Cynosure — “a focal point of admiration”
Two months after camp
“When was the last time you talked to Will,” Danny asked casually as they settled in a booth in Alyssa’s favourite café on a June summer night.
Alyssa leaned back, shocked. “You’re asking me why again?”
Tori swiped a forkful of chocolate cake from Hans’ plate and shoved it in her mouth. “You haven’t mentioned him in a while.”
“Two months to be exact,” Hans added, as he waved down a waitress.
Alyssa rolled her eyes at them. “There’s nothing we need to talk about.”
Tori arched a brow. “How hard is it to send one message asking him how he is?”
“Oh, you mean how you messaged MJ asking him how he is,” Alyssa challenged.
Tori glared at her.
Alyssa shook her head. “You know I –“
“This is for you, sweetie,” said Naya, cutting Alyssa off as she set a slice of blueberry cheesecake in front of her and a small bouquet of viscaria.
“I didn’t order this,” Alyssa protested.
Naya grinned at her and handed her a small white sheet of paper. “He told me to give you this.”
“Oh,” Alyssa said shocked. “Thank you, I guess.”
Naya turned to the rest of the table. “Just call me if you need anything.”
Tori raised an eyebrow. “So, who is it from?”
“’I know today must be filled with nostalgia for you’,” Alyssa began reading, “’but I hope even the saddest of memories will make you smile. Happy 26th. I’m praying for you.’” She looked up. “It’s from Will.”
“It is 26th today,” Tori realized. “Oh, my gosh. I’m sorry, Alyssa. But how did Will know about tradition?”
“And where we are,” Alyssa added with a pointed glare at Danny.
Danny held his hands up in mock surrender. “I didn’t say anything to Will.”
“And what’s with today?” Hans added. “What’s so special about it?”
Tori groaned. “I sometimes forget we only met around a year ago. But, it’s not my story to tell.”
“Alyssa?” Danny prompted.
She sighed. “There was this boy I grew up with. Since we were children we would watch the sunrise together every 26th. When we finally got together, we continued the tradition.”
“Just the two of you?” Hans clarified, shocked.
Alyssa laughed. “We always had a chaperone, don’t worry. But even so, the 26th was always ours.”
“What happened?” Hans asked.
Alyssa smiled sadly. “He passed around two years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Danny said.
“Sorry for bringing up the memoires,” Hans said.
Alyssa laughed. “If you had asked me about it before we met, I would have just broken down. Now, it’s not as painful anymore. But it’s still there – like a soft aching pain. I’m just sad he’ll never be able to experience what I am.”
“But how did Will know about today?” Tori wondered.
“I told him at camp, remember?” Alyssa reminded her. “As for how he knows about where we are, well, that’s a mystery.”
“Not really,” Danny told them. “This is our go-to place, remember? Anyone who knows us knows this is the perfect place to find us.”
“That’s true,” Hans agreed.
“Did you tell Will anything about loving cheesecake?” Danny asked, curiously.
“It may have come up, once or twice,” Alyssa acknowledged. “Or he may have overheard a conversation with Drew.”
“Well, I’m not sure why he’s not talking to you, but a few weeks ago he attempted to bake cheesecake. I ended up his food taster.” Danny gagged. “It was a terrible experience.”
Hans laughed. “Really? Is that why you were sick for days?”
“That was to be expected,” Alyssa told them. “The guy can’t even boil water.”
Tori studied Alyssa. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
“This isn’t the first time Will’s sent me something on the 26th?” Alyssa revealed questioningly.
Tori opened her mouth then closed it. She leaned back. “And you say you haven’t talked to him in months.”
Alyssa shrugged. “Well, it’s true. Can’t say the same for you and Ethan though.”
Tori swiped a forkful of cheesecake and shoved it in her mouth in response.