Page 6

“Wow,” I said.

He shrugged. “Don’t be too impressed. It was my dad’s.”

“Better than nothing,” I teased.

“Where do you wanna go?” he asked.

I smiled. “Anywhere.”

Weston sucked on the straw of his enormous cherry Icee, and we bounced over the potholes and patches of Blackwell’s roads, listening to the Chance Anderson Band on full blast. Within five minutes, we were outside the city limits. Weston parked at the peak of an overpass that arched over I-35, and we watched the headlights of cars and semis flow beneath us, traveling north and south.

I pushed open the passenger door and walked over to the edge. The rural overpasses didn’t have rails. It was just concrete up to your belly and common sense. A chilly breeze kissed my face, so I turned around, not exactly surprised to see lightning crackling across the clouds gathering to the north.

“I love how the storms always suck the wind into them,” I said.

Weston’s door slammed shut, and he was standing next to me. He drank the last of his Icee, and the straw against the Styrofoam made a loud slurping sound. “I just love storms.”

“So . . . are you going to tell me?” I asked.

Weston could barely pull his eyes away from the storm. “Tell you what?”

“Why you brought me out here?”

He shrugged. He was chewing on his straw, which I found oddly appealing. “Why not?”

“There are a hundred reasons why not. I was asking about the one reason why I’m here.”

“Because I asked?”

I laughed once and looked down. “Okay. If that’s the way you want to play this.”

“I don’t want to play this at all. I just want to sit up here and watch the storm roll in with you, without all the gossip of who’s doing who, and where so-and-so is going to college. Is that okay?”

I nodded. “I can live with that.”

Weston let the Chevy’s tailgate down and climbed up, reaching for my hand. “Well? C’mon.”

I let him help me to the bed of his truck and sat next to him, letting my legs dangle off the edge.

He nodded behind us. “I have stuff to drink in that cooler.”

I shook my head. “I don’t drink.”

“No, like, Fanta Orange and stuff. I think I have a few Cherry Cokes and one Mountain Dew.”

“How could I possibly choose? Those are all my favorites.”

He smiled and reached back. “Mine, too. I’ll just grab ya one.” His hands fished around in the melted ice, and he pulled out a green can. “And the winner is . . . Mountain Dew. You must be lucky.”

I popped the top. “Not so far. Thank you.”

“Maybe that’ll change. For both of us.”

“You don’t feel lucky?” I asked.

He thought about it for a moment. “You’re the last person I should be talking to about my problems.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“I just mean that you’ll think I’m being stupid. Because they’re not even close to the kind of hell you go through.”

I shrugged. “It’s not that bad.”

“If I had to endure that every day, I couldn’t do it. You’re pretty damn tough, Erin Easter.”

He rested his arm on his knee and his chin on his fist as he stared at me. His jeans weren’t pulled all the way down over his cowboy boots, and his hoodie was worn. Suddenly he didn’t seem so out of reach.

Lightning from the north sky flashed in his eyes, and we both gasped.

“That was a good one,” he said. “Too bad it’s going to miss us.”

“Good. Bad. It’s all the same.”

“What does that mean?” he said, smiling.

“There’s an old Chinese proverb Mrs. Pyles told me once about an old Taoist farmer. I think about it a lot.”

“Tell me,” he said, nudging me.

“I don’t remember it verbatim.”

“Paraphrase then.”

I took a breath. “One day, the only horse the farmer owned died. It was the only way he could plow his fields. Everyone in the village came to offer their condolences for his bad luck. The farmer said, ‘We’ll see.’ A week later, his son came across a heard of wild horses and managed to bring home two. The village was amazed at their good fortune. The farmer said, ‘We’ll see.’ While the son was trying to break one of the horses, he fell off and fractured both of his legs. The village doctor said he would never walk again. Villagers came to console the farmer, because this was his only son. The farmer said, ‘We’ll see.’ Soon after, war ravaged the land. All of the able-bodied sons of the village were collected for the draft. The farmer’s son was the only one left behind. None of the boys who went to war returned.”


“Yeah. She told me that in ninth grade. It’s always stuck with me.”

“I like it. It’s . . . applicable.”

I arched an eyebrow.

He chuckled, and I did, too. Thunder rolled, grumbling all around us, and the wind picked up.

Weston lifted his chin. “Smells like rain.” His cell phone chirped. He took one look at it and stuffed it back into the front pouch of his hoodie.

I took a sip of my Mountain Dew. “Erin?”


“You’ve never seemed like . . .”

“Her type?”

“No,” I said, chuckling and shaking my head. “Not at all.”

“I guess I’m not. My parents sure like the idea of it.”


“Yeah. They like the idea of a lot of things.” He leaned back, using his arm as a pillow as he looked up at the sky.

I did the same, noticing that the only patch of clear sky was directly above us. “Will they want you home any time soon?”

“Nope. Do you need to be?”


Weston took a deep breath, and we just lay there for the longest time. Neither of us felt the need to fill the silence as we watched the storm clouds slowly close in on the stars above.

Chapter Four

Walking into third period gave me pause. A familiar face with kind blue eyes and perfectly glossed lips looked up at me. “Hi, there. Come on in.”

Julianne Alderman stood behind Mr. Barrows’s desk, nervously shuffling papers. “Oh, my. I’m not very good at this.”