April Robinson stared across the table to look at her friend. Julia wasn’t being her usual happy self. This was supposed to be a fun dinner date and shopping, yet her friend looked on the verge of tears.
“Are you okay?” April asked, concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Julia turned away from her, stabbing her fork into the salad leaves on her plate.
Her friend wasn’t as talkative as usual.
“Have you and Henry had a fight?”
“Why would we have a fight?” Julia asked, snapping out each word.
She held her hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry. I was only asking.” April went back to eating her lunch. This was supposed to be fun, and it was anything but. She checked her watch to see the time wondering when she could leave.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t snap at you. Henry and I, we didn’t have a fight. We’re good. In fact, I think he’s going to propose to me very soon.” Julia flicked her blonde hair off her face and smiled. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah, it sounds amazing. Isn’t that a little soon?” April went back to her salad, pushing the leaves around the plate. Henry Jones was Julia’s boyfriend, and an extremely handsome businessman. Her friend and Henry had only been dating for a year, maybe a little longer.
“Yeah, I can’t believe it myself. I was so shocked. I didn’t even think he loved me, but I saw the ring.”
April saw Julia’s knuckles were white and tight as she held the fork tightly.
“You’re brilliant together.”
“Aren’t we just?” Julia said smiling. “I’m bored with this salad. Shall we go back home?”
She placed their bill on the table leaving a nice tip to their waiter. April followed after her friend, not liking the way Julia kept her distance.
Once inside the car, Julia took out her cell phone and tapped away at the keys. April placed the seat belt over her and waited.
Julia gave a satisfied smile then pocketed the cell phone. “Teach him a lesson.”
“What’s going on?” April asked.
Driving out of the mall, Julia took the roads with care. The moment they opened up, Julia increased her speed, and April held onto the seat.
“Do you want to slow down?”
Julia didn’t answer her as she drove around the curves.
“Seriously, Julia, slow down!”
Her friend laughed and suddenly veered off the road. April screamed as she saw the tree they were heading toward. The car jerked, changing direction so that the driver’s side was in the line of the tree. There was no time, and the pain was instant as the car impacted the tree.
“Why are you here?” Henry asked.
April stared at the man behind the large, intimidating desk. She’d always been scared of him. Just over a year ago Henry had met her best friend, Julia, and the two had become inseparable. From the sidelines April had watched the couple grow together, feeling like a total outsider. For some reason unknown to her, Henry hated her. Julia tried to convince her that it was nothing, but April knew the hatred shining in his eyes whenever he looked at her, wasn’t nothing.
“I wanted to see how you were doing after everything.” She glanced down at her hands, wishing with all of her heart that she hadn’t said anything or even come to him. Three weeks ago she’d gone out shopping with Julia. Henry didn’t want his girlfriend to go, but Julia had been determined. Looking back, April knew she should have said no. On the way home after eating a delightful lunch, Julia had run headlong into a tree, killing Julia instantly, and injuring April in the process.
She would never forget being trapped in the car, begging for Julia to respond to her. What felt like hours but was probably only minutes had passed, but Julia never responded to her calls. April had sat beside her friend begging for her to respond and nothing. Closing her eyes, April recalled sobbing as Julia’s cell phone rang.
Reaching into her dead friend’s pocket she’d answered Henry’s call. Telling him over the phone that his girlfriend was dead would haunt her for the rest of her life. He’d gotten to them before an ambulance or anyone else. She’d never forget the look on his face when she saw him. Henry had surprised her by helping her first to get out of the car.
Pushing the memories aside, she got to her feet. “I’m sorry. I really shouldn’t have come.” She put the two crutches underneath her arms and gripped the handles. The accident caused her to break her leg, stopping her from working for the next couple of weeks. She worked as a checkout girl at the local supermarket. “I just wanted you to know that I was sorry.”