Authors: Jennifer Murgia
left your car lights on.” I craned my head away from his touch, forcing myself
to peer out the sheer curtains at the kitchen window that overlooked the
hand left my side and reached into his pocket, pulling out the Aston’s keyless
remote. With the press of a tiny button, the driveway promptly went dark and
the low hum of the car’s engine settled to a peaceful rest.
I’m tired. I still have homework to do.”
slowly but firmly pushed his way into the kitchen, leaving me no choice but to
make room for him to clear the door, and watch as he closed it behind him.
mean you didn’t do your homework at the library? Whatever were you doing there,
Evie?” His lips found my jaw, and in moments, his fingers were at the buttons
of my shirt.
stop,” but my plea only egged him on.
told you I could tutor you. Come on Eves . . .”
warm breath in my hair sickened me. There was a time, just months ago, when I
would have eagerly looked for an excuse to have Shane Whitley alone in my
house, but now . . .
a final shove, I pushed myself away from him. He looked at me with the smirk I
had seen all too often on his face, and noticed how red his eyes were—as
if he was extremely tired, or catching something.
went to the library,” he murmured.
You have nothing to hide. You were researching for the paper.
didn’t see you there,” I admitted, trying to hide the way my voice quivered,
but images of
and I deep in conversation ran through my mind. There were several moments when
our heads were bent close to one another as we scanned the same paragraph,
searched the same website, admired the same poem. Could Shane have seen that?
Did it matter if he did? Anyone working on a project with a partner would have
appeared just the same, only . . . I felt like I was beginning to
hyperventilate. Working on a paper with Chase was different. It was amazing. He
was brilliant, his ideas so insightful and his train of thought dove-tailed
mine so perfectly.
wouldn’t have been able to hear my heart race while we were bent over a book
together. He wouldn’t. It was impossible—unless he witnessed how close I
lingered to the boy who was supposed to be nothing more than my study partner.
Too close. Unless he noticed how my eyes watched Chase, and how long it took
for me to look away.
the pit of my stomach I knew that Shane was onto me. He had a gift for finding
out the truth about people and making them pay.
walked across the kitchen, took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with
water from the dispenser on the fridge. Then I rummaged through a small
catch-all drawer for the bottle of aspirin my dad kept there, and handed them
both to Shane. His eyes were bloodshot.
had to go there anyway,” he said, taking the glass and letting me drop the
aspirin into his open hand. “I had to pick something up.”
didn’t sound like him at all, but I played along. “What did you pick up?”
watched as Shane tossed the two pills back as if they were invisible and
swallowed them without the water I had just handed to him. He made it look so
was finishing something up for me.”
stared at him in disbelief.
Ty to write a paper for you?”
it’s no big deal. Sometimes when the guys and I get bogged down, Ty comes
through for us.”
how much does he charge?”
made it worth his while,” he replied, avoiding my eyes.
you pay him enough to clog his nose?”
shot me a look. I wasn’t going to play dumb and act like I didn’t know Ty was a
druggie, or that he supplied a number of kids who went to go to our school.
After all, weren’t prep schools notorious for dealing and getting away with it?
There had to be other ways to play with daddy’s money, and this seemed to be
the good old standby.
know you just supported his habit even more.” I knew full well I was digging a
very deep hole for myself. “So I guess the whole role model approach you were
going for wore off for the night?”
prepared me for the loud thwack his hand made across my cheek, or the sting the
second the air touched it, or how appalled, how violated, I felt as his lips
roughly grazed across my skin to make up for it. My back scraped the cabinet
opposite the door as he pushed me to the floor. All I heard were incoherent
murmurs—how I owed him and how he needed me, and how this would make up
for it all.
the time Shane rose to his feet and buttoned his jeans, I was shaking, caught
in the in-between when shock wears off and rage fills in the gaps. I couldn’t
speak, but hastily dressed myself in the cramped space behind the center
eye caught the clock, its tick the only audible sound in the house, and my
pulse thrummed in tune with it—reminding me how with each passing second
Shane was in control,
reached for his keys on top of the counter and turned toward me. “I’d put ice
on that if I were you,” he motioned pitilessly toward the side of my face as I
pressed my hand to it. “Stay home tomorrow if it’s still there. I don’t want to
have to explain.”
stared at him. Everything I could possibly say melted from my brain. He walked
around the island and opened the back door, then paused, “And tell that freak
of a study partner of yours I’ll see him at the party.”
almost time for the first bell and Evie still wasn’t at her locker. I stood
across the hall and waited as Tara managed alone, ignoring me as usual while
she hung her jacket and gathered her books. Without Evie, Tara had an invisible
force field around her that was impenetrable.
that I wanted to talk to her.
driving home from Evie’s last night, I was wired, unable to sleep, so I tried
to focus on the paper, which ended up making me think of her anyway, so that
was pretty pointless. I had gone ahead and made a new timeline using the
outline I already had, even though she’d said she was going to do it for us.
couldn’t shake the feeling that Evie had gotten preoccupied last night with
Shane, and I hoped he didn’t give her a hard time for going to the library with
me. My blood boiled at the very thought of him. As if it weren’t enough seeing
his name on that stupid paper, he had to show up just as I walked her to the
took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I had to remind myself this was just
a project and to keep my feelings guarded.
to make things worse, Shane was Evie’s boyfriend. That was the reality of the
was a project, nothing more. So she asked me to sit by her at lunch, so what?
That didn’t mean anything. So I happened to blurt out what happened to my
parents in the car, feeling there was something in that moment, in that
instant, to make me say what I did; to trust her.
what? Did it make her more significant to me than she was two days ago?
not to her.
forced myself to see that as I stared over at her locker.
timeline I held felt like a ton in my grip. Who was I kidding? I wasn’t
lingering around just to give her our homework. I was wasting time here so I
could see her face—so I could look into her eyes and
something happened between us last night.
I realized how idiotic that really was.
slipped the paper into my backpack, pushed myself away from the wall and headed
for homeroom. Tara was already a few yards ahead of me, her plaid skirt
swinging behind her as she slowed down in front of the girls’ lavatory. My
heart stammered as Evie emerged from the bathroom, and then, she looked over,
as if she knew I’d be right there, watching. Her hair hung in soft waves across
of her face. She gave a little smile then turned to keep up with Tara’s quick
steps down the hall.
didn’t matter that she didn’t wait for me. Everyone would have stopped and
stared—and then Shane’s friends, Alex and Max, were in front of me, blocking
me from continuing on to class.
Chase, Chase . . . just the guy we wanted to see this morning,” Max chimed. He
made no attempt to move out of my way.
I’m so honored.”
arm pushed down on my neck, using the added weight of my backpack to make it
incredibly uncomfortable. “Shane wants to talk to you,” Max whispered in my
looked past Alex’s arm to see Shane and Jake against the wall, as if nothing
out of the ordinary was happening, other than Shane’s cold, blue eyes boring a
hole into my face.
trip to the library last night?” he asked.
didn’t answer him.
bet it was,” he answered for me, and held the bathroom open. He motioned for me
to step inside while Jake stayed behind to keep watch.
stepped into the empty white and gray tiled room as the door shut heavily
behind us. Shane stepped over to the sink then turned around to lean his
backside against it. He stared at me for a few moments, probably enjoying the
fact that my mind was swiftly whirling inside to figure out what he wanted.
it good enough to mess up my girlfriend’s face?”
stared back at him. “What’s wrong with Evie’s face?”
my mind played back this morning: Evie not at her locker, coming out of the
bathroom, the way her hair hung over her face.
flung my backpack off my shoulders and onto the floor. “What are you saying?
That I hurt her? I would
do anything like that.”
you?” he threw back at me and eyed my defensive attitude with a sense of
enjoyment. His light eyes held a dark fury behind them at the discomfort he
roused in me. “She met you at the library last night and then I found you
together in a dark, unlit driveway.”
face was fine when I left.”
accusation didn’t quite seem to fit his body language. It hit me then—how
relaxed Shane was, how calculated his words sounded.
goodness you didn’t get as far as stepping into her house. Who knows what you
would have done to her?”
sick feeling pelted the pit of my stomach as I took in what he was really
saying, and curled my fists at my sides. The late bell rang overhead. It echoed
loudly, leaving behind a residual hum. A shuffle came from outside the door.
Jake, and perhaps Alex and Max, had moved on to their homerooms, leaving me
alone with Shane and his false accusations.
did you do to her?” I reeled toward him.
it there, Chase. I heard she walked into a wall, and if you knew her like I do,
you’d know she’s a klutzy girl sometimes. Besides, no one really knows
You hide from everyone.
don’t talk. Face it, Mitman, you’re a nobody around here. If you weren’t the
one to hit my girlfriend, who would believe you?” His lips turned up at one
corner as if he considered thinking twice about the smirk lurking behind them.
“There’s a little favor I need you to do for me.”
for you.” I reached down for my pack and turned. This
unreasonable conversation was over.
wouldn’t do that if I were you,” his voice demanded behind me. “You see, you
could be in a lot of trouble here. You could be expelled for beating up on a
didn’t . . .” but his hand shot up and stopped my words midstream.
hopped up to sit on the counter of the sink, making himself comfortable.
see, I just found out you know something about me. Something that could go
very, very wrong if I don’t take care of it.”
wracked my brain. His words sounded ludicrous and then, it hit me. Ty
Dunhammer. The library. The paper. The drugs.
silence and creased forehead gave him a green light, and he chuckled. “I
thought you’d see it my way. You see, it’s easy to erase a name on a paper and
replace it with another. It’s easy to place that paper into the hands of
someone who could do a whole lot more with it if they found that paper was
for. Are you beginning to understand me, now?”
do you want, Shane?”
do I want?” He took his time and played with the water from the faucet, let it
run, then turned it off. “I want you to make the delivery for me.”
looked at me and frowned. “Funny. I’m counting on Ty doing a first rate job on
that term paper. If he does, I can move on to the next project I have lined up