My father buys it. “That was nice of you.”
“That’s what sisters are for.”
I should probably stop. It’s becoming obvious just how full of shit I am.
“Hopefully it’s not contagious,” Victoria says. “The last thing I need right now is a virus. We’re being audited by the state next week.”
Glad to hear she’s so concerned for my ill sister.
“Good night, Merit,” my father says. He’s looking at me with uncertainty in his eyes. He’s still concerned I’m going to reveal his terrible secret.
I smile at him. “Good night, Daddy. Love you.”
He doesn’t smile. He knows I’m just being a bitch. Or brash, as Sagan referred to it yesterday.
I turn off all the lights in the kitchen and head to the shower. Right before I get in, I receive a text.
Honor: Is anyone suspicious?
Merit: Nope. Everyone’s gone to bed.
Honor: Phew. Okay. I just texted Sagan to let him know I was going to sleep. Thank you. I owe you one.
Merit: You owe me two. Tonight was your night to do dishes. You’re welcome.
Honor: I’ll do your dishes for the next month after this.
Merit: I’m screenshotting this text.
I spend the entire shower replaying last night’s conversation with Sagan in my head, over and over. I still can’t believe he had the nerve to ask me about Luck. Or maybe I’m confusing nerve with courage. Either way, he was out of line. He’s dating my sister. Not me. He needs to worry about who she’s sleeping with.
When I get out of the shower, the emotions from last night have hit me again. I think I’m so angry because I liked that Sagan seemed a little jealous when he asked me about Luck. I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want a guy to drive an even bigger wedge between me and Honor, even though Honor is off doing God knows what right now.
It’s almost time for Sagan to get here and if I’m not hiding in my room by then, I’m going to be forced to lie to him. He’ll ask me about Honor, how she’s feeling, if she’s eaten. He might even want to check on her, but I’ll have to tell him she’s fine.
It isn’t fair to him. I know he isn’t innocent in this, but at least he’s being honest with Honor. Whereas she’s off with his dying best friend, Colby.
She’s just like my father. I guess she’s also just like our mother.
I make my way to the laundry room to get my pajamas out of the dryer. I pull the whole load out, but sift through them for mine. Honor’s pajamas are mixed in with this load as well. I take both of our pajamas out and compare them.
This is why she’s the prettier twin, even though we’re identical. She wears sexier nightgowns and sexier bathing suits and sexier hair. She braids her hair almost every night when she gets out of the shower so it’ll be wavy when she takes the braid out in the morning. I don’t bother. It doesn’t really make that much of a difference if you ask me. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. It really does look better than mine, but I keep mine pulled up most of the time, so it doesn’t really matter what I do to it at night.
I stare down at her nightgown again. I wonder what it would be like to dress like her. My pajamas are mismatched cotton shorts and a T-shirt. Her nightgown is silk and black and not at all revealing, but sexy nonetheless. Do people sleep better if they feel sexy when they fall asleep?
She’s not here to know if I test that theory or not.
I make sure the door to the laundry room is closed and then I drop my towel and pull Honor’s nightgown over my head. I look at my reflection in the window. I still don’t feel as pretty as Honor looks when she wears it.
I take the towel off my head and finger through my hair until it’s untangled enough to braid. I pull it over my right shoulder like Honor does and I braid it until I reach the tips of my hair. I don’t have a rubber band, but there’s one in the bathroom. Since Honor isn’t here, I won’t feel like I’m copying her if I sleep with my hair like this tonight.
I turn off the light in the laundry room and make my way back toward the bathroom to grab a hair tie.
“You feeling better?”
I freeze. Sagan is locking the front door. All the lights are off, except for the glow from the electronics in the kitchen.
He thinks I’m Honor.
I can’t admit that I’m not. How would I explain wearing her nightgown and having my hair braided like her? This is so embarrassing. Why is everything with him so embarrassing?
“Yep,” I say, inflecting my voice a tad to sound more like Honor. More . . . pleasant.
I start walking toward the hallway, but freeze when I realize what a bind I’ve just put myself in. I can’t walk to my room because Sagan will wonder why Honor is walking into my room. I can’t walk into Honor’s room because her bedroom door is locked and she has her key.
“David got fired from the studio tonight,” Sagan says.
I have no idea who David is. Sagan is removing his jacket and I’m standing in the hallway, completely shell-shocked. “It’s about time.”
Sagan tilts his head and releases a confused laugh. “What?”
Oh. So David getting fired is a bad thing.
I don’t even know where Sagan works. This is going to end so badly.
“That’s not what I meant,” I say. “I just meant you knew it was coming.”
Did he? I hope so.
He nods. “I know it’s his fault for rarely showing up, but I still feel bad. He has four kids.” He walks to the refrigerator and opens the door. The light illuminates everything, including me. I’m nervous he’ll notice something that will set me apart from Honor, so I walk away from the light and toward the couch. Sagan follows me into the living room. I sit down and he sits down right beside me, propping his feet up on the table. He reaches across me for the remote. I pull my legs up beneath me and try to lean away from him. What if he tries to kiss me? How am I going to get out of this?
I could pretend I have to vomit. I’ll run to the bathroom and lock myself in. But he would follow me. And knowing Sagan, he’d wait outside the bathroom until I was finished.
Sagan flips on the TV and the light is even brighter than the refrigerator was. I curl into myself even more. I can feel my palms begin to sweat from the nerves. And then as if sitting next to him isn’t bad enough, he goes and touches me. He lifts his hand to the side of my head and tucks my hair behind my ear like I don’t actually need oxygen to survive.
I nod with my swallow. My mouth is too dry to speak.
“Honor.” He wants me to face him. Good God, he wants me to look him in the eye. As Honor. Not as me. Just tell him, already. I face him, prepared to explain the last five minutes, but the look on his face prevents me from speaking. He’s looking at me like he looks at Honor. Or . . . he’s looking at Honor like he looks at Honor. But I’m not Honor. I’m me, and now those eyes are staring at me like I mean the world to him.
“Are you still mad?”
I shake my head. “No.” It’s the truth. I’m not mad at him, but I have no idea if Honor is.
He nods, squeezing my hand. “You know how I feel about everything. But I don’t want to tell you what to do.”
Honor is terrible. She’s a terrible human, doing this. Lying to him. Cheating on him. I want to tell him so bad, but knowing he’s lying to his friend kind of justifies what Honor is doing in a way. And for some reason my loyalty is with her. I think. I don’t know, I’m so confused.
I close my eyes because I’m beginning to not be able to function. He’s so close and it makes me wonder if he would taste like mint ice cream again. I’d give anything to taste that again.
She wouldn’t know.
She’s not even here.
If it happened, it would be her fault. Not mine. This entire situation is all her fault. She’s off kissing some other guy right now. Maybe this is her karma.
I do what I do best. I react without thinking.
I lean forward and press my lips to his. His hands meet my shoulders. I pull away long enough for him to say her name. “Honor.”
I hate it.
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