I walk with Drew outside while he apologizes for his mother-in-law and wife. Not necessarily in my circle of people, but I am used to people judging me on how I look. That was the whole point behind the tattoos and piercings. I wanted people to see me, not my name. Now people can’t ignore the real me because it’s quite literally inked on my body.
We walk back inside when Drew quietly excuses himself. I make my way towards the kitchen where I can hear female voices. Avery’s mom and sister must be trying to talk some sense into her after seeing her with me.
“That’s Noah Whittier?” Mrs. Jones asks, sounding surprised.
“Yes,” Avery replies in the smallest voice I’ve ever heard.
I hang back outside of the kitchen to see where they’re going with this. Eavesdropping isn’t really cool, but I’m curious what’s going to happen because I didn’t think Avery was going to say shit about my family.
“Well, we can work with that despite his, er, looks,” Mrs. Jones says.
“I just Googled him. He’s the firstborn son of Clarence and Jaqueline Whittier. He’s set to inherit his father’s businesses and fortunes. Avery, wow. I can’t believe you snagged someone better off than Rich. You’ll be set for life.” That was Harper talking.
I struggle to hear Avery’s responses. She led me to believe that the money and status meant nothing to her. Did she lie to me? Did she know who I was the entire time and just played me? I don’t want to believe it and yet…
“Avery, dear, you could become the wife of a child of the “Big Four”. So far, only Evan Van Holsten is married and his wife grew up in their society. For you to get in with them will be quite the accomplishment given our background. How did you manage this and why didn’t you tell us earlier?”
I still can’t hear Avery. What is she doing? Whispering? The way the conversation is going is pissing me off, and more now that I can’t hear Avery’s responses. I can’t tell if this is just her family talking or if she agrees.
“Now that I know who he is, I give you full permission to continue dating him,” Mrs. Jones says.
“Thanks,” Avery responds. That confuses me.
More muffled words that I can’t hear unless I get closer, in which case they would hear and see me.
“… the status and money are all that matters… working from the bottom to where he is… it’s the most important thing.”
That was definitely Avery, but I could only hear snippets of her words. Why isn’t she speaking normally like Harper and Mrs. Jones? She probably doesn’t want me to overhear her words. Smart, because my worst fears about dating again have come true.
I’m practically vibrating with anger as I stalk away from the kitchen towards the front door. Fuck this! I’m out. Fuck Avery and fuck everyone else. Why can’t I meet a girl like Brooke? She never wanted Evan for his money. She couldn’t give two shits who his family is. Honestly, she probably wishes his last name weren’t Van Holsten. Meanwhile, I am apparently attracted to gold-digging bitches.
“Noah, where are you going?” Drew asks walking towards me from a hallway off the giant entryway.
“Fuck this. I’m out!” I practically shout at him. It’s not his fault. He actually seems like an okay guy, but I can’t stay here.
I open the front door and it hits the wall behind it. Do I care that I might be causing damage to their house? Not even a fucking bit. I’m stalking down the walkway towards my car when I hear running behind me.
“Noah! Wait! Where are you going?” Avery asks innocently. I round on her and she shrinks back from my furious expression.
“I thought you were different from Kendra. I thought I was so fucking lucky that I met someone like you after being with her for so long, but I was wrong. So fucking wrong. You’re just like her, and I was the dumbass that fell for it… again. I’m out, Avery. You can find someone else to sink your claws into. There are tons of guys like Rich that won’t care you’re after them for money. You knew! You fucking knew I didn’t want that. You knew how much Kendra fucked me up. I poured my fucking heart out to you and you just listening, giving me your fake fucking sympathy. You’re just as bad as your mother and sister!”
Avery stopped in front of me and stayed silent as I yelled at her. I have tears in my eyes and I swipe at them, angry that they’re fucking there. Avery’s expression changes from shock to anger to sadness. I scoff and turn back to my car. I get in slamming the door while Avery stands where I left her staring at me.
I jerk my car into drive and speed out of there faster than a bat out of hell. The last thing I see is Avery’s tear-stained face before she turns back to the house and stomps up the steps to the front door.
I’m so fucking pissed that I can do nothing but hit my steering wheel and yell into the empty car. I want a fucking drink and maybe a fight too. I want to feel something other than my breaking heart. What I should be doing is calling my friends so they can talk me down and maybe reassure me, but I don’t want to do that.
So, instead of calling the people I know love me for me, I go to the nearest, shadiest-looking bar I can find. I stomp in like I own the fucking place and sit at the bar. I order the most expensive scotch they have in the place and ask the bartender to leave the bottle. I want to get so fucked up tonight, I can’t remember how Avery’s betrayal feels.
Sometime after I can’t remember how many shots, I stand up to the biggest, scariest motherfucker in the place. I get in his face even though he’s done nothing to me and bate him until he punches me. Fuck, it feels like I just got hit in the face with an anvil, but I feel alive. I hit him back, nearly breaking my knuckles on his iron jaw.
The bartender breaks up the fight before the dude can knock me into next week. He calls me a cab and pretty much shoves me into it. I think I give the driver my address, but I can’t be sure anything I say is clear.
The cab driver is nice enough to help me out of his car and to my front door. I punch in the code that unlocks it. I give him way more than I owe him, but he seems like a good dude. I stumble through my house until I get to my bedroom. I want to strip off my clothes, but I can’t even do that. Instead, I fall onto my bed face first and pass the fuck out.
The high-pitched ringing of my cell wakes me up. My head is pounding and the sunlight streaming through my windows kills my eyes. I feel around for the source of the horrid noise and hit the green button to answer.
“Why the fuck are you calling me this early?” I snap into the phone, not having a single fucking clue who’s on the other end.
“Don’t you curse at me, Noah!” Sweets snaps back. I groan and immediately feel bad.
“Sorry, Sweets,” I mumble as I try to sit up.
“You have a lot to be sorry for, Noah James Whittier,” she says. This seems like a call Kristie and Evan would normally be a part of, but I’m glad it’s just Allie.
“Enlighten me, Sweets.”
“I don’t know what you said to Avery last night, but she was looking all over for you. She messaged all of us on social media, hoping to get a hold of us. She wanted to know if we’d heard from you because you left her house after yelling at her.”
“She’s just another Kendra,” I sigh.
“Wanna tell me how? Because Kendra would never have desperately messaged us to ask us about your wellbeing.”
“I heard her talking to her mom and sister. She’s just after my money and how being with me can give her a leg up. She doesn’t actually care about me.”
“Bullshit!” Allie screams into the phone and color me shocked. Sweets doesn’t really swear. Like at all. She must be really pissed off to be swearing at me.
“What?” I ask, so confused.
“She was so worried about you last night. If she only cared about your money or who your daddy is, she wouldn’t be that concerned about you. Whatever you heard was probably taken out of context. God, you men are so stupid. You couldn’t have had a calm conversation with her to ask about what you heard?”
“She would have just lied!” I protest.
“Or she would have told you what really happened. But no, yelling at her then taking off was definitely the better way to go. You better fix this, Noah. Avery is nice and the complete opposite of Kendra. She is not after you for any of the things Kendra wanted you for. Stop being a jackass and call her!”
“I don’t like this side of you, Sweets,” I grumble because I know she’s right. I probably did jump to conclusions.
“I don’t care. Call her, Noah. I have her phone number now. I’ll be checking in with her to make sure you did. Don’t tempt me. I will fly over there and kick your ass. I don’t care that you’re seven feet tall!”
“That actually sounds like it might be nice. I miss you, Sweets,” I say with a smile. Fuck, my face hurts. What did I do last night?
“No visits until you talk to and apologize to Avery, but I miss you and I love you,” Allie says, then hangs up on me.