56. The Persistence of Memory

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"Why did you look at me like that yesterday? At Beaudry's?"

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"Why did you look at me like that yesterday? At Beaudry's?"

Beth nearly jumped out of her skin. "Damn it Layla! Make some noise when you approach someone from behind! Geez!"

"Sorry," I mumbled, shoving my hands into my back pockets.

As soon as Peyton took Alice home, I'd beelined it to the boarding stables in search of Beth. I'd found her bent over the watering trough, covered in soap suds all the way to her bicep, scrubbing like mad.

"By the way, Jake and I had sex." The plan was to wait to see if Jake told her that we were official, because you know, trust, but verify.

Beth's face crumbled and nearly turned purple. She quickly turned away from me and attacked the trough with a renewed passion.

"Did you hear me?" I asked.

"Yeah, I heard you."


"Congratulations? Oops? Sorry? All of the above? I don't know and I don't care. Respect the boundaries Layla," she said, using an arm to draw a semicircle around her body. "I told you time and again, that people make me uncomfortable. I don't want all the gory details and insights into their lives."

She said the words, but they were lacking her usual swagger.

I stuck my face right in front of hers. "Not their, mine. And I'm your friend, it's okay to care."

She bit down on her lip and refused to meet my gaze.

"Anyway, I need to talk to you about Jake. This thing about his mom-"

Beth tossed her sponge aside. "Not here. Come on, let's go for a drive."

Peyton was picking me up to go to dinner soon, but I followed her anyway, wondering why she was being so skittish. It was very unlike her.

On the way to the parking lot, I saw Jake in the distance, mounted on Satan, running him in circles around the pen. He didn't see me but I grinned like an idiot anyway, wishing I had nothing to do so I could stand there and admire the graceful athleticism of his movements. I had it so bad for him it wasn't even funny.

Beth drove a new but slightly beat up white Prius with two mini horseshoes dangling from the rear view mirror. Wordlessly, she started the engine and backed out of the lot, bumping the curb in the process. When we hit the highway, she focused on the road ahead of us with the same intensity with which she did everything else.

Except she wasn't that great at driving.

I double checked my seatbelt and held on.

"Okay," she said. "Don't hate me, but do you remember how I told you that Jake would be good for you?"

That seemed like an eon ago. "Uh huh."

"Well, I take it back. All of it. Back off, Layla, stay away from him. And if you can, stay away from Peyton Bishop too. And definitely, definitely, stay away from Carson Beaudry. He's a very dangerous man."

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