"Veronica, you better get up now or you are going to be late for school."
"Ummph," I mumbled into my pillow as I turned my head towards where my dad's voice came. I didn't get much sleep last night. Every time I closed my eyes, Lilly would come visit me. This is not the first time she came to give me some afterlife guidance. The first time she appeared to me, I cried for three hours straight. Now, I have gotten used to seeing her face in my dreams and usually it is comforting. She always looks so peaceful in my dreams - like an angel.
Lilly tried to remind me of the good times I had with Logan. Like the time my mom was so drunk she forgot to come pick me up from pep squad practice. Lilly and Duncan were out of town and my dad was still at work. When Logan picked me up he could tell how upset I was so he took me to the boardwalk and filled me full of junk food. We stayed out until my legs couldn't move anymore then drove home in silence. Before I headed into my house, he told me that anytime I needed another day at the boardwalk he would gladly oblige. Every time my mother drunk herself into a stupor, he was always a phone call away. We never had to talk about why he was there.
"Veronica get up now!"
"I'm up!" I yelled dragging myself out of bed and into the kitchen. "I don't smell bacon."
"Did you not sleep well dear?" My dad asked completely ignoring my need for bacon. He stepped closer to me to exam the dark circles under my eyes.
"Eh, what is this sleep you speak of?"
"What's going on Veronica?" Dad asked in his fatherly tone.
"Ahh the usual-late night out with Chico and Tyrone. Hmmm, those boys," I said trying to distract dad. Yeah I know I should probably tell him. Oh nothing is going on dad except being visited by my dead best friend's ghost who is trying to convince me to ease up on the guy who made the last year of my life a living hell and take his case of the missing offspring. Yeah, I don't think so.
"Seriously, it's nothing dad. I was just up late studying last night." Which wasn't a total lie, I did read a page from my English assignment.
"Whatever you say honey," dad said as he kissed the top of my head. "I got a lead on a bail jumper in Nevada and I will be heading out after I run by the office. Or I could stay…"
"No. Go. I'm fine," I said as I shooed dad out the house. I really didn't want to be alone but I also really really didn't want to talk about my feelings.
I had done my best to find Logan the next day at school. If he himself wouldn't have come to me begging for help, I would have thought he wanted nothing to do with me. I knew how much this would mean to Logan. He used to talk to about how he would marry Lilly and have several children causing their own chaos out in the world.
On my way to my locker after lunch I spotted him. Maybe I could take longer at my locker than usual and corner him before the tardy bell rung for next period. Or I could cowboy up and just talk to him, since he does need my help.
"Hey. Can I talk to you?" I asked Logan. I'm sure he and his toadies were discussing what 'bitchin' party they were going to this weekend or what 'gnarly' waves they were going to surf. I could honestly care less. And the fact that I had to breathe in the same air as those uptight '09ers made this interaction even less appealing.
He turned towards me with an evil smirk on his face. Oh shit. "I just can't take the begging. I'll relent, just once - but no cuddling after, and I won't call you in the morning." Oh and there he is ladies and gentlemen! Logan Echolls, jackass extraordinaire. I know it's his defense mechanism and I shouldn't probably bring this up in front of his groupies but his avoiding me wouldn't bring his kid home any faster.
"Smooth Echolls. Just forget about it, I can't believe I was actually feeling sorry for you." I didn't give him time to respond as I headed to my next class. If he wanted to act like he didn't need my help, I would play right along with him.
Once school let out I headed to dad's office to print out a billing sheet stating exactly what the cost of my services would be. Ha Logan would get a kick out of that! I put all the paperwork in a manila envelope and headed over to the Echolls estate. The sooner I started this the sooner it would be over.
The last time I was at Logan's house was the day of Lilly's funeral. Logan and I just sat around stuffing our faces with junk food and watching movies. Neither one of us spoke about the fact we just lowered my best friend or the love of his life down in the ground. It was all surreal walking back to the pool house where Mrs. Navarro said Logan would be. And of course there he was wasting all his brain cells on a mindless video game. His stupidity made so much sense now.
"I love the smell of testosterone in the evening."
"This is why I suggested attack dogs. But no, my mother wanted an alpaca." I could tell he was mad at me but at this point I really didn't care.
"I brought some paperwork dealing with your case. If we could just go over a couple of points, I will begin the search for your daughter."
That sure got his attention and he was across the room in a second grabbing the top of my arm leading me further into the pool house slamming the door behind us.
"God Veronica, do you know what my dad will do if he hears about this? Or do you just not care anymore?"
"I wasn't trying to get you in trouble Logan but until you talk to me about this, there is nothing I can do for you. I seem to recall trying in school but that didn't work either." I gave him my best 'innocent' face. "Can we please just talk about this so I can get back to work and you can get back to whatever it is you are doing?"
He led me over to where a poker table was set up and took a seat right next to mine. You could cut the tension with a knife and I honestly hated that but I didn't know how to act around him anymore. He wasn't the Logan that was my best friend. He was damaged. Hell, we both are.
Besides the occasional head nod and grunt of agreement there was hardly any response from Logan. He shut down on me and I was glad for that. It would make my job so much easier.
"This is a list of my cost depending on which services you are looking for." That brought a small smile to his face. "Since its obvious you don't want to be seen with me at school or in public, I think it will best if we don't contact each other unless we have something of importance to share."
"Ronnie it wasn't like that."
"Logan this is for the best. We will keep it professional."
His face fell a little and I almost wanted to apologize – almost.
"Fine Veronica, just let me know as soon as you find something out." And with that he was up and showing me to the door.
That night I had trouble sleeping again. I hated the fact Logan got himself into this situation and came to me for help but what I hated the most was that I wasn't there for him when he needed someone. He couldn't turn to his parents and his friends were only his friends because of his status and money. His only real friend left is Duncan but he was lost somewhere inside his head and never came out to play.
Since I wouldn't be getting any sleep, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start on his case. As I guessed, not much came back on his summer lover, Amanda Washington. He was unsure of her father's name but knew her mother's name was something like Cindy or Candy or Bambi, your typical trophy wife name. I would get my dad to run Amanda's cell phone number tomorrow and see what came of that.
"You look rough, supafly." Along with trying to solve the case of the missing Echolls, I also was helping my dad with some of his cases he got backed up on, studying for upcoming first semester midterms, and trying to prove that the best teacher in school did, in fact, not have sex with that skank Carrie Bishop. Sleep was only something I could wish for.
"Thanks." I mumbled out to my best friend.
"Hey, listen I'm not going to be around at lunch but maybe we can hang out later. I know you are missing you some bff time."
"Yeah that sounds good Wallace," I said as Wallace practically skipped down the hall. That boy was much too happy for it being as early as it was. When I opened my locker, I noticed a folded piece of paper stuck between my books. A love note perhaps? More like hate mail.
Meet me in your office fourth period. That's all the mystery note said. Three guesses as to who the note was from the first two don't count.