61. August and Everything After

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August had drifted away in a Vicodin haze

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August had drifted away in a Vicodin haze.

Peyton never called. I'd suspected his reasons, but was still butt hurt about it.

By September, all that remained of the ordeal was a faint scar at my temple, barely visible unless you were looking for it. I couldn't believe how lucky I'd been.

School started, and I made better grades than ever before. Part of it was a testament to the stable home life that the Harris' provided, and the other part?

Well, Jake sort of did all my science and math work for me.

At first, he'd tried to teach me, but when it became painfully clear that he had a better chance of sucking a bowling ball through a straw, he'd declared it a waste of time and did the work himself.

"Don't worry about it," he'd say, "You'll get through life just fine without knowing how to calculate molar mass."

I would pretty much fail the in-class tests, but it averaged out to a passing grade. Jake turned out to be really book-smart too. It never took more than a brief skim-read of something for him to understand a concept and apply it.

As for me, I still remember how he'd sit at the table with me when I did my homework. He'd have these looks of horrified disbelief on his face as he'd watch me gnawing on my pencil's eraser, painstakingly solving my math. But whenever I'd look up, he'd smile and nod his head in encouragement. He'd never once made a disparaging comment and I loved him for it.

I'd also been delighted to find out silly little things about him, like how he could juggle anything you threw at him, and how he could take an apple and split it perfectly down the middle with his bare hands, half for me and half for him.

All in all, we were happy, head over heels about each other, and he was getting much better at expressing it. It wasn't just about sex anymore, he was affectionate, and we'd spend hours and hours laying around talking about everything under the moon (although some subjects required more cajoling than others).

Not that sex had taken a back seat, far from it. We did that a lot too. Oh my God, So. Much. Sex. Some days we'd get bored and do it over and over again just to see if we could beat our previous record.

We also rode every chance we got, Jake, me and Beth. The weather was glorious and we'd been invincible with the wind in our hair, adrenaline in our veins, celebrating the youth and freedom of our spirits. We'd go galloping through the fields, laughing, yelling and trying to one up each other with our horsemanship, Satan always running ahead of us.

Yes, Satan lived.

Alice's daddy had bought him and paid his boarding fees for life. As I'd predicted, he was no good for riding after the fiasco, no one was able to get a saddle anywhere near him. But he had a grand old time out in the best pastures, chilling out and fucking every mare that got within his line of sight. I think he preferred it that way. Who says horses were meant to be ridden anyway?

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