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Unraveling You, Page 7

Jessica Sorensen

  I want to run out the door. Run away. A year ago, I would have, but I don’t think I can do it now—go back in the system. No, I’m going to have to grovel, beg them to let me stay here with them.

  “I’m sorry, we just …” I trail off, unsure of what to say. The last thing I want to do is get Lyric in trouble, but I’m worried if I take the fall, I’ll be kicked out.

  Mr. Scott and Mr. Gregory exchange a look then Mr. Scott scoots out the barstool beside the one he’s sitting on and pats the seat while Mr. Gregory leans back against the counter and waits for me sit down.

  Blowing out a breath, I plant my ass in the seat.

  “What exactly were you and my daughter up to tonight?” Mr. Scott asks, watching me like a hawk.

  “Um, we went on a bike ride, sir,” I answer, but it sounds more like a question than a response.

  “What did you do when you got home, though?” This time it’s Mr. Gregory that speaks. “Because if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess the two of you have been drinking tonight, which would be really, really bad since we set ground rules of no drinking.”

  “Um …” I struggle for a response, glancing back and forth between them.

  Rat out Lyric? Get kicked out? What the hell do I do?

  I don’t want to go back into the system.

  Don’t want to go back.

  Don’t want to.


  Mr. Scott leans over and sniffs the air. “Is that my scotch I smell on your breath?”

  “I’m sorry, sir.” My pulse pounds as I rise from the stool with my head tipped down and my shoulders sagging. “I’ll go pack my stuff.”

  “Pack your stuff?” Mr. Gregory mumbles, confused. The two of them trade a look, and then their expressions soften. “Ayden, we’re not going to kick you out, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

  My gaze skims back and forth between them. “But I broke the rules.”

  Mr. Gregory says to Mr. Scott, “See, this is what happens when they give us responsibilities. We fuck things up.” Shaking his head, he returns his attention to me, standing up straight. “Son, we’re not going to kick you out because you broke a rule, but I do need to punish you.” He seems puzzled over what to do next, and seeks help from Mr. Scott. “What do I punish him with?”

  He shrugs. “I have no fucking idea. Ella usually comes up with the punishments, and this is the first time Lyric’s done something like this. Maybe ground him for a week?”

  This is the strangest thing I’ve ever witnessed. In the past homes I lived in, by this point, I’d be getting yelled at. If I were still at my mother’s, fists would have been flying. But that still wouldn’t have been the worst part. No, that would come later.

  Mr. Gregory considers the idea. “That seems doable.” He turns to me. “What do you think?”

  I shrug, so damn confused. “Um, it sounds good to me, sir.”

  He nods, looking relieved as he stands up straight. “All right, you’re not allowed to do anything for a week.”

  I keep my head down as I breathe in relief. “Okay, sir.”

  “And stop calling me sir,” he sternly adds. “That’s part of your punishment, too. From now on, you have to call me Ethan.”

  I’m relieved he didn’t ask me to call him dad. That I couldn’t handle, since I’ve never called anyone dad before. Getting kicked out I can’t handle either, not anymore. Hell, I can barely handle the fact that they seem to want me around, despite the fact I’ve messed up.

  “Okay.” As I’m starting to relax, Mrs. Scott enters the room, dragging Lyric in with her.

  “Your daughter would like to tell both of you something,” she says, staring at a very pale looking Lyric.

  Lyric sighs then looks at her dad. “I’m sorry that I drank some of your scotch and smoked your secret cigarettes.” Her dad’s eyes widen, as if he’s been busted, while Lyric continues, “And, Mr. Gregory, you should know that it was my idea. I talked Ayden into going into my father’s office and into drinking. And he didn’t smoke. That was all me.” When her gaze flicks over at me, the damn girl smiles and winks.

  I got your back, she mouths as she wanders around the counter and takes a seat beside me. She leans in and whispers in my ear, “I’m going to make this up to you by helping you find your brother and sister. I promise.”

  I want to hug her, but decide it’s probably not the best move right now, nor am I sure I can handle a hug. It’s a strange feeling, though—wanting to touch someone. It makes me pause. Really think. About who I’m turning into. Could I somehow, after what I’ve been through, turn out normal? Lose the fear of touching someone? Of the dark? Of the past?

  I stay put until eventually everyone gathers back into the kitchen to eat cake and ice cream, and reminisce about my first month as being part of the family. It’s a pretty good ending to the day, and part of me thinks the perfection is going to carry throughout the night. That maybe my nightmares will somehow vanish.

  But the moment I close my eyes to go to sleep, I fall into darkness and my scars start to bleed again.

  Bleed. Bleed. Bleed.

  Like wilting rose petals.

  Against the darkness.

  Dripping against the shadows.

  Around me. All around me.

  The metal bites my skin.

  Killing me slowly. Painfully.

  Never letting me breathe again.

  Chapter 6


  Lyric being Lyric, she keeps her promise to me and helps me search for my brother and sister. We spend a lot of time during the summer and well into the beginning of senior year searching. We keep our efforts from the Gregorys and Scotts, though, mainly because it feels like we’re doing something wrong.

  No article or search gives us any information on their whereabouts, though, even when we try to break into the social service’s records—yeah, we’re that awesome. Of course, we fail epically with our hacking since neither of us are computer geniuses.

  We’ve been in my room all day. It’s late. The stars and moon are shining brightly from outside the window. I’m tired of staring at the computer screen. Lyric looks bored as hell, lying on her stomach on my bed, messing around with her phone.

  “I think I need a break,” I tell her, swiveling in the chair as I rub my weary eyes.

  “Don’t get discouraged.” Lyric tosses her phone aside and rolls off the bed, tugging the hem of her dress down.

  The fabric is black and red with stars on it and it’s just the right length that I get an eyeful every time she bends over. I try not to look when she does, but ever since the incident in her father’s office a few months ago, I’ve been struggling with my attraction to her, something I’ve yet to tell anyone about, even my therapist.

  If I were a better guy, I’d tell her to be more careful when she bends over. But I’m not a better guy. I’m a confused guy who got his first welcomed hard-on while she was sitting on his lap. I want her, yet I’m afraid to want her, afraid to feel that way about her, so I try not to look.

  “I’m not discouraged.” My fingers fall to the keyboard. “I just need a break. I’m bored.”

  “You’re bored. Wow, that’s a first.” She comes up behind me and places her hands on my shoulders, digging her fingertips into my shirt, massaging my muscles. I tense from her touch, momentarily forgetting how to breathe as her scent immerses me. “You’re usually so uptight. You need to relax, dude.” She rests her chin on my head as she keeps rubbing, driving my body into a confusion infused frenzy.

  “What’s up with the constant dude remark?” I ask as I click off the computer screen. “You’re always calling me that.”

  “That’s because you’re my dude, buddy, bro.” She laughs then kisses the top of my head. “Now get up. If you want a break, I’m totally going to give you a break.”

  “Where are we going to go?” I stand up and stretch my arms above my head, hyper aware that her eyes wander to the bottom of my shirt when it rides up, checking me

  I feel slightly better about the whole dress thing, but at the same time guilty. And afraid. So fucking afraid all the time, like I have no clue what to do with my emotions for her.

  She bites her bottom lip before blinking up at me. “Hmm … let me think. Somewhere adventurous, of course.” She taps her finger to her bottom lip. “How about the Silver Box? I haven’t been there in forever, and I heard there was a few cool bands playing tonight.”

  “But what if it’s noisy and crowded?”

  “Don’t worry. I’ll hold your hand.” Her bottom lip pops out as she peers up at me through her eyelashes, using the move she recently learned that gets her way. “Pretty please, come with me.”

  Sighing, I retrieve my hoodie from the back of the computer chair. “Fine, but I need to talk to Lila about my brother first.”

  She scoops up her leather jacket from the bedpost. “Why? You’re not letting her in on our plan, are you?”

  I slip my arms through the sleeves then zip up the jacket. “No. But he turns eighteen in a couple of days, and she said it might be easier to find him then.”

  “I hope so.” She slides her jacket on and opens the bedroom door. “Now, let’s get this party on the road.”

  She links arms with me and we head down to the kitchen. When we stroll in, Kale and Everson are sitting at the kitchen table, eating fruit and arguing about sports.

  Everson is more reserved, like me, but freaks out over anything that has to do with football, like now as he talks animatedly about some touch down by the Minnesota Vikings, one of his favorite teams.

  Kale seems mildly interested, but still argues with him. He’s always kind of marched to the beat of his own drum, wearing a lot of comic book inspired attire, but thankfully, after he turned fifteen a couple of months ago, he stopped with the capes.

  “Hey, have you two seen your mom and dad?” Lyric asks, stealing an apple from the fruit basket on the table.

  Everson scowls at her. “Jesus, make yourself at home, Lyric. You can’t just come eat our food and interrupt our conversation.”

  Kale, who’s usually a talker, freezes mid-bite of his orange slice, and stares at Lyric with his jaw hanging open as she bites into the apple. I have a theory that the poor kid might have a crush on her, since the mouth agape trait is a common thing when Lyric’s in his sight.

  “Sorry, Everson,” Lyric says, stifling a smile as she wipes a trail of juice from her chin.

  “We were talking football,” Everson tells her, like it explains his rude behavior.

  “Okay. Chillax. I just asked a question, which you never did answer.” Lyric skims back and forth between the two of them. “Do either of you know where your mom and dad are?”

  Annoyed, Everson points over his shoulder toward the living room. “They’re in there, whispering secrets about Ayden. They think they’re being sneaky about it, but we heard them when we walked by.”

  I trade a puzzled look with Lyric, and then we simultaneously duck out of the room and make a beeline for the living room. I’m about to walk right in, but Lyric throws out her arm and pushes me back behind the wall. Then, she places her finger to her lips, shushing me as she huddles against me, leaning to the side to eavesdrop.

  I sigh, torn between letting Lyric listen, and not feeling guilty about doing so myself.

  “I’m worried the therapy isn’t helping,” Lila says concernedly. “He’s still saying he can’t remember anything. And he’s been pretty adamant about searching for his brother and sister.”

  “Baby, I know you want to fix everything, including the world,” Ethan tells her, “but you might just have to accept that he may not ever remember. Maybe it’s good for him, too. Maybe whatever happened to him is best left in the dark.”

  “Yeah, but what about finding his brother and sister? What am I supposed to do about that?”

  “You try to find them,” Ethan replies simply. “If he wants to find them, then he’ll find them whether you help him out or not.”

  “Yeah, you’re probably right.” She pauses. “I worry about him, though. There’s still so much he doesn’t know—that no one knows.”

  A stretch of silence goes by, and then they start chatting about Kale and his problems at school. I don’t even realize I’ve gripped onto Lyric’s hand until her thumb grazes the inside of my wrist.

  What Lila and Ethan were talking about is nothing I don’t already know, but hearing the worry in their voices makes me concerned that I might be more messed up than I thought.

  “Hey, are you okay?” Lyric asks, searching my eyes with apprehension.

  I nod, forcing down the lump in my throat. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I free her hand from my death grip and walk into the living room, cleaning off my damp palms on the front of my jeans.

  They’re both sitting on the sectional, the television is on, but the volume is down, and a lamp is on. There are stacks of papers and receipts piled on the table, armrests, floor, everywhere really, probably for Ethan’s outdoor touring business, or Lila’s part time catering business she runs on the weekends.

  “Oh, hey, sweetie.” Lila and Ethan appear uneasy at my appearance. She has a bright pink mug in her hand that matches her shirt. When she notes Lyric and I are wearing our jackets, she sets the mug down on the coffee table. “I thought you two were hanging out in your room tonight?”

  “We were.” I exchange a glance with Lyric. “But we got bored and were wondering if we could go to the Silver Box for a while.”

  Lila looks at Ethan for his input, but he just shrugs. Her gaze glides to the window across the room. “It’s pretty late for a school night.”

  “We won’t stay out for too long,” Lyric steps in. “There’s supposed to be some really cool bands playing tonight.”

  Ethan straightens up at this. “Yeah, I actually heard that, too.”

  Lyric’s green eyes start to sparkle, and I know she’s already conjuring up a plan. “Hey, here’s an idea. How about you and my dad go with us? That could be fun.”

  Ethan rubs his jawline, musing over the idea. “That actually could be fun.” He drops the papers he was holding down onto the couch cushion and turns to Lila. “What do you think?”

  Lila sighs as she collects her mug, reclines back in the sofa, and crosses her legs. “Go have fun. Just don’t keep them out too late.”

  When Ethan hurries upstairs to get ready, Lyric faces me. “I probably should go make sure my dad is down. Meet you at my garage in like ten?”

  I nod.

  She gives me a pressing look before walking out of the room. I know her well enough by now to understand that the only reason she left was to give me an opportunity to speak with Lila. I’m just not sure what I want to say anymore, so I end up sticking to my original plan.

  “Um, I kind of wanted to ask you something else.” I lower myself onto the edge of the coffee table and pick at a hole in my jeans. “I was wondering if we could start looking for my brother again, since his eighteenth birthday is in a few days.”

  “I was actually expecting you to ask that sooner, and was planning on visiting social services next week.” She smiles as she raises the brim of the mug to her lips, but beneath the mask of happiness is uneasiness.

  I’m just not sure what the uneasiness is over. Finding my brother? Or me?


  I didn’t understand why Lyric was so easygoing about bringing her father and Ethan with us to a club, but I quickly find out once I arrive at her house. After some persuading, she convinces Mr. Scott to drive his Chevelle and to let us drive her mother’s GTO so we can race to the club. It’s a fairly easy win, though, since Mr. Scott seems to go easy on her.

  When we arrive at the building secured in the heart of the town, I learn another reason why Lyric was so enthusiastic over taking the parentals. Mr. Scott is a well enough known musician that he gets easy access through the entrance. We stroll right up to the rope where the bouncer waves us in.

  A crowd is already forming
around the stage, even though we’re here early. The air is hot, suffocating, along with the bodies pressed up against me. The mob is thickening at such a rapid rate that we end up losing track of Mr. Scott and Ethan. I just about get split apart from Lyric, too, but fortunately she presses her back against my chest, grabs hold of my hands, and then wraps them around her waist.

  I momentarily seize up by her nearness, but then I realize the alternative—let her go and get eaten up by the throng. I grip onto her and hold on for dear life.

  Her hair smells amazing, like strawberries with a hint of perfume. The strands tickle my cheeks, causing my eyelashes to lower.