Chapter Fourteen

After We Fell

chapter fourteen




Tessa, if you don’t call me back, I’ll come looking for you, hammered or not,” I threaten, then throw my phone against the couch too hard, so it bounces up off the back and hits the concrete.

    “She’ll come back,” Dick assures me ever so helpfully.

    “I know that!” I shout at him and grab my phone. Fortunately, the screen’s not cracked. I glare at the old drunk and then stalk into the bedroom.

    Why the fuck is he here, again? And why the fuck isn’t Tessa? Nothing good can come out of her being in the same room with Molly.

    Just as I start plotting how to go out and find her when I have no keys, no car, and a blood alcohol level that is far beyond the legal limit, I hear the front door open.

    “He’s, uh, lying down,” Richard says loudly, with incongruous cheerfulness. I suspect he’s trying to give me some sort of warning of Tessa’s arrival.

    I pull the door open before she can and sweep a long arm to invite her in. She doesn’t look the least bit intimidated or concerned by the deep scowl on my face.

    “Why didn’t you answer when I called you?” I demand.

    “Because I told you I was leaving soon. And I did.”

    “You should have answered. I’ve been worried.”

    “Worried?” She’s clearly surprised by my choice of words.

    “Yes, worried. Why the hell were you with Molly?”

    She puts her purse on the back of the chair. “Beats me. Steph invited me to lunch and brought her along,”

    Fucking Steph. “Why the fuck would she do that? Was she mean?”

    “No meaner than usual.” She raises her brow, watching me.

    “Steph’s a bitch for bringing her. What were they saying?”

    “I don’t know, but I think people are spreading rumors about me.” She frowns and sits on the chair to remove her shoes.

    “What? What sort of rumors?”

    What I really mean to ask is: Who do I have to kill?

    Fuck, I’m still drunk. How is this possible? It’s been at least three hours. I vaguely remember being told some time ago that each drink takes an hour to sober up from; I’m fucked for at least the next ten or so hours, then. That is, if I’m remembering correctly.

    “Did you hear me?” Tessa’s voice is calm, worried even.

    “No, sorry,” I mumble.

    Her cheeks flush. “I think people are saying that Zed and I . . . you know.”

    “You what?”

    “That we . . . slept together.” Her eyes are weary and her voice is soft.

    “Who’s saying that?” I try to keep my voice at the same level as Tessa’s despite the slow burn of anger building inside me.

    “Supposedly there’s a rumor about it; Steph and Molly were talking about it.”

    I don’t know whether to try to comfort her or let my anger take over. I’m too drunk for this shit.

    She holds her hands in her lap and looks down. “I don’t want people to think of me in that way.”

    “Don’t listen to them, they’re fucking idiots. If there is a rumor, I’ll be sure it’s cleared up.” I drag her over to sit with me on the bed. “Don’t you worry.”

    “You’re not mad at me?” she asks, blue-gray eyes meeting mine.

    “Yes,” I say. “I’m upset because you weren’t answering, and then Steph didn’t fucking answer. But I’m not mad about this rumor shit—not at you, at least; they probably just made it up because they wanted to be assholes.” The thought of Steph and Molly saying shit to Tessa to purposely hurt her feelings really fucking irks me.

    “I don’t understand why she brought Molly, who then, of course, had to remind me that she slept with you.” She cringes. So do I.

    “She’s a fucking whore who doesn’t have shit else to do but reminisce over the days I used to fuck her brains out.”

    “Hardin,” Tess whines at the too-descriptive reminder.

    “Sorry; you know what I mean.”

    She unhooks the clasp on her bracelet and gets up to place it on the desk. “Are you still drunk?”

    “A little.”

    “A little?”

    I smile. “A little more than a little.”

    “You’re being so weird.” She rolls her eyes and pulls that damn planner out of the desk drawer.

    “How so?” I walk over to stand behind her.

    “You’re drunk and being all nice about everything. Like you were mad that I wasn’t answering you, but now you’re being . . .” She looks up at my face. “ I guess is the word, over this Molly thing.”

    “What did you expect me to do?”

    “I don’t know . . . yell at me? You don’t have the best temper when you’re drunk,” she says softly.

    I can tell she’s trying not to upset me, but wants to let me know she’s not going to dance around the issue. “I’m not going to yell at you; I just didn’t want you around them. You know how they are, especially Molly, and I don’t want anyone hurting you.” Then I add, emphasizing each word, “In any way.”

    “Well, they didn’t, but . . . I know it’s stupid, but for once I just wanted a normal lunch with a friend.”

    I want to tell her Steph isn’t an ideal choice for a friend, but I know she doesn’t have any, aside from Landon and me . . . and Noah.

    And Zed.

    Well, not Zed anymore. That shit is over, and I’m fairly certain that kid won’t be showing his face around here for a while.