“I don’t know.” She started to cry. “He was at the party and we started talking. He asked me if I liked to get high, and I told him yeah, and he took me into the bedroom and we−"
I put my hand up. “I know what you did. You got high and you had sex with him.”
“I don’t remember hav**g s*x,” she said as she looked at me pathetically.
“You didn’t have any underwear on when I walked into the room. The doctor examined you and said you recently had sex. Did he rape you?”
“I don’t know.” She continued to cry.
I leaned over and wrapped my arms around her, holding her tight. “You need help, London. You have to stop the drugs. Look what it’s doing to you,” I said as the tears began to fall.
“I know and I’m going into rehab after they release me. My mom’s making the arrangements with a rehab facility in California.”
“California? No. Why can’t you go to a rehab here in New York?”
“Because the rehab facility in California is one of the best and it’s only for teenagers,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said as she entered the room. “I just got off the phone with them and we’re all set. You’ll leave the day after tomorrow.”
London shook her head and began to cry again. I pulled out my phone and sent my dad a text message.
“Dad, please come to the hospital right away. I need to talk to you.”
“I’m on my way, Princess,” he replied.
I told London that I’d be right back, and I went and waited for my dad in the lobby. As I saw him walk through the doors, I ran up to him and threw my arms around him.
“Baby, what’s wrong? Did something happen?” he asked.
“Mrs. Fitzgerald is sending London to a rehab facility in California, Dad. Please try to talk her out of it. Please!” I begged.
“Julia, I know you’re upset, but it’s none of our business. London is her daughter and she can make whatever decisions she wants,” he said as he kissed my head and led me over to the couch to sit down.
“But, Daddy, she can go to rehab here. You can find out which one is the best and tell Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald. You’re always finding out what’s best. Please, don’t let them send her away.”
“Calm down, Princess,” he said as he pulled me into him. “Let’s go and see London and we’ll take it from there.”
I wiped my eyes and blew my nose with the tissue my dad handed me. I took his hand and we went up to the third floor where London was. When we walked into the room, Mrs. Fitzgerald got up from her chair and walked over to us. I could tell she always had a thing for my dad.
“Connor, it’s so nice to see you again,” she said as they hugged lightly.
I walked over to London and sat down on the edge of the bed while my dad and her mom talked.
“If you’re sending London off to a rehab in California, then I’m offering you my plane and we can take the three of you to California.”
“It’s only going to be myself and London going. Ron is still on his business trip and he can’t fly back. I can’t ask you to do that, Connor,” she said as she put her hand on my dad’s chest.
“You’re not asking, Joan. I’m insisting. In fact, since the girls won’t see each other for a long time, we’ll travel with you.”
“Really, Dad?!” I exclaimed.
He looked over at me and smiled.
“If you insist, Connor, then who am I to say no to your generosity.” She smiled.
Ugh. She was coming on to my dad, and I was going to have to have a talk with my mom. My dad walked over to London and kissed her forehead.
“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” he asked her.
“I’m okay, Mr. Black. Thank you.”
“We’re going to make sure you get the help you need so you can put this behind you and move on with your life.” He smiled.
“Thank you,” she said as a tear fell down her face.
The day had come to take my best friend to rehab. The once beautiful, dark-haired girl with the big blue eyes looked sullen and lost. I wasn’t allowed to see her until we boarded the plane. Mrs. Fitzgerald said that they had too much to do to get ready for California and that she and London needed some time alone. I put my arm around her as we boarded the plane.
“How are you?” I smiled.
“Not good, Julia. As much as I’m trying to forget about the drugs, I can’t, and I’m craving them so bad.”
“It’ll get easier. I promise. The doctors are going to help you and you’re going to get better. I feel like I’ve let you down and I’m really sorry.”
London took my hand. “You didn’t let me down. You tried to get me to stop using and I did nothing but lie to you. You’re the only person in my life who cares about me and I let you down, Julia.”
My dad walked over to where we were sitting and gave London a hug. “People make mistakes, London. I know firsthand about mistakes. The people who truly love you, forgive you, and would do anything in the world to help you.” He smiled.
“I wish you were my dad,” she whispered.
He looked at me as he kissed her on the head. My dad was the most amazing person I knew. Collin walked over and sat with us while my dad set up his laptop on the table. I watched as Mrs. Fitzgerald walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him.
“I just can’t thank you enough for doing this for us,” she said.
She was just a little too close to him and, from where I was sitting, I could smell the fresh alcohol on her breath. She must’ve been drinking when she disappeared for fifteen minutes in the bathroom. I looked over and saw my mom staring at her. The look in her eye was one that I’d seen many times before when she was getting pissed off. My dad took Mrs. Fitzgerald’s arms and removed them.
“Like I said before, Joan, I wanted to do this and you’re welcome.”
She took it upon herself to sit down in the chair next to him. She placed her hand on his leg and my dad looked at her. I was just about to get up and say something when I saw my mom leap out of her seat.
“Hey, Collin, Julia, why don’t you take London in the back and show her the view from the window in the bedroom.”
Collin and London got up and started to walk to the back bedroom.
“Are you coming?” London turned around and asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a second,” I said.
My mom was going to let Mrs. Fitzgerald have it, and I wasn’t about to miss it. She looked over at me and winked as she approached her and my dad.
“Joan, how’s Ron doing?”
Mrs. Fitzgerald quickly removed her hand from my dad’s leg. “He’s fine, Ellery. He’s on an important business trip. He’s sorry that he couldn’t be here.”
“Really? I would imagine any father that loves his child would be there for her in her time of need,” my mom said.
“It’s really none of you concern, Ellery.”
“See, Joan, it is my concern. It became my concern when you started trying to get my husband to sleep with you many years ago.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said as she looked away.
“Ellery, that’s enough!” my dad said.
“Connor, this is between me and Joan. Butt out!”
Oh, this was getting good. My mom was letting Mrs. Fitzgerald and my dad have it!
My dad looked at me with that look, and I smiled. He shook his head and got up from the table. My mom continued her rant with Mrs. Fitzgerald and told her she was an alcoholic and that she needed to go to rehab as well. She also told her that she and my dad were more of a mother and a father to London over the years than she and Mr. Fitzgerald were. Mrs. Fitzgerald got up from her seat and stormed off to the bathroom. I watched as my dad walked over to my mom and looked at her with his “are you serious” look.
“Really, Ellery? Of all days to say something to Joan, you pick today?”
“She made it today the minute she put her hand on your leg. I will not apologize for telling the truth. Get over it, Connor, because you would have done the same damn thing, if not something worse, if it was Ron who put his hand on my leg.”
My dad sighed and kissed her on the head. “I guess you’re right, baby,” he said as he walked away.
I laughed as I walked over to my mom. “You sure told Mrs. Fitzgerald off.”
She smiled at me, tilted her head, and pushed a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Sometimes, you need to remind some people of what’s yours, and yours alone.”
The pilot alerted us that we were in California and to take our seats for landing. I sat down next to London and grabbed her hand. Little did I know that when I said goodbye to her at the rehab center, it would be the last time I ever saw her. She passed away right before my eighteenth birthday of a drug overdose. The rehab center could offer no explanation of how or where she got the drugs.
I opened my eyes and turned my head as the morning sun trickled through the curtains. I reached over and grabbed my phone only to find about a hundred text messages from family and friends wishing me a happy birthday. As I smiled and tried to read each one, I set my phone face down on the bed and rolled over, wishing there was one from London. Not only was today my eighteenth birthday, but it was also my graduation day, and I’d be celebrating both without my best friend.
“Happy birthday, Princess.” My dad smiled as he walked into my room, holding a single white rose.
“Thank you, Dad.” I smiled as I hugged him tight.
“Breakfast is almost ready. The chefs have been here since the crack of dawn.”
“I’ll be down in a minute.”
He looked at me as he sat on the edge of my bed and took my hand. “Today should be one of the happiest days of your life. I’m so sorry, Julia. I know it’s hard with London being gone, but you have to try and enjoy the day.”
“I know, Dad. I just don’t understand why—”
“I know, baby. It’s not for us to understand. We have to accept it and move on,” he said as he pulled me into an embrace. “Now, get dressed and come downstairs for your birthday breakfast.”
I gave my dad a half smile as he walked out of my bedroom. It was going to be such a busy day with graduation and my birthday, and a difficult one without London around. Every year on my and Collin’s birthdays, my parents brought in caterers to put on a big breakfast buffet for our family and friends. After graduation ceremony, my parents were throwing me a birthday party to celebrate my birthday. My mom went wild with throwing me a graduation party at the beach house next weekend. My dad wanted it at the Astoria, but my mom said she wanted to keep it fun and casual and that we were already having my birthday party there. After I put on my sundress, I went downstairs, where everyone was sitting in the dining room, having breakfast.
“Happy birthday, Julia!” everyone yelled when I walked in.
Hailey looked at me and smiled as I walked over to her chair and hugged her.