Sarah Aisling’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Got a Secret . . . Can You Keep it? (Part 3)
Jason walked Ciel to her door. The shadows were long across her front yard, but warm light spilled from the front windows of the large white Colonial, and the porch light burned bright.
“Just a sec.” Jason dug a scrap of paper and a pen from his backpack and crouched down, using his knee as a writing surface. He pressed the slip into Ciel's palm. “Call if you need me for anything . . . or you just feel like talking.”
“Oh . . . okay.” She swallowed down her surprise and tried to keep her eyes from bulging.
“Give me yours.”
After shoving her number in his jacket, Jason sauntered down the front steps with an awkward wave. Ciel closed the front door and leaned her back against it, breathing hard. Jason Greene gave her his number! She pressed the paper to her chest.
“Ah!” Ciel yelped and dropped her bag on the hardwood floor with a thump.
Her mother paused in the archway of the living room. “Are you all right?”
“I'm fine, Mom.” Ciel pushed away from the door, snagging her bag and slinging it over her shoulder in the process. “Anything . . . interesting happen today?”
Susan Cavanaugh fixed her daughter with an odd look. “Like what?”
Ciel shrugged. “Just asking. What's for dinner?”
That was more in line with what her mother was expecting. Things returned to normal, the awkward moment soon forgotten. Susan did press the back of her hand to Ciel's forehead and murmured, “You're a bit flushed, dear. I hope you're not coming down with something.”
Yeah, it's called Jasonitis, Ciel thought giddily.
Ciel forced herself to wait until after dinner and homework before rooting around in the back of her closet for Janice's journal. She curled up on her window seat and opened the leather-bound volume.
The pages were thick, creamy quality paper, the sort that begs for beautiful words to be penned upon them. It was no surprise to Ciel that Janice wrote in a beautiful, looping hand. The entries were undated, which made it difficult to discern a timeline. The best Ciel could tell, this journal spanned the past three years. There were numerous entries about Janice's stepmother and various altercations they'd had. Many of them seemed to be over Janice acting and dressing promiscuously, a handful were related to some incidents of shoplifting from a new age shop downtown, and there were mentions of “evil stepmother” forcing Janice to do “menial chores” around the house.
Ciel's forehead scrunched up as she read, to the point she had a tension headache. Maybe it was just her, but the hatred Janice had for her stepmom seemed harsh based on the events so far. She paged ahead until she reached the part where Janice started seeing Professor Jeffries.
I knew when he offered me a ride home in his sleek black sports car, he had more in mind than a teacher-student relationship. That's okay, 'cause I'm totally into him. When he pulled off to the side of the highway, I knew what was coming. He hung his head and tried to look ashamed, tried to make me believe he's never done this before. I call bullshit on that. He's slick, gotta give him that. His hand even shook as he brushed a lock of hair back from my face and told me how pretty I was, how different. Special. He told me not to be nervous, that nothing would happen if I didn't want it. He said it was imperative that nobody ever find out he had feelings for a student that went beyond professional or his career would go down the shitter. I'll keep his secret because I want more.
We've been going to Paul's special place for a few weeks now, and all we've done is kiss and grope a little. I want more, can never get enough of him. I wish he'd believe me when I swear not to tell. Wicked bitch stepmother wanted to know where I was so late. Keep wondering and stop telling me my clothes are too slutty when you wear blouses down-to-there and skirts up-to-here. Just because you're a whore doesn't mean I am. I'm a one professor kinda chick.
Finally! Dear God, Paul and I finally did it. It was so special. I wish he could've been my first, but he was certainly the best. I can't describe how it felt to have those hands all over me, the scratch of his stubble against my skin, to be filled by a real man. He says he loves me. Maybe he's not as full of shit as I thought.
Many of the following pages went into such stark detail about everything Janice and Paul Jeffries had done together that Ciel 's face turned bright red. Out of respect for Janice, she skimmed ahead, but sometimes she couldn't help herself when a particularly heated passage caught her eye and made her heart pound. Janice and Paul Jeffries had a torrid affair that spanned months, one that could most definitely get him fired and land him in jail. He certainly lost all inhibitions once they had sex for the first time and seemed to forget Janice was a sixteen-year-old girl.
Ciel came upon the first section of missing pages. Three pages were torn out, jagged stubs caught in the binding of the journal. She burned with curiosity, wondering what might have been in those pages that was of interest. The section following was more of the same; it seemed Janice was consumed by thoughts of Professor Jeffries and lived for the moments she could be alone with him. Another larger chunk of journal pages was missing that must have included when Ciel and Janice started hanging out because the next section mentioned their friendship already in progress.
Evil bitch stepmother can go straight to hell. Where does she get off telling me what do to anyway? I don't know why my dad puts up with her shit. She's not my mother, will never be my mother. She's so pissed because she can't loot my treasures anymore. Ha! Keep looking. You'll never find them. Ciel has become a really good friend. I even told her about Paul. She's really innocent, and I bet she's never done it yet. That's okay. Sometimes I wish I was more like Ciel. She's so . . . sweet, honest, and good. It's been a long time since anyone would say those things about me. I can trust her with my secrets, more than any of those skanks on the cheer squad that pretend to be my friends. I wish I'd given her a chance sooner.
Ciel is shocked that someone as sophisticated as Janice would want to be anything like her, but she's happy to know Janice trusts her and considers her a trustworthy friend.
I can't believe she grounded me! That bitch! Paul seems to forget that I have to answer to my parents. He threw a man-tantrum because I couldn't get out to meet him last night. Then he did something he's never allowed before. He told me to ask for a pass to go to the nurse during Study Hall and meet him in the basement instead. He pulled me into a janitor's closet and unzipped his pants, tossing a pile of rags on the concrete floor so I didn't hurt my knees. Then he let me take him into my mouth and suck him off. He guided my head with his hands so I'd know what he likes. I gagged a little, but he slowed down, and then it wasn't too bad. After, he didn't want to kiss me and seemed disgusted. He said it wasn't me, just the circumstances. For the first time, I kind of felt like a tramp. I don't want to feel that way again.
The last few entries are more of the same. Janice was grounded, and Professor Jeffries looked for creative ways to get off. When Janice didn't cooperate, he went from calling her selfish to outright begging. Ciel would never look at him the same way—that was for sure.
When Ciel looked at her bedside clock, she realized hours had slipped by while she was reading. Despite the late hour, she drew a hot bath and sank into the fragrant, steamy water to think.
She hadn't learned anything from Janice's journal that could help the police find her friend. If she turned it over, the only thing it would accomplish would be the ruination of Professor Jeffries. Ciel wouldn't mind that at all, but she thought Janice might. The missing pages of the journal . . . now those might be important.
It was all too much for a sixteen-year-old to shoulder on her own, and there was nobody to confide in. Maybe she could talk to Jason sometime, but she would never tell him Janice's secrets. No, those she must keep to herself.
In the morning, when Ciel flew down the stairs for breakfast, she heard the murmur of voices in the kitchen. She stopped short in the doorway, her socked feet nearly slipping out from under her.
Detective Hoffstra lounged at the table with a half-empty cup of coffee in front of him.
Sarah Aisling hails from the East Coast of the US and loves living by the ocean with her incredibly indulgent husband and precocious daughter. She’s currently editing her upcoming novel, The Weight of Roses. When Sarah isn’t being enslaved by her characters, she can be found with her nose in a book, obsessing over nail polish or anything leopard, biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. Twitter: @SarahAisling Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahAislingAuthor Website: www.sarahaisling.com