Home > Trust(16)

Trust(16)
Author: Kylie Scott

He shrugged a shoulder. “I can pay him if I have to.”

I laughed and he grinned, everything nice and friendly and infinitely better. This was what my days needed, more John Cole. (Insert happy sigh here.) Just as well my sunglasses hid the dreamy look in my eyes.

He gazed down at me, the tempting curl of his lips easing slowly. “Don’t worry about it, okay?”

“Okay.”

Neither of us said a word. It seemed like forever before he looked away, rapping his knuckles once on the roof of my car.

“Later,” he said.

“Wait,” I blurted, grabbing his arm. Oh his sun-warmed skin, it felt so very good. I instantly ordered my hand to let go. “Give me your phone. Let me give you my number. Just in case sometime in the future you feel like doing the dreaded talking thing.”

His face set in stubborn lines.

“I get it. Really. You don’t want to talk about the Drop Stop, you just want to put it behind you,” I said, stomach turning queasily at the mere mention of the place. “But you know what, I get it. We were both there. Sometime, speaking about it might help. Who knows?”

For a long time, he just looked at me.

“This isn’t some pathetic attempt to get your number, by the way.”

He snorted. “I know that.”

“Well?”

Another long look. “I don’t have my cell on me. Give me yours.”

Moving much faster than I’d have ever thought possible, I grabbed it out of my schoolbag, unlocked it, and shoved it at him. He carefully wiped off his hand on his pants leg before putting in the info. Then he handed it back. “There you go.”

“Thanks.” I tried to keep my smile within acceptable non-triumphant limits. And failed.

“’Bye.”

“R-right.” I could have drifted in his dreamy gaze for days. Instead, I blinked, returning to reality. “’Bye.”

He took a step back, watching me not so carefully reverse. For a very specific reason, it was hard to concentrate. My line of sight kept returning to him, and it took a concerted effort to keep my eyes on the road.

God, the way my heart kept bashing around inside my chest. It couldn’t be good. Best if I went back to my room and tried to read a book, maybe listened to some music. Find my inner calm if it even existed these days.

Dust filled the air, stirred up by my tires. I watched him in the rearview mirror until he disappeared.

In all likelihood, he’d been looking at me counting his lucky stars yet again that the gun at the Drop Stop had been empty by the time I grabbed it. Or maybe he was just curious about me, the way I was about him. We had been through some crazy shit together. Still, stupid of me to become so angsty over someone so hot. Everything about the Drop Stop needed to get out of my head, and that included John. All we had in common was a night of blood and violence. End of story. Sanity decreed we should never want to cross paths again even despite the rules of high school hierarchy. The cool, the beautiful, and me didn’t mix. Egos and bullshit always got in the way. I had to forget about him before I got my delicate little feelings hurt.

No way would I go to Sabrina’s soiree. If Anders hadn’t gone on at me about it, the stupid thing wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. All of those people standing around getting loaded, judging each other’s taste in everything, while gossiping about who might be hooking up with whom.

Nope, not for me.

“Thanks for inviting us along to the party.”

“No problem.” I forced a smile for Hang, sitting beside me on a low section of the garden wall. “Glad you could come.”

Turned out Sabrina had a pool. The place was bikini city. Loud music filled the night air and people spilled out of the sprawling ranch-style house down the steps onto the wide back patio. Of course, there was also a keg and plenty of red Solo cups to go around. Stars twinkled overhead and the shadows of trees swayed in the wind.

“They’re together?” I asked.

“Hmm?” Hang turned away from the pool, checking out the dance-floor area where Carrie and Sophia were kissing while moving to the music. “Yeah. You didn’t know?”

“No.”

Her gaze darkened. “I hope that’s not a problem.”

“No, of course not. That’s great that they’re happy,” I said. “I just wish someone would get together with me.”

“Right? Me too.”

We both grinned. Before coming to the party, all four of us had gone to dinner at Old Town Pizza. There’d been no shortage of things to talk about. But Hang and I had the most in common. She too had a thing for Harry Potter and read fiction books outside of school time. Plus, she was calm, easygoing. And no matter who approached me about John, she hadn’t mentioned him or the Drop Stop to me again. I appreciated that. Apart from avoiding that subject, whatever thought ran through her head came straight out of her mouth and I loved that. Why she put up with my moody ass I have no idea, but I hoped it got her some karma points.

Yet while Hang seemed like good people, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone fully. Not after Georgia. My stories and secrets stayed safe inside my head.

We stuck to the edges of the party, watching. So far I’d seen no sign of John or Anders. Not that I was obsessively looking or anything. Mostly I just sat there sweating, worrying about everything and trying not to let it show. Appearances mattered. I’d almost died; therefore, attending a cool kid’s party couldn’t possibly be much worse. And sure, this was better than hanging at home on my own. Maybe. I don’t know; I was trying to keep an open mind.

“Let’s take a look around, see who else is here,” suggested Hang. Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed my hand and tugged me to my feet. The crowd was thick. She said “hey” and “hi” to various people. I smiled and avoided eye contact. Nice to know the robbery hadn’t changed everything—my social skills were still crap. Someone yelled out “there’s Holden!” and others laughed, but I ignored it all.

“Want to get a drink?” I asked Hang, turning her back on the pool once more.

She nodded.

“Edie.” An arm was suddenly slung around my neck, the scent of booze and tobacco thick in the air. “Good to see you.”

“Anders! Hey.” It took me a moment to catch my breath, to get my heart rate back under control. Not Chris, not a crazed lunatic. Sort of. “How are you? This is my friend, Hang.”

“We’ve got History together, right?” he asked her.

“Yes,” said Hang. “You asked me to do your homework for you one time.”

Anders’s brow filled with lines. “Did you say yes?”

“No.”

“Meanie.”

Hang just laughed.

“Anders, you look hot,” I said, trying again to remove his limbs from me.

“I know, right? Thanks, Edie.”

“As in temperature-wise, you idiot. Why don’t you take Hang for a swim?”

He turned back to my companion, doing some strange brow-waggling thing. “Shall we get wet?”

“What about you?” Hang asked me, ignoring his comment.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Go, swim. I know you want to.”

She squinted, gaze moving between me, Anders, and the pool again.

“Seriously, I’m not much for swimming. Plus I didn’t bring my suit.” Not that I would have necessarily felt comfortable enough to do that even if I had known about the pool. “I’m going to get a drink.”

“Edie, are you sure?” she asked.

“I’m sure.”

“Ladies, please,” cried Anders. “Make a decision.”

“Okay.” Hang shrugged. “Let’s do it.”

With that, Anders ran for the pool, dive-bombing in fully dressed. Water sprayed up into the sky, everyone cracking up with laughter. Hang followed behind at a more sedate pace, giving me a slightly worried look.

“You’ll be fine,” I said, giving her two thumbs up. God, I hoped Anders didn’t accidentally drown her.

Cup of beer in hand, I sat off to one side of the pool, dangling my feet in the cool water. Nothing wrong with just watching. Especially since I didn’t know the bulk of the people. Carrie and Sophia had disappeared inside a while back. Hang and Anders were chatting with some people down in the shallow end. Eventually, he’d thrown out his waterlogged socks and sneakers to dry. The rest of his clothing, however, remained. He was a strange one, but obviously popular. Others had a tendency to hover nearby, waiting for their turn to bask in his attention. To be the target of one of his bad jokes or to congratulate him on some basketball win or something. I liked how he kept Hang by his side, made her laugh. Given she’d volunteered to drive tonight, I could tell there’d be no leaving anytime soon.

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