Little Lies 11

Johnny picked me up from the café where we had our first date. “I don’t understand the secrecy, Valerie. You should let me pick you up from home next time. Are you royalty or something? Did I hit the jackpot?” He joked as I got into his car. “No, nothing like that.” I laughed in response. The drive was short and when he turned down the street that I lived on, a hard knot formed in my gut. “Why are we here?” I gazed at Johnny anxiously from the passenger seat but he seemed confused by my question. “What do you mean, Val?’ Then he pulled into the driveway of the large house across the street from my house.

31

“Wait, you live here?” My jaw dropped open. “Your mother is Nancy Landgraab?!” I pinched my arm in hopes to wake myself up but unfortunately I wasn’t dreaming. “Yeah. You can’t choose who you’re related to.” Johnny wrinkled his nose. “So do you know her?” He raised a brow. “Not really. I’ve just seen her around town.” I took a deep breath and held onto Johnny’s arm for support. “Don’t be nervous, I’m sure my family is going to love you…just like I do.” He mentioned super casually.

32

I tripped over a rock and grabbed his hand to keep from falling. “Did you just say that you loved me?” My voice came out in a hoarse whisper. He smiled at me and was about to say something when a door slammed. “It’s about time, Johnathan. We’ve been waiting for you.” Nancy was standing on the doorstep with her arms crossed and her lips pursed. She sneered at my bright red dress then motioned for us to follow her inside. “Yeah. I feel the love alright.” I muttered quietly as she led me around and gave me a quick tour. “This is our living room.” She beamed proudly. The television was larger than my whole bathroom. “You have such a lovely home, Mrs. Landgraab.” I told her politely. “Hmm. Indeed.” She murmured mostly to herself. “Now follow me to the dining room.”

33

“Malcolm, could you please tell one of the kitchen staff to bring out another plate? Johnathan has brought a guest.” Nancy urged her other son as she sat at the head of the table. “Mom.” Johnny frowned at her. “You already knew she was coming. This was your idea.” He growled. She laughed and took a sip of her tea. “I must have forgotten.” She shrugged nonchalantly. “No harm done though. You should introduce your friend to the rest of our family now.” She suggested flatly. “Well, you’ve met my mother already.” Johnny smirked at her. “This is Queenie, my grandmother. Malcolm, my younger brother. And Geoffrey, my father.” I nodded to each of them and smiled but when my eyes met Geoffrey’s my whole world started spinning. He gasped when he recognized me. “Athena?”

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