Excerpt The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young
When Hayley arrived I got into the car without a word and we drove home to the apartment in silence. Once inside, Hayley finally spoke.
“I thought we could do takeout tonight.”
We couldn’t afford to do take-out nights all the time. Take-out nights were reserved for birthdays and the last night of school summer vacation. Sometimes even Thanksgiving.
Something was up. “Aren’t you supposed to be on a flight somewhere right about now?”
She shrugged, avoiding my gaze as she wandered into the kitchen.
I followed her, watching as she pulled take-out menus out of our kitchen drawer.
“What do you want? Chinese, Indian, Thai, Lebanese?”
“I want to get this ‘talk’ over with.”
Hayley regarded me, taking in my tension and the hard look in my eyes. Finally she sighed. “This is good news, India. Truly it is.”
“Just say it.”
“Theo proposed. I said yes. And we don’t want to wait. We’re getting married this December.”
My mouth dropped open. “I haven’t even met him.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose at my shout. “And that would be a concern if you were younger. But you’re starting junior year. You’re sixteen. Before we know it, you’ll be going off to college.” She stepped toward me and grabbed my hand. I let her squeeze it. “And, sweetheart, you can go to any college you want now.”
“Theo is…well, he’s wealthy. And he’s already made it perfectly clear that he wants the very best for me, and that means the very best for you.”
“Are you trying to buy my acceptance of this whole ridiculous thing? You are aware that this isn’t normal, right?”
Hayley dropped my hand. “Don’t be melodramatic. I just want you to know that yes, or course it will be difficult to leave behind school and your friends here and move to Massachusetts, but the upside is that we’ll never have another financial worry in our lives. Ever.”
Jesus, how wealthy was this guy?
As if she read the question on my face, Hayley smiled dreamily. “He’s an incredibly well-respected attorney from a wealthy family. Boston’s elite.”
“And he’s marrying you?”
“Nice,” she snapped. “Very nice.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” I shrugged. “I just…I thought those people stuck to their own.”
“Usually. But Theo doesn’t care about that stuff. He just wants to marry the woman he loves.” She waved away my negativity with a shake of her hair over her shoulders. “He married a well-to-do woman, and they had a daughter, Eloise, before she died of cancer a few years ago. He hasn’t been serious about another woman since, until me.”
“Oh my God.” I shook my head in disgust. “You think you’re living in a fairy tale.”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“You’re hauling me across the country to move in with some guy I’ve never met!” I heard the hysteria creep into my voice, but couldn’t seem to stop it. “Let’s remember the last guy you chose that I had to live with. Or have you already forgotten?”
Understanding dawned on Hayley’s face. It was shocking that I even had to say it out loud. A good mother would have known exactly why I was taking this so hard. “Oh, sweetheart.” She moved toward me but stopped when I flinched back. “Theo is not like him. Not anything like him. I’m not a stupid kid anymore. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.”
I stared at the floor, trying to will my heart rate to slow. I could barely hear anything over the whooshing of blood in my ears.
I started at Hayley’s touch and looked up. She’d decided to ignore my body language and cross the room to take hold of my arms. She ducked her face to stare into my eyes.
“No one,” she whispered fiercely, “no one will hurt you. I promise.”
The scream rang out inside of me but somehow I swallowed it.
This was happening.