Evan EsarA true friend remains a friend even when you don’t deserve to have one.
Del Sol Valley
Back home from college, visiting with her parents for a long weekend, Aria-Grace was returning from running a few errands. She unlocked the front door and yelled out “I am back, guys!”, dropping her bag and keys by the hallway shelf, then stopped short, when she noticed there were three people getting up from the dining room table.
Her mom Vivien, dad Liam – and Bianca! Aria-Grace’s mouth opened in disbelief. What?! WHAT?! It had been over two months, almost three, since she last heard from her.
“Hi AG …” Bianca said shyly.
When Aria-Grace did nothing but stare at her, speechless, both walking closer towards each other, Bianca continued.
“Can we talk? Please. I missed you so much. By the way, you look great.” Bianca said.
Aria-Grace gave her a certain ‘WTF?!’ look, but said nothing, only stared.
“I know you are probably upset with me but …” Bianca tried, but this time AG cut her off in mid-sentence.
“You better be a mirage! I better be hallucinating something fierce for you to be showing up here like all that with your ‘missed you, you look great, can we talk’ bullshit! What the hell is this now? You fuck over Gavin, then me and now you stand here seriously trying to act like nothing happened? Cos I am massively pissed at you still! What the fuck, bitch?” AG now unleashed.
“ARIA-GRACE!” Vivien reprimanded her.
“No, it’s okay, Mrs. Cameron, she’s right. I totally deserve that.” Bianca said quietly, while AG laid into her again, Liam nudged Vivien and they quietly went upstairs to give the girls privacy to work out whatever was wrong between the friends.
“Yes, you do! And then some! I wanna punch you so badly! How could you do this to me?! Can you even imagine how worried I was?! We go on semester break, you suddenly totally ghost me, even though we used to talk every day when not on breaks together! Then you are a no-show after the break, I had to find out from Campus Administrations that you unenrolled! Next thing I know is I get my best friend’s wedding announcement – AFTER the fact! And now here you are out of the blue acting like nothing happened?! What the ACTUAL fuck is your malfunction, woman!? In which universe is that acceptable behavior?! I am – or was – your best friend until you didn’t need me anymore and now you wanna drag me back out like an old, unloved toy, rediscovered?” Aria-Grace snapped.
“I know! I KNOW! I never imagined getting married without you there right beside me either! I always thought our weddings would be like Nick and Addy’s was, or maybe we’d even get married on the same day, double wedding! You’re more important to me than the groom. Believe me, AG, I had a proverbial gun to my head. I broke inside knowing you weren’t gonna be there.” Bianca defended herself.
“‘More important than the groom’?! Wow, sucks to be your best friend, but sounds like being married to you sucks even worse! Already trouble in paradise. That was quick. So that’s why you come crawling back to me. You need me again. I feel oh-so special!”
“No, AG, that’s not it at all. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Please, please, please don’t hate me! I need you. I really, really do. At least now I live near you. Or I will, after you graduate and move back to Del Sol Valley permanently. I live here too now, at the Eastwood Estate. Isn’t that cool? Not as prestigious as your family’s place but it’s nice, a big home for Del Sol Valley standards. And we’ll be much closer now than ever before. That’s good, right? AG, don’t look at me like this. What can I do for you to forgive me?” Bianca pleaded.
“I don’t know yet what I am gonna do after graduation, Bianca, that’s still quite a while out, but I do plan on a future involving Rohan and he enjoys his job at the hospital he’s at now, so maybe I’ll move back here, maybe not. As for forgiving you, I don’t know about all that, if this is even worth it, cos what you pulled was seriously shitty of you. I never would have thought this of you. I don’t even know if I can trust you as a friend anymore, the way you just completely cut me out of your life without warning or reason just really didn’t feel good. Especially such milestones.”
“AG, I swear, I am sorry about the wedding, about everything. For what it’s worth, it sucked.”
“Then why did you do it?”
“Papa made me. It was either that, or he’d do to me what he did to Giulia, but she had Grady and his family, I don’t have anyone, I wasn’t even sure if I would still have you now. My siblings would talk to me, but I couldn’t stay with them because of Papa, except Giulia, but their home is too small. I had to cut you out, I knew if I talked to you, you’d talk me out of it, and I was so afraid of where that would lead. I had to cut you out so I could go through with it.”
“Some lame duck logic right there. So, your last name is really Eastwood now?”
“Yeah, Bianca Eastwood. I wanted to hyphenate, you know, Bianca Auditore-Eastwood, just to hold on to a little bit of ‘me’, but Papa said no, as did the Eastwoods. I think Papa wanted to get rid of me completely and the Eastwoods just feel like a wife should be part of the husband or something.”
“What?! Why do you let everyone tell you what to do? If I wanted to be fucking Aria-Grace Cameron-Sharma-Vatore-Yodeldeedoodah one day, mom, dad and Rohan could bitch all they want, I’d still need major space on forms after that wedding. Dafuq?”
“You have great parents. And a very supportive family. I always kinda lived vicariously through you. I love my family, but they are just not like that. You would get away with this and they’d help you. Hell, they helped Rohan and he’s not even related and that was long before you and he started dating. I messed up and I am paying for it now. All my hopes, dreams and plans are out the window. AG, I am in deep and can’t get out. I really need a friend. If I promise to tell you everything, the whole, ugly, uncensored truth, will you promise not to abandon me? Please?”
“You know I won’t, or you wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t have been talking to you for so long. You’re still my best friend. I love you, even though you really hurt me. I still got your back. Always will. But enough stalling. Sit your ass down and talk. I need the full story, please. Uncensored. This better be good, Bianca.”
The girls hugged, then AG nudged Bianca towards the dining table and chairs. Without further ado Bianca started talking as they were sitting down.
“I love you too, bestie! And thank you! Okay, but first you have to promise me, swear to me that whatever I am about to tell you, no matter what, you cannot tell a soul. I know you trust your family and Rohan and all, but they cannot know. Not anyone. Promise. I need you to swear it to me.” Bianca insisted.
“Oh, good grief, okay okay, I swear I won’t say anything to anyone. Did you kill someone?”
“I wish, I think that would have been the lesser evil at this point. I need you, AG. I can’t do this alone anymore. I thought you’d be much better off without me, not with a friend like me who just threw away her life like I have, but I legit need you. I am at the end of my rope here. I am so done with my life, I never felt so alone.”
“Okay, okay, I am here. Chill. Just don’t talk crazy stuff anymore. You’re scaring me. You know I won’t abandon you. We’ll figure something out. Not sure what yet, but we’ll make this work, somehow.”
“I am pregnant, AG. That’s why all the drama.” Bianca dropped the biggest bomb yet.
“WHAT?! Not on purpose, I assume?” Aria-Grace’s eyeballs seemed to come out of their sockets.
“Of course not.”
“Why didn’t you come to me!? People get pregnant, it’s always a risk when you have sex. Together we could have figured out a better plan of attack than marry Carson on the spot and worst of all, for you to drop out of college literally 2 semesters before graduation! You were almost there, Bianca! You could almost smell your degree already! People can study while pregnant and while married! You can’t be very far along yet, you’re not even really showing, but now that you mentioned it, there is a little something-something going on there. But you could have made it at least one more semester, and then maybe done some remote classes and all, maybe graduated late, but come on.”
“I realized that too, once the shock wore off, but it was too late then, everything was already planned and scheduled. You know my Papa is older, and also old-fashioned, to him having a daughter pregnant out of wedlock is just unfathomably offensive, a complete disaster which could blemish the pristine Auditore name, so I had to marry immediately for it to look somewhat decent. This is why he doesn’t want me to have the Auditore name anymore, I think he feels I don’t deserve it any longer. I would have told you first about all this, but I found out while on semester break back home in Tartosa. My first week back home, when I realized I was two months late on my period by then, so I was freaking out something bad. I didn’t want to, but knew I had to take a test, or I would legit go insane. Came back positive. I know those sometimes return false results, so I borrowed one of Papa’s cars the next day and drove three hours to a small town with a small hospital where nobody knows me and saw a doctor there, but she only confirmed it. I cried and cried all the way home it’s a miracle I didn’t crash. Naturally, when I got home, I walked right into Papa, who obviously could tell something was wrong, so he dragged me to his office and grilled me. I broke down and told him the truth. I shouldn’t have, I knew better, I should have kept my mouth shut until I was back in Britchester. Man, you can’t even imagine how he unleashed on me. He didn’t even think I was sexually active at all and now this. The way he looked at me made me feel like a complete failure as a human being and as a daughter. When he asked me who the father was, I told him Carson. He had not even met him yet, let alone did he know I had a boyfriend at all. Luckily, Carson is from a wealthy, esteemed family, so Papa was at least okay with that part. The rest is history. Papa demanded marriage ASAP, told me university was over for me, I cried and begged, but he was relentless. I had a gleam of hope Carson’s parents wouldn’t go for it, instead they wanted to do it immediately before a Justice of Peace, they are just like Papa, Carson is so afraid of the consequences of saying no, he agreed to everything right away, so here we are. I dialed you at least a dozen times but knew what you would say, and I was so scared.”
“You’re damn right about that. I would have told you to tell your father to go fuck himself REAL good and then walk out, I’d buy you a plane ticket or have mom send a jet and you’d have come straight to me! That’s not parental love, Bianca. That’s control. I get your fears and I know you love your dad, and I know the many hang-ups he has because he is seriously old school, but especially with a kid on the way, is THAT what you want to teach them? I’d have sooner gone and had an abortion before agreeing to all that bullshit! Cos let’s be honest, Carson was okay as a college boyfriend, I like the guy, but he’s no husband material and DEFINITELY not someone you want a kid with. He needs some Del Sol Valley Barbie Doll type trophy wife, who is perfectly happy just being decorative and pop out a kid or two for him, while shopping the main boulevard empty, not someone like you. You know I always got you, and you definitely know your girl isn’t above dealing with the drama surrounding people with unplanned kids. I am engaged to one.”
“I know. I actually considered getting rid of the baby too, but I just couldn’t. I panicked so much that I did anything my father asked of me, because … Aria-Grace, there is a chance the baby is not Carson’s. I don’t know for sure, but I just cannot get rid of this baby, knowing it may be by someone very special to me. It would have solved all my problems at once, but just can’t, as much as it ruined my life, I want this baby, just in the off-chance my doubts are warranted. Only you and I know this part, AG. Please, PLEASE, do not tell ANYONE.”
Once again, Aria-Grace could not do anything but stare at her best friend, rendered speechless while her mind was going 100 mph.