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Until Friday Night, Page 2

Abbi Glines

  I ended the call just as I got to where I’d parked my truck. I’d already been walking out, prepared to leave even before she’d asked if I’d be home late. It was all getting worse. Dad was hardly able to get out of bed anymore. Motherfucking doctors couldn’t do anything for him.

  My chest tightened, and it became hard to breathe. This had been happening more and more lately. It was like all my fears grabbed ahold of my throat and squeezed until I couldn’t inhale.

  Anger began to pump through my veins. This wasn’t goddamn fair! My dad was a good man. He didn’t deserve this. God was up there just letting this shit happen. And my sweet momma, she needed my dad. She didn’t deserve this either.

  “Fuck!” I roared as I slammed both hands down on the hood of my truck. This was destroying all of us, and I couldn’t tell anyone. Dealing with sympathy from people who had no idea how this felt would be more shit I didn’t need.

  A movement from the left caught my attention, and I jerked my head to see who had witnessed my breakdown.

  The sundress was the first thing I recognized. Her curvy body filled it out just perfectly.

  That girl was so lucky she couldn’t talk. She didn’t have to pretend for anyone. She didn’t have to say the right thing or act a certain way.

  She tilted her head to the side as if she were studying me, deciding if I were dangerous or if I needed help. All that gorgeous hair and those full lips could certainly help. Help me forget for a moment. Forget this hell my life had become.

  I shoved off of my truck and walked over to her. I almost expected her to run. She didn’t.

  I inhaled sharply. The tightness in my throat had eased some. “You like what you see?” I taunted her, hoping she’d run from me. She didn’t deserve this; using her to ease my pain wasn’t right. And I was angry and couldn’t control my emotions anymore. They stayed so raw all the time. Just like everyone else in my path, she was someone I was pushing away for her own safety.

  She didn’t respond, but there was a clarity in her eyes. She wasn’t off like Brady said—you could see that kind of thing in a person’s eyes. But her eyes, they were almost too intense. Too smart.

  “You just gonna stare at me like you want a taste and not speak? Kinda rude.”

  My own meanness made me wince inside. My momma would be ashamed of me. This girl, though, she didn’t do anything more than blink. She didn’t back away, and she didn’t make a sound. Brady hadn’t been shitting us about one thing: She really didn’t talk.

  But even without talking, she obviously wasn’t interested in me. I wasn’t used to that. Wasn’t used to girls not wanting me to kiss them.

  I stopped in front of her and cupped her face in one of my hands. God, that face was something else. I had to touch her to see if she was real. The perfection seemed almost impossible. Everyone had physical flaws. I wanted to find hers.

  I used my thumb to brush her bottom lip. She wasn’t wearing lipstick. She didn’t need it—those lips were already a pretty pink.

  “It’s time you run along now,” I warned her, even though I should have been the one to walk away.

  She stayed where she was, staring up at me. Boldly. Without flinching. The only thing that gave her away was the pulse in her neck. She was nervous, but she was either too scared or too curious to move.

  I took one more step until I was pressed up against her and she was backed against the tree behind her. “Told ya to run, sugar,” I reminded her just before I lowered my mouth to hers.

  Don’t Mind Me, Sugar



  I was determined not to be a hindrance to Brady. Friday night Aunt Coralee had forced him to take me to that party, and I used it as an opportunity to show him I wouldn’t be a bother. Mostly, I sat in the dark by myself, away from everyone. Every thirty minutes or so I’d check if Brady was still there or looking for me, and then I’d go back to my hiding spot.

  I really hoped this wasn’t an every weekend event. I didn’t want to have to go through that every time Brady went to the field party. I preferred to stay in my room and read. Hanging out alone in a dark field wasn’t exactly my favorite way to pass the time. Although, something happened that had certainly made it less . . . boring.

  Thinking of the place I’d claimed beside that tree made my cheeks flush. I’d gotten my first real kiss, and from a guy I didn’t even know. He’d been so tall and his hair was dark and curled at the ends. His face . . . It was like God had taken all the perfect features for man and put them together just for this guy.

  It hadn’t been those things that made me stand there, though, after he warned me to go. It had been his eyes. Even in the darkness, I’d seen a heaviness there. A heaviness I’d never seen in anyone but myself.

  He’d told his mother he loved her on the phone. Then he’d hung up and cursed while hitting his truck. Anyone who talked to his mother that way couldn’t be bad. He didn’t scare me.

  But I was worried about him, so I stayed even when he told me to go. And then he’d kissed me. It had been rough at first, like he was trying to hurt me, but then he’d softened, and before I knew it, I was grabbing on to fistfuls of his T-shirt. My knees went weak, and I wasn’t sure if I actually made a whimper or if it had just been in my head. I hoped it was in my head. Considering how abruptly he’d left me, I didn’t want to have made a sound. And I wished I hadn’t grabbed on to him.

  It ended as suddenly as it had begun. He didn’t say a word when he backed away from me. He didn’t look at me. Instead he’d turned and stalked over to his truck and left. I had no idea who he was. All I knew was that he was beautiful and haunted and he’d given me a first kiss to remember.

  Two hours later, when Brady had finally decided to leave, he’d found me dozing on the ground under my tree. He’d been annoyed and hadn’t said anything to me on the drive home. The kiss faded into the background as I focused on how to make my cousin not hate me.

  Sunday, when Brady had plans to go to a friend’s house to swim, Aunt Coralee had tried to ship me off with him. But I’d written her a note telling her my period had started and I didn’t feel like it, and she let me stay home.

  Brady ended up being gone all day. I was sure he was worried that if he came home, she would try to foist me on him all over again.

  Today I started school, and she gave Brady a to-do list all about me. I felt bad for him. You could see the frustration on his face. So I handed him a note as soon as we got there.

  I got this. Do what you do, and I’ll show up in class. Just cause I don’t talk doesn’t mean I can’t get around. I’ll tell Aunt Coralee you did everything she said. But I don’t want you taking me everywhere. I want to do this alone.

  He hadn’t looked too convinced, but he nodded and took off, leaving me at the entrance of the school.

  Luckily, Aunt Coralee had prepared the front office for the fact I didn’t speak. They were fine with me writing down everything I needed to say. They gave me my schedule and asked where Brady was. Apparently, Aunt Coralee had also told them Brady would be my guide. I lied and wrote down that he had gone to the restroom and was meeting me in the hallway.

  A small part of me—okay, a really big part of me—hoped I’d see the guy from the field party. I wanted to see him in the light. I wanted to see if he was okay. And, I hoped, maybe he’d want to see me.

  Once I had directions to my locker, I went to look for it, feeling accomplished. Actually finding it was another thing entirely. With people filling the hallways, many of them in their lockers or in front of their lockers or making out against their lockers, I couldn’t see the numbers. Finding 654 was basically impossible.

  “You good?” Brady’s voice came from behind me, and I nodded, not wanting to tell him I wasn’t exactly great and would probably be late for class.

  “Where’s your locker?” he asked.

  I thought about how to answer that and just handed him the paper with my locker number on it.

  “You alr
eady passed it,” he replied, nodding back down the hall. “Come on. I’ll show you.”

  I didn’t have time to write out an argument. Instead I just followed him. He was going to help me anyway and, if I admitted it to myself, I needed his help.

  Unlike when I had walked down the hallway, fighting through the packed bodies, everyone created a path for Brady. It was like he was Moses and this was the Red Sea.

  “Move the make-out fest over about five inches. Maggie can’t get in her damn locker,” Brady told a couple who was mid-grope-session.

  “Who’s Maggie?” the girl asked, turning to look at me. She had big brown eyes and an olive complexion. Her long black hair was even more striking.

  “My cousin,” Brady replied, sounding annoyed.

  “You got a cousin?” she asked, surprised. The guy’s hands, which had previously been on the girl’s bottom, moved to her hips and he shifted her over. Before I could see the guy’s face, Brady stepped back and held my locker open for me. “There you go. I’ll be around if you need me again.” Then he left me there and walked away.

  I didn’t make eye contact with or even look at the couple beside me. The girl giggled, then I heard the guy whisper to her—the word mute was something I didn’t miss. Apparently, Brady had told people I was mute. I guess at least I wouldn’t have anyone trying to talk to me.

  “She don’t talk?” the girl whispered back, loud enough for me to hear her.

  I quickly put my books in my locker before closing it, making sure to hold on to my textbook and a notebook for my first class. Determined not to look at the couple, I kept my head down. My gaze landed on the guy’s hands, now gripping the girl’s bottom again. I guess this was something I was going to have to get used to.

  I stepped into the hallway without looking up, and a hard body hit me in the side, knocking me backward.

  “Shit, sorry,” a male voice said as I collided with the gropey make-out couple. Great. “You okay?” asked the guy who ran into me.

  I looked up to see a pair of the clearest blue eyes I’d ever seen, set against pretty mocha-colored skin. The combination was definitely striking but, unfortunately, he wasn’t my mystery guy.

  “Watch it,” the girl behind me snapped, shoving me off her.

  The textbook and notebook in my hands fell to the floor, causing even more of a scene. I didn’t like to draw attention, but that seemed to be all I could do.

  “Jesus, Raleigh, I ran into her. Chill the fuck out,” the guy said as he bent down to get my books. I watched in fascination as large well-defined muscles popped from his snug short-sleeve shirt.

  Raleigh laughed, but it sounded more like a wicked cackle than anything. “She’s mute, Nash. And she’s Brady’s cousin. So you can stop with the chivalrous thing. She ain’t your type.”

  Then, from behind me: “Don’t be a bitch, babe.” That voice. I froze. I knew that voice. No . . . don’t let it be.

  “Brady’s got a cousin?” Nash asked as he stood up and held my books out to me.

  I was afraid to turn around and look. Maybe I was mistaken. The guy making out with the girl beside me could not be the guy who kissed me Friday night. The guy who kissed me had been nice to his mother. Could a nice guy like that kiss another girl when he already had a girlfriend? Wasn’t he a good guy deep down? I had convinced myself of that all weekend while I replayed our kiss over and over.

  I tried to look unaffected as I took my books from Nash and tucked them against my chest.

  “Yeah, he does. Surprise, surprise.” That voice again. It was him. Oh God . . . it was so him.

  I dropped my gaze to my books. I didn’t want to look at anyone. I knew my cheeks were pink. I just wanted to be alone and get over this surprise in private.

  My mystery guy continued, “She’s something to look at, but Brady’s made her completely off-limits. So, Ray is right. Let it go. I did.”

  But he hadn’t stayed away. Did he know Brady had made me off-limits when he kissed me? Was that why he was acting now like he didn’t know me at all? What a jerk! I’d let him kiss me. What had I been thinking? I wasn’t normally weak just because a guy had a pretty face. My father had a pretty face too, and not once had my mother been able to trust him. I was smarter than this. That was a mistake I wouldn’t make again.

  “What’s that supposed to mean, ‘I did’?” Raleigh raised her voice. And shoved off the guy. I moved out of her way.

  “She’s something to look at. Like I said,” he repeated.

  He was being cruel to her on purpose and using me to do it. I hated cruelty and callous behavior. Anger simmered inside me. It was times like this, I wanted to speak. No, I wanted to yell! But I wouldn’t.

  My face was hot from embarrassment, fury, and disappointment. I wished Brady had waited on me. I didn’t know which way I needed to go, and pulling out my school map in the middle of all this seemed impossible. I was trembling. I glanced down the hall both ways, trying to decide the best escape route.

  “She’s mute!” the girl yelled, then let out an angry growl. “I don’t know why I put up with you. I could have anyone. Anyone, West. Do you realize that?”

  West. His name was West. A girl needed to know the name of her first kiss, yet I wish I didn’t. I wanted to wash him and that night from my memory completely.

  “You couldn’t have me. I don’t do crazy,” Nash replied, and I glanced up at him. He winked, and there was an easy friendliness in his eyes. Nothing like what I had seen in West’s. Why couldn’t he have been my first kiss?

  West chuckled at Nash’s reply.

  “I wouldn’t want you,” she spit. “My daddy only lets me date white guys.”

  I tensed up. Had she really just said that? Nash wasn’t all white, but he wasn’t all black, either. He was a beautiful color.

  “Awww, that’s a shame,” Nash replied, obviously amused. “Guess your daddy’s still sore that his white girlfriend married a black man. It’s been years, Raleigh. He really should move on. My momma sure has.”

  Okay, wow. Small towns were really, really small.

  Nash looked back at me. “You need help finding your first class?” he asked.

  But Raleigh wasn’t about to let it die. “Are you going to allow him talk to me that way?” she asked West.

  “You started it. He’s just finishing it,” West replied.

  “I am done, West!” she shouted, then stormed off.

  All I wanted was to get to my classroom. I reached for the map I’d stuck in my pocket and unfolded it to figure out where I was supposed to be. Forget my trembling hands. I wanted away from this immediately. Away from West.

  “What class you got first?” Nash asked me.

  “She doesn’t talk. Raleigh wasn’t shitting you,” West said from behind me.

  I really didn’t want to look up at either of them, but I couldn’t help myself. I glanced back at West; I had to be sure. The voice was the same, but I wanted to see his face. Deep down, I was still holding on to a small slim hope that the boy who’d kissed me was better than this one standing behind me.

  Unfortunately, in the light he was even more perfect than in the dark. I jerked my head back down to my map before he caught me looking at him. I hated him. I hated anyone who treated others as if their feelings didn’t matter.

  “You born that way?” Nash asked me, and I wished he’d give up. I didn’t know what to do with him. He was very nice, but I wasn’t going to talk to him.

  West moved and suddenly he was standing in front of me, looking completely bored. The fact that his girlfriend had just broken up with him and ran off didn’t seem to rank on his importance scale. It took a cold person to react that way.

  I glanced at him and found his dark blue gaze on me. Long eyelashes framed his eyes. They weren’t as startling as Nash’s eyes—I was sure no one could have eyes as pretty as Nash’s—but there was more there I had missed Friday night. Pain, fear, detachment. Again, the same thing I saw in my own eyes every time I looked in
the mirror.

  “Fuck, she’s prettier up close,” West said as he tilted his head to the side and studied me. “Makes me not care that she can’t talk.”

  He was looking at me as if he hadn’t held my face in his large hands Friday night. My stomach churned in a sick knot. I knew demented and cruel. I’d lived it. I’d witnessed it. And I feared it. If it weren’t for the pain and fear in his eyes, I’d have slapped him. But I just wanted away from him. He wasn’t a good person. Something had warped him. While I had chosen not to speak to deal with my pain, he had chosen to deal with his by hurting others.

  “She’s mute, dickhead. Not deaf,” Nash snarled.

  A crooked grin that didn’t meet his eyes touched West’s lips. Did his friends not see this? Did they not know he was hiding pain that haunted him and made him this horrible person?

  “Don’t mind me, sugar. I’m an asshole,” he said, as if he were apologizing. But apologizing for what? Kissing me? Cheating on his girlfriend? Being an all-around heartless jerk with every word that came out of his mouth?

  Those who were damaged weren’t fixable. I knew that all too well. Anyone who tried to fix him would fail. But people weren’t born cruel. Life made them that way. At least that was what one of my counselors told me when she tried to talk to me about my father.

  I made a blatant shift away from West and held my head high. The hard glare I shot him was more than any words could say. Thankfully, he got the message, and he turned and walked away.

  I watched him go, wondering if there was someone who knew why he was acting out this way. Someone who knew the truth behind his cruel spirit. His girlfriend didn’t, or she wouldn’t have broken up with him like that. He held himself with a confidence that turned heads, and I guess no one noticed anything deeper.

  Much as I knew he was bad news and wanted to hate him, I’d heard him talking to his mother. Heard him tell her he loved her. Heard the pain in