Ryans bed, p.10
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       Ryan's Bed, p.10


  I didn’t know a lot lately, but maybe, that was to be expected. A person’s always trying to make sense of things, and probably more so in a time like this.

  I let out a breath. “Everything’s fucked up.”

  His knees came up, and he put his arms around them, resting his chin atop. “Yeah. I can imagine.”

  I looked at him, hearing the knowing tone from him. “Your friend died.”

  “It isn’t the same as a sister.”

  “You still know a little.”

  “Yeah.” His eyes found mine, warming and holding mine captive. “I know a little.”

  “Is that why you’re being so nice?”

  He groaned, his head tipping back. His arms moved behind him, and he stretched out his legs. “We’ve been over this.”

  “You said you didn’t know. You just were.’” I used his words.

  He laughed under his breath. “You know, most girls would jump at the chance to sleep in my bed.”

  “Yeah?” I hid a grin as my eyebrows went up.

  “Yeah. I’m hot stuff. If you weren’t in mourning, I’d think you were blind. Check me out.” He waved a hand over his chest. “Hot shit. I’m a basketball star too, if you didn’t notice my greeting tonight.”

  “Oh, I noticed.” He’d been heralded like a celebrity, but I also knew he didn’t want to talk about it. He was polite to them, but after a bit, his friends stepped in and had been shielding him the rest of the night. And he was hiding with me. I laughed. Maybe I was hiding with him. I needed this banter. An invisible weight on my chest lifted a little. “Thank you.” I raised my knees and rested my cheek on them, turning to peer at him. “And you are super duper cute.”

  “Super duper?” He sat up, wincing. “Are you serious? You couldn’t go with something more manly?”

  “You’re still a boy. We’re only in high school.”

  He shook his head. “See? That’s where you’re wrong. We’re on the edge of adulthood. One more year for us, and that’s it. Off we go.”

  “Like a little bird kept protected,” I teased. “They’re letting you fly.”

  “Exactly.” He flinched. “I think. Or an eagle. Not a little bird. I’m an eagle. I’m lethal.”

  I laughed. “Go for a vulture. I think they’re bigger.”

  “But they’re ugly.” He winked at me. “They aren’t beautiful like eagles.”

  “You’re beautiful?”

  “Fuck yeah.” He puffed his chest out again. “I could be in magazines, I’m so pretty.”

  He wasn’t lying. Give him some high-fashion runway threads, and the guy could go to Paris.

  As if sensing my thoughts, his eyes grew serious—or maybe he was reading from me.

  Was this . . .

  He leaned toward me.

  I was almost tipping because my arms were still wrapped around my knees, and like all the other times, it was like he knew exactly what was happening with me. He touched my shoulder, steadying me, and I closed my eyes.

  No guy should make me feel like I needed his touch to be anchored in place, but it had happened. Somehow, whether he wanted it or not, Ryan had become that anchor. I was starting to wonder if I could go on without his presence. I was spinning, but then his hand switched, moving toward my head, and his thumb came to rest against my cheek.

  He was so close, his eyes lingering on my lips.

  Were we going to do this?

  And then, his lips were on mine.

  They felt like home, as if I’d been kissing him forever already.

  I let out a sigh, and my mouth opened. He moved forward, his mouth answering mine, and I felt his tongue slip against mine.

  I wasn’t going to think. I was feeling, and I felt him pull me closer.

  I’d kissed a few guys back home. And I’d had one boyfriend, but it wasn’t serious. Some heavy petting—that’d been it—and it hadn’t felt like this. Somehow, I wasn’t surprised one bit.

  We lay back in the grass, his mouth still fused with mine. He was tasting, kissing, nipping, teasing me. Someone moaned, and I could feel his hands around my face, as if he were cradling me literally in the palm of his hand. I suddenly tasted salt.

  They were tears. My tears.

  I was kissing Ryan and crying at the same time.

  He paused, lifting his head. “Are you—”

  “Oh God.” I rolled away, curling in on myself. What was I doing? Seriously? Fucking crying as I was making out with a guy?

  “Um . . .”

  “I’m so sorry, Ryan.” I couldn’t look at him. The tears wouldn’t stop. I brushed at them, and they kept rolling. “I have no idea—” Nope. We both knew. Everyone knew.

  I was mortified.

  Then, instead of leaving awkward silence, he laughed.


  I looked up, and his head hung between his knees. His shoulders were shaking.

  “What . . .”

  “I’m sorry.” He shook his head but more chuckles rang out. “I’m—this is every guy’s worst nightmare, to make a chick start bawling when you’re putting the moves on her.”

  Oh. “You know why I’m crying,” I said gently. “It has nothing to do with you. You know that, right?”

  “Yeah. Yeah, but still.” He gazed at me again. “Telling someone this story?”

  He had a point.

  My mouth twitched. “I’m so sorry.”

  “I can hear the jokes. You kissed her so bad, she broke out into sobs. You kiss so sad, you literally made the girl cry.” He shook his head, his laughter subsiding. “No one can hear about this. No one.”

  “Got it.”

  “No one, Mac. I have a reputation to uphold.”

  It was the second time he’d called me Mac. A rush of pleasure went through me.

  I liked hearing that nickname from him.

  But he was still waiting, and I nodded. “Got it. Not a word that I broke down in tears.”

  “You can be crying. That’s fine, but I was out here consoling you—not putting the moves on you. That’s key.”

  He seemed so serious, but like before, I could see dark humor lurking behind his eyes. I nodded. “Got it. I’m a crybaby, not a whore.”

  “Well . . .”

  I laughed, shaking my head. “I’m kidding.” And because I couldn’t help myself, I leaned forward and whispered, “But you have no worries. You’re a damn good kisser.” My lips met his again as I closed my eyes.

  Someone groaned—maybe both of us—and he pulled me on top of him this time. He fell back, cradling me in his arms. And we kissed. Then we kissed some more.

  I was a hussy.

  It had been almost dawn when Ryan and his friends dropped me off after the party.

  I snuck in, but if I’d been expecting any big confrontation with my folks, I would’ve been disappointed. They hadn’t started moving around the house until around nine this morning, and when I got up, there was a note on the kitchen table for me. Robbie had liked the school yesterday—so much so that they were taking him back. For good.

  That was that.

  I got no say in the matter.

  Ryan came over in the afternoon, and we hung out in my room most of the time. There was kissing, but also video games, cookie dough, pizza, and sneaking some wine. Okay, lots of wine and lots of kissing, and I ended up putting a note on my door telling my folks I was sleeping before I snuggled up with Ryan the rest of the night.

  And kissing. There was still more of that, but there wasn’t anything heavy.

  When I woke Monday morning, I glanced at the clock. Six AM.

  Ryan was already on the edge of the bed, bent over. His shirt was on, but it wasn’t pulled all the way down. He was fixing his shoes.

  I sat up, tugging his shirt into place and letting my fingers skim his back as I did.

  He glanced at me, his eyes darkening, the look of lust there that I’d started to recognize from Saturday night and yesterday.

  “Morning,” he murmured. Leaning over,
he kissed me.

  “Hmmm.” I pulled back, scrunching my nose. “I have morning breath.”

  He laughed, grabbing my arm and tugging me back to him. “You’re fine.” And he showed me, his lips finding mine again and not letting me move away.

  I was panting in a second, feeling all sorts of tingles in my chest when he groaned, pulling away.

  He rested his forehead on mine. “I gotta head home to change and get ready.” He sat up again, his eyes holding mine. “First day of school. You want a ride?”

  I opened my mouth, figuring my parents would take me, and then I remembered they were probably headed to work already.


  “Okay.” He nodded, opening my window. “I’ll be back around seven thirty.”


  His lips curved in a crooked grin before he was out the window and down the tree. I heard his truck start up a moment later. As it turned down the street, I lay back in bed and stared upward. I wasn’t looking at the ceiling. I wasn’t really looking at anything.

  I was . . . I didn’t know.

  We didn’t have sex last night, but our shirts had come off and jeans were unsnapped. I got up halfway through the night to put on pajama pants and a sleeping tank top. Shortly after that, the top was pulled off and pants pushed down a bit. Ryan had shucked his jeans off, but he kept his boxer briefs on. He held me, chest to chest, and I slept.

  He was gone, and my limbs felt heavy, my lips swollen. I could easily sleep the rest of the day away. I felt content until I heard the floor creak outside my door. There was a knock, and I sat up.

  “Honey?” My mom.

  Whoa. I reached for my sleeping tank and tugged it on. “I thought you were gone already?”

  “We’re leaving in a few, but are you going to be okay to get to school? Do you need a ride?”

  “No. I’ll be fine.”

  She didn’t ask if I wanted to talk about Robbie. I shouldn’t have been surprised. My biggest battle had been the counseling sessions. After that, it was like they’d learned not to even give me a chance to voice my opinion.

  I listened to them move around the house.

  I’d been with them for eighteen years. I knew their routine. My dad made the coffee. My mom made the toast. My dad would eat that and a yogurt, and then they’d finish getting dressed. They’d take the coffee with them. I heard keys jingling while they discussed who would come to say goodbye.

  My mom must’ve won because my dad’s heavy footsteps came up the stairs.

  A slight knock. His voice was muffled through the door. “We’re heading out. You’ll call if you need anything.”

  It wasn’t a question. He wasn’t asking, and he didn’t wait for a reply.

  Again, no word about Robbie. Did they not think I’d be affected by that? Then again, I didn’t know what was going on in my dad’s head anymore.

  Did he leave feeling as if he’d fulfilled his good-father role? Or did he go off not thinking about me at all? As if checking on me were another part of their routine for the morning? Because it was. They’d always checked on Robbie and Willow . . . and there was usually something happening there that kept their attention. A few times they’d gotten to me, but the focus was usually with Willow.

  My phone sprang to life, and I scooted to the edge of my bed. Bracing my elbows on my legs, I cradled my head in my hands for two seconds.

  The ringing didn’t stop, so with a groan, I grabbed for it. “Hello?”

  A soft and tentative voice. “Is this Mackenzie?”

  I stood. “Who is this?”


  Ryan’s friend. No, correct that, the girl who had a crush on Ryan—the guy I kissed last night.

  I bit my lip. What was my role?

  “Uh, hey. Yeah. It’s Mackenzie.”

  “Oh, thank God.” She laughed. “I swiped your number from Ryan’s phone. There’s another Mackenzie in our class who likes him, so I wasn’t sure if I got the right one or not.”

  Another one? I frowned. “No, this is me. That other girl, does she text him too?”

  “What?” She sounded distracted. “No, no. Well, yes. She texts him, but I don’t think he responds.”

  Relief. Phew.

  Seriously, how many girls were after him?


  And then silence.

  I waited a beat. She called me.

  “Um, so okay, I called to see if you needed a ride to school, or if, like, you wanted to meet me somewhere in school? I could be your guide through classes, you know?”

  Well, fuck.

  She was going the friend route, which meant I’d have to adhere to the friend code. So hands off Ryan, but I’d already violated that rule. And because I didn’t have the energy to worry about this, I blurted out, “Look, I have to tell you . . .”

  I paused for a breath. She started to break in, but nope, I was doing this. She probably knew what I was going to say and wanted to put up a roadblock. But I had to say this because I didn’t know her when I met Ryan. But I’d begun to depend on him since June twenty-ninth.

  I spoke over her. “Ryan and I are something.”


  I groaned inwardly. She sounded like she wanted to cry.

  “I’m sorry, I—”

  “Oh, that’s okay. Just don’t do it again, you know?”

  “No. You aren’t listening to me. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but I can’t step back. I wanted you to know this before we even think about becoming friends.” I took a breath. “And if you don’t want to anymore, I understand.”

  Ryan wasn’t into her. I knew that, and she knew it too. She also knew he was into me.

  Maybe if Willow were still alive, I wouldn’t need Ryan and I’d really like Cora. Maybe then, I would have been able to step back, but I wasn’t in that place.

  I gentled my tone. “I’m sorry, Cora. I know you like him.”

  She sniffled on her end. “Then why are you pursuing him?”

  It wasn’t like that, but . . .

  “Because I need him right now.”

  More sniffling. I heard her blow her nose.

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