The Mentor (Necessary Lies Book 1)(2)

By: Alison Ryan


I shook my head. I wouldn’t make her do that. I was old enough to handle this.

“No,” I said. “I can handle it. Where is he?”

“Tahoe,” she said. “He died at his home in Tahoe.”

“He has so many homes, I lose track,” I said. “I haven’t been to the Tahoe one before.”

“Well, I hate that your first visit has to be like this,” Aunt Beth said. I could hear her exhaling. She was smoking a cigarette. Normally I would lambast her for it, but I didn’t have it in me at the moment.

“He died at his house?” I asked. “Heart attack?”

“Maybe,” she said. “I wish I knew more, but I don’t, baby. But I have a number for you to call. You have a pen?”

“No, I’m outside my classroom, my pen and paper are inside,” I replied. “Just text it to me.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’m so sorry, Cami. This isn’t right.”

“It’s okay,” I said, now ready for the conversation to be over. “I’ll be fine.”

I sat for a long while, just staring. There was a chip in the floor a few feet in front of where I sat. I’d probably walked over it a thousand times or more during my four years at UVA, but I’d never before noticed it. How could it have happened, I wondered? I just stared at it a long while, thinking about how it was probably here before I ever arrived from Choate and how it would be here long after and never miss me for a moment. That it would go on being walked over by Wahoos in perpetuity, no matter how many mothers and fathers died. The world was still spinning, professors were still droning on, students were still fighting to stay awake. Nothing had changed. Yet everything was different. Because after I knew, nothing would ever be the same.





Two




I’d slipped back into class, my professor staring me down, clearly unhappy about how long I’d been gone.

He’s going to feel like such an asshole when I tell him why, I thought.

Twenty minutes later when class was finished, I explained what had happened. And I was right, his haughtiness immediately turned to sympathy.

“You’ll need to talk to the dean. Make sure they get you withdrawn from your classes since you’ll be gone the rest of the semester,” he said.

I looked at him, confused, “Why would I need to withdraw? I’ll be gone a week max.”

He looked at me, clearly befuddled. “I just assumed you’d need time to grieve…”

“My father wouldn’t want me to dwell on this,” I explained. “And it’s my last semester. I graduate in May.” It was the end of January. The semester had just begun. There was no way I was withdrawing from school. Not that I wasn’t sad about my father, but what would missing school accomplish? It wouldn’t bring him back.

If only.

“Well,” he replied. “I can get your coursework together and email it to you later during my office hours.”

“I would appreciate that,” I said, slinging my bag over my shoulder. “Thank you.”

“And I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Hunt,” he said.

I was already walking away when he said it. I didn’t bother looking back. The tears had started, finally. No need for him to see them.



********



As a 4th year at UVA, I was fortunate enough to have a dorm room to myself. My roommate from fall semester was traveling abroad. Her side of the room was where I piled all my dirty laundry.

As soon as I was in my room I was able to let go a little bit, emotionally. I lay in my bed for a while, staring at the ceiling, tears sliding down the sides of my face and into my long, now tangled, hair.

“What happened?” I said out loud to no one. “I barely got to know you at all. And now you’re dead?”

I looked at my phone. Aunt Beth had texted me the name and number of the contact at Dad’s firm.



NOLAN WESTON 202-555-7895



I sat up. I guessed I should call him. I wasn’t in the mood for it, but I needed to at least know the details of what had happened. And figure out what my next move was. If I was going to miss school, I needed to figure out how long I’d be away so I could email my professors and my adviser. I dialed.