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|Moonlight on Nightingale Way(On Dublin Street #6)(60) by Samantha Young|
I honestly thought that I was going to get away with my lie.
Poor naive me.
“So you and Dad had a fight, didn’t you?” Maia said abruptly upon the third night of my stay at Chloe’s.
I already felt guilty enough lying to her the first time. “It’s not just about that.”
“What did he do? I bet he didn’t mean it.”
“Maia, it’s not just about Logan and the differences we’re having at the moment. I’m just… I’m going through some stuff and… well… Chloe is to me what Logan is to you. I like being around her when I feel like this.”
“And that Aidan guy?” she said with so much suspicion I laughed.
“Yes, but that Aidan guy is just a friend. One of my best friends. He’s engaged, you know.”
“Hmm. So you say.”
I laughed again. “I promise.”
There was a moment of silence, and I realized it was due to Maia plucking up the courage to say, “Don’t you like Dad?”
“It’s not that simple. Maia, I love you, but I can’t talk to you about this stuff. It’s between me and your dad.”
She was quiet again.
I bit my lip, worried I’d hurt her. “Maia, please under —”
“You love me?”
My heart squeezed at the whispered question. “Of course I do. It’s kind of hard not to. It’s really rather annoying how adorably lovable you are.”
She snorted, and the silence fell again. And then… “I love you, too, Grace.”
I smiled and then immediately felt like a coward and a bit of a shit for hiding out from Logan and thus avoiding Maia. “You know what? I’ll be home tomorrow. You should come over for dinner.”
“Just me though, right?” she said dryly.
Remembering those first few weeks when Logan and Maia had spent all their free time in my kitchen, I felt a wince of regret. “That would be best.”
We talked a little more about other things, mostly about how Layla wasn’t talking to Maia because Maia called her a gossip and how now poor Leigh was stuck in the middle. As I listened to her blather on, I once again assumed I’d escaped any more Logan conversations.
But the last thing Maia promised before she hung up was, “I’m going to make you like him again.”
I was walking up the stairwell the next afternoon, having just dropped off Mr. Jenner’s shopping for him, when Logan suddenly appeared, hurrying down the stairs toward me. He halted when he saw me, his expression blank.
And then he gave me an abrupt nod and started to move quickly past me. I turned, frowning. Although I’d known things would be uneasy between us, the reality of it was quite different. I didn’t like it. “Are you all right?” I called after him.
He stopped again and looked back at me. “I got a call from the school. Maia is in trouble.”
Worry whooshed through me, making me momentarily forget the awkwardness of being in Logan’s company. “What do you mean?” I started down the stairs after him.
“Are you coming?” He raised his eyebrows in surprise.
He nodded, and I hurried out of the building after him. As we walked, he talked. “The history teacher has been accused of having an affair with a married colleague. The rumors are all over the school, and they think Maia started them.”
Anger and disbelief coursed through me. “Oh, I think we both know who started them.” Logan met my gaze, and we stated in unison, “Layla.”
The rest of the walk to the school was completely silent and incredibly tense. I knew Logan was furious that anyone would attempt to pin a “crime” on Maia when she wasn’t the one responsible, and I was trying to work out how I could contain his anger so he didn’t inadvertently get himself and Maia in more trouble.
When we got to the school, the headmaster, a Mr. Bruce, almost didn’t let me in his office because I wasn’t family, but Logan did that deadpan-staring thing that intimidated a person into doing almost anything he wanted them to do. We strode inside Mr. Bruce’s office only to discover Maia sitting, pale and anxious. Beside her was a petulant Layla, and standing across from them was a redhead in her late thirties and a guy around my age. Our eyes caught and met for a moment, his expression turning from brooding to arrested as his gaze washed over me.
“Layla’s parents can’t get out of work,” Mr. Bruce said as he followed us in and shut the door. He marched around to his desk and sat down, gesturing to us to take the other empty seats in the room. “So we shall commence. Mr. Tatum, Mrs. Rogers, this is Mr. MacLeod, Maia’s father and his erm… friend Miss Farquhar. I’ve asked you here because there is a vicious rumor circulating the school community that Mr. Tatum and Mrs. Rogers have been involved in an extramarital affair on school grounds. We all know the rumor to be a repugnant lie started by an irresponsible student. Layla has named Maia as the culprit, and as you can guess, Maia has labeled Layla the culprit. In order to satisfy some very uneasy parents, I need the student responsible to issue an apology. They will also receive a suspension. If I don’t get to the truth today, I will suspend both Layla and Maia. Am I clear?”
I glanced at Maia, who was staring at her feet, looking like she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. Layla was staring at her cuticles as though bored out of her mind.
Shifting my attention, I looked over at the two teachers in question. On closer inspection Mrs. Rogers was attractive, and Mr. Tatum definitely was. It was clear to me why shallow little Layla had chosen these two as her victims. My gaze met Mr. Tatum’s again, and I found myself directing my words to him. “I’m a good friend of the family and I know Maia well. In fact, only a few weeks ago, while she was having dinner with me, she mentioned Layla had imagined there was something going on between yourself and Mrs. Rogers. Concerned, I asked if it were true and Maia said of course not, that Layla was just bored and inventing drama. I asked Maia not to repeat the rumor, and she promised that she would not. I believed her and I still do.”