Chapter 19. Exactly What It Looks Like
This wasn’t the type of position you wanted to get caught in. It looked bad, no, it looked fucking horrible. I couldn’t even use the phrase; this isn’t what it looks like, because it was exactly what it looked like. As a matter of fact, I was about to nail my girl right on the counter.
I was leaning up against the counter, biting my lip.
Stormie looked like she was about to be sick. “Excuse me!” Stormie jumped off the counter and dashed out of the kitchen, wearing nothing but one of my t-shirts.
“Your timing is impeccable,” I said.
“It seems so,” Mom said. “Are you going to elaborate on what I just saw?”
“That depends,” I said.
“What do you think you saw?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Avery James Prince,” Mom said sternly.
My expression held nothing but innocence. My mother wasn’t stupid, though. She knew I was anything but innocent. I wasn’t sure how to answer her, so I stayed quiet. I hoped that she would let me out of it if I remained silent.
“It looked like you were just making out with Stormie West on my kitchen counter,” Mom said and sat her purse down.
“Right, I would love to explain, but I’m going to go make sure she didn’t crawl into a hole and die or something. I’ll be right back,” I said and ran for the door.
Stormie was fully dressed by the time I reached my bedroom. She had her duffel bag on her shoulder and was on her way out, but I blocked her path. “What are you doing? I have to get the hell out of here,” she said.
“Talk about throwing me to the sharks,” I said and chuckled.
“It’s your mom; you deal with it,” she said and shrugged.
“What if it had been Mason?” I arched a brow.
“Then we deal with it,” she said.
“How the fuck does that work? He’s your brother,” I said and snorted.
“He’s your best friend,” she challenged.
“Touche,” I agreed and nodded. “What am I supposed to tell her?”
“The truth and hope like hell she keeps her mouth shut?” Stormie suggested.
“Great,” I said and rolled my eyes. “Why not just tell everyone the truth?”
“The same reason that we didn’t to start,” she said. She stood on her toes and pressed her lips to mine. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go crawl in a hole and die.”
I chuckled. “It’s not that bad.”
“Your mom saw me in nothing but your shirt, making out with you on the counter,” she muttered.
“It could have been worse,” I said and smirked.
She slapped my chest and shoved me out of the way. “See you later,” she said.
“Bye, baby,” I said and stared at her ass as she walked away. As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to deal with my mother. I would almost rather deal with Mason and Ryder than explain to my mother why I had damn near taken my best friend’s sister in her kitchen.
Mom sat at the kitchen island with her head in her hands.
“Mom,” I murmured.
She took a deep breath and looked up at me. She gave me a half-smile. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her truly smile.
“You really don’t look like you’re up to talking. You worked for fifteen hours, go to sleep. We’ll talk about it later,” I told her.
“No, it’s fine. We need to talk now,” Mom said.
I sighed. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
Mom tilted her head to the side. “You were kissing your best friend’s little sister, Avery,” Mom said. “That’s a huge deal. Does Mason know?”
“No, you’re one of four people who know,” I said.
“Is it serious? It seemed serious,” Mom said.
“Sort of, I guess,” I said.
“Since?” Mom asked.
“On and off since August,” I said.
“Jesus, Avery, that is four months,” Mom said, stunned.
“Yeah, I know, and it’s been more on than off,” I admitted. I crossed my arms over my chest, leaned against the counter, and looked down at my feet.
“So, she’s your...” Mom trailed off.
“Girlfriend,” I said.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Mom said thoughtfully and chuckled. Her eyes were distant, and they lit up in a way I hadn’t seen in years.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Even years after being gone and he is still right. I bet he would have loved to hear me say that,” Mom said and smiled.
“Are you talking about Dad?” I asked, confused.
“Yeah,” Mom said.
“What was he right about?”
“Ever since you were all young, your father used to tell Michael, Sharon, and me that you and Stormie would wind up together. It was like he could sense something between you two that we couldn’t see. None of us believed him,” Mom said.
“That’s kind of creepy,” I muttered.
She laughed. “But he wasn’t wrong.”
“Doesn’t seem that way,” I admitted.
“Why hide it?” Mom asked.
“Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Sharon and Michael West aren’t exactly my biggest fans,” I said. “Michael saw me for the first time in almost three years and looked like he wanted to rip my head off. Sharon is probably still mad at me for–” I stopped when I realized my mom didn’t know about the incident with Rich and Sharon. “Nevermind. Not to mention, Mason would be mad as hell.”
“What reason would Mason have? And why is Sharon mad at you?”
“I might have threatened her boyfriend, Richard,” I admitted.
Mom started to speak but stopped. “I-I don’t want to know.” Mom shook her head.
“Good choice,” I approved.
I sighed. “It’s his little sister. Guys don’t like to think of their sisters being with guys or guys that might hurt their sister,” I explained.
“Are you going to hurt her?” Mom asked.
“I don’t plan on it,” I said.
“Mason should trust you, right? You wouldn’t throw years of friendship away over a girl that you weren’t serious about,” Mom said.
“He’s not going to look at it that way. Can we just keep it between us for now? I’m trying to get Stormie to agree to tell them. It’s just going to take time,” I said.
“Sure, but in the meantime, if you could keep your sex life out of my kitchen, that would be great,” Mom said.
“Don’t worry, Mom. It’s going to take me at least a week to even talk Stormie into coming here,” I said.
“I hope she doesn’t think I’m upset. I get it,” Mom said and shrugged. “I was young once too.”
“Ew,” I said and smiled.
She chuckled. “Your dad and I almost got caught–”
“Mom, for the love of God, I don’t want to hear that,” I pleaded.
“Well, I don’t want to walk in on my son having sex in my kitchen, either,” Mom said.
“Okay, I promise not in your kitchen,” I said. I made an invisible X over my heart. “Cross my heart.”
“Okay, good,” she said.
“I’ve got chores to do,” I said.
“Oh, wait,” Mom said. “There is something else I have been meaning to talk to you about.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Jay and I have been having problems,” Mom started.
“Oh, trust me, I’ve noticed,” I muttered.
Mom gave me a disapproving look.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Anyway,” Mom continued. “We decided it was best for both of us to get divorced. I’m sure you noticed he hasn’t been here.”
I pursed my lips and nodded. “I’m not going to argue with that decision.”
“There are some things that will need to be settled, though,” Mom said.
“Such as?” I asked.
“Who gets what,” Mom said.
“He can take what he brought,” I said coldly. “He isn’t getting any of our shit!”
“He’s going to fight me in court about it,” Mom said. “He wants the house.”
“What?!” I exploded. “Are you fucking kidding me? This was dad’s place, not his. He’s not getting shit. God, what the fuck, Mom? Why did you have to go and marry that piece of shit!”
“I’ll win, Avery. Even if he had the best lawyer, no judge would give him a house that he put no money or effort into,” Mom said calmly. “And when I win it, I’m moving out.”
My lips parted in shock. “W-what? How–” I shook my head, dumbfounded.
“Avery, the ranch thing was your dad, not me. I held onto it only for you. I knew you would be heartbroken if I sold it. You put so much time into this place after your dad died,” Mom said and sighed. “If you want it, you can have it.”
I was speechless. I couldn’t find my lungs.
“Avery, I can’t take care of all of this when you aren’t here. You have been taking care of it, not me. You’re going to college and won’t have much time either, and I understand that. I wanted to help you, baby, but I can’t. I can’t keep living in this house. It’s just a constant reminder...” Mom trailed off. “Austin and I won’t even need this much space.”
“Okay, it’s fine,” I murmured. “I’ll figure something out.”
Mom kissed my cheek and turned for the living room.
The stadium lights seemed brighter tonight than normal. After everything Mom had told me a few days earlier; my head was a mess. I had a headache all week I couldn’t get rid of. I barely spoke to Stormie or Mason, either.
The game wasn’t going well. I wanted to get up and walk out, but I would lose my scholarship over a bullshit stunt like that. The defense was playing like shit, and the receivers were letting the balls slip through their fingers. I wasn’t throwing the greatest either, and I didn’t give a shit.
On my way back to the field after half-time, Stormie caught me behind the bleachers.
“What?” I asked.
She stared into my eyes. “What the hell is with you? Are you okay?”
“The entire team is playing like shit. It isn’t just me,” I snapped.
She dropped her hand, and her eyes became vulnerable.
I sighed. “I’m sorry. I just have a lot of shit on my mind, right now, okay?”
“About us?” Stormie asked.
“No.” I shook my head.
“Then why haven’t you talked to me all week?” she asked.
“We’ll talk about it later. I got to go,” I told her. I leaned down and pressed my lips to hers. I didn’t bother to look if anyone was watching. I wanted people to know the truth because I was tired of hiding it.
Stormie looked around, worried someone saw. Her eyes flickered back to mine. “Good luck,” she said.
“Thanks,” I said and chuckled. “I’m going to fucking need it.”
She squeezed my arm gently as she walked past me.
I walked back to the sidelines and grabbed a water bottle out of the cooler. I drank half of it before I noticed Ryder on the bench staring at me. “What the fuck are you looking at?” I snapped. It was hell being around Ryder and not beating the hell out of him. My temper usually controlled me.
“What’s with you, man?” Ryder asked. “Stormie not giving it up, lately, or what? Don’t lose a game over a piece of ass, bro. She’s not worth it.”
“Oh, really?” I chuckled and threw down my water bottle. “She’s not worth it, yet you have been trying to get her to go out with you and dump me, right?”
Ryder’s eyes widened. “So you two have been fucking around,” he scoffed. “Mason’s going to be pissed off.”
“Who’s going to tell him?” I challenged.
“You’re not,” I paused. “You aren’t going to live long enough to tell him a damn thing.” I dove onto Ryder, tackling him to the ground. I spun him around and held the collar of his jersey. My fist balled up and collided with his nose.
Ryder’s head bounced off the ground, and he cupped his hands around his nose and groaned in pain.
My fist connected with Ryder’s jaw three times, his eye once, and his temple twice before someone grabbed me. My head snapped up in the direction of the person.
It was Mason. “Dude, what the fuck are you doing?” Mason asked.
I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I turned my gaze back to Ryder. Ryder’s face was mangled, courtesy of my fist. My chest rose and fell heavily. I looked back at Stormie, and she was staring back, horror-struck.