The Unpredictable Way of Falling, Page 6Jessica Sorensen
“I’m assuming you know how to use a gun.” Holden draws another gun from his holster and hands it to me.
I take it. “Unfortunately yes.”
My dad taught me how to use one when I was younger as part of my training, despite my protests and fears. I guess the training is finally coming in handy now, unfortunately.
“You look nervous,” he comments as he rolls down his window.
“I’m not,” I lie. I am nervous. About the situation. About seeing Ensley again. I don’t even know how to process the restless energy pouring through me. The only other time I’m been this nervous is when I’m around my father.
“You are,” he insists. “But the question is, are you nervous about the situation? Or seeing Ensley?”
I set the gun on my lap and grip the steering wheel with both hands. “Both, probably,” I admit. “It’s fucking weird, you know.”
“Being nervous over seeing a girl.”
He chuckles. “That’s because Ens isn’t one of your little fangirls who will do anything you want.”
“Hey, I’m not the only one with fangirls.”
I shift in the seat as my nervousness grows.
“Bet that graduation party you didn’t want to have is sounding pretty great right about now,” he jokes, resting his arm on the windowsill.
“Yeah, sort of.” I do kind of wish I was at my party right now with Ensley. That’s how things were supposed to happen. That’s what I wished had happened. But instead, I’m driving through a rundown town in the middle of fucking nowhere with a gun on my lap and a nervous feeling taking over.
The feeling only magnifies when we arrive at a shitty, single-story motel surrounded by fields and swamps.
“This place is a dump,” I mumble, shutting off the engine.
The headlights click off as well, suffocating the area around us with darkness, the only light coming from the moonlight and stars.
He shoves open the door. “Yep.”
“It looks like it belongs in a horror movie.”
“Which makes it a great place to hide out.”
I hop out of the car and tuck the gun into the waistband of my jeans. “I bet El is flipping out that this isn’t a five-star hotel.”
He clears his throat. “She’s here with Ens, right?”
I stuff the keys into the pocket of my jeans. “Yeah, so’s Gaige.”
“Fuck, I didn’t realize he was with them.”
“He was with them on their little road trip.”
“And that doesn’t bother you?”
“Why would it bother me?”
“Because of who his father is.”
My hand instinctively moves for my gun. “Who the fuck’s his father?”
Holden checks the ammunition in his gun. “Dominic. He works with your father.”
My blood turns ice cold. “Fuck.”
Holden assesses the motel. “Does Gregor know he’s here?”
“I have no idea. I never mentioned it, but…” I stride around the car. “Do you know what room they’re in?”
With a nod, he jogs toward the numbered doors lining the motel. I follow suit, flicking the safety off my gun. When we reach the fifth door down, he holds his gun in one hand and tries to peek through the window, but the curtains are drawn closed.
“Get ready,” Holden instructs then raps his fist against the door.
A few moments tick by and then the door cracks open.
“Carter?” El breathes in relief. “Oh my fucking God. I seriously was two seconds away from pissing my pants.”
She sounds okay, like nothing is going on, like Gaige didn’t take off with Ensley.
That has to be a good sign, right?
I let out a deafening exhale, too aware of how terrified I was that something had happened to Ens.
I care about her a fucking lot. She could crush my heart if she wants to.
“Now that would’ve been fucking hilarious,” Holden teases as she opens the door all the way. “Fuck, we should’ve hid and pushed her over the edge.”
El’s gaze snaps to Holden and her eyes narrow. “Why the hell are you here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He tries to dazzle her with a charming smile. “I’m here because you need a hero.”
El’s lips tug into a smirk. “Yeah, so you better go find one.”
Holden mirrors her smirk. “Don’t pretend like you’re not excited I’m here.”
El rolls her eyes. “In your dreams.”
He blows her a kiss. “No, in your dreams, princess.”
El lifts her hand to smack him, but he steps out of the way, laughing his ass off.
“Would you two knock it off?” I snap. “Where’s Ens and Gaige?”
El rolls her eyes again. “Jesus, take a chill pill.” She steps aside. “They’re here, stupid. Where else would they be?”
I ignore her comment and rush inside, needing to see Ens, needing to know she’s okay. The moment I enter the room, though, I screech to a halt.
Gaige is sitting at the table with his legs kicked up on a chair and his arms crossed and standing beside him near one of the beds is Ens. My heart beats quicker at the sight of her.
Her wavy brown hair is down and she doesn’t have a drop of makeup on, so her freckles are on display A black tank top hugs her body, a plaid shirt is tied around her waist, and she has on a pair of cut-offs that show off her long legs that were wrapped around me back when we kissed at the lake.
She’s fucking gorgeous.
But then my heart rate accelerates as I notice one more thing about her.
She has a fucking gun in her hand.
A gun that’s aimed at me.
“What the hell’s going on?” My gaze flicks between Ens and Gaige.
Gaige gives a lazy shrug. “Don’t ask me. I’m only here for moral support.” His lips quirk. “Well that and to make sure Ens takes the safety off.”
“Oh shit.” Ens’s eyes widen as she flicks the safety off.
“The one thing I told you to remember,” Gaige chuckles, lowering his feet to the floor.
Ens shoots him a dirty look, but a ghost of a smile plays at her lips. “Shush.”
Gaige smashes his lips together, trying not to laugh.
I’m apprehensive about what’s going on. I could draw my gun out from the waistband of my jeans, but this is Ens, the girl I… have feelings for. The girl I’m pretty sure won’t shoot me.
“Ens,” I start, taking a step toward her.
“Don’t you dare come any closer,” she warns, holding the gun steadily in my direction. “Not until I get some answers.”
Answers. I can handle that… I hope.
I stop near the edge of the bed. “Okay, what do you want to know—”
“Well, this is entertaining.” Holden remarks as he strolls into the room with El stomping in behind him.
Ens stiffens as she swings the gun in his direction. “Why the hell are you here?”
“To protect you, sweetheart.” He winks at her, then raises his hands in surrender as I glare at him. “Chill the fuck out. I was just teasing her.”
El plops onto the edge of one of the beds and crosses her arms. “Would someone please explain to me why Richie Dipshit is here?” She nods in Holden’s direction.
“Because he works for Ens’s father. He’s his right-hand man.” I measure Ens’s reaction.
She winces as if my words physically struck her, but she swiftly collects herself. El, though, has a more complicated time keeping her shit together.
“He works for Ens’s father?” El gapes in disbelief at a smirking Holden. “He works for the mafia too?”
“Technically Gregor isn’t part of the mafia.” Holden examines his fingernails, as if this conversation is boring him. “He just does business with most of the members.”
“Then why are we in this mess?” El questions. “If he does business with the mafia, why’s the mafi
a after us?”
“Actually, the mafia is after her, not you.” Holden points at Ens. “And the mafia is after her to get to Gregor.”
Ens shifts her weight. “Why, though?”
“Because they’ve been at war with each other since before you were born.” Holden rests back on the bed on his elbows. “It’s part of the reason he never wanted anyone to find out about you.”
“Carter already told me this.” Ens’s voice slightly wobbles. “But he never told me why Gregor is at war with the mafia.”
Holden shrugs. “Why is anyone at war with the mafia?”
Ens’s lip twitches. “I’m going to need a better answer than that.”
Holden arches a brow. “That’s awfully bold to demand answers from someone like me.”
Ens stares at him, unimpressed. “By someone like you, do you mean the rich asshole who I once saw cry because he tripped over his own shoelaces and bumped his head on the corner of the counter? Or the right-hand man to my father?”
Holden’s gaze darkens. “I didn’t cry. My eyes were watery from the fucking pain.”
Ens wrestles back a smirk. “Sure they were.”
Holden straightens and rests his arms on his knees. “You know, I remember you being a lot nicer.”
“And I remember you never mentioning you worked for my father,” Ens quips, glancing at me. “You either.”
“I don’t work for your father,” I explain. “I just made a deal with him.”
Her throat bobs. “What sort of deal? I mean, I know you were supposed to bring me to him? But why? What’s in it for you?”
So I guess we’re doing this now.
“So I could work for him.” I let the truth fall from my lips, something I should’ve done a long time ago.
“Oh.” Hurt and anger transpire in her expression.
“There’s more to it than that, though.” I want to tell her the truth, but without an audience. “Can I maybe talk to you alone? I have a lot I want to tell you, but not with everyone listening.”
She chews on her bottom lip. “I don’t know.”
“Please,” I practically beg. And if I have to, I’ll get down on my knees and completely beg.
She releases her lip from her teeth and sighs. “I guess so.”
Relief sweeps through me, and I glance at El, Holden, and Gaige. “Do you guys mind stepping outside for a minute?”
“Sure.” Holden pushes to his feet. “Just make sure to keep an eye on things.”
I nod and he walks out of the room.
Gaige gives Ensley a pressing look as he stands up. “If you need anything, I’ll be right outside.”
Ens offers him a grateful smile. “Thanks.”
I eyeball him as Gaige passes me, wondering if he’s really here as Ensley’s friend. Hopefully Holden will get to the bottom of it while they’re all outside.
“Are you sure you’re cool with being alone with him?” El asks Ens, making no move to get up. “Remember how much of an asshole he is.”
Ens hesitates and I hate that she does. Hate that I’ve ruined her chance at trusting me.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” The corners of her lips quirk as she lifts the gun. “Besides, if I’m not, I have this.”
I can’t help smiling. “So, you’re saying you’ll shoot me if I act like an asshole?”
A playful glimmer twinkles in her eyes. “Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.”
I’m smiling like a fucking idiot and probably look insane. But I can’t help it. She’s teasing me. I never thought that’d ever happen again.
“God, your ass must be whipped.” El stands up. “She jokes about shooting you and you just smile like an idiot.”
I press my lips together, feeling too exposed right now to speak.
El observes me closely while tapping her finger against her lip. Whatever she sees makes her visibly relax and then she grins like the Cheshire Cat. “Have fun you two,” she singsongs as she skips out of the room.
“Why does she seem so happy?” Ens wonders as the door clicks shut.
“Maybe she hopes you’ll shoot me,” I joke with a tense smile.
“I doubt that.”
“I don’t know. El’s not my biggest fan.”
“Yeah, but you’re still her twin brother, which means she has to love you by default.”
“Just because someone’s family doesn’t mean they love you,” I mutter quietly, stuffing my hands into the pockets of my jeans.
“Yeah, I know,” Ens agrees. “But El does love you. She just… Well, she sort of felt the same way as I did about you. She thought you were a jerk.”
“And how did you feel now?”
She shrugs. “That you were a cocky asshole, who always got his way and went out of your way to make people you thought were beneath you miserable.”
“You’re saying all this in past tense.” I nibble on my bottom lip. “Does that mean you don’t think of me that way anymore?”
She smashes her lips together, confliction written all over her face. “I don’t know… That all really depends.”
“On what you got out of the deal. And why you did it… And what was real…” Vulnerability shines in her eyes.
I swallow down my nerves, preparing to lay the truth out there, crossing my fingers she keeps the gun lowered. Not that I think she’ll shoot me, but if she doesn’t raise the gun, then it means she believes me.
“Everything was real. Everything I told you, about why I was mean to you in grade school, how I tried to flirt with you to get your attention—that was all real.” I dare a step toward her. “And those fucking amazing kisses by the lake. That was the most real thing I’ve ever felt.”
She takes an unsteady inhale. “Then why did you make the deal with my dad?”
“I already told you—so I could work for him.” I pause and decide to go even further into the truth. “But if I’m being honest, part of me wanted to accept the deal because it meant getting close to you. Well, that is, if you let me. I wasn’t very confident in the beginning.”
She wets her lips with her tongue, her gaze dropping to my lips. At first I think she wants to kiss me, and I prepare to step forward and give her what she wants when she raises the gun. But then her hands tremble as she aims the gun at my chest.
“You want to work for my father?” she bites out. “You think what he does is okay?”
My heart hammers in my chest, and I instinctively elevate my hands in front of me. “Honestly, up until a few days ago, I thought your dad just ran clubs.”
“But now you know what he does.” Her voice cracks as she steps toward me. “And you’re still here, which makes you as bad as him.”
“I don’t know everything.” Blood roars in my eardrums as she cocks the gun.
Holy fuck, is she going to shoot me? No, there’s no way. This is Ens. Sweet, shy, wouldn’t hurt anyone intentionally Ens.
“All I know is he runs some business that offers people their heart’s desires or some shit like that. He never explained the details to me, but it sounds fucking weird and has me rethinking our deal.” I inch toward her, a bold move, I know. But I need to be closer to her, need her to stop looking at me like I’m the devil. Need her to know I’m being more honest right now than I ever have. “Honestly, I started rethinking it a while ago… When you and I started getting closer.”
“Closer?” she whispers. “We were never close… Every moment… every kiss was built on a lie.”
“That’s not true.” I inch toward her until the end of the gun is only inches away from my chest. “Everything that happened between us was real. At least it was for me.” I’ve never felt so vulnerable in my life as I wait for her to say something.
Painful silence stretches between us.
“It was for me too.” She looks horrified as she lowers the gun.
I breathe in relief, and not just because she stopped aiming the gun at me.
“I’m sorry I pointed a gun a
t you.” Remorse fills her eyes. “I wouldn’t have really shot you. I just… I don’t know. All of this is hard to take in.”
“I know. And I’m sorry you have to go through this. And that I’m a part of it.” I hesitantly reach for her, my fingers trembling as I cup her cheek. God, I forgot how soft her skin is. “I promise I won’t lie to you from now on. That is, if you’ll give me a second chance.”
She stares up at me, guilt overflowing her big eyes. “Carter, there’s something I need to tell you. It’s about a deal I made. Well, deal isn’t the right word, I guess. It’s just something I sort of agreed to do. Something I did.” She swallows hard. “The day that you asked me to be your date to your party… We—El and I—had just come up with a plan to make you fall in love with me so I could break your heart. El thought if I did, you’d finally get a taste of your own medicine. At the time, I thought you deserved it. I thought you were the guy with his own fan club and his own fuck chest and who made my life a living hell. I didn’t know the whole story about how your mom made you be friends with those socialites shitty kids.”
I blink. “Wait, my fuck chest?”
Her cheeks flush. “That chest you have with all those girls’ photos in it.”
“How do you know about that?” I squeak pathetically. Holy shit, she knows about that!
She shrugs. “El and I found it once when we were stealing weed from you.”
“Oh.” I lower my hand from her cheek to scratch at the back of my neck. “Ens, those photos… I didn’t ask for them. And I only kept them because some of my friends told me to. And I know that makes me sound weak, but that’s who I was.” I force down the lump wedged in my throat. “Not who I want to be.”
“It’s fine. It’s not really any of my business anyway.” She sets the gun down onto the table. “But that’s not even the point. The point is that I’m a shitty person for ever agreeing to play you. Although, for the record, I didn’t really think you’d even go on a date with me.” A frown etches into her face as she stares at the floor. “Then again, the only reason you ever went on a date with me was because of the deal, so I guess I was sort of right.”
“That wasn’t the only reason.” I splay my fingers across her cheek and force her to look at me. “Do you know how excited I was when you agreed to go to that party with me?”