Home > The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coincidence #3)(10)

The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coincidence #3)(10)
Jessica Sorensen

“I know, but I wanted to.”

“Why?”

I shrug, setting my drink down. “Why not?”

She gives me a funny look, like I’m the most confusing person in the world, when really she should be looking at herself like that. “I don’t get it. Why would someone like you help someone like me?”

I open up the bun of my chicken sandwich to pick the tomato off. “What do you mean someone like me and someone like you?”

She points at me. “You as in a football player who has friends.” Then she points at herself. “And me as in the loner girl who could probably kick your ass.”

I choke on a laugh and my mouth full of food almost shoots out of my nose. “You could not kick my ass,” I cough, and then take a swallow of my drink.

She scans me over while scooping up some fries. “I beg to differ. I think you’re not as tough as you try to look.”

“Do you really?” If only she knew what really lay inside me. “Because most people think I am and for a good reason.”

“I think it’s all for show,” she replies nonchalantly and I can’t tell if she’s being serious or not. “I think that deep down you’re just a softy.”

“Are you trying to pick a fight with me right now?” I set my sandwich down on the tray and crack my knuckles. “Because I’m not going to fight a girl.”

“That’s such a typical guy answer.” She hurries and takes a drink, but I detect a hint of a smile before her lips wrap around the straw.

“You know what I think?” I cross my arms on the table and lean in, cocking my head to the side as I observe her closely. “I think you like arguing with me and that’s why you’re bringing this up.”

Her shoulders lift and descend as she takes a bite of her hamburger. “Maybe, but maybe I’m being serious.”

“You know that as a football player I have to tackle guys, right? It takes strength to do that.”

“Maybe you just run, though,” she counters. “Maybe you’re just good at running.”

The way she says it reminds me so much of my past and it’s like a kick to the stomach. “Maybe I’m not, though. Maybe I suck at running.” I sound choked and I decide it’s time to cut this conversation short, my brain seeking that potent taste of Jack and Tequila mixed with nicotine. I glance at my watch, pretending to check the time. “I just remembered that I have to meet Kayden somewhere in like a half an hour, so I’m going to have to take you back.”

She balls up the wrapper for her hamburger, acting nonchalant, but her shoulders are stiff. “Sounds good to me. I was done anyway.” She seems irritated and I have no idea why, other than she seems to be able to read through my bullshit and test me, which most people can’t and won’t even try. I’m supposed to be a closed book. A mystery. That way no one can see who I really am. It’s the way I’ve been living for years and it’s comfortable. Not ideal, but nothing is ideal.

We don’t talk as I collect our garbage and then walk next to her as she limps out to my truck. I try to offer her my arm and open the door for her, but she denies my offer, moving to the opposite door and pushing it open.

During the car ride, she barely says two words to me. I should be happy about it. That way there’s no room for sudden questions and statements that will set me off, however I find myself missing the bantering thing we had going and the way she pushed my buttons. By the time I drop her off, all I want to do is ask her to stay, talk some more, let me get to know her. But I don’t understand why. I’ve never wanted to get to know anyone before. I’ve never even been out on a date. Each woman I’ve been with, I’ve only been with once. Just sex. That’s all it’s ever about. And I’ve never wanted anything more.

Until now.

Chapter 4

Violet

There was more than just one person at my house the night my parents were killed, but one person sticks out in particular. She was tall, with long hair and eyes that glowed in the moonlight. She wore these bright yellow shoes with pink flowers on them that reminded me of a character in a fairy tale. In the book she would be a fairy or something, while in real life she was the evil villain. When she first snuck into the house she was quiet, but on her way she was loud and erratic, a mess of emotions.

“Why, why, why,” she kept repeating and then would add, “I can’t feel my hands.”

The guy told her, “Shut the f**k up and quit tripping. You need to get your shit together, now.” Over and over again until, finally, he slapped her.

She only laughed, this crazy laugh and then she started singing this song, “Lean into me. Lean into me. Take. Help me. I need to understand. Help me. I can’t do this without you.”

The guy slapped her again, this time harder, and it shut her up for a moment. As he did it, I swear she looked right over at me hiding in the corner behind a box of toys, yet she never said a word. It’s all I could really see of her—her eyes—everything else was masked in the shadows. I’ll never forget the song she sang, the lyrics engraved into my mind deeper than letters and dates in my parents’ headstone. Even when I’m listening to other music, always hoping I’ll stumble across the song they belong to, I’m thinking about the song. The sound of her voice… so disturbingly beautiful. I told the police about the song and the shoes and they looked at me with sympathy in their eyes, telling me they’d do everything they could to find the person. I was six and confused and really did believe they’d bring the bad guys in. And sometimes, when my imagination got the best of me, I’d secretly tell myself that once the bad guys were behind bars, my parents would come back to me again.

But neither ever happened and eventually the case was closed, like the lids on my parents’ coffins.

* * *

I called in sick for work tonight and I’m blowing off dealing, even though it’s Saturday night, the best night for hitting up parties. Preston doesn’t always have me screw his costumers over, sometimes he just sends me to deal straight up, which is what he asked me to do when I dropped his car off last weekend. I’d agreed, but that was before I realized that it was nearing finals week, and I need to study. Plus my ankle is still a little black and blue and it’s not ideal for walking around in boots or heels, which is required attire when dealing—Preston’s rules.

I haven’t talked to Luke since he took me to McDonald’s, but I have passed him a couple of times in the halls and the campus yard. I caught him a couple of times staring at me, but he always looks away when he notices me noticing. I think I upset him with something I said while we were at McDonald’s. But I’m known most for unintentionally insulting people—and sometimes intentionally—so I’m not surprised. What I am surprised about is how much I’ve thought about him over the last few days and how I kind of sort of wish that he’d talk to me and I’ve even almost lost my sanity a few times and thought about going up to talk to him.

I don’t like it. At all. I don’t think about guys—or people in general—for extended amount of times or worry about talking to them. It’s a waste of brain space. But he seems a little different from the long sequence of people I’ve met in my life, mainly because he’s helped me out and hasn’t asked anything from me in return. There’s no clear reason why, but I’m waiting for one to surface, because he has to want something from me. If he’s helping just to be nice then it means my theory that people only help others to help themselves is ruined.

And maybe it’s that slight difference that makes me so drawn to him. Maybe it’s because he does, in his own strange way, seem nice. And I hate to admit it, but I also think it might be his eyes, too, but I’m blaming that on the fact I’m a female and I don’t think there’s any woman out there who wouldn’t be drawn to his intense eyes just a little.

I’m lying on my stomach on my bed with my Philosophy book opened up in front of me, along with my Calculus book, so I can rotate between the two subjects. I’ve got some Green Day cranked up fairly loud since Callie’s out, a bag of Sour Patch Kids and some Doritos in front of me, along with a thirty-two-ounce Dr Pepper. Between the sugar, caffeine, and loud music, I’ve hit a super zone where studying has become like breathing. My eyes feel like they’re bleeding, though, and my head’s starting to hurt, but it feels good to know I’m trying so hard it hurts.

I could take a study break, but I’m not going to. School was always sort of my thing and maybe it’s because it was my escape from whatever home I was living in. I almost flunked out when I lived on the streets and then went to juvie but when I got my shit together, I vowed never to mess up in school again.

Suddenly Green Day is overlapped with a little Rise Against as my phone starts to ring. Blowing out a breath, I lean over to the iPod dock and turn the stereo down, then I pick up my phone and answer it.

“I can’t do it tonight,” I tell Preston, sitting up on the bed and rubbing my eye. “I have to study.”

“Who said I was calling for that?” he replies. “Jeez, you didn’t even f**king let me say hello.”

“I know, but I know what you’re going to say and I can’t. I have finals coming up.”

“But you told me last Sunday that you could.”

“I know.” I sigh heavily. “But I forgot how close it was to the end of the semester.”

He pauses and I hear a flick of the lighter in the background as he lights up a cigarette. “Violet, I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to, but I need you to go out tonight.” His voice is calm, but firm. He’s getting irritated and I’ve seen what can happen if he gets too upset. “I was there when you needed me. I gave you a place to live and put a roof over your head when no one else would. And I let you live your life however you wanted.”

“Preston… I…” I waver. I want to stay in and study, but I don’t want him to be upset with me. And he has a point. He did help me out when no one else would—when no one else wanted me. “Okay, I’ll do it,” I finally say, frowning at my study stuff on the bed.

“That’s my girl,” he says, flawlessly changing from intense to flirty. “Take the bus over to my house and get the stuff. Then I’ll let you use my car.”

“Okay,” I tell him, trying to hide my disappointment. “But am I just dealing tonight or do I have to screw people over?”

“Just dealing,” he tells me. “After what happened last weekend I think it’d be good if you took a little break.”

“I’m sorry I screwed up.”

“It’s okay. Just don’t do it again.” He hangs up and I sigh, getting out of bed to get dressed.

I decide on a black backless, floor-length dress that will hide the fact I’m going to wear flip-flops. Then I tousle my fingers through the waves of my hair and sweep it to the side, then put some lip gloss on and outline my eyes with kohl eyeliner. It’s not my best presentation, but I’m only dealing tonight and I honestly am too exhausted to put any more effort into my looks. But hopefully I’ll be up to Preston’s standards, otherwise I’m going to be on the shit list for a while.

* * *

I arrive at Preston’s house a little after eight, which is a little later than he’d probably like but I had to wait around for the bus. I knock on the front door to the house that I called my home for three years before I went to college. It still looks the same; green shutters, nasty brown siding that used to be white, and set of rusty metal stairs that lead to the front door. The yard’s nice, though. There’s even flowers growing in it and the flourishing trees make me think of the trees that enclosed my old childhood home.

“Come in,” Preston calls out after I knock again.

I turn the doorknob and then gather the bottom of my dress so I can step over the threshold without stepping on it. The air always smells pungent in the house, but I think that’s because someone’s always smoking something. Like Preston right now. He’s got a cigarette in his hand, smoke snaking out of his lips, and a candle burning on the kitchen counter, which is diagonal from the front door.

“Well don’t you look beautiful,” he says, his eyes scroll over my outfit and I feel myself let a relieved breath out of my lips. I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding it.

“Thanks. I do try my best.” I swish the skirt a little as I make my way across the living room and to the kitchen. I pull out a barstool and take a seat, propping my feet up on the bottom bar.

Preston’s wearing a plaid shirt that’s unbuttoned and shows a series of tribal tattoos on his chest and ribs. His sandy blond hair is a little long, running down to the bottom of his chin and he has a five o’clock shadow, but he usually does. His jeans are missing a button so I can see the top of his striped boxers and when he steps back from the counter, I notice he’s barefoot.

“Wow, you sure dressed up tonight,” I joke, folding my arms on top of the counter. “Aren’t you throwing a party or something? You usually do on the weekends.”

He glances at me as he puts the cigarette into his mouth. “Not tonight,” he says, smoke snaking from his lips. “I’m getting a little tired of people at the moment.”

“Getting too old for those crazy kid parties, huh?” I tease, then zip my lips together when he glares at me.

He grazes his thumb across the end of the cigarette, holding it over a coffee mug, and spills the ashes inside it. “I’m not that much older than you, Violet.”

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