“Change of plans, guys,” Simon said.
Ronnie and Sophie exchanged looks before asking, “What plans?”
“We’re all going to the City,” Simon said. “I already told Dad, so we can go as soon as you get Sophie to Violet’s house so she can pack some clothes.”
“Wait…what?” Sophie said, shoving her coat at Ronnie so he could stuff it into the hall closet along with his own. “What do I need clothes for?”
“Are you not listening?” Simon said, grabbing the coat away from Ronnie and shoving it back at her. “We’re all going. That’s you, me, Cassandra and Ronnie. I’ll drive my car though, cuz I’ll have to come back here. I gotta go back to school.”
“You mean Sophie and Cassandra will be staying with me in Dad’s apartment?” Ronnie said, half panicked.
“Wait…what?” Sophie said, obviously confused.
“Just for the weekend. Go tell Violet we’re going to see a musical in the City and spending the night in Dad’s apartment,” Simon explained. “Ask permission if you must, but whatever you do, don’t tell her about Cassandra. The fewer people who know where she is, the better.”
Again, Ronnie and Sophie exchanged curious looks. Before they could ask another stupid question, Simon grabbed Ron’s coat and tossed it at him.
“Go! Take her home, pack some clothes, something warm for ice skating and a tour of the city, something nice for the show and dinner out and something to sleep in. GO!” Simon said.
Sophie was about to slip into her coat, then remembered she should talk to her mother first. “Um…hold this for me,” she said to Ronnie. “I guess you ought to pack some stuff too, more than me cuz you’re staying a while.”
“Yeah…guess so,” Ronnie said, shoving the two coats into Simon’s arms before running up to his room.
“I’m in a constant battle with imbeciles,” Simon muttered as he caressed either side of his head, then dropping the coats onto the floor.
“Mom?” Sophie said.
“Hi, Sophie,” Violet said. “Just the person I wanted to see.”
“Mom, Simon just invited me to go with him and Ronnie to the city to see a Broadway show, and ice skating and stuff. Is it okay if I go? They can show me around since I’ll be going to uh…school there and stuff,” she said quickly.
“Um…can you do all that and be back tonight?” Violet asked.
“No, they say I can stay the night with them in Victor’s apartment. Supposed to have three bedrooms,” Sophie said.
“Four actually,” Violet said. “But one of them is Victor’s office with a pull out couch.”
Sophie stared at her. “How do you know that?” she asked.
Violet blushed. “Oh…you know, he told me,” she said, vaguely. “Sophie, I need to tell you something…”
“Mom, I don’t have much time right now,” Sophie said. “The guys want to leave like right away and I still have to go home and pack a few things. Simon wants to be back tomorrow night. We can talk then, okay? Love you!”
Before Violet could say much else her daughter ran off.
“Well, that’s up to Sophie,” Simon was saying to Cassandra who were standing at the base of the stairs waiting.
“What’s up to me?” Sophie said, just as Ronnie came rushing down with a duffle bag in hand.
“We’ll talk about it later,” Simon said. “We gotta go before Frankie shows up. We’ll head out first cuz I need gas. I’m sure you’ll catch up soon enough.”
“I know the way, Simon. I don’t have to follow you, if that’s what you’re thinking. You have the keys to the apartment?” Ronnie asked as they left the house.
“Of course,” Simon said, opening the car door for Cassandra. “We’ll meet you there then.”
Cassandra waved to them and they were gone.
Ronnie and Sophie exchanged confused looks then got into his car.
“Kinda weird, dontcha think?” Sophie said.
“Very,” Ronnie said.
“Do you think he really does have tickets to some Broadway show?” she asked.
“Yeah, he got ‘em for Christmas from Morris,” he said.
“Enough for all of us though, four tickets?”
“Of course he does!” he said laughing. “He wouldn’t have asked us all to go if he didn’t. Is that what you think is weird?”
“No…that he wanted us to go with you and Cassandra,” she said. “Don’t think he trusts you with his girlfriend.”
Ronnie shrugged. “Then he’s being stupid. I would never go after someone he was interested in. There’s a bro-code, you know. Besides, Cassie’s always been just a friend and always will.”
Sophie slowly smiled staring at his profile as he drove.
“What?” he said.
“You’re funny,” she said.
“Funny strange or funny ha-ha?”
“Yes,” she replied, smirking.
“Is that good or bad?” he asked.
“You tell me. Never did understand this bro-code. How does it work exactly?” Sophie asked.
“Easy, your friend likes a girl, you back off and let him at her,” he said.
“What if she likes you and doesn’t like your friend?” she asked.
“Then you both back off,” Ronnie said. “No girl is worth losing a friendship over.”
“Seriously? Like the girl has no say in who she wants to be with? How stupid is that?” she said.
“Hey, it’s the Bro-code. I didn’t invent it,” he said. “I only follow it.”
“Whatever,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Anyway, I’m surprised Simon’s so afraid of Frankie. Okay, he’s a tough guy but…”
“That’s not it!” Sophie said. “He just wants to get Cassie away before Frankie shows up and stops her. She’s never done anything even remotely defiant in her whole life and Simon knows if Frankie tells her no, she won’t go anywhere, but she has to! She has to see if she can find her mother.”
“I can’t believe this. All this time she thought Frankie was her brother not her father,” he said shaking his head. “How fricked up is that!”
“I know,” she said. “What do you think are the chances your detective guy finds her mother?”
“Uncle Tommy’s good, real good. He’ll find her. It’s not if he can but when,” Ronnie said. “Could be two days, two weeks or two months.”
“Or two years?” she said miserably. “Cassie can’t wait two years not knowing if she has a mother or not.”
“It all depends if she’s dead or alive,” he said, pulling into Violet’s driveway.
“Why would that matter?”
“It’s much easier to find a dead person cuz they can’t go anywhere but in a cemetery, but what if she got married, changed her name, moved half way around the world or whatever?” Ronnie said.
“Didn’t think of that,” Sophie said.
“Then there’s the chance, if she has another family, that she has no desire to see the kid she had when she was a kid herself. She might not want her family to know anything about the kid she had with an old boyfriend,” Ronnie said.
“Oh, man…And I thought I had troubles,” Sophie said.
“What troubles do you have?”
“Nothing compared to Cassie,” Sophie said. “I gotta go pack. Be right back.”
Ronnie stared after her as she went into her house and he wondered what troubles she could have. He sighed. “We all have troubles I guess…some more than others.”
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