Bully Page 59

After chilidogs at Mulgrew’s, she drove us home.

“I’m going to miss you. I told your dad I’d be back at Christmas, though.” Grandma packed up the last of her belongings and set everything by the front door.

“Looking forward to it. And I will miss you too.”

“So, do you want to tell me about last night?” She peered up from her purse as she checked to make sure she had everything.

My heart skipped a beat. “Last night?” I could come clean with her, but instead, I chose to play ignorant. I had no idea where to start about last night.

“Yes. A dangerous looking black car, similar to the boy’s next door, dropped you home after curfew?” She questioned with laughing eyes. Clearly, she wasn’t too concerned.

“Yesss,” I drew it out dramatically. “Jared gave me a lift home. We were at the same party. No big deal.” My eyes averted to my shoes as my omissions had me feeling guilty. There was more to tell her, a lot more, but as always, I chose to keep my Jared issues quiet.

And now there was a whole new can of worms to sort out—his kissing and my dirty dreams.

She stood there for a few moments studying me as I continued to act oblivious. “Okay, if you say so.” She hooked her purse over her shoulder. “You remember the rules about locking up?”

I nodded.

“Good. Well, give me a hug.”

She held out her arms, and I wrapped myself around her, inhaling her perfume-lotion scent one more time. I picked up one of her bags and led the way to her car.

“See you in no time,” I assured her as I saw her bring a tissue to her eye.

“In no time,” she sniffled. “Put up some Halloween decorations. It’ll cheer you up if you get lonely.”

“Already?”

“It’s October,” she laughed. “That’s the time for Halloween, Tate.”

October? I hadn’t realized. My birthday was coming up.

After my grandma left, I texted K.C. After everything that happened last night, I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her.

How’s it going?

Fine. Sorry I couldn’t make the meet. Busy. She shot back a minute later.

So…you and Liam? I queried. Part of me hoped that she and Liam were back on. I felt guilty. Only a lousy person would kiss the guy her best friend was dating, and I worried about how I would tell her. If she and Liam were back together, then maybe I wouldn’t need to come clean?

Don’t judge. She texted back.

Relief flooded me. There were back together.

Never. If you’re happy…

I am. Just hope I can trust him. She still had doubts, and rightly so. I don’t think I could take back a guy that cheated on me, but then again, I’d never been in love. I guess I wouldn’t know anything until I’d experienced it.

You may never know for sure, but as long as he’s worth it. I wrote.

I think so……So Jared’s all yours.

What?! The thumping in my chest actually hurt.

Apparently, I took too long drowning in my own sweat, because she texted again.

No worries, Tate. He was never mine anyway.

I couldn’t text back. What would I say? Thanks?

Jared wasn’t hers, and he definitely wasn’t mine. He made it abundantly clear that he belonged to no one. Was Jared holding back with her because of me? Is that why she said what she said?

I spent the rest of the weekend doing anything to keep my mind off Jared. Saturday and Sunday I spent cleaning the house, washing the Bronco, completing homework, typing up procedures for my experiment, and avoiding texts from Ben and K.C.

I needed to be alone, and I wasn’t sure I could keep what happened between Jared and me a secret. K.C. deserved to know that I kissed him, but I didn’t want anyone to know, so I chose to avoid everyone. Even my dad when he called.

Ben deserved my silence, even if he had called and texted several times to apologize. If he’d just taken me home like he’d promised, then I wouldn’t have gotten into that mess with Nate.

Honestly, Ben was probably a very decent guy, despite his behavior at the bonfire. But the problem remained—I didn’t feel firecrackers going off in my stomach when he kissed me. I didn’t feel anything.

Jared was like the Fourth of July…all over my body.

***

As I stepped out of French class Monday morning, I immediately halted. Madoc stood across the hall, leaned up against the lockers, eyeballing me with a goofy grin.

“Hey, Little Speed Racer.” He sauntered over as kids behind me bumped into my back trying to get out of class.

I rolled my eyes, not ready for another irritation. Already this morning, I’d been late to school after coming out of the house to find that the Bronco had a flat. Dr. Porter had emailed to tell me the lab was off limits tomorrow afternoon. And people had been talking to me all day about the race Friday night.

As positive as that attention was, it was like someone scraping their teeth across their fork. I didn’t want to be reminded of how Friday night had gone from good to bad, and then good again, and then to worse. The week was starting off rough, and I wasn’t in the mood for ass**le Madoc.

“What do you want?” I mumbled, walking past him down the hall.

“Well, it’s nice to see you, too.” He seemed to hold back his usual sinister self. He wasn’t making innuendoes or trying to grope me. He just stared down at me, almost timidly, with his ridiculously playful smile.

Ignoring him and making a beeline for my locker, I felt an urge to kick something when Madoc only increased his speed to keep up. “Listen, I want you to know that I was really impressed with your driving Friday night. And I heard you placed second in the three mile. Sounds like you had a great weekend.”

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