CHAPTER NINE

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CHAPTER NINE

The next few days were tense. Vespar and Gus stuck to themselves. Kellan stayed away from me and even the house. He didn't sleep there for the next week. I didn't ask why or where he went, but I didn't think anyone else did either. It seemed that everyone was at an impasse and no one wanted to spark something that could change everything.

As for school, Gus had been right. Two of Matt's closest buddies were in a shoving match in the school parking lot at the end of that day. Matt stood by, dumbfounded. We'd changed him permanently, like he'd been rewired inside or taken the fight out of him, but he was no longer their leader. Instead, the winner had been Dylan Cavanagh. He was another football player, typical douche, and he walked around school with his arm on some trophy. Those girls all looked the same to me: skinny, pretty, long legs.

The last day Dylan had started eyeing up Gus and me. I used to enjoy playing with guys like him, teasing, making them confused. Now, I stayed away although I doubted Gus would do the same. I'm sure she would do her usual games with him, but I didn't want to know what those were.

The last week, I learned that I didn't want to ask any more questions. The entire event of going against Vespar in class and everything that unfolded afterwards had left a bad taste in my mouth. And learning that Kellan knew things about me didn't sit well in my stomach. Everything had become chaotic and I wasn't sure how much more I wanted to take.

"Kellan's not at school again," Vespar commented as he stopped by my locker. He had a guarded look on his face, but he still managed to glance around with a smirk.

"Yeah." I wasn't sure what else to say.

"Where is he? Did you two have a fight?"

"I thought it was because of you."

"What do you mean by that?" He straightened and looked directly at me.

"You're the one he wasn't happy with. Not me. Or do you not remember last week correctly?"

A sneer flashed over his face, but it was gone instantly. "I remember you calling me out and that he decided you could talk however you liked to me. Or am I wrong, Shay?" He leaned closer to me, almost in my face.

I glanced around and saw that everyone seemed to be aware of us. A few quickly looked away, but some stared blankly, enraptured by the tension between my brother and me. "Better watch out. You're doing what I did to you and by the way, I didn't mean it how you took it. I didn't mean to go against you. I just..." I couldn't tell him that I wanted to break free, break away from the Braden rules. Vespar would think that was even more of an insult, like I was better than him, than the Braden name.

Vespar rolled his eyes and shifted so no one could see our faces. He spoke in a low voice, "I stand by what I said at the house. You're pissing on our family and you don't care. That makes me mad, but Gus wants us to make up. She wants things right with the family so fine. Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, you and I are fine. I hold no ill will towards you. Okay?"

It felt more like an order than a truce offering. I nodded, though. "Fine."

Relief rolled off his shoulders and he straightened. A little more bounce seemed to be in his frame again. "So, really, where is Kellan?"

I shrugged. "I don't know, Vespar. I wasn't lying. He's not happy with you."

His eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean? He disrespected him to his face. You told me that he had his hooks in me. You don't think he didn't hear that? He's staying away for a reason and things were fine with me and him. It's you. I'd be worried if I were you."

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