Chapter Forty-Two

After We Fell

chapter forty-two




I’ve called every damn taxi company between here and college trying to get a ride back home. No one accepted, of course, because of the distance. I could take a bus, but public transportation really isn’t my thing. I remember the way I used to cringe when Steph would mention Tessa taking the bus to the mall or to Target. Even when I disliked Tessa . . . well, when I thought I did . . . I’d still panic at the thought of her sitting alone on the bus with a bunch of fucking creeps.

    Everything has changed since then, since those days when I’d tease and taunt Tessa just to get a rise out of her. Her face when I left her on the balcony of the restaurant . . . maybe it hasn’t changed at all. I haven’t changed.

    I’m torturing the girl I love. That’s exactly what I’m doing, and I can’t seem to stop. This isn’t all my fault, though—it’s her fault, too. She keeps pushing me to go to Seattle, and I’ve made it clear that I’m not giving in on that. Instead of battling me, she should just pack her shit and come to England with me. I’m not staying here whether I’m expelled or not—I’m bored in America, and it’s been nothing but shit for me. I’m sick of seeing my dad all the time; I’m sick of everything here.

    “Watch where you’re going, dick,” a female voice says in the darkness, startling me.

    I sidestep the figure before I run into her. “You watch where you’re going,” I fire back, without stopping. Why the hell is this chick out here in front of Max’s cabin, anyway?

    me?” she says, and I turn around to look at her just as the motion-sensor light clicks on from the cabin’s porch. I get a good look at her: brown skin, curly hair, ripped jeans, biker boots.

    “Let me guess: Riley, right?” I roll my eyes at the girl in front of me.

    She puts a hand on her hip. “And who the hell are you?”

    “Yep, Riley. If you’re looking for Lillian, she isn’t here.”

    “Where is she? And how do you know that I’m looking for her?” the feisty girl challenges.

    “Because I just fucked her.”

    She tenses up, lowering her head so darkness overtakes her features. “What did you just say?” she says and steps forward.

    I tilt my head to the side and stare at her. “Christ, I’m just fucking with you. She’s at the restaurant down the road with her parents.”

    Riley raises her head and stops. “Okay, and how do you know her?”

    “Met her yesterday. Her dad went to college with mine, I guess. Does she know you’re here?”

    “No, I’ve been trying to get hold of her,” she says and gestures at the woods surrounding us. “But since she’s out in the middle of fucking nowhere, she hasn’t been answering. Probably her shitsucker of a dad keeping her from talking.”

    I sigh. “Yeah, he is that. Is he even going to let you see her?”

    She scowls at me. “Aren’t you nosy as hell?” But then she smirks proudly. “Yeah, he will. He’s a dick, but he’s even more of a pussy, and he’s afraid of me.”

    Headlights flash out in the darkness, and I step onto the grass. “That’s them,” I tell her.

    Shortly, the car pulls into the driveway and comes to a halt. Lillian practically jumps out the door and into Riley’s arms.

    “How did you get here?” she practically squeals.

    “I drove,” her girlfriend answers drily.

    “How did you find me? I haven’t had service all week.” She nuzzles into her girlfriend’s neck, and I watch as Riley’s tough-girl exterior begins to crack. Her hand moves up and down against Lillian’s back lovingly.

    “It’s a small place, baby. It wasn’t too hard.” She pulls back a little to look at Lillian’s face. “Is your dad going to give me shit for coming?”

    “No. Well, maybe. But you know he won’t make you leave.”

    I force out a cough, feeling awkward standing there watching this reunion. “Okay, well, I’m going to go,” I say and begin to walk off.

    “Bye,” Riley says. Lillian doesn’t say anything.

    After a few minutes, I reach the gate to my father’s cabin and walk up the driveway. Tessa will be here any minute, and I want to be inside before the SUV pulls into the driveway. She’ll be crying, I’m sure, and I’ll have to come up with an apology to make her stop and listen to me.

    I barely make it to the porch when Karen and Lillian’s mother step out of the car. “Where is everyone else?” I ask her, my eyes searching for Tess.

    “Oh, well, your dad and Landon rode back with Max to watch some game on television.”

    “Where’s Tessa?” Panic rises in my chest.

    “She’s back at the restaurant.”

    “What?” What the fuck. This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.

    “She’s with him, isn’t she?” I ask the two women, even though I already know the answer. She’s with the blond asshole with the sheriff for a father.

    “Yeah, she is,” Karen says, and if I wasn’t stuck out in the middle of nowhere with her, I’d cuss her out for the small smile she’s trying to hide.