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Cursed Hadley, Page 8

Jessica Sorensen

“We don’t have time for this, Blaise,” Rhyland calls out. “We need to go. Now.”

  His gaze descends to my mouth before he yanks his gaze off me and ducks into the passenger seat, slamming the door.

  “Sorry about that. He’s just …” Rhyland sighs then jumps into the driver’s seat and peels out of the driveway, leaving a cloud of dust behind.

  I feel the strangest pull toward them as they speed off, but as I step back into the house, the sensation snaps like a broken rubber band.

  Londyn wanders into the kitchen as I’m shutting the door. She’s wearing a pair of soccer shorts, a tank, knee-high socks, shin guards, cleats, a soccer ball is tucked under her arm, and her hair is pulled into a messy bun.

  “What were you just doing?” she wonders suspiciously when she notes how close to the door I am. “And please don’t tell me you were having a throw down with those jerks next door.”

  “Okay, I wasn’t having a throw down with the jerks next door.” I say it more as a question, though.

  A weighted sigh puffs from her lips as she opens the fridge. “I was thinking about this all last night. While those guys are infuriating, I think we should keep our distance from them.” She grabs a water bottle and bumps the fridge door shut. “You should’ve heard what the clerk at the gas station was saying about them yesterday when I told him where we lived.” She shakes her head, unscrewing the lid off the water bottle. “Apparently, they cause trouble all the time and do some pretty dangerous stuff, but they never get in trouble for it because everyone in town is scared of them. Even the police.”

  “The police are scared of a bunch of teenage guys?” I question as I pick up a box of granola bars.

  She shrugs, taking a swig of water. “That’s what he told me.”

  “Why were you even talking to this guy at all?”

  “He asked me if I was new here, and when I told him I was and where I lived, he started warning me about our new neighbors. He also offered to come help us out if we needed help moving in stuff.”

  “Sounds like he was hitting on you.”

  “No, it wasn’t like that.” Yet a wistful smile tugs at her lips. “It wouldn’t be so terrible if he was, though. He was pretty hot and seemed sweet.” Screwing the cap back on the water bottle, she starts for the door. “I’m going to hit up the park and do some practice drills. Text me if you need anything.” She waves goodbye before slipping out of the house, leaving me to wonder if the cashier guy’s warning had any truth to it.

  Could the neighbors be dangerous?

  Yes, a voice whispers inside my mind.

  I wince, my gaze magnetizing toward their house.

  Standing on the front porch is the girl who warned me about the guys. She offers me a small smile and a wave before taking off down the stairs and skipping around to the back of the house where she climbs into an old, beat-up truck and shuts the door.

  So strange.

  But I’ve got bigger problems to worry about than the weird girl next door, starting with making sure the guys next door stay away from my sisters.

  Chapter 8

  The next week passes by swiftly and without any more drama, surprisingly. We get settled into the house, Londyn and I find a part-time job delivering newspapers in the mornings, and Bailey and Payton get hired to babysit the neighbors’ kids after school. Not the neighbors’ right next door to us. No, I haven’t seen or heard much from them. Haven’t even seen their SUV in the driveway.

  Even in my dreams, they haven’t made an appearance. A huge relief to me … sort of.

  Okay, okay, I kind of miss dreaming about them. I’m not even sure why. While I’m awake, I like not having to see them. But the instant my eyes close for sleep, a longing fills my chest, as if a piece of my heart is with them … or my soul.

  Yeah, the whole cursed fire reaper thing Alex said to me in my dreams is still haunting my mind. Why, I have no idea, other than the four guys dressed in cloaks reminded me an awful lot of what I saw the day my mom died.

  Thought I saw.

  School starts today, so I should finally be able to get access to that book and find out what the hell a cursed fire reaper is. Then maybe my obsession with the term will go away.

  Once my alarm goes off, I get up, take a shower, then pull on my favorite pair of black jeans, a black tank top, and top the look off with a plaid overshirt, a velvet choker, and a pair of thick boots. I leave my hair down in wild waves, swept to the side, and then trace my eyes with kohl eyeliner.

  Usually, I’m a bit more nervous about starting a new school, but since it’s the beginning of a new school year, it’s not quite as stressful. Plus, it’s the start of my senior year. The start of my very last year of high school. Then I get to go off to college.

  I fist-pump the air before turning to walk out of my room, my gaze landing on the mirror, like it has every day this week. And like every other time, my skin gives off that eerie, iridescently green glow.

  “Don’t worry; you look nice,” Londyn assures me, her reflection appearing behind me in the mirror.

  Unlike me, her skin looks normal. She also doesn’t appear alarmed by my reflection. As far as I can tell, the eerie glow my skin gives off can only be seen by me. And while I tell my sister a lot of secrets, I haven’t confided in my reflection yet. Or the strange dream I had about the neighbors. I feel awful for keeping secrets, but at the same time, my sanity has been questioned before, and I don’t want her looking at me differently.

  “Thanks.” After one final glance in the mirror, I follow Londyn downstairs where Bailey and Payton are munching on granola bars and waiting for us.

  I hurriedly grab a couple of granola bars for myself then usher everyone out the door, knowing we have a long walk ahead of us.

  “Do we really have to walk?” Bailey gripes as I lock the door.

  I nod, stuffing the keys into my pocket. “Sorry, but until we can come up with some cash for new tires, we’re going to be trekking around on foot for a—what the hell!” I sputter as I catch sight of my car.

  Bailey’s brows furrow then a smile spreads across her face as she tracks my gaze. “Your tires are fixed!” She fist-pumps the air. “Hell yeah! No walking to school.”

  I look at Londyn. “Did you do this?”

  She shakes her head. “I wish I did, but I’m as broke as you are.”

  I give Payton a suspicious glance. “Did you by chance find a way to steal four new tires?”

  “No, but I did think about it.” She drums her finger against her lips. “Maybe Dad did it?”

  Silence stretches between us, then we bust up laughing.

  “Yeah, right.” I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes. “And then, after that, he prepaid all our bills, so we never have to worry about getting evicted again.”

  “God, wouldn’t that be nice?” Londyn says as we open the doors to get into my car.

  “Definitely …” I pause, noticing a small card balanced on the dashboard.

  I grab the card and open it.

  Dear Hadley,

  I’m sorry we haven’t seen much of each other over the last week, but I’ve been extremely busy keeping my brothers out of trouble, amongst other stuff. I know the last time we spoke you declined my offer to buy you new tires, and I really wanted to respect your wishes, but it just doesn’t feel right knowing you’re without a car.

  Please don’t hate me for doing this. I really, really would like it if we could be friends. My brothers would actually like it, too. I know you got on the wrong foot with them, but they’re very sorry about that and would like to start over.



  I rub the back of my hand across my forehead as I slowly drop into the driver’s seat.

  “Who’s that from?” Londyn asks as she shuts the door.

  “Rhyland.” I dazedly hand her the note then slip the keys in the ignition and start up the engine.

  She reads over the note, and then a silly grin touches her lips. “Well, that
was sort of nice of him, I guess.”

  “Yeah.” I grip the steering wheel, unsure what to make of the card. Up until this point, Blaise, Alex, and Jaxon have shown no signs of remorse or of wanting to be my friend. Well, except in my dream. But that was just a dream. It didn’t really happen, Hadley. “Maybe a little too nice.”

  Londyn sets the card down on the console then reaches to put her seatbelt on. “You think he has an ulterior motive?”

  I shift the car into reverse. “Or maybe it wasn’t even him.”

  Londyn nods. “After what Hunter told me, I wouldn’t trust any of them.”

  “Who’s Hunter?” Bailey, Payton, and I ask simultaneously.

  “The cashier at the gas station.” Her cheeks blush a bit.

  Jeez, has she already fallen for this guy? “Are you dating him or something?” Because she has been “practicing soccer drills” a lot lately.

  “No,” she scoffs, but her blush deepens.

  I trade an amused grin with Payton and Bailey, but my grin erases as my gaze lands on the card Rhyland left me.

  Bailey tracks my gaze then leans over the seat. “You think his brothers fixed your tires as a prank or something?”

  “What would be the prank in that?” Payton points out as she draws her seatbelt over her shoulder.

  “I’m not sure.” I start to press on the gas, but then hesitate. Pushing the shifter back into park, I fasten my seatbelt. “Put your seatbelt on, Bailey.”

  Bailey eyeballs me warily before sitting back and doing what she’s told.

  “What exactly do you think’s going to happen?” Londyn asks with mild concern.

  “I don’t know.” I really don’t either.

  All I know is that, according to the note, Rhyland put new tires on my car sometime last night while I was asleep, or else I would’ve noticed. Who the hell knows if he was actually the one who did it, though. Maybe Blaise had Alex, the mechanic of the brothers, put on the tires to distract me from something else they did to my car. Something bad. And when I back up, I realize this.

  I do a quick brake check before backing out onto the street. Then I hold my breath as I drive forward. I continue to hold my breath for a few blocks. The farther we get without any mishaps, the more I question if maybe I’m being paranoid.

  That theory seems more plausible when we arrive at school without any mishaps and quite a bit early, since we were originally planning on walking.

  Payton pats my shoulder as I turn off the engine, and a breath of relief escapes my lips.

  “Well,” she says, “guess you were wrong about Mr. Fine Ass next door, which means I can ask him out, right?”

  I swiftly shake my head, a bit of jealousy burning in my chest.

  What the fuck? Ever since I had that dream, my feelings toward my neighbors have been a clusterfuck of confusion.

  “No dating any of them, understand?” I warn, whether out of worry for her or from my jealousy, I’m not sure. “They’re way too old for you, and from what Londyn’s told me, they’re dangerous.”

  Payton rolls her eyes. “Jaxon, the youngest, is just a little bit older than Londyn. And Rhyland and Blaise are about the same age as you.” She pulls a tube of lip gloss from her pocket. “Alex is nineteen, but still, that’s barely three years older than me.”

  I rotate around in the seat and gape at her. “How in the hell did you get all that information?”

  She applies a coat of lip gloss and shrugs. “Miss Clammersin—the lady we’re babysitting for—likes to gossip, so I asked her about the Porterson brothers, you know, in case we need some intel on them. And she was more than happy to oblige.”

  I lift a brow. “The Porterson brothers?”

  “That’s what people around here call them.” She stuffs her lip gloss into her pocket. “Jaxon is only their half-brother. Rhyland and Blaise are twins. Alex is their legal guardian—not sure where their parents are. They have quite the reputation for causing chaos. Even worse than us, probably.”

  Her words are making me nervous. Parentless. Troublemakers. Twins. Their family is practically the male version of ours, except I’d like to believe we’re not quite as bad. I don’t know how accurate that is. Over the years, my sisters and I have done our fair share of wreaking havoc. I don’t think people have ever referred to us as dangerous, though. Just trouble.

  “Wait, don’t they have a sister?” I ask, recalling the girl who warned me about her brothers.

  “Miss C. never mentioned a sister.” Payton slings the handle of her bag over her shoulder. “So maybe the girl lives in another house on the street and was just messing around in their yard.”

  “No, she referred to the guys as her brothers.” I collect my bag and reach for the door handle. “Maybe she’s just their half-sister and visits them or something.” And plays around in the broken-down cars covering the backyard.

  Payton shrugs, popping a piece of gum into her mouth. “Yeah, maybe. I’ll see if I can dig up more dirt on them today.”

  I shake my head. “Stay away from the Porterson brothers. I mean it.”

  “Okay.” But the mischievous glint in her eyes lets me know she’s full of shit.

  Sighing, I get out of the car, and my sisters follow. Then we start across the parking lot toward the entrance doors of the single-story, brick school. We’re early, only a handful of students are around, but we somehow manage to draw attention.

  “Why are they staring?” Londyn whispers. “Do I have toilet paper stuck to my shoe or something?”

  I glance at her feet then look at mine, because toilet paper getting stuck on a shoe seems more of my thing than Londyn’s. “Nope. You’re good.”

  “Maybe it’s because we’re new,” Bailey suggests, glancing around the campus yard uneasily. “This is a small town. They probably know we’re new.”

  “Maybe.” But I have an unsettling feeling the dirty looks we’re getting have nothing to do with our newbie status.

  My doubt only plummets when we enter the school and the few people standing by their lockers start whispering and snickering in our direction.

  Something is certainly going on, and I have a feeling it has to do with dipshit one, two, three, and four—yes, I’m putting Rhyland in that category, too.

  A second later, my suspicions are confirmed when I note the flyers taped to the lockers

  “What are those?” Bailey whispers, eyeballing them.

  I pluck one off, and anger ripples through my body.

  Everyone, I’d like to introduce you to the Harlyton sisters. They just moved here and will be joining our little student body population. The first thing you should know about them is they are quite the little kleptomaniacs. They can also be very manipulative. And according to some of their police records, they like to solve their problems with violence.

  Below the note is a list of every crime my sisters and I have ever committed, along with a mugshot of Payton and Bailey, and yes, me. Londyn is the only one of us who hasn’t been arrested yet, but one of her yearbook photos is included. Even crimes never reported to the police are on there.

  How did they learn all this?

  Londyn leans over my shoulder to read it. “Wait … Is that a list of all the times we’ve gotten in trouble?”

  Nodding, I crumple up the paper and begin ripping down the rest of the flyers. We’re early enough that maybe I can stop everyone from seeing them. Then again, the few people who already have seen them are more than likely going to gossip about it.

  “Do you think the Porterson brothers did this?” Londyn hisses as she rushes after me while Payton takes off toward the bathroom.

  “I’ll go check on her,” Bailey says, jogging after her.

  I rip off more flyers and toss them in the trash can. “I don’t think they did it. I know they did.”

  Londyn tears a flyer off a locker, her fingers slightly trembling. “How did they find all this dirt on us?”

  I shrug, tearing a flyer in half. “I’m not sure.” Bu
t I do know why they probably started searching for the info.

  Back when I spoke to Rhyland, I accidentally let it slip that my sisters got into trouble and sometimes even with the police.

  This is all my fault for letting a guy mess with my head.

  I need to find a way to fix it, whatever it takes.

  Chapter 9

  I’m a prideful person, have been for as long as I can remember. That pride can sometimes get me into trouble, like this whole ordeal with the Porterson brothers.

  Maybe I should’ve just ignored Blaise’s baby and sweetheart comments. That might have been easier. But ignoring isn’t always necessarily the right thing to do, easier or not. And I’m sick of guys talking to me like I’m a ditzy girl who should just get all swoony because they glance my way or pay me a bit of attention when I don’t even want it.

  By the time I make it to first period English, I’m fuming mad. I haven’t seen the Porterson brothers, but they have to be here, right? How else could those flyers have been put up?

  “Fuck the Porterson brothers,” I mutter as I slump lower in my desk, waiting for the bell to ring while doing my best to ignore the gawks and whispers floating around me.

  “Do you mean that literally?” Blaise’s amused tone makes every single one of my muscles wind into knots, yet my heart, the traitorous bastard, flutters. “Because, while that sounds interesting in theory, I’m not sure you can handle all four us. Or even one of us.”

  I restlessly drum my fingers on top of my legs as I sense him take a seat in the desk behind mine. So many comebacks burn at the tip of my tongue, but I simmer them out, reigning back on my temper before turning around.

  “Was it you?” I ask in a surprisingly even tone.

  He cocks his head to the side, a show of great confusion, but the glimmer is contradicting. “Was what me?”

  I narrow my eyes at him. “Don’t play dumb with me.”

  He slants forward, crossing his arms on his desk, his eyes swirling with a look that makes the air get caught in my lungs. “Then don’t play dumb with me, sweetheart.”