Read Some Kind of Normal Online

Authors: Juliana Stone

Some Kind of Normal (12 page)

BOOK: Some Kind of Normal
3.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter Sixteen
Everly

I think a part of me expected Trevor to eventually show up, because as much as I was startled to see him standing behind me, it wasn't because I was surprised. It was because he was half-naked. Half-naked with skin that shone from heat and sweat.

I dragged my eyes away, but not so fast that I didn't notice a few things.

A scar on his right side that was jagged.

Abs that would make most athletes drool in envy.

Abs that would make most girls drool, period.

A thin line of hair that drifted from his belly button and disappeared beneath the top of his shorts.

Shorts that maybe he should hike up because they were dangerously low on his hips.

That indent guys get, you know, the one that girls talk about. The one that makes you think of things that you shouldn't be thinking about. It was there. Front and center. Taunting me.

So, yeah, I dragged my eyes away but still managed to take him all in. And now he was sitting beside me. And my skin tingled where he'd touched my back. And I was nervous because we were both practically naked and I'd never been this close to a guy before without, you know, clothes on.

Ugh. I felt my cheeks get hot as I thought of him tying up my bikini top. But there'd been no way for me to get the job done without things peeking out that shouldn't be peeking out.

I sighed and pushed my sunglasses back over my eyes. How had I reached the age of seventeen without getting half-naked with a guy before?

Oh. Right. There'd been no Trevor Lewis up until a few weeks ago. No guy who'd ever tempted me the way he did. No guy who could make me forget. And right now, I was all about forgetting if I could.

I closed the book I'd been trying to read for the last hour and stretched out on the blanket, resting my chin on my arms. Trevor did the same, both of us looking out over the water, watching the birds that flew and dove for fish near the dam.

“I used to jump off the railway tracks just above the dam with Nate and Link,” Trevor said after a few moments. “When I was, like, twelve. Man, we got in a lot of trouble when our parents found out. Especially after Daryl drowned.”

I thought about that kid. “Daryl Mason?” I asked.

Trevor nodded and turned onto his side so that he was looking at me and not the water. “We were supposed to meet him that afternoon, but Nate had a family thing. I got into trouble for something, can't remember what, and Link just never showed. There was an undertow or maybe he got caught on something under the dam. I don't remember how he drowned. I just know he did.” Trevor's eyes widened a bit. “I haven't been back to the dam since.”

“He went to my church,” I offered, not knowing what else to say. At the time it had been a tragedy the entire town felt. His parents owned the hardware store, but after Daryl died, they'd moved away.

“I know. His funeral was the last time I was inside a church. It was just hard, you know? We were young, stupid, and so…relieved it wasn't us. Seeing how broken up his parents were was awful. I remember his mom kept saying, ‘He's gone to heaven now. I'll see him again.' But all I kept thinking was how do you know? How do you know life doesn't just end when we do?”

I considered his words. “My dad would say that's what faith is for.”

My dad would say a lot of things, and now I wondered if my dad believed all the stuff he preached, considering the lie he'd been living.

Trevor reached over and plucked my sunglasses off the end of my nose. I wished he hadn't because now he could see the tears that sat in the corners. Tears that had haunted me since Sunday. Tears that had been falling on and off since forever, it seemed.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Three simple words, and yet so much meaning filled the cracks between them. He cared about me. I heard it in his voice. Most guys would have been up in my face, angry with the silent treatment I'd been doling out since Sunday. Wondering how I could let them touch me, kiss me, and then…nothing.

But not Trevor, and for that I was grateful. I was way too fragile right now to deal with anger.

“Everly? Did I do something?” He looked so serious. And more than a little unsure. “I mean, did I push you in a way that I shouldn't have Friday?”

That thing in my chest tightened again. The thing that was somehow connected to this boy.

“No.” I shook my head. “No, Trevor. Friday was…amazing. This…” Would I ever be able to speak normally again? “The way I've been acting has nothing to do with you. I don't want you to think that.”

God, his eyes were beautiful. A girl could lose herself inside them.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I wanted to tell him everything. I wanted to so badly. But I couldn't vocalize the things in my head. Not yet anyway. Maybe never.

“I'm sorry I blew you off,” I said instead. “I didn't mean to. I just didn't know how to be with anyone.”

“At the moment you seem to be doing all right.” His voice was light, touched with the slightest bit of something. It was that something that I needed, because I felt like I'd been holding my breath since Sunday and finally I was able to breathe a bit easier.

“I suppose you think that you have something to do with that?”

“That would make me an egotistical bastard, don't you think?”

“Yeah. It would.”

“Then I guess I'm an egotistical bastard.” There was that smile again. “Because I think it has everything to do with me.”

I found myself smiling in return, and I nudged him with my shoulder. “You're pretty full of yourself, Trevor Lewis.”

He didn't answer because his eyes were on my mouth.

And suddenly the air between us got heavy. Or maybe I couldn't breathe because I was too busy hanging on to this moment, thinking that Trevor had the longest lashes I'd ever seen on a guy. That his sweat-slicked skin was so different from mine, taut over muscle and somehow stronger.

I saw his tattoo, the one along the side of his neck, and I couldn't help myself. I traced it with my forefinger, following the strange pattern until it crept up over his shoulder.

I moved closer to him, loving how the sun reflected in his beautiful eyes. I think he groaned. Or maybe it was me.

Either way, that sound tugged at something hot and heavy inside me, and I pushed him back, sliding up along his body until I was on top of him. His hands moved up over my hips, pressing in on my lower back before gliding up to my waist, where he held me so that I couldn't move.

Not that I wanted to.

In a world that had felt wrong for so many days, everything about being here with Trevor felt right.

We were both breathing heavily and hadn't done anything yet. Not really. But I felt his heart beating beneath my chest, and my fingers dug into the hair at his nape.

“Kiss me,” I whispered, closing my eyes when I heard the need in my voice and hoping he didn't.

His hands moved up, slowly, fingers on skin sending little shock waves through my body. He cupped the back of my head, brought me closer, and then his mouth slid across mine. If ever there was a little piece of heaven on earth, it was somehow tied up inside Trevor Lewis.

The kiss was fire and heat and pulsing pleasure. I'd never been kissed like that before. If I thought Friday night was amazing, this here, right now, blew that out of the water.

Sure, it could be because he had no shirt on and I was practically naked. It could have been because every single inch of me was pressed against him. It could have been the sun shining down on us, warming already heated skin. Or it could have been the call of the birds as they flew over the dam, making us feel alive.

It could have been all of those things that made me squirm and want to get so close to Trevor that I was willing to do things I'd never contemplated with anyone else.

But it was more than that.

I kissed him fiercely, wanting him to feel what was inside me. Wondering what it would feel like to have
him
inside me.

He finally pulled away and smoothed a long piece of my hair back from my face and tucked it behind my ear. He shuddered and pulled me in close, so close that his heart sounded as if it was going to beat right out of his chest.

I knew that this was something more than just a summer fling. A hookup.

I thought of what Hales had told me only a week ago.

Do
you
believe
in
love
at
first
sight?

Was that what this was? Love? The beginning of love? Was it possible that I was falling in love with Trevor Lewis? Or was this just plain old lust?

Startled, I moved slightly because I needed to see his eyes. Needed to see what was there.

Needed to see if I'd recognize whatever it was.

“Hey,” he said gruffly, hands still in my hair, though his expression was kind of pained. “I'm not kissing you again.”

Okay. That's not what I'd been expecting to hear.

“Why?” I asked without thinking.

He attempted a smile. “This might be the ego talking, but I'm pretty sure that if I kiss you again…”

He shifted a bit, and suddenly I was aware that his body had changed. That things might not be so easy for him, you know, being a guy and all.

This was the moment where I could have said
Screw
you, universe. I'm going to do what feels good and right and…

“What if I want you to kiss me again?” I asked, watching him closely.

We both knew that I wasn't talking about just a kiss.

“Right here? Right now?” he answered. “That's what you want?”

We stared at each other for a long time, and then I shuddered, letting him pull me back into a hug.

“We've got all summer,” he said, voice a little rough. “To figure things out.”

“Thanks,” I murmured.

He kissed the top of my head. “For what?”

“For not thinking I'm a total freak. For not being pissed at the way I've been acting since Sunday, and for coming out here to find me.”

“You might not thank me when you find out the diabolical reason I came looking for you.”

“Diabolical. That sounds serious.”

“Dinner at my house can be a pretty serious thing, though that usually depends on Taylor's mood, and since she's still grounded, it's not looking great. But,” he said, arching his back slightly so that I could see him, “my mom's famous fajitas?”

That was pretty much all it took. That and the fact that I wanted to float in this boy's orbit for as long as I could. Trevor Lewis was exactly what I needed.

“Fajitas sound perfect.”

Chapter Seventeen
Trevor

“She's a nice girl.”

“She's…yeah.”

I waited a beat and watched Everly wave from her porch, and then when she disappeared inside her house, I exhaled loudly. I'd been wound tighter than Link's snare drum ever since she'd climbed on top of me out at the dam.

I'd had to sit across from her at the dinner table when what I really wanted to do was jump over the stupid thing and kiss her until she made those sexy noises again. It was hard, trying to maintain some kind of control.

“Yeah,” I said again, turning to my dad. “She's nice.”

Wow. That didn't sound anything like what I really thought, but I hadn't talked girls with Dad in a while, and this particular one had kind of thrown me for a loop.

“Nice,” Dad repeated.

I shrugged.

His face split wide open in a grin as he put the Mustang in reverse. “Nice,” he said again with a laugh.

“Well, what do you want me to say?”

“You guys dating?”

Were we? I glanced in the mirror and watched her house disappear from view.

“We're hanging out.”

“Huh. Serious hanging out or just hanging out?”

“I'm not sure yet,” I replied honestly.

“Well, you just make sure you're careful is all.”

“Got it covered, Dad.”

He glanced at me sharply. “You guys having sex?”

I shook my head and groaned. What was this? We'd had the birds and the bees talk years ago, and it consisted of Dad buying me a box of condoms and telling me to “use them, goddammit. Your mother and I are too young to be grandparents.”

“No, Dad, we're not having sex.”
Not
yet, anyway.
“And can we talk about something else? Gee, way to kill the mood.”

Dad steered the car with the palm of his hand—something he would have given me shit over—and turned off of Everly's street before heading toward Main.

“Where we going?” Obviously in the wrong direction.

It was early yet, just after eight, and we had at least another hour and a half of sunlight.

“Thought we'd hit some balls.”

Surprised, but in a good way, I shrugged. “Sounds good, but we don't have our clubs.”

“Threw them in the trunk when you were showing Everly how the dog plays dead.”

“Okay,” I replied, wondering what this was all about. He was a pretty crappy golfer. My mom was the superstar in our family, and I don't think I'd ever gone to hit balls with him before.

“I'm probably going to suck,” I said.

Dad snorted. “It's like riding a bike, Trev. You're way too natural of an athlete to forget how to line up a ball and hit it.”

Yeah, but the last time I'd been on a golf course, my knee hadn't been screwed up. I didn't think I was going to be all that stellar, but the thought of spending an hour or so hitting balls with my dad was a good one.

The driving range was still fairly busy, but we managed to find two spots side by side. I changed my shoes (Dad had thought of everything), grabbed my clubs, and set up shop by a couple of older ladies who gave us the stink eye as we walked by. Didn't blame them. Dad looked like he could ride with the Hells Angels with his sleeved tattoos and shaved head. And me? I guess they weren't exactly used to dudes with blue streaks in their hair.

I gave them a wave, smiled that smile my grandmother liked to boast about, and asked them how they were doing.

That was that. Ice was broken. They smiled in return, said it was a perfect night to hit balls, and then complimented me on my clubs.

I saw the way my dad rolled his eyes when he brought over a couple of buckets of balls, and I tried not to laugh. As much as the whole charm thing seemed to have landed on me in spades, apparently it skipped a generation, and he'd never been hit with that particular stick.

I grabbed my seven iron and took a few practice swings. Felt good. Got into the groove. Sent the ball flying. Once I was warmed up, I took out my driver and lined up my shot. My knee was starting to throb a bit, so I adjusted my footing. I took a moment and then, with gentle wrists (the secret, according to my mom), sent the ball straight down, well over 250 feet. Heck, practically 300.

The ladies beside me gushed about my form and asked if I belonged to the local country club. I'd had a junior membership years ago, but music had kind of taken over, and other than football, I'd pretty much given up on sports.

I laughed, shook my head, and said no. They were shocked when I told them I hadn't picked up a club in nearly two years. The tall, thinner lady gave me a second look, her eyes softening a bit as she placed her club back into her bag.

“Are you that boy who was in the bad car accident last summer?”

I nodded, not knowing what to say really. It had been a long time since anyone had brought up the accident with me.

She glanced behind me. “I recognize your daddy from pictures in the paper.” She winked. “How wonderful to see you out here. You're looking good as new.”

I shoved a tee into my pocket. Looks could be deceiving.

“Thanks,” I said, giving them a wave as they headed back to their car. We were losing the light and maybe had twenty minutes left.

Dad moved over just then. “I'm outta balls.”

I snorted. “Yeah, half of them are in the trees.”

“True,” he said. “But golf's never been my strong suit. It's more your mama's game.”

I glanced in my bucket. “You want some of mine?”

“Nah. You're doing good. I'll watch.”

I shrugged. “Your call.”

I grabbed some more balls from the bucket. After sending them straight ahead, all within ten to fifteen feet of each other, I paused, aware that my dad was watching me in that way that told me there was something on his mind.

I set up another ball.

“I heard you playing your guitar this morning.”

And just like that, any ease that I'd had slipped away like water down the drain. My muscles cramped, my knee throbbed like hell, and, well, the gentle wrists went the way of the dinosaur.

I swung my club, angry he would bring something like that up out here. Golf was sacred—what part of that didn't he get? I chopped at it and the ball hopped to the left, jumping a few feet before coming to a standstill.

Glaring, I turned around because I wanted my dad to know I wasn't impressed with his choice of conversation. But his eyes were dark and I saw the concern. It was a look I'd seen way too many times, and even though the anger was still there, rumbling beneath my skin like his Harley, I couldn't act on it.

“I sounded like crap.”

I would be lying if I didn't say that I was waiting for him to tell me the opposite. You know, butter me up a bit. Inflate the ego when it was sagging. But that wasn't my dad. The guy had no tact, but you had to give him points for always being honest and direct. He'd told me once that anything other than the truth was a waste of time. That time wasn't always on our side, so why waste it?

“Can I do anything to help?” he asked gruffly.

I placed another ball on the tee. “Nope.” And sent it sailing up the green.

“Are you worried?”

“Jesus, Dad. Are we really going to have this conversation here? Now?”

“Is there a better time?”

“Yeah,” I replied.

“When?”

“Never,” I whispered to myself.

I stared down into my bucket and fought the urge to send the stupid thing flying. I was in the mood to hit something, but it sure as hell wasn't balls.

“Trevor.”

I cut him off. “Of course I'm worried and pissed off and a whole lot of other stuff that I can't even name.”

Something let loose inside me, something nasty, and I tossed my club. It hit my bag and sent it flying, and I watched my dad bend over to straighten it.

“I haven't told Nate that I suck. He has no idea that the thought of performing in front of a bunch of kids scares the crap out of me because I'm not so sure that I can remember half the notes to a simple AC/DC song. They're, like, three chords. And even when I do, sometimes my fingers won't do what I'm telling them to do anyway, so why even try?”

The driving range was now empty, so there was no one out here to hear my tirade. No one except my dad, who stood a few feet away, his eyes intense as they studied me.

“You're getting better, Trevor. But it's going to take time, and your mother and I, well, we…” He cleared his throat, and I knew this was just as hard for him. Must suck to look at your kid and know he's defective.

“What?” I asked, but I knew where this was going.

My dad ran his hands over his head, big beefy hands that had no hair to smooth. It was a nervous gesture. I hated seeing him like this.

“I know we had a deal. Pass your government test, collect your diploma, and you could leave for New York with our blessing, but Trevor, the seizure changes things.”

Something ticked behind my right eye as I clenched and unclenched my hands. I hated that word almost as much as I hated those three little letters, the ones I saw when I closed my eyes:
TBI
. “It was one seizure,” I finally got out.

“There could be more.”

“You think I don't know that? It's all I think about. The only time it goes away is when I'm with Everly.” My right eye was throbbing as much as my knee, and I dragged in a big gulp of air. “Music is my life, Dad. New York and Nathan was my plan. It still is my plan. How do you expect me to get to where I'm supposed to be if you take New York away from me?”

He took those few steps until he was inches from me, and my throat tightened when I saw his eyes. They were glassy and shiny. Geez, I wasn't sure if I could deal with this right now. How could I keep it together when he was about to lose it?

“I'm not taking anything away from you. Trevor, I would give my right arm if it meant that you could have your dreams. Hell, I would cut both of them off if that's what it takes to give you everything you want. Everything that you deserve. But we gotta be realistic here. It might be time…” He scrubbed at his face. “Ah, hell.”

“Time for what?” I could barely get the words out.

“It might be time for a plan B, Trevor. Time to maybe find another dream.”

I couldn't believe he was saying this to me. I squeezed my eyes shut and struggled to keep my shit together.

“I don't have another dream, Dad. Music, that's it. That's all I got.”

I felt empty saying it and kind of sick to my stomach too. Because the raw truth of it was exactly that. Music
was
everything to me. Always had been. What was I going to do if I couldn't get it back? Who would I be?

Nobody.

Pain stretched across my chest, and before I could help myself, I bent over and vomited into the grass. I heaved until there was nothing left inside me, and when I finally wiped my hand across my mouth and slowly straightened, my dad was there.

His massive arms wrapped around my shoulders, bands of steel that were hard and safe. I let him hold me and felt his body shudder as he tried to keep his grief inside, but it was impossible. As much as my dad was tough on the outside, he could cry at the drop of a hat. It's where he got his nickname, Teddy Bear. But that's who my dad was…he was that guy. The one who cared so much, his feelings had a hard time staying inside.

I let him hold me just like he used to do when I was a kid and was hurt or upset. He probably needed it just as much as I did, because I knew that if he could, he'd chop his arm off and offer it up to whatever god he thought would make things right.

But out here under a blanket of stars that lit up a hot Louisiana night, I think we both realized that there was no easy answer. No easy way. That's the thing about action and consequence. You have to learn to deal with it or you'll go crazy.

My deal? I knew the odds were against me. Most people never made a complete recovery after a TBI, and now with the seizure sitting pretty on my résumé, things were worse than they were a week ago.

A year ago, I'd felt extraordinary, on the verge of something big. Nothing could touch me. Nate, Link, Brent, and I were kings.

And then we weren't.

Now, I was less than ordinary, and for the first time since I'd come out of the coma, it hit me. Really hit me.
Less
than
ordinary.
Three words that carried some heavy weight.

They weren't words that floated around in my head like clouds moving across a lazy summer sky. Words with no tangible meaning. They were words that hit hard. They burrowed beneath my skin and penetrated the screwed-up brain inside my head.

I might be stuck at less than ordinary for the rest of my life, and less than ordinary was now some kind of normal for me.

At seventeen. How the hell do you deal with that?

BOOK: Some Kind of Normal
3.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Nyarlathotep by H. P. Lovecraft
Last Flight of the Ark by D.L. Jackson
The Woods by Harlan Coben
American Quartet by Warren Adler
Immortal Secrets by Moore, Jerry
Chloe's Rescue Mission by Dean, Rosie