Broken and screwed 2, p.31
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.31
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  heart. I think it broke him too. He got depressed. He got really depressed. I think he was doing drugs. He started having new friends.” Her eyes glanced at Jesse. “I know you two started fighting.”

  “Benson wasn’t a good influence on him.”

  She nodded, her hand trembling as she lifted the glass again to her mouth. “He gave me the letter at his graduation. I didn’t open it until that night. That was his instructions. He said, ‘Mom, don’t open this until tonight. You’ll know when.’ I got so scared, but then I thought maybe it was a good thing. I think I didn’t want to read what he wrote. I was scared. I failed him as a mother. If I had read it, I could’ve stopped him. If only I had read that damn letter…”

  Jesse leaned forward. His arm dropped from mine. “He gave you a suicide letter?”

  She couldn’t talk so she only nodded. Her tears were cascading down her face now.

  A look of horror came over him.

  I frowned. “What is it?”

  He looked over, but gave me the slightest of head shakes. He didn’t want to tell me, not then, not in front of my mother. She didn’t even notice. She had crumpled forward over the table. Her shoulders shook as she wept into the table, the sounds muffled from the tablecloth.

  My mother was done for the night.

  We both knew it and we both had to help her leave the hotel. She was so thin, I wondered if she ever ate anymore. Her legs were wobbly from the wine and she grabbed a hold of me. Mumbling apologies the whole way to the car and to the hotel, she kept repeating the same thing as she clung to me. “I lost my marriage, my son, and my grandchild. I lost them all. I’m so sorry, honey. I lost everything.” Then she repeated the same sentiment over and over. “I lost my marriage, my son, and my grandchild.” When we finally got to the hotel and learned my father had checked out and left, Jesse brought my mother to his house.

  Derek and Kara were still awake.

  She gasped softly when I helped my mother into the house, but it only took one look between the couple before she nodded to me. “She can stay in Derek’s room. I’ll sneak him into the dorms.”

  “Are you sure?”

  She reached out and pressed a hand to my arm. She was fighting back her own tears as she squeezed my arm. “I’ve never been so sure of something in my life. Your mom can stay as long as she needs to.”

  And then I broke down.

  My mother went to Jesse, still mumbling the same phrase, and Kara gave me the tightest hug I had ever received. She pressed me close and her hand cradled the back of my head. Then she rocked me back and forth, as I finally let my own tears fall free.

  My mom called a cab for herself the next morning. She was gone by the time I woke. I never heard from her again. I assumed she had gone back to my father, who blocked me from his email, his Facebook, his phone, his everything. I felt dead to him.

  Jesse asked how I was every day, but it was the same answer. I was fine. If I were being honest, I’d tell him that I hadn’t processed anything. I didn’t think about my brother killing himself. I couldn’t imagine the letter he gave my mother. I didn’t want to know about the extent of his depression. And I really couldn’t handle knowing that there was a little Ethan in the world somewhere that I couldn’t hug, but I found myself staring off at my brother’s portrait when I’d be at the dining table or in the living room. Both rooms were positioned so I had a clear view of him.

  It hurt.

  My brother had hurt me. Again.

  “Hey, girl.” Hannah shoved her head through the bathroom door. Her voice echoed around the empty bathroom and six stalls behind me. “I’m buying shots tonight.”

  I was jerked back from my daydreaming. Thank god. “Uh, sure. No. What?”

  “Shots.” Hannah stepped inside as two girls followed behind her. “Lots of them. You’re drinking tonight.” She winked at me and made a clicking sound at the same time before she turned a cold glare to the two behind me.

  I didn’t look, but I knew they were there. They were always there. Even though things seemed on track again with Jesse and me, I still hadn’t moved back in at his house. I spent nights, but most of the time I returned to the dorm. Hannah was gone most of the time. Things had continued to heat up between her and her still-unnamed-rockstar-boyfriend. She called him Scarred Baldy so everyone else in the group went with the name.

  An image of Ethan flashed in my head again. That damn portrait. I used to love it, now it haunted me. Literally. I hadn’t admitted it to Jesse, but he was part of the reason why I hadn’t moved back in. He was a reminder of Ethan and a reminder of what my brother had done. Maybe it shouldn’t have changed things for me, but it did. Along with the renewed mourning and pain, resentment was stirring inside of me too.

  No.

  I took a deep breath and stopped myself. Again.

  I couldn’t deal. I wasn’t ready to so I jerked my gaze up from the sink and found myself staring into two snooty girls from my floor. Kate and Amanda? I think those were their names. Hannah had backed up so she was beside me, resting against a sink, as she was in a stare-off against the two. When her hand rose to her hip and her chin lifted, I knew sparks were going to fly. Then she started, “You got a staring problem, honey?”

  One girl sighed in disgust and flounced into a bathroom stall. Her friend wasn’t as smart. She narrowed her gaze and pointed to me. “Just looking at Jesse Hunt’s reject. That’s all.”

  Oh, snap.

  I wasn’t sure who was more surprised, Hannah or me. They weren’t scared of her anymore.

  “Let’s go. I’m ready.” I grabbed my stuff and tugged on her arm.

  “Yeah.” Hannah twisted around as I steered her out the door. “Reject, my ass. Jesse Hunt’s coming to pick her up tonight. That’s right. The only one who got rejected was you when you hit on him last weekend.” I pulled her the last of the way, but she hollered as the door swung shut, “Don’t think I don’t know about that. You’re the reject, not her.”

  We heard the snort inside.

  I had to laugh. It was too ridiculous. “What’s going on with you? I like that they think we’re not together anymore.”

  “You’re so weird.”

  I shrugged. “I’d rather deal with that attitude than when they’re being fake and trying to be friends with me.”

  “You’re right. Having friends is horrible.”

  “They are when they’re not real. Who wants to surround yourself with people like that?”

  “You do. You’re buddy-buddy with my sister now?” Hannah pushed open the door and Beth sat up on the couch. She put her book on the floor.

  I set my stuff in my closet and went to my desk. As I opened my email, I frowned to myself. I should’ve seen this coming. Since my mother’s departure and the revelations from that night, Tiffany had extended an olive branch to me. We had come to a cease fire after my parent’s first visit, but it was now bordering on a we’ll-not-ignore-each-other-and-maybe-say-hello-bu t-only-when-no-one-else-is-around sort of deal. Hannah hated it. I’d been waiting for this to happen and I said now, “We’re not buddy buddy.”

  “You had lunch with her yesterday.”

  “Because she eats with Jamie in that private cafeteria and I eat with Jesse. We walked together. That was it.”

  Beth rolled her eyes and laid back on the couch. Her book was opened again and I knew she tuned us out. Hannah scrunched her eyebrows together as she shook her head.

  I gestured to her closet. “Are you ready? The guys will be here in five minutes.”

  She groaned, stripping her shirt off in one smooth motion. It was lifted over her head and her jeans were unsnapped and flung across the room in the next second. With matching black bra and panties already on, she grabbed a dress and shimmied it over and down her body. The thong fell to the floor and she kicked it into her closet, before shutting it and sitting on the couch.

  “Hey!” Beth scrambled to keep from being sat on.

  Hannah ignored her as she leaned
forward. Her hair was flipped over and she wound it together in a twisted up-do. Snapping it in place with a clip, she straightened. Her hair fell down, framing her face with curls that looked professionally done.

  Bitch.

  I sighed and turned back to my computer. “Things have thawed between your sister and me, but we’re not friends. You do not have to worry about that happening.”

  Hannah snorted as someone knocked on the door. “Whatever. If you come home with a friendship bracelet from her, I’m moving out. That’s all I’m going to say.” She went to the door and swung it open.

  Instead of the guys, Kara gave us a friendly wave. “Are you ready? The guys are downstairs.”

  As we traipsed through the hallway and the lobby, we had expected Derek and Jesse. They were there, along with Jamie, Tiffany, Cord, and a new date. He held hands with an exotic-looking girl this time, and like the others, she stood in the background. She was chewing her lips as she eyed Tiffany.

  Go figure.

  Hannah put the brakes on. “What the hell? You cannot come.”

  Tiffany tossed back her golden locks. “Like hell. You’re getting serious with this guy. I’m checking him out.”

  “No, you’re not.”

  “Yes, I am.”

  The two squared off and Jamie eased away from them. He stepped sideways, around Derek and Kara, and saw me. “Looking good, Connors.”

  An arm came around my waist. I was pulled into Jesse’s side as he remarked, “Are you hitting on her now?”

  “No.” Horror flashed in Jamie’s eyes. “No way, man. No way at all. Just saying, she looks good. You’re a lucky man.” Leaning forward, he patted Jesse on the shoulder. It was the most awkward exchange I ever witnessed between the two.

  “Thanks.”

  “Oh helllll noo.”

  Beth and I snapped to attention. That was Hannah’s war cry. As we turned around, the two girls from the bathroom were there. They were dressed to go out in tight, short dresses. But when I expected them to leave, they didn’t. They stayed. That was when I clued in to what Hannah had realized right away. Even though they didn’t come over to the group, they lingered close enough to overhear the conversations.

  Hannah stepped up to them. Her arm twisted in the air and her hand found her hip. She stuck it out. Her elbow mirrored the motion as her eyes bulged at the girls. “You are not doing what I know you’re doing.”

  They both tried to look bored. Only one succeeded. The other’s chest was rising too quickly and she wouldn’t look away from Jesse. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped to a small o. I couldn’t blame her as I snuck a peek. His shirt clung to him, but it wasn’t too tight. It showed off his lean physique. Then Hannah purposely moved to block her view. I moved to the side and saw the girl looked ready to piss her pants, but the first yawned, “Can you get out of my breathing space? You’re sucking all the air in.”

  Tiffany stepped next to her sister. That was when I learned where Hannah had gotten some of her fighting ways. The two looked so similar, almost like twins, as they turned their noses up at the other two. Well, Tiffany tilted her head back so she was snubbing the two. Hannah had her head bent and her eyes were locked on her target. If she could’ve drilled holes into the girl, she would’ve. Tiffany and Hannah were a unified front.

  I was close to pissing my pants and their hatred wasn’t directed at me.

  Beth sighed as she locked elbows with both of her cousins. “Come on. This is stupid. If they find out where we’re going, they’re going to find out. Let’s go.”

  “No way.” Hannah dug her feet in.

  “Tiffany.”

  She swept a hand to the girls. “I’m supporting my sister. I’m trying a new leaf too. Join, not judge. I’m a supportive sister.”

  Beth’s eyebrows shot up. I frowned. Hannah’s mouth dropped. “You’re doing what?” But she didn’t wait. She rolled her eyes and grabbed her sister’s arm. “Let’s go. I’ll text everyone directions from the car. No way are these two riding coattails.”

  The one harrumphed. The second one’s teeth started chattering. She was still holding her breath.

  Everyone separated into cars. Beth and Hannah rode with Jesse and me. Cord, Cord’s date went with Jamie and Tiffany. Derek and Kara took their own vehicle. When we got into the vehicles, the two girls from my floor hurried into their own car.

  “I should slice their tires,” Hannah grumbled.

  “Don’t. You’ll get into more trouble.”

  She shot her cousin a glare and stuck her bottom lip out. “Whatever. Jesse, go fast. Those two pariahs are going to tell everyone where you’re at.”

  “No, they won’t,” Beth corrected her. “They want him to themselves. They won’t tell a soul.”

  After we got directions to The Jukebox, Jesse grinned when he pulled into the parking lot. There was a line outside of the single door to a small dive bar. Three giant-sized security guards were in front checking drivers’ licenses.

  “Nice one, Hannah,” Beth griped. “They’re checking IDs; no one in this car is twenty-one.”

  “Shut up. I’ll call Emerson. He’s in the band. I’m sure he can get us in.”

  “Wait.” Jesse twisted around. “You said Emerson?”

  She nodded, holding her breath at suddenly being Jesse’s sole focus. “Uh, yeah. He’s my boyfriend.”

  “Around five foot ten?”

  She nodded, still holding her breath.

  “Bald?”

  Another nod.

  “Scar across his face?”

  Once again.

  Jesse grinned. “Attitude up his ass?”

  “You know him.” She didn’t look happy about that.

  “Yeah. We’ll get in just fine.” Then he got out of the car and made a phone call. A minute later, a girl opened a back door. It’d been overlooked since it was hidden behind two large dumpsters. She waved at Jesse, who gestured back.

  As I got out of the car, I knew that girl. She was the same stunner from The Shack. Black hair, black eyes, and a body that I knew every guy wanted. I tugged on Jesse’s sleeve. “Isn’t that…what’s her name?”

  “Bri.” As the group walked over, he flashed her a grin. “Hey, Bri. The guys are playing tonight?”

  She rolled her eyes and swiped back some of her hair. Tiffany instantly lifted her top lip in a faint snarl. Hannah was all smiles, wiggling her fingers at the girl. Eyeing Hannah cautiously, recognition flared in her depths when she switched to me. “Hi. You’re…”

  “Alex. From the—”

  “Yeah,” she cut me off, skirting a nervous glance to the others. “I remember. Luke texted you, Jesse?”

  “Nope. Not this time.” He gestured to Hannah, who linked elbows with me. “She’s a friend of Alex’s. I believe she’s dating your cousin.”

  “Yeah.” No warmth traveled to her gaze as she lingered on our linked arms. “That’s too bad.”

  Beth started laughing. Hannah stiffened and Jamie snorted. “Even she knows you’re a whore, Hannah.”

  Before she could twist around and slap him, I tugged Hannah with me into the overcrowded bar. As we passed by Bri, who was holding the door for us, I murmured, “Thanks for letting us in like this.”

  She shrugged. “Luke really likes Jesse. It’s no problem.” After everyone was inside, she shoved through the crowd back to our side. “Just don’t get in trouble since you’re underage and don’t—”

  But whatever else she was going to say was cut off. A guy from the bar shouted her name, “Brielle! Help please!”

 
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