Chapter 6. You
“For real, move your feet. They stink,” I muttered. I pushed Avery’s feet off the arm of the couch, which was too close to my face.
Avery sat on one of the chairs beside the couch. Mason was sitting on the chair that was at the other end of the sofa.
“My feet don’t stink, smell,” he said and lifted his foot a few inches from my face.
“Ew!” I laughed. “Knock it off, Avery!”
Avery chuckled and put his feet on the floor. We watched the movie until it was over.
“Next one,” Mason said.
“Wait, I want popcorn. Do you guys want any?” I asked.
“Nope,” Avery said, popping the P.
“I do,” Mason said. “Grab me a Pepsi!”
I heard a knock on the door as I was popping the last bag of popcorn. I sighed and started for the door.
“I got it!” Avery called.
I turned back to the microwave.
“It’s for you,” Avery said. His expression blank.
Before I could ask, Avery disappeared, and Chris appeared.
“Hey,” Chris said.
“Hey, it’s kind of late. What are you doing here?”
Chris snorted. “So, what? Avery can be here this late, but I can’t?”
“That’s not what I meant,” I said and rolled my eyes.
“Seems like it,” he said. “I was wondering if you wanted to go with me to my grandparents’ anniversary party tomorrow. I know it’s last minute. I was on my way home, and my mom called me.”
Chris and I had plans to go to dinner and a movie tomorrow. “That’s fine, I can go,” I said and shrugged.
“Okay, cool. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye.” I took Mason’s popcorn to him and sat back down on the couch with mine.
“What did he want?” Mason asked.
“He asked me to go to an anniversary party tomorrow. So, don’t stay up,” I warned.
Avery chuckled and gave me a knowing look.
I gave him a wink.
Chris seemed a bit irritated, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know why. By the time we got to the edge of town, the curiosity was seeping out of me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said.
“You’re never this quiet Chris, did I do something?” I asked.
He looked over at me. The hostility in his eyes wasn’t something I was used to. Chris was usually a calm person.
“He gave you a car,” Chris said. “You don’t think that is a little strange?”
“He didn’t give it to me,” I said and shook my head.
“It’s a 1969 Plymouth. That car would probably sell for a lot of money,” he said. “There is a reason he drives that truck instead.”
“Are you really going to fight with me over a car?” I asked. “You’re right. The car means a lot to him, but he knows I’ll be careful with it.”
“I think you should give him the car back and stay away from him,” Chris snapped. “I saw you hugging him at the DMV when I was on my way home. I have seen you talk to him in school. You never used to be like that with him. You used to hate him. Something changed between you two, and I don’t even think I want to know the reason. What did you have to do to get that car?”
“Stop the car, Chris,” I said.
He rolled his eyes but didn’t stop.
“I said, stop the fucking car!” I shrieked.
He swerved off to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes so hard that I nearly hit my head on the dash.
I threw the seatbelt off and jumped out of his car. I started walking back the way we came. The wind blew around me, making me shiver.
“Get back in the car, Stormie,” Chris called after me.
Thunder rolled through the sky, and lightning flashed in the distance. I knew it would storm, but it didn’t mean I was getting back in that car. His last question kept ringing in my ears, only pushing me to walk faster away from him. What did you have to do to get that car?
“I’m not going to chase after you or come back,” Chris warned.
I threw my arm in the air and flipped him off without turning back to him. The sound of an engine revved and disappeared. I looked up at the sky. Thunder erupted, and lightning flashed. I pulled my phone out.
I stared at Mason’s name for a long moment. He’ll kill Chris. Peyton and Jade have no license yet. Mom’s off somewhere with Richard. I scrolled up to the contact that read ‘Jerk,’ which was Avery. Maybe, I should just walk. What if he tells Mason? Then again, he hasn’t told Mason about the stuff I told him at the end of the summer.
Thunder shook the small town, and lightning lit up the dark street, pulling me from my debate. I lifted the phone to my ear and knawed my lip as the phone rang.
“Hello?” Avery’s voice was full of confusion.
“Hi,” I murmured.
"Everything okay?” he asked slowly.
“Um, not really. Can you come to pick me up? And if you’re with Mason, lie to him.”
“Okay, I’ll be there soon, bye,” Avery hung up the phone.
My lips pursed. I’m going to guess you are with my brother. The phone rang a couple of moments later.
An engine roared to life in the background. “Where the hell are you?” Avery asked. The sound of the engine grew louder.
“On the main street near the high school,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll be there in a couple of minutes,” he said.
“Did you tell Mason?” I asked. I had to make sure.
He sighed. “No, I told him that my mom needed me to watch Austin.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“Yeah,” he murmured and hung the phone up.
I wrapped my arms around myself and shivered. I decided to keep walking because it would help me stay a little warmer. Thunder and lightning continued to crash, getting closer.
After a moment, it started to drizzle, but the drizzle picked up heavier in a matter of seconds. Headlights danced in the distance, and the sound of an engine echoed. I was sure that it was Avery’s truck. Nobody else had a truck as tall or as loud as his. The truck reached me in seconds, but it was too late. I was soaked.
My gaze locked with Avery’s. “Thanks,” I said and shivered.
He stared at me, and I could see the anger building up in his eyes. “Did he seriously leave you stranded in a storm wearing only a dress? Did you want me to beat his ass now or later? You couldn’t have thought that telling me was going to be much better than telling Mason,” Avery snapped.
“He didn’t,” I started. “We got in a fight, and I jumped out of the car. He told me to get back in.”
“And why didn’t you? You should have just told him to bring you back home. Have you ever heard of hypothermia?” he asked as he turned the heater on. He reached over his shoulder, pulling his sweater over his head. Both of his shirts rode up, revealing his abs and some of his chest. He threw the sweater at me. “Put that on.”
“I don’t–” I started.
“Don’t argue with me,” he said sternly. He put the truck in drive and peeled away from the curb, sending me back against the seat.
As I was putting the sweater on, I couldn’t help but notice how amazing it smelt. The smell made my stomach twist in a strange way. I inhaled deeply.
“I can’t go home,” I said. “I don’t want Mason to know about this. Can I hang out at your house for like a couple of hours? I told Mason not to wait up, and if he sees me home this soon...” I trailed off.
“He’ll know something is up,” Avery finished my sentence. “Sure. This one time, Stormie. I refuse to cover for your boyfriend. I’d like to beat his ass, myself,” he warned.
“Thanks,” I said and smiled widely then shivered.
“Don’t smile at me like that,” he said and rolled his eyes. He bit down on his lip to stop the smile from forming.
We pulled up to his house. The only light on was the living room.
“Mom is still up, so be quiet. I’m not really sure how I would explain your presence,” he said. “Get out on my side.”
I flipped the council up and scooted over beside him as he told me to. “Is Jay here?” I asked. I didn’t care too much for Avery’s stepdad.
“No,” he said. “He’s working late. Ready?”
“Yeah,” I said.
We both jumped out of the truck into the rain. The wind blew so hard it felt like it was going to knock me off my feet, but Avery grabbed my arm. He pulled me up to the back door. The back porch was the mudroom and had a set of stairs.
Avery grabbed my hand and pulled me up the stairs. These stairs came out closest to his bedroom door. The other set of stairs went down into the living room where his mother likely was.
He pulled me into the bedroom and closed the door quietly. He locked the door and turned to face me. He tilted his head, and his eyes swept over me.
“What?” I asked.
“I’ll be right back,” he said.
Instead of standing around, I started to walk around. Avery had a huge collection of movies and music. I decided to read the titles of them to keep me preoccupied.
Avery came back into the bedroom by the time I was halfway through his CDs. “Here, go put this on.”
I twirled around. “Where did you get that?” I asked, confused.
It was a pair of pajama pants and a matching tank top. It was clearly for a teenage girl so it couldn’t be his mother’s clothes.
“They were Ava’s. You can have them,” he said.
“Oh,” I murmured. “You guys still have her things?”
“Jay has been trying to get Mom to get rid of Ava and Dad’s things since they got married last year, but Mom refused,” Avery said and shrugged. “I packed it away and put all of it in a spare room. Jay hasn’t said much about it since then.”
“Why didn’t your mom do it?” I asked.
“It’s still pretty hard for her,” he said.
“It can’t be easy for you,” I said.
“Don’t worry about it. Just go change your clothes,” he said. He walked past me to the stairs and disappeared into his loft.
I sighed and grabbed the pajamas off the bed. I went into his bathroom and changed out of the clothes. The tank top was a dark pink. The pants were black with a pink waistband, black strings, and across the butt in pink letters was the word cheer.
Ava was sixteen when she died. Her clothes fit me perfectly, which made me feel strange. Ava was Avery’s older sister. Ava was beautiful and kind. She was a cheerleader. I remembered wishing I was half as pretty as she was. Mason used to drool over Ava, which Avery hated.
Avery was sitting on the couch smoking a blunt. There was music playing through one of his soundbars, and the TV was off. His gaze flickered to mine, and his eyes were sad. His eyes traveled me head to toe and back up again.
“Do they fit?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks,” I said.
“Want some?” Avery held the blunt up.
I walked over and sat down beside him. I sat sideways so I could see him. I took the blunt and hit it. “I’m sorry if I upset you,” I murmured.
“You didn’t. It’s okay. It’s just still difficult to talk about. I don’t talk about her too much,” he said. “Mom still cries any time that someone brings up Ava or Dad.”
“Why do you think she married Jay if she isn’t ready to move on?” I asked.
“I think she was lonely and needed someone to distract her. She couldn’t have picked a bigger asshole, of course,” he muttered.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“I think the hardest part about it is that Ava and I were fighting. I never even got the chance to say sorry or goodbye,” he said.
Avery was a tough guy and not the type to show much emotion over things. The tears that built up in his eyes caught me off guard. I leaned over and hugged him tightly.
Avery buried his head in the crook of my neck and wrapped an arm around my waist, embracing me. We stayed like that for a long moment. We pulled away and stared at each other for a moment.
“Can I ask you something?” Avery asked. The tears that were in his eyes were gone, and he looked like he felt a little better.
“Sure,” I said.
“Why were you and Chris fighting?” he asked.
My lips parted. Oh, god, I can’t tell him that! I tried to come up with a lie, but I came up blank. “N-nothing, it was stupid,” I said.
“Really? You’re going to lie to me?” Avery arched a brow. “That means it’s pretty bad.”
“It’s honestly stupid. It was ridiculous...” I trailed off and shook my head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“I could just beat it out of him,” he said. “I will find out.”
I gritted my teeth. “I accused him of cheating,” I muttered and wrinkled my nose.
“You’re lying,” he said.
“How do you know that?” I challenged.
“You wrinkle your nose when you lie,” he said.
“I do not,” I said.
“Really? You just did it again,” he said and chuckled.
I sighed. “Promise me that you won’t get mad, and I’ll tell you.”
He snorted. “I can’t promise that.”
“At least promise to leave him and the entire situation alone,” I compromised.
“I definitely can’t promise that either,” he said.
“Avery,” I groaned.
“Stormie,” he mocked. “How about you tell me, and I’ll decide if it is worth beating his ass over.”
“You would go to jail. You know his dad is a cop, and you aren’t a minor anymore,” I said.
“That’s why I said that I would decide if it was worth it or not,” he said and chuckled.
“No,” I said and shook my head.
“Don’t be so damn stubborn,” he said.
“Me? Listen to you!” I smacked his arm.
He threw his head back and laughed. I couldn’t help but laugh with him. After the laughter faded down, he looked up at me from under his eyelashes.
“Tell me,” he murmured.
“You. The fight was over you,” I said.
His chin lifted a fraction, and his nostrils flared. He gave me one slow nod and looked away.