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Unraveling You, Page 12

Jessica Sorensen


  I frown when I spot her waving at me through her window.

  “What’s wrong?” she asks. “You’ve been acting a little strange lately. More and more like the shy boy I first met, the one who would barely utter a few stray sentences to me. I’m not losing you, am I? Because we made a deal to be friends, and my deals are unbreakable. If you want out of them, there’s this big huge test I have to give you, and I know how much you hate tests.”

  Lyric has never mentioned a single word about the kiss, which I’m both relieved and upset about. She’s been her light, full of sunshine self, acting as if she’s completely unaffected.

  “I’m fine. Our friendship is fine. Everything is fantastic. I promise.” I turn my back to the window, silently begging for my guitar to miraculously appear in my room, but it doesn’t. “I just can’t find my guitar anywhere.”

  “That’s because it’s over here, you goofball. Remember, last night at family dinner when you were playing with my dad and me, which FYI totally made his day. Although he’s never actually said it, I think he secretly wishes he had a son sometimes. Or at least a daughter who doesn’t suffer from stage fright.”

  “I’m sure he loves you, Lyric, whether you get over that or not.”

  “Of course he does. That’s not what I meant. I think he’s just super stoked that you could become his protégé.” She lets out a wicked laugh at the end, the effortless sound splintering the weight on my chest.

  “Hey, could you bring my guitar down to the driveway? I’m late for practice, and I know Sage is going to be sending me nasty texts soon.”

  “Sure thing, shy boy. I’ll be right out.”

  She hangs up before I can say anything else.

  I feel like banging my head on the wall, because now I’ve got to go down and see her again for the fiftieth time since the kiss, and I know I’m going to get all awkward again.

  Get it together.

  Get it together.

  I grab the car keys and jog down the stairs and out to the driveway. Lyric is already waiting for me on the fence with her long legs dangling over the side and my guitar case on her lap. Her blonde hair is braided to the side, and she doesn’t have a drop of makeup on, revealing her freckles and perfection.

  God, she’s beautiful.

  “So, I was thinking,” she says as I approach her, “that I could go to your practice with you.”

  I pause at the fence line, stuffing my wallet into my back pocket. “Why?”

  She frowns as she hops off the fence. “Well, I didn’t expect that sullen reaction.” She shoves my guitar at me then adjusts the bottom of her purple shirt lower so her stomach is covered up. She’s done that a lot over the last week. She’s also worn a lot of jeans, as if trying to cover herself up more, like she blames how she dressed on what happened.

  “Sorry.” I grasp the handle of my guitar case. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just … you’ve never wanted to go with me before, so I’m just a little confused.”

  She shrugs as she scuffs her boot across the ground. “I need to get out of the house. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Everywhere I go, one of my parents follows me, like they expect me to break apart at any moment. And I know they’re not going to let me go anywhere unless I’m with you.”

  Despite the sheer awkwardness I’m feeling, I say, “You can always come with me. You know that.”

  She straightens her shoulders and beams at me. “Thank you. Let me go tell them where I’m going. I’ll be right back.” She hoists herself over the fence and sprints into her house through the side door near the garage.

  With my guitar in my hand, I climb into Lila’s Mercedes that she’s pretty much given to me at this point. The Gregorys own two other cars, so she always acts like it’s never a big deal to let me drive their extra vehicle somewhere. But it is. A. Big. Freaking. Huge. Deal. Because it means they trust me.

  “Okay, I’m totally good to go,” Lyric says as she slides into the passenger seat. “I just have to be back before eleven, which is so weird. I’ve never had a curfew before.”

  “I’m sure they’re just worried,” I tell her as I back down the driveway, pretending that I’m not hyperaware of her scent filling up the cab. God, she smells so good.

  “I know that.” She draws the seatbelt over her shoulder. “But I’m feeling a bit smothered ever since my parents decided to press charges against William. I’m hoping things will cool off here in a few weeks when he gets sentenced, or whatever is going to happen to him.” The seatbelt clicks into place and she relaxes back in the seat. “Although, if he does get any sort of punishment, I’m sure it’ll just be community service, since he doesn’t have a prior.”

  I flip on the blinker to pull out onto the main road of our subdivision. “You say that way too casually.”

  “I have to be casual about it.” She props her feet on the dash and reaches for the iPod docked in the middle console. “Otherwise, it’ll pull me down. And I refuse to go down.” She pauses as she browses through the songs. “I think my parents might be worried I have a mental illness.”

  “What?” I gape at her, half expecting her to insert a punch line to her joke. Because she has to be joking.

  She shrugs with her head angled forward, her attention fixed on the playlists. “I heard them whispering about it the other day after I momentarily lost my shit and yelled at them.”

  I tap the brakes at a red light. “What did they say exactly?”

  “Well, it wasn’t so much they as it was my mother.” She lifts her shoulders and shrugs. “She just seemed really concerned when I burst into freaking tears for no reason.”

  “Was this before or after you told them about William?”

  “Before. I only actually told them what happened because they seemed super twitchy about my mood swings.”

  I press on the gas as the light turns green. “What happened when you told them? Did they seem better about it?”

  She chews on her bottom lip. “I’m not sure … I’ve heard them whispering a couple of times before about my super cheery attitude. Again, it was more my mother. They never do it in front of me, but I’ve accidentally heard enough to know she worries about me.”

  “Why, though? I mean, I’ve lived with someone who was mentally ill, and that’s not …” I trail off.

  Her concentration floats from the playlists, her eyes falling to the scars on my hand. “Was it the people who did that to you? That weird cult thing I found out about?”

  I withdraw my hand and tuck it to my side. “It was.”

  “I’m sorry, Ayden. About everything. About showing you that tattoo thing. That I haven’t found your brother for you yet.”

  “That’s not your responsibility.” I return my hand to the wheel. “Besides, it doesn’t matter. Lila told me the other day that she looked into my brother, and … apparently he dropped out of the system a year ago. I’ll more than likely never see him again.”

  Her eyes widen. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”

  “It’s not your fault. It’s … well, it’s my mother’s since this whole thing started with her.” My hands begin to shake on the wheel as I remember the day she handed us over to those people.

  They were actually our next door neighbors, had been for a while. She needed a babysitter so she could go get her next fix. She questioned nothing, not even the chains in the living room. And they were more than willingly to take us, needing their next victims.

  “What about your mom?” Lyric dares ask. “What happened to her? Maybe finding her could help us find your brother and sister.”

  “She’s dead. And I don’t know who my dad is, so that won’t help us either. Face it, I’ll probably never get to see anyone from my family again.”

  “Ayden …” She clears her throat. “You have a family. All the Gregorys love you. And … so do I.”

  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

  With the sound of your heart.

  With the whisper of your soul.

  U
ntil everything connects.

  Composes.

  And creates a song.

  I can’t speak. Can barely breathe. Lyric’s eyes refuse to leave mine, even though I’m looking everywhere but at her. I wonder if this is the time she’s not going to give up, if she’s going to push me until I shatter into a million pieces.

  “I think my grandmother had a bipolar disorder,” she says, facing forward in the seat and scrolling through the song lists again, going back to the original conversation without missing a beat. “Maybe that’s why my mom worries. Perhaps she thinks I’m going to turn out like her.”

  Air rushes back to my lungs at the abrupt subject change.

  As we reach the last house on the street, I turn into the driveway. “Why would she think that? You’re like the happiest person I know.” I stop at the end of the drive, shove the shifter into park, and slide the keys out of the ignition.

  “Maybe I’m a little too happy, though.” She places the iPod on the dock without selecting a song. “Besides, some mental illnesses are hereditary.”

  “I know that.”

  “I don’t believe it’s fully true, though,” Lyric states, drawing her sunglasses over her eyes. “I think if you don’t want to turn out like your parents, then you won’t. Look at my mom. She’s a pretty stable woman, and I know from bits and pieces of stories I’ve heard that she had a pretty shitty life growing up.”

  I swallow the lump in my throat to stop myself from asking.

  What happened to her?

  Was she broken?

  Is she fixed?

  Saved from the darkness.

  That once grasped her wrists.

  “What do you think about when you daze off like that?” she asks curiously. “I’ve always wondered what goes on inside your head.”

  If she did know, she’d run.

  “Nothing important.” Before she can say anything else, I snatch up my guitar from the backseat and bolt out of the car.

  I don’t look back as I rush up the wide driveway, toward the side door of the detached garage. I free a trapped breath when I hear the car door shut. As much as my emotions are terrifying me, and as much as I know I don’t deserve her to, I need her to follow me like my heart needs blood pumping through it.

  “Hey, man,” Sage greets as I stride into the shallow space of the garage. He’s perched on a short stool in front of his drums, twirling the drumsticks in his hands. There’s a joint burning from an ashtray on a table near a leather couch, and the air is laced with the pungent stench of weed. He does this a lot in an attempt to hotbox the garage. Says it makes him play better. The problem is, it also makes Nolan and I a little buzzed, and we definitely don’t play better when we are.

  “Hey.” I drop the guitar down on the sofa. “Just so you know, Lyric came with me today.”

  He purposely drops the drumsticks and stands up. “Dude, so not cool.” He heads for the joint burning in the ashtray.

  “She’s cool,” I tell him as he puts the joint out and flips on the ceiling fan. “She won’t give a shit if you’re hotboxing the garage. I might, but she’ll be fine with it.”

  A panicked look crosses his face as he douses the air with Lysol. “That’s not what I’m worried about.”

  I’m so lost. Sage never gives a shit about anything, even his mom finding out he’s high. “Then what are you worried about?”

  He sets the can down on the table. “Don’t you think Lyric’s just kind of, I don’t know, s—” He gets cut off as the door swings open and Lyric strolls into the room.

  I start forming every S word I can think of.

  Sunny?

  Strange?

  Sweet?

  Sassy?

  Sexy?

  It better not fucking be the last one.

  Lyric’s nose instantly scrunches as she gets a whiff of the air. “Dude, it reeks of pot in here.” She closes the door behind her and spins around to face us, her eyes skimming the room. “Is that what you guys secretly do here?” she asks suspiciously, her gaze dancing back and forth between Sage and me. “Is this whole band thing a ruse to be closet potheads?”

  “Nah, Ayden doesn’t do that shit,” Sage tells her, leaning over to gather his drumsticks from off the floor.

  “You do, though. I know that,” Lyric remarks as she circles the room, studying all the framed albums on the wall. “Was your dad a musician or something?”

  Sage glances at me for some reason then strolls up to her with his hands tucked into his back pockets. “Nah. He just wishes he was. And actually, the albums are my mother’s. She just bought all of them a year ago after my dad cheated on her. They’re all of his favorite albums signed by his favorite bands, and he will never get to see a single one of these, other than the one time my mother brought him over here to rub it in his face.”

  “That’s so sick and twisted,” Lyric mumbles as she leans forward to inspect one album in particular. “Aw, Micha Scott. He’s pretty good for being old school.” She casts a sly glance over her shoulder at me.

  “Yeah, he’s okay.” Sage playfully bumps his shoulder into hers, filling me with the strangest sensation of jealousy, enough that I want to bump into him a hell of a lot harder, maybe even knock him down. “Hey, any relation?” he jokes.

  “He’s actually my dad.”

  Sage starts to laugh, but then his eyes widen when he notes the serious expression on Lyric’s face. “You have got to be shitting me.”

  She shrugs as she scratches at her arm then rubs her eyes, probably because of the abundance of smoke swirling around the air. “Nope. I’m totally being one hundred percent shitting free serious right now.”

  I can’t help but chuckle.

  His eyes enlarge even more. “Let me get this straight. Your father is Micha Scott, rock star slash music producer who owns Infinitely Studio, and he’s been your father this entire time.”

  Lyric shrugs again, shuffling her feet back and forth across the carpet. “Yep, pretty much.”

  Sage shoots a baffled look at me. “Did you know about this?”

  Nodding, I sink down on the couch and unlock my guitar case. “I don’t know why you’re freaking out so much, though.”

  “Um, because you have a connection,” he says, confounded.

  “No, Lyric has a connection.” I sweep my hair out of my face as I position my guitar on my lap. “Not me.”

  He shakes his head, still flabbergasted. “You could have said something at least.”

  “It wasn’t my something to tell.” I pluck my fingers across the strings, tuning the guitar while tuning Sage out.

  He twists around, facing Lyric again. “So can you do anything?”

  “Oh, I can do a lot of things,” Lyric replies in her flirty tone that causes my jaw to tick. She plops down on the sofa beside me, slips her hands under her legs, and leans toward me, her hair brushing my cheek. Her eyes are slightly bloodshot and her pupils are unfocused.

  I reach back to open the window while Sage drags a stool over to us.

  “I mean, can you play anything?” Sage wonders, plopping down on the stool.

  “I can play a lot of things,” Lyric replies, resting her head on my shoulder.

  Sage flashes me a puzzled glance and I shrug.

  I have no clue what she’s doing, other than maybe she’s high. What I do know is that the feel of her is driving me absolutely crazy in the best way possible. Her touching me is nothing new. She’s usually got her fingers laced through mine, but this feels different somehow, as if she’s trying to read me through the connection of our bodies. Maybe it’s all the freaking pot in the air, or maybe it’s because of the kiss. I’d be fine with it—I’m usually good at keeping myself in control—but my breathing has gone erratic and my heart’s lost its Goddamn mind.

  “Like what?” Sage asks Lyric, reaching for the lighter on the floor near his feet.

  “The violin, guitar, drums. I used to play the piano, but I haven’t practiced in a while.”

&
nbsp; “What about singing?”

  She hesitates. “Singing is subjective, so I can’t answer that.”

  Sage assesses her closely. “So, you’re saying you think you can sing, but you’re unsure of your voice.” He flicks his lighter on and off as he deliberates something. Then he hops to his feet and ambles over to the microphone. Picking it up off the floor, he twists up the volume of the speaker. “Let’s see what you got, Scott.” He tosses the microphone at Lyric.