Broken and screwed 2, p.25
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.25
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  against me, labored and choppy from what we had just done.

  He picked me up and carried me to the bed. Then he gazed down at me. He was solemn and I knew he could see into me. He saw the anguish before he dipped down and took my mouth again. So many pent up emotions were in that kiss. Grasping my hair in his hand, he fell down on top of me. I felt his need. I felt his anguish. Then I began kissing him back and I gave him everything. He had taken the lust before, my physical need for him, but this kiss was different. This was the baggage kept locked away. It was unleashed, along with Ethan’s ghost that I had never freed. The haunting, the turmoil of being left behind—all of it was given to Jesse. I felt his own ghosts being let go, then he rolled us over and we lay there, side by side. Our legs and arms were intertwined, but I couldn’t let go of him.

  Jesse pressed me into him. He had hardened again and he slid into me. He rocked against me, this time slow and tender. He went deep and touched the bottom of my core. Tears fell free from me as he showed me his love. I gasped as I felt it.

  We never said the words. There had been no discussions about us, but Jesse loved me. It reached inside of me and took root where the bad emotions had been. He made love to me and afterwards I felt scraped raw on the inside. Everything hidden and stored away was now on the outside.

  He cupped my cheek and whispered as he curled on his side beside me, “I know what day it is.”

  Ethan was there. He was beside us. I could feel his presence.

  Jesse spoke again, “Do you want to go somewhere?”

  I nodded. I couldn’t talk anymore.

  He pressed a kiss to my forehead and then got up from the bed. We dressed in silence. My eyes were trained down. I couldn’t see into him. New dams would break free again, but Jesse didn’t seem to mind. He packed a light bag for us, disappearing upstairs. He came back with two bottles of liquor and put it into the bag. Then he drove us to a hotel. It was a ritzy place and as he checked us in, I realized he had already made the reservation ahead of time. When? My eyes shot to his, but he only held them in a long drawn-out gaze. He was going inside again. I felt him seeping into me and I turned away. The wall had fallen down between us. I knew that we would be changed after this night.

  We had always come together, but this was different. It was on different ground. The rules had changed. I no longer knew the expectations, but then I needed to admit to myself, I hadn’t known for a while now. The rules had started to change, to blur together, when I moved in with him. No, even before that. It had started to change when Jesse called me on the first day I moved into my dorm. I heard it in his voice, but I hadn’t accepted it, not fully. I couldn’t hide from it any longer.

  Getting into the elevator, Jesse swiped the card for our floor. The access was otherwise restricted. And then we went to a larger suite. We stepped inside the door to a large apartment structure, but Jesse went into the back bedroom. He put our bags on the couch and pulled out the bottles of liquor. One was put in the refrigerator and he poured the other into two glasses. Handing me one, his eyes held mine captive again. I flinched under the weight but held firm after that. He could see all he wanted. I knew it was the same inside of him.

  My chest lifted with a deep breath.

  It rattled inside of me.

  We spent the day and night in that hotel room. We did what we always did on Ethan’s birthday. We drank and we had sex. Unlike the time in his bathroom, this wasn’t romantic. There was nothing sweet about it. It was what we did on those two days of the year, except we had missed Ethan’s anniversary the summer before. We made up for it this time. We pushed all the demons at bay, all the emotions of missing him, and we used each other to fill that void.

  It wasn’t until after another coupling and on my third glass of liquor when I looked over. Jesse was frowning to himself. I recognized the look from our first year and my gut kicked. That look wasn’t good. It meant there was more. Jesse was keeping something else from me. I sighed. I thought we had gotten all of it out, but that nagging voice in my head chimed up again. You have a secret too.

  Ignoring it, I sat up and pulled the sheet to cover me.

  Jesse rolled his head against the headboard to look at me. “Hmmm?”

  I put my glass on the bedside stand. I was already drunk. I didn’t need to spill the booze.

  “Alex?” He sat up as well. “What?”

  “You said some things before.” Frowning, I tried to remember what they were. Tapping my finger on my forehead, I searched and searched. “You said…what did you say?”

  “If he were alive now, he’d know he was wrong. I mean, hell, he knew firsthand that being perfect wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. He tried to do everything your parents wanted and when he messed that up—” Another one plagued me; he thought I hadn’t noticed. “Him and me. That was it. He was supposed to have my back, not go off and get killed going to— He was supposed to be here.”

  He got killed going to…to where? I wanted to ask Jesse that. I wanted to know what Ethan did, how did he know firsthand that being perfect wasn’t what it was cracked up to be? Those questions were burning in me, but I knew Jesse wouldn’t tell me. He hadn’t before, and he had distracted me successfully.

  “What did I say?”

  I swallowed the questions. Because if he told, if I made him tell, then I’d have to tell him my secret. I couldn’t do that. And as I shook my head and leaned over for another kiss, there was a part of me that didn’t want to know. I wasn’t sure if I could handle knowing a secret about my brother, not after everything I’d been through. My world fell apart the day he died. It had started to mend again. It couldn’t fall apart again. I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up a third time.

  Because of that, I slid down and pulled Jesse on top of me. As his body started to move against mine and we joined again, I tucked that part of me away. I should’ve faced it head-on. I should always be willing to dig into the shadows, unearth what other lies have been told, but I couldn’t this time. I chose to pretend we were fine. I needed for us to be okay. Maybe I just needed Jesse while I had him, while that secret was still buried between us. And not just his secret, but my secret too. Maybe secrets weren’t that bad.

  It was a month later when I was reminded how damaging they could be.

  I checked my email after class with Cord and Jamie. Cord was fine. Jamie was still a jerk, pouting every minute he was around me. He thought I had influence over Jesse and could grant him permission to enter the house again. I had no influence, so I ignored him. The other girls in the room were less curious about me, at least outwardly. I still caught looks from them, but I was certain they were more stressed about next week’s final exam.

  It was a relief.

  But when I saw an email from my dad, my relief fled. Everything fled.

  Alexandra,

  I am writing to you with a heavy heart. While your mother is doing well—the life coaches have done miracles with her—we were contacted by our lawyers. There is a concern regarding the inheritance Ethan left you. You were named in his will and testament, but they require further documentation from you. If you could please contact Mr. Benson at the Benson, Filler, and Associates, I am certain that their questions will be answered. Please and thank you for your time fulfilling this matter. Your mother talks about you often. She has expressed an interest in visiting you. Her life coaches seem quite hopeful that reconciliation is possible, but I will express my concerns surrounding this situation. I fear your mother may suffer a relapse, and this is a matter I think upon daily. I will contact you with further information if your mother should decide to pursue this avenue. Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  Sincerely, your father

  P.S. We will be visiting Jesse Hunt this weekend. Your mother wished to attend one of his basketball games. We both miss Jesse so much. He was like a son to us. I would be appreciative if you do not create a scene, if we were to run across paths.

  I sat there as a famili
ar numb sensation spread throughout me.

  My mother talked of me often.

  Her life coaches wanted reconciliation.

  My father was uncertain.

  Lawyers.

  Ethan’s will.

  Documentation.

  Questions. Concerns. Thoughts. Prayers.

  The numb feeling began to give away. Rage was filling in. As I sat there, my jaw clenched together, my teeth ground against each other, and I reached forward. Grasping the computer with both hands, I lifted the screen from the table and threw it against the farthest wall.

  There were gasps, a few screams, but most of them were quiet.

  Jerking down, I picked up my bag and left, but I knew the whispers had started. It’d be shared around school that Jesse Hunt’s girlfriend was a nutcase. My name would take on a different undertone. Alex, Alex who, they would ask. Others would tell them my full name. Alexandra Claire Connors would be known as a violent freak within an hour.

  As I stalked out, I didn’t care.

  I didn’t care about a goddamn thing.

  I went home. The driveway was filled with cars, but one stopped me in my tracks. Their car was in the parking lot. A fleeting question flashed in my head. When had they sent that email? But it didn’t matter. They were here.

  They were in Jesse’s house.

  My house.

  And I wasn’t supposed to create a scene. As I remembered that part of the email, my eyes narrowed to slits and my jaw firmed. I got out of the car and slammed the door shut. As I walked into Jesse’s house, I didn’t expect a crowd around them. Tiffany. Cord. Some girl whose hand he was holding. Derek and Kara. And at the same table, across from my parents was Jesse. His grin couldn’t stretch wider.

  He loved them. They were his idealized image of what parents should be, but they weren’t real. Ideal. That’s all they were.

  I lost what every teenager should have. Parents.

  There were no words to describe the burn inside of me.

  My breath rattled. My heart went nuts, but I couldn’t feel it. Everything dimmed for me.

  My parents were here, in Jesse’s house. They visited him while they emailed me. They missed him, but I was a concern?

  Jesse noticed me first. He waved me over. “Come here. You didn’t tell me they were coming.”

  Even Tiffany was grinning. I didn’t know she could. And then I looked at them. Both my parents lost their expressions of happiness. That’s all it was, because they weren’t happy. They weren’t joyous. They weren’t real. They were fake. What people saw is all they saw. That was all there was. There was nothing more in them, certainly not love.

  “Alexandra.” My father started to rise.

  “Don’t.”

  My mother sucked in her breath, “Alex…”

  I shook my head. They had gone wrong, so far wrong and they knew it. Guilt flared in both of them before they remembered their best course of action. Denial.

  Pathetic.

  I now looked at my parents as pathetic. I said as much, “You act like you love him.”

  Jesse frowned.

  My parents shared a look and I stepped forward. My hands gripped a chair in front of me. I held on so hard, for dear life, and I didn’t care if I broke the chair in two. “You don’t love him. You want to use him. You want to replace Ethan with him.”

  “Alex,” Jesse murmured.

  I laughed, bitterly and loudly. The louder, the better. It boiled out of me, but I held on to that chair. I couldn’t move from it. It was my anchor. “I wasn’t supposed to make a scene, right? If I ‘crossed paths’ with you, I wasn’t supposed to make a big deal out of it. This is my home, Dad.”

  He paled.

  I grinned. “Mom thinks of me often. Are you kidding me?” I pinned her down with my gaze. To her credit, she didn’t squirm. She raised her chin and her shoulders lifted as she took one small breath. Oh yes. She was getting ready for me. I started, “We’re supposed to reconcile? Is that what your life coaches want to happen? Did I do you wrong, Mother, at some time in my life?”

  My father pounded his fist on the table. “Alexandra, you will not speak to her like that. Your mother is fragile.”

  “My mother is a fraud!” My head swung back over.

  She sucked her breath in again. It was loud and dramatic. Just the way she wanted, I was sure of it. My father gripped the table, mirroring my stance with the chair. He held on to keep from doing…what, I wasn’t sure? Hitting me? I frowned to myself. Would my father harm me for speaking the truth? Was it that essential for him to protect their lies? But it was. I knew it was as I saw him fighting for control.

  “Alex,” Jesse murmured again. He had circled the table and stood beside me. His hand touched the back of mine.

  I shrugged it off. I didn’t need support, not then, maybe not ever again. I needed restraint because I was losing mine fast.

  “The nurses didn’t think you really tried to kill yourself.”

  Her eyes threatened to pop out while I heard someone gasp behind me. My father shoved against the table, the same rage in him that I felt. Welcome to the club. He spat out, “You will not speak any longer. You shut up. You will do more harm than ever before.”

  I sucked in my breath. “Ever before? What damage did I do before?”

  Jesse tried again, “Mr. Connors—”

  “You weren’t the only one grieving, Alexandra. Your mother was as well.”

  “And you were too. We all were.” I rattled the chair. I wanted to lift it up and throw it across the room. “Why are you two more important than me? You left me. I’m your daughter and you completely left me. You wouldn’t even talk to me when Mom was in the hospital. You talked to Jesse. You hugged him, but you couldn’t even look at me. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. That’s all you cared about then.”

  “Alex.” Jesse moved even closer to me.

  “Stop.” I shifted away so he wouldn’t touch me. “This is my secret, Jesse. My parents. They dropped me after Ethan died. I got a fucking email from them this morning. They warned me they were coming to see you and if I ‘would run across their path’ I wasn’t supposed to make ‘a scene.’ A scene! Can you believe that?” I lifted my wrist and showed him the burn. “I got this after I burned the letter they sent me. A fucking letter that told me they were starting a new life without me. Without their daughter! How can parents do that? How can you justify that in your head and abandon your own blood, your last kid? You lost Ethan. You think you’d want to keep me closer because you already lost a kid, but no. You cut me loose. Fuck you. Fuck you both! I burned that fucking letter and I didn’t even notice my own burn until weeks later. You did that to me. Do you know how screwed up I am because of you? What did I do to you? Nothing. I didn’t do anything! Nothing! I got perfect grades that last year. I stopped partying. I did everything a perfect daughter could do, but none of it mattered. I should’ve gone the opposite. I should’ve partied or tried to kill myself. Good one, Mom. Maybe you knew what you were doing. If I’d done that, I might’ve gotten something from you. Maybe even a fucking hello in the morning!”

  “Alexandra,” my father barked. “Get ahold of yourself.”

  “I have.” I shook my head. The rage was in there. It was flying around, but it was starting to leave. That wasn’t right. I was supposed to have enough to last me weeks, but it was depleting fast. Then I felt Jesse’s hand over mine. He interlaced our fingers. When my parents saw the movement, their eyes widened and they both went still. They had no idea, but did it matter? I lifted our hands and asked, weakening by the second, “Does this make things different? Am I worth your love now because he loves me?”

  My mother asked in a quiet tone, “He loves you?”

  I shrugged. “Does it matter if he does or doesn’t? I live here. We’ve been together—”

  “When?” my dad demanded.

  I frowned. He couldn’t have been protective of me; it must’ve been for Jesse. He didn’t want me to infect his new favorite son.
“Does that matter too?”

  “When!?” he shouted now.

  “Ethan’s funeral,” Jesse spoke for me. He drew closer. I felt him trying to nudge me behind him, but I stepped to the side. He wasn’t going to take them on for me. No way. This was my fight. I’d see this to the end.

  My mother sucked in her breath. Again.

  A fierce frown came over my father.

 
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