Chapter 26: Jacky

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"Would you rather go live with Monica and her parents?" Jacky asked later that night.

They'd both been drained after dealing with Mrs. Johnston, and by the time Mrs. Jennings arrived home, Ryan and Jacky had taken a nap together and woken up a little more refreshed. Jacky figured it was probably lack of sleep that had led him to the incident earlier. ("Do you really think I assaulted her? Do you think she'll get a lawyer?" Jacky had worried. Ryan's response: "You didn't hurt her. And she kind of deserved it.")

Mrs. Jennings had rented a movie from Red Box, some new romantic comedy she didn't think the boys would be interested in watching. Yet both of them sat on the couch under an afghan while Mrs. Jennings drank her wine and smiled at them when she didn't think they were looking.

Now they were both in Jacky's bed, sharing again, and Jacky found that he couldn't sleep.

"I don't know," Ryan whispered. His breath tickled on the back of Jacky's neck.

"How come you decided to go to a group home instead of what Mrs. Johnston said? Getting emancipated?"

Ryan sighed, and Jacky felt his forehead lean into the back of his neck. His voice, when he spoke, was muffled. "I thought about it. There's no job I could get, as a high school student, that would be enough hours or enough money to pay for an apartment and all the bills and everything that goes along with that. Not if I still wanted to graduate with a decent GPA." Ryan sighed again. "Allison and I went over all that. All the details of what it would take. And I didn't know which of my friends would actually want me living there. I knew the Johnstons would, but then... would they be like Monica used to be, trying to force us back into a relationship? I didn't want it to be like that. I didn't want to do that to her. And... no matter what people say, I don't want to burden anybody. Me living somewhere, their parents would have to buy extra groceries, and maybe they'd have to give me money for clothes or to go out or whatever. Unless I got a job. I was just..." Ryan's chest hitched against Jacky's back. "I was hoping she could hang on until I wouldn't have to worry about it."

Jacky ran his hand along the soft hair on Ryan's forearms. "I wish things could have been different, too."

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Author's Note: I sent out 3 queries to literary agents this week!  I'm planning to try to send out a couple every week.  So far I haven't heard anything but fingers crossed!

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