“So,” Charlie said, when the three of us were alone.
“So?” I asked, slightly worried she was suspicious of my story.
“Your parents don’t know,” she said, raising her eyebrows in a knowing fashion.
My heart skipped a beat. There were only a few things she could have been referring to, and I didn’t want her to know any of them.
“D-don’t know what?” I asked, shooting a terrified glance at Veronica. Her face immediately turned red, and the guilt that appeared there told me what was going on.
“I’m sorry, I slipped up. I was distraught, and not thinking,” she said, flustered.
“To be fair, I already had my suspicions,” Charlie said.
I didn’t know what to say. Veronica and Ashley were the only people that knew, and they’d basically already figured it out before I said anything.
Charlie seemed to recognise the panic in my eyes. Her body language immediately softened, and she smiled gently.
“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me,” she said. “For as long as you want to keep it a secret, anyway.”
She reached out, offering a hand to shake.
“So, Sabrina?” she asked.
“I, um, yes,” I said, taking her hand. I felt lightheaded, uncomfortable and yet weirdly happy.
“It suits you,” she said, and I blushed.
“Thank you,” I mumbled.
Veronica cleared her throat.
“I know this is probably the last thing you want to think about right now, but when are you going to tell your parents?” she asked. “Like, totally your decision, I get that, it just really bugs me hearing them call you Seth.”
I felt myself twitch involuntarily.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know what I’d say to them. I don’t know what they’ll say to me.”
“Give it time,” Charlie said. “Better to do it right than do it early.”
“Maybe,” I mumbled, feeling overwhelmed.
“We can talk about it tomorrow, if you want,” Veronica said, her tone unusually soft. “You must be exhausted.”
“Maybe,” I repeated.
“Go to sleep,” she advised. “We’ll be here in the morning.”
Veronica hugged me, then the three of us went about brushing our teeth and changing into pajamas. The two of them slept on my floor, with sleeping bags recovered from a closet. They were both offered guest rooms, but they opted to stay with me.
I sighed contentedly as I lay down, closing my eyes and letting the exhaustion wash over me.
I couldn’t sleep. My entire body felt bloated and heavy, I had a killer headache and I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I couldn’t sleep.
Frustrated, I eventually gave up trying. If my body didn’t want to sleep, then fine. I wouldn’t bother.
I had questions. One person had answers. Why not go talk to her? Why was I wasting my time at home, with people who had no idea what was going on? It wasn’t like it helped me feel any better. It was only making me feel worse.
Silently, I slipped out of bed. Veronica’s sleeping bag was right beside it, and I gingerly stepped over her, terrified of waking her. She didn’t stir. Charlie’s sleeping back was in the corner, and it was too dark to see, so I assumed she was sleeping too.
I stepped out into the hallway, blinking as my eyes adjusted to the weak moonlight.
“Can’t sleep?” Charlie asked, surprising me. She was standing in front of the window, staring out at the moon, a melancholy expression on her face.
“Ah, u-um,” I stammered, not sure of what to say. My heart started thudding in my chest.
“You’re awfully nervous around me,” she said, sounding almost disapproving.
“Sorry,” I said, averting my eyes. “I’m just not used to, you know. People knowing.”
She smirked, stepping away from the window. The reflection of light on her eyes made her look almost supernatural.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t really care,” she said bluntly. “To be honest, it’s the least interesting about you.”
My heart slammed into my ribcage. What did she mean by that? Surely she didn’t know about the other thing. Or was she hitting on me? No, why would anyone do that?
“Anyway, don’t worry about me,” she said, waving me away. “I won’t tell anyone I saw you leave.”
“Um, thank you.”
She hesitated before moving out of my way. I hadn’t even realised she’d moved to block my leaving until then.
“We should talk some time, though,” she said ominously.
“Good,” she said, smiling again. “Now go, before Veronica wakes up. She won’t be nearly as happy with you sneaking out.”