Chapter Seventeen

79.7K 3K 310

I ducked under Ethan's arm and delivered a punch to his ribs. The blow was softened by my boxing gloves but it was still a hard enough punch to make him stagger. 

Skipping out of his reach, I shoved sweaty strands of hair out of my eyes with my forearm. 

Ethan came at me. I tried to duck again but this time Ethan anticipated it. His gloved fist landed somewhere on my chest. I faltered and he hooked a leg under my feet, neatly tripping me. I hit the padded garage floor with a dull thud. Ethan stood over me, placing his foot on my chest.  

"I think I've won." Usually he'd proclaim his winning or losing status with a grin before offering a hand to help me up. Today he just regarded me with unreadable eyes before moving away. There was no hand to pull me to my feet. Oddly, that hurt more than the punches he'd managed to land. There was precious little left of the fortress round my heart.  

I peeled off my boxing gloves and tossed them in the corner of the garage, flexing my fingers several times to ease out the stiffness. Ethan had his back to me as he stripped off his own padding. The small garage was charged with unfamiliar tension. I've never not known what to say around Ethan, never not known how to gauge his mood. Today I couldn't begin to guess what he was thinking.  

But I had to say something. A whole day had passed since Ethan spotted me and Luke at the funfair and so far he didn't seem to have told anyone else. If he had I was fairly sure I would know by now. 

"So I guess I owe you a huge thank you." 

He didn't even turn. "For what?" 

"For not turning me in." 

"You mean about you and...and Luke." He said Luke's name as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.  

I swallowed the uneasy knot in my throat. "Yes." 

Finally Ethan turned and looked at me. His face was taut with barely suppressed emotion. "I only did it to protect you. Noah would kill you if he found out you've been screwing around with some boy." 

"We are not screwing around," I said hotly. 

"Whatever," Ethan muttered, turning his back on me again. 

The tense silence returned to the garage until I couldn't bear it anymore. I wasn't giving up Luke for anything but I didn't want to lose Ethan either. If I didn't fix this wound in our friendship, it would rot and fester and destroy everything we'd once had. 

"Ethan, please don't hate me." 

His shoulders rose and fell in a silent sigh. "I could never hate you, Kiara." 

"Then stop being so angry with me. Nothing I'm doing is hurting you." 

He turned back to me, crossing his arms across his chest. His fingers twitched with nervous energy. "That's where you're wrong. You're my best friend, Kiara; you mean the whole world to me. If you hurt, I hurt. Do you understand that?" 

"Yes, but I'm not hurt," I pointed out. 

"You will be. Whatever this thing is between you and Luke, it won't last. It can't. You know that better than anyone." 

"So why not let me enjoy the fantasy while I can?" 

Ethan heaved another deep sigh and some of the tension drained from his face. "I've said all I can to discourage you, Kiara. Whatever happens now is on your own head." 

"I know that." 

He crossed the room and pulled me into a one-armed hug. It was still a little stiff but at least it felt like things were mending between us.  

When Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls Book 1)Where stories live. Discover now