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Authors: Juliana Stone

Some Kind of Normal (11 page)

BOOK: Some Kind of Normal
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I'm not sure how many seconds or minutes ticked by, but when I glanced up, my mother's face kind of crumpled in on itself. She blew out a long breath, smoothed her hair back, and spoke so quietly, at first I wasn't sure I'd heard her.

“I know about…about your father.”

My jaw dropped. Like literally dropped open. She knew? I hadn't seen that one coming, and her admission became this heavy, meaty thing that punched me in the gut so hard I could barely breathe.

She knew. All this time I'd held this secret close because of her and Isaac…and she'd known all along.

“But it's so much more complicated than you know. There are things…there are things between him and me, and we just need some more time.”

“You need more time,” I said numbly. “Wow.”

She was crying again, but there were no tears inside me. No need to comfort. There was nothing but that heavy, meaty thing, and it was cold and sharp and black.

Hands clasped over my mouth, I stared at my mother, hating myself for knowing. Hating her for knowing.

But most of all, I hated my father for letting us find out.

Chapter Fifteen

By Wednesday afternoon I was pretty much fed up with our government, our laws, and our damn constitution. Pushing my laptop away, I leaned back in my chair and groaned. I had a nagging headache, hadn't slept well, and for some reason, Everly was ignoring me.

All kinds of questions crowded my brain, and that only made my head ache more. Had I moved too fast? Was
too much?

She was a church girl, and not that I knew much about the church she went to, but maybe there were rules. Maybe she'd broken them. Maybe our kiss should never have happened. Maybe it was too early for that kind of stuff. Or maybe she'd figured out that I had a lot more problems than just learning the stupid constitution.

I was the freak on the floor after all. My eyes squeezed shut, and I knew my cheeks were as red as the apples in Mrs. Craddock's orchard. Man, when I was in bed trying to let go and sleep, that was the image burned into my retinas. Freak. On. The. Floor. So not cool.

I hadn't seen Everly since Friday because I'd had to help my dad out at his shop over the weekend. The only conversation we'd had was a text she'd sent Monday morning.

Stuff came up not sure when I can meet you. Will let you know.

That was it. After our amazing Friday night, that was all I got and nothing more.

I'd sent her at least ten text messages Sunday alone but had given up when I got the Monday morning wake-up call. Man, I couldn't figure her out. I know she'd felt it, whatever it was between us.

I'd held her hand all night, kept her tucked in my arms as the fire died down and the cooler air from the forest crept closer. She and Monroe got along just fine, and her friend Hailey was a cool chick too. Nate, Link, and I felt like kings.

And now nothing.

What. The. Hell.

I was at the library, same place Dad dropped me every day in the hope that she'd show up, but right now, I was so ready to bail. I'd only been here an hour and had four more to go. Dad wasn't done work until five. I guess I could have called Mom for a ride home, but I wasn't ready to be there yet either because I could never just relax. She still hovered. Still smoothed my hair back, rubbed where the incision in my skull had been. Still asked 101 questions.



you're not pushing yourself too hard?
(That one she asked a lot, and I was starting to get the feeling that she wouldn't be
if I failed the stupid test. That meant I'd be stuck in Twin Oaks at least for a few more months.)

I poked at the edge of my laptop with my finger, sinking deeper into my chair as I eyed the tattoo across my knuckles. Courage. Huh. The word taunted me. Some nights, it was all I thought about. Courage to do what it was that I wanted to do, which was play guitar. Write some new songs. Do this stupid test and pass it. Move the hell on.

Then there was the other side to this whole mess. Courage to fail trying, though that was something I didn't like to think about. Right now, failure wasn't an option, but it was easier to say than to do.

A text came in.

Making your favorite. Invite Everly.


Okay to fajitas or okay to Everly?

I stared at her message for a good five minutes, aware that a few younger kids who were here for some sort of daycare program had left and I was alone. Well, except for Mrs. Henney, that is. I felt her eyes on me, and I knew it was only a matter of time before she came over and tried to chat me up. She was a nice lady but entirely too in your face. She didn't know the concept of personal space and liked to invade mine whenever she got the chance.

I mentioned it to my dad once, and he laughed. Told me that back in the day, she'd been one hell of a looker (I didn't see it but wasn't about to call my dad out on that one). Dad said that her first husband had been a rocker with long hair and tattoos. I wasn't exactly sure what my dad was getting at, but I had a feeling if I thought about it too long, the ick factor would gross me out.

Another text came in.

bad texting etiquette.


answer me about Everly.

I glanced outside once more, aware that Mrs. Henney was moving in for the kill. She always cleared her throat when she was about to pounce. I could stay here and play up to her teenage dreams, or I could…

I'll let you know.

I scooped up my laptop and threw it in my bag, hiking it over my shoulders before sending Mrs. Henney a quick wave and escaping into the hot Louisiana sun.

It was a week until Fourth of July, and here in Louisiana, that meant hot. The kind of hot that leaves T-shirts soaked in minutes. By the time I reached Everly's home, my hair stuck to my neck, and I was dying for some water and seriously considering tossing my shirt.

Except her mom answered the door, and I didn't think it was appropriate, her being a pastor's wife and all.

“Trevor, I…” She seemed surprised and moved so that she could see around me. “Where's Everly?”

Wait. What?

Okay, this wasn't what I'd expected, but I played along because it was obvious that Everly had been lying to her mother and I didn't want to be the one to get her into trouble.

I pulled out all the stops, and according to my grandmother, I had a lot 'em. She'd told me once that I could charm the panties off a nun if I wanted to. (Her words, not mine, because the words
should never be in the same sentence.)

I smiled and gave a half shrug as I rolled back on my feet. “Oh, man. I guess I got mixed up and came here instead of the library. She's going to think I'm a tool.”

Mrs. Jenkins looked relieved. “Oh, yes, she left for the library about an hour ago. You must be late.”

“Sorry, I'll head over there now.”

Mrs. Jenkins held up her hand. “How has she seemed these last few days?”

Huh. She'd been lying to her parents for three days?

“Okay,” I answered, taking a step back. I didn't want to have a long conversation, because I wasn't exactly sure what else Everly had lied about.

“Just okay?” Mrs. Jenkins bit her bottom lip and her eyes got all big and shiny. That was a sign—of what I didn't know—but it couldn't be anything good. It was time to leave.

“Normal, you know…yeah, she's okay,” I replied. “I should get to the library.”

“Do you want a bottle of water? I could get one from the kitchen…” She seemed to be searching for words, like her mind was already somewhere else.

“Nah, I'm good. I'll see you later. Sorry to bother you.”

I walked up the street, pausing long enough to take off my shirt, and after stuffing it into my bag, I took a moment to call Link. He'd been hanging with Hailey down at the pool after his shift at the bakery was over. But no luck. No Everly.


I thought of Baker's Landing, but aside from the fact that it was out of town and would take nearly an hour to get to on foot, I didn't think she'd go there. That was my place.

It was then that a lightbulb went off and I crossed the street at a slow jog, ignoring the hoots from a passing car full of girls. I didn't stop until I finally saw the old mill, and by then, my knee was throbbing.

It hadn't been used as long as I'd been alive and probably for a long time before that. With shingles missing from the roof, chipped white paint, and broken windows that looked like large gaping wounds, the mill wasn't exactly postcard material. But if Everly was looking to disappear for a few hours every day, I could see why she'd pick this place, because who else in their right mind would hang out here?

I picked my way up the steps, careful to avoid the loose boards and the ones that were missing. The main door was locked, which was a joke really, considering the windows were broken. I looked inside, but it was dark and I couldn't see much, so I walked around to the far end of the building and continued out back.

And that's when I found her.

This part of the old mill faced the river, with the dam a few hundred yards away and the brush that clung to the riverbed giving her privacy. Everly had her earbuds in, so she didn't know I was there. I took my time and let my eyes roll over a whole lot more of Everly than I'd seen before. I can't lie—the view from where I stood was smokin'.

Her long hair was tied up loosely on top of her head, and she was on her stomach, feet up in the air, moving to the beat of whatever song she was listening to, reading a book.

My mouth was a little dry, and I thought to myself that lime green was my new favorite color. Especially when it was paired with a skimpy bikini, one that showed Everly's curves off in a way that made my chest tighten and my heart speed up.

Her skin was golden, and every time her legs bobbed, muscles moved. She was all smooth lines and smooth skin and a bikini bottom that showed a lot. I cleared my throat, but it didn't do anything.

Earbuds. Shit. I didn't want to scare her, but I couldn't spend the next two hours staring at a half-naked girl. (Well, I probably could but
don't exactly mean the same thing.) I took a step closer and then came up short when I realized her top was undone. All that smooth skin and no tan lines.

Okay, the little lime green bikini was one thing, but when a guy is presented with a beautiful half-naked girl, sometimes it's hard for him to keep his thoughts on the straight and narrow, if you get my drift.

I took a step back, wincing and swearing at the shooting pain in my knee. I'm not sure if it was the swearing or maybe she was just suddenly aware that she was no longer alone, but Everly glanced over her shoulder, hands across her chest, and for a second, our eyes connected in such a way that I felt it like a physical touch.


I repeated those words more than a few times, because we were both kind of frozen. She was surprised, and I was unsure how to proceed without coming across as a pervert.

With one hand she slowly took out her earbuds, the other still holding her top in place.

“Hey,” I managed to say.

Wow. Lame approach.

“You look hot,” Everly replied, eyes sliding away when the grin I couldn't help opened up nice and wide.


“I meant that…”

“I know.” I glanced down at my bare chest, slick with sweat.

“How did you know I was here?”

“I remembered you mentioning this place a few weeks back when we were at Baker's Landing.”

Her eyes were on me again, and damn if my heart didn't kick it up a notch. Man, if this kept up, I'd pass out, and it wouldn't be from heatstroke. What was it about this girl that touched me? The unanswered questions? Was that it? Was she a challenge? Or was it the way her eyes reflected deeper and darker things? Things that maybe I recognized.

My gaze dropped to her bare back. Or was it all that smooth, naked skin? The lime green bikini? Because, first off, I was dying to touch her, and second, I was, after all, a seventeen-year-old guy who hadn't been with a girl in months. Not since Bailey.

Maybe that's what all this was. Maybe I just needed to get laid.

As soon as that thought hit me, I gave myself a mental shake. What the hell? This was Everly. Who was I kidding? This here, whatever it was that I had with her, was so much more than hooking up with some girl. If all I wanted was a quick lay, I could have gotten that Friday night. Jess had made it clear that she was totally into the idea of the two of us getting physical.

Everly moved a bit and nodded at the space beside her. She didn't say anything, and I walked over.

“Could you?” she asked, her voice so quiet and low it took a few moments to sink in.

I swallowed, eyes glued to all that smooth bare skin.
up, Lewis
, I told myself.

Gingerly, I reached for her and grasped the two thin pieces of her bikini top together. And totally reverted to ninth grade when Melissa Byers let me touch her boobs. I was all thumbs, trying to tie the stupid thing together. Seriously, my youngest cousin could tie his shoes faster than what I was doing.

My knuckles grazed her skin—accidentally, I swear—the Sanskrit symbol taunting me as I looked down.


Yeah. I was going to need a lot of it.

She shifted and her hip pushed into me.

Man. And then some.

BOOK: Some Kind of Normal
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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