Broken and screwed 2, p.8
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       Broken and Screwed 2, p.8
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         Part #2 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan

  flying away from town with no end in sight. After we had driven thirty minutes, I felt Jesse’s gaze on me. “What is it?”

  He gave me a rueful grin. “Do you have an early class tomorrow?”

  “Nope, those are Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have a ten o’clock class.” Which I didn’t mind skipping, it was psychology. My head couldn’t take that stuff.

  He nodded and went back to the road. “Good. It might be a long night.”

  I grinned to myself as I heard that. Pleasure spread through me and the steady boil went up another notch. This addiction to him was like a drug, I was intoxicated. He pumped adrenalin through me and made me feel like I was living again.

  My head went down. My eyes closed.

  My chest filled with searing pain.

  He was making me right again. I didn’t know what would happen when this was done. Could I go back?

  “What’s wrong?”

  I shook my head, unable to speak. Too many damn emotions were stirring in me. “Nothing. Are we almost there?”

  “Yeah.” He pointed to a small building in the middle of nowhere. “They call it ‘The Shack’, but it’s just a place they practice. Sometimes they’ll have their friends come and listen and hang out.”

  “How did you meet these guys?”

  Half of his mouth lifted up in a grin. “A bar. Okay. A dive bar, in the wrong area of town. Luke and I were both having a drink when some guys picked a fight. We were sitting next to each other so both of us were pulled into it. Afterwards, we shared a few more drinks. I was laying low; he was doing the same. We bonded.” As he pulled into the gravel parking lot and slid to a stop, he laughed to himself. “These guys know sports, but they don’t say anything. I can just be me.”

  Getting out, I grabbed my purse, but Jesse took it from me. He opened his trunk and tossed it in, then took my hand in his. “You don’t need that in here.”

  Which was code in Jesse’s world as, please don’t bring your phone. Little did he know that no one called me anymore. He’d been the only one in my history over the last week.

  Loud music met us when we stepped inside, but it was dark. The only light was on the stage as a guy was singing into a microphone, bending over with it. He had a smooth tone that sounded like a caress to my ears. He was good. Jesse led me to a back table and we sat side by side. He leaned against the wall and he pulled me against him with an arm curved around my waist. We sat there and listened longer, this band was really good.

  When they switched to a different song, one that I recognized, I bolted upright and twisted around. “This is Braille.” Even I knew who these guys were and I never paid attention, but this band had exploded a year ago. They’d been some of my only company the summer before I came to school. Jesse gave a small smile as he ran his thumb down the side of my cheek, then he pulled me back against him. Settling back in, his chest lifted as he took in a deep breath.

  His hand fell back to mine and interlaced together.

  A girl came over and nodded towards Jesse. “You here just to hang out? You want something to drink?”

  “Water for me. You want something?” he asked me.

  “Uh,” I was battling against being star struck. These were normal guys, just like Jesse. Jesse was a normal guy. That last thought helped calm me down. They were normal, and they didn’t know me. When I jerked my gaze from the stage to the girl, she was grinning. I wondered how often she dealt with girls like me. “Yeah. I’ll have water too.”

  “You guys sure? Luke stocked the refrigerator. We have more than enough.”

  “No, thanks.” Jesse’s voice sounded close to my ear and I shivered. It was caressing. His arm shifted, pulling me tighter to him. “Thanks, Bri.”

  She nodded before she walked away with a sexy saunter to her hips.

  I peeked to see if Jesse was watching, but his eyes were closed. His chest lifted back up in another deep breath. I sensed that he had come out here to relax, and he’d brought me along with him. That meant something. I couldn’t hide from that, but he had already told me that no one could mean to him what Ethan and I did.

  As the band started another song, I blinked back tears.

  Jesse was already doing this to me and it’d only been the second time I’d seen him. My parents had shattered me. I didn’t need to go to therapy to know that they killed a part of me when I read that letter. Over the summer, I had survived. That’d been my only thought, to keep going, but since coming to school, things were better. A little bit better and now, with him, they were becoming more than a little bit. But with that new hope, new terror had begun to build with it.

  He’d leave. They always left. What then?

  I gripped onto his hand as if he were going to go right then and there.

  What would I do?

  When I wasn’t with him, I was okay. I was broken, but functioning. I could do that and endure college like that. I’d be fine. And when that would stop, whatever it was…that searing pain rattled against my chest. It wanted to burst through every part of me, every cell in my body. I wasn’t letting it. I pushed it away and then stopped thinking.

  I’d take what I could get for now. Maybe enough of me would heal that I wouldn’t be so shattered when he eventually left.

  The band played for an hour. They’d stop and discuss sections of a song, then start over again as they implemented the new changes. It was fascinating to watch. We remained at our table without speaking. When Jesse’s chest started to rise up and down at a steady rate, I knew he’d fallen asleep, but I didn’t move away. Bri came over a few times and had a new water bottle for us. After the third time, I started to ease from Jesse’s arm and stood. Bri was talking by a bar with a guy who was stocky and an inch shorter than her, but he had a scar that ran across his entire face. It started at one corner of his forehead and ended underneath his chin on the other side. He saw me first and nodded in my direction. Bri turned around with a friendly smile. She looked around me and her grin softened with fondness. She gestured to Jesse, “Is he sleeping?”

  “Yeah.” She wasn’t surprised by that. “Does he do that a lot?”

  She shrugged before she slipped behind the bar’s counter. She reached underneath and pulled out a shot glass with a bottle of Whiskey. Filling it up, she slid it towards the stocky guy. “Drink it, Emerson.”

  He hadn’t looked particularly friendly before, but a small scowl appeared. He was terrifying now.

  He growled at her, “Fuck off, Bri. I’m not drinking that shit.”

  Her eyes sparkled as a smile lit up her face. She poured another one for herself. “I’ll take it with you. You lost the bet, fair and square. You have to drink.”

  He continued to scowl at the shot glass.

  “It’s not going to disappear unless you drink it.” Bri winked at me behind her hand and she held her own glass up. “Come on, you big baby. Luke said you were supposed to take five shots tonight. You’ve got some catching up to do.”

  “Luke can kiss my ass.”

  His statement would’ve only been heard by the two of us, but the music abruptly stopped right before. Everyone heard it and the lead singer gripped his microphone. He growled into it, “You lost the bet, Emerson. Take your five fucking shots.”

  The drummer started a roll as he taunted into his microphone, “Em-er-son. Em-er-son. Em-er-son.”

  “You can kiss my ass too, Braden,” he shouted across the warehouse. “Screw all of you. I’m out of here.”

  The drummer changed his chant, “Hy-po-crite. Hy-po-crite. Hy-po-crite.”

  As he stalked towards the door, past Jesse, Emerson shoved outside. Jesse had woken and looked at the door in confusion.

  “Your boy’s awake.” Bri handed the shot to me. “He looks like he needs this more than Emerson did.”

  I wanted to ask her more questions, if Jesse did this a lot? When had he started? If they knew anything about him except his name? So many were burning in me, but I took the shot over to him and put it on
the table. “That girl, Bri, said you looked like you needed this.”

  Jesse took the shot without argument.

  “Hey!” The lead singer had come over. He nodded to me in greeting, pulled a chair out, twirled it around, and straddled it. “I didn’t see you come in.”

  Jesse grimaced. “Yeah, to get away. You know.”

  The guy nodded, then slid his gaze to me and held his hand out. “Luke Skeet.”

  I took his hand; it was firm and polite, nothing more. “Hi, Alex Connors.”

  He nodded, there was no recognition, no speculation, nothing. He turned back to Jesse, his grey eyes were alert. I felt slightly zapped by this guy’s attention and I could understand why so many girls had fallen in love with the lead singer to Braille. I had heard so many talking about the band when I was still working at the coffee hut in the mall. I hadn’t really cared or listened, not at that time. I’d been just holding on and trying to survive. Now I wish that I had listened more and learned more about this band.

  I glanced at Jesse underneath my eyelids. He was friends with them and he had come here to get away. That told me these guys were either important to him or they understood him in a way that no one else did.

  Luke was saying, “….this feast on that Saturday if you and your girl want to come.”

  I tensed, waiting for Jesse to say the inevitable ‘she’s not my girl’, but he only shrugged. “Maybe. Some of the girlfriends are throwing a picnic for the team. You guys should come to that.” He grinned to himself. “Tiffany would drop bricks if you guys showed up. She wouldn’t know what to do.”

  Luke’s eyebrows furrowed together. “Is there going to be food?”

  Jesse’s grin turned into a smirk. “Lots of it. You guys should come, the whole band. Brielle too.”

  A smile had been growing on Luke’s face, but it froze at the last words. “Why Brielle?”

  Giving me a tired smile, Jesse seemed oblivious to the sharpness from his friend now. “She’s part of the band, isn’t she?”

  “Since when do you care about who’s in the band or not?”

  Jesse turned, frowning now. “What?”

  “Nothing,” Luke bit out, taking a deep breath and loosening the tight grip he had on the table. “Nothing, man. Sorry. Yeah, maybe we’ll check out your picnic.”

  Jesse started to chuckle.

  “But only if you come to the feast that night.” Luke glanced at me. “And bring your girl.” From how he stressed that word, he was either fishing for information or he wanted to remind Jesse that he was taken. My eyes slid over his shoulders to Brielle. She was behind the counter again, trying to pour drinks for the band but the drummer kept poking her in the shoulder. She would swat at him, but he’d dance back two steps and when she went back to pouring, he’d poke her again. After a few more pokes, she set down the pitcher of beer and whipped around. Her fist was cocked and she punched him in the shoulder. Howling, he fell back, but he still couldn’t contain a wide smile. She rolled her eyes. When he poked her again, she went back to swatting at him. The rest of the guys ignored the commotion. But then Brielle glanced at us and her features tightened for a moment. Her eyes narrowed, but then she forced a friendly grin at me.

  I lifted my hand in a friendly wave.

  Luke caught the motion and twisted round to see who I was waving at. When he did, his shoulders stiffened and his hands clenched around the table in a death grip.

  Jesse frowned as he saw the same reaction and gave me a questioning look. Luke was still turned away so I jerked my head in Brielle’s direction. Understanding flooded him and he jerked his shoulder towards the door. I knew what he meant so I started to stand as he spoke up, “Luke, I think we’re going to head out.”

  The lead singer turned back and stood with us. His grey eyes had darkened, but the easygoing smile on his face never gave anything away. He patted Jesse on the shoulder. “It was nice seeing you. I’ll let you know about the picnic, though knowing how Braden works, we might just show up.”

  Jesse shrugged. “Good entertainment for me if you do. My buddy’s girlfriend is something else. She wants everything to go how she wants, but if your band showed up, she couldn’t kick you out. Damn funny to watch.”

  “And we’ll see you for the feast.” He nodded to me. “Your girl too.”

  Jesse nudged me out the door with a hand in the small of my back. “See you then.” When the door closed behind us, I told him, “I don’t think they would mind if I didn’t go. I think he was only pushing that ‘your girl’ part so you’d stay away from his girl.”

  Jesse frowned, but flashed me a grin as we got into his car. “Nah, he was trolling for information. He probably wanted to hit on you.”

  I didn’t think he was right, but I let it go.

  When he pulled the Ferrari back on the highway, he rolled the window down and asked, “Did I fall asleep in there?”

  “Only for a little bit.” Screw it. I just asked, “So what’s their story? Do you go out there a lot?”

  His eyes remained on the road as he mused, “Not sure about their story. I’ve gone a few other times. It’s interesting.”

  “Why do you go out there?”

  “To relax.” The corner of his mouth curved up. “They don’t give a shit who I am. Luke likes me because I had his back that night before I knew who he was. When he found out that I didn’t care who he was, he told me about The Shack and invited me out whenever I wanted. He sent me a text tonight saying they had a few more practices before they go on tour.”

  “Yeah, they’re huge.” Did other people know he knew them? Or was I special?

  Jesse answered both my questions without knowing it. “I shouldn’t have invited them to the picnic. Everyone would flip if they knew I knew them. I knew you wouldn’t care, but the other girls and Jamie?” He shook his head. “I’m going to have to text him that the picnic was canceled. I don’t want Jamie latching onto those guys, he’ll think he’s King Tut being on the basketball team and knowing those guys.”

  So I wasn’t special. I was…easygoing? That didn’t feel any better. I couldn’t contain the annoyance anymore so I tried to divert it. “Are you going to tell me where you’ve been all week?”

  “What?”

  I bit out, “You fingered me in my room Sunday night and I don’t hear from you for four days. Then you take me to some hole-in-a-shack and fall asleep. What’s going on with you?”

  He’d been exhausted before. He was furious now. The air sizzled from tension as he shot back, “Are you kidding me? We don’t have the type of relationship where we hold hands and have deep conversations on the phone. Now you want that? You told Cord you didn’t care that I hadn’t called you. Are you going back on that too?”

  I felt slapped in the face, but I growled back, “I didn’t think I cared. I just need to know the rules here.”

  “I didn’t think we had rules.”

  “We did. We fucked when we wanted to forget everything else, but that’s not what tonight was.”

  He swerved his car to the side of the road and slammed on its brakes. He was out the car and rounding to my side before I could even start to open my door. He wrenched it open and hauled me out with a tight grip on my arm.

  I was seething.

  He was livid as he rasped out, “What is your problem? I’ve been keeping it cool with you, especially when you’re the one who walked out on me. Remember that? I don’t hear shit from you for almost a year. Ethan’s anniversary—nothing. Then I hear from Cord that you’re at the house and you’re going to school at Grant West. Fuck me in the ass and finger me sideways, huh? Is that what you intend to do for the next three years? I can’t take this crap.”

  “You didn’t call me back! I was told that you knew something about Ethan’s accident, then I called and left how many messages and you never called me back!” I shouted back.

  His eyes bulged out. “I lost my phone! I would’ve come to you if I had known, but I didn’t. You left me, Alex.
It wasn’t the other way around. I didn’t leave you.”

  “But you would’ve!”

  I gasped as I heard what I said. I hadn’t meant to let it slip. Clamping a hand over my mouth, I twisted away and stumbled to the back of the car. My heart raced and I felt the world pressing against me. I couldn’t believe I had said that. But then I waited…

 
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