Broken and screwed 2, p.7
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.7
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  he told you that.”

  I shrugged. “I don’t care.”

  Yes, you do. What was going on with him?

  Ignoring that nagging voice in my head, I scowled at him. “Just do me a favor. Pretend we don’t know each other. I don’t want the extra attention, you know?”

  His eyes narrowed.

  I stiffened, feeling the weight of his measuring gaze, but then he nodded. “Sure.” A ball of tension loosened in my gut and I lounged back in my chair again. The professor had started roll call. Cord was true to his word. He dropped the teasing, everything, and it was as if we never knew each other. The only time he violated this was at the end of class when the professor told us that we would need to form a group of three or four.

  Cord latched onto my desk. “Partner up, Connors.”

  I glared. What was he doing?

  His friend had the same sentiment. He glowered at me around him, but didn’t argue.

  The three girls had turned around, hoping to become a part of their group, but they stopped when he did that. I realized why he’d done that and rolled my eyes at him. He shrugged, but gave the professor our names when the groups were recorded. It was then announced we’d be working with the same group throughout the semester on different projects. The first project was for introductions. Screw that.

  Class was dismissed and everyone stood to give phone numbers and email addresses out. Not me. I grabbed my bag and darted past Cord and Douchebag for the door. I heard DB grumble behind me, “Dude, are you mental? That girl is crazy.”

  I didn’t hear Cord’s response. I was already out the door.

  I had two more classes and it was after two before I was done for the day. My stomach was rumbling since I’d skipped lunch and hurried across the quad so I’d get to my third class in time. When I headed to the food court, I spotted Beth and Hannah at a picnic table in the yard. They had books spread across it and Hannah was lying on her side while her cousin was hunched over a book on the other side.

  I paused, wondering if I should go over or not, but Beth glanced up and saw me. She waved me over and Hannah lifted her head to see who was coming. She squinted with a hand over her eyes, but dropped her head back down when she saw it was me.

  Drawing closer, I nodded to Beth.

  She gestured to the empty seat beside her. “Take a seat. You have another class?”

  A line was forming outside of the food court doors, but I put my bag on the ground. “I’m done. I was going to grab some food and start studying.”

  Hannah groaned. “It’s the first day. You two are nerds.”

  Beth shot her a dark look. “We are not. When you’re failing all your classes before finals, don’t come to me for help.”

  “Ugh,” her cousin mumbled, scowling back as she sat up on her side and pulled a book in front of her. “Fine. Whatever. You suck.”

  A small grin teased the corners of her mouth, but then Beth rolled her eyes. She turned to me, “Take a seat.”

  Gesturing to the doors, I started towards them. “I’m going to grab some food. Be right back. Watch my bag?”

  She nodded, turning back to her book already.

  Hannah frowned at me before I turned all the way around. I couldn’t see from the Aviators she was wearing, but I was sure she was studying me intently. I narrowed my eyes back at her, wondering the reason behind her sudden perusal. She hadn’t given a damn whom I had been when we went to Club T. When I headed back with a salad, muffin, and water, both girls seemed to be reading again. Neither said a word when I sat so I ate my food and pulled out one of my textbooks for my own head start.

  “Hannah!” a sharp voice called out.

  I checked my phone. We’d been there for an hour.

  “Oh gawd,” Hannah groaned. Her forehead went into her book. “Maybe she won’t see me.”

  I fought against grinning, but then I didn’t have to fight against it anymore.

  Tiffany marched over to us with Chandra and Kara behind her. All of them wore white polos again with the purple GW emblem on the top right corners. Chandra opted for a casual jeans look, though they were tight and left nothing to the imagination. Kara went classy, wearing matching purple capris, but Tiffany stood out the most. She wore a soft white pair of shorts that molded to her form.

  The three of them struck a picture among the rest of the Grant West students. Royalty, I snuck a look at Beth. She had used that term before, but I could see it now. These girls were beautiful, all of them.

  When Tiffany saw who else was with her sister, her lips thinned, but she ignored me. “Hannah, you never called me back last night.”

  Hannah groaned in response, muffled from the book.

  Kara glanced at me but turned away quickly.

  I fought against biting my lip. That was not guilt rumbling in my stomach. That was my food. That was all.

  Chandra stood behind their leader, ready for whatever was going to go down, but when she sent me a questioning glance I knew it was bothering her about Cord. She still didn’t know how I knew him. When Beth let out a small sigh, my attention was distracted. Tiffany stood at Hannah’s head now, glaring down, while her sister continued to ignore her. Beth’s shoulders slumped and before she lowered her head back to her book, I caught the pain that flashed over her.

  I straightened where I sat. That wasn’t the sort of pain where she was being ignored or where she knew there was going to be a confrontation between the sisters. That was deep pain, the type that I felt stirring inside of me as a response to seeing it. I chewed on the inside of my cheek, wondering what the hell had gone down in Beth’s life for her to react like that.

  Then I shook my head clear. What was I doing? I couldn’t get involved.

  “Hannah, I’m speaking to you!”

  Her elbow rotated and her hand lifted in the air. The middle finger was extended next.

  Beth and I both shared a look, each grinning.

  “You’re such a pain in my ass.”

  Hannah looked up now and grunted, “Likewise, big pain-in-my-ass sister.”

  Tiffany’s glare went up a notch and her hands went to her hips. “You need to call me when you go out drinking. Mom was worried to death about you.”

  “Mom wasn’t worried about me. Mom would’ve been cheering me on. You were worried, Tiffany. Stop putting your crap on other people.” She gave her sister a nice eff-off grin. “I have no plans on reporting to you wherever I go, whenever I go, and whoever I do so get that out of your head. You didn’t care last year. You don’t need to now.”

  Her hands slid from her hips and her voice quieted, “Hannah, I’m worried about you. Last year, you didn’t have—”

  She cut her off, “It’s none of your business. Back off.”

  “I’m—”

  Hannah shoved her book closed and swept it into her bag as she stood from the table. Pulling her bag onto her back, she was seething at her sister. “Stay out of my business. You do that and we’ll get along fine.”

  “But,” Tiffany glanced at Beth, who immediately dropped her head back to her book.

  I frowned.

  “And don’t look at Beth. Unlike you, she’s actually there for me and trying to support me.”

  “I’m trying to do that too.”

  Hannah poked her sister in the chest, pushing her back a step. “No, you’re not. You’re trying to control me. Trust me. I feel back-doored up the ass every time you talk to me.”

  Her sister’s mouth dropped open and her friends moved away from the two. Tiffany sputtered, “But—Hannah, I don’t—”

  “You do.” She silenced her with a look. “Do us both a favor and leave me alone. Focus all your energy on making sure Jamie doesn’t cheat as much as he did last year.”

  Tiffany’s face flamed and her shoulders went rigid. Her jaw clenched, but before she could send a scathing retort, Hannah was gone. She jerked towards her cousin instead and clipped out, “Can you make sure she doesn’t end up dead by the end of the s
emester? It’s the least you could do.”

  Beth didn’t respond.

  When she realized she wasn’t going to get a response, Tiffany narrowed her gaze at me instead.

  I narrowed mine back. “Don’t even start. I’m not a punching bag for you.”

  She rolled eyes and muttered, “We’ll see about that,” before she left. Chandra and Kara both gazed at me in concern, but followed a second later.

  “What a bitch,” came from beside me.

  I frowned again. “Does she always talk to you like that?”

  “More or less.” Before I could reply, her shoulders went back and her chest rose. “I’m not weak to let her talk to me like that. I used to fight back, but it only made things worse between her and Hannah. If I don’t respond to her, she always goes away and things aren’t that bad between them.”

  They looked pretty damn bad to me. “Why are you telling me this?”

  “Because I’m not weak.”

  “You are when it comes to Tiffany.”

  She had started to turn back to her book, but her eyes snapped back to mine. Anger morphed over her and she lashed back, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

  I shrugged, but I murmured, “I know enough to know that you’re scared of your cousin.” Before she could reply, I finished, “And we both know that’s not Hannah. Does she remind you of your mother?”

  Beth paled. “What did you just say?”

  “Tiffany. She’s like your mom, isn’t she? That’s why you don’t fight back.”

  “Shut. Up.”

  I grabbed my book and my bag. Standing from the table, I regarded her for a second. “I’m not judging. I was dumped by both my parents so I get it. But Tiffany is not your mom. You can stand up for yourself against her. She’s still here and it doesn’t look like she’s going anywhere.”

  As she gulped, I gave her a small wave and left.

  I hadn’t minced my words and I hadn’t taken pity on her. That’s what she’d been scared about, but that small voice whispered in my head, You’re a hypocrite. You’re scared, just like her.

  I was, but I wasn’t going to deal with my parents yet. I wasn’t ready for that.

  Jesse called two nights later. I checked the time and saw it was after eleven before I answered. “Hey.”

  “What are you doing?”

  I glanced at my sneakers I was lacing up and my gym bag was already packed. I went to lie on my bed instead. “Nothing. You?”

  “You want to do something?”

  I grinned into the phone. “Is this my first official booty call in college?”

  “No.” I could hear his amusement. “Well, maybe later. Want to go somewhere with me?”

  “Where?” I was tempted to tease him if he was going to say his bedroom, but I stopped myself. There was exhaustion in his voice and my Jesse senses were tingling. Something was up, probably whatever he’d been busy with all week.

  “My buddy’s in a band. Sometimes I go and listen to their practices.”

  “Sure.”

  “Okay. I’m outside your dorm right now.”

  “The back door?” I didn’t wait for his answer. “I’ll be down.” Warmth rushed through me and I hurried to change my shorts into jeans. My shirt was off next and I pulled a tank with a sweater over it. Slipping my feet into flats, I grabbed my purse and headed out. As I was locking my door, Kara was coming up the back stairwell with a tall guy behind her. He had brown hair, long enough to be teased with some curl, but not long enough to look shaggy. He had high cheekbones, almost as chiseled as Jesse’s, and keen dark eyes. Their hands were interlocked so I figured this was the boyfriend.

  “Oh, hi!” Kara stopped. He stood just inside the doorway with a hand against it to keep from slamming into him. “This is my boyfriend, Derek. Derek, this is Alex. She…knows Cord.”

  An eyebrow went up, but he didn’t comment on that. “Nice to meet you.”

  When he didn’t extend a hand, I was relieved. “You too. Be seeing you guys.”

  “Oh, wait.” Kara stepped to the side, blocking me. Her smile never moved an inch. “I wanted to invite you to a picnic in two weekends. Are you doing anything Saturday?”

  Yes. I had such a busy life. “Studying?”

  “You can’t study all the time. The picnic is at Carver Park, eleven thirty. You don’t need to bring anything.”

  “Who else is going to be there?” This sounded fishy to me.

  Her smile was strained now.

  I knew it.

  She answered, “Tiffany, Chandra, myself, and another girl, Elizabeth Ives are putting it on. There will be lots of guys, if you want to meet a guy. Oh, and I was going to invite Hannah and Beth too. They have a Frisbee golf course and I know some of the guys will have a soccer game too. But don’t worry, there’ll be other girls there too. It’s just for a fun afternoon at the park.”

  A brief frown appeared over her boyfriend before it cleared just as quick.

  What was that for?

  “So do you think you’d come?”

  “Oh. Uh. You think it’s a good idea for Hannah to come if Tiffany’s going to be there? They didn’t seem to get along so well.”

  She waved that off. “They’re always like that. There was another fight last night. So? Do you want to come?” Her eyes were animated as she waited for my answer.

  I shrugged as I started to say, “Suu…” But I faded. A big fat knot had formed in my stomach. My other senses were telling me this was a bad idea.

  Kara didn’t care. Her smile stretched from ear to ear. “Great! I’ll come to your room at eleven fifteen. We can walk over together.”

  With a pat to my shoulder, she jerked her boyfriend from the doorway and past me. I was left unsettled when they disappeared into her room. When the lock clicked, I shook my head. I felt duped, but went down the stairs and to the back door. I’d deal with that later. Right now, as I stepped outside and saw the black Ferrari, I was thankful Jesse had his windows tinted. There was a cluster of girls on two benches that had been landscaped amidst foliage. They were eyeing the Ferrari. With a quick scan, I figured they were freshmen like me. Maybe they hadn’t heard Jesse Hunt drove the same car. I was hoping.

  As soon as I got in, he sped away. For some reason, I wasn’t surprised to see he was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and black pants. The shirt was snug on him. His arm muscles moved underneath and it accentuated the cut of his shoulders. The warmth from before came back, mingling with lust. It was on a simmer, always there, as if waiting for his presence. The simmer had been turned up. It was a steady boil now, not too overwhelming, but he looked he looked pissed and stoic at the same time. It was a deadly combination, especially on him.

  Neither of us said a word. There was a comfortable silence and I didn’t want to break it. Closing my eyes, I leaned back and opened the window a bit. The wind raced against my face, calming my racing heart. Being there with him and not needing to fill the silence soothed an edge inside of me.

  My chest lifted again, up and down in a smooth rhythm.

  When we were nearing the outskirts of town, he asked, “Are you hungry? Did you want some food?”

  “I had old pizza. I’m good.”

  He nodded and wheeled the car onto the interstate. We were
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