Chapter 25 iNeed To Talk

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"You okay?" A hand squeezed hers under the table. "You've been quiet."

Keeley could only nod in response. Ever since the incident outside, her mouth had been as dry as the Sahara. She swallowed, trying to regain some moisture but it didn't help. The only thing that would sate her mouth would be answers and to get those she would have to ask questions. Questions she wasn't sure she wanted to ask.

Talon's brows pulled together. He leaned in and whispered, "What's wrong?"

She cast a sideways glance to her family, but they were too absorbed in the game to notice the interaction. "Uh," she wet her lips, "just tired I guess."

Unconvinced, his eyes narrowed. They searched hers, probing for the truth. Her heart clenched at the invasion. She wanted to pull back, not allow him access, but she remained still. If she averted her eyes now he would know something was wrong.

"I'm fine," she said, forcing her lips to curve into a smile. "I didn't get much sleep last night and it's finally catching up with me." The tightness in her chest eased a little as he nodded and looked away.

For the rest of the night, Keeley made a distinct effort to act normal. She laughed, teased and joked but inside she was reeling. One word kept repeating over and over in her mind—Claire. Who was this mystery girl? Neither Talon nor Zach had ever mentioned the name, at least not to her, but it was clear she had something to do with their grudge. What could have possibly happened between them?

Occasionally, she would catch Talon sending her a suspicious glance but she brushed it off, pretending nothing was wrong. She could tell he didn't buy it though. His forehead creased as he stared at her, looking as if she was a complex puzzle he couldn't quite figure out.

By the time they finished the game Keeley was emotionally drained. She nearly shouted "Halleluiah" when her mom won. Quickly, she packed Risk away, hustling everyone along. She needed time to think, time to process and she couldn't do that with him nearby. 

"Thank you for having me, Mr. and Mrs. Brewer," Talon said, walking to the entryway.

Her mom smiled and opened the door. "You're always welcome here."

"I wouldn't go that far," Zach muttered under his breath as he passed by.

Keeley turned to Talon, intent on giving him a goodbye hug but the frown on his face stopped her.

"Walk me to my car?" he asked.

She glanced at her father who nodded his approval. It was quiet as they strolled down the driveway, dark silence blanketing the world around them. They didn't speak till they arrived at Talon's truck.

Face stern, he folded his arms and leaned against the side. "All right, what's going on? You've been acting weird all night."

Anxiety shot through her bloodstream making her heart hammer in her chest. "I don't know what you mean."

"Bullcrap. You weren't even going to come outside with me. Why don't you want to be alone with me? You were fine a couple of hours ago."

Trapped, she forced out a snide remark. "I didn't know you needed a babysitter to walk you to your car."

The darkness couldn't disguise the flicker of hurt that flashed in his eyes. He quickly masked it, donning his trademark smirk. "Baby doll, I don't need anything from anyone."

The rebuke stung. Mentally, she knew he didn't need her, but she wanted him to. She wanted him to need her as much as she needed him. That's what scared her so much. What if this Claire person meant more to him than she did? What if she was just a stand in for this girl?

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