Home > Web of Lies (The Goode Life #2)

Web of Lies (The Goode Life #2)
Author: Isla Olsen




Eighteen years ago



* * *





* * *


I’m in a bit of a daze as I make my way down the hall, heading toward my locker. I hadn’t been expecting that biology pop quiz first thing this morning—which, I guess, is why they call it a pop quiz—and all I can think about is how badly I bombed. I should know all that stuff back to front, but for some reason, the second the test was in front of me, it all just seemed to slip out of my head.

It didn’t help that I had Web Goode sitting next to me sending me weird looks all through the test. Something akin to nervous anticipation written on his face. Or maybe it was just his usual awkward [?] ramped up to a new degree.

It frustrates me that a year ago I would have been able to tell exactly what he was thinking. But that was before; back when we were friends. Before I came out and he got all weird about it. Before we started high school and he decided the douches on the baseball team were way more fun than nerdy, little gay me.

Whatever. I shake my head, clearing the nagging thoughts. I don’t need Web. I can do my best to get along with him because our families are tight, but I’m done hoping for our friendship to get back to what it was. I have new friends now who love me for who I am. They’re all I need.

“What’s with the glum face?”

I glance up as I approach my locker to see my friend Lily standing next to it, twirling the end of her blonde braid around her finger as she waits for me.

“Bio pop quiz,” I tell her as I open my locker. “I totally bombed.”

“Well, at least it was only a pop quiz…”

“Yeah, but I’m supposed to know this stuff. There’s not that long until finals—I need to be better prepared than this.”

“Jess, it’s freshman year. It’s not like this biology grade’s going to decide your entire future.”

I offer her a dubious look. “Aren’t you the one who’s always talking about how quick this is all going?” I ask. “You know…three years until we’re out of here and can make our big move across the country.”

She grins at me. “True. It’s going to be so amazing. You’re going to be a doctor at a big New York hospital, and I’ll be a star on Broadway…” she lets out a sigh, placing a hand over her heart.

“You’re getting a bit ahead of yourself, Lil. I haven’t decided if I want to be a doctor yet.” Truthfully, the idea of being in school for so many years is just completely daunting for me, especially when I think I’d be just as happy and probably a lot less stressed being a nurse. I still want to have the option, though, which is why I’m stressing about a stupid pop-quiz.

Lily smiles at me. “As long as whatever you do you do it with me in New York, I don’t really care.”

“Oh, you can count on it,” I say, flashing her a bright grin.

I’m about to close my locker after retrieving my books, when I notice an envelope at the bottom that definitely wasn’t there earlier this morning. It’s a little crumpled, as though someone’s slipped it through the tiny gap between the bottom of the closed door and the floor of my locker.

“What’s that?” Lily asks, eyeing the envelope curiously.

“I have no idea.” I open the envelope and unfurl a letter written in chicken-scratch handwriting that I recognize instantly as belonging to Webster Goode.

The jolt of recognition has me on my guard, and my wariness only increases as I read through the letter.

“What is it?” Lily asks. “Why do you look like you want to do murder?”

Done reading, I shove the letter toward her, before shoving the books I’d come for into my bag and slamming my locker closed.

“He likes you?” Lily’s eyes are wide as she reads through the letter.

I shake my head furiously. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course he doesn’t like me.”

“That’s what it says…” she shakes her head, clearly confused.

“Look, see what it says there. He wants me to meet him by the bleachers.” I point angrily to that particular part of the letter. “What do you think’s going to happen if I go? No doubt all those assholes on the baseball team will be lying in wait to pull some kind of prank.”

“Do you think maybe you’ve seen Never Been Kissed a few too many times?” Lily asks, offering me a skeptical look.

“Let’s look at the facts,” I say reasonably, lifting a hand to count off on my fingers. “Web and I used to be friends until I came out and he got all weird ‘cause clearly he has a problem with me being gay. He’s barely spoken to me since we started high school. And this morning I caught him looking at me all weirdly.”

“Maybe he was nervous about the note?” Lily reasons.

“Or excited about the prank…”

She lets out a resigned sigh. “Okay, you do make some pretty good points. So, what are you going to do? Just ignore it?”

That would probably be the most logical course of action; I should just rise above it and be the bigger person here.

But only a moment later, I see Web strolling down the hall, surrounded by a group of baseball douches. They’re laughing and joking, and I can’t help it—I snap.

Grabbing the letter from Lily’s hand, I march over to them and stand right in Web’s path, glaring up at him.

“Is this a joke?” I demand, waving the letter in his face.

His eyes widen. “What?”

“You like me?” I scoff. “Did you honestly expect me to fall for that?”

Before Web can say anything, Jason Bray and Mike Hopper—two of the biggest assholes amongst the group of players present—break into fits of laughter, clapping Web on the back, as though he’s just pulled off something incredible.

“Oh, dude, that’s classic,” Mike cries. “Could you imagine?”

“Well?” I demand, still glaring at Web. I need him to admit it himself.

He lets out a soft laugh, his shoulder lifting in a casual shrug. “Yeah, of course it was a joke.”

The words are like a dagger piercing right through my heart. I thought I’d already come to terms with the fact Web and I weren’t friends anymore, but apparently I hadn’t quite let go completely yet. If I had, I wouldn’t feel so completely heartbroken right now.

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