The Probability of Violet & Luke, Page 7Jessica Sorensen
“Where are you going?” Violet asks, following me as I hobble back to my room.
I want to ask her why she’s still here with me. Why she’s not running away again like she has been, but I fear asking her will remind her. “I’m going to go gamble and see if I can get up to nine grand.”
Her eyes widen as a breath eases out of her lips. “How the hell are you planning on doing that? I mean, you could end up losing all of your money in the process and be even more screwed”
I pause in the doorway of my room, knowing my only option at the moment that might help me dig my way out of this mess. “I have to make a phone call,” I tell Violet, my voice sounding strained. But I shake it off and grab my phone from my back pocket. “Can you give me a minute?” I ask and then head back to the kitchen to make a call I don’t want to make. But as I stand there, trying to dial my father’s number, it proves harder than I thought. Still, it’s either ask him or get my ass beat to death, so shoving all my pride aside I just do it.
He answers after a couple of rings. “Luke, I’m so glad you called,” he says before I can even utter a hello, sounding so relieved I’m talking to him again. “It’s been too long, but I was waiting for you to call like you said the last time we talked… I didn’t want to be too pushy anymore.”
“I didn’t call to talk,” I tell him, closing my eyes and pressing my fingers to the brim of my nose, feeling a headache coming on strong. “I… need a favor.”
“Oh.” The disappointment in his voice makes me feel bad, but at the same time causes rage to flare inside me for feeling guilty. “What did you need?”
I open my eyes and plop down on one of the barstools at the counter. “I need Uncle Cole’s number. I used to have his number but it got erased from my phone a while ago.”
“Oh. Okay. I can give you it.” He pauses. “But can I ask what you need it for?”
“Luke, I… do you need some help with something.”
“No.” I know I’m being a douche bag, but I can’t seem to stop myself. What he took from me when he left me as a child, what he left me with, and what it did to my life—what it all stole from me, still aches like an unhealed wound. I have so much anger inside me, eating me away, bit by bit, because I can’t seem to let it go and just let the damn wound heal. “I just need his number.”
“If you need help… let me help you. I want to make up for stuff, Luke.”
“Then give me Cole’s phone number. That’s what will help me.”
He gets quiet again and I think he’s going to make this complicated, but then he surprises me and gives me the number which I hurry and punch in my phone. “Are you sure you don’t need anything else?” he asks when he’s finished.
“Nope. Not from you.” That remark gnaws at my chest and I open my mouth to mutter an apology, but he speaks first.
“Okay then.” Now he sounds like the wounded Bambi. “Well if you need anything, you can always call me. I’m always here.”
“Thanks,” I mutter, then press end. Deep down, I know that my life might be easier if I just let go of the stuff between my father and I, but it’s difficult, especially when I barely understand it. I mean, I get why he left my mom, because he needed to find himself. Self-discovery. And he’s happy now with Trevor, his husband, at least it seems that way. I get the need to be happy, but why did he have to leave Amy and I behind? Couldn’t he have done all that with us?
“You okay?” Violet’s tone carries caution.
I nod, turning toward her, forcing myself to shake off what I’m feeling. “Yeah, I’m good… I’m going to try and call my uncle and see if I can go to Vegas and crash with him for a week.”
She lingers in the doorway. “You have an uncle that lives in Vegas?”
I nod. “But I barely know him. I’m just hoping he might do me a favor,” I say then dial his number.
After I call him up and have a five-minute conversation with him that mainly centers on gambling, he tells me, “Sure, come the fuck down here. We can totally hit up a few underground games and see what we can come up with.” He says it like he understands, which he probably does, since he’s a lot like me, only about fifteen years older. So I get up to go finish packing, while Violet stands in the doorway not uttering a word, but the worry in her eyes says a lot.
“What about school?” she finally asks as she shifts her weight.
My obsessive need tries to take me over, but I tell it to shut the fuck up. “I can miss a week. It’s not a big deal.” I add my container that carries the medicines for my diabetes into my bag.
“You always made it seem like a big deal,” she says, plopping down on the mattress beside my bag. “And trust me, if anyone gets that, I do.”
“I know you do,” I tell her, both loving and hating that we have so much in common; love because of how much I want to be with her and hate because of how much I want to be with her.
“Vegas is really far,” she says. “Can’t you do the gambling here?”
“No.” I keep my head tipped down, knowing if I look up and see her on the bed, I’m going to lose it and I need to focus right now. “I just need to get out and get some money made where no one knows my reputation. And I don’t want to be hanging out here with Seth and Greyson, while I’m cleaning up this mess. This is my mess not theirs.” I pick up my bag from the floor and swing it over my shoulder. “And it’s the only option I have at the moment.”
She bites at her fingernail, clearly nervous. “For how long?”
I shrug, getting a couple of painkillers from the dresser and swallowing them down with my spit. If they don’t kick in soon, I’m going to be in some serious pain. “For as long as it takes.”
“But isn’t that a little risky? I mean, you could lose your money and do you really want to be messing around with stuff like that in Vegas. Aren’t things like really intense down there?”
“Every where’s intense when you really think about it. And it’s the only option I have at the moment. And besides, my uncle knows what he’s doing.”
She’s quiet as I go over to my closet to grab my jacket. I hear her phone go off in her pocket again and when I turn around, she’s chewing on her bottom lip with uncertainty written all over her face as she reads the message.
Shaking her head, she stuffs the phone into her pocket. “Want some company? I mean on the road or whatever.” She gives a nonchalant shrug, indifferent on the outside, but I can tell she’s hiding something on the inside.
“You want to come on the road with me? Seriously?” Something really bad must be going on if she’s choosing to be around me.
There’s so much fear and pain in her eyes that I want to grab her, hug her, and never let her go. The look is a total change from when she was on the ledge of the building and she looked high. I thought she was for a moment, but I think it might have been some sort of weird adrenaline rush. “I could use the break.” She shrugs and I wonder who texted her a few minutes ago and it if has anything to do with her sudden okayness to be near me. I’m guessing it was Preston and he’s angry that she just lost one of his clients. Fucking prick. He probably threatened her.
“I thought you hated missing class?” Excluding the riskiness of her going, I’m still reluctant. It’s like I can’t get past the fact that it doesn’t really seem like she necessarily wants to go with me, so much as she wants to escape something. And the idea of being on the road with her, sleeping under the same roof, when she really doesn’t want to be with me, doesn’t seem like something I can handle without losing it. And I can’t lose it right now—I need to pull my act together and get some cash made quickly.
She presses her lips together and abruptly gets up. “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t even know why I’m asking.” She hurries for the door, but I catch her arm and stop her.
“I’m just wondering why you want to go with me after,” I motion between the two of us, trying to find the right words, “everything that’s happened over the l
ast couple of months.”
“I need an escape too. I can’t… I don’t…” She huffs in frustration, finally making eye contact with me and it’s overwhelming to the point that my legs almost buckle. “Look, if you don’t want me to go with you then you don’t have to let me.”
I want to ask her what she needs to escape from, but she’s closed off and I know her well enough that she’s not going to tell me, not now anyway. “I want you to go,” I say, my grip loosening on her arm. “But I also don’t want you to get even further into this mess.”
“This mess is a lot better than my alternative,” she mutters under her breath. “Trust me.”
“Violet, I…” I trail off, realizing that I can press her all I want, but she’s not going to open up to me like she used to. I can almost see the wall around her, the one she had before we were together. Only it’s twenty times thicker and sturdier this time. “Come with me…. I want you to.”
“Okay, if that’s what you want,” she says nonchalantly, but a glimmer of that I-won attitude flashes through it and gives me a brief glimpse of the Violet that made me want to change everything about myself—try to be a good person.
“Okay then,” I say and it feels like we’ve made some sort of silent agreement in our exchange, but I haven’t read the fine print yet. “Are you ready to go? No, you’ll probably need to stop by… your place, right? I mean, for clothes and stuff.” I’m rambling, nervous, like a fucking pussy who’s never spent time with a woman before.
“I guess so,” she says flatly. “I mean, yeah. I need to go… to the house to get my stuff.”
I frown, feeling rage inside my chest hotter than a goddamn wildfire as I pick up on a vibe she’s trying to keep hidden. “Is there something going on with that fucking douche bag... he hasn’t… he hasn’t hit you or anything? Because I’ll beat the shit out of him if he has.”
“No we’re fine—everything’s fine.” She slips her arm from my hand. “Let’s go if we’re going to do this. I’ll call Greyson on the way and see if he can cover my shifts at the diner.” She cringes as if the idea makes her uncomfortable.
I sigh and follow after her as she walks out of my bedroom, knowing I’m making a huge mess and should try to be fixing it. But I can’t find the will to stop it so I walk straight into the train wreck.
I’m in deep shit. I knew this even before I got the text from Preston. The text just confirmed it.
Preston: Just got a text from Roy. Dammit Violet, you’re going to fucking pay for making me lose a client like this. And it’s going to be worse than the last time. I swear to fucking God, you’re going to owe me for the rest of your life.
The text replays in my head over and over again as I try to get the courage to get out of the truck and go into the trailer house to get my stuff. I don’t want to be a coward, but I can’t stop thinking about how I’ve been “paying” for my fuck ups for the last two months, the bruises on my leg marking my payment and my penitence.
It’s sundown, the stars are out, the porch light of the trailer house is on. There’s a party going on, cars lining the driveway, people standing out on the deck and loitering in the yard. It’ll make it easier to slip in unnoticed, but worse if Preston runs into me. He’ll probably be high on something and less controllable.
“I’m going to go in with you,” Luke tells me, shutting off the engine and unbuckling his seatbelt.
I want to argue with him, because I don’t want to rely on him like that, but dammit I need someone right now, so I nod then get out of the truck. When we meet at the front, I don’t move away from him, letting his nearness calm me down. I’m not stupid. I know this is all going to come crashing down on me soon, especially when we’re on the road and all the unspoken stuff between us comes pouring out. But right now I just want to pretend he makes me feel safe again, that I didn’t run away, didn’t mess everything up—that his mother didn’t help kill my parents.
When I reach the top of the stairs, I squeeze between the drunk and stoned people blocking our path, and come to a halt in front of the screen door. Preston is in the living room, talking animatedly to his pothead friends with a joint in his hand. There’s music playing from the stereo and empty liquor bottles all over the kitchen countertops.
“Maybe I should go in by myself,” I say to Luke, but they’re just words that have no true meaning behind them.
He doesn’t say anything, taking my hand in his, he opens the screen door, and we walk into the house. Preston doesn’t look in our direction at first, engulfed in a conversation, but when I steer Luke through the crowd to the hallway, he notices me. He gives me a dark look mixed with lust that makes vomit burn at the back of my throat. Then he notices Luke and the lust turns to anger.
“What the fuck’s going on?” he asks and suddenly the entire room is looking at us. Smoke encircles around me, a potent snake that stings at my nostrils and smells like weed, sweat, and various different alcohols.
I’m not one to shy away, but I’m more tense than usual, a reaction linked to the reason why there are bruises covering my leg. “I came to get my stuff.” Surprisingly, however, my voice sounds strong.
Preston lets out a laugh, handing the joint to a tall, lanky guy beside him before crossing the room toward me, shoving people out of his way who look about as dazed and confused as they can get. “What? You’re moving out again?” His cold glare lands on Luke. “With this asshole?” Preston doesn’t like Luke considering Luke kicked his ass once.
“I don’t know if I’m moving out yet,” I say as Luke’s fingers wander up my wrist, gently stroking my skin, sending a calmness through my body I’ve never felt before. “But I need a break from you and all this crap.” I raise my chin, voice strong, despite my inner jitteriness. I’ve always been good at faking it when needed. I can be calm in the snap of a finger even when I’m not. Pretend I don’t care when I really do. Act like I don’t feel a goddamn thing for someone, when really I feel everything for them.
Preston’s right in front of me now and I can see that look in his eyes again, the one that came before the bruises that are on my legs. “You’re making a big mistake.” His voice is low and carries a warning, just like it always does when he’s threatening me.
I should have fought more.
Should have bruised the shit out of him.
Should have. Could have. Would have.
“I just need a break,” I repeat. Stay firm.
“A break from what? Having a roof over your head? Food on your plate? A ride?” He pauses, his gaze flicking in Luke’s direction, then he leans down in my face, so close I can feel his hot breath on my cheek. “Or being a little whore that you are ever single day. You fucking cunt. You use me to live her—use your little fucking mouth and body to get what you want.”
Luke’s hand is suddenly leaving my arm and he roughly shoves Preston back, causing him to stumble over his feet and almost fall. “Back the fuck off,” he warns. “Or I’m going to make you.”
I can take care of this. I don’t need you, I want to say, but I can barely breathe, let alone speak. Everyone is looking at me to, in the midst of my weakness, about to have a meltdown. I need something. I need something…
“Bend over,” Preston said, pushing me toward the bed. “Come of V, bend over and take it like you want to.”
“What I want to do is knee you in the balls, Preston,” I said back. “And if you touch me again, I just might—”
He grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled hard. “And what?” Another tug, but I refuse to wince. Show pain. I am a fucking calm before the storm. I am untouchable. No one can hurt me. “Come on tough girl, let me hear all the terrible things you’re going to do to me.”
I wanted to tell him everything, how much of an ass he was being, to get his hands off me, to go fuck himself, but then I remembered how the last time I did, he made me move out and how this time I wouldn’t have Luke to save my sorry ass. So instead I force myself to relax as h
e shoved me down on my knees, which end up slamming into the side of the bed. Then he walked around in front of me, shoving me back a little and unzipped his pants…
“I’m l-leaving for a week or so,” I stammer then dodge around Preston, loathing how unsteady I feel, wobbly, like I’m walking a tightrope, about to fall blindly into the unknown.
“You leave and I’m not taking you back this time!” he calls out after me, anger burning in his tone and slamming into my back. “You need me Violet Hayes! I’m all you got anymore!”
“Fuck you!” I snap venomously, turning and flipping him the bird. “I hate it here and I fucking hate you.” Shit. Oh God. Oh shit. No.
“You ungrateful little bitch,” he seethes, storming after me, his veins bulging, more angry than I’ve ever seen him, which makes me wonder how hard he’s going to hit me if he gets close enough, but I never get to find out because Luke shoves him back again and Preston slams into the wall, stunned.