Page 5


Nate looked over. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head. “I’m not feeling all that social.” I gave him a grin. “Sorry, I know you snuck out.”
He shrugged. “It’s fine. Mase, your family is dunzo. I’ll do whatever shit you want me to do.”
“I know.” He was a good friend, my best one besides Logan. The house was filled with lights, loud music, and drunken laughter, but I saw the pool in the backyard. It was gated off so no one was using it. I gestured to it. “If we climb the fence, we could hang out down there.”
“You want me to sneak into the party and grab some booze?”
“Nah.” I indicated my backpack. “I stole beer from the garage. It’s the good shit too.”
Getting over the fence was easy, and we headed to the far corner of the pool. Neighboring trees gave us some camouflage so we were able to put our feet in the pool and watch the festivities in the house. The music and laughter was still loud, but it wasn’t as bad. I handed a bottle to Nate.
We didn’t talk. We sat, listened to the party, and drank. After we both finished half the bottles I brought, Nate let out a belch. Then he laughed, looking at me in shock. “Sorry. I don’t know where that came from.”
I lifted my bottle in the air. “From this. It’s supposed to be the good stuff.”
He continued to chuckle, shaking his head, then bent over and pressed his face to his legs. “I don’t think this is the good stuff. Your dad brought over a truckload of booze to the house. Wait.” He held a hand up, his head still pressed to the tops of his legs, his shoulders shaking. “I take that back. I saw some cheap shit on their table last night. Yeah, you’re right. This is the good stuff. Your dad would have left it behind to save it.”
He kept laughing, the sound was muffled, but it got worse. “Your dad. He looked so ridiculous in his shirt. It was a size too small for him.”
I grinned, finishing my fourth beer and reached for another. “He probably shrunk it on purpose, to show off his physique.”
“Not my dad.” Nate lifted up. A silly grin was still there, but the laughter had lessened. One or two chuckles still slipped out and he started laughing all over again. “My dad’s shirt is so small, there’s a little pooch hanging out.”
I grinned. “As long as my dad’s not holed up with some other woman. I don’t know. That makes me feel better.” I sighed. Not my mom; she would’ve been hurt either way. I stopped thinking about it. That shit didn’t matter. It was done with. We got our lives back. Still, it was a hard f**king pill to swallow.
Nate must’ve sensed my thoughts. Growing quiet, he asked, “So how’s Logan handling it?”
I snorted. Finishing my fifth beer, I tossed the bottle in the pool. I shrugged. “He’s been a bigger pain in my ass than normal, so I guess that means he’s not handling it well. I don’t know. He doesn’t talk about it much. We’re just glad it’s over.” It felt as if there was a knot in my gut, and it never went away. I didn’t know how to explain it.
“You’re staying, right?” He sounded anxious. “With your dad? He told my parents that your mom will probably go back to L.A.”
“Yeah, she will.”
“So you’re staying then?”
I nodded. “Yeah, coach is here.”
“Did your mom even ask?”
I shrugged. “Yeah, she said something once. I don’t know if she’ll ask again, but she knows I’m staying. We could go back with her, but this is home. Fucked-up as it is, this is home.” Nate was there. I didn’t have to deal with city driving. Coach was there. I could make sure Logan was fine here. He’d have different friends and a different school if we went to the city. I could watch him better this way.
“Hey!” A large guy was heading down from the house, squinting at us, with a couple others behind him. “Who’s out there?”
A smaller guy tugged on his arm. “I told you I heard voices out here. They broke in.”
Some girls were with them, but it was obvious the bigger guy was the leader. He came to the fence and stuck his hand through it, pointing at us. “This is my house. Get the f**k off our land. PJ, call the cops.”
“On it.”
I snorted. PJ. He could’ve been called BJ for the way he was acting, on his knees and at the guy’s beck and call.
The guy heard me and barked out, “What was that? You’re laughing?”
“Yeah.” I stood up and grabbed my backpack. The emptied beer bottles stayed where they were and I left the other ones in the pool. Nate stood with me, walking beside me as I walked out of the shadowed area. When he could see me better, I said, “I’m laughing because your friend is a wuss. I saw him earlier.” I was on my second beer when he came out, saw us, and headed back inside. I smirked at him now. “It took two beers to tattle on us.”
The bigger guy relaxed when he saw me. “Oh. Kade. Why didn’t you just say something?”
“Hey, Graham.” Going to the fence, I reached through and he slapped my hand. “We weren’t up for being social tonight.”
“Nah. That’s fine. I heard about your parents. Sorry to hear that.”
Yeah. Everyone in this town had heard about my parents. Graham was a starting running back for Fallen Crest Academy’s football team. We trained at summer camp together. His friend was looking between us, his eyebrows bunched together, and he frowned. “Kade?”
“Yeah.” Graham shifted on his feet and gestured to me as he turned to his friend. “Why didn’t you tell me it was him? I wouldn’t have cared. Kade, you can hang out here anytime you want.”
“I mean that.” He placed his arm around a girl next to him and pulled her into his side. Leaning on her, he turned to his friend. “PJ, this is the guy who’s going to demolish you when we play FCP.”
PJ swallowed, glaring at me.
I smirked. “I think he’d like to try and demolish me now.”
Graham laughed, shaking his head. “No way, PJ. Don’t do it. You’ll lose. This guy’s going pro. All the scouts came early to see him. He’s too young, but the rumors are already spreading.” He sobered. “I am really sorry, man. My parents split last summer too. They got back together, but it sucked. Please tell me you’re sticking around? My dad knows yours and he said something about your mom leaving.”