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Authors: Jolene Perry

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Teen & Young Adult, #Romance, #Contemporary

Dizzy (3 page)

BOOK: Dizzy
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I’m choking. This sounds way too familiar. No. Not James and Alyssa. That would be… well, unbelievably horrible. I’m pretty sure they’re fighting about something. My fingers shake as I pull out my phone. Lora’s rummaging around behind me in the kitchen.

I start to call James, but now I’m worried about talking to him. Why would I worry about talking to James? Instead I go for non-committal. A text.

ME: TELL ME ABT U AND ALYSSA

That could reference their weird behavior without being specific. Put him in the position where he has to come up with some info.

I wait for his call. And wait. I stare at my phone. And then I get a text.

Lora kisses my head. “See ya tomorrow!”

I open my mouth to tell her to wait, but James’ message hits me like a brick, silencing me. The door slams closed behind her.

JAMES: I’M SORRY. I TOLD HER I WANTED TO BE THE ONE TO SAY SOMETHING. CAN WE TALK?

My body shakes. Lora’s gone. Dad’s behind his paper. Do I want to know everything or nothing? I jump up and start for the stairs. The first sob hits me just as I step through my bedroom door. What just happened?

 

 

 

Five

~Dylan~

 

I haven’t talked to the sellout, a.k.a., my brother, since he dropped his crazy bomb about taking the plunge into…holy matrimony. I don’t know why, but for some reason holy matrimony is easier to think than the M-word. It’s still screwed up--like something old people do. Or boring people. Or lonely people… Not a guy in college who still has all his mental faculties. Hence, temporary insanity being the only option here.

Does he remember what happened to Dad after Mom was gone? Did college wipe out his memories and what we swore to one another? I don’t get it. He’ll end up just as broken as Dad. He’s letting someone in just to risk losing them. It’s not worth getting stomped on. That’s what it feels like he’s doing to me, letting his foot come down on my head over and over, by forgetting the pact we made. What about the Gibson Boys?

My fingers tighten on the steering wheel. I’m almost home, so I turn up the music, hoping it will help me clear my head before I see him. He’s coming home for Christmas and bringing the old ball and chain with him. Guess a guy can’t spend time with his real family alone anymore.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say when I see him. Part of me just wants to open the conversation with a punch to the head and hope it takes care of the insanity thing. Then we can skip the heart-to-heart altogether.

Maybe I can kidnap him. Drag his lame ass out of here and stage an intervention. We can go on the road and have fun, and he’ll forget he ever wanted a life sentence with his fian... fianc… I can’t even think the word.

“Damn.” I pull into my driveway and kill the engine. I’m freaking out here, and it’s kind of embarrassing. I think this girl is actually staying with us or something. We haven’t really had any girls here for longer than a few hours since Mom’s been gone. What if she starts running around the house with a towel on her head, yelling at Derrick to do this and that? And then he’ll wake up tomorrow and she’ll be gone.

Chill out, Dylan. This isn’t me. I don’t stress out like this. What’s the point? That’s what I need to try and remember now.

I climb the porch stairs. The door pulls open, and Derrick is standing there. He looks the same, just like me but older. Same black hair, same blue eyes, except mine are brighter. Girls always tell me I have nice, thick eyelashes, too. I don’t know about that, but they seem to like it. So I’m cool with it.

“About time you got your slow ass home. And don’t think I’m not pissed at you for ignoring my phone calls.” Derrick holds out an arm. I sort of want to be an ass and ignore him now, too, but I don’t. We give each other a half-hug before he moves out of the way to let me in. “I missed you, little brother.”

I push my way inside. My face is hot. My whole body is hot.

“I missed you, little brother?” My brain is yelling at my mouth to shut up, but I’ve never been good at listening to that warning. “That’s all you have to say after springing a wedding on me?”

Holy shit. I sound like parent. Or a spouse. Or a nutcase. Whatever it is, I don’t sound like Dylan, but I don’t care.

“Have you lost your mind? Or…” Damn! How did this not occur to me sooner? “You got her pregnant? You always made sure I had condoms. Wrap it or lack it remember? Forget how to use one, yourself?”

I’m lecturing my older brother. There is definitely something wrong with this picture. Again, my brain is screaming at me, but, dude… he got this girl pregnant?

Derrick holds up his hands and shakes his head. “Chill out, Dylan. You’re giving me a headache. Come on. Let’s go have a drink.”

I follow my brother through the kitchen. He grabs two sodas out of the fridge, and then we head out to the back porch.

“Dad home?” I ask him.

“Of course not,” he replies.

Funny, he can remember that but seems to forget why things are that way. He hands me the soda, which I take. “A Pepsi doesn’t make you seem any less crazy.”

I plop down in our porch chair. It’s cold as hell and a little drizzly. There’s a small puddle of water at the bottom of the stairs, and I watch as drops hit it and echo out. Why we couldn’t do this inside, I don’t know.

Derrick sits next to me. “She’s not pregnant, dumbass.” He thumps my head. I push his hand away.

“So you are crazy?” 

He shakes his head and is quiet for a few seconds. He looks like he’s trying to figure out what to say, and I want to tell him just to spit it out. But before I get the chance, he opens his mouth and says, “I love her, bro. She’s awesome. You’ll like her, too.”

I scratch my neck, not sure what to say. Stupid, but I totally didn’t expect him to say that. I want him to tell me I’m right. Or that he made a mistake, or that she’s just fun or cool. Not that he loves her. He’s dumb to risk loving anyone.

“Yeah, I’m sure she’s cool. It’s one thing to like a girl. I like a lot of girls. It’s one thing to think she’s cool, but married? Are you that whipped? Where’s your collar?” I try to make light of the moment when I really feel like I’m going to explode.

Derrick’s voice is tense when he says, “Watch it. I can still kick your ass and don’t think I won’t.”

Crossing my arms, I look away from him. I can’t believe he’s doing this. I can’t believe he’s bailing on us. On me. “What about the pact?” I finally ask. “We always said it was the Gibson Boys. That we wouldn’t let a girl come between us.”

I want an eraser to take the words away because they sound stupid and needy, but I want him to hear them, too. Want them to penetrate his thick skull so he can realize what he’s doing.

Derrick sighs. His eyes look all concerned, making me really want to get out of here. “She’s not going to come between us, and we were kids when we made that dumb pact. Come on, Dyl. I’m happy.”

Guilt body-slams me. He sounds happy, and I want that for him. He’s my brother after all, but how can I go along with this? We were all happy: me, him, Dad and Mom. Then one day we weren’t. Now we’re happy again, and I really don’t want to go back to the not.

“How long will you be happy? Everything was perfect before, and then it all fell apart.”

It takes him a couple minutes to reply. It feels like an eternity, and I wonder when I turned into such a stress case.

“Things weren’t perfect, D. You were young. You didn’t see, or you don’t remember, but—”

I hold up my hand to stop him. “Not going there. This is about you and the colossal mistake you’re about to make.” I need the subject to go back to him and not her because he’s wrong. Our life was perfect.

Derrick playfully shoves my arm. “It’s not a mistake. You’re my little brother. I want you to be cool with this. We’re going to need your help, ya know? There’s stuff we’ll need you to do—being the best man and all.”

This is the first I’ve heard about best man. Buying me off isn’t going to work. Then I start to feel bad. This is my brother, and he’s never really asked me for anything. He was there for me when Dad wasn’t. But why this? He wants my help to break something that he promised me.

It takes a few minutes, but finally he speaks again. “She’s not Mom, Dylan.”

Tears sting my eyes. When did I turn into such a pussy? Dad’s a workaholic. Derrick is a nutcase. And I’m turning into a sniveling baby. So much for the Gibson Boys.

“You’ll like her. She’s gorgeous, fun, smart, can outdrink my ass any day of the week. She’s good people.”

With the palm of my hands, I rub my eyes. Stupid, cold, rainy wind. “Whatever. Don’t think I’m happy about this. And don’t think I’m going to stop trying to get you to change your mind, but I guess she must be alright if you like her.”

Or not, but he doesn’t want to hear that. I push to my feet and before I know it, I’m tumbling off the porch and into the mud puddle I was just watching. Not hard and it wasn’t a big fall, but Derrick’s on top of me, shaking me.

“That’s what I like to hear. I knew you’d understand.”

I’m going to kill him. I push my brother, getting the best of him for the first time. Now I’m on top. And it’s still cold, and why are we wrestling in the rain? I don’t know, but it feels okay… almost normal.

“I don’t understand shit, whipped boy. I’m just not going to bail on you the way you’re bailing on me.”

Derrick pushes me again, and we break apart, both trying to find the best position to attack and get the better of each other.

“I’d never bail on you, and you know it. Just wait. One day you’re going find the right girl and fall so head over your ass in love, you’ll know what I’m talking about.”

“Not in a million years.” I lunge and tackle him to the ground. We’re both laughing and panting as we roll around on the cold-ass ground. He may be making a huge mistake, but he’s still the brother I know. I didn’t realize how much I missed him.

“You’ve gotten stronger.” He rolls away from me, chest heaving. Rain is hitting us in the face, but we don’t move.

“You’ve gotten softer. Is that what marriage does to you?”

Derrick laughs. “I’m not married yet, smart ass. I can’t wait until you realize how dense you are. It’s going to be a joy to watch.”

I open my mouth to tell him he’s lost his mind again, but we’re interrupted by a female voice. “Derrick? Oh—hey. Are you guys okay?”

There’s a pair of familiar green eyes looking down on me. I can’t place where I know them from, but there’s something about them I recognize.

“You must be Dylan.”

She holds out her hand, and I want to be lame about it and ignore her. But I don’t. I let her help me up.

“Hey. Nice to meet ya.” I look at the porch, the house, the ground, anywhere, but the girl who will always be there for Derrick, until one day she’s just gone.

It’s different to like girls than it is to get serious about them. Never get your heart involved. That’s what Derrick told me, and now he’s the one doing it.

“I rang the bell, but you guys didn’t answer.”

Derrick gives her a cheesy smile. “I told you just to come in, baby. My house is your house.”

I try not to gag.

“I’m Lora.” She’s looking at me. “You guys want some hot chocolate? I brought you some.” She holds up a thermos.

Hot chocolate? Hot chocolate? Does she think we’re five?

“Sounds good, baby.” He kisses her.

Yeah, totally whipped.

We get into the kitchen, and I’m wondering how this girl is just suddenly walking into my house.

“I feel really stupid for just suddenly walking in.”

Great. Apparently Derrick’s awesome, gorgeous woman also has ESP.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Derrick looks at her in a way I’ve never seen my brother look at anyone. I’m caught between wanting to vomit again, wanting to ask him, what about me, and also feeling a little good seeing him like this. He’s obviously into this girl, but still.

“Good hot chocolate,” I mumble, trying to break the connection. It actually is good, but whatever.

“Thanks!” Lora smiles at me.

Derrick was right, she is pretty. She seems nice enough, too, but nice doesn’t mean marriage and stabbing your brother in the back.

Lora stands. “Anyway, I just wanted to come and meet you before tonight. Derrick talks about you all the time.” Funny, he never mentioned her before the big announcement.

She looks at Derrick. “And to see you again.”

He gets this puppy dog look on his face. I’m afraid he’ll start humping her leg any minute. Can you say pathetic?

“I love you,” she tells him.

He gets a goofy smile on his face. “I love you, too.”

Has he told anyone he loves them since Mom? Have I? Suddenly, I hate her again, and the punch to Derrick’s head is sounding like a good plan.

***

Zila’s? What kind of name is that for a restaurant?

I pull the Hummer into the parking lot. I guess Lora’s mom owns this place. I had no idea this engagement party would really be a dinner at her family’s place. It feels like a point for their team, like we’re on their territory, and that kind of annoys me.

Lora and Derrick drove together, and I followed them over. I always drive my own car when I can. She turns to wave at me before walking inside. This girl is way too nice. Derrick heads my way, and I consider throwing him in the back and driving off.

Instead I get out and slam the door. See? I can be reasonable.

“I need you not to be an asshole tonight, D,” Derrick tells me.

“What? I’m not an asshole. Trying to impress the new family?” It pisses me off when he ignores the family part.

“Seriously. Don’t mess this night up for me, or I’ll kick your ass. You might even have fun. Lora has a sister around your age…”

Nice. Just what I need. Another overly nice, Team Marriage girl to deal with. This night just keeps getting better and better.

“Actually… forget about her sister. I mean, be nice to her, but I know you. Keep your hands off. Seriously.”

“What?” I push him. “Are you really trying to warn me off my future sister-in-law? First of all, I can find my own girls without trying to hit on someone at an extended-family function.” How weird is that? “Second, if she’s anything like Lora, I’m steering clear.”

BOOK: Dizzy
12.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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