Broken and screwed, p.9
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       Broken and Screwed, p.9

         Part #1 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan
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  The elevator opened to a small hallway and Jesse led us around the corner. We came from a back entryway into the dining room and kitchen area. All the lights were off, but he flipped them all on before he went to one of the large refrigerators behind a huge steel grill.

  As he yanked open a door, I slid onto a stool behind one of the counters. I shivered. “You’re going to eat right now?”

  He straightened abruptly. The door closed and he glared at me.

  I gulped.

  He clipped out, “What the hell were you doing there?”

  I shrugged. “I heard you were with Benson and Mazel. I came over here because I didn’t want you around them. I got the address from somewhere and went over there.”

  “You got the address?” The nerve in his jaw bulged out. “Where’d you get the address from?”

  My eyes slid to the side and I saw his housekeeper in the hallway. She was pale and she clutched her hands together in front of her. I saw the fear in her eyes as she slowly shook her head.


  He let loose a string of curses and roughly opened the refrigerator again. This time bread, tomatoes, cheese, peppers, and more were thrown on the counter behind him. He slammed the door shut and pulled out a large cutting knife instead.

  I sat up straighter and my eyes widened. “What are you doing with that?”

  “I’m making a fucking sandwich. Are you okay with that?” He held the knife in the air, waiting for my approval.

  I jerked my head in a nod and watched as he cut up the food for his sandwich with a quickness and precision that I’d only witnessed from him on the basketball court. The sight of it made me uneasy, but I held firm. I couldn’t let him know that I was uncomfortable. He’d only started to open up. I couldn’t risk another closed wall to me. So I sat there and held my breath as he sliced and diced through cheese, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and meat for his sandwich. After he applied some mayonnaise and mustard, I caught my breath again.

  That was Ethan’s favorite.

  I wasn’t surprised when Jesse shoved the sandwich in front of me. “Eat!”

  I couldn’t breathe, but my finger inched the plate away. Then I looked down. “That was Ethan’s favorite.”

  He sucked in his breath and froze.

  I’d never seen that look on his face. My hand started to reach for him, but he jerked forward. His arm swept the plate aside and he caught it with his hand before he hurled it at the sink behind him. The entire action was violent, and I fell backwards from my stool in shock.

  His shoulders heaved up and down. His breathing grew haggard.

  I felt the tears on my cheek. I tasted them in my mouth, but I didn’t make a sound. Not one sound.

  My heart pounded in my chest. It wanted to come out. Each time, it thumped harder and rougher. I pressed my hands to it and tried to calm it, but then Jesse turned back around.

  His eyes were dead again.

  My chest deflated. He was back.

  He had no emotion and his voice was soft. “Do you need a ride home?”

  I jerked my head from side to side.

  He frowned. “You drove to Benson’s, didn’t you?”

  It was jerked in a nod this time.

  Then he sighed. His shoulders dropped dramatically. “I should give you a ride back to your car.”

  As he started to walk back towards the hallway we came from, my mouth fell open. What had just happened? He was there, he was with me and he was present, but now he was gone. In a blink of an eye, he was back to the robotic blank mask he wore to the rest of the world.

  As he grabbed his keys, I lunged for them and snatched them from his hand.

  He blinked in surprise. “Alex?”

  Then I turned and hurled them down the farthest hallway. It was my time to show my anger, and I seethed at him with my hands in fists. My shoulders heaved up and down and my heart threatened to pound itself from my chest again.

  “Alex?” He was so quiet, so soft.

  “Don’t you dare,” I snapped at him. I yanked my hands through my hair and pulled at the ends. Pain blasted through me, but I welcomed it. Hell, I relished it. It was a relief now. “You make me a sandwich, Ethan’s sandwich, and then you push me away again. You don’t get to do that anymore. I cared about him, too!”

  His face shuttered closed again.

  I knew he was going to turn around. As he did, I caught his shoulder and threw him back. Then I pushed him against a wall and yelled in his face, “I loved him, too! He was my brother—”

  “He was my brother!” His hands found my shoulders, but he held on. “He was there through everything, through my mom, through my dad’s affairs. Everything. He was there.”

  “Say his name.”

  “What?” He froze.

  “Say his name.”

  His hands let loose as if they’d been burned. He flattened himself against the wall.

  “Say his name.”

  He shook his head.


  Then he brushed past me. As I tried to block him, his body hit mine backwards. I cried out from the pain and fell against the wall, but I couldn’t look away. My hand went to my shoulder where it stung, but every cell in my body went on alert. I couldn’t look away from the haunted expression in his eyes. He didn’t know that he had hurt me. I watched as he seemed locked in some memory. His lips moved, but nothing came out.

  Then I reached out and touched his arm. I pleaded in a tender voice, “Tell me. Please.”

  He started to shake his head, but his voice wrung out, “I feel him, you know. All the time.”

  I blinked back rapid tears. Then I choked out, “Me, too.”

  His jaw clenched. “I feel him at school, too. I can’t get away from him. The only time is when I’m with you.” Then he looked up. There was an extra layer of wetness over his eyes. The tears were there, brimming to be shed. “But that makes no sense. I should feel him when I’m with you. You’re the only other person to—”

  My phone peeled out a shrill ring at that moment. I threw my hands up and let loose a few curses. It was the worst timing, but all the fight left me when I saw who was on the other end. I went numb as I answered it. “Dad?”

  “Your, uh…” He cleared his throat. His voice sounded rough. “Your mother is in the hospital. She swallowed a bunch of pills.”

  “What?” I gasped. All thought ceased. Flashbacks from Ethan’s accident flooded me and I struggled to hear what else he was saying.

  “…keeping her for observation…a seventy-two hour hold…coffee…”

  And then he hung up.

  I stared at the phone in my hand. Suddenly, I couldn’t remember answering it in the first place, and I frowned at it. What was I doing with my phone? As I looked around, I saw Jesse. His hands were shoved deep in his jeans’ pockets and he was watching me with a fierce frown.

  Then I remembered it again.

  “What’d your dad want?”

  “Ethan was in a car accident.” The words spilled from my lips.

  Wait—I frowned. That wasn’t right.

  I’d been at a party with Marissa and Angie. It was my turn for the drinking game and the phone pulled me away. For a split second, I thought about ignoring my dad’s call. What did he want? I was having fun, but then Angie nudged me with her shoulder and when I answered, I heard those same exact words. Ethan had been in a car accident.

  “Alex.” Jesse touched my arm. His voice rushed me back to the present day. “What’d your dad say just now?”

  I frowned again. Why was this so difficult? “My mother.”

  “What about her?” He took both of my arms and stood in front of me. He bent low so his eyes were level with mine.

  I felt him trying to pull me back, but I wasn’t sure where from.

  Then it slipped out. “She tried to kill herself.”

  He sucked in his breath and stayed there for a moment. I thought he was going to pull me into his arms, but he didn’t. His hands
fell away. I was cold without him, but then he stepped further back.

  “I’ll take you to the hospital.”

  I searched his eyes. They were guarded. He had closed me out, but it didn’t matter anymore. I was surprised as I realized that. I didn’t even want to go to the hospital. I’d see her in seventy-two hours. I wouldn’t feel her emptiness for three days, and a part of me was relieved. It was a part that I would never share with anyone.

  Jesse touched my arm again. “I’ll take you.”

  “Will you stay with me?” I wouldn’t go if he wouldn’t be there with me.

  He nodded. His voice gentled. “I’ll stay as long as you need me.”

  My heart swelled inside, but I reminded myself that he would leave again. Jesse always left. But his hands were gentle as he ushered me out to his car. When we got to the hospital, he went to the front desk and asked the questions I couldn’t bear to even form in my mind, and then bundled me into the elevator.

  I drew in a shuddering breath.

  He punched the button for the same floor we’d been on during Ethan’s surgery. My mother was in surgery. What did that mean?

  Then the elevator sounded our arrival and we were walking down the same hallway as before. It hadn’t changed. The walls were white and stark. A few paintings were hung, but they were out of place. And they were in memory of others who had died already.

  I shivered. I wondered if I donated one, would it be in Ethan’s memory?


  My father pushed out of his chair. His normally tan face was pale. His features that always seemed charming and charismatic were twisted into a grieving mask, but his eyes lit up when he saw Jesse beside me. Then he had his arms around him and I heard his voice muffled against Jesse’s shoulder, “Thank God you’ve come. It’s real good to see you.”

  Jesse’s eyes flashed in confusion at me, but he hugged my father back. When my dad didn’t let go, Jesse gave in and hugged him tighter. After another second, my dad released Jesse, but only to hold him by the shoulders. He shook him a bit. “It’s real good to see you. I mean that. How have you been?”

  I saw that Jesse swallowed tears back. His head nodded and then hung.

  My dad hugged him again. This time was longer, as if Jesse had been the one who died and came back to life.

  After the second hug, Jesse asked hoarsely, “How’s Shelby?”

  “Oh.” My dad’s arms fell away. He shook his head and the same hoarseness came to his voice. “She ain’t doing good. She’s in surgery right now. They had to pump her stomach and I guess she swallowed a razorblade, too. After she’s healed up, the docs are going to evaluate if they’ll do the seventy-two hour hold or not. She’ll have to have a worker watch her at all times.”

  Jesse looked at me in question.

  I flinched as I knew what he was thinking. Why hadn’t I told him before? He knew my mother would’ve shown signs of depression before, but how was I supposed to answer that? We were all sad. We’d been sad for so long. It hadn’t only been her.

  I turned away and found an empty seat. Then I huddled in my own corner. My father never once looked at me. When he saw Jesse, his eyes were only for him. That’s when I knew that I’d been right. He loved Jesse more than me. Jesse was his last real connection to Ethan. After a few more hours, as we waited to hear how the surgery went, my dad only talked to Jesse. They hugged a few more times, and then Jesse took the seat beside me. He relayed everything my father told him.

  After the sixth hour of being there, the doctor came out. My father motioned for Jesse to approach the doctor with him. And again, Jesse came back to me. The surgery had gone well. My mother would be held for observation and placed under suicide watch. Jesse explained the same thing my dad had mentioned earlier, that a hospital worker would be with her at all times of the day. She would be watched in a one-on-one capacity while she healed until the psychologists felt she was no longer a danger to herself.

  It’d be weeks before she would return home.

  I knew the instant my father had told Jesse that. The relief in his eyes was unmistakable, and as Jesse explained it all to me, I shared the same sentiment.

  I could be at home and not feel her emptiness.


  I could only feel my own then since my father was rarely home. He spent most of his time at the office, and now I knew he’d spend the rest of the time at the hospital with my mother.

  A different sense of numbness settled in me as Jesse bundled me back in my coat. After he hugged my father another time, and after my dad thumped him on the back, with his voice full of emotion as he thanked him for coming, I was led back to that same elevator.

  We were leaving again, but this time my mother was still alive. Ethan had died. My mother would live.

  I didn’t feel any of it.

  When we got to my home, Jesse sat me at the kitchen table. A cup of water was placed in front of me, along with some toast. I nibbled on a piece because he had that determined look in his eyes. When I was done and shoved the plate aside, Jesse sighed, but he took it to the sink and then led me by my hand to my room.

  No words were shared as I got ready for bed. At one point, my fingers couldn’t undo my zipper so Jesse helped undress me. Then he found my pajamas and helped me put them on. When I felt the warm cloth material against my skin, my eyes closed. I readied myself. He would leave soon. I looked at the bed. I already knew I wouldn’t sleep at all. But then he took his sweater off and found an old shirt that he had left the first time we’d been together. He slipped it over his head and undid his pants. When he saw that I was staring, he gave me a crooked grin.

  “You thought I was going to leave?”

  I nodded. I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t been able to since the phone call.

  Then he cupped both sides of my face and stepped close. He lifted my head so I met his gaze. They sparkled in the moonlight as he promised, “I will stay as long as you need me.”

  I choked out, my voice raw and painful, “I thought you’d leave. There’s a lot of feeling tonight.”

  His thumb brushed over my cheek. It was a tender gesture. “Not for you. You turned it off tonight, didn’t you?”

  Then the tears came. I couldn’t stop them. I didn’t know what unleashed them, but they fell free like a waterfall.

  Jesse cursed under his breath, but held me against him. He rocked me back and forth for awhile until he picked me up and laid me in bed. I fell asleep tucked in his arms with more tears on my cheeks. Sometime during the night, I woke. The tears had dried on my face, but I brushed them away and found that I was alone in the bed.

  An eerie feeling came over me and I left for the hallway. The bathroom was empty; there were no lights on in the house, but I already knew where he was. I stopped outside of Ethan’s bedroom. The door was open and I saw Jesse on the edge of his bed. He cradled his head in his hands. They were propped on his knees, and his shoulders shook. There was no sound, but I knew he was sobbing.

  My heart broke then. I thought I’d been broken already, but it splintered apart again. Then I stopped thinking and went inside. As Jesse had comforted me before, I did the same. I lifted his head and slid between his arms. And then he stiffened for a second before he lifted me on his lap. My legs parted and I straddled him instead. Desire burst forth in me when I saw the heat in his eyes. He didn’t want comfort. He wanted to forget.

  His hands cupped my legs. He pulled me tight and ground into me. My chest was pressed against his and my lips parted for him. And then we both forgot together.


  We woke around nine the next morning. I was the first to wake. I couldn’t stay in bed any longer; too many memories haunted me because of the night before, so I got out of bed. When I came back from showering, I saw that Jesse was dressed. As we bypassed the kitchen, I thought about making coffee, but Jesse touched my arm.

  “I’ll make some at my place for you.”

  And that was that. We went to get my
car, which had been left alone. Thank goodness. And I followed Jesse back to his house. When he drove into the basement parking area, I waited and drove up the
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