Broken and screwed, p.3
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       Broken and Screwed, p.3

         Part #1 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan
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  I’m just screwing his best friend at times.”

  And then I stopped. I had so much more to say, but I held it back. What good would it do? It’d only scare him away. At that confession, my heart shifted a bit. I felt it shrink or move or slip further away. I was with Jesse with the hopes that he’d give me anything, even a crumb of his touch. I was that girl. I sat back and stared straight ahead. I was that girl, just hoping for anything.

  Shame filled me.

  Jesse didn’t say anything more until the car started to slow down. I saw that we were at the ocean. When we got out, the salt in the air stung my eyes. That was why I was crying again. It had to be the reason. But I didn’t have time to continue my own lie as Jesse was already down a hill. I followed behind on the path and slowed as I watched where he was leading us. When he sat on the sand where there was no one around, I stopped in my tracks.

  Why there? Why then? What was he—?

  “Would you stop thinking and sit beside me?” Jesse patted the seat beside him and I obliged. Of course I would oblige. Where else was I going to go?

  We sat in silence for awhile, longer than I could handle. My heart kept pounding. It got louder the longer we sat until I thought I was going to burst.

  Then he sighed. He had his arms draped over his knees as he stared out at the ocean. “Your brother and I were supposed to go surfing here last year after graduation. We made the plans that day. It was our stupid way of celebrating together, even though Sarah wanted me to have that damn dinner with her parents. I didn’t go to the party that night.”

  I looked down. I’d forgotten that fact.

  He took a deep breath and shook his head. “I’m going to Grant West, you know.”

  “I know.”

  “I won’t be here anymore.”

  Tears filled my eyes. He hadn’t been here for a long time, but I bit my tongue.

  He sounded apologetic. “I don’t want to talk about you and me, about—whatever. It’s done. It’s fine. We’ll deal with it, but you’ve got some good friends. Angie’s a good friend to you, so is Marissa. They both care about you, in their ways. So you should be okay, right?”

  “Uh, what?”

  He looked at me this time, but he never took the sunglasses off. The wall was so pretty and perfect. “You have friends that’ll look out for you next year. I won’t be here and your folks…they’re good parents. Hell, they raised me most the time.”

  But that was when he had lost his mother and when his father became an absent one. And that was when Ethan was alive, when my parents could function as normal parents and when they still cared about the little things in life like their other child. That wasn’t now and that hadn’t been for a long time.

  I said none of that. Instead, I gave him a small smile. “You’re right. I’ll be just fine.”

  “Your brother would want that.”

  Ethan would want a lot more, but I didn’t say that either. I sighed. “What are you doing, Jesse?”

  The wind shifted and he went with it. The cold Jesse was back in place. I was startled to realize that he had opened to me, just a bit, but it was gone. I couldn’t see through his sunglasses, but I knew his eyes were dead again. “We should go back.”

  And just like that, the rare moment was gone. It had slipped through my fingers and I hadn’t even realized I had the chance to grasp something. When he dropped me off at home, I hesitated to ask if he still wanted me to come over that night. I didn’t think I could take more of his rejection, so I waited the rest of the day at home, ignored Angie and Marissa’s text messages, and dressed in something sexy.

  I shouldn’t have. I knew that, but as my heart pounded, I knew I couldn’t stay away. He had asked. It was enough for me, so I wore a slinky black dress. It was simple, something that I could’ve worn to a party or to a girl’s night out. I drove to his house.

  My heart wouldn’t stop pounding. That was my normal heart rate now. My palms were sweaty and as I knocked on his door, I didn’t know what I was going to face.

  When it opened, I held my breath. His housekeeper answered. Before I could open my mouth, she held an arm out and pointed inside. When she turned and waddled away, I heard her mumble under her breath, “Always Alex, he says. Always Alex, he says.”

  As I walked through the mansion, the same cold feeling came to me. Goosebumps ran up and down my arms as I turned down the last hallway. His room was the last door, but when I opened it, I knew he wasn’t there.

  I took a shuddering breath. It rattled in my lungs and I didn’t know what else to do.

  Leave?

  But then I couldn’t look away from his bed. It was a king size. The sheets were rumpled from when he had gotten up that morning. I knew how they felt. I shivered from the need I had to curl up among them. The nights I had spent in there had been the best sleep I’d gotten. Before I had fully made my decision, I slipped off my sandals and crawled underneath his sheets. They were so soft to the touch. I nestled under them.

  My body started to relax and the fatigue started to slip in. My eyelids grew heavy, but before I drifted off to sleep, I thought I saw a black shape in the doorway. But then it didn’t matter and I was asleep.

  “What? What is she doing here?!”

  A shrill voice snapped me out of my sleep and I jerked upright.

  “Shut up.” It was a low command.

  “I won’t shut up! Look at her! What’s she doing there, Jesse? I thought you wanted me tonight and we find her in your bed!”

  I rubbed my eyes and tried to make sense of what woke me up.

  Then I heard a curse and he snapped, “Fucking leave then.”

  “What?” The girl calmed down and whimpered. “But I thought—”

  “I don’t give a shit. Go.”

  And then the door shut behind them and I lay back down, exhausted once again. It wasn’t long before it opened again and I sat back up. As I yawned, Jesse stood inside the door, frowning at me.

  I continued my yawn. “You told me to come over last night.”

  Then he yawned and rubbed a hand over his face. There were lines of exhaustion around his eyes and for a moment, they were sad. My heart skipped a beat. I resisted the urge to pull him into my arms. But then the look vanished and he grimaced at me. “I didn’t think you’d still come.”

  I looked away, gathering the bedcovers around me. “You hoped I wouldn’t still come.”

  Then he sighed. The bed sank underneath his weight and he sat against the headboard beside me. “Do you blame me?”

  I swung around and searched him. The fatigue was back on his face, but the wall had fallen. Hope sparked inside of me. It leapt like a flame in a fire that’d been smoldering. It was hungry and wanted more, but I contained it. I kept my voice under control as I asked, “Why didn’t you want me to come?”

  “Because I goddamn feel everything.” His voice was gruff. “I’m sick of feeling, Alex. Only you. No other girl makes me feel this shit I don’t want to.”

  And without thinking, I reached out and took his hand in mine. Our fingers slid against each other and then I nestled back underneath the covers. It wasn’t long before he sighed again and scooted behind me. His arm came over my waist and one of his legs slipped between mine. When his chest started to rise and fall in a deep slumber, I allowed a small smile.

  I didn’t know what was in store for the future, but I didn’t want to be anywhere else except in his arms. But then my gut kicked and I knew this temporary shelter would be ripped away once more.

  Jesse was always ripped away from me.

  CHAPTER FOUR

  When we woke up, it was the afternoon. Normally we would be intimate the night before and go our separate ways the next day, but this time we went backwards. I woke up when Jesse nudged me onto my back and then moved above me. When my eyes opened, I knew what was happening and I wanted it. As his lips touched my neck, I wound my legs around his. Soon we were both groaning.

  An hour later, after we were done an
d Jesse had collapsed on top of me, he groaned and got up. He padded barefoot into his bathroom. His shower turned on and I took that as my cue. Instead of my dress, I nabbed one of his larger shirts and shorts. I knew they weren’t Ethan’s so I knew Jesse wouldn’t care. As soon as I was dressed, I hurried out of there.

  When I got home, I had an hour to shower and get to my shift at the mall. The house was empty as I rushed upstairs, but I was used to it. It seemed that my dad lived at his offices and my mother was usually in bed at all hours of the day. It wasn’t until I pulled into the mall’s parking lot that I realized I hadn’t heard the television in my parents’ bedroom. Mom always fell asleep to the news. For some reason, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but I tried to shake the uneasy feeling. I’m sure my mother was okay. She was always okay, distant but okay.

  Ben arrived at the coffee hut at the same time as me. It didn’t take long for the other two girls to leave and we got comfortable. It was a weekend night; we wouldn’t have that much business. And after an hour when we hadn’t had one customer, the sight of Angie and Marissa had me feeling giddy. Ben stopped in the middle of his story, but I was okay with that. I couldn’t hear much more about his dog, Mickey, who liked to hump other dogs and was the happiest English Cocker Spaniel there was in the world.

  “Hey, guys!”

  Both shared a look at my bright smile.

  “What?” I rolled my eyes. “You guys want coffee?”

  “No.” Angie snorted. “We’re just at the coffee hut to smell the merchandise, not actually to buy it.”

  Marissa grinned and tightened her hold on the bags in her hands.

  “Where’d you guys go?” I tried to count the bags, but there were too many. I wasn’t surprised. Marissa was the shopper in the group.

  She shrugged and flipped her black hair over her shoulder. “Just some stores. I got a sexy outfit for school. You need to go with me next week. I’ve seen your wardrobe. You need something sexy for the first day.”

  Angie narrowed her eyes. “Where were you last night? Justin had people over, but neither of us could get a hold of you all night.”

  Ben sucked in his breath beside me. He started to hum from his excitement.

  I shrugged. “I stayed home. I didn’t feel like going out.”

  “But you couldn’t tell me that? I texted you a million times.”

  Marissa arched her eyebrows and looked at Angie in surprise. She bit her lip as a frown formed.

  “I know. I’m sorry. I’ve been out of sorts.”

  “You’ve been out of sorts for a long time,” Angie snapped and crossed her arms. “What’s going on with you?”

  “Hey—” Marissa opened her mouth.

  “I don’t need a friend intervention. I’m fine. I’ve just been sad lately. Get off my back,” I snapped back.

  “You took off with Jesse yesterday.”

  “You did?!” Ben’s breathing picked up. He whispered underneath his breath, “That is awesome.”

  “You did?” Marissa’s tone chilled and she moved back a step. Her arms formed over her chest as she mirrored Angie’s pose. “I thought the two of you were nothing to each other. When did this change?”

  I felt caught in their sights. And something told me they both knew more than they were sharing. So, I sighed in surrender and asked, “What have you heard?”

  Both girls frowned and glared at me, but Marissa was colder than Angie. Her shoulders squared back and she raised her chin. “Just that Casey Wright said you were in Jesse’s bed last night. She left the party with him, but came back an hour later majorly pissed off. And the things she was saying about you…if I wasn’t so pissed that you lied to us the whole night, I would’ve taken her out.”

  I froze as I heard her words.

  They both knew I lied.

  This was not good.

  Then I looked at Angie. Her eyes had softened, but I saw the hurt in them. “I’m sorry for lying.”

  She softened even more. Her arms fell back down to her side. “It’s—whatever. I guess. So what’s going on with you two?”

  Marissa looked away.

  I wasn’t going to win with either of them, but they deserved the truth. I only hoped that I wouldn’t lose Marissa’s friendship because of it. “I thought you supported the idea of Jesse and me.”

  “I did, but you’d been distant and even quieter since graduation two months ago.” Her hands lifted in the air. “What do you want from me? You’ve been off since Ethan died and you were finally becoming a little more normal until that night. Since you left with Jesse that night—”

  “Wait. How do you know that?”

  “I saw you.” Marissa sounded hurt too. “You never responded to my text, so I came out to make sure you were okay. I saw the two of you and he got in your car. It doesn’t take a genius, Alex. I knew what you did. And you never came to Barnies the next day for breakfast.”

  “And you’ve been so distant from us since then. We can’t even depend on you to hang out with us. I mean, Justin had a party last night and you wouldn’t respond to our text messages.”

  Ben harrumphed beside me. “She didn’t text me back either.”

  I swung around. “You texted me?”

  He shrugged and edged to the side. “I would’ve. I thought about it.”

  I continued to stare at him.

  He looked away and busied himself with a customer that had approached on the side. “Hi! How can I help you?”

  I turned back to my friends. “I’m sorry. I am. I, just, I don’t know what to say.”

  “So are you guys together or what? Casey said she got booted out by him. He took one look at you and practically threw her out of his home. Granted, I loved hearing that she got booted on her ass, but…” Marissa trailed off and shared another dark look with Angie. She took a breath, as if to ready herself. “But what’s going on? Are you guys dating?”

  I looked away. What could I say? No, we weren’t. My friends would lecture me on how I needed to be a strong woman. I couldn’t give up the jewels for nothing, but they didn’t know what it was like. I could escape with him, only him. It wouldn’t be the same with anyone else. I would feel empty. I did feel empty with everyone else, even spending time with people.

  Jesse understood.

  Then I lifted my shoulders in a helpless shrug. “I don’t know what to say. Jesse loved him, too.”

  “Oh!” Angie’s eyes went wide.

  Marissa looked horrified.

  “Oh my gawd. I didn’t even think about that.” Angie surged forward. Her hand clamped down on mine where it was on the counter. She squeezed it. “I am so sorry, Alex. We—we didn’t even think about that.” Her shoulders sagged. “I’m a horrible friend. I should’ve thought about that.”

  “Yeah, well, don’t worry about it.” My tone was casual, but I couldn’t ignore the guilt in my stomach. It spread throughout me. I looked anywhere but at my friends. I shouldn’t have pulled away and I knew I had. Angie was right. Since graduation night, I had steadily stopped responding to them and hanging out with them.

  “Okay, um…” Marissa still bit her lip, but she forced a cheery voice out. “There’s a thing at the baseball fields tonight. It’s like a midnight tournament. Do you want to go?”

  I held my breath. Did I?

  She added with a whine to her voice, “Jesse will be there. The whole thing’s like a goodbye to him tonight.”

  And that was my reminder that he had become the school’s star over the last year. He went from an above average athlete to excelling where no one could touch his records. I forgot how much Jesse had achieved over the last year, but in a sense I understood. He pursued anything that would keep his mind from Ethan. I did the same, but that meant I pulled away from everyone else.

  Ben gushed out, “Can I come, too?”

  Both Angie and Marissa cracked a smile.

  Then Angie questioned, “Alex?”

  I already knew I was going. Who was I kidding? I nod
ded my head. I was glutton for punishment and seeing Jesse in his element was definitely going to be a punishment for me.

  Ben clapped his hands together. “Oh, goody! I can’t wait. I have the perfect shirt in mind.”

 
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