Chapter 2

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T W O

      "WHAT DO YOU mean he's suspicious?"

      I sighed. "I don't know, Jay. When the whole situation with Jessica happened, he could tell I was lying. She'd never said a word to me before—not that he'd know that—but I still stood up to her before I stood up to you three."

      Jay sat to my left and wrapped a comforting arm around my shoulders. Cyrus nodded in understanding and seemed to sit in though for a while. The four of us were sitting at Tyler's, since Ryder bailed on their plans last minute.

      Ryder had always separated his time between the week days, when he watched his six year old sister, and the weekends, where he went out with the boys and slipped from party to party. Today was Thursday, the day before the party, and Ryder was babysitting so that he could go to Tyler's house tomorrow.

      In other words, I definitely wasn't going while everyone was sober.

      Fortunately, he couldn't stay the night at Tyler's, which meant that I could. His parents agreed to let him go to the party if he watched his sister tomorrow night after the party so they could go out.

      Jay slid his arm from around me in favor of dropping his head into his hands with a sigh. "I really hope you're wrong, Skye."

      "What's the big deal in Ryder finding out?" Tyler asked, sending me a sideways smile. He was sitting across from me, Cyrus, and Jay on the table. "He'd love Skye if he really got to know her like we did."

      "That's true," Cyrus agreed, "but we've been lying to Ryder for two months now. Besides, even if he wasn't mad about that, he still hates Skye for standing up to him."

      Jay snorted, head still in his hands. "He was only mad because no one tells him off but us." He lifted his head and ran his tongue across the inside of his bottom lip with a snort. "He couldn't handle a girl putting him in his place."

      Tyler laughed loudly at that. "You should've seen how red his face got when he ranted about what happened."

      Cyrus shook his blonde head in disappointment. "I wish I'd been there to see it. I'd had to help my mom with some errands and didn't get here until after Ryder had calmed down some." He grinned at me. "You really did a number on him, Skye."

      I let out a short giggle, which quickly turned into full blown laughter as Jay said, "You probably would have just made a comment about how red he was to piss him off more. I can see it now," he put his hands up, staring off at nothing in particular and motioning like a fast horizon would appear between his hands. "Skye Valkyrie, murdered for calling Ryder Williams a tomato."

      We all busted out laughing to the point that I leaned on Cyrus for support, which he in turn used me for the same, Tyler was on the floor, and Jay was on the opposite end of the couch clutching his stomach.

•••••

      "So, you'll be here around midnight?" Tyler asked.

      I nodded. "Everyone will probably be drunk out of their minds by then."

      We were all sitting in Tyler's room, lounged comfortably on his king sized bed. It had white sheets and a dark blue comforter to match the pillows. The walls that surrounded us were sky-blue, and his floor was tiled with light wood.

      We were trying to decide what time I'd be showing up tomorrow. I stayed here with one of the boys nearly every night, so we usually decided where I'd stay based off of who's parents would be home, and who's wouldn't. I'd been staying with Tyler most of this week, along with the rest of the guys if their parents would let them, which was usually the case.

      "I'll make sure this room stays locked, so you won't have to worry about anyone walking in or anything throughout the night," Cyrus reassured.

      I smiled softly, tucking a strand of dark hair behind my ear. They knew as well as I did that I could handle myself, but they'd never let their trust for me outweigh their protective instincts. "Thank you. Are you guys staying tonight?"

      "I'm not," Jay answered first, his focus shifting over from me to Cyrus. "I don't know about him."

      We all turned to the tall blonde. He shrugged, running a hand through his short hair. "Not sure yet. I've got to run home and then to the hospital to check on my mom, but I'll call and let you know if I'm coming back or not."

      We all nodded. There was a short silence before Jay asked, "How's she doing, by the way?"

      Cyrus sighed. I knew he didn't like talking about his mom's condition, but with all of the stories he'd told us about her, we loved her as if she were our own mother - and she may as well have been. Mrs. Ross had been diagnosed with lung cancer a while back, and was staying in the hospital for treatment. "Not much better, but not any worse, either."

      I pulled Cyrus into a side hug. His tense body relaxed almost instantly. "Everything will work out the way it's supposed to."

      He sighed, wrapping both arms around me in a real hug and nodding against my neck. I knew he didn't believe me entirely, but I was glad he still seemed to have a little bit of hope left. After all, his mom was his closest family member.

      "We should probably get going," Jay said after a while.

      Cyrus nodded, pulling away from the hug with a soft, forced smile. "He's right. See you tomorrow night?"

      I smiled back, switching my gaze between the three boys. "Yep."

      "You staying here tonight?" Tyler asked, standing and walking the other two downstairs and to the door.

      I followed, nodding. "Yeah, if you don't mind."

      "You already know that none of us mind."

      Jay and Cyrus nodded in agreement and hugged me—while Jay also kissed my forehead, as usual—before waving on their way to their cars. I shut the door and turned back towards Tyler. "Me or you on the couch, or do you care to share?"

      Tyler shrugged. "You know none of us mind sleeping in the same bed with you. You're like a sister, Skye." He chuckled. "We're not going to fuck you."

      I snorted in laughter at that. "Trust me, I know. I wouldn't let that happen, anyway." I shivered, and Tyler did the same at the thought, making me laugh harder. Despite the short amount of time Jay and I had some intense sexual tension, we never actually did more than make out and do a few other unholy things. But, I digress. "It would be too weird."

      "Yeah," Tyler agreed, then paused in thought as we made our way to the couch. "Wanna watch a movie?"

      I grinned. "Of course."

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