Broken and screwed 2, p.29
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.29
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  Jesse’s games last year with him too.”

  “Yeah, but that was before it was out of the can. Right? That they had dumped you.”

  Swallowing over a tight knot in my throat, I willed my body to relax. I couldn’t dwell on what they’d done or even the last time I had talked with them. I’d been healing since coming to Grant West. I intended to keep healing. My parents would not have that power over me anymore. I refused to allow myself to relapse back to the slightly crazed state I’d been over the past summer.

  Beth punched her cousin again. “Hannah, you’re being really rude. Watch what you’re talking about.”

  “What? I’m just trying to get all the facts straight. Mute Girl here doesn’t say two bits to us all year. She finally opened up and I’m capitalizing. She knows all my embarrassing stories.”

  I grinned. “You and Jamie. Fond memories.”

  “Shut it.”

  Reaching over, I snagged the binoculars from her. “Not that I don’t understand, but like Beth said, I’m a little sensitive with some of this information being talked about like it’s the weather.”

  “I’m being a friend.”

  “You’re being nosy and you know it. Stop it.”

  Hannah stuck her tongue out at her cousin before she slumped back in her chair.

  Hip hop music blared in the gymnasium and the crowd stood. Excitement started to build. The players would be coming out. They didn’t do grand entrances, not like some teams, but I knew when they came the place would go crazy. And as the air filled with deafening cries, I was right. Jamie was the first on the court. Not a shocker. Jesse trailed towards the end. His head was bent to the side as he was listening to something a coach was saying. His hand was on Jesse’s shoulder. The two passed where my parents and Jesse’s family was sitting without any acknowledgement of them. I knew that’d been intentional. He never enjoyed when Malcolm went to his games.

  Hannah fanned herself with the program. “Holy, Alex. Why are you not sleeping with him again?”

  “Sssh!” Beth hushed her, looking around us.

  “No one can hear over the screeching.” Hannah shook her head at the crowd. “I think that woman over there pretended to have Jesse’s baby and give it to him.”

  “You don’t want your stuff broadcasted so stop broadcasting Alex’s business.”

  Her cousin rolled her eyes. “You just don’t want me to talk about your stuff. And you’re scared because I’m happy.”

  Beth explained to me, “When she’s happy, she’s chatty. About everyone else except whoever’s screwing her.”

  “I’m happy. So sue me.”

  I frowned at both of them. I was starting to think I should’ve come alone, but then I tuned them out. They bickered throughout the entire game—when it started, during the halftime, and towards the end. It wasn’t the normal dynamic. I was used to Beth’s silence and Hannah’s anger, but now Hannah was happy, giddy almost, and Beth didn’t like it. As Hannah kept asking me questions about my relationship with Jesse, I was starting to understand her cousin’s reluctance. She was nosy.

  As the buzzer ended the game, we’d won by ten points. Jesse had been fouled and earned eight of those himself, but it’d been a close game.

  “That was fun. I’m excited for this year.” Hannah was all smiles as we followed the crowd from the stands. When we got through the stairs that opened onto a wider area behind the stands, I started for the players’ door. Hannah called after me, “Hey!”

  I turned around. This was the part I hadn’t shared with them. “Hey, uh, I’m going to go and say hi real quick.”

  The two gave me similar looks. They were dumbfounded.

  Hannah frowned. “You’re going to what?”

  Beth was smarter on the uptake. “What are you really doing?”

  Well, here we go. “Jesse didn’t ask me to come to the game. He asked me to go to dinner with them.”

  Hannah’s mouth dropped while her cousin prodded, “With everybody everybody?”

  “His dad. I’m assuming the girlfriend.”

  “And your parents?”

  “Holy fuck! I can’t believe you’re going to do that. Are you kidding me? Why did you even break up with him?”

  I’d been asking myself the same question, but then I remembered the pain in his eyes. I succumbed every time so I only shrugged. They wouldn’t take that as an explanation. “I have to. Jesse and I are family.”

  “You two are so confusing.” Hannah spun around in a tight circle before she stalked off.

  “Forget her.” Beth moved closer so we weren’t crushed by the crowd.

  “Is she leaving you?”

  She shrugged. “Dorm’s two blocks from here. I’ll be fine.”

  “Well.” This hadn’t gone how I expected it. “Come with me. Maybe Jesse got more people to go to dinner.”


  I grinned as Beth fell in step with me. With her suddenly chatty cousin gone, she seemed to have returned to her quiet ways. This was the friend I was comfortable around. And as we turned the last corner and went down the back hallway and headed towards the waiting area, I was glad she’d come. I hadn’t admitted to myself all week, but seeing my parents again was threatening to send me into another cycle of pain and misery.

  When we stepped through the last door, I was surprised to see Tiffany and Kara beside my parents. They were in dressed with high heels. The hair and make-up was done so both looked stunning. A girl stood in the far corner, dressed similarly to them. I glanced down at myself. Jeans and a tank top. Jesse hadn’t said where dinner was going to be, but I should’ve known. This was Malcolm Hunt. He only went to the most expensive restaurants.

  My gratitude for Beth’s presence went up another notch. She had dressed the same as me.

  “Alexandra!” Malcolm threw his arms out and swept across the room to me. He embraced me in a tight hug and squeezed. “It’s so good to see you again. It’s been years.”

  When he let me go, I nodded. “Yep. The day after Ethan’s funeral.”

  “That’s right. His funeral.”

  “You weren’t there.”

  “Oh.” His welcoming smile fell. And he took a step back. “That’s right. I was…” His eyes widened as he remembered. It’d been the next morning when his girlfriend found her car had been keyed. She went to Malcolm, who stormed into Jesse’s bedroom. We’d still been sleeping. “Well.” He twisted and glanced at the new girlfriend, who stood with my parents. “Well then. It has been a while.”

  I nodded. That’d gone exactly how I expected.

  “What are you doing here?”

  I glanced over, surprised at the hostility in Tiffany’s tone as she addressed her cousin. I spoke for her, “I asked her to come.”


  Blinking at the scathing look she gave me, my eyes then narrowed and my chin tightened. “Because I wanted to.”

  “Jesse said you were coming for dinner.” Malcolm’s smile resurfaced. His eyes twinkled as he nodded. “That’s wonderful. Have you two continued…your…um…you know?” He moved closer and lowered his voice so my parents wouldn’t hear.

  “They found out before Christmas,” Jesse spoke for me. Unlike his father, he was tense and trying to drill holes into his father from across the room. He was dressed in a Grant West blazer over jeans. Freshly showered and tired from the game, his cheekbones were more striking than normal. He gave off an air of danger. It sizzled among everyone and they grew silent, watchful as Jesse jerked forward a step. His hand was clenched around his bag.

  “Oh. Well.” Malcolm laughed at himself. “Cat’s out of the bag, hmm?”

  Jesse narrowed his eyes and his mouth clamped shut. I watched as his jaw clenched and knew he was two seconds away from yelling at his father. Hurrying over to him, I glanced around and was surprised that no one else witnessed what I had. Everyone seemed unaware of the potential explosion, but as I touched his hand and moved him away from the group, Jesse seethed,
Don’t worry. I never lose it around my friends.”

  “Yeah, well, you have around me.” The time when Malcolm found us had been the first explosion. I had heard others over the two years, even though his father never knew I had been in the other room and there’d been moments before Ethan’s death.

  He forced out a breath, trying to calm himself, but he muttered, “I can’t fucking stand him.”

  “Keep it together.” I skimmed a hand over his jaw, tapping it so it loosened. As it did and he tried to smile at me, I shook my head. It was a poor imitation. “Introduce me to your sister.”

  I started for the girl, who had been keeping to herself in a back corner, but Jesse caught my arm and dragged me farther away. He took me in the opposite direction until we were out of earshot of the group. Then he caught my face in his hands and made me hold his gaze. “Stay with me tonight.”

  “What? No.” I tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t release me.

  “Please. I’m going nuts. Stay with me.”

  “You know the deal. Tell me the—”

  “Yeah, yeah. Tell you the secret and what then? You’ll come back? You’ll stay with me?”

  I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. We never defined us. I had no idea. I finally moved my shoulders in a movement that I hoped looked like a shrug. “Tell me Ethan’s secret and we can figure it out.”

  “I told your parents to fuck off.”


  “Your dad came to a game over the break. He tried to talk to me afterwards and I told him to fuck off. I didn’t want to hear anything.”

  “Oh.” Now I was really spinning inside. Jesse had stood up for me. He’d been loyal and stood against my parents when so many hadn’t stood beside me. I had no idea what to do, or feel, or think, or…I had no idea.

  He pulled me close and pressed a kiss to my lips. “Your parents were shit to Ethan and they were shit to you. They’ve been nice to me, but if they don’t make it right with you, I told him to take a hike. They’re trying to make things right with you.”

  “Oh my god,” I whispered.


  “Oh my god.” I couldn’t say anything more. I already knew what they were going to do. My parents were going to force themselves to be nice to me. They were going to ‘make things right’ so they could still have Jesse in their lives. The information about Ethan confused me. They’d been horrible to him as well? But I thought they wanted to replace their son with a new one? That had been Jesse’s purpose, hadn’t it? And now hearing this—I couldn’t formulate a single thought anymore. I was spinning out of control.

  “Just come to dinner and hear them out.”

  I was still in shock when Jesse pulled me back to the group. He kept a hand in mine as he introduced me to his sister. I hoped that I was nice because I didn’t remember anything I said or did until we got to the restaurant. Beth must’ve sensed how I was feeling because she stuck close the entire ride there.

  I didn’t know what my relationship with him was anymore, but he kept a hand on my leg the entire time. And because of the latest betrayal from my parents, I clung to him. Ethan’s secret took second priority to my first, just surviving the night.

  Malcolm had the back of a restaurant reserved for us. As everyone took their seats, Jesse’s roommates were at one end of the table along with their dates. Tiffany was the closest to us and she sat beside her cousin, who was beside me. Jesse was next to the head of the table, where his father was located. The model girlfriend was across the table from Jesse. My parents were next, directly across from me, and his sister sat between my mother and Kara.

  So far, my parents hadn’t said a word to me. I was thankful, but I whispered to Jesse, “I thought this was supposed to be a small thing.”

  “It was until my dad showed up at the house before the game. He invited everybody else. I’m sorry.”

  This was way easier. He had nothing to be sorry about. I shrugged as my wine was poured. “I’ll need more of that stuff.”

  He grinned and nodded. “Noted.”

  “So, Alex,” Malcolm boomed, drawing everyone’s attention to us. “Your father mentioned on the way over here that you’ve been seeing my son for a while now. I wasn’t aware the two of you were official as a couple.”


  “What?” He turned an innocent eye to his son. “From what I gathered, it was a casual situation with you two. When did it become more?”

  “Stop it, Dad.”

  “You were aware of the two?” my father spoke up, frowning.

  “I walked in on them.”

  “Dad, stop. I mean it.”

  “What? Come on, Jesse. You must remember. You keyed Laurel’s car that day.”

  “Who’s Laurel?” Malcolm’s girlfriend spoke up. She’d been eyeing Jesse since we sat down. The soft seductive tone wasn’t meant for his father.

  Jesse stiffened, but clipped out, “It was the day before, but you two were so engrossed with each other you didn’t even know when we came home.”

  “Because you snuck in. You knew I wouldn’t have approved.”

  “You had no idea,” Jesse tossed back. “And you wouldn’t have given a shit. You never did. Alex had been around the house long before that.”

  His father pinned me to my chair, but he spoke to his son, “You mean this had started before that?”

  “No, but I grew up with Alex. You wouldn’t have given it a second thought. That was my point.”

  “I would’ve appreciated a heads-up, Malcolm.” My father was still frowning fiercely at his friend, sharing Jesse in the look. “But I would like to know the same as your father. When did this become more serious?”

  Jesse shrugged as he leaned back. One of his arms came to the back of my seat. I sucked in my breath and hunched forward, but his hand caught my shoulder. He pulled me back so his head could rest more comfortably there. He patted me when I did as he wanted. As he responded, his hand began to trace a light circle over my skin, “It’s always been serious for me. I stayed away because of Ethan.”

  Malcolm nearly choked on his wine. He sat it down forcefully. Some of the liquid spilled out from the movement. “Ethan knew?”

  “Ethan knew I had feelings for her. He always told me to stay away from her.” Then Jesse pinned my father with a look. He was unusually calm as he discussed my brother, while my father shifted now in his seat. “His lawyers delivered a letter to me that he’d written before his accident. He wanted his little sister to be unharmed. He felt that included me. I was supposed to stay away from her, so she wasn’t hurt by any additional emotional stress.”

  I sucked in another breath as I saw my father pale. The blood drained from him and he jerked a hand forward for his wine. He drank the entire thing in one gulp.

  Malcolm seemed impervious. “Jesse, I have a few movies coming up. You’d be perfect for some of the roles. And I’ve already checked with your coach, it won’t interfere with basketball or your training schedules at all.”

  “Dad. Stop.”

  “Extra exposure is good for you. It will never hurt to get your face out there. You’re already known in your basketball circles and people are starting to take notice because of my relation to you, but I really think it would be wise if you capitalized on this. Hollywood’s knocking at your door. You could be famous, more than your old man.”

  “Stop,” he hissed. His hand was permanently attached to my shoulder now, as if holding himself back. “I’m pursuing basketball as far as it’ll take me.”

  “But the endorsements would help—”

  “No, they wouldn’t. I have to prove myself before the endorsements. I have years to still prove myself.”

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