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The Way He's Not

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Chapter 20





I stare at my cell phone as it vibrates on my night stand. My head keeps telling me to answer it, but my arm refuses to move. I feel like a statue.

A picture of Liam and I, smiling, is on the screen along with Liam’s name, telling me it’s him calling. It’s the third time he’s called today.

Answer it, you bitch. He deserves an explanation. He deserves something.

But my arms remain at my sides.

Beep Beep Beep

New missed call flashes on the screen. I wait another two minutes, then:

Beep Beep Beep

New voicemail

I turn around to look out my window. Rain is falling heavily outside, but that’s nothing new. It rains all the time here. I sigh and collapse backward on my bed, staring up at the ceiling.

Last night, I’d gotten home around 1 o’ clock in the morning. Dad had fallen asleep on the couch sometime before midnight so I hadn’t gotten in trouble for coming home late.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Colton said.

You want a guy that would fight for you, no matter what.

“Ugh!” I groan, shoving my face into my pillow. I just want to forget yesterday even happened. Suddenly, I hear a knock on my door.

“Come in,” I say into my pillow. Dad walks in and smiles at me.

“I made lunch if you’re hungry.” I frown at him.

“What’d you make?” I ask suspiciously. Dad isn’t exactly the world’s greatest chef.

“Mac n’ cheese,” he says, giving me a proud grin. I shake my head and laugh. I climb out of bed and follow him downstairs to the kitchen. I put some mac n’ cheese in a bowl, then sit down at the counter to eat.

“Liam called earlier,” Dad says, leaning against the counter.

“Oh?” I say, acting surprised.

“Yeah. He didn’t leave a message, just said to call him when you get the chance. Is there something going on between you two?” I shake my head.

“Not that I know of,” I say, taking a bite of mac n’ cheese. Dad nods.

“That’s good. Don’t want to see you two breakin’ up after all this time. He’s a good kid, Jacey,” Dad says, giving me a stern, parent-y look. I flash a fake smile at him.

“Don’t worry, Dad.”

You want someone that Daddy doesn’t approve of.

I grimace at the counter as Colton’s words flash through my mind. Dad absolutely loves Liam. He couldn’t be happier with my choice of boyfriend.

“Where’s Colton?” I ask casually. Dad sighs, then shrugs.

“Don’t have a clue. Woke up to the sound of his motorcycle startin’ up.”

“He didn’t tell you where he was going?” I furrow my eyebrows as the memory of the last time he took off comes to mind.

“He left a note saying he was going out with his friends, but didn’t tell me where.”

“That’s not a good sign,” I mumble, taking another bite. Dad shakes his head.

“No, it’s not. I’d like to believe those two years in Juvi taught him something, but he’s just an overall unreliable kid. I’ve known him for years, since he was about ten I think, and I know how he can get.”

“So, Dad, what I don’t understand is, if you know him so well and know how he can be, why did you invite him to live with us?” I ask, staring up at him. Dad sighs and runs a hand through his thinning hair.

“Jacey, there’s just some things you don’t understand. Has Colton told you anything about his family, or his life before?” Dad asks. I shake my head.


“Well, it’s not my place to tell you. If he wants to tell you, he will. Do you remember that first night, at the restaurant?”

“Yeah, he insulted me and you got mad at me for it,” I say grumpily. Dad nods.

“That’s because I needed to get on his good side. I needed him to think I truly wanted to help him. If I would have yelled at him then, he probably would’ve ran off. That’s why I got mad at you, Jacey, because you showed hostility toward him, and that was the last thing I needed.”

“Oh,” I mumble.

“He’s kind of like those animals at the shelters. They’ve been beaten and bruised and now they’re scared to trust people.” Imagining Colton as an abused puppy makes my heart sink as I think of how mean I was to him in those first few weeks.

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Chapter 20

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