Chapter 23. The Honest Game
“How far are we?” Mason asked.
“Fox Lake is still seven more hours,” Claire said.
Claire and I were in the backseat. Mason and Avery were up front. Avery decided to take his Challenger to Minnesota. It was a long drive. You could cut the tension.
Avery’s mom drove her Blazer with Austin. My parents rode in my dad’s car. It was as if he was leading my mother on.
Avery pulled into a gas station. “We need gas,” he said. He turned the car off and climbed out. Avery hardly spoke the entire drive.
Mason turned back to Claire. “Do you want anything?” Mason didn’t spend a lot of time talking either, and if he did, it was directly to Claire.
“A Pepsi,” she said.
Mason sighed and got out of the car.
Claire turned to me. “What the hell is with them?” she whispered.
“Avery’s mom is seeing my dad. The boys saw them kissing out front of a restaurant,” I muttered. “They got in a big fight. Just leave it alone. Trust me.”
“Did they bring you into this?” she asked. Her forehead creased.
“It’s okay, Claire,” I whispered.
“Well, I’m not dealing with this shit. I’d rather ride with your parents,” she muttered. She climbed out of the car. She met Mason halfway and talked quietly to him.
I decided to climb out of the car and stretch my legs. I closed the door and leaned against it. The sky was dark, and there was some snow on the ground. A shiver rolled down my spine as the wind picked up. I shouldn’t have packed my jacket.
“You want anything?” Avery asked as he walked away from the pump.
My gaze flickered to his. “No,” I muttered.
“What’s your problem?” he asked.
“What the fuck do you think?” I snapped. My eyes narrowed at him. It had been the first time he had spoken to me the entire trip. I hadn’t seen or spoke to him in nearly three days.
He put his hands in the air as if in surrender and backed away. “Sorry,” he said. He popped the gum in his mouth and turned away from me to go into the station.
“Honey,” Mom called.
I looked over at her. “Yeah?” I asked.
“Tell Avery to follow us. We’re stopping for the night at a hotel,” Mom said.
“Sure,” I said.
Mason looked at me worriedly. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” I said simply.
“We’re going to ride to the hotel and probably the rest of the way with Mom and Dad,” he muttered. “Do you want to ride with us?”
“No, that would be too cramping,” I muttered. “I’m fine to ride with Avery.”
Mason nodded. He grabbed his phone from Avery’s car and walked over to Dad’s car.
Avery came out of the gas station last. I was already in the front seat. He slid in next to me and looked at me, confused. “What’s going on?”
“We’re stopping for the night. We’ll finish the drive tomorrow. You’re supposed to follow my parents,” I told him.
He nodded slowly. “And where is Mason and Claire?”
“They don’t want to ride with you anymore,” I said. “It’s just you and me the rest of the drive.”
“What the hell did I do? I didn’t even talk,” he said.
“Are you kidding? The tension is so thick in here you could cut it with a knife, Avery,” I muttered. “It’s obvious that you and Mason are still angry at each other.”
He sighed. “I’m not angry.”
“Even Claire knew you two were acting off,” I said.
“Did you tell her?” he asked. We pulled out of the gas station.
“Yes,” I admitted.
He nodded slowly.
“So if you aren’t mad what are you?” I asked.
“I’m...thinking,” he said.
“Right,” I scoffed. “About us?”
He ground his teeth together. “Yeah.”
“It’s over,” I murmured.
He shook his head. “No,” he disagreed.
“That’s what it seems like.”
He pulled into the lot as far as he could from Mom and Dad’s car. He turned the car off and turned to face me. It was too dark where we were for anyone to see. Not to mention his windows were tinted. He lowered his face to mine.
I put a finger on his lips. “Don’t you dare kiss me if it’s going to be the last time you do,” I said.
He moved my hand from his lips to his cheek. “Not even close,” he vowed. His lips collided with mine.
My hand slid from his cheek to around the back of his neck. The kiss didn’t feel like goodbye but I didn’t trust it. Our tongues danced together rhythmically.
Avery broke the kiss and rested his forehead against mine. “As long as I don’t lose you I don’t care what happens.”
“This trip is going to be a disaster,” I told him.
“You sound sure,” he said.
“You have no idea.”
“We need to tell them,” he said.
“I don’t think the trip is a good time to do it.”
“I disagree. The ones that need to know are here. It’s the best time to do it.”
“We need to wait,” I insisted.
“Let’s go,” he muttered.
We climbed out of the car and walked toward the door. My father was paying for the trip. The hotel was ridiculously expensive. Claire and I shared a room. Avery and Mason shared a separate room right across the hall.
“We’re switching,” Claire said.
“I figured,” I told her.
“You don’t mind?” she raised a brow.
“No,” I shrugged.
“Can I ask you something?” she asked.
“What’s going on with Avery and you?”
The pajamas I had been holding slipped through my fingers. I fixed my expression, instinctively. I cleared my throat. “Mm, what?”
“You heard me,” she insited. “There is something...different about the two of you. Mason knows it too. You won’t be able to hide it forever.”
I swallowed hard. “There isn’t anything.”
“I won’t tell him,” Claire said. “Besides, I think you two are cute together.” Claire shrugged a shoulder and sat down. “We’re friends. You can trust me.”
“I know,” I sighed. I sat across from her.
“What is it?”
“It’s just I don’t want to get you in the middle of anything.”
“You won’t,” she said.
“Okay,” I said.
“Oh my god,” she said too loudly. “It’s true.”
“Shh,” I lowered my hand down.
“Sorry,” she said and smiled. “I’m just happy for you both. How long?”
“Like six months on and off,” I admitted.
“Wow, that long?” she breathed.
“Yeah,” I looked away.
“So, who started it?” she asked.
“He did. We started hanging out and then one night we got into an argument and he kissed me. He admitted that he liked me but never acted on it because of Mason,” I said.
“Of course.” She rolled her eyes. “Look, the way I see it, Avery and you are old enough to make that choice on your own. Mason has no reason to be angry about it.”
“He will be.”
“Probably, but he’ll get over it. I can help with that if you want,” she promised.
“We’re not ready to tell him,” I said.
“Are you two serious?”
“Then you need to tell your parents and your brother,” she said.
There was a knock on the door.
Claire stood up and opened it. “Already?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Avery said.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” he said.
She patted his arm as she walked past him, out the door. “See you tomorrow.”
“See you,” we both said.
Avery closed the door behind him. He sat across from me, where Claire had been. “Everything okay?”
“She knows,” I said.
“What?” Avery raised his eyebrows questioningly. “Like, with us?”
“Is she going to tell?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “She thinks we should tell him though. Apparently, he is suspicious that there is something going on between us.”
“He’s going to freak,” Avery said. He rubbed his face with his hands fiercely.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“What’s with you?” he asked. “You will barely look at me. Are you trying to end it? Is that why you don’t want to tell?”
“Do you think I would let you kiss me if I wanted to end it?” I snapped. I took a deep breath to calm myself. “Rather than talking about it lets go do something,” I suggested.
A smile spread across my face. “I have an idea.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Oh boy.”
“We can’t,” Avery laughed.
“Scared?” I challenged.
“It’s a public pool,” he whispered. “It’s closed right now.”
“Exactly and we managed to sneak past the night shift person. It’s late, people are sleeping,” I insisted.
“You’re crazy,” he said and chuckled.
“It was your idea,” I reminded him. “Besides, a bet is a bet and it’s about time I keep up on my end of the deal.” We walked down in nothing but towels. I slipped out of mine. and walked forward. I stopped at the water’s edge.
Avery’s eyes were mapping out every section of my body while licking his lips. His eyes caught mine. “I’m going to hades,” he said.
“You do have a pair of balls, don’t you?” I teased.
He smirked. He dropped his towel and walked forward.
I turned and jumped into the pool. The water wasn’t too cold but cool enough that it sent my body into shock for a moment.
He dove in after me.
We came up at the same time. Avery wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me against his chest. “Apparently, my balls aren’t nearly as big as yours,” he teased. “When I made that bet with you, I figured a creek by our house. This is way more interesting.”
I laughed and wrapped my arms around his neck. “I love you,” I murmured.
His green eyes pierced mine. “I love you.” He lowered his lips to mine.
My tongue traced his bottom lip before biting down on it and a moan built in the back of my throat.
Avery broke the kiss. “Are we really going to do this right here?”
“Definitely,” I said and smashed my lips back to his. He tightened his hold around my waist and lifted me. My legs wrapped around his waist, and he carried us deeper into the water.
We were all gathered around the table as Mom and Rachel brought the food in. Avery was on my left and Austin was on my right.
“So, boys,” Dad started.
Avery and Mason both lifted their heads to look at my dad.
“How is football going?”
“Good,” Avery said simply.
“I have a better question,” Mason said.
“Mom, can you pass me the potatoes?” I asked.
My mom handed the bowl to Avery and Avery handed it to me.
“What’s that?” Dad asked Mason.
“Thanks,” I said to mom. I kept my head down on my plate.
“Why are you sleeping with Rachel?” Mason blurted out.
I knew it was coming. I knew this trip would be a disaster and I knew that Mason wouldn’t keep his mouth shut. I glared at my brother.
Avery stiffened beside me.
The air escaped my mother’s lungs.
Rachel dropped her fork.
Dad choked on his food and reached for a glass of water.
“Excuse me?” Dad raised a brow.
“You fucking heard me. You know what is bullshit? Mom and you always preached to Stormie and I about how important honesty was and you can’t even be honest,” Mason said.
“I’m not–” Dad paused. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“How about we play the honest game? I’ll even go first. I smoke weed,” Mason said. “Your turn.” Mason looked pointedly at Rachel who was beside him.
The table was silent for a long moment.
“I deal and smoke weed,” Avery said.
“I’m pregnant,” I said.
All eyes turned on me.