Page 80

I nod, staring at my hands folded in my lap.

“I sent them a photo of us—of me with Amanda—and told them we’d been married at City Hall.” He pauses, wincing. “But . . . this was after I’d ended things with her. Before then, Mam kept threatening to bring me home. Dad was sure I’d never make anything of myself here. Since then, they’ve not worried so much. I sent money home, wrote letters. I think they’ve been really proud.”

“You were proud, you mean,” I say quietly. “You were too proud, and you lied.”

“I suppose.” He takes my hand and I let him. I’m sort of torn between understanding and fury. Of course I get why he would lie about this, but he lied to the people he loved, he lied to me. After our first fight, we were honest about everything; all of this has felt so genuine that it’s shattering to think it isn’t quite real.

“They said I looked different from the earlier photos.”

He nods. “That’s the silver lining. I suppose it will make it all easier because you look like her.”

I pull my hand from his and stand.

The silver lining, like it turned out to be convenient that the girl who found him at the subway looked like the girl he had pretended to marry. It fits into a perfect narrative he created. I want to scream.

I feel like the trust we’ve built in the past few weeks has been hurled against the wall.

“?‘Will make it easier’? You’re asking me to play along . . . ?” I try it out in my head and, if possible, the hurt deepens. I can almost understand lying to his family for all these years out of a desire to protect them—after all, I haven’t told my parents, either. But I imagine spending the rest of the week responding to someone else’s name with a smile. Obviously it’s a temporary solution, but I guess the problem is that I didn’t think I was temporary anymore. If he wants to do away with our initial year plan, then isn’t it better for us to tell them the truth now?

I’m in this same spot again, playing a secondary role in Calvin’s life story. The role of Amanda.

His eyes track me as I move around the sofa. “It’s only a few days,” he says softly.

My heart is a deflating balloon. He’s fine with his family continuing to think I’m someone else? Isn’t he proud of me? Of what we’ve built together? Doesn’t that outweigh the shame in having to admit his lie?

I’m saved from replying when his phone rings, and use the excuse to walk into the bedroom to get some space, and some air.

The call lasts for only a second because when I look up, he’s in the doorway, moving toward me. With a finger under my chin, he tilts my face up.

“Hey,” he says, face softening when I meet his eyes. “I don’t think I’m doing this right.”

I nod, fixing my gaze on his jawline, his lips, the bob of his Adam’s apple when he swallows. “Things lined up strangely, that’s all.” He leans forward, kissing me once. “It doesn’t change me and you.”

I have no idea what to say to this; it feels like this changes everything. I don’t even get my own name here.

“I want to talk more, but I need to run downstairs. A messenger dropped something off and I need to sign for it. We’ll finish this when I’m back, okay?”


“I love you, Holland.”

He’s said it. He’s said it for the first time, and I feel numb. “Okay.”

“Okay,” he repeats, and with another brush of his lips against mine, he’s out the door.

He’s gone less than five minutes, and when the door opens again, I know right away that something’s wrong. He’s staring in shock at the paper in his hands.

“What is it?”

His eyes jump to the top again. “It’s from immigration.”

A trapdoor opens and my stomach plummets. We’ve been expecting a letter—the official notification of his green card contingency details—but judging by the look on his face, it isn’t that letter.

Reaching up, he runs a hand over his mouth and in a hoarse voice adds, “They want us to come in for another interview.”

“Does it say why?” I move to his side to read over his shoulder.

Calvin shakes his head and hands me the letter. I scan the words, trying to make sense of them, to find some piece of information hidden in the handful of vague sentences.

In regards to your interview dated . . .

Further clarification . . .

My mind spins back to that drab gray office, and I’m trying to find some memory that might help explain what we did wrong. Calvin paces the living room.

Dropping the papers on the counter, I head straight to where my phone is charging on the bedside table, and press the tiny photo next to Jeff’s name. It only rings once before someone picks up.

“Hey, kiddo,” Robert says, answering his husband’s phone. “We thought you might call.”

“Calvin got a letter from—” I stop, processing what he said. “What?”

“Jeff woke up to a text from Sam Dougherty.” I imagine him standing in their cozy kitchen, having a lazy morning and his second cup of coffee. “He’s on the phone with him now.”

I’m not sure if I feel better or worse that Dougherty thought to contact Jeff about whatever is going on.

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.