Still Jaded

Page 8


"Okay." She frowned as she scribbled the rest.
"You don't like potatoes." Bryce halted her with his words.
I clipped out, "I do now."
Bryce rolled his eyes and leaned back. Dorothy crept away.
"Is that why you come here? To remember how to be a bitch?"
I growled and my hands clenched the end of the table. "Marcus didn't make me a bitch. He just loved me because I wasn't a bitch to him."
Bryce shook his head, his lip curled at the corner. "Marcus didn't love you. Trust me. I have some knowledge on loving you, and he did not. He was sick, deranged, and pathetic."
"He was dangerous."
"No. He was underestimated because he appeared weak. And he was. He manipulated and maneuvered, but he was weak in the end. You bested him."
"He hurt Corrigan."
"And he killed Leisha and Bailey because they weren't expecting it, not from him. But don't do that, don't give him more credit than he deserves. He was spineless. And coming here, paying tribute to him—I think it's the worst thing you could do."
I felt slapped by his words. "It's not about him. It's about me, Bryce."
Bryce glared for a moment, and then he started to laugh. "God, you just—you make me so angry. No one else can do that, Sheldon."
I felt the sudden break from the tension. "Yeah, well, I love you too."
The laughter vanished, and he whispered, "I love you—you know how much."
"Oh god. We're becoming one of those cheesy teen movies. Can we stop? Please. I'm not going to proclaim how I'll name my seventh son after your grandfather's grandfather."
Bryce grinned and laughed.
When she delivered our food, Dorothy eyed us in confusion. She asked once if she could get us anything else, but Bryce answered when he saw me look down. I didn't want to talk to her. I wasn't sure why, I just knew I didn't want to deal with her. He could, and he did. After taking a few bites, he stopped eating and sighed.
"What's wrong?" he asked. "You haven't touched your potatoes."
"I don't like 'em."
Bryce snorted but took another bite of his burger. After a mouthful, he gestured again. "I can get her back. You could get a salad."
I shook my head. I had lost my appetite at some point. But then a different idea came to me. "Corrigan's playing sloshball at the house. Let's go."
Bryce frowned. "What?"
"Sloshball. If we go now, we can still make it." I was burning up inside. I needed to get out of there.
"Am I supposed to know what that is? And they're playing at your house?"
"At the frat house. Let's go. Now." I stood up, but Bryce hardly looked at me. He stopped eating as something dawned on him. Then he nodded and stood up to pull out some money. As he placed a twenty on the table, he murmured, "Okay. Let's go."
Bryce placed his hand on the small of my back. Something inside of me felt settled inside. I could breathe again.
As we got into the red Miata, I looked up and saw Dorothy at the door. There was a blank look in her eyes. She knew that I had caught her staring, but she didn't look away. A shiver went down my spine.
"What's wrong?"
I jumped in my seat. "Huh?"
"What's wrong?"
I reached for my seatbelt. "Nothing. Let's just go."
I didn't want to think of the empty look on Dorothy's face. It reminded me of someone else.
As we drove closer to the college, I gave Bryce directions, and it wasn't long before we turned the corner to find the street packed with cars. The frat house, in all its three story paint-peeling gloriousness, was crawling with bodies. The front lawn was packed with students. Most of the girls wore bikinis, halter-tops, and mini-skirts. The majority of guys were shirtless.
Bryce paused in front of the house but started to pull away just as a guy flung himself into the street and jumped on top of the Miata.
We found ourselves staring into the drunken features of one of Corrigan's frat brothers as he slurred, "We were told to stop any red Miata that drove past the house. Brother Corrigan gave us strict instructions, and if you are the homosapiens named Bryce and Sheldon, you are ordered to relinquish control of this automobile for the pleasure of valet parking."
I snorted. Bryce laughed and handed over the keys.
As we headed inside, conversations quieted. People stopped and stared, and I knew it wasn't because of my sparkling demeanor. Bryce had grown immune to the attention when he was ten, but I'd just had a year of invisibility and was out of practice. I jumped when Bryce's hand found the small of my back again.
Raz marched over to us and flashed a stupid grin. He wore a white tee shirt that, after one whiff, I knew was soaked with beer. His jeans were ripped and soaked as well.
"Hey, Rad Girl."
Bryce glanced at me from the corner of his eye. I shrugged. "There was coffee."
"And a Dorothy chick, but she's going down."
I added, "It's the mafia way."
"Oh yes. The preacher will come calling." Raz scratched his forehead. He thought a moment, frowned, and then flashed his pearly whites once more. "Would you like beer?"
Bryce replied, "That would be great."
"Beer will come."
"We are homosapiens," I joked.
Raz started laughing. "You must've met March. He's always talking about evolution and where we'll be in twenty thousand years."
"Still drinking beer," Bryce pointed out. Raz laughed again and clapped him on the shoulder. "You're a funny dude. Good at soccer and funny. I like that."
Bryce looked at me. I shrugged. It was increasingly apparent that Raz was an odd guy.
Then a shout rang out and Corrigan hurled himself through the crowd to launch himself onto Bryce's back. He wrapped his legs around Bryce's waist and clasped his arms together over his chest. Bryce grabbed Corrigan's feet and hoisted him higher so that he wouldn't fall.
"My best friends." Corrigan greeted us with a cheeky smile as he settled his chin on Bryce's shoulder. I leaned closer and saw the hazy look in his green sparklers. He'd been doing a lot more than playing sloshball and drinking beer.
Matt and Leah pushed their way through the crowd after him. Matt wore a similar beer-soaked shirt over Hawaiian board shorts, and Leah had on a leopard print bikini. The strings tied between her br**sts with beaded ends that hung down to her navel, which was pierced with a sparkling little diamond.