Leo was listening like he always did. Essie was telling him about the time she ran away from school. In his head, he imagined she was in some dark gothic school. Not exactly Hogwarts, but still mysterious and cruel. She hadn't made any friends. She was mad at her Dad. When she escaped, that's when she met Austin..who was a townie..and obviously a bad boy.
All the while they were separating food from the big grocery store for this dinner in honor of his sister, Maggie. Actually, it was a fund raiser for her expenses in Haiti. He guessed Maggie was going back. Although, he hadn't actually discussed it with her. As it was, she'd hardly spoken to him since she was home.
The boxed lunches looked pretty in their clear containers, packed with thick sandwiches, packages of chips, fruit salad and of course cheese cake.
Actually, Essie put the whole luncheon together, from speakers, music and of course, lunch.
"Don't guess you'll be making any missionary trips, anytime soon." Leo shrugged. It sounded as if Essie was under a few watchful eyes now. She couldn't be up to any trouble.
"No." She looked at him as if that were out of the question. Still she very well had all the pleasantries of being a preacher's wife. Some day. Although, in Leo's head, he couldn't think of her taming a wild boy and getting him in a preacher's suit.
Yet, it finally occurred to him that she just might be that friend he could discuss anything with. And he just might do it.
Essie knew she wasn't quite under house arrest, and yet deep down she did know this was probation of some sort. People in the church were watching her. They would always be watching her. Yet, she felt so alone. Always alone.
She'd gone to the birthday party that Luna gave for Syreeta. To her surprise, Syreeta introduced her to Holden as if he might be an old present she didn't want anymore. Actually, she figured it out later. Everyone was a couple, except her and of course Luna's stepbrother Holden, who wasn't even going to stay, but Syreeta persisted. Actually dragging him along and practically pushing him off, on her.
She tried not to think it was quite that obvious. That was right before Christmas. And she'd suddenly found herself out of her element. After all, she only went to school and church. The holidays kept her busy. Yet, the collages kept her more busy in her room.
Mainly, she cut old magazine pictures which she then organized in colors. At first, it was something she'd placed in shoes boxes. Photos of people, clothes, animals. But she never liked how the collage worked out. It was the color that made the picture. Funny, how she longed to be with her pictures on her bed. There was no Internet at her house. Her cell phone was only for emergencies. She'd learned not to have any. Not if she wanted to have a place to sleep and eat.
Her father was the tough love sort.
Suddenly, there was the overwhelming feeling that she'd said too much to Leo. She should have kept quite, but she wanted him to know who she actually was. Still her eyes swelled with tears and her throat felt as if a razor might be wedged in it.
"Please..please..just forget what I said." She wanted to take it all back, but it wasn't a lie. "Don't tell anyone. I shouldn't have said anything." But it had been so long since she'd confided in to anyone. And that's when he told her about spending the night with Henry.