Unraveling You, Page 9Jessica Sorensen
“And what does this William do?” he asks, reaching for his soda that’s on the trunk.
“He goes to school with me.” I fiddle with one of the leather bands on my wrists. “He’s on the football team, too.”
His grip constricts on the soda can as he frowns. “Football? Really?”
“What? There’s nothing wrong with football guys.”
“Yeah, but … it just doesn’t seem like your type.”
“I don’t even know my type yet.” I resist an eye roll. Jesus, he’s getting weirder and weirder about guys the more I go out on dates.
He places the can back on the trunk then rests his arms on his knees. “Is Ayden going to this party?”
I shrug, feeling a lump swell in my throat as I remember the coldness in his eyes when I left his room. “I invited him, and he seemed like he might show up, but with Ayden you can never be sure. He might end up feeling too guilty about missing movie night.”
Maybe I should go check on him before I leave?
Or at least text him.
I just need to know that he’s okay.
My dad ponders over something then sticks his hand into the pocket of his jeans. “I’m going to call Ethan to see if I can find out.” He presses a button then puts the phone to his ear while I retrieve my cell from my jacket pocket to text Ayden.
“Yeah, you do that.” I jump to my feet when I hear a horn honk outside. “That’s my ride. Have fun with your phone call.” I scurry for the door with the phone clutched in my hand.
“Lyric Scott, get your butt back here.”
Dammit, so close.
I spin around and smile innocently at him. “Yes, Daddy.”
“Don’t you ‘yes Daddy’ me.” He nods his head toward the window at the driveway where the engine of William’s car is rumbling. “I have to meet him before you get in that car with him.”
My shoulders slacken. “What, you don’t trust my judgment?”
He dithers with indecision. “No, not really. You are my daughter after all.”
I blow out a frustrated breath. “Fine. You can walk me to the car and meet him.” I aim a finger at him. “But don’t be weirdo, strict dad.”
He rolls his eyes as he stuffs his phone back inside his pocket. “Lyric, when it comes to you dating guys, I will always be weirdo, strict dad, but only because I love you.”
Sighing, I lead him out to William, knowing my dad’s already docking points for the Mercedes he’s driving. William appears wigged out when I stroll up to the driver’s side and rap on the glass.
He rolls the window down. “What’s up?” He casts a glimpse over my shoulder at my dad. His appearance is going to be strike two—blonde hair slicked back, a polo shirt, and his somewhat cocky grin isn’t going to impress him.
“William, this is my dad.” I motion back and forth between them. “Dad, this is William.”
My dad eyeballs the sleek lines of the car with his face screwed up tight, like he just tasted something bitter. “How long have you had your license?”
“For about a year.” William flicks a what the hell look at me.
Things only continue to go downhill as my dad fires question after question at him. By the time we’re pulling out of the driveway, fifteen minutes have passed since I first walked out of the house.
“Sorry about that,” I say as I buckle my seatbelt. “I’m not sure what got into him today.”
William squirms in his seat as he adjusts the mirror. “No worries. I just didn’t expect your dad to be so uptight.”
“What do you mean by your dad?”
He shrugs as he shifts gears and speeds up. “I just figured with as laid back as you are that your parents would be pretty chill.”
I feel a little bit defensive, which is really out of character for me. Usually I try to stay all peace, love, and sunshine. “He was just making sure his daughter wasn’t driving off with a psychopath.”
He laughs, kind of snidely. “He seemed a little overly intense, if you ask me.”
Okay, maybe Ayden was right. Perhaps I should spend more time with a guy before I proclaim that I’m in love with him.
“Sorry,” he quickly says when he catches sight of my disappointment. “I just don’t do well with parents.” He reaches across the console and wraps his fingers around my bare knee. “Let’s drop it, though, and have some fun tonight.” He flashes me his infamous dimpled grin.
I smile back, but I’m suddenly not feeling him.
As William starts rambling about sports, I slide my finger across the screen of my phone and send Ayden a text.
Me: Hey, so I just wanted to see if u were ok. U looked super upset when I left and I feel like maybe I might have pushed u a little too far… If u need to talk or want to meet up later, I’m totally down for it. William might be a bust anyway.
I slide my phone into my pocket, waiting for a reply. By the time we arrive at the party, I’m still feeling super down and a bit anxious, so when William offers me a drink, I take it, even though I’ve tried to avoid alcohol since the whole scotch incident.
William flashes me his pearly whites as I guzzle down half the cup in one gulp. “Hell yeah!” he cheers over the pop music I loathe, blasting so loudly I can feel the bass in my chest.
I lick a drop of the spiked punch off the bottom of my lip, slightly more at ease as the alcohol settles into my system. “Want to dance!” I shout, figuring anything will be better than talking about sports some more.
Without waiting for him to respond, I hand him my drink, wiggle out of my jacket and shake my ass toward the dance floor, twirling around and around.
I waggle my fingers at my friend Maggie, who’s dancing in the corner with a guy that looks old enough to be in college. She winks at me and wiggles her eyebrows suggestively right as someone places their hands on my waist.
“You dance fucking amazing,” William whispers in my ear, his breath hot on my skin and reeking of Bacardi.
I smile at myself then whirl around and really show him what dancing is, rocking and grinding my hips against his. He moves with me, rubbing against me as his hands travel all over my body, gripping at my flesh.
“God, you smell so fucking good.” His teeth graze my neck as his hand cups my ass.
The music suddenly screams at my eardrums to the point where I can’t stand it anymore.
I’m so not ready for this tonight.
I tense and push back, putting room between our bodies. “Maybe we should slow things down just a bit.”
He seems a little pissed, but calms down and says, “How about we go out back where it’s a little bit quieter and talk. There are people out there, too, so we won’t be alone.”
I nod, relieved that he’s not being pushy about my stiffness. That’s pretty much the only thing he’s done right the entire night, so I take it.
He pours us both another drink in the kitchen area before he slips his fingers through mine and steers me through Maggie’s house. I’ve never actually been to her home before, not her father’s house anyway. William seems to know his way around as he maneuvers through the throng of people drinking, dancing, laughing, and playing pool. Some I go to high school with, while others look old enough to be in college.
“This house is huge!” I yell over the music as we veer down a narrow hallway lined with shut doors. The lighting is dim, the music softer.
He peers over his shoulder. “Drink up,” he says, nodding at the cup in my hand. His expression is darker than it was minutes ago. Oddly enough, he seems extremely relaxed. It makes me hesitate. Red flags go up.
All of a sudden, he’s tugging me into a dark room with a bed and a dresser. He doesn’t turn the lights on as he closes and locks the door behind us. A little too late, I painfully realize that Ayden might have been right about William. And myself, too. I do think with my heart too much. Do trust people too much.
And now I’ve walked head-on into trouble.
br /> I hate parties. Growing up in the midst of them gave me an ugly outlook on what can come from too much partying. My mother was a hardcore partier. Her drug of choice was everything and anything she could get her hands on. It aged her quickly and turned her into a nasty person, one who was incapable of loving and did the most awful things to people, including her own children. And that’s how she died, a doped-up druggie who hated the world and left scars on her offspring. It was a sad, pathetic waste of a life. At her funeral, I vowed that I would never turn into her.
I almost did, though, as I got lost in the system, getting bitter with each home I was passed through. But then I lucked out and ended up with the Gregorys, who showed me that people could love one another unconditionally and gave me hope that maybe trusting people was a possibility. That perhaps even love was a possibility. That’s what my therapist is trying to convince me.
“You’re too afraid to feel all the horrible emotions you shut down as a child.” He told me that today while I sat in his office, fidgety as usual. You would think after nine months of monthly visits with him I would be more relaxed, yet I never am. “That fear is blocking out all of the good emotions as well as some of your memories.”
I hadn’t responded.
Part of me agrees with him, but I am doing better with dealing my emotions, not shutting down so much and keeping my feelings to myself. Then I saw that damn paper and was reminded of stuff forgotten. I snapped at Lyric, which is gnawing at me more than anything.
“Ayden, tell Kale to stop teasing me!” Fiona shouts from the kitchen table as Kale throws a pencil at her.
I tear my attention from my thoughts and the cookie I’ve been nibbling on for the last ten minutes.
Fiona is probably the most spoiled by all of us. I once heard Lila and Ethan talking about how they ended up adopting her. She was born by a mother who was doped-up on heroin. She had a lot of health problems because of this, so no one wanted to adopt her. Like me, she was passed through many homes until she ended up here four years ago. Other than the fact that she’s a bit small for her age, she seems normal. Spunky even.
All have their own stories, though.
Everyone does when you really think about it.
It’s something I’ve learned while I’ve been here. That I’m not as alone as I once thought.
“Kale, leave her alone,” I say as I dig a soda out of the fridge.
Kale’s shoulders slump as he sets the pencils down on the table. “Whatever.” He sulks out of the kitchen.
Fiona flips him the bird then she smiles sweetly at me. “Thank you, Ayden. You’re the best brother ever.”
I pop the tab on the can, feeling the slightest bit of guilt churn in my gut as I think of my brother and sister, and the paper Lyric showed me with the tattoo on it.
“What are you working on?” I change the subject as I peek at her drawing. It’s of a butterfly—most of them are. “That’s actually really good.” It’s the truth, too. The girl is damn talented at drawing. Equally as good as Lyric and her mother, which says a lot.
“I know. I just wish I could get the butterfly out of my head and draw something else.” She sits down and plucks up the pencil. “I can never seem to stop thinking about them. It’s like a dream stuck in my head.”
My brows furrow. “Is it something from your childhood maybe?”
“Could be.” That’s all she gives me, and I will never, ever press her to tell me more when it’s clear she doesn’t want to. “Do you think I’ll be able to be an artist one day?”
“I think you can be whatever you want,” I repeat the words Lila keeps saying to Kale when he asks her a similar question about being a comic book artist. “As long as you work hard.”
Fiona works on shading in the wings while humming a song under her breath. “Do you think Mrs. Scott would give me art lessons? She’s super good at painting and stuff. And I want to learn to do that. I mean, I like drawing, but I think it’s time for an upgrade.”
“You could always ask her,” I say, trying not to think about Lyric going out with that douche tonight, yet it creeps into my mind and leaves a foul feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost as heavy as when I saw that paper she handed me.
This William asshole has a reputation for treating girls like shit. It’s guys like him that will burn Lyric’s feisty, trusting, carefree inner fire right out of her. And while that fire has gotten me in trouble quite a few times, I never, ever want it to burn out. It’s what got me breathing again, brought me back to life, keeps me breathing. As selfish as it makes me sound, I want Lyric all to myself. I just wish I could give her a little of what she gives me back, instead of freaking out on her all the time.
I sneak up to my bedroom and jot some of my thoughts about Lyric into a notebook. It’s something I started doing six months ago when my therapist suggested I find a way to clear out my head. I think that he was aiming more along the lines of a journal, but the pages are filled with song lyrics than my inner thoughts and desires.
Tucking the notebook back into the dresser drawer, I grab my guitar and jog down the stairs. Lila is filling up a pot under the faucet when I enter the kitchen, and fresh vegetables and seasonings cover the counters. She’s obviously planning a big meal, so now I feel guilt-ridden about going to the party.
“I’m going to band practice,” I tell her as she shuts the water off. “It’s still okay if I take the car, right?” I’ve been a little offish since I overheard the conversation between her and Ethan. I’m not sure why, but it feels like they’re keeping something from me about myself or my brother and sister.
“Do you know what time you’re going to be back? I want to make sure I have dessert ready and everyone settled down for movie time.”
“About that …” I shift my guitar case into my other hand. “I was kind of wondering if maybe I could go to a party after band practice.”
She carries the pan full of water to the stove. “Is it the one Lyric went to with that William guy?”
“How did you know about that?”
“Micha mentioned something about it just a few minutes ago.” She switches the heat up on the stove. “He wanted to know if you were going. I think he’s not handling this whole Lyric dating thing very well and wanted you to check up on her.”
“So, is it okay if I go?” I ask, opening the fridge to grab another soda. “I mean, I can come home if you want me to. In fact, maybe I should. I promised you guys a movie night.”
She sighs as she rounds the counter toward me. “Ayden, you don’t need to please us all the time.” She circles her arms around me as I’m pushing the fridge door shut. “Go to the party.”
I hold my breath and awkwardly pat her back, my grip on the soda can nearly crushing the metal. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She pulls back, retrieves the car keys from her pocket, and drops them into my palm. “Just do me a favor. When you get there, check on Lyric, and then text me so Micha will stop sending me texts.”
“Okay, that I can do.” I enfold my fingers around the keys. “But can I ask you one more thing?”
“Of course, sweetie. You can ask me anything. You know that.”
I wasn’t planning on asking her today, but after the tattoo thing brought up unwanted memories, I need to know for my own sanity. “I was just wondering if you found anything out about my brother yet? I know you said we’d check back when he was eighteen, and now he is, so …” I clutch the handle of my guitar case as her skin pales.
“Oh, Ayden.” She embraces me so tightly the air gets ripped from my lungs. “I’m sorry … I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I just couldn’t figure out how. I guess he ran away from the last foster home he was at, which was over a year ago. No one’s seen or heard from him since.”
My fingers ball into fists, the sharp edges of the keys slicing into my skin. I want to grasp onto her. Cry. But I can’t do that—can’t let go in that kind of way—so I pull back.
“Okay, thanks for trying.�
�� I start for the door, trying not to hyperventilate.
“Ayden, are you going to be okay?” she calls after me.
“Not really.” The truth slips from my lips, but before she can utter anything else, I’m out the door.
Two hours later, I’m feeling a tad bit better. Playing always does that for me. It helped me to stop thinking of my brother and worrying about Lyric. Lyric also text me, saying she wants to meet up and wasn’t feeling William, which made me twistedly happy inside. I had text her back, replying okay, but she still hasn’t responded. That’s Lyric, though. She’s probably gotten sidetracked by someone.