The Proposal (part 51)

Ayn’s question was unanswered when the office door glided open. “Dad,” she said, yanking herself away from Lettie.

“Will you please tell her to leave me alone?” She moved towards him, but his frown stopped her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he said. His voice was flat, as flat as the look in his eyes. He was furious about something.

His words had the impact of a punch to her stomach. She tried to swallow, but her throat was suddenly too dry to even do that. She shook her head. “What?” she managed to say.

Her dad nodded at Lettie, who produced a phone from a coat pocket with a sigh. “Are you sure, Professor?” she asked, her voice sounding uncertain—a first.

Ayn turned to face the iron-haired woman, who looked up at her dad with wide eyes—another first—Lettie always held her eyes half closed, as if the world were too bright a place for her.

Her dad held out a hand, and Lettie placed the phone on his palm, her fingers lingering on top of his as she said, “I’ll go see to our guests. Field and questions that may arise for the delay.”

“Thank you, Lettie,” her dad smiled.

“You’re welcome, Professor.” Lettie returned his smile, and turned to leave, avoiding Ayn’s open mouthed stare.
She didn’t want to understand what she had just witnessed between Lettie and her dad, which had seemed like, what? Flirting? No, that couldn’t be. Lettie was too old, too … uptight. Dad was under too much pressure if he—

He was holding the phone out to her. On the screen was a grainy, frozen vid image of Nev and herself. She stared at the image, trying to recall when this might have happened. She hadn’t seen Nev since they’d moved, but this looked like a recent image of her—she was wearing her new school uniform. It was hard to tell with Nev, he always looked slightly rumpled, unshaven, and his hair longer than most and unkempt. “I don’t understand,” she said, looking up at her dad, whose face was set with anger again.

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