709. - Lucien
She tries to convince me to sit down. I refused. We're still in the kitchen, and she has sunken down on one of the wooden chairs. Her elbows are propped up on the kitchen table, her hand hidden behind her hands. Her cheeks, though now hidden, are tear-streaked but I have little sympathy for them.
It's been mere minutes since she got off the call, but it feels like a life time.
"I met him at a Halloween party. Callum, I mean." She says in a weak voice. "I don't even remember how exactly, but he got us alone and we got to talking about school. He'd just introduced himself as Call, so I had no clue that he was the man that gave you and Emma such trouble. I told him about you, how we were friends and how I was otherwise kind of lonely. I didn't think he knew you, and he didn't show that he did. He was so charming, Lucien, and so kind."
"I wonder where I heard that before." I say bitterly, unimpressed. "What then?"
"He made me feel safe, and with some alcohol in my system I told him how hard it was for me to make my payments for school, for rent, that I could barely make ends meet. He smiled at me, and told me he might know a solution." There's a tremor to her voice now. "I gave him my number, but he never called me. I still didn't know who he was. A couple of days later I met up with my mentor, Jesse Miller. I see him a lot, because... you know, my situation." She makes a vague waving gesture, and I do know, because I thought we were friends and we've been open about the things that have complicated our lives. For Piper, that's her alcoholic mother and her severely autistic twin-brother. "Now that the whole thing with you came out, he asked if I felt betrayed at all. I told him I didn't. He kept pressing on that it was a nasty trick from you, that I should stop being your friend, and he... he got into my head. I thought that maybe he was right. We'd gotten so close, but you had never confided that in me. Jesse smiled at me, and said it was better I found out now rather than after a semester of building friendship. I'd better get rid of you now. And again, I thought that maybe he was right. Which is why the offer he made me then, was so tempting."
"He brought up Callum. He said that 'Mr Pritchard' was willing to pay my full tuition. I just had to do him a little favour."
Dread sets in as I start to realize where this is going, but I keep quiet.
"Jesse explained that I was to try to get you to cheat on Emma. To convince you to be with me instead. I was already so tempted, with Jesse's words fresh in my mind, but it was the first time I heard his full name and I knew what he'd done to you and Emma. I was hesitant. I told Jesse such, and a day later, Callum called me. He talked in on me, and how he'd make sure no one would ever find out. That I didn't actually have to do anything, just cause a rift. And then I could get out of there. He'd pay my tuition. He even offered to help me get into another university, if I didn't want to see you ever again."
Having known Callum for a long time, I almost feel sorry for her if I think about how persuasive he must have been. Almost. I might have, if she didn't know who he was. But she did, and that's why I can't bring any sympathy.
"And then?" I press on, knowing what's to come.
Her voice shakes, and she presses her palms deeper into her eyes as if it might make her disappear. "I agreed."
I knew what was coming, but still the world crumbles around me when she says the world. All the trust I had given her, all the love I had offered, the fights between me and Emma. It was all fake. A play. I feel as if she's ripped my heart out of my chest and I can now see it on the table, bloody and gorey, pumping against the nothingness of air. More so, Emma was right. Had been for weeks now. I was just too stubborn to see, too desperate to finally have an actual friendship that didn't revolve about my money or my status. I chose not to see it. I did allow it to drive a wedge between us, just like Piper had intended.
No. Like Callum had intended.
"Say something." Piper begs quietly. She's dropped her hands and is looking at me with bright red eyes, filled with tears. "Please. You have to understand how sorry I am, Lucien. I was desperate. I didn't see how else I was going to make it, and I was mad at you, and I..."
I take out my phone, saying nothing. I pull up the voice recorder, start it and place it on the edge of the table.
"State your name." I say, my voice empty. Piper looks at me confused. I feel a familiar wall going up as she looks at me like that. The wall that cuts me off from any emotion, and that allows me to get to business as needed. There's things we need to get done now.
"Full name, age, where we are. I want you to recite everything that happened, every little detail, every single time you spoke to Jesse or Callum. I want to hear every litle bit of it." I elaborate, staring her down.
"Lucien, you're scaring me."
"Well, I guess that's how it works, huh? You tear my heart to shreds, and I scare you a little bit. Now, please."
"You're collecting evidence." She whispers. "Are you going to sue Callum?"
The laugh that escapes me is cold and hard. "Honestly, Piper, you're a special knid of stupid if you think that Callum didn't take every possibly precaution to ensure that he is in no way connected to this, that he can't be connected to this. Callum knew exactly what he's dealing with."
"But then why do you want my story?"
Our eyes meet, and there's a glimpse of the girl who once used to be my friend - truly my friend. I hold no love for that girl anymore. "Because I'm going to try, and I don't care if in the process, I take down you and Jesse Miller both."
I'm calling him before I'm even in the car. My blood is boiling, but I also feel a strange sense of calm. This is what I'm good at, this is just putting everything that I've learned over these years into practice. His assistance picks up, and I damn near yell at her.
"Pull him out of whatever meeting he's in and have him call me back." I demand. I already know what he's going to say. That Callum isn't connected to this, that it isn't breach of his restraining order on Emma - even if I'm included in that. As I drive, the anger starts seeping back in. I want to take him down. I want to burn him to the ground and stomp on his grave. And there's only one person who could possibly help me with it.
My phone rings; I pick up halfway through the first one.
"Tu ferais mieux d'avoir une sacrée bonne raison de faire de telles demandes, Lucien." He spits, clearly pissed at me. I don't care.
"Oh, mais je le fais." And I start talking. We're still talking when I get home. And he tells me all the things I expected, but don't want to hear. There is no case against Callum, barely a case at all.
"Il doit y avoir quelque chose!" I yell as I slam the door closed. "Je ne peux pas le laisser s'en tirer!"
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