Chapter 7. Disappointed
“What could I possibly have to do with it?” he asked. He clenched his jaw.
“He was wondering why I talked to you more than I used to,” I started. I was going to continue, but Avery was so hot-headed that he wouldn’t let me finish.
“We have always talked almost every fucking day,” he snapped. “We’re no different.”
One of my eyebrows raised in disbelief.
“What? You agree with him?” Avery challenged.
“I mean, a little,” I admitted. “Avery, think about it. All we ever used to do was argue. Look at us now,” I said and gestured between us. “I’m sitting in your bedroom telling you about my boyfriend troubles?”
“I’ve always been there for you, Stormie. Maybe, you just didn’t notice,” he said defensively.
“Like when?” I asked.
“Remember that time that you fell out of the tree and broke your leg?” he asked.
“What?” I raised both eyebrows.
“Yeah, you were like ten,” he said. “It was Mason’s twelfth birthday.”
I thought hard about it and started to nod. “Howie pushed me out of the tree. Howie and Alex were laughing at me, but they didn’t know that I was really hurt. You picked me up and carried me back to the house. You came over and checked on me every day,” I said.
“Right, or how about that time last school year?”
My lips turned up into a ridiculous grin. “When I got my period during school,” I said and laughed. “You noticed it before anyone and covered me with your sweater. You took me home so I could change.”
“The time you didn’t want to go on that field trip in sixth grade,” he said.
“You forged my dad’s signature!” I bursted into hysterics and fell back onto the couch.
“Exactly,” he said. “You come to me every time, Stormie, not Mason, your dad, your mom, or your friends. It’s always been me.”
“Okay, fine. You’re right. I guess it just seems like we fight so much it’s easy to forget that stuff,” I said. I sat back up. “Chris said a certain thing that made me get out of the car...” I trailed off and glanced up at him.
“What?” he asked.
“He asked what I did to get you to lend me the car,” I murmured. “The way he said it was like he was implying...” I trailed off and swallowed hard. I was afraid to look back at Avery.
“Implying what?” Avery murmured.
My gaze flickered to his.
Avery’s eyes seemed darker than normal. He ran a hand through his light brown hair and jumped to his feet. He turned to face me. “Are you fucking kidding me?!” Avery’s face and neck started to turn red from anger.
“Calm down,” I murmured.
“Calm down,” he scoffed. “That little asshole practically called you a whore, and you’re asking me to calm down? I’m going to go rip him to fucking pieces!”
“He didn’t call me a whore,” I argued.
“He implied that you were screwing me for the car!” Avery roared. He slipped his DC shoes on and started down the stairs.
Damn, me and my big fat mouth! “Avery, wait!” I called after him as I raced down the stairs.
He grabbed a hoodie from his closet and pulled it over his head.
I grabbed onto one of his hands with two of mine, but that did no good. He drug me along with him toward the door.
“Avery, please!” I begged. I ran past him and threw myself in front of the door.
He raised both eyebrows. “Really? That’s going to stop me for all of two seconds, Shortie,” he said. “Why don’t you go home? It’s been at least an hour.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” I snapped.
“Why are you trying to protect that piece of shit?” he sneered.
“I’m not,” I fired back. “I’m protecting you! You have a full ride to college, Avery! You can’t fuck something like that up over this!”
Avery took a deep breath and looked away.
“Tell me you don’t care about that scholarship, and I’ll let you go,” I lied.
“No, you wouldn’t,” he muttered. He turned and threw his keys and phone onto the bed. He sat down on the bed. He rested his feet on the edge of the frame and rested his elbows on his legs. He buried his face in his hands and took several deep breaths.
“Thank you,” I said and stood over him.
He sighed and ran his hands through his hair over and over again. “For what?” he asked.
“For listening to me,” I said and chuckled.
“Don’t get used to it,” he teased.
“I don’t know, I kind of like it. It’s almost like having a dog. What kind of tricks could I teach you...” I trailed off. I tapped my chin with my pointer finger.
Avery’s eyes flickered up to mine. His face was filled with disbelief. His eyes danced with amusement. “I know all kinds of tricks,” he growled. Avery’s hands shot out and gripped my waist. He threw me down onto the bed and straddled me.
My eyes widened with horror. “Wait!”
He locked my wrists together in one of his hands and put them above my head. His other hand started moving around my hips, tickling me.
“Oh my god!” I squealed and writhed beneath him. “Avery, please!”
His hand moved down to my thigh and tickled the inside of my thigh. “Damn, you’re loud,” he said and chuckled. “Be quiet. You’re going to wake up, Texas.”
“What?!” I giggled so hard I snorted.
Avery’s hand went down to my knee and squeezed it in just the right spot making my body jump. Avery knew every ticklish spot that I had, and I had several.
“Avery, please!” I begged. “I was only kidding.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll stop. Only because I’m worried you’ll wake Austin and make my mom think I brought a girl home or something,” he said.
I snorted. “Uh, you kind of did,” I said.
“I meant in the fun way,” he said and chuckled. “Not that tickling you isn’t fun.”
“Get off me, Jerk,” I said.
He chuckled and jumped off of me. “Come on, let’s go watch a movie,” he said.
“Do I get to pick?” I asked.
“No,” he said and shook his head.
“Why not?” I asked irritatedly.
“Everything you pick sucks. Take your relationships, for example,” he teased.
“Oh, go to hell,” I muttered.
Avery threw his head back and laughed as I stomped up the stairs to the loft.
My eyes fluttered open and widened in shock when I took in my surroundings. Am I still in Avery’s loft? What the hell am I still doing here? Light poured through the windows. I realized there was something heavy on my hip. I looked down and didn’t see anything. I lifted the blanket.
Avery’s arm was draped over my hip, and his palm was under my shirt against my bare stomach.
“Avery!” I gasped and tried to sit up.
“What?” he groaned.
“Why didn’t you wake me up last night?”
“Mm, you were sleeping so peacefully. I didn’t want to bother you,” he murmured. The words were just barely coherent enough to understand.
“Avery, that isn’t funny! I have to go now! Mason is going to wonder where I am,” I said.
“I already talked to him. Now shut up and go back to sleep,” he said and yawned.
I turned onto my side, so I was face to face with Avery. “What do you mean?”
“He thinks you’re at Peyton’s house. I told him you called me last night because he didn’t answer and told me that the anniversary party was boring, so you asked Chris to drop you off at Peyton’s,” he said.
“I’m rather impressed that you even remembered one of my friends’ names,” I said.
He opened his eyes and stared into mine before rolling them and shutting them again. “Why?” he asked.
“You always call them weird names like that one girl, the redhead, or that tall one,” I listed off.
He shrugged. “Anyway, he agreed to go with Claire to this fundraiser shit in town. He is leaving in a couple of hours, I think. You can make your escape around eleven,” he explained.
“Avery,” I murmured.
His eyes opened unwillingly.
“Thanks for lying for me,” I murmured and bit down on my lip.
His gaze flickered to my lips for a brief second, then closed his eyes. “Mhm,” he hummed. “Now, can we go back to sleep?”
“I’m awake,” I said and chuckled.
“Great,” he muttered. “Then, watch the movie you didn’t finish while I sleep.”
“Fair enough,” I said. I turned over, grabbed the remote off the coffee table, and turned the TV on. I turned the volume down so it wouldn’t bother Avery. I stayed on the couch with him, and his arm never left my waist. I never slept next to a boy all night and wasn’t sure what I should do.
Is it wrong that I slept next to Avery? We’re just friends. Friends can do that, right? I thought about what Chris would say or do if he knew that I spent the night on a couch with Avery.
“How did tryouts go?” Avery asked.
“Okay, I think,” I said. “I don’t think I’ll get in, though. At least, I didn’t get hurt this time.”
“Chris hasn’t been at school,” Avery said.
“Yeah, I heard some rumors that he’s too scared to come to school,” I said and turned to eye Avery.
Avery gave me an innocent expression, which was totally fake. “Gee, I wonder why,” he said with a smirk.
“What did you do?” I asked suspiciously and narrowed my eyes.
“Nothing,” he said and chuckled. “I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t do anything, and I haven’t. He probably just assumed you told Mason and me.”
“Maybe, I should call him,” I said.
“Maybe, I should,” he suggested with a smile.
“No,” I said. I turned around and headed upstairs. When I got into my bedroom, I sat on the edge of the bed and debated calling Chris. I didn’t want him to think that he had to be scared to come to school.
His phone started to ring. After a few rings, he answered. “Um, hello?”
“Hey, Chris,” I said. I heard when he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hey,” he said. “What’s up?”
“You tell me. You haven’t been in school for a few days, and everyone is wondering why,” I said. I fidgeted with my hair slightly.
“Are you kidding? Have you met your brother?” he asked. “I mean, you must have told him what I said. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just got jealous,” he muttered the last part.
“You think that Mason would be mad at you for what you said? Can you imagine how pissed off he would be if I was seeing his best friend behind his back?”
“Well, when you put it like that...” he trailed off.
“Not only that, but that is ridiculous,” I told him. “Avery and I, we’re friends. We have always been friends, and I’m sorry if you were under the impression that we weren’t. Avery has always been there for me. A lot of times, we fight, but so do Mason and me, and I still love Mason,” I explained. “I didn’t tell Mason anything, by the way. You were scared over nothing.”
“Doesn’t he wonder why you came home so early?” Chris asked, confused.
“I didn’t go home,” I admitted.
“Where did you go?” he asked.
“Peyton’s,” I lied. Why am I lying?
“Oh,” he murmured. “So, is it too late to apologize for being a jerk?”
“I’m going to take a rain check on that question. I only called to let you know that you were safe to come to school. I’m not sure where we sit, yet,” I said. “I don’t like the way you treated me. I think I deserve better than that.”
“God damn fucking right, you do.” The voice didn’t come from the phone.
I gasped and turned to see Avery standing in my doorway.
“Is that Avery?” Chris asked. “Did you tell him?”
“I have to go,” I said quickly. I hung the phone up and threw it down on my bed. I stood and twirled around to face Avery. My hands were placed on my hips. “What the hell? Ever hear of privacy?”
“You’re sixteen. You don’t get privacy at that age,” he said and chuckled. “What did lover boy say?” he asked. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the frame of my door.
“God, why does it matter?”
“I was just curious,” he said innocently. “Did you tell him it took everything you had to stop me from killing his ass?”
“No, he thinks I stayed with Peyton, like Mason,” I said.
“Why lie to him? You should have told him you crashed on my couch,” he said and smirked.
“Why lie to Mason then? Should we go tell him?” I raised an eyebrow.
Avery rolled his eyes. “It’s not like it matters. We didn’t do anything,” he said and shrugged.
“Great, let’s go talk to him,” I said. I started to walk past Avery.
Avery wrapped an arm around my waist to catch me before I could get out the door. He pushed me up against the door, trapping me between his body and the door.
“What’s wrong?” I asked innocently.
His face hovered over mine, much closer than I was used to. His gaze didn’t leave mine as he spoke. “It would have been different if I had told him from the start. You wanted me to lie for you. You started this. If we tell him what really happened, he would be pissed at me for lying to him.”
“Stormie, you got a phone call!” Mason yelled up the stairs.
The closeness between Avery and me started to make my legs feel like Jell-O, and I couldn’t make sense of it. Our breathing both started coming out heavier. His eyes trapped mine, and I couldn’t look away from him.
“Answer him,” Avery murmured.
“Uh,” I stammered. I cleared my throat. “Be down in a minute!” My voice came out higher than usual. My gaze still couldn’t escape Avery’s. My heart raced wildly as his chest rose and fell against mine.
Avery’s gaze flickered to my lips.
What’s happening? My gaze fell to his mouth, which was moving closer to mine.
“Stormie! I’m pretty sure it is the manager of Joe’s Pasta and Pizza!” Mason shouted.
Avery backed up instantly. He turned and walked out of the bedroom within the same heartbeat as he had almost kissed me.
My head spun as adrenaline raced through my veins. It was as if all my brain cells just got up and walked out the door with Avery. As I walked down the hallway, I felt a twinge of disappointment that the kiss didn’t happen.