Read RoomHate - Penelope Ward Page 0,1

live with my dad.” Swallowing the pain, I said, “I left everything behind in Providence and moved to New Hampshire.”

Thankfully, Tracy didn’t pry as to what the secret was. That wasn’t the issue I needed to talk about today. It was more important for her to help me figure out my next step than for me to be opening old wounds.

“So, you basically ran away from it all rather than dealing with it.”

“Yeah. Ran away from my problems…and from Justin.”

“You haven’t spoken to him since?”

“After I left, there were several months where there was no contact. I felt so guilty about the way I handled things. I did eventually try to see him and apologize once I came to my senses, but by then it was too late. He didn’t want to see me or talk to me. I can’t say I blamed him. He’d moved on, got in with a different crowd and then eventually moved to New York soon after graduating high school. We just completely lost touch, but he stayed in contact with Nana apparently. She was like a second mother to him.”

“Do you know what’s become of him?”

“I haven’t looked him up. I’ve always been too scared to find out.”

“Well, we need to take care of that right now.” She put down her fork and dug inside her purse for her phone.

“Whoa…what are you doing?”

“You know I’m a self-proclaimed professional stalker.” Tracy smiled. “I’m looking him up on Facebook. Justin Banks…you said his name was? And he lives in New York City?”

Covering my eyes, I said, “I can’t look. I won’t look. There are probably hundreds of guys named Justin Banks out there anyway. You probably won’t find him.”

“What does he look like?”

“The last time I saw him, he was sixteen, so I’m sure he doesn’t look the same. He has dirty blond hair, though.”

He was really cute. I can still see his face like it was yesterday. I could never forget it.

Tracy was reading aloud information for the different Justin Banks’ popping up on Facebook. Nothing stood out until she said, “Justin Banks, New York, New York, musician at Just In Time Acoustic Guitar.”

My heart dropped, and to my surprise, I could feel tears trying to fight their way through my eyelids. The emotions rising to the surface so fast were unsettling. It was as if he’d come back from the dead. “What did you just say? Works where?”

“Just In Time Acoustic Guitar? Is that him?”

The words wouldn’t come out, so I stayed silent, pondering the name; it was the same one he’d always used even as a kid playing guitar on our street corner.

Just In Time.

“That’s him,” I finally conceded.

“Oh my God, Amelia.”

My heart started to pound faster. “What?”

“This guy is…”

“What? Tell me,” I practically yelled before downing the rest of my water.

“He’s…gorgeous. Absolutely freaking gorgeous.”

Covering my face, I said, “Jesus. Please don’t tell me that.”

“Take a look.”

“I can’t.”

Before I could refuse again, Tracy shoved the phone in front of my face. It shook in my hands as I took it.

Sweet Jesus.

Why did I even look?

From what I could see in the one photo, he was beautiful—just like I remembered, but at the same time, really different. Grown up. He was wearing a gray beanie and had a fair amount of chin scruff that he was never able to grow when I knew him. In the profile pic, he was leaning into a guitar and looked like he was about to sing into a microphone. The look on his face was intense and gave me the chills. When I went to click on the other photos, it wouldn’t let me in because his profile was set to private.

Tracy reached out for the phone. “He’s a musician?”

“I guess so,” I said, handing it back to her.

He used to write songs for me.

“Are you going to contact him?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I guess I don’t even know what to say to him. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. I’ll end up having to talk to him eventually. I’m just not gonna be the one to make the first move.”

“How exactly is this housing arrangement going to work anyway?”

“Well, the attorney gave me a set of keys and told me that another set was sent to Justin. Both of our names will be on the deed. Nana also set aside some money to be used for house repairs and maintenance to the property during the off season. I’m assuming he’s been made aware of all of the same info.”

“You