A bright, high-pitched voice came through Audrey’s car bluetooth speakers. Delilah Christine Duclerc: seventeen, beautiful, class valedictorian, president of her school’s chapter of International Languages Students Association… And Audrey Huntsberg’s cousin.
Audrey and Delilah never saw each other much, but the girls were as tight as they could be. Every holiday they looked forward to spending time with each other, catching up with their respective lives, sharing secrets and building memories together. Lila also happened to be the daughter of Pennsylvania’s governor Christopher Duclerc. If Florence really was the daughter of LA’s mayor, there was a chance that Lila would know a little something about them. Politics had a funny way of bringing people together.
“Heeeeeeyyyyyy, Lila-boo,” Audrey greeted back, genuinely happy to her cousin’s voice. It hadn’t been that long since they’d seen each other -the girls had spent the previous summer in their grandmother’s yacht in Naples- but Audrey missed her cousin dearly. It was refreshing to hear the lovely voice that others deemed annoying.
“I’m so happy to hear you! You’re lucky you called me now! I literally just got out for my lunch period. What’s up?”
“Weeeeeeeell…” Audrey began, fidgeting with the hem of her skirt again. “I’m actually calling for a favor, Lils… Do you happen to know some chick by the name Florence de Sauveterre?”
“Oh my gosh, yes!” Delilah called out, brightening up even more than she usually was. “Of course I know Florrie!”
“Florrie?” Audrey’s face scrunched up as if she’d just sucked on a lemon. She turned to look at Leslie, who was grimacing sympathetically while chewing on her pinkie finger’s nail.
“Uh, that’s what I call Florence, duh!” Lila replied, probably rolling her eyes like she always did when asked what she deemed were stupid questions. Her tone was suddenly suspicious. “Wait, why are you asking me about Florrie? How do you know her?”
Audrey hesitated for a second before continuing. “Here’s the thing. You remember the whole drama with Alexandros, right?”
“Of course! How could I forget Daddy Alex? ” Lila said in a taunting voice.
“Well, he came back to town on Sunday-” Audrey was interrupted by Lila’s excited high-pitched scream, but her cousin was quick in shushing it. “Yeah, well, it’s not all fun and games. Alex did come back, but he didn’t come back alone.” Lila let out a gasp, seemingly grasping what was going to happen. “He came to school today with some chick in his arm, and guess who that chick happened to be?”
Lila let out an even louder gasp. “Ah, shit.” she cried out, evidently shocked with the turn of events. Delilah wasn’t the type to cuss, so her use of the word was a nod at how serious this situation was.
“Yeah, so you understand the critical issue at hand.”
“Oh, for sure! Oh my God, Audrey…” Silence at the other end, a silence that made Audrey and Leslie hold hands while praying for the best until... “Audrey-boo, you are like a sissy to me. What can I do to help you out even if i’m all the way over here?
Audrey shrieked in celebration, and Leslie punched the air with a wide smile. ‘Bless her heart.’ Audrey whispered to her friend, who gave her a celebratory one-armed hand before focusing back on the call. “Um, I was thinking maybe you could tell me a few things about her? Not the things that I can find out with a social media investigation, but things that only a friend could know.”
“Okay, okay, let me think for a bit…” Lila started. She was silent for a moment, her mind probably searching the people files until she found Florence’s. “Well, to start off, Florrie’s very darn similar to both of us.”
“Ugh,” Audrey grimaced. “Why the hell would you say that, Lils?”
“Well it’s true! She loves fashion and shopping and gourmet food and traveling, and she faithfully reads grandma’s magazine.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Audrey rolled her eyes while waving her hand dismissively. “Enough about the similarities. Tell me something important.”
“Okay, soooo, she hates losing her temper. Like, absolutely hates it. It makes her feel powerless, which is something she also hates.”
Audrey was smirking now. “Okay. What else?”
“She hates getting interrupted and gets suuuuuuuuuper jumpy with loud noises.” Lila giggled at this. “I remember that when the fireworks went out at the hotel that we met, she was literally jumping with every bang.”
Audrey pursed her lips together, holding back a laugh. “Hates loud noises: got it.”
“She’s a huge family person, and I mean HUGE. She would hate to disappoint her parents, and she’s especially protective with her hunky big brother Lorenzo. Fool around with Enzo and you’ll win an enemy for li- Hold on.” An unknown voice had interrupted Delilah, The girl muttered something to the person before getting back to her cousin. “Audrey-bear, I just realized that I have an ILA meeting that starts in literally one minute.. I’ll call you later to catch up, okay? Love you, bye!” And with that, the call was ended and Delilah was gone.
Audrey and Leslie let out loud whoops,, high-fiving each other in celebration of how fruitful the call had been. All traces of Audrey’s anger were gone now.“Well then, now with that out of the way… How about we go back to my place for some poolside piña coladas, a quick sunbathing session and some lunch? The only important thing today is the Calc quiz and practice, so we’ll make it back by then.”
Leslie looked at Audrey with a smug smile. “Auby, when have I ever said no to an offer like that?”
Audrey smirked at her best friend. “That’s what I wanted to hear, Les. Let’s get going, then.”