Falling for the Wrong Guy (10 page)

BOOK: Falling for the Wrong Guy
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“It’s true.” Her voice softened with understanding he didn’t deserve. “Tiffany asked me to go shopping with her this weekend, and I said it was my turn to sit with Dad. Then we got talking about how he hasn’t been away from the house for nearly a year.”

Drew shrugged, his thoughts far away. “Okay.”

“So you believe me?” Ruby touched him on the arm, and this time he didn’t stop her. He knew what he had to do, but he wanted to feel her warmth and for them to be close one last time.

“Yeah. But that doesn’t change anything.” He pulled his arm from under Ruby’s and stared into her dark, expressive eyes. A huge mistake because he almost backed out of what he wanted to say. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.”

Chapter Fourteen

R
uby stared up at the ceiling while tears streamed down her face and dripped onto her comforter. She hadn’t moved from lying on her bed since she’d arrived home from school.

Tiffany had asked if she wanted to go back home with her, but she’d said no. She wanted to be alone, to try to work out what had happened. She didn’t understand it at all. Okay, so he’d thought they’d been talking about him, and she could see why, but once they’d cleared up the mistake, why wasn’t everything good? She’d wondered if it was because she’d told Tiffany about them, and he’d found out. But again, why would he want to dump her because of that?

She’d always known that being with him would be complicated, a complication that she totally didn’t need. Plus, she hadn’t even planned to date anyone during junior year because she’d wanted to focus on keeping her grades up. So, really, she should be happy that they weren’t together any more and that he’d finished it.

Maybe it was better this way. Since his accident, her father had withdrawn into himself, so mired in his depression that he threw the love she and her mother gave him back in their faces. Maybe this was a sign that Drew was headed down the same path. And she definitely didn’t need two people like that in her life.

So ending their relationship was a good thing.

A. Good. Thing.

If only her heart could be as rational as her head.

A knock on the door pulled her away from her thoughts. “Ruby, are you in there?” Blake called.

She really didn’t want to speak to anyone and was tempted to ignore his knock, except knowing Blake, he’d look inside to check and then moan at her for not answering.

“Yes,” she replied.

The door opened, and he poked his head around it.

“Mom wants you to get the plates out and set the table for dinner.”

Ruby’s mom always insisted they eat together in the evening. No TV dinners for them but always a proper sit-down meal, with no phones and plenty of conversation. Not that her dad ever joined in, but at least he sat with them for the meal.

“I’m not hungry,” she said.

Blake walked into the room and closed the door behind him. “What’s wrong?”

His concern surprised Ruby, since they’d hardly spoken recently. Which was something else for her to feel bad about. She’d been keeping her distance a bit so that she didn’t accidentally say something about Drew and upset him even more.

“Nothing.” She glanced at him and then looked back at the ceiling.

She felt the mattress sink as Blake sat down on the edge of the bed beside her. “Truth. Even I can see you’ve been crying.”

Ruby desperately wanted to confide in him. They’d always told each other nearly everything in the past. Plus, if he knew that it was over between her and Drew, maybe he wouldn’t mind so much. She sat up and swung her legs around, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

“You’re right. I have been crying.” She sniffed.

Blake leaned across and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, giving them a squeeze. “Tell me.”

“Okay, but don’t get mad.” She started picking at an imaginary piece of fuzz on her white comforter.

“Why would I get mad?” He shook his head.

“You won’t be happy.”

“Just tell me,” Blake replied, starting to sound exasperated.

Gently shaking off his arm, she stood up and walked over to her desk. She leaned against it so she was facing Blake and could gauge his reaction. “I’ve been dumped.”

The words stuck in her throat, and tears welled in her eyes again. She blinked them away, wondering if she’d ever get over it.

“I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone. Who is it? Do you want me to punch him in the face?”

A hollow laugh escaped Ruby’s lips at the thought of Blake punching anyone in the face. He wasn’t violent by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, he’d probably want to do more than that when he found out the truth.

“No. I don’t want you to do anything, thanks.” She took a step toward the door, involuntarily mapping out an escape in case things got more awful than she thought. “Drew. It’s Drew.”

She shuddered as Blake’s dark eyes went black and his face turned as red in anger as hers did when she was embarrassed. She’d never seen him look like that, ever. She instantly regretted telling him and wished she could take it back, except now it was too late.

“You’ve been seeing Drew Scott?” He enunciated every syllable, his tone cold and deliberate.

A shiver ran down Ruby’s spine. She wished the floor would open up and swallow her whole. Anything to get her away from the tirade of abuse which she suspected was just about to come from Blake’s mouth. “Yes.” She could barely make her voice go above a whisper.

“After everything he did. You went behind my back and went out with him?” His icy tone was scaring the crap out of her. She couldn’t face getting into a full-on fight with him.

“It wasn’t like that,” she pleaded while clenching her fists by her side.

“Really? From where I’m standing, that’s exactly what it’s like. You’ve put your feelings for that little shit above your own family. What sort of a sister are you?”

His words stung so bad, she was stunned into silence. She’d never deliberately done anything to hurt anyone in her family. She leaned against the closet for support and wrapped her arms tightly around her middle.

“He’s sorry, Blake. He’s really, really sorry,” she said. “He seemed so alone, I just wanted to be nice to him when we got assigned to the same science project group. And then…I don’t know.” She shrugged and focused on the floor.

She hated that she seemed like a pathetic mess, but how could she try and explain her actions, when she’d known all along the effect they would have had on Blake once he’d found out? Maybe he
was
right. She did put her feelings for Drew above everyone else’s. So she deserved everything she had coming to her.

He started pacing across her room, restless and angry. “I don’t get you, Ruby. I really don’t get you. You know what he did to me, and yet you chose to ignore it. You think Mom’s going to approve of what you did when she finds out?”

“She already knows…” Ruby slammed her hand in front of her mouth, smothering her remaining words. The last thing she wanted to do was get her mother involved. “I mean…”

Before she could finish, Blake flung open her door and stormed out of her room. She could hear his footsteps as they thumped down the hallway, and then his bedroom door slammed shut.

Ruby dropped to the floor, wrapped her arms around her knees, and sobbed.

D
rew sat on the bleachers watching the football team practice. He used to be on the team but hadn’t bothered to rejoin since returning to school. It would be impossible, anyway, with his burns; he’d be in agony every time someone tackled him. He missed playing, though.

Missed the adrenaline rush.

Missed the camaraderie.

Missed feeling normal.

Blood pounded in his temples, and he turned to walk away. No way did he want to go home yet because he knew his mom would be there, so he decided to go to the library to do his homework instead.

As he walked along the outside of the main school building, heading toward the side entrance, his stomach plummeted as he caught sight of Ruby and Tiffany walking in his direction. Even though he was the one to end their relationship, it didn’t make coming to terms with it any easier. He still wanted to be with her. To do everything a normal couple would do.

But that wasn’t gonna happen. Because they were far from being a normal couple. He had no right to contaminate Ruby’s life and stop her from being happy.

He’d managed to avoid Ruby all day. Not that he thought she’d make a scene, he just didn’t want to distress her. Then again, the way she was talking and laughing with Tiffany, she seemed to be dealing with their breakup just fine. Maybe he was the only one who found it hard.

She didn’t seem to have noticed him, until she got to within a few yards in front of where he was walking, and then she said something to Tiffany that he couldn’t hear. He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Ruby turned abruptly to the side and walked away, with Tiffany following.

Drew stopped dead in his tracks. “Ruby,” he called out before he could check himself.

“Leave her alone,” a voice growled from behind.

Drew swung his head around and saw Blake and his friend Tom advancing on him.

His jaw clenched. “I was only saying hello,” he retorted, annoyed that Blake had caught him in this situation.

“Well, don’t bother. You can see she’s not interested in talking to you.” Blake’s eyes narrowed, and from the way his fists were clenched by his sides, Drew braced himself for a hit. It wasn’t like Blake to get violent, but then again, Blake had never blamed someone for the death of his girlfriend before. Drew knew that if Blake took a swing at him, he’d just take the punch. Blake deserved at least one chance to lay one on him.

But instead, Blake turned on his heel and headed back in the direction of the football field.

Chapter Fifteen

B
lake pushed past Ruby on the stairs at home, not even acknowledging her presence.

“Hey,” she called out, rubbing her arm. “That hurt.” It hadn’t really, but she wanted to shake him up a little.

He didn’t reply. Didn’t even turn to check if she was okay. He just headed toward his bedroom, slamming the door behind him once he reached it. With a sigh, she continued up the stairs and went into her own room. Ever since their confrontation about Drew the previous evening, her emotions had been all over the place, going from totally getting where Blake came from and feeling extremely guilty for inflicting more pain on him, to being really annoyed with him and wanting to drag him out of his rigid, narrow-minded, unforgiving perspective.

It wasn’t like she had asked him to be best friends with Drew again, or for him to act like nothing had happened between them. All she wanted was a chance to explain everything and for him to realize that it didn’t change the fact that he was her brother, and she adored him.

Pointless.

All this fighting was pointless, since Drew no longer wanted to see her. Blake would get over it, and in the meantime, she would keep her distance from him. Just like she’d intended to with Drew. She’d immerse herself in her studies and forget about everyone else, because her time with Drew had definitely affected her grades. And not in a good way.

She glanced around her room. It was small and oppressive. She needed to get out of there, to breathe in some fresh air. She checked her reflection in the mirror. After combing her hair, putting on some lip gloss and pulling on her jacket, she ran downstairs and poked her head in the kitchen where her mom was cooking.

“I’m going out for a walk, Mom. No dinner for me, thanks.”

She knew she was treading on thin ice by wanting to boycott dinner, but she just couldn’t hack sitting there as a family pretending everything was okay when it so obviously wasn’t.

“But


“I’ll explain later,” Ruby interrupted.

She ran down the hall and bumped into her father who had just come down the stairs.

“Sorry, Dad.” She went to step around him then caught sight of the blank expression in his eyes. “Come on.” She took hold of his arm and guided him into the lounge and to his chair, which stood next to the couch and directly in front of the TV.

She crouched down in front of him. “Do you ever think of what it was like before your accident?”

He frowned. “What’s the point?”

“To realize that it wasn’t perfect then, either. I’m sure you had problems that you dealt with. But this. For nearly twelve years, since the accident, you’ve acted like it’s the end of your life. And it isn’t.” She’d never confronted her father before. But seeing Drew headed down the same path had jolted something in her, made her want to at least try to shake her father back into the land of the living before it was too late.

“What do you know?” he muttered.

“Plenty. I know that you’re destroying Mom. She does everything for you, and more. And you never show any gratitude.”

“What do you expect me to do? Jump up and down and kiss her every time she makes my dinner?” Anger flashed across his face.

His words might have been negative, but it surprised Ruby how animated he was. She couldn’t remember seeing him show that much emotion since the accident. It encouraged her to go on.

“Of course not. All I want is for you to try and live your life instead of wallowing in self-pity and being so self-absorbed that you are oblivious to the feelings of those around you. Just like Drew.”

She could bang their heads together.

“What’s Drew got to do with it?” Her fists clenched in frustration at the blank expression on his face. He so didn’t get it.

“The pair of you are so similar, I could scream. And while I’m at it, I don’t suppose you’ve been taking the new anti-depressants the doctor prescribed, have you?”

“What’s the point?”


What’s the point
,” she mimicked. “The point is so that you start to feel better. That you start to have a life.” She locked eyes with him, until he broke the stare and looked away. She jumped up. “I’m so tired of the pair of you.”

She strode out of the room and to the front door. As she stepped outside a gust of wind blew. She shivered and wished she’d picked up her scarf and gloves on her way out. For a moment, she debated going back to get them, then decided that if she walked fast she’d soon warm up. She opened the wooden gate, stuck her hands in her pockets, and stepped onto the sidewalk.

Without thinking, she started to walk in the direction of Tiffany’s house, then realized she didn’t want to see her friend. She just wanted to be alone to try and process everything that had happened. So instead she decided to go to a nearby park. She turned and stepped out onto the intersection.

“Ruby, watch out!” a voice shouted from somewhere behind her.

She froze and heard the car before she saw it. It whizzed past, and she felt a sharp, agonizing pain as it clipped the side of her body, twisting her around. As if in slow motion, she was knocked sideways off her feet, arms flailing, and thrown a few feet into the air. She landed on her arm, and then her head shot backward, cracking loudly against the asphalt.

Pain ricocheted through her entire body, and she fought to catch her breath. In the background, she heard the sound of screeching brakes. She attempted to lift her shoulders off the ground, but the pain was too intense. She dropped back and closed her eyes, allowing everything happening around her to drift away.

“Ruby, are you okay? Ruby.
Ruby!

She forced her eyelids open and was puzzled when she saw Blake’s face only a few inches away. He was devoid of any color, and his eyes looked worried.

“Blake?” Her voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper. The slightest movement made her head spin.

“You’re alive. Thank God,” he gasped, tears running down his cheeks.

“What?” She attempted to sit up, but with his hands on the tops of her arms, he gently kept her still.

“Don’t move. We’re waiting for the medics.”

Everything seemed fuzzy, and she desperately dredged her mind for clues as to what had happened, but it was too hard. She gave in to his demand and tried to focus on her breathing, hoping it might help relieve the pain.

“Is she okay?” she heard a woman’s voice close to her head. In her peripheral vision, she could see her brown shoes.

“She’s alive,” Blake snapped, looking up at the woman. “No thanks to you.” He took hold of Ruby’s hand, and she noticed how cold it felt.

“She stepped out in front of me,” the woman said, her voice cracking.

Did she step out? She couldn’t remember. She guessed it was possible, since she’d had so much on her mind after what happened with Drew. A dark feeling washed over her.

“I don’t blame him,” Ruby murmured.

“Who?” Blake asked, taking one of her hands in both of his and rubbing it vigorously like he was trying to help her regain circulation.

“Drew,” she said, guessing that she wasn’t making a whole lot of sense.

Blake closed his eyes as if trying to regain his patience, and then opened them again. “Really, Ruby? You want to talk about Drew?”

She tried to shake her head, but it made the world around her spin, so she held herself as still as possible. “No,” she admitted.

Blake swerved his gaze upward, to the owner of the brown shoes near Ruby’s head. “You would have seen her if you hadn’t been speeding,” he snapped.

“I wasn’t. I don’t think.” The woman’s voice faltered.

“The police can deal with it. Maybe you should wait over there.” Blake pointed off to the side of the road.

“What happened?” Ruby croaked, struggling to look at her brother, as his face kept going in and out of focus. The whole thing was so surreal. If it wasn’t for the pain, which was most definitely real, she’d think she was in the middle of a nightmare.

“I saw you through my bedroom window,” he said. “You were about to cross the road. I called out to you.”

She had a hazy recollection of someone shouting out to her. She didn’t remember it being Blake, though. Ruby nodded then wished she hadn’t. “I remember. Thanks. Where’s Mom?” More than anything she wanted to see her. She needed her mother to make things better like she always did when Ruby was hurting.

“She’s over there, talking to the police officer who just pulled up.” He nodded to the side of the street. “She’ll be back in a minute.” He stroked her hand and gave a reassuring smile as a pair of paramedics greeted her and started assessing her injuries with gentle touches.

Ruby tried to smile back, but her lips didn’t want to work properly. But she was glad that Blake was being
Blake
again. It had been a long time coming, and she hadn’t realized quite how much she missed him. “I’m so sorry about Drew,” she said, hoping that he would want them to be friends again, like they used to be.

“Forget it. It doesn’t matter. What’s more important is you getting better,” Blake said. Then the paramedics asked him to step to the side so they could get her ready to go to the hospital.

She closed her eyes to try and cut herself off from the pain and everything that was happening around her.

D
rew stared at Ruby sleeping and his fingers ached to touch her pale skin to make sure that she really was okay. His breath hitched in the back of his throat as he watched her chest rise and fall with every rhythmic breath. It scared him shitless to think that he could have lost her. And she would have gone without knowing how deep his feelings were for her.

When Mrs. Davis had called earlier that morning to tell him about the accident, he’d been desperate with worry, and he had raced over to the hospital, breaking all speed limits on the way. He wasn’t normally religious, but he thanked God that all Ruby had sustained was a broken arm and a mild concussion. By all accounts, it could have been so much worse. He shuddered just thinking again that he could have lost her forever. And then how would he have coped?

Not well. Simple answer.

He was grateful to Mrs. Davis for letting him sit with Ruby while she went home to take care of Ruby’s dad and make him some lunch. Blake hadn’t been around when he’d arrived, not that he cared. He didn’t want to annoy Blake intentionally, but Ruby was far more important than their differences, and he was sure Blake would agree with him. And too bad if he didn’t. It wasn’t up for negotiation.

Mrs. Davis had said that Ruby was going to be out of action for a while, as the surgeons had to operate and put a pin in her arm. One thing was for certain, Drew would do everything he could to make life easier for her during her recovery. Nothing would be too much trouble. Whatever Ruby wanted Ruby would get, with bells on.

He worried that she might be shocked at the sight of him sitting by her bed when she woke up. But as long as she didn’t order him away, it would be okay. The main thing was that he had to talk to her.

To tell her he was a jerk for dumping her.

To admit that he had totally screwed up.

And to beg her to take him back.

“Drew?” Ruby’s shaky voice crashed into his thoughts.

His heart skipped a beat as he saw that her eyes were wide open—and staring at him. She looked tired, but her warmth still shone through. He felt an overwhelming urge to hold her tight, but he didn’t want to hurt her. He also didn’t know how she would respond to it, either.

“How do you feel?” he asked, smiling at her.

“Sore. What are you doing here?” she replied, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly until she winced.

Drew’s insides clenched. He hated to see her suffering like that and wished there was something he could do to take away the pain. “More to the point, what the hell were you doing walking out in front of a car like that? You could’ve been killed.” His tone was sharper than he’d intended. “Sorry, I don’t want to get on your case, but when I heard what had happened, I nearly lost it. I…” His voice cracked as memories of what happened with Reese flashed across his mind, and he shivered. The thought of it rocked him to the core. That was one déjà vu he didn’t want to contend with.

“It’s okay,” Ruby said softly. She waved the hand of her arm that wasn’t bandaged. “Ouch,” she groaned, her face twisted in pain.

“Should I call the nurse? Do you need pain meds?” He felt helpless seeing her like that and not being able to do anything about it.

“I’m fine. Don’t worry. It will stop hurting in a few seconds. I just have to remember not to move at all.” She gave a shallow laugh and winced again. “Or laugh. Have you been here long?”

He noticed the lock of hair that had fallen across her forehead, and he wanted to brush it away, except he wasn’t sure she’d want him touching her. “About forty minutes. Your mom called to tell me, and I came right over. I took over from her sitting here as she had to go back to see your dad. She said she’ll be back later this afternoon. Is that okay?”

“Of course it’s okay. Dad needs looking after.”

Fleetingly, disappointment flashed across Ruby’s face, but it disappeared so quickly that Drew almost thought he’d imagined it. He didn’t know whether it was because her mom had gone, or because her dad wouldn’t be coming to visit.

“Are you upset because your father isn’t here?”

“No. Yes. No. Well, sometimes I wish he was more like a regular dad. And then I feel terrible for having those thoughts.”

She talked about having a regular dad, but Drew wondered exactly what a regular dad was. It certainly wasn’t his. And it wasn’t Ruby’s. Maybe it was just something conjured up by the media. “You know, I hadn’t thought about it before but my dad is a lot like yours.”

“How do you figure?” Ruby frowned.

“Your dad checked out a long time ago. So did mine. Admittedly it was through alcohol, but the results are the same.” He couldn’t believe that he’d never thought about that before. It seemed important that Ruby should see it, too.

“Hmmm. Maybe. Except your dad could change. He could stop drinking. My dad’s always gonna look like that, so not a lot of hope.” A look of horror flashed across Ruby’s face. “I didn’t mean…” Ruby stammered, looking flustered.

BOOK: Falling for the Wrong Guy
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