Chapter 35

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Hi Everyone, 

I hope you've been enjoying reading This Much Is True! :)

So an update about everything: I've been given the go-ahead to share my big news for The Senator's Son and This Much Is True next Monday on November 18th! I can't wait to share this news with all of you and hope you'll be as excited as I've been. :)

Happy reading and stay tuned!

Anna


Emma

Dad and I threw a little New Year's Eve party. We'd never done that before and it was the perfect distraction. Did I wish Zach was there? A piece of me did, a big piece of me, but instead of thinking about him, I worked on appetizers. We weren't expecting a lot of people, but Dad had invited Uncle Ron and his family. I assumed that might include Jake. Grandpa and Wendy were coming along with a few of his friends. All in all, we were expecting about twenty people, so I had lots of food to prepare.

Food kept me busy. It gave me focus and blocked out the rest of my life. I decided on an international selection and started with spinach and feta triangles. I pulled out the phyllo dough to thaw and whipped the feta, spinach, spices, salt and pepper and mixed them together. I'd add the onions and eggs later. I then moved on to prepping the dough for a few pizzas and while that dough rose, I assembled my taco dip. I was just finishing that up when Wendy arrived. She showed up early to help me while Dad and Grandpa left for a booze run, leaving the two of us alone.

"I don't want to be nosy, but Zach is conspicuously absent," she said, walking to the sink and washing her hands. "I asked Henry about it and he didn't seem to know much, so I guess I have to pry."

I couldn't help but smile a little. I loved that she was direct and didn't bother trying to play any games. She was perfect for Grandpa, and she would be an amazing addition to our small family.

"It's nothing really."

I pulled out the food processor and dumped avocados, garlic, scallions, bell peppers and—I paused when I got to the chili peppers. Jake hated chili peppers. I dumped them in anyway. I didn't give a shit what he liked. Next, I poured in olive oil, lime juice and a pinch of salt. I hit the pulse button. I handed Wendy three baguettes and showed her how I wanted to slice them while I mixed together the bruschetta mixture.

"It seems like something," she said.

"Zach and I are on a break." I kept my voice level, like it didn't really bother me, even though it was eating me up.

"I assumed so. Are you going to tell me why? You don't have to," she said, touching my arm.

I started dicing tomatoes. After Bianca and her goons ambushed me, I'd told Wendy everything from Bianca's harassment to the threatening texts she'd sent me. Wendy wanted me to pursue charges, but I'd refused. The one thing I hadn't mentioned was the video, because I hadn't seen it. "There's a video," I began. "It's what Zach used to make Bianca finally stop bothering me."

"A video," she said, and nodded. "When I hear video, I think the worst."

"It's pretty bad. I guess that's why I didn't want to see it. For a long time I didn't ask him about it because I think I was scared what was on it." I sat on one of the kitchen chairs and Wendy did the same, her face full of concern. "I finally asked to see it. Wendy, it was awful. It's some kind of horrible sorority initiation. In it, Bianca is with a bunch of guys and . . ." I trailed off. How would I get this out? Talking to Wendy about this was weird.

"I've heard it all," she said, patting my hand.

"She was performing oral sex," I said, using the cleanest reference I could think of.

"Zach was one of them," she deduced. I thought she'd be horrified or disgusted, but her expression didn't change.

"No, he was recording it. Not that it makes it any better. It was from a few years ago, their first year at Western. It's so gross. And a part of me feels sorry for her. They humiliated her and Zach kept the video. Why would someone keep something like that? It's gross. And it's not like he could have predicted what would happen with me and Bianca."

"Was she forced into doing anything?"

"No, but I don't think she liked it."

"I think it's important to ascertain if she was forced into it. Or if they took advantage of her in an intoxicated state. I suppose you haven't talked to her."

"No. I ran into her recently, but I hadn't seen the video yet."

"Without seeing the video, it's hard for me to say."

Did I tell her I had it? Fear gripped me. If she saw it, could she get Zach into trouble? No, it was safer with me. "I'm having a hard time forgiving him," I said.

"I'll say this: they were both young and presumably very stupid. I don't think either of them would do something this foolish again. I suppose my question for you is whether or not you think Zach has changed since then."

"I think so. Yes, probably." Not exactly a definitive yes.

"Sometimes time away is a good thing. It clears the head. I want you to know that if you ever need to talk to me, my ear is always available."

"Thank you."

"And my advice to Zach is to get rid of it. Keeping something like that could get him into some serious legal trouble if Bianca were to come forward and suggest she was forced into it. It could also seriously damage his reputation and that of his father's. In fact, I'm going to pretend we didn't have this conversation."

"Yes, let's forget about it."

We moved on to assembling my spinach triangles. Wendy watched in awe as I rolled out the phyllo dough and quickly assembled my triangles before the phyllo dried out.

"I learn so much from you," she said.

"I've had a lot of practice with this."

"I was thinking of coming out to Minneapolis in a few weeks and do some dress shopping. Since this will be my second wedding, I want something demure and simple. Would you like to dress shop with me?"

My cheeks warmed. She wanted me along? "I'd love that."

"I was also going to ask you to be my bridesmaid. If you want to."

My eyes welled with tears. "I'd be honored."

"Then we'll have to find you a dress too."

"Thank you, Wendy. I'm not sure what I'd do without you."

"You happen to be an amazing young lady. Don't forget that."

I didn't know what to do with the compliment, but something told me to hug her and I did. She hugged me back and I wondered what Grandma would think at this moment. And then it hit me. She'd be pretty happy.


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