Chapter 25. Vengeful
“You better sit down,” I murmured.
She sighed and sat down beside me.
I rose to my feet and walked over to the dresser. My fingers trailed the crevices of the old oak. My hands shook slightly. I had a feeling that Stormie would take things the wrong way, mostly because Stormie tended to take things the wrong way.
“It was a few years ago, right before Ava died. Actually, it was the reason that Ava and I were fighting when she died. I think it was maybe five days before the accident,” I explained. “I came home from football tryouts. I ran upstairs to tell Ava that I made the team. I was a second-string quarterback by eighth grade. I didn’t knock as I usually didn’t,” I said. It was hard to talk about Ava, and I hated remembering her this way now. I wasn’t angry about it, but it wasn’t how you would want to remember your sister.
“What?” Stormie asked.
I bit down hard on my lip and gripped the edge of the dresser. I pushed the images out of my head.
“Tell me, Avery,” Stormie snapped.
“Ava and Mason were having sex,” I said through my teeth.
Stormie gasped. “What?!”
The tendons in my neck and forehead stuck out. I rubbed my forehead to push away the thoughts. I waited for Stormie to wrap her head around what I said.
“So...” Stormie trailed off and swallowed hard. “Oh my god, wait,” she stopped. Her blue eyes pierced mine. “Oh my god,” she repeated. “No.”
“Stormie, it’s not like that. I swear,” I said.
“It’s not?” Stormie scoffed. She stood to her feet. “Wow, well, I can see why Mason was so pissed off.” She turned and headed for the door.
“You can’t seriously fucking believe that I would do that, Storm,” I growled. My hand wrapped around her arm.
“You would do that!” Stormie shouted. Tears fell from her eyes. “You’re exactly the type, Avery. You can’t stand the idea of someone getting the best of you. What they did hurt you like hell. You were angry at Mason too. You didn’t talk to him for months after she died. You’re the vengeful type, and you don’t know how to lose a fight!”
“Yeah, fine! It did hurt!” I boomed. “It hurt like a mother fucker, and yeah, there were times I wanted to get even with Mason, but hurting you never crossed my mind. It took me a while to get over it. I’m not even sure when I got over it, but I did.”
“After you slept with me?” she challenged. She turned and walked out the door. The door slammed close behind her.
My head bowed in defeat. I walked over to the bed and belly-flopped onto it. I screamed into the pillow in frustration.
In the days that followed, I did everything I could think of to get Stormie to talk to me, but she wouldn’t. She slept in the bedroom, and I slept out on the couch. Her parents wanted to know what was going on between us, but neither of us would say.
There was one thing that Stormie and I had in common, if nothing else, we didn’t like people knowing our business. We liked our privacy and wanted to deal with our problems on our own terms.
“Won’t you tell me?” Mom asked worriedly for the tenth time.
We walked along the bank of the lake through the snow. It was our last day at the cabin, so she and I decided to come to the lake. This lake held so many memories for both of us. I don’t think it was easy for either of us.
“Mom,” I said. My eyebrows raised.
“Sorry, I know, you don’t want people knowing your business,” she said and rolled her eyes. “You’re just like him. You know that?”
“Like who?” I stopped, confused.
We both kept our hands in the pockets of our coats.
She smiled and bumped her elbow against mine. “Your father, silly.”
“Oh,” I said. “Is that supposed to be a good thing?” I asked. “The way things are going for me, I’m going to assume that Dad was a bit of an ass.”
She threw her head back and laughed. “Okay, fair enough.”
I smirked at her.
“He was sometimes hard to handle,” she admitted.
“Took a special kind of woman, huh?” I teased.
She wrapped an arm around mine and smiled at me. “It definitely did. I’m assuming she is upset with you, but she will get past whatever it is.”
“What makes you so sure?” I asked as I stared down at my feet. When she didn’t answer, I looked up.
Her expression was thoughtful. “Well, she’s stubborn, but the way she looks at you can’t be mistaken.”
“The same look I had for your dad,” she answered. There was no trace of humor in her eyes. “I think it would hurt her really bad if you two went separate ways.”
“Her or me?” I asked and swallowed hard.
“Both,” she said. “They say you can fall in love again, but I’m still not so sure that’s true. I can’t find anything after your dad. Infatuation, perhaps, but not love. Love is deeper than infatuation and can easily be mistaken.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I’m not mistaking,” I said.
“If it’s meant to be, it will be,” Mom said.
“If that’s true, why didn’t things go right for Dad and you?” I challenged. “I don’t believe in that crap, Mom.”
“Then believe this,” Mom said. “If you two truly love each other, you will make it past any obstacle, and so far, that seems to be true for you two.”
“Do you think we’re crazy for wanting to keep the baby?” I asked her.
She sighed. “I’m not thrilled about that,” she said. “But I could get used to the idea of being a grandma, I suppose.”
I chuckled. “We can teach the kid a cool word like nana or something,” I teased.
“Oh, yes, I like that better,” she agreed. “I just don’t want you to give up your dreams like your father did. Your dad had a free ride to college, too, and he gave it up.”
“What?” I asked in shock. “Dad played football?”
“Yeah, he didn’t want you kids to know,” she said. “He was the quarterback of the football team. What he gave up wasn’t easy for him, but he insisted he made the right choice. I don’t want you to think that it is what you should do, though, Avery,” Mom insisted. “I saw how it haunted him even if he hid it.”
“Why did he give it up?” My throat went dry.
“I got pregnant with Ava our senior year,” she murmured.
“Holy–” I stopped. “How did I not know about this? How did you even hide that? You said you got pregnant with Ava shortly after graduation.”
“I found out before the end of the school year,” she said. “I begged your dad to go to school. I wanted to go to school too, but I knew I couldn’t give her up.”
“And he wouldn’t go,” I said.
“He wanted to be with his baby,” Mom murmured. She looked up at me and smiled weakly.
“Jesus,” I breathed. I rubbed my lips with my hand. “That’s why you freaked out?”
“Well, history does have a way of repeating itself,” she said and shrugged.
I nodded in understanding. “I’m not him. I’ll go, I promise.”
“It’s going to hurt,” she warned.
“Like hell,” I agreed. “But I could make a lot of money if I get drafted and give the baby a better life than I had.”
“That’s a damn good way to think about it,” Mom said.
“Weed helps me with good ideas,” I said and smirked.
She rolled her eyes. “Your dad and I used to smoke it too.”
“What?” I guffawed.
She shrugged. “We were young once too, you know,” she said.
“Alright, we got to get out of here before I lose my balls. They’re freezing,” I said.
She smacked my arm.
I threw my head back and laughed. “I’m serious,” I insisted. “I need them to make more babies.”
“You best keep those babies where they are at until you finish college,” Mom warned. She jabbed a finger in my direction.
I chuckled. “Yes, ma’am.”
I turned to see who had come outside. It was late and dark. We were supposed to be awake in a few hours to start heading back home. It was Mason.
“Yeah?” I asked. I hit my blunt.
“Can we talk?” Mason asked.
“Sure,” I said and coughed. I offered him the blunt.
“Thanks,” he said and took a hit off it.
I arched my head back and let the smoke rise through the night sky. “No problem. So, what’s up?”
Mason hit it a few times and handed it back to me. “I believe what you said, and I’m sorry for freaking out. Stormie is old enough to choose who she wants. I just don’t want to see her get hurt.”
A chuckle escaped me. “I don’t even know what the hell is going on with me and her right now.”
“Well, you have a long ride home to figure it out,” he said. “Did you tell her?”
“Yeah, I did. That’s why she won’t talk to me. She thinks that I pursued her to get even with you,” I said.
“But you didn’t, right?” he asked.
“No,” I shook my head. “I was over that situation long before Storm, and I were even a thing.”
“Tell her that,” Mason said.
“I tried,” I muttered. “She won’t listen.”
“She’s stubborn,” he said and shrugged.
“Yeah,” I laughed. “You have no idea, man. I think I know that better than anyone.”
“You should,” A high voice interrupted us.
We both spun around to see who had interrupted us. It was Stormie. She held a thick sweater around her and shivered.
“I’m going to leave you two,” Mason said softly. He squeezed Stormie’s shoulder as he walked past her.
“Hi,” I murmured.
“Hi,” she said. She bit her lip.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“Everything is wrong,” she said and shook her head. She closed the distance between us and looked up into my eyes. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to fight.”
“We weren’t fighting. You ignored me,” I corrected.
“Well, I don’t want to do that anymore, either,” she said.
“Until I piss you off again, right?” I arched a brow. I didn’t want to snap at her, but I was irritated by the silent treatment.
She sighed and shook her head. “I said I was sorry. God, can you blame me? I mean, I find out that my brother slept with your sister. Not to mention that was why you were fighting when she died. I just–”
I could have let her prattle on, but her lips looked cold, and I felt the need to warm them with mine. I wrapped a hand around the back of her neck and pulled her closer. My lips met hers with such desperation that it felt like I might drop to my knees. That was what she did to me. She had me on my knees all the damn time. There was no falling for someone else because I couldn’t get up from falling for her. It was like being paralyzed. I belonged to her.
She shivered and curled herself into me.
I broke the kiss. “Shut up, Shortie,” I teased.
She laughed breathlessly, and her teeth chattered.
“Let’s go inside,” I murmured.
“I-I-I’m fine,” she tried.
“Oh, good. Let’s stay out here for another hour then,” I insisted.
“N-n-no,” she shook her head.
“That’s what I thought,” I chuckled. I pushed her back toward the door.
“Are you coming to bed with me?” she asked.
“I’m definitely...coming,” I murmured.
She laughed at the double meaning in my words. She spun around and opened the front door.
I followed her in and pinched her ass.
“Ow!” She smacked my chest.
“Woo, baby! I like it rough,” I growled playfully.
“Oh my god! Shut up, Avery. You’re going to wake the house,” she whisper-shouted.
“And you’re about to wake up, Minnesota,” I whispered. “I’ll give you a headstart, baby.”
Her eyes widened, and she turned on her heal. She sprinted across the living room and down the hall, giggling.
I chased after her and closed the door behind us.