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Authors: Dee J. Stone

Cruiser (9 page)

BOOK: Cruiser
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I motion with my hands
for her to keep her voice down so the parents won’t hear.

Rey pulls
Lex’s arms off him with a groan and shuffles a few feet away. Lex bites down on her bottom lip. I can see the tears welling in her eyes.

I look away.

“How drunk is he?” she asks.

“Not drunk,” Rey mutters.

“Not that much,” I lie. “It’s his first time, so yeah.”

“Rey?” She tries to wrap her arms around him again, but he pushes her away like
a little kid. “I’m so, so sorry. So sorry.”

“We need a plan,” I tell them. “The parents will soon start to wonder where Rey is.” If they see him like this…it’s off to
Cayton’s with me.

Rey starts howling the song again.

I slam my hand over his mouth. “Will you shut up? They’ll hear you.”

Think, think.

“I got it.” I dig into Rey’s jeans pocket for his cell, walk a few feet away from my house, and call home. Mom picks up on the second ring.

“Mom,” I say, trying to make my voice sound sweet and respectful. Like Rey.

“Yeah, Rey honey?”

I clear my throat. “I’m with…” Damn, what’s Rey’s best friend called? “…Derek. We’re working on some…homework. I’m going to come home late, so you and Dad shouldn’t wait up for me, okay?”

“Are you sure you have to stay there so late?” Her tone is sickening. She’s talking to me like I’m a little prince.

I clear my throat again. “Uh, yeah. It’s kind of important. So you guys go to bed, okay? Good night.”

“Okay, honey. Good night. I love you.”

I clench my teeth. “Yeah, love you, too.” I slam the phone shut and
head back to Lex and Rey. She’s got him in her arms. His head’s resting on her shoulder while she stares down at him with love in her eyes. Shadowed with a little guilt.

I get a
trashcan and place it before Rey. He moans. “Puke in here, kid,” I tell him. I head to the door. Turn to Lex. “I gotta go inside and see when my parents go to bed. You mind staying here with him?”

Lex shakes her head, running her hand over his face.
No window faces the driveway. They should be okay sitting there.

“Right. So…later.” I walk into my house. Parents have just shut the TV and are off to bed. I sprint up the stairs before they can bombard me with some new crap.

I lie on my bed. Strain my ears to hear any movement in their bedroom. I hope they go to sleep right away. Any slight sound jars Mom from her sleep. Getting Rey up there will be a bitch.

Half an hour passes. I haven’t heard a single sound for a while. Mom might wake up soon and check on Rey. She’ll piss herself if she doesn’t find him in his bed.

It’s now or never.

I run out. Rey’s trashcan isn’t empty. Looks like he might puke over Lex. She doesn’t push him away.

She really does love him.

Got to forget about that now.

I wrap an arm around my brother and haul him over my shoulder. “We got to go in now,” I tell Lex. Rey moans. I hope the sounds don’t wake up the parents.

I drag him up the stairs as fast as I can with one hundred and fifty pounds of meat on me. Lex follows close behind.

“Rey? Is that you?” Mom calls from her room.

Damn. My legs turn to cement on the steps. I clear my throat. “Yeah, Mom, it’s me. Just got back. Have a good night and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“All right, honey. Good night.”

I drop Rey on his bed. Pull his shoes off and place the small garbage bin next to him.

“Puke in here,” I say.

He moans.

“I’m locking your door for now so Mom doesn’t come in. I got a spare key, so I’ll come to check on you soon. Remember, puke in the bin.”

I close the door, and Lex and I go outside. She rubs her upper arms. “Do you think he’ll be okay?”

Shrugging, I say, “He’ll have a hangover tomorrow.
But he’ll be all right.”

Crap. I didn’t mean to…”

What happened, Lex?”

She shakes her head. “Nothing. I…”
She looks away from me.

I reach toward her. “Lex

She steps back. “I’ll…I’ll see you.”

My arm falls to my side. “Yeah.”

opens her mouth. Rests her tongue to her upper teeth like she’s about to say thank you.

But she turns around
and marches to her house.

Chapter Eighteen



The chicken I had for lunch churns in my stomach. I get up from my bed and slouch to the window, pushing the curtain aside. Rey’s shade is firmly shut. Digging my phone out of my pocket, I check the screen. No new messages. I bite down on my lower lip.

Rey and I haven’t spoken for two days. I thought we would make up by now, but Rey avoids me at school.
He’s shutting me out of his life.

My fingers close over my phone. My thumb stretches
downward to call him. Maybe he’s waiting for me to make the first move. But what if he doesn’t want to make up? Are we over?

The events of
that night dance through my head. I can’t believe I asked Cruiser for help. Hearing his voice over the phone was so foreign. Talking to him—really talking—felt foreign, too. We did it a lot when we were kids. Sure he always squirmed or ran away from me when I insisted he talk about his feelings, but we talked. About everything. That was before, when we were still innocent and sweet, and when our lives weren’t so messed up. When Cruiser and I still had a chance.

shake my head. Forget about that, forget about him. What I really need is a plan, some way to get Rey back. I know we can make our relationship work. We love each other.

A soft rap on my door pulls me out of my whirlwind thoughts. I
glance up just as the door opens a crack and a head peeks in. Rey.

He pushes the door another inch wider and
looks at me, his Adam’s apple bobbing as a swallow makes its way down. My breath catches in my throat.

The floor creaks
under his weight. He widens the door a little more, revealing his entire body. His brown eyes don’t leave my face, and mine don’t leave his. I can see every single one of his emotions glimmering like a neon sign. Guilt, regret, happiness, hope.

We stare at each other for what feels like hours. Then he takes a step forward and I take a step forward and soon I’m in his arms and we crash down on my bed and he clutches me to his chest. “So sorry,” he says over and over again. “I
miss you so much. I didn’t mean to make you feel unimportant. I’m just so stressed, and I don’t know how to balance everything in my life. I love you. I really do. Please forgive me.”

My hands snake up around his neck and pull him close, my lips seeking out his mouth. “Of course I forgive you. And I’m sorry, too
, and I love you.”

He looks down at me. “What
are you sorry for? Our fight was my fault. I wasn’t there for you. I was selfish and—”

I put my finger on his lips.
“I’m sorry for only thinking about my needs, for putting myself between you and your activities. I’m sorry things have been strained between us.”

I’m sorry I feel an unwanted attraction to your twin brother.

But I’m going to fight that until it blows over. I love Rey, and I really want to be with him. Screw Cruiser and my stupid memories of him.

“I promise to
make more time for you.” Rey nuzzles my nose. “For us.” He rests his forehead on mine. “I hated being in a fight with you. Not speaking to you. I wanted to call you, but I was so embarrassed. I thought you were disgusted with me and hated me.”

No, never. I thought you hated me.”

“I love you,” he says.

“I love you, too.”

We kiss more, like we’re wiping away all the hurt from
the past two days. His arms tighten around me as though he never wants to let go. And I hold onto him, never wanting to let him go.

Chapter Nineteen



I park Dad’s old pick-up truck in the lot and climb out, slamming the door shut. I pull out my surfboard and tuck it under my arm. The waves are killer today, high as towers. I peel off my shirt and throw it in the back of the truck. Get into my wetsuit. Then jog out to the beach.

Trudging through the sand, I come to a stop as the cool, salty wind beats against my face. Standing there for a bit, closing my eyes, I’m at peace. Away from the parents. From school. From Lex and Rey.

They made up.

Yeah, bro was so excited when he came back from her place
an hour ago. Couldn’t sit still for one minute, like that lame toy monkey someone gave him for his seventh birthday. You wind it up and the monkey starts running around and bumping into things. That was Rey.

I should be happy. My brother made up with his girlfriend. There should be fire
works in the sky. The government should call a national holiday. Wars should be suspended and sick people should have a miraculous recovery. Because Rey Dalton made up with Lex Woods.

Man. I
a girl.

Checking out the girls
on the beach, I see Dani Russo lounging on a chair. Her right foot is crossed over her left, bouncing up and down. A
magazine lies opened on her thighs.

My eyes search for her best
friend. Don’t know why I assume she’s here. The girls aren’t Siamese twins. Guess I’m hoping—for what, exactly? That Lex would see me in my suit and surfboard and let me gather her in my arms? Not the way she looked at Rey Monday night…not the way Rey described how happy she was when they made up. Damn, why can’t I just forget her?

Ah, who am I kidding?

I walk over to where Dani’s lying and press my surfboard onto her stomach. She jumps to a sitting position. Looks up at me. “Oh my God.” She thrusts my surfboard off her body. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

I steal a chair from the couple nearby who went for a dip, and pull it up near her. Plop
down and cross my ankles. “Whatup?” I haven’t talked to her much since my return. We were never exactly friends.

She returns her attention to her magazine.

“Where’s Lex?” I ask before I can stop myself.

She looks up. Raises an eyebrow. “Why do you ask?”

Yeah, good question. I shrug. “You two are always together.”

She goes back to her magazine.

I drum my fingers on the armrest. I should scout the area for a girl. It’s the only way to forget about Lex—for a few hours at least. Sitting next to her best friend doesn’t help squat.

I’m about to get up, but she says, “
Why did you come back?”

I flop back on the chair. Stare at her. “Why are you asking me that?”

She snaps the magazine shut and looks out toward the ocean. At a group of tourists who are fussing over their camera that must have fallen into the ocean. “You don’t know how much you hurt Lex.” Her gaze flashes to mine. “Why are you back?”

My heart starts to drip blood as I hear the words that have been haunting me since the day I stepped foot in New York. As I tossed and turned in bed, staring at the ceiling. Cursing myself for doing what I did. Now that Dani sai
d them straight out, it makes it no longer in my head but out here in the open.

My palms close over the edges of the chair. “I was messed up after the accident,” I mumble.

“And Lex wasn’t?”

I shut my eyes as Lex’s teary face flickers in my mind. My heart’s oozing blood now.

“Why did you sleep around?” Dani demands. “It killed her. Do you know how she felt about you?”

My eyes are still closed. I want to tell Dani to stop putting the blame on me. Lex was the one who pushed me away. Did she have any idea how
felt about her? How I still do?

“I don’t want to talk about the past,” I say, opening my eyes and staring at the ocean.

“She was fine,” Dani says. “She was doing great. Getting over all that’s happened. Then you show up and shake everything.”

I want to tune her words out. To not believe what she’s saying. I want her to tell me that Lex’s been a mess since I left, that she missed me. Yearned for me every day. Wished for the day I’d return. Just as I have.

“Then you start sleeping around again.” She snorts. “Why
you come back?”

“I didn’t know she was with Rey,” I snap before I can stop myself.

Dani’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

“I c
ame back hoping for…” I shrug because I don’t know what I was hoping for. “Then I see her with Rey.” Tears gather in my eyes. “Fuck.”

Dani’s features soften. “You came back for her.”

I don’t say anything, just watch kids building sand castles.

“You love her,”
she says.

I shift in my chair. I should leave. The hell I’m doing, having a heart to heart with a girl who can’t stand my guts.

She lays a hand on my arm as I try to get up. “Wait.”

I look at her.

“Rey’s been good to her, Cruiser.”

I fall back
in my chair. Snap my eyes shut. I know he’s been good to her. I know he will continue to be good to her. Look out for her, protect her. Yeah, he messed up Monday night, but he’ll never hurt her. Lex’s been good to him, too. I don’t want them to break up. Except, I do. I really do. How screwed up is that?

“Why don’t you try to be friends with her,” Dani says.

I open my eyes. “What will that accomplish? I don’t want to be friends with her. I want her.” My

She doesn’t say anything for a bit. Just stares out at the ocean. Then she says, “
You never know what will happen. Maybe things won’t work out between them.”

I look at her. “Why wouldn’t things work out?”

She doesn’t say anything again for a few seconds. “Just try to be her friend. I think she can use you as a friend. Maybe if you stopped sleeping around—”

“I don’t want to sleep around,” I mutter. “I quit in New York.”

She raises an eyebrow. “Then stop.”

I squeeze the sides of the chair. “Maybe I should just go back to my grandparents.”

She opens her magazine and flips through it. “If that’s what you want.”

I watch her for a while. “Rey’s good to her,” I say.

Her gaze is on her magazine. “Maybe a relationship needs more than just ‘good.’”

“You’re saying she’s not happy with Rey?”

“I’m not saying anything.”

“I’m not breaking them up.”

She turns a page. “You better not.”

I get up. Swipe my surfboard off the san
d and make my way to the ocean.

Friends. Maybe I can do that. Maybe Dani’s right and they will break up. Not saying I’ll do anything to jeopardize their relationship, but in the slight chance they do break up, I don’t want her running to some other guy. I want her to run to me.
To my arms. Yeah, I know how fucked up that is. Brothers’ ex-girlfriends are off limits. But I can’t help it. I don’t care that she was with Rey, that her lips touched his. I just want her, dammit.

they don’t break up, ‘least I can have her in my life. As a friend. Not sure if I could handle it, but it’s worth a try.

BOOK: Cruiser
11.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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