Ties - 2
Two Years Earlier
I took a deep breath as I passed the sign indicating I was entering the Santa Monica trailer park. I knew what I would probably find here, but I couldn’t help from holding on to just a small piece of hope. I was still so angry with him, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel if I knew he were truly gone. As much as I hated him, I still loved him. I was such a stupid, stupid girl.
I’d thought that I’d found true love with Jesse Daniels, but all he’d managed to do was break my heart. Why did it have to be her? Of all the girls in the world, he had cheated on me with Ally—the one person who despised me.
Looking back at everything that had happened, I now knew that she was the reason for all of it. I’d known from the start that she didn’t like me, but I could never understand why. Now, I did. She loved Jesse. It was so obvious to me now that I wasn’t sure how I’d missed it in the beginning. But as that old saying went, hindsight was twenty-twenty.
I couldn’t change what Ally and Jesse had done to me. I could only accept it and learn from it. They had certainly made me grow up, that was for sure. I wasn’t the naive little girl who trusted anyone and everyone anymore. I was jaded, and I was pissed.
I pulled up to Jesse’s house. My heart dropped when I saw the For Rent sign hanging from the porch banister. It felt like a slap in the face to see it there, but I shouldn’t have expected any less. In my heart, I knew he was gone. A small part of me had hoped he’d simply unenrolled from my highschool, Hamrick High, and gone back to his old school instead of leaving California completely. Now, I knew. He was thousands of miles away from me in West Virginia with his mom and her boyfriend.
A tap on my window startled me, and I screamed. My heart was beating like crazy as I looked over to see Andy standing there with a frown on his face. Thank God. I wasn’t exactly in the best part of town, and I had been afraid that it was a stranger who wanted to rob me. I knew my expensive car could bring me some unwanted attention around here. I rolled my window down as I willed my wildly pounding heart to slow down. I knew Andy, and he wasn’t someone who would hurt me.
“What are you doing here?” he asked once my window was down.
“I don’t know.”
He looked at me like I was nuts.
“I mean, I know why I’m here. I just don’t know why I even wanted to see if he was still here. He hurt me, yet here I am, checking in to see if he’s really gone.”
“I get it, I do. You cared a lot about the asshole.”
“Asshole? I thought he was your best friend.”
“He was—until he slept with my sister and then kicked her out of his bed the next day. He’s lucky I didn’t beat the shit out of him.”
“Oh, so you know?”
He nodded. “I do. I’m sorry that he hurt you so badly. You’re a sweet girl, Emma. You didn’t deserve that.”
“Why do you care?” I asked.
Andy seemed like a good guy, but we’d never been friends before. I’d assumed that he was only nice to me because I was with Jesse. Plus, he had never tried to hide the fact that he slept around a lot. Usually, guys like him were assholes.
“Because Jesse hurt you and my sister. I’m not the best guy in the world, but even I have morals. There are two things you don’t do—cheat and screw your best friend’s sister. Jesse managed to do both at once. We’re no longer friends, and I made sure to let him know that before he left.”
“And here I thought you were the womanizing asshole. I think I had you two backward. You’re the nice one, and he’s the asshole.”
Andy laughed. “No, I’m still a womanizing asshole. I just don’t think it’s okay to cheat. That’s the reason I’ve never had a girlfriend. I know how I am, and I wouldn’t want some poor girl to have a broken heart, thanks to me.”
At least he was honest. I felt tears filling my eyes. I wish Jesse could have been as honest as Andy. Instead, Jesse had used me and broken me. I had given him everything because I thought he loved me when he was actually laughing at me behind my back.
“Hey, don’t cry. I was trying to make you feel better by telling you that I’m a complete asshole,” Andy said.
“I wish Jesse were as honest as you.”
“He normally is. I don’t know what happened with you two and Ally, and I don’t want to know. Why don’t you come over to my house? I’ll feed you ice cream or something like that. Ice cream always makes girls feel better, right?”
I laughed. “I’d prefer alcohol at this point, but I think I’ll pass. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw Ally.”
“Ally is never home anymore. You have a better chance of seeing Jesse there today than you do of seeing Ally. Come on, let’s get you some ice cream. Maybe if you’re extra nice, I’ll give you some alcohol, too. I’m not usually this sweet, so you better take me up on my offer.”
I studied him carefully. Andy had always seemed like a nice guy, but I wasn’t sure if I could stand to be around him. He was just another reminder of Jesse, and right now, I didn’t need one of those.
“I don’t know…”
“It’s cookie dough ice cream,” he said as he smiled down at me.
“Well, how am I supposed to say no to that? I can’t stay long though. I don’t want to take a chance of seeing Ally there.” I smiled up at him as I wondered what the hell I was doing.
“Fair enough. Just park your car beside mine in my driveway. I’ll see you in a second.”
He turned and walked down the road to his house as I started my car and backed out of Jesse’s driveway.
It’s not Jesse’s anymore, I mentally reminded myself. Jesse is gone.
I followed behind Andy, still unsure of whether or not this was a good idea. I wanted to forget that Jesse ever existed, and if I ended up being friends with Andy, there was no chance of that. In my head, Andy and Jesse were one since they’d been around each other so much when I was with Jesse.
I pulled in beside an old rusted Chevy Cavalier and stepped out. After locking my car, I stepped up onto Andy’s porch and followed him inside his house. The layout was identical to Jesse’s. The kitchen was off to the right with the living room to the left. Past the living room was the hall that I knew led back to the bedrooms. Jesse and his mom had always kept their house spotless, and while Andy’s wasn’t gross, it was messy. It was obvious that two teenagers lived here.
“Sorry for the mess. I was going to clean today, but then I went surfing.”
“You sound like Jesse. He liked to surf all the time, too.”
“We’re California boys. It’s in our blood.”
“I guess it is,” I said as I walked to the couch and sat down.
Andy came out of the kitchen with a tub of cookie dough ice cream and two beers. I thanked him as I grabbed the tub and one of the beers from him. I sighed happily as I took the first bite of ice cream. Andy was right—ice cream always made things better.
“Want to watch some TV while you eat?” Andy asked as he grabbed the remote.
“We don’t have a DVD player, but we do have cable. I’m sure we can find something to watch.” He turned on the TV and started flipping through channels.
I groaned when he stopped on a channel with one of the Saw movies playing. “I hate scary movies.”
“This isn’t scary. It’s all about mind games.”
“I’ve never seen any of them, but I’ve heard they’re gory.”
“Whoa, wait a minute. You’ve never watched a Saw movie before?”
I shook my head. “Nope, never.”
“Okay, now, we have to watch it. You’ll love it.”
“I seriously doubt that.” I popped the top off my beer and took a drink.
“Trust me, you will. And it looks like you’re in luck. They’re doing a Saw marathon day. You can watch them all.”
“Lucky me,” I grumbled as I nursed my beer.
“Chicken,” he coughed out under his breath.
“I am not! I just don’t want to watch people die and stuff.”
“And stuff? Really?”
“Shut up, and watch your damn movie.”
He laughed as he threw the remote down onto the coffee table and leaned back into the couch.
As we watched the first movie, I had to admit that it was pretty good. I would cringe from time to time when something was too gross, but other than that, I was fine. I put away my ice cream halfway through the first movie and grabbed us both new beers from the fridge. I had to admit that hanging out with Andy was actually kind of fun, and he was taking my mind off of everything happening in my life.
By the time the third movie started, the coffee table was littered with beer bottles, and I was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol coursing through my blood. Andy seemed to still be sober, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to look like a lightweight, so I kept my mouth shut.
“I’m tired,” I mumbled as I rested my head against Andy’s arm.
“You can’t fall asleep on me. We have to finish the movie!” Andy said as he pulled me against him and wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
“I’m not going to fall asleep, I promise. I just need to rest my eyes.” I closed my eyes and relaxed into Andy. God, he smells good. I had no idea how I hadn’t noticed this before. I inhaled deeply, breathing in his scent.
I dozed on and off as the movie played. I would jump and snuggle in closer to Andy when someone on TV screamed in terror. I must have finally fallen asleep toward the end because when I woke up, the house was dark, and the TV was off.
I could feel Andy rubbing my lower back underneath my shirt. I knew I shouldn’t like it, but it felt so damn good. I’d been so alone this past month, but I didn’t feel that way with Andy next to me. I took another deep breath, instantly regretting it. Between his scent and his hand rubbing my back, I felt myself starting to become aroused. I knew this was a bad idea and that I needed to leave, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
His hand slipped lower until he was teasing the top of my shorts. My breathing grew heavy as I tried not to pay attention to what his hand was doing.
“Emma? Are you okay?” Andy whispered in the darkness.
Chapter One: Emma
Life sucks. It had taken me a while to realize that, but it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. The only positive is that you learn from your experiences, and you grow.
Two years ago, I’d certainly grown up when I walked in on the boy I thought I loved in bed with one of his best friends. I’d learned to let him go as time passed—or at least I thought I had.
Now, I wasn’t so sure. There are people who pass through your life who forever change you and everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world. Jesse was one of them.
It had been two years since I’d left him standing in his driveway, but I’d never been able to let him go completely.
I’d debated this decision for months. I’d told myself over and over that it was stupid and pointless, but I think I always knew that I would end up here. I knew that Jesse had been a part of my old life, my old self, but I couldn’t get my heart to accept that little fact.
I gripped the steering wheel tightly as I drove down I-79 from the Pittsburgh airport to my new school. Up ahead, I saw the sign welcoming me to my new state. It was ridiculous to be nervous at the sight of a simple sign. The chances of him ending up at the same school as me were slim to none.
Then, why am I here?
I took a deep breath as I glanced up at the sign just before I drove past it.
Welcome to West Virginia.
“You okay?” Andy asked from the passenger seat.
“Yeah, I’m just nervous.”
“Don’t be. This is a whole new experience for you. You can be whoever you want here, and no one will know you’re the rich girl from Santa Monica. You can tell them you’ve been living in a box or something.”
“I’m not nervous about anyone finding out who my dad is. I’m nervous about the fact that I might see Jesse again.”
“I know. I was being sarcastic. I know it’s pointless to tell you not to stress, but I’m going to—again. Don’t stress. If you and Jesse were meant to be together, things will work out. If you two weren’t meant to be, you’ll find someone else.”