“It’s not,” said Florencia, folding a towel that was still warm from the dryer. “And I should have asked you before I invited him, I know we’re going together–”
“I don’t care about that,” said Jenna, “But he knows I’ll be there too, right? If he’s thinking it’s some romantic night and then you’re, like, oh, sorry, here’s my best friend…well, you know.” Jenna waggled her eyebrows.
“It’s not a date,” said Florencia firmly, but her stomach gave a little lurch, because the truth was she didn’t know for sure what Youssef was thinking. She should have said something right away, should have had that one awkward moment so this didn’t drag on indefinitely. She needed to focus on Iris, on being a new mother…not on a gorgeous, wealthy lawyer who happened to like watching sunsets and was far too good-looking for her to think about at all. Besides, their unequal beauty aside, she didn’t feel that way about him.
Which in and of itself was strange. Even she had to admit that. Maybe it was pregnancy hormones.
“Huh.” Jenna plopped down on the bed, knocking over a pile of already-folded clothes. “Oh, shoot,” she said. “Sorry.” She picked up the top item, a pair of shorts that probably wouldn’t fit Florenica in another week, and refolded them haphazardly. “Hey. My mom called me this morning.”
“How is she?”
“You know. Doesn’t understand why I feel the need to be so far away. Wants to know when I’m going to stop ‘playing at that Hollywood thing’ and have babies like God and Jesus intended. Told me that if I ever meet anyone famous, be sure to get an autograph so I have something to sell when my little acting career doesn’t work.”
Florencia stopped folding and turned to Jenna, hands on her hips. “Jenna! Didn’t you tell her about the sitcom?”
Jenna grabbed her flouncy pink skirt from the laundry pile, her favorite one, and shook it forcefully. “No.”
“Why not? And for heaven’s sake, give me that if you’re just going to make it more wrinkled.”
Jenna thrust the balled-up skirt at Florencia. “I just…I haven’t really told anyone yet. Anything could happen. The show could get cancelled. They could write me out after a season. And I don’t want to hear what she has to say about it. Anyway, she’d hate this show.”
Florencia smoothed out the skirt and folded it into quick, practiced thirds. “How do you know?”
Jenna stared miserably at her hands. “I just do. Anyway, I’ll tell her soon. I wanted…I wanted to be able to send her some money first. So she knows this is for real. So she knows I’m good at something.”
After all this time, it still amazed Florencia that anyone could look at Jenna for more than thirty seconds and not see all the things she was good at. But then again, Mrs. Johnson was like that. When Jenna and Florencia were eleven, after they had already been inseparable for almost two years and before Florencia’s own parents had perished in the car crash, Jenna suggested that Florencia should also call Mrs. Johnson “Mom,” seeing as how the two girls were practically sisters and shared everything else. Mrs. Johnson had smiled a tight smile and said, “Jenna, dear, Florencia has her own people, who look more like her than I do. I’m sure her mother wouldn’t like sharing, and I’m ashamed of you for even asking.”
When Jenna had changed her last name name—“There’s already a Jenna Johnson in the Screen Actor’s Guild, Mom, and you’re not allowed to register with a name that’s already been taken”—Mrs. Johnson had replied, “I’m sorry for you, Jenna, that you don’t like who you are. Johnson is an honest name, a good name. You just be sure none of your Hollywood friends ever call me Mrs. St. Clair, because I won’t answer.”
Even the idea of Mrs. Johnson made Florencia a little nervous.
“Mom also told me that Billy came home from Happy Grounds,” Jenna said quietly.
Florencia smiled. She knew that boy didn’t belong in the Home. “I’m glad,” she said.
“She asked me to call him, see how he was doing.”
“But I think…maybe it should be you, Florie?” Jenna looked up under her lashes. She knew perfectly well what she was suggesting.
“You know I am not telling him,” said Florencia. “And neither are you. You promised, J.”
Jenna flopped back onto the bed, hugging a pillow to her chest. “I know. But don’t you thing he’d want to talk to you?”
“No,” said Florencia. There was a long pause. Florencia folded the last of the laundry and sat down next to Jenna. “I’d think he’d want to talk to you. But do you want to talk to him?”
Jenna rolled over onto her stomach, the pillow now underneath her.
“Yeah,” she said. “I do.”
“Then you should,” said Florencia.