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Authors: Pamela Wells

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The Heartbreakers

BOOK: The Heartbreakers
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The Heartbreakers

Pamela Wells

Dedication

To all the girls who have gone through heartache—
may this book be an inspiration to you

ONE

Sydney Howard picked at her nail while she waited outside the locker rooms after a Friday night basketball game. Her thumbnail had caught on the zipper of her jacket and tore off, leaving it jagged. She flipped open her purse and dug inside, except the nail clipper she always carried wasn't there. Probably because her boyfriend, Drew, took it and left it somewhere that was obviously
not
her purse. He never put things back where he found them.

The girls' locker room door opened and cheerleaders started filing out. A few said hi to Sydney as they passed until Nicole, the head cheerleader, came out, her makeup reapplied in a thick mask on her face.

Nicole glanced over at Sydney and whispered something to her three friends, which made them all laugh.

Sydney rolled her eyes as they left.
Whatever.

A few minutes later Drew emerged from the locker room in jeans and a sweatshirt, his black hair still wet from the shower.

“Hey,” he said, readjusting the strap of the bag on his shoulder.

“Hi.” She fell in step beside him as they left the school through the back doors. The freshly fallen snow crunched beneath their feet. Sydney pulled the collar of her jacket up around her neck when the cool air hit her skin.

“You should have worn a heavier jacket,” Drew said.

She glanced over at him. “I didn't think it was going to be this cold.” Even in the half-darkness of the night, Sydney could still see the blue of his eyes. Although every inch of him was good, she always thought of his eyes as his best quality. They were such a bright blue they were almost neon. She always teased him, saying if they were ever stuck in a cave, his eyes would probably glow and light the way out.

Together they followed the sidewalk down to the parking lot.

“I was wondering—” Sydney started.

“So listen—” said Drew.

Sydney tipped her head. “You first.”

“Well, there's this party tonight,” Drew began, flipping the zipper on his bag up and down, up and down, “over at Craig's. It's to celebrate the end of the semester and getting through exams. He really wants us to come.”

“I don't know. I was thinking we could just go hang out at your house.”

He groaned. “We do that every night, Syd.”

A car stereo thumped bass beats somewhere in the parking lot. Sydney looked out and saw several football players and cheerleaders in a group around a few parked cars. She didn't fit in with them. Not that she tried or even wanted to. She was the junior class president and in the Honor Society. Going to a “kegger” wasn't her idea of fun.

“But do you really want to drive out there?” she said. Craig Thierot's house was on the outside of Birch Falls, a good thirty minutes away. She was hoping that would sway Drew. He hated driving and
she
certainly wasn't going to drive out there.

“Yeah. Totally,” he said.

Okay. Maybe not.

“I don't think I want to go.”

He hung his head to the side. “Come on, Syd—”

A squeal sounded behind Sydney. She turned just in time to see a flash of blonde hair as Nicole ran up to Drew and threw her arms around his neck.

“Awesome game!” she yelled, pulling away to touch Drew's chest.

Sydney knew every line of that chest, like the tiny crescent scar on his left pec where his older brother had chucked a rock at him when they were little. It didn't seem right that Nicole Robinson should be able to touch his chest so freely.

In the last year, Drew had gone from skinny, unknown basketball player to the insanely hot starting forward on the team. It did not escape Sydney that her shy, somewhat dorky boyfriend had transformed into the “It Guy” at Birch Falls High.

Or that every other girl in school wanted him. Two years ago, when he and Sydney started going out, no one really knew he existed.

Drew smiled, clearly glowing from Nicole's attention. “We couldn't have won without the cheerleaders.”

“Oh, you,” Nicole cooed, giving his bicep a playful thump. “Stop.”

Sydney tapped her foot on the sidewalk. Come on, Drew, she thought, catch the hint.

“So,” he said, after making quick eye contact with Sydney, “I'll see you at the party.”

Nicole nodded. “Sure. See ya there.” She waggled her fingers in a wave, ignoring Sydney, and headed off toward the parking lot.

“What,” Sydney put her hands on her hips, “was that all about?”

Drew cast his gaze aside, pulling his dark brows together. “She was congratulating me on the game.”

“I think it was more than that.” Sydney took in a long breath and shifted from one foot to the other. She trusted Drew, but it was hard pretending that she didn't notice the other girls flirting with him. Or that the other girls looked at Sydney as merely an obstacle in their way.

Sometimes Sydney wished Drew was still the dorky Drew; the one that thought doing homework on a Friday night was fun and that keggers were for morons.

“I think Nicole has a thing for you,” Sydney said.

Drew shrugged. “So what if she does?”

Sydney sighed and shook her head. “Whatever. Let's just go. Did you take my nail clipper? I can't find it.”

“What about the party?”

She was hoping he'd forgotten about the party. “Can we talk about it in the truck? I'm freezing out here.”

“Fine.” He headed for the parking lot, and Sydney walked fast to catch up with his long-legged strides. He unlocked the passenger door of his truck then went around to the driver's side.

Sydney frowned. “You don't want me to drive?”

“No,” he said, and climbed inside.

What was his problem? She always drove, mainly because Drew hated wearing his glasses. He only used his contacts for basketball games because they irritated his eyes. When she slid in next to him, he reached over and undid the latch on the glove compartment, taking his glasses out.

On the way out of the school parking lot, Sydney turned the heat on full blast and positioned the vents on her face. Her cheeks were freezing. “So, did you take my nail clipper?”

“Check the ashtray.”

She pulled the ashtray open. Her nail clipper spilled out with several safety pins and a tube of chapstick. “Dang it, Drew.” She ducked down to scoop up the mess.

“Just leave it,” he said.

“It's all over the floor.”

He flicked his eyes to her as they sat beneath a red light. “So? It's my truck.”

She groaned and crossed her arms over her chest. “Fine. Whatever.”

Drew shifted into second gear after pulling away from the stoplight. He didn't say anything and silence took over. He drove through the middle of town, past the darkened stores. Gold Christmas lights hung in the trees even though Christmas had passed weeks ago. Birch Falls kept the gold lights up year-round as “ambience.” At least that's what the mayor said when a citizen questioned him in the
Birch Falls Gazette
editorial section.

Drew turned left on Palmer Street and pulled up to the curb in front of Sydney's house. With the truck idling, he turned to her. “Are you going to the party or not?”

Sydney fell against the back of the seat, letting a sigh out past her lips. He wasn't going to let it go. Why couldn't he just let it go? “What are you doing if I don't go?”

“I'm going to the party.”

She raised an eyebrow, incredulous. “You'd go without me?” They always spent their weekend nights together. And if they weren't together, there was a good reason. Like a family reunion or something. The thought of Drew showing up at some party alone…it made Sydney's stomach knot.

There would be a ton of girls at the party. Nicole Robinson, for one. Out of all the girls in the junior class, Nicole was the girl Sydney loved to hate. It was the platinum-blonde hair, the acrylic French-manicured nails, the overdone bronzer. But most of all it was the way Nicole treated Sydney, as if Sydney was beneath her notice, as if she couldn't figure out why Drew would be with someone like Sydney.

Nicole was obviously clueless to the fact that Drew and Sydney had been together longer than Nicole had been blonde.

Maybe Sydney should just go. Maybe she should just swallow her discomfort and stubbornness and go.

“Syd.” Drew picked at the crumbling leather of the steering wheel while he avoided looking her in the eye. “I don't want to hang out at home. I want to go out and do something.”

“Hanging out used to be good enough for you.”

“Yeah, well, it's not anymore.”

She leaned forward, hoping to catch his gaze. Her face flamed with the beginning of anger and fear. “What are you trying to say, Drew? That hanging out, just the two of us, is boring?”

He turned in his seat, leaning against the driver's-side door. “Why do you always put words in my mouth?”

“You're the one who insinuated that I was boring.”

Lately they'd been fighting like this a lot. It seemed like everything caused an argument, from the color of Drew's shirt to the mustard that wasn't supposed to be on Sydney's burger.

Sydney couldn't explain it. When she found herself in another argument with Drew, she couldn't stop. It was like a car crash in slow motion. She could see it coming but couldn't do a thing to stop it.

Drew was just so pushy lately, bugging her to go to those stupid drunk-fest parties with his friends from the team. They were all idiots if you asked her. Evolution had somehow missed them. They acted like cavemen.

She didn't want to go.

“I'm not saying you're boring,” Drew said. “I'd just like for us to go out and do stuff instead of sitting inside watching TV.”

“But it's not that we're watching TV. We're being together, Drew. That's what couples do. They
be
together. They don't go out to parties to separate and get drunk.”

He clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. “I never said we had to get drunk.”

“But you want to drink, and then I'll have to drive home in the middle of the night from the middle of nowhere.”

He threw up his hands. “You know what, Syd, I'm done.”

She froze. “What?”

“I'm done.”

“Done with what?”

Sighing, he lowered his voice. “With us.”

Sydney's mouth dropped. “Are you…” She swallowed hard, feeling bile rise in her throat. “Are you breaking up with me?”

He shifted again and stared straight ahead at the street. The absence of an answer told her more than words would have.

The shock burned into anger. “Fine!” She got out of the truck and slammed the door behind her. She stomped up the shoveled sidewalk, the snow making wet slapping noises beneath her shoes.

On the front porch, she stopped and turned back to the road, hoping that Drew was running after her. But he drove off, the transmission shifting through gears quickly. She watched as the red taillights of the truck disappeared around a corner.

What in hell just happened?

She felt the stinging of tears behind her eyes but took a deep breath to stop them. A hunk of jet-black hair flew in her face. She grabbed it and gave it a shove over her shoulder.

This was just another fight in a long list of many lately. But they'd never broken up before…not like this.

Tomorrow they'd make up, she told herself as she trudged inside. Tomorrow they'd fix this, and everything would be fine.

BOOK: The Heartbreakers
8.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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