Chapter Eight

After We Fell


chapter eight

 

TESSA

 

Your Landon says incredulously through the phone.

    I forgot that I hadn’t had a chance to tell him about my father’s return.

    “Yeah, we ran into him yesterday . . .”

    “How is he? What did he say? What was it like?”

    “He’s . . .” I don’t know why, but I feel embarrassed to tell Landon that my father is still drinking. I know he’d never judge me, but I’m still apprehensive.

    “Is he still . . .”

    “Yeah, he is. He was drunk when we saw him, but we brought him back here and he stayed the night.” I twirl a lock of hair around my index finger.

    “Hardin let him?”

    “He didn’t have a say in it; it’s my place, too,” I snap. But then I immediately feel bad and apologize. “I’m sorry, I’ve just had it with Hardin thinking he controls everything.”

    “Tessa, do you want me to leave campus and come over?” Landon’s so kind; you can hear it in how he talks.

    “No, I’m just being dramatic.” I sigh and look around the bedroom. “I think I’ll come there, actually. I can still make my last class.” I could really use some yoga right about now, and some coffee.

    I listen to Landon as I dress myself for yoga. It seems like a waste to drive all the way to campus for one class, but I don’t want to sit around this apartment and wait for Hardin to come home from wherever he ran off to.

    “Professor Soto asked about your absence today, and Ken said he wrote a character witness statement for Hardin. What’s up with that?” he asks.

    “Soto did? I don’t know . . . He offered to help him before, but I didn’t think he meant it. I guess he just likes him or something?”

    “Likes him? Likes Landon laughs, and I can’t help but join him.

    My phone drops into the sink as I pull my hair into a ponytail. I curse at myself and get it back to my ear just in time to hear Landon say he’s headed to the library before his next class. After our goodbyes, I hang up and start to text Hardin, to let him know where I’ll be. But then I close the app instead.

    He’ll come around about this whole Seattle thing; he has to.

    By the time I get to school, the wind has picked up yet again and the sky has turned an ugly shade of gray. After grabbing a coffee, I still have thirty minutes before yoga. The library is on the other side of campus, so I don’t have time to go there and see Landon. Instead I end up waiting outside Professor Soto’s classroom. His class should be ending any—

    My thoughts are cut off by the crowd of students practically rushing out the doors and into the hall. I lift my bag farther up my shoulder and push my way through them to get inside. The professor is standing with his back turned toward me as he pulls his leather jacket over his arms.

    When he turns, he greets me with a smile. “Ms. Young.”

    “Hi, Professor Soto.”

    “What brings you by? Did you need the topic for today’s journal that you missed?”

    “No, Landon gave it to me already. I came by to thank you.” I shift uncomfortably on the heels of my gym shoes.

    “For what?”

    “Writing that character witness statement for Hardin. I know he hasn’t been that pleasant to you, so it’s very appreciated.”

    “It’s nothing, really. Everyone deserves a quality education, even hotheads.” He laughs.

    “I guess so.” I smile at him and look around the classroom, unsure what to say next.

    “Besides, Zed deserved what he got, anyway,” he says suddenly.

    What?

    I look back at him. “What do you mean?”

    Professor Soto blinks a few times before collecting himself. “Nothing, I’m just . . . I’m sure Hardin had a good reason for going after him, that’s all. I better get going, I have a meeting to get to, but thanks for coming by. I’ll see you in class Wednesday.”

    “I won’t be here Wednesday; I’m going on a trip.”

    With a light hand he waves this off. “Well, have fun, then. I’ll see you when you return.” He quickly walks off, leaving me bewildered by what he could have meant.