Broken and screwed, p.2
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       Broken and Screwed, p.2

         Part #1 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan
 
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  “No!”

  He kept going with his head down. I tensed as I felt his lips skim my shoulder and then I realized I was against a wall. Body aligned with mine, he leaned closer. His hips pressed against mine, his chest was against mine. Slowly my hands separated and he slid them down against the wall. They curved underneath me with him still holding onto them.

  I breathed deeply. I was trying to calm down; my chest jerked up and down from the effort it took.

  His lips softly touched my shoulder again. His hand curved over my waist, skimmed up my arm, and cupped the side of my face. He tilted my face back to meet his gaze and then sighed. His pain was evident. It shimmered on the surface, but he shook his head. He rasped out, “He died in that. I’m keeping it.”

  My eyes clasped shut.

  “I’m sorry. I really am.”

  I felt his coldness before he stepped back. He had already retreated behind a wall. I looked up, but wasn’t surprised when there was no emotion on his face. And I swallowed over a painful knot. The moments when he allowed me in were fleeting. I wondered when he would stop altogether.

  “Do you need a ride to your car?” My voice was hoarse.

  “I’ll call a buddy.”

  I jerked my head in a nod. We were done. Our needs had been scratched for the night. As I left, an empty feeling filled me once more. I knew it wouldn’t be filled until Ethan’s birthday, when Jesse would let me in once again.

  When I walked through the mansion, everything was dark. There were paintings on the walls, all of them in dark colors. A few sculptures had been placed in corners and none of them were happy. All of them seemed sad and depressed. It wasn’t until I was almost to the front door that I realized none of the windows were open. All of the curtains were pulled shut. It was like the sunlight wasn’t allowed inside.

  When I left the front door and saw my car in the open garage, I suppressed a shiver. Jesse’s home was big, cold, and empty. I now understood why he lived with us most of the time since seventh grade until last year. His mother had died when he was in eighth grade, but I never considered what his home had been like. The few times I heard him mention his father, he never referred to him as Dad, just ‘the dick.’ When I drew close to my car and opened the door, I saw the cars lined up beside it. A Lamborghini, a Porsche, another Ferrari. Jesse only drove his black Ferrari so these must’ve been his father’s. My dad drove a Sable. Something told me our fathers were very different.

  And then I sighed. My phone beeped; I knew it was my alarm. I had to be at work within the hour. As I got home and rushed inside, my mom was in the kitchen. The aroma of coffee filled the air and I heard the coffee maker still brewing. Before I slipped upstairs, I peeked around the corner. My mom still had her robe on and she stood at the sink with a cup of coffee in her hand. I knew without seeing that there was a blank stare in her eyes. It had been there for a year.

  As I watched, her head dropped down, her shoulders sagged, and she placed the mug to the side. A disgusted sigh came from her before she reached inside a bottom cabinet and poured something in her coffee. I knew it wasn’t creamer and I knew it was alcoholic. That empty feeling doubled inside of me. I went to my room. My arms and legs were numb now, but I tried to shower and dress in a hurry. When I went back down the stairs, my mom was still at the sink. Her mug was raised back to her lips. When I went outside and looked through the window, I knew I was right. A blank stare was on her face. I raised my hand to her, but there was no reaction. Her eyes never blinked. She never wavered in her stance.

  So I left.

  When I got to the food court in the mall, I slipped underneath the counter at the coffee shop. Ben pivoted at my abrupt arrival and had an eyebrow arched high before I even met his gaze. I cringed at the curiosity in them and steeled myself. “What?”

  His mouth gaped open at me for a second before he snapped it shut in a dramatic fashion. Then he wiggled his eyebrows and pointed over my shoulder. “Your bff is here with all his godly basketball buddies.” Then he gestured towards the trendy clothes shop closest across from us. “And I think Casey and her winos are going to move in for the kill.”

  I cringed again at the sarcastic pleasure he laced each of his words with. “Sometimes, Ben, you’re too interested in everyone else.”

  He shuddered and clasped a hand to his heart. “I cannot believe you would dare say such a thing.”

  I rolled my eyes and filled a coffee for myself.

  He groaned as I put the lid on and sipped it. “Why you drink that without sugar or cream is beyond me. It’s foul, Alexandra. Foul, I say!”

  I was about to respond when a customer approached our coffee hut and I took care of their order. A steady line formed after that. It was an hour later before I was able to drink my own coffee.

  Ben reached over me for a lid as he handed the last order away, but then he checked me with his hip. “He’s still there. And he keeps looking over here.”

  I knew who Ben was referring to. He was under the same assumption as Angie that Jesse and I were meant to be. We weren’t. Obviously. But I couldn’t help myself and looked over. Immediately I was caught and captivated by him. His friends were laughing around him, but Jesse stared straight at me.

  I sighed and looked down. I couldn’t handle him, not now, not after last night and how he basically threw me out.

  Ben gasped. His hand smacked his own chest and his stomach jiggled from the movement. He hissed, “He’s coming over here.”

  And he was. Jesse stood from his table. A few of his friends glanced over, but no one stopped him. They went back to their stories or lounging in a cool way, the stance that jocks perfected long ago.

  He had showered. His jeans rode low on his hips, but he had a simple black shirt on. It didn’t matter how simple his clothes were. He always looked beautiful. My stomach crumbled up and shattered into pieces as I admitted that last thought to myself, but then he was almost at the coffee hut.

  “Hi, Jesse!” Casey stopped in front of him. Her hands were poised on her hips, which were prominent under skin-tight white jeans and a pink top that fit like a second skin. She flipped her platinum blonde hair over one shoulder and laughed in a flirtatious manner.

  Her friends gathered behind her. All of them looked just like her, and Ben had once whispered that he thought their secret mission was to copy the leader until they took her down. When I caught a few of their hungry gazes, I wondered if it was true. If they waited in line until it was their turn to be the leader. When that happened, what guy would they go after?

  Ben hissed again beside me. “Succubi. They’re all succubi.”

  I nudged him as one of the girls flashed us a dark look. “If they are, you don’t want to take on a demonic beauty queen.”

  He shifted to the side and lowered his voice. “That’s true, very true.”

  Jesse had moved around Casey and she followed behind him. As he neared the coffee hut, she looked up. The light in her eyes dimmed and her smile slipped. “Oh. Hi, Alex.”

  I gave her a polite smile, but gritted my teeth on the inside. “Hi, Casey.”

  “How are Angie and Justin doing? I heard they had a fight last night.”

  My eyes narrowed at her. “If they did, I’m sure they’ve made up by now. You know how those two are, always hot together.”

  She snorted and flipped her hair back again. “Whatever. They’re not going to last. Justin was with me before. Everyone remembers the two of us. We were the perfect couple.”

  The corner of Jesse’s lips twitched and I knew what he was thinking. My eyebrow arched. “Then why’d you throw yourself at my brother?”

  Casey’s smirk vanished and her eyes grew heated. “Your brother was a good guy. And he shouldn’t have been with that ditzy airhead. I was doing him a favor when I broke them up.”

  “And when you dropped Justin, your perfect boyfriend, at the same time?”

  Her fury blasted me and she slapped a hand down on the counter. “Hear this, Alexandra
Connors. I’ve always liked you and I will always have a special place in my heart for Ethan, but if you piss me off, you will have me as an enemy.”

  I held my breath. I didn’t care about anything Casey threatened, but I couldn’t look away from Jesse. He had been amused at the beginning, but a wall slipped down again. The same blank mask was in place, but he reached forward and removed Casey’s hand from the counter. Then he moved to stand in front of her with his back to the coffee hut. Her eyes snapped to his, but the slight delight that sparked drained along with the blood in her face. She grew pale and backed away.

  His voice was soft. “I think you should leave.”

  A chill went down my spine. He was quiet, but there was a lethal undertone to his voice. Casey reacted to it. Everyone reacted to it. Ben’s eyes widened and he backed against the farthest corner we had. His hands shook, but he pressed them behind him and turned away. I caught the blush on his chubby cheeks and grinned.

  Then I turned and my smile left.

  Jesse placed my shirt on the counter. He lifted dead eyes to me. “I found it.”

  “Thanks.”

  A few of Casey’s friends arched their necks to see what he had put on the counter, so I snagged it quickly and stuffed it underneath the counter. I knew my own cheeks were red and I looked away. “Did you want something else?”

  I couldn’t look. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed, but I couldn’t help it. He had returned my top in a public setting, at my job, at the mall. I groaned as I heard Ben’s sharp intake of breath, but then I noticed the lack of response from Jesse and looked back.

  He was gone.

  He was already at his table with his friends.

  “That. Was. Awesome!” Ben breathed out and jumped to my side.

  He sounded so excited, but the embarrassment was gone for me. Oh, no. Instead, I kicked myself. I should’ve known he wasn’t coming over to chat with me or see how I was. He found my shirt. Of course, that was the only reason he came over.

  I felt the onslaught of a few tears. Hell no. I wasn’t going to cry over him. He didn’t deserve it and I knew that whatever twisted tradition we had on the days that celebrated Ethan’s birth and death was done.

  As I watched him stand up with his friends and leave, I knew I couldn’t allow it to happen again. He didn’t give me a second look. He walked out as if we were strangers again, which we were. And I couldn’t forget it, even though I knew I was in love with Jesse Hunt. I always had been.

  CHAPTER THREE

  The rest of the summer passed uneventfully until the first week in August. I saw Jesse a few times at parties, but we didn’t speak until Angie asked me to attend one of Justin’s softball games with her. When I realized Jesse was on his team, it had been a shock, but it shouldn’t have been. Even though he was awarded a full scholarship to Grant West University for basketball, I knew he was talented in other sports. And baseball had been one of the others. He and Ethan would spend hours in the backyard pitching the ball to each other. Most of the times it was wiffle ball, but both of them played softball and baseball during the summers.

  As I watched him, I swore I felt Ethan beside me. Everything was starting to tingle inside of me and I could smell his cologne. I swallowed thickly when I felt tears start to swell up. As I continued to sit through the first game, my brother’s presence was so strong. I couldn’t hold the tears anymore. After the last inning when Jesse’s team scored their last home run, I couldn’t watch him run the bases for home plate and I left the bleachers.

  “Alex!” Angie called after me, but I kept going.

  I brushed some of the tears away and hid in her car until the crowd had started to leave. It was twenty minutes later when I saw members of their team going towards their cars. As I hunkered down and waited for Angie, I looked up and gasped. Jesse stood in front of the car. His dark eyes held mine captive. Then he blinked and the small spell was broken. I held my breath and waited. A part of me knew he would leave and not care about me, but the other part of me thought he’d come to the window.

  He did nothing. He stood there and stared at me.

  I realized he was waiting for me to decide, so I opened the door and crawled out. My legs were unsteady as I leaned back against the car and he came around to my side.

  He smelled of sweat and dirt. The front of his softball uniform was covered in the field’s sand from when he had slid to the bases. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead; his hair was drenched from it. Then he ran a hand through it and I saw it was water instead.

  “What are you doing here?” he asked in a low voice. He had no emotion, as always.

  I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. “Angie wanted to watch Justin. I came for support.”

  His jaw clenched, he rubbed a hand over his chin.

  Everything in me was chaos, but I rasped out, “I didn’t know you were on the team.”

  “Why would that matter?”

  My eyes jerked to his and I saw the question was real. I couldn’t stop a snort in disbelief. “Are you kidding? You hate me.”

  “Oh.” Then he looked away.

  My nerves were stretched to the max as I waited for him to talk. I needed something, anything. I wanted to hear that he didn’t hate me, but after another minute of silence I knew it wasn’t coming. My gut had been right.

  When he turned back, his eyes were piercing. A dark emotion was there, but he held it back. “Come over tonight.”

  “What?”

  “Come over tonight.”

  “Why? It’s not Ethan’s—”

  But I was stopped as he stepped close. His body heat radiated off of him in waves and I held my breath. His fingers touched the side of my hip and he lowered his lips so they were an inch from mine. He said again, “Come over tonight.”

  I closed my eyes when his hand touched the side of my face and I nodded. I would’ve given him anything in that moment. His lips touched my forehead in a soft kiss and then he ran his thumb over my cheek before he left.

  “See ya, Hunt!” Justin hollered and I was jerked back to reality.

  It was sweltering outside. I gasped for breath. As I fanned myself, I knew my entire face was red, but I couldn’t ignore Angie’s silence. I knew she had witnessed that and I knew she was biding her time until we were alone. And because I didn’t want to undergo an interrogation, I did something I hadn’t done in a year and a half.

  I twisted around and shouted, “Jesse!”

  He stopped and looked back, waiting.

  “Alex?” Angie asked in a soft voice.

  My heart was racing, but I took a deep breath. “Can I get a ride with you?”

  He had pulled his black shades back on so his eyes were blocked, but he didn’t respond for a moment. And then his shoulder jerked up in a shrug and relief exploded inside of me. I trembled from the onslaught of it, but grabbed my purse and bolted around the car.

  “Wha—huh?” Justin glanced at his girlfriend. “Ang?”

  Her mouth snapped shut and she folded her arms.

  I ignored it all and picked up my pace as Jesse had started for his car again. He didn’t wait for me until he got into the Ferrari. My fingers fumbled for the door handle. I cursed after the sixth try. It still wouldn’t open. He leaned across and opened it from the inside for me. When I climbed in, the air conditioner was already working and blasted me with cool air, but I glanced at him. I expected some scathing joke at my clumsiness, but there was nothing. His shades were in place and his lips were flat as he gunned the engine and we soared out of the parking lot.

  When he went past my street, I looked over in surprise. “Where are we going?”

  He didn’t answer. He kept driving.

  Then we went past his street. I sat forward. “Seriously, Jesse. Where are we going?”

  The corner of his lip twitched, but he asked in a low voice, “How are your folks?”

  “What?”

  “Don and Shelby. Your mom and dad. How are they?”

  He had
n’t asked about my parents since…I blinked. It’d been before Ethan’s death. A different tension filled my body and I was rigid from my eyeballs to my toenails. “Why are you asking?” I couldn’t keep out the anger and I grimaced against it. I hadn’t wanted him to hear that.

  He looked over this time, but didn’t say anything for a second. When he returned to the street, I caught the slight frown on his face. “Is something wrong at home?”

  That got a laugh out of me. “Are you kidding?”

  The frown vanished. There was nothing again.

  I couldn’t stop another laugh and the sound was ugly to my own ears. “No, Jesse. My family’s great. Don and Shelby have mourned the loss of their son in their own way, and me, I’ll be just fine.
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