Until You

By: Penelope Douglas

“We’re talking about this now? School isn’t for another week.” He sounded like half of his face was buried in a pillow, but it was how he talked these days. After Tate broke his nose the other night, he had trouble breathing out of one of his nostrils.

“Today. This afternoon,” I said, walking over to my window.

“Dude!” he blurted out. “I’m still dead from last night.”

And in truth, so was I. My head was still swimming from the liquor I’d tried drowning in the night before, but there was no way I could sit around all day with nothing but my thoughts keeping me company.

Tate going to France for a year.

Standing in the front yard in her bra, lighting fires.

I shook the images from my head.

“Then hit the gym and sweat out the hangover,” I ordered. “I need a distraction.”

Why did I just say that? Now he would know something was wrong, and I didn’t like people knowing my shit.

“Is Tate gone?” he asked, almost timidly.

My shoulders tensed, but I kept my tone even as I watched her come out of her house in a new shirt. “Who’s talking about her? You throwing a party or not?”

The line was quiet for a few seconds before he mumbled, “Uh, huh.” He sounded like he had more to say but wisely decided to shut his damn mouth. “Fine. I don’t want to see the same people we saw last night, though. Who are we inviting?”

Looking over at the Bronco pulling out of the driveway and the fucking blonde driver that didn’t once turn around to look back, I clenched the phone to my ear. “Blondes. Lots of blondes.”

Madoc exhaled a quiet laugh. “You hate blondes.”

Not all. Just one.

I sighed. “Right now, I want to drown in them.” I didn’t care if Madoc connected the dots or not. He wouldn’t push and that’s why he was my best friend. “Send out texts and get the drinks. I’ll grab some food and head over in a few hours.”

I twisted around when I heard the purest little moan coming from the bed. The Purdue girl—I forgot her name—was waking up.

“Why not come over now? We can head to the gym and then gather supplies,” Madoc suggested, but my eyes were hot on the bare back of the girl in my bed. Her squirming had nudged the blanket down to the top of her ass, and her face was turned away from me. All I saw was the skin and her sunshine hair.

And I hung up on Madoc, because my bed was the only place I wanted to be at right then.

The next few weeks were like cave diving with a perfectly good parachute that I refused to use. School, my mother, Jax, my friends—they were all around for me to grab onto, but the only thing that got me out of the house every day was the promise of trouble.

I dragged my irritable, pissed off ass into English III, trying to figure out why the hell I still came to school. It was the last goddamn place I wanted to be anymore. The hallways were always crammed with people but still seemed empty.

My appearance was shit, too. My left eye was purple, and I had a cut across my nose from a fight that I didn’t remember. Plus, I’d torn the sleeves off of my T-shirt this morning, because I couldn’t breathe.

Not really sure what I was thinking, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

“Mr. Trent, don’t sit down,” Mrs. Penley ordered as I strolled into class late. Everyone was already seated, and I stopped to look at her.

I liked Penley about as much as I liked anyone, but I couldn’t hide the boredom that I was sure was all over my face.

“Excuse me?” I asked as she scrawled on a pink slip.

I sighed, knowing exactly what that color meant.

She handed me the paper. “You heard me. Go to the Dean,” she ordered as she stuck her pen into her high bun.

And I perked up, noticing the bite to her bark.

Being tardy or truant had become a habit, and Penley was pissed. It had taken her long enough, too. Most of the other teachers had already sent me out the first week.

I smiled, euphoria washing over my body at any possibility of mayhem. “No, ‘please’ with that request?” I taunted, snatching the paper out of her hands.

Hushed laughter and snorts broke out around the classroom, and Penley narrowed her dark brown eyes on me.

She didn’t falter, though. I’d give her that.

Turning around, I tossed the pink slip into the trash and threw open the wooden door, not caring if it closed behind me as I left.

A few gasps and whispers filled the air, but it was nothing new. Most people veered away from me these days, but my defiance was getting old. At least to me. My heart didn’t race anymore when I acted like a dick. I was thirsty to up the stakes.

“Mr. Caruthers!” I heard Penley calling, and I turned around to see Madoc walking out of her classroom, too.

“It’s that time of the month, Mrs. Penley.” He sounded serious. “I’ll be right back.”

The outright laughter roared from Penley’s classroom pretty clearly this time.

Madoc wasn’t like me. He was a people person. He could serve you a pile of shit, and you’d ask for ketchup.

“You know?” He ran up beside me and jerked his thumb in the opposite direction. “The Dean’s that way.”

I raised my eyebrows at him.

“Alright, alright.” He shook his head as if to clear away the brainfart that I’d actually go sweat up in the Dean’s office for who knows how long. “So where are we going?”