Broken and screwed 2, p.3
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.3
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  beautiful. I would always pale in comparison to her. I wasn’t a slouch. I knew I was slender and my dark hair had grown longer over the summer from the shoulder length, but I wasn’t in her league. Or at least, that’s how I felt.

  “Alex.”

  “Yeah.” Her smile doubled. “Alexandra Connors, right?” She lifted a clipboard and wrote something on it. A strand of her hair slipped forward to the board, but she didn’t notice. She compressed her lips together before she was done and looked back at me. The smile slipped a second and her eyes widened as they shot past me. “Cord?”

  “Oh, hey, Kara.” He breezed into my room with two boxes. Setting them down, he came back out and leaned a hand against the doorframe behind me. He was sheltering me. I didn’t know if he did it on purpose, but for some reason I was grateful. His hand came down to my shoulder in the next moment. “You’ve met Alex, huh?”

  “Uh…”

  He squeezed my shoulder. “Treat her right. She’s like family.”

  I was? I sent him a furtive look over my shoulder. His smirk deepened and he jogged back down the stairs.

  “You…” She blinked rapidly. “You know Cord?”

  “You know Cord?”

  “Yeah, he’s roommates with my boyfriend.”

  The slight enjoyment I was having hurdled down my stomach. I felt it grinding into the ground now as I swallowed over a sudden knot in my throat. Roommates? Cord lived with Jesse. Chewing on the inside of my cheek, I had to ask. “Oh. Uh. Who is that?”

  “Derek Williams.”

  My knees buckled underneath me. The relief was overwhelming. I grabbed onto the doorframe Cord had rested against and struggled to keep myself upright. For a moment, I thought a nightmare had occurred in front of me. This girl wasn’t dating Jesse. Thank god.

  Then it clicked with me. My RA’s boyfriend was roommates with Jesse. No wonder she seemed surprised that I knew Cord.

  “How do you know Cord so well?”

  When my gaze shot to hers, I was startled from the sudden fierceness in them. And then I had a conundrum. Did I tell her the truth? That Cord was just playing with her because I wasn’t really like family to him? Or did I tell the other truth, that he was only looking out for me because of my connection to Jesse. My gut was telling me that she’d have an even bigger reaction if she knew that last part.

  So I lied.

  “I don’t. We went to the same high school and I looked him up. I had a friend who wanted me to keep tabs on him.”

  “Oh.” Her shoulders loosened and she looked back down to her clipboard. She lifted her head again. “So he was just teasing me? Because I know Cord does that sort of thing. He’s roommates with Derek, after all. I’m good friends with him.”

  My head lifted up and down in a long, drawn-out motion. I was getting what she was giving. She wanted me to know how well she knew Cord, and I was struck again by how small I felt next to this girl. She was important. I was not. I got her message.

  Then she frowned and shook her head. “I’m sorry. That was a really bitchy thing for me to say.”

  “Um.” No idea what to say, but I knew I wasn’t going to say anything about Jesse.

  “Kara?” An annoyed tone came around the corner and then I heard, “Oh, fuck me. Really?!”

  I turned and gulped.

  It was the girl who’d been straddling Cord an hour ago.

  The corners of my mouth lifted, and I said the first thing that came to mind. “At least you’re wearing clothes this time.”

  Kara’s eyes widened and she sucked in her breath, but she pivoted to her friend. “Chandra, this is Alex.” Her eyes held a special meaning as she stressed to her, “She knows Cord.”

  The hostility doubled. “I’m aware. How do you know him?”

  I opened my mouth, unsure what to say, but Kara forced out an awkward laugh. “They went to the same high school together.” She was mum on the rest, which piqued my interest. Her friend must’ve been a jealous sort.

  “Really?” Chandra’s eyes snapped to attention. “So you know Jesse Hunt as well?”

  Okay. I was really backed into a corner now. I hadn’t expected to be linked with him this quickly. I wasn’t going to hide that I knew him, but I wasn’t ready for everyone to know right away how connected I really was to him.

  Cord saved the day.

  He popped out of the stairwell and handed me his phone. “Call for you.” Then he saw who had joined the conversation and groaned. “You’re here too?” Disappearing into my room, Chandra followed him inside.

  Kara motioned to the hallway behind her. “I’ll leave you be. I should get back to the other girls. Oh, before I forget, we have a floor meeting in my room at six tonight. So, I’ll see you in three hours.” She started to leave. I started to lift the phone, but her head appeared around the corner. “And we’re all going to eat in the cafeteria tonight. I want to show everyone how to get there and register your identification card. That’s all. See you in a few hours.”

  Then I heaved a deep breath. I knew who was on the phone. My stomach took a sudden dip and I pressed a hand against it. Was I ready for this? The nerves had my hands shaking, but I swallowed tightly and croaked into the phone, “Hello?”

  There was silence on the other end.

  I closed my eyes and turned into the corner. My forehead rested against it. Though he couldn’t see me, a part of me was cowering from him. A storm swept through me and left me shaking. I felt like vomiting as I asked, my voice hoarse, “Can you please say something?”

  “You went to the house?”

  There it was. Jesse’s voice slid over the phone, smooth and sensual, but I heard the edge in it. He was angry with me. My chest tightened and my heart pounded against it. Would it ever lessen? He held so much power over me. Already, even with how he had ignored my calls, a flame ignited in me for him. It was simmering in my depths, and I knew the longer I talked to him, the more it would become.

  “Zala gave me your address. Nice place.”

  I hadn’t paid attention, but now I remembered it, hidden behind trees and a curved driveway. I hadn’t noticed other houses near his, only the golf course across the road. Even though I had only seen the kitchen, foyer, and living room, I knew the house was deceptively large. It was like Jesse in some ways.

  “You didn’t tell me you were coming to Grant West.”

  I sucked in my breath. His tone was so biting. “Would it have mattered?”

  “No.”

  I fell silent. My hand tightened its hold on the phone. I was pressing it against my ear; I knew there’d be an indentation from it. Then I asked, ragged, “What do you want, Jesse?”

  “What do you want?” he lashed back. “I haven’t heard a word from you since Vegas and now this? Cord texts me that you were at the house? You’re the one playing games, Alex.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  He laughed into the phone, harshly. “I might not have been the nicest to you in the past, but there were reasons. What’s your reason? Are you doing this on purpose?”

  My back straightened and my voice rose, “What are you talking about?”

  “Stop it. Seriously.”

  “Seriously,” I bit back. “Tell me what you’re talking about. I called you. I called you for almost a month. You’re the one who didn’t call me back. You ignored me. You don’t think that hurt me?!” My voice dipped as searing pain ripped through me. I had needed to know what happened. He’d been on the phone with Ethan that night, but he hadn’t said a word. There’s been no response and that hurt more than I could’ve imagined.

  He grew quiet again. Then he softened his tone, “What are you talking about?”

  I bent over and drew in a shuddering breath. It hurt to breathe now. “I talked to Barbie. She told me about Ethan. You called him that night, Jesse. Why didn’t you tell me that? I called you over and over again. I left messages. I texted you, but you never replied to any of them. Do you have any idea what that did t
o me?”

  Agony stabbed at me.

  He choked out, “What? When? Wait—I lost my phone. I had to get a new one. When did you call me?”

  I shook my head as I felt tears sliding down my cheeks. “You got a new phone, but not a new number. My calls would’ve come to your new one. Stop lying to me, Jesse.”

  “I’m not.” His voice rose and I heard a twinge of desperation. “I’m not. I swear. It took me almost two months before I finally got one. The guys talked me into it. I didn’t want to, but I figured if you ever called me again, I needed to keep that number.”

  A harsh laugh ripped from me. “You got a new phone because of me?”

  “Yeah.” He sounded serious. “I see Coach every day. The guys live with me. Who else do I care about? Zala learned how to use the internet, so that’s all she does now. I keep a chatting window up just for her. I don’t give a damn about my dad. If he wants to talk to me, he can come see me. I got the phone for you. You don’t believe me?”

  I wanted to believe him. So much. It was killing me. “Are you serious?”

  “Yes,” he stressed. “And yes, I called Ethan that night. He was with Benson and Barbie that night. I didn’t think he should be with them. That crew wasn’t good for him. They were into drugs and I didn’t want him taking any of that crap. We fought, Alex—” He stopped abruptly, but I heard his deep breathing. Then he wrung out, “I’ve felt so damn guilty about that night. I told him to stay away from Barbie and he told me to stay away from you.” An ugly laugh came from him. “Look at how that worked out. I seduced you the first night I could.”

  “No, you didn’t,” I whispered into the phone. “I wanted you too.”

  He grunted. “Well, whatever. It’s done now.”

  I bit my lip. I wanted to plead with him. I wanted him to take me back, but I held back. I couldn’t handle the rejection, if he turned his back on me. I couldn’t take that after everyone else had left me.

  “Isn’t it?” he asked now.

  My breathing became labored.

  “Alex?”

  A groan escaped me. My eyes clasped shut and I could only hold the phone. I was struggling to keep from begging him.

  Then he asked, his tone dipped low, “Are you with Nathans?”

  “No,” I wrenched out.

  “You’re not?”

  “I never was.” I slid down and bent over my knees. I wasn’t on the ground, but I was close. I curled into a ball, right there, in the corner of the hallway of all my future classmates. I didn’t care who saw me. I couldn’t do anything else in that moment. The need for him was paralyzing me. “Jesse.”

  He murmured, “You didn’t call on his anniversary.”

  “I wanted to,” I rasped out. “I thought you had turned your back on me.”

  “No. Never. Where are you?”

  “At my dorm.”

  “Is Cord with you?”

  My throat grew thick so I couldn’t talk. I nodded instead.

  “Alex?”

  “Yes,” I squeaked out. “Yes.”

  “Look, I’m coming back right now.”

  My head rose. Where had he been? I wanted to ask him, but my throat still couldn’t work. I grunted instead.

  “Give the phone to Cord.”

  Wordlessly, I went to my room. Cord was sitting on the bed with that girl on my desk. Her feet had been resting on my chair, but she jumped up as soon as I entered the room. Ignoring her, I handed the phone to him. Cord stood from his bed and left the room. I heard him say, “Yeah?”

  As his voice faded, my chest lifted up as I struggled to push the emotion away. This was almost embarrassing. I couldn’t even speak. One simple phone call and I was close to being a blubbering mess.

  “So.”

  I stiffened.

  Chandra gave me another serene smile. I wondered if she used it on all the people she considered her minions. “You seem close to Cord? I thought you only knew him from high school. That’s what Kara said.”

  I jerked my head in a nod, going to one of the boxes. Lifting it from the floor, I settled it on the desk. She had to jump out of the way, but I was able to stand with my back to her. As I started to unload the pictures and books, she said further, “I don’t live in the dorms. I only came to see Kara. She’s one of my best friends, her and Tiffany. We’re all juniors this year, with Cord. I was upset. I thought Cord was cheating on me.” She heaved a deep breath. “He’s not, right? I mean, you’re not…cheating with him? Are you?”

  I didn’t say a word. I should’ve, but I kept my lips shut. When I heard the bed squeak, I knew she had sat down. Her voice rose higher, shrill now, “Not that Cord and I are dating, but I care about him and you already know that he and I are more than friends. Or, at least, I hope we are. Oh my god. Why am I saying this stuff to a freshman?”

  My shoulders stiffened, but I still didn’t say anything. She kept talking and I was surprised, but I went with it. As she laughed at herself, the ball of emotion left my throat. I felt more in control of myself, but I continued to listen to whatever she was going to spill.

  “You have to admit, I have reason to be thrown for a loop here. I mean, Cord is on the basketball team. He’s a starter. He’s at the top and here you are, some little girl that waltzes into his house. He drops everything to help you. He doesn’t say a word to me about who you are. He doesn’t explain anything. Cord doesn’t do that. Ever. Not even with me, he doesn’t do that stuff. But you’re someone important to him, obviously. I mean, he’s helping you move in. He wouldn’t even help me move in and he’s done most of the work for you, some freshman. Who the hell are you?”

  I whipped around and snapped, fed up, “Ever thought that I’m none of your business? Maybe that’s why he hasn’t ‘explained’ me to you? It’s none of your business.”

  She jerked to her feet. Her eyes flashed in anger. “Are you kidding me? Anyone that’s connected to Cord is my business. He’s my boyfriend—”

  “Chandra!”

  I didn’t register the tone, but I looked up, expecting Cord. I saw another golden beauty instead. This one was even more stunning than Kara. What was it with this school and all the blondes? Kara’s hair had been platinum blonde, but this one was a golden wheat color. Her hair fell down to her waist and she was dressed in similar clothes, with white khaki shorts and a blue polo instead. The material clung to her like a second skin, but it wasn’t tight. It fitted her perfectly. With crystal blue eyes, she could’ve graced the cover of any fashion magazine.

  I wasn’t ready for all these girls. Even Chandra was beautiful, though hers was more from her make-up and tanned skin.

  All of them looked like sisters.

  “Tiff, what are you doing here?” Chandra stumbled over her words.

  The girl’s eyes narrowed before they rested on me.

  I felt branded. She had scorched me with some meaning behind her gaze. I wasn’t sure what it was, but my skin crawled from it. She didn’t have a good opinion of me. That much I knew, but I had no idea why. She didn’t know a damn thing about me. My head lifted. My shoulders rolled back and I rose to my highest height. For some reason, I didn’t like this girl and she didn’t like me.

  She murmured to her friend, but her eyes hadn’t thawed as she stared at me, “I came to check on Kara and see if she needed help with any of the girls. What are you doing here?”

  Chandra moved around me to her friend’s side. She gestured to me. “This girl walked in on me and Cord. I was upset and came to cry on Kara’s shoulder.”

  The girl, who I knew without a doubt was their leader, frowned. “She walked in on you guys?” She scanned the room. “And she lives here?”

  “Yeah.” Chandra seemed miffed about that.

 
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