Authors: Amy Sparling
Keanna never meets me on the bleachers and after another fifteen minutes of waiting around, I go look for her in the office. The door is locked and the lights are off so I press my face to the glass but the front desk is empty. I pull out my phone and text her, letting her know I’m going to shower so she should meet me at my house.
I put my bike back into the storage garage and hang up my helmet.
The overbearing scent of Emma’s perfume hits me as I’m closing the garage door. I draw in a deep breath and turn around.
“What?” I ask.
She stands there, arms crossed over her chest, pouting at me. I think she thinks that look makes her attractive but really it’s annoying as hell. I like a fun, playful girl. Not a whiney princess bitch.
She cocks her head to the side. “Jett, we should talk.”
I step around her. “There’s really nothing to talk about.”
“Yes there is, oh my god why are you such a jerk?” She rushes to catch up to me and her voice seems to echo loudly in this narrow hallway between all the dirt bike storage rooms. It’s like a storage facility but with narrow stalls where people keep their bikes and the last thing I need is for a client or their parents to see the track owner’s son back here with a pissed off girl.
I fold my arms over my chest and glare at her. “I thought I made it clear that you and me are done. Why are you still here?”
“Look, I’m sorry I got upset about your new girl, but I realized I’m cool with it, okay? You can have both of us.” She grins like she’s the greatest thing in the world and then bats her eyelashes at me. “See? I’m not unreasonable. I’m happy to share you. After all, it’s no strings attached, right?”
Damn, I almost feel sorry for her. She’s so desperate it’s sad. I know a ton of guys who would be happy to date her. I’m about to tell her that when she launches forward, throwing her arms around my neck. She slams her lips into mine, forcefully trying to make me kiss her back.
I grab her hands and pull them off my neck, keeping my mouth stiff and unresponsive to her surprise make out attack.
“Dude,” I say, trying to peel her off me.
She gives me this seductive look and grins, then reaches for my crotch.
“You know you want me,” she purrs, lifting up on her toes to lick my neck.
I’m not trying to hurt a girl but I shove her off, holding her by the shoulder so she can’t get any closer to me. “You’re getting a little too desperate, Emma,” I say, trying like hell to keep my voice down since everything echoes in here. “I don’t want it to come to this, but if you don’t leave me the fuck alone, I’m going to call the cops on you.”
She huffs and tries to flip her hair over her shoulder like she always does, only now it’s all messed up and not nearly as smooth as before.
“You’ll be back,” she hisses. She turns on her heel and heads toward the parking lot leaving me wondering what the hell just happened.
I mean I guess I should feel like some kind of awesome guy who is so desirable it makes girls go crazy, but really this is just creepy. Now I’m starting to wonder if Emma has the capability to try to harm me, or worse, Keanna.
I take deep breaths as I walk in the opposite direction, back to my house. I’ll have to explain all of this drama to Keanna soon, before Emma does something even worse.
All I wanted tonight was a fun night with my girl on the lake, introducing her to my friends and showing her off like the angel that she is.
As I shower and get dressed, I tell myself to put thoughts of Emma away for now. I’ll explain it all to Keanna later. But tonight I just want to hang out with my girl.
Keanna doesn’t reply to my text by the time I’m ready, so I call her. It goes straight to voicemail. I smile because she probably forgot to charge her phone again. I can’t even begin to explain how refreshing it is to be with a girl who isn’t attached to her phone like it’s some kind of vital body part.
I hop in my truck and head over to Park’s house. His truck is still at the Track so he’s probably still working. Dad had come home on time and now he’s going on a dinner date with Mom.
Knowing that our house will be empty tonight kind of makes me want to bail on the lake party and take Keanna back to my room instead.
I let myself into the house and head to her bedroom. The door is closed so I knock.
“Key?” I say, leaning against the door frame. “Are you ready for an awesome night on the lake?”
She doesn’t reply so I tap on the door again. “Did you fall asleep? Are you naked? Because I’m coming in.”
The door swings open so quickly it makes me jump back. Keanna is in pajamas and she’s glaring at me like I’m a serial killer. “What the hell do you want?” she snaps.
“Whoa.” I try to walk into her room but she blocks the door, her fingers turning white on the door frame. “Key, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t call me that,” she says, her jaw clenched. “And if you came over here to get laid for the second time today, you can forget it, okay? I’m not into getting STDs.”
“Whoa, okay. What the hell is this about? What happened to my normal girlfriend?”
your girlfriend.” She tries to close the door again but I hold out my arm and keep it open.
“Keanna, please talk to me. Why the sudden change? I thought things were good between us.”
She looks up toward the ceiling and then shakes her head. “Look. You and Emma can do whatever you want but I’m done being your summer fling, okay? I’m just done.”
“Key, I didn’t do anything with Emma. I haven’t done anything with her since that day you saw us in the closet.”
She rolls her eyes. “I thought you didn’t lie to me, remember?”
I swallow. “I’m not lying.”
“So you weren’t the one who got her hair all ruffled up a few minutes ago?”
I falter, because yeah, I was, but it’s not like she thinks it is. Also, my fears are now confirmed: Emma got to Keanna before I did. My shoulders fall. “I can explain.”
I probably shouldn’t have said those words. She slams the door in my face and locks it before I can get it back open. “Keanna,” I call out, leaning my forehead against the door.
I can see her shadow at the bottom of the door, so I know she’s still standing right there on the other side. “It’s not what it looks like,” I say. “She came on to me and I turned her away.”
“Right, that makes sense,” Keanna says through the door. “And that explains why you wanted to wait with me. I mean why bother sleeping with me when you’re sleeping with her already, right? I guess I was just your make out buddy when she was busy.”
“That’s not it at all,” I say. Leaning into the door as if I could somehow slip through it and be on the other side. “Please open the door and talk to me.”
“Stop saying my name. Look Jett, I don’t want to be friends anymore. I thought I could handle being your fling but then you said all those lies about liking me as more than a fling. It’s my fault for believing it, I guess. Just go away.”
I watch her shadow fade away from the door and I sigh. “Please open the door. I’ll explain everything. Then you can hate me if you still want to but please just let me talk to you.”
She’s quiet for a moment. “Have you had sex with Emma?” she finally asks.
My chest constricts. The truth is supposed to set you free but all it does is dig me deeper into this hole. I want to lie, I want to say no and make her like me again. But I promised I wouldn’t lie to this girl and even if she hates me, I won’t break my word.
I press hands against the door.
“Yeah. But it’s been a long time.”
“That’s all I need to know,” she says, her voice sounding soft and far away. “Don’t ever talk to me again, Jett. We’re done.”
My pillow fills up with tears. There are so many of them, so many painful drops that I didn’t know I was capable of crying. I never cry. Maybe when I fell and hurt myself as a kid, but crying over physical pain isn’t nearly as earth-shattering as crying from a broken heart. This is way worse. I’d take a million broken bones over the pain in my heart right now.
Why did I fall so hard for this boy?
Part of me really wanted to let him inside and hear what he had to say. I’m not sure what he
have said that would have made any difference, but I wasn’t quite ready to send him away. I did, though. I kept my dignity and I was stronger than I’ve ever been. I made Jett leave and now I’ll never talk to him again.
I turn on my phone and call Mom’s number. She doesn’t answer, so I call back again and again. I can never bring myself to leave her a message though. I’ve been wanting to tell her about my new phone number, send her a text and tell her to call me back at this number. Maybe even tell her I have a job and that we can settle down here. But something keeps stopping me from admitting that I have a phone now. Deep down, I’m afraid that if Mom knows I’m being taken care of here, that I have my own phone and everything, that she’ll stay gone longer. So I hang up and never leave a message. I hope she’ll start to worry about me, or want to check in. She may be an artist who loves to travel the world, but she’s still a mom. Moms have that motherly intuition, right?
And even though it’s kind of implausible, I am still holding onto the hope that Mom fell and hit her head and she’s in some recovery room waiting for her memories to come back.
Maybe she’ll show up soon and take me away and we can go back to our normal lives. I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to be reminded of the boy who broke my heart and made me feel like the biggest idiot in the world for falling for him.
Sure, my life with Mom was shitty.
But at least my heart wasn’t broken.
I chug the beer in a few seconds, then crunch the can in my fist and toss it toward the old plastic trashcan. “Hand me another one, will you?” I call out to whoever wants to comply.
The air smells like bonfire and cigarettes and D’andre’s lawn chairs in the sand make a perfect place to sit and forget about everything that’s gone wrong in my life.
Someone hands me another beer. A girl, I think, and I take it and pop open the top, chugging as quickly as my body will allow. I know I should thank this beer deliverer, but I don’t really care. I don’t care about anything right now, especially something as stupid as politeness.
All around me people are having a blast. It’s a lake party after all. Music is bumping and the bonfire is roaring, warming up the cool night air. Girls squeal in the lake when guys splash them and camera flashes go off every few seconds.
I don’t care about any of it.
I’d driven out here after Keanna kicked me out of her life. I had nowhere else to go, except maybe home but home was the last place I needed to be. My parents were out on a date and the house is too big and too empty. I needed to clear my head and fill it up all at once. I needed a distraction.
So I came here.
The third beer goes down easily, and I find the ice chest next to me so I reach in for another one. I can’t seem to drink it fast enough. I just need the buzz, the sweet dizzying feeling of being carried away from it all. The girl I love kicked me out of her life, all because of my past. My stupid ass choice to sleep with some girl I didn’t even like. It’s ruined everything.
“Dude,” D’andre says, dragging a lawn chair across the sand to sit next to me. “You look like shit.”
“You just noticed that?” I say with a snort.
“Kind of, yeah. I’ve been chatting up Brittany. I think she’s into me but she has a ten o’clock curfew so she had to leave.”
I nod and down some more alcohol. “Cool.”
“Man, what happened to you?” he says, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees while he studies me.
I shrug. Drink some more.
“The girl?” D’andre guesses.
I crunch the beer can and reach for another one. A girl in a hot pink bikini is sitting on the ice chest so I touch her leg instead of the lid. “Oh,” I say, seeing her there. “Sorry. I need a beer.”
“Another one already?” she says, but she’s being flirty, not judgmental.
“You gonna give it to me or should I move you and get it myself?”
Her eyes light up in this flirty way. The old me would have lit up too, jumped into the opportunity to hook up with a random cute chick. But the new me just wants another damn beer.
I hold out my hand and she gets up and grabs another can from the ice chest. “Here ya go, sexy.”
I nod. “Thanks.”
D’andre is suddenly right next to my ear. “You should hit that,” he whispers. “She obviously wants you.”
I turn to look at him but he’s kind of blurry. It’s probably a mixture of being drunk and the shadows of the fire reflecting off his face, but he barely even looks like my friend right now.
“Maybe I will,” I say.
The girl reaches over and slides her hand up my knee, resting it on my thigh. Had she heard all of that? I don’t even know.
I look over at her and she smiles at me. “You’re Jett Adams, right? Your dad’s like really famous.”
like really famous,” I say, leaning in.
This makes her smile even wider and she scoots closer to me until she’s sitting on the very edge of the ice chest. Both of her hands grab my leg. “You wanna get out of here?”
I’ll admit, it crosses my mind.
But this girl isn’t Keanna. She won’t taste the same. She won’t feel the same. She’ll just be a warm body that leaves me feeling colder than before. Even drunk me knows that.
I lick my lips and lean closer to her, bringing my mouth to her ear. “You don’t want to do that,” I whisper.
She presses her forehead to mine. “Yes I do,” she says, squeezing my thigh. “Believe me, I do.”
I stand. “I gotta take a leak.”
“I’ll be here,” she says, waving at me. I turn and walk back toward my truck, which is parked at the end of the sand bar, near the tree line.
I don’t really have to piss, I just needed to get out of there. Maybe I’ll become a monk for the rest of my life, because hooking up with a girl who isn’t Keanna doesn’t appeal to me at all.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and I reach for it, hoping to god that it’s Keanna and that she’s changed her mind and wants to talk. The phone falls straight out of my hand and sinks into the sand. I grab it and blow off the dirt. It’s a text from a number I don’t have saved.
But those numbers in that order look pretty damn familiar.
Who is this?
My vision is blurred and my typing sucks but I manage to reply:
Who is this?
I draw in a breath of warm summer air and lean my back against my truck as I gaze up at the sky. The stars are bright and beautiful way out here and I wish I could reach up and knock them all out of the way. They’re too pretty for a night this shitty.
My phone beeps again.
Do you know Keanna?
I grit my teeth. Why does this number seem so familiar? It’s not her number, I have that memorized and saved in my phone. In my drunken daze, the only assumption I can come up with is that this is some guy who wants her. Someone trying to take my girl from me.
I type back:
This is her boyfriend.
If he wants her, he can go through me first.
The anonymous person takes a long time to reply. I’ve almost dozed off while standing against my truck and when the phone vibrates again, I startle.
Great. I’m glad she has you. Tell her I won’t be coming back. I have an opportunity in Spain and I had to take it. She’s almost eighteen anyway so she’s practically already an adult.
An overwhelming feeling of doom crashes into me. This can’t be right. Her fucking mother wouldn’t do this to her only child. Right?
I type back:
tell her yourself.
wtf is wrong with you?
The reply is nearly instant.
Can’t. Don’t want her to be mad at me. Tell her I love her. Bye.
I swallow but my throat is as dry as the sand beneath my bare feet. Fuck.
Keanna’s mom just left her for good and made me become the bad guy who has to tell her. I
to tell her though. She may hate me, but I love her and she needs to know.
She needs to know right now.
I pop open my truck door and climb inside, not even bothering to kick off the sand from my feet. I don’t even know where my shoes are but I don’t care. I grab the keys from the cup holder and start my truck. Then I look ahead and another sinking feeling overtakes me.
I can’t drive.
I’m so drunk I can’t even read the fuel gage.
I lower my head to the steering wheel. I need to get to her. I need to talk to her. I try calling her phone but it’s off, just like it has been all night.
As my phone glows in the dark cab of my truck, I realize what I have to do.
The phone rings a few times and then he answers.
“Dad?” I say with a heavy sigh. “I’m at the lake. I need you to come get me.”