Jonas Manning called me a few days later.
“Can we meet? There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“Sure. How about the student center in an hour?”
“It’s probably better if we go someplace with a little more privacy,” he said.
Uh, oh. What did we need privacy for? Brad’s theory that all my guy friends were secretly interested in me came to mind.
“We could grab one of the study rooms,” I suggested.
“I guess that will work.”
Jonas waved me over to one of the study rooms when I arrived. “These are hot commodities today. I was lucky to grab this one. I practically had to guard it with my life.”
I followed him in to the room. He looked surreptitiously around before closing the door behind him.
“So what’s up?”
Jonas's bushy black eyebrows furrowed with concern.“There’s something I’ve got to say that you won’t like to hear. I’ve debated whether to come to you with this at all, but … well, I’d kick myself if something happened and I could have saved you from it.”
“What won’t I want to hear?”
“It’s about Brad. I’ve seen you sitting together at Soulfire and Bible study and then you came with him to church on Sunday. Are you two an item?”
I blushed and tried but failed to suppress a smile.
“Looks like maybe I’m too late. I should have said something when I saw him flirting with you at the Passion Play.”
“Said what? What’s wrong with Brad?”
“He’s a smooth operator, a heart breaker.”
“How would you know?”
“We went to high school together, back in Exeter. He was the biggest player. He’d say whatever it took to get in girls’ pants and then dump them for the newest model as soon as he got the chance. I saw it first hand with Wendy, my friend you met Sunday? She’s still messed up from how he screwed with her mind. She actually caught him cheating.”
“That was high school,” I protested. “People change.”
“Has he? His classic move was telling girls their last boyfriend called them a tease so they’d go farther with him.”
I looked at him sharply.
“Sound familiar? You don’t have to answer.” He checked his watch. “I’ve got to run. Just promise me you’ll think about what I said.”
I didn’t want to believe what Jonas had said. Did he really think I was that stupid to fall for cheap manipulation like that? I knew a good guy when I saw one. No, Brad must have changed since high school. He may have made some mistakes then, but now he was coming to CSF and Bible study. And he took me to his church. That meant something, right? He definitely had changed. Or had he?
The next day, Kirsten asked me to eat lunch with her, and I was glad for the excuse to avoid Brad for a bit so I could process what Jonas had said. She dominated the conversation as usual, venting about Lisa.
“Thanks for listening, sis,” she said toward the end of the meal. “I just really need to process the Lisa situation with someone I absolutely know is on my side.”
“It sounds so tough,” I said.
“Do you think I should ask for a room reassignment?”
Before I could answer, Brad joined us.
“Hey, I’ve been looking for you, babe.” He sat down, pulled his chair close and put his arm around me.
“Brad, this is my sister. Kirsten, Brad has some family in California too.”
“Oh, which part?” Kirsten asked.
“Anaheim Hills. But I spent tons of time down at the beach with my cousins every summer. Loved to surf.”
“Oh yeah? Me too!”
“You don’t look like a surfer chick to me. What beach did you mostly go to?”
“Mostly by the numbered streets in Newport.”
“Oh, that’s baby stuff compared to Crystal Cove. Only tourists and posers went to the numbered streets when I visited there.”
At the tense silence that settled over the table, I looked for a change in subject. “Kirsten, I’m sorry, we were talking about your problems with your roommate before Brad got here.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I’m thinking of asking for a room reassignment.”
“Sounds like you’re giving up way too easily,” Brad said. “My first year here, I had an awful first month, just awful. But I stuck it out and me and my roomie turned out to be best buds. We even rushed the same fraternity in the spring.”
“I’m glad it worked out for you, but you don’t know anything about this situation,” Kirsten said.
“Whoa, calm down. I’m just offering a little friendly advice. Touchy touchy.”
Kirsten rose to go. “Giselle, I’ll call you later. Enjoy the rest of your lunch.”
“I can see why she’d have trouble getting along with a roommate,” Brad said after she left. “Speaking of getting along, I have an assignment for my social studies class I need your help with. Can you come by my apartment after dinner tonight?”
“What about Ian’s Bible study?” I’d been looking forward to continuing our group’s frank discussion of what the Bible really had to say about sexuality.
“This assignment is really important. Can’t we skip Bible study just once?”
“I guess so. See you tonight.”