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Authors: Teresa Mummert

Perfect Lie (4 page)

BOOK: Perfect Lie
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“You?” he said with genuine shock in his voice.

“Yes. Me. I’ve never cared about being one of the cool kids, and I’ve always been miserable at home, so of course I’m a ball of sunshine at school. When I we hit middle school, all the girls were curling their hair and starting to use makeup.”

“Makeup?” He shook his head. “I’ll never understand why girls like to spread that dirt on their faces.” I glared at him, and he held his hands in the air in mock surrender. “Continue,” he said with a laugh.

“As I was saying, all the girls were starting to wear makeup, and my mom never really cared about that kind of stuff when it came to me. She didn’t teach me how to use it and all that fun stuff.”

“So what did you do?”

I glanced at Brock, who looked genuinely interested in my story. “I stole her makeup bag one morning before school and flipped through a magazine to try to figure out how to use it. I thought I did pretty well.” I laughed at how stupid I’d been. “I went to school with my head held high. I thought for sure the other girls would look at me like I was one of them. But instead…” I cleared my throat as I picked at my shoe. “Instead they laughed at me. Said I was practicing to be a whore like my mother.”

“Why did they think that about your mom?” he asked, as I tried to wipe away my tears discreetly.

“Because my mom was raped at fifteen by a family friend. She didn’t want to have me, but my grandparents shamed her into keeping me. She used to try to come to school events and parent conferences, but the other parents made her feel like she didn’t belong because she was so much younger than them. So she eventually stopped trying.”

“Jesus…”

“It was better that she stopped coming, but the damage was done. The parents talked, and it didn’t take long for the kids to start talking too. Even though my mom never really cared, I tried to stand up for her, but that made everyone hate me more.” The tears flowed freely now, and I didn’t bother to
wipe them away. “So…the makeup was a disaster, and by the end of the day, I looked like a raccoon from crying off my mascara and eyeliner. That was the last day I tried, and everything got much worse.”

“Those days are over, Bird. Now we have each other, and I won’t let them make you cry anymore.”

“You promise?” I asked, as Brock used the palm of his hand to brush the sadness from my cheeks.

“I promise.”

“Fucking tourists!” Trish ran her hand through her hair angrily.

“We can’t all be born and raised in sunny Florida.” I reached out and turned up the radio as the car inched toward our exit.

The party would have long been swinging, and I was thankful. I wasn’t a people person, but the new Lie liked to go out and have fun. The new Lie loved to dance and party and give the world hell.

We pulled up in front of an older house I was sure would have passed for a mansion back when it was built. It had since become run‐down, separated into apartments then converted back to a single‐ family home. I gave Trish an unsure look, but she grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward the door as she pushed the alarm button on her key chain.

The sun had disappeared, and in the moonlight, the building looked like a haunted house surrounded by woods. The steps to the front door actually creaked under the weight of our bodies. Trish didn’t bother knocking; she just pushed open the door. I expected loud music and bodies everywhere, but the music was faint, and I vaguely heard people’s voices. That’s when I realized there were only a few cars outside.

I stopped walking, and Trish turned around to glare at me. “Don’t be such a baby. It’s fine. This is an exclusive gathering.” The corner of her pouty pink lips turned up in a smirk. I shook my head but let her pull me farther inside.

The house wasn’t as run‐down as I’d thought, but it definitely could stand a new coat of pain and a heavy cleaning.

“In here,” a deep voice called out, and we walked through the entryway into the living room.

The walls were a deep olive, and there were two matching green couches along the walls.

“We’re ready to party.” Trish released my hand as she walked over to one of the couches and sat between two college‐age guys. One leaned back and put his arm behind her then stretched out his long legs. I glanced at the love seat, which had only one guy sitting on it. My heart sped up double time as I took in his dirty‐blond hair and light stubble over his jaw. He patted the cushion next to him, and I reluctantly walked over and took a seat alongside him, careful to keep my leg from touching his.

I recognized one of the guys who sat next to Trish; he was in my lit class. His name was Adam, and he was built like a football player, his hair dark and thick but cut short. The boy who had his arm around Trish was a stranger to me, as was the guy I sat next to.

“I won’t bite,” the guy next to me said, and I realized I was practically clinging to the arm of the love seat to keep my distance. I relaxed back in my seat, but I didn’t feel comfortable in this situation.

“So you got us in your rape den. Where’s the goods?” Trish obviously wasn’t worried about these guys.

Adam chuckled as he leaned back and dug into his jeans pocket. He pulled out a small medicine bottle, unscrewed the child‐safety cap, and dumped the contents into his hand. Trish eagerly held out her palm, with an anxious grin plastered on her plastic face. I wished I were back at our apartment. I’d only known her about a year, and she’d gotten me into more sticky situations than I could count—the worst of which being the time she’d passed out in the middle of the library, and I had to lie to a teacher’s aide to help me get her to her car. I was rewarded by Trish vomiting on me in front of everyone. The good thing about Trish was that she didn’t care about my past—who I was or why I needed to be someone else. All she cared about was herself, which was both sad and relieving. Picking
at my thumbnail, I sank back into my seat as guy number one fed his drugs to Trish and the other two guys as if they were baby birds.

The guy next to me reached to the small stand beside the love seat and grabbed a mint tin. The back of his hand bumped my leg, and he motioned with his chin for me to follow him. I was the dumb blonde in every scary movie I’d ever seen, but I stood from the couch and followed him around the corner and up a flight of stairs.

“You didn’t look like you wanted to party,” he said, as he glanced over his shoulder. His teeth flashed brilliantly white against his sun‐kissed skin. No killer could be that beautiful, so I followed. Some people never learn.

“Not really my scene,” I mumbled, as we made our way into a small empty room. I immediately went to the window, where the moonlight poured in.

“Mine either.”

“Then why are you here?” I turned back to look at him. He leaned against the wall as he pulled something out of the tin and dug around in his pocket.

“Why are
you
here?” he asked, as he put a joint between his lips and held the lighter to the end. It glowed hot orange, and shadows danced against his skin.

“Nowhere else to be.”

He nodded as if he understood as smoke drifted from around his lips. It was mesmerizing. He held the joint out to me, and I stepped closer to him and took it between my fingers as he exhaled, engulfing me in a white cloud.

“We traded one drug for another?” I raised an eyebrow, and he grinned, his eyelids heavy.

“Pot isn’t a drug.” He chuckled as he ran his fingers through his messy, dirty‐blond hair.

“What is this place?” I asked, as I held the joint to my lips and inhaled, filling my lungs.

“It’s nowhere.” His reddening eyes locked on mine as he threw my words back at me. I grinned as I let the smoke expel from my lungs and instantly felt lighter.

“It looks like it’s ready to fall apart.” I held the joint out, and his fingers ran over mine as he took it, sending a shiver down my spine.

“Nah.” He glanced around the room. “It just needs some love.”

My cheeks began to burn as he studied my face, and I squirmed under his gaze. “It’s a house that everyone has forgotten about,” I told him.

“It was once someone’s home. It was a dream, a future.” He took another drag as he stared down at the glowing cherry. “And it hasn’t been forgotten. Not yet. We’re here.”

“We’re here and nowhere.”

“Exactly.” He pointed at me and nodded.

“I think you’re high.” I laughed as I took another hit, shaking my head. It wasn’t often I was able to let the stress slip away. I felt brand new. The past fell away to the present with no thoughts given to the future. I was high. I backed up against a wall and slid down, my knees against my chest.

“I’m Abel Jensen,” he said, as he slid down against the wall next to me, his head resting against its peeling surface.

“Lie,” I said, as he smirked.

“It really is,” he said, his eyes narrowing.

I laughed, loud and bubbly. “I believe you. I’m Delilah Monroe, ‘Lie’ for short.”

He chuckled as he ran his palms over the front of his cargo shorts. He wore a plain white T‐shirt that hugged his long, lean muscles.

“You surf?” I asked, as I studied him. He looked carefree and easygoing, but his eyes looked tired, and not just from the pot.

“Not as much as I used to.”

“You live so close to the beach. I get it, though. Classes kind of take up all my time too.”

“I never go.” His eyes flicked up to mine and back to his shorts. He looked embarrassed.

“Why not?” I crossed my legs and rested my elbows on the insides of my thighs.

He shrugged but didn’t answer. I leaned back against the wall and ran my hand through my long blond hair, grabbing a chunk and holding it in front of my eyes as I inspected the split ends from the constant dye jobs.

“The waves in Cali are so much better.” The easygoing smile was back on his lips, and I couldn’t look away. “You ever been?”

“No.” I leaned forward, my arm extended for him to take the joint back. “I’m done,” I said, as he took it from me and held it to his perfect mouth. I got lost in the thought that I’d just had my lips on it, and it felt like we’d done something intimate.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, as he shook his head slightly, like he was in on a joke that I had missed.

“I’m sure it is.” I sighed as I stretched my legs and silently cursed Trish for letting me wear a skirt.

“I meant your hair.” His eyes studied me, and I watched them dip lower, running the length of my bare legs before he met my eyes again. “Reminds me of that actress in
Garden State
.”

“Thanks. Wait…wasn’t she a brunet?” My body felt hot, and I knew I was pink all over as I cocked my head to the side, but Abel just shook his head as his high settled in. I wasn’t used to boys hitting on me. High school had been pure hell for me—besides Brock. My chest ached and tightened as he ran through my mind. A lot had changed since Mississippi. Brock was too far away. Even being in front of him would feel like a million miles away. I was no longer the sad, worthless girl who cowered and cried to herself. I was no one, anyone, and anything I wanted to be.

“What?” I asked, as I realized his eyes were still on me.

“Nothing.” Abel shrugged as he let the joint burn out and placed it back in the mint tin.

“I should probably get going.” I pushed up from the floor, careful not to flash my panties. I really did want to kick Trish’s ass for not telling me where we were really going.

“Your friend is probably going to need you to take care of her for a while.” He stood and stretched, his cotton T‐shirt lifting to reveal the hard ridges of his abs.

“What did she take?” I asked, as I ran my hands over the back of my skirt.

“X.” He shook his head as he clenched his jaw, the muscles pulling and flexing under his skin.

“She’s an idiot.” I shook my head as well but immediately regretted my words. Trish was supposed to be my friend, but sometimes I couldn’t stand her.

Abel laughed as he rubbed his palm over the back of his neck. “She’s in good company then.”

I glanced up to his blue‐green‐ocean eyes, and he winked, setting free a thousand butterflies in my stomach. I realized my mouth was hanging open, and I snapped my lips together as I nervously tucked my hair behind my ear and made my way from the room. Abel followed me down the creaky stairs, and I suddenly felt like pushing open the front door and taking off into the night. So that’s what I did. As my foot came off the bottom step, I pushed forward and grabbed the door handle, but it didn’t turn, and my paranoia from my high began to creep over me. I turned around to face Abel, whose eyebrows were pulled together as I pressed my back against the door. He kept coming, his body so close that I felt the heat from his skin, and goose bumps broke out over my arms as he reached out and twisted the lock on the handle. I breathed out, realizing I’d been holding it in, and the corner of his lip twitched upward as he took a small step back.

I spun around and pulled the door open, my lungs desperate for fresh air. I walked out into the night, down the steps of the porch, and put my hands on my knees as I gasped.

“Are you all right?” Abel called from behind me. I shook my head, not wanting to hear my voice sound weak. Nothing could make me look any more pathetic than my panic attack. Fear crept up from my stomach and spread through my body.
There’s nothing to be scared of
, I repeated over and over in
my head. A hand spread out over my back, and I shot up and turned to see Abel with concern in his eyes, hidden behind the red glaze. The color made the swirling sea color pop, and I stared, mesmerized. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. No one was trying to hurt me anymore, but it didn’t stop the fear that raced in my chest and made me feel as if my heart would explode.

“I just need…a minute.” I looked down at the gravel and grass, which were illuminated by the moonlight.

“Just breathe, Delilah.” His hand was on my back again, and he slowly counted down from ten, his voice low and soothing. I couldn’t help get lost in it and let it cloud my thoughts.

“You a shrink or something?” I joked, as I finally started to come back around.

BOOK: Perfect Lie
13.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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