Zoey when SHE DOESN'T EVEN LIVE IN THE SAME STATE AS HIM!" Hanna laughed, "Like seriously, she has no chance here."
Emily giggled, but then caught herself, "But we still need to protect Zoey. She definitely thinks Aria is insane right now, and is questioning what made her go crazy. She probably wants to know the answers to those questions too…"
I didn't know what to think. Imagine having the same nightmare every day for a week and then not having it for 12 years and then having it again. This was kind of like that. Only, Jackie's not a figment of my imagination. She's a physical nightmare.
I never really planned on telling Zoey the truth. The first 7 years of her life were spent away from him, so I just figured it was never important. And then he was her teacher, so I couldn't put thoughts of a student/ teacher romance in her head. And ever since then… we've just been happy. Ella, Byron, Mike and the girls didn't have a problem with it, so why should I burden my daughter with troubles of the past? But now those troubles are back.
"I have to tell her the truth." I said, coming back to reality. "I'd rather she hear the truth from Ezra and I before any more damage can be done."
Emily smiled sadly, "Tonight?"
"Just make sure you think this through carefully. You don't want to make any rash decisions, and make sure Ezra agrees, too."
I nodded once more. I was already planning the confrontation in my head. How do you make something so wrong, feel right? And Zoey is the same age as I was when I met Ezra… What if she retaliates and is disgusted by me? Or loses respect for Ezra?
I have to tell her. There is no way around this.
I pulled out my phone and texted Ezra:
We need to tell Zoey. I'll be home in 15.
A received a text immediately:
Where are you? Do you need me to come get you? Tell Zoey whaaat? I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry. I love you.
We need to tell Zoey everything. I'll be home soon.
Okay. What just happened? One minute Aria is my shoulder to lean on and the next: the opposite? Something snapped when I mentioned Alec's questioning. My mother is not a very secretive person, so she has nothing to hide. But then why would she be bothered by questions? Maybe it was Alec who bothered her. Does she know him? Probably not. God, this is confusing.
I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I texted Alec:
We need to talk. Can you meet at the Rosewood Grill in 10?
Sure thing! I'll be the good-looking one in the back.
Ew. I thought Alec thinks he's finally broken through me. Hell no. But I need him to tell me what's going on. But I won't be going alone.
I texted Jake:
I'm meeting Alex at the grill to get answers. Care to join us?
I'll be outside in a few.
I was finally going to get the answers I needed. Alec had them. I could feel it.
I pulled out my phone, triumphant at last.
"Do you have anything for me?"
"Zoey just called. She wants to meet up." I answered.
"You know what to do. We've gone over this before." There was a pause, "If you fuck it up, you know what the consequences will be." She said.
"I won't, promise."
"I love you, mom"
The line went dead.
If you go back to ch. 28, you'll see where Jake explains his trip with Alec's mom.
I hate Jackie.
There's something I need to tell you guys: I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I've decided to just end the story here. A story is a conversation, and I think you guys should have the last word. I'll leave the rest up to your own interpretations. It's been a nice ride.
Hope you understand.
P.S. April Fools ;)