“You hang out on street corners?” she asked, grinning, obviously thinking she had won.
“When I’m meeting with your mom I do.” I shrugged.
Liam and Johnny burst out laughing. “Bitch,” she mumbled as she stormed off. Kate and Sarah slapped a high five, giggling like mad girls on crack.
“You’re funny,” Johnny said, grinning at me.
“Yeah, I think maybe I just ruined your chances of nailing her today. She’ll give you another chance tomorrow though so don’t worry,” I teased as I started eating again.
He turned his nose up. “She’s been driving me crazy all morning; she’s bitching about some girl who stole her boyfriend. What kind of guy would go out with someone like her anyway? He must be a right ass,” he scoffed, shrugging.
The whole table, apart from Liam, burst out laughing. “Er, that ass would be me. But we weren’t going out,” Liam stated, shaking his head.
Johnny blushed like crazy. “Oh sorry,” he mumbled, wincing slightly.
I wrapped my arm around Liam. “Don’t worry, lover boy, your taste has improved since then,” I cooed, pulling him closer to me.
“Angel, my taste has always been the same. Forbidden fruit.” He leant in quickly, biting my neck, making me giggle. Jake cleared his throat and Liam pulled away with a sigh and rolled his eyes. I let Kate talk to Johnny for the rest of lunch, adding in the occasional question or answer when I needed to. He was actually a nice guy. It would have been easier if he was an jerk, then that way I would be able to brush him off and not feel like a piece of crap about it after. I showed him to his classes and he sat next to me when he could. When the bell rang for the end of the day I breathed a sigh of relief.
“So are you headed straight home?” Johnny asked, smiling, as we walked to my locker.
I shook my head. “No. I need to wait for Jake and Liam to be finished with their practice.”
“Yeah, what does Jake play?” he asked curiously.
“Cool. You know, I could give you a ride if you want,” he offered. “My mom and Stephen bought me a wicked car for my birthday,” he added, smiling broadly. I felt my heart sink at the sound of his name again, the way he used it in casual conversation scared the crap out of me.
“Um, thanks for the offer, but I’ll wait for them. Liam usually comes over after because Jake goes to work,” I said quickly.
“Where does Jake work?” he asked, leaning against the lockers.
“Benny’s gym.” I rammed my books into my bag with way too much force bending all the pages, because I was getting uncomfortable.
“Jake doesn’t seem to like me much,” Johnny muttered, looking a little sad.
I smiled reassuringly. “He doesn’t know you. It’s just weird for us that’s all. We haven’t seen our father in three years, then all of a sudden he turns up here and bang, we have another brother and a stepbrother. Jake doesn’t like change,” I explained, trying to skirt around the issue a little.
He nodded, looking thoughtful. “Yeah, I guess it’s hard. So, do you think maybe I could wait with you until their practice ends and we could get to know each other a bit more? I mean, I don’t want this to carry on being awkward for either of us, I’m here now so I think we need to make the best of it,” he asked, looking at me hopefully.
Holy shit buckets! I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing, I nodded and shut my locker.
“You want to sit out front? I usually sit under the tree and wait,” I said as we walked out of the building.
“Sounds good,” he agreed, following me with a little smile. I walked to the big oak tree where I usually sit and do my homework and sat down leaning against it. He plopped down in front of me, picking a couple of blades of grass, playing with them nervously. There was a little daisy next to my foot, so I picked it and tucked it into the back of my ponytail because it reminded me of the one that Liam picked for me before dance practice after that first night we kissed.
I was so uncomfortable that I squirmed on the spot, trying to think of something to say. “So, your little brother, Matt…. Well, I guess he’s my brother now too, anyway what I was going to say is, what’s he like?” I asked curiously.
He grinned. “He’s cute. He’s a pain in the butt, especially when he cries in the night, but he’s cute. I have a picture if you want to see,” he offered, pulling his wallet out and handing it to me. I smiled and eagerly flicked it open, wanting to see the little baby. My breath caught in my throat as I looked at the picture, it wasn’t just the baby, it was a family picture. I looked at my father; he was smiling proudly with one arm around his new wife and the other around Johnny who was holding a little blond boy. My father looked older, his hair had changed and gone a little greyer, but his eyes were the thing that caught me. I remember his eyes being hard and cold and always angry, but he was different here, smiling and warm, he looked friendly and kind.
“Cute, huh?” Johnny said.
I tore my eyes away from my father and looked at the little baby; he was cute, chubby, blond hair, brown eyes and a big smile. I looked at the lady in the picture; she had brown hair and grey eyes just like my mom and me. She looked nice. “Is this your mom?” I asked, pointing at her.
He smiled and nodded. “Yeah. Her name’s Ruby,” he said, taking his wallet back when I was done.
I couldn’t get the image out of my brain of my father smiling. Had he changed? I looked Johnny over, he looked happy, no bruises or cuts, no telltale limp or wincing or anything. “So, do you get on with him then?” I asked curiously, watching his face for his reaction.
“Matt? Yeah he’s OK. It’ll be better when he’s older and he can do more stuff,” he answered, shrugging.
I gulped. “No, I meant my father,” I clarified, trying not to flinch at the thought of him. Johnny shrugged and nodded, but didn’t say anything. “It must be hard having a guy come along though after years of it just being you and your mom,” I stated, trying to push for an answer. Was my father hurting him too, or maybe the baby, or his mom? I was immediately thankful that he didn't have another girl living with him. The physical abuse was bad; Jake got the brunt of it, but the sexual abuse, that left mental scars that I knew I still wasn't over. Memories of those Sunday's flashed through my mind and I bit the inside of my cheek to stop from crying.
He nodded and looked at the floor. “It was a little hard, but they’ve been together for over two years now, so…” he trailed off, shrugging. I opened my mouth to push the issue further but he cut me off. “So how long have you and Liam been together?” he asked, pulling out some more grass and rolling it in his hand to make a ball.
I smiled at the thought of Liam. “A week and a half.”
“He’s your brother’s friend, right?” he asked.
“Yeah. I’ve known him since I was four,” I confirmed, loving talking about Liam. I was actually really missing him, I gotten used to seeing him all day over the weekend so it was hard going back to only seeing him at lunchtime. “So, tell me some more about you,” I suggested, laying down on my belly and propping my head on my hands, watching him.
He laid down too and chatted about his life, his likes and dislikes. He was a keen skateboarder and entered competitions and stuff at the weekends and did stunts and tricks. He missed his friends. He’d never had a girlfriend. His favourite food was chicken curry. I’d just started to tell him mine when I spotted Liam jogging towards me across the parking lot, looking so handsome that he was almost painful to look at. I jumped up and grinned as he wrapped his arms around me, lifting me off of my feet and crashed his lips to mine. I kissed him back hungrily.
He pulled back after a few seconds. “I need to have some alone time with you,” he whispered as he kissed me again, gentler this time.
I smiled. “What, right now? Can’t you wait until we get home?” I joked.
He shook his head. “No, but I can wait until the parking lot at the back of the gym after we’ve dropped Jake off,” he suggested, grinning wickedly.
“In your dreams, Liam,” I said, laughing and rolling my eyes.
“Probably,” he agreed as he put me down, holding me close to his side, laughing at my horrified expression. Johnny pushed himself up and was standing there awkwardly. “Thanks for looking after my girl for me,” Liam said, smiling a friendly smile.
“Yeah, no problem,” Johnny muttered nervously, kicking his shoes in the grass. Jake walked over, looking between me and Johnny with a confused expression. “Well I guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Thanks for letting me hang with you, Amber,” Johnny said, smiling.
“Yeah, it was fun. Hey, let’s see this car of yours before you go,” I suggested, nodding back towards the parking lot. He grinned proudly.
“What car have you got?” Jake asked curiously as we all started walking. I knew that would catch Jakes interest. I smiled and pulled Liam a little bit behind, letting Jake and Johnny go ahead, giving them a little time. Jake needed to see for himself that Johnny was OK before he would stop scowling at him. By the time we caught up with them, Jake was sitting behind the wheel of a midnight blue BMW Z4, rubbing his hands on the dashboard lovingly.
“Oh shit, this is a nice car,” Liam purred, tracing his hand over the roof with wide eyes. He grabbed my hand and pulled me close to him. “When I’m a millionaire hockey player, I’ll buy you one of these,” he stated, tangling his hand in my hair, looking into my eyes making me feel slightly weightless.
I pressed myself to him and bit his chin gently. “I’d rather have a Ferrari,” I joked.
He sighed dramatically. “Wow, OK, I hope I get signed to a good team if you’re going to be this demanding,” he replied, as he kissed me, making me yearn for him to run his hands down my body. After another ten minutes of drooling over Johnny’s car we finally left and went to drop Jake at work. I jumped into the front seat and held Liam’s hand all the way home, excited for some private time. Not that it would be easy with my mom home for the week, but I’m pretty sure we’d manage. Even just a cuddle on the sofa sounded like heaven right about now.