“That’s great to hear, angel. And you’re right. You had nothing to do with the accident.”
“I know that now. I can’t image how someone could be so selfish, so negligent. I will never forgive the man who did this. I have zero tolerance for drunk drivers.”
I was happy to hear her channel her anger into the right place – McKenna wasn’t responsible for her parents’ deaths. The man behind the wheel was. But cold dread slithered down my spine realizing, I’d never told McKenna about my own drunk driving arrest. Would it be a deal breaker for me and her?
“I’m going to be coming home soon,” she continued.
“Can I see you when you get home?”
“Yeah, and there’s something I have to tell you when I get back.”
“Something good or something bad?” I asked.
“Um, just something…different. About my life. I finally met with my parents’ lawyer.”
“Okay.” I had no clue where this was heading, but I’d follow her lead on this one. “See you soon, then?”
“Yeah. Goodbye, Knox.”
“Do you want to talk about it or are you going to keep moping around here like someone kicked you in the balls?” Jaxon asked, glancing up from the TV.
“Are you going to watch the game or are we going to pretend this is Oprah?” I asked.
He smirked. “Fine. But the guys know something’s up. You’re not yourself. You’ve been acting like a dick ever since McKenna took off. Care to tell me what’s really going on?”
The feeling that I’d lost McKenna churned in my gut. I couldn’t sleep. Food didn’t taste right and when I tried to drink to numb the pain, I couldn’t even catch a buzz. Luke had taken Tucker to the public library, so it was just me and Jaxon at home today. “I talked to McKenna. She’s coming home soon.”
“That’s a good thing, right?”
“Yeah, I mean, I think so. But she said we have to talk when she gets back. I think she’s had some sort of realization about her past and finally accepted that her parents were killed by a drunk driver and not because of anything she did.”
“And?” Jax drew out the word.
Apparently I needed to spell it out for him. “And she doesn’t know I was arrested for drunk driving and that my sentence was what brought me into her class in the first place.” Not mentioning it at the time was an omission – it just never really came up, but keeping it from her now felt like a deceitful lie.
“Shit. That sucks.”
I blew out a frustrated breath. “Tell me about it.”
Jax flipped the channel on the TV. “That’s why I don’t do love. As soon as you let your walls down, shit falls apart and then you’re the one sitting there feeling like shit. It’s easier to hit it and quit it.”
He shrugged. “It’s just the truth and you know it. You lived that way for years.”
I couldn’t argue; he knew my history too well. “Well, sometimes feeling something is a good thing. It reminds us that we’re still human.” I’d rather be having no sex with McKenna than be sleeping with a bunch of random girls, but I knew nothing I said would get through to him. He’d have to figure all this out on his own one day, too.
Jaxon rose from the couch and handed me the remote. “I know I’m not good at this shit, but you know you have to talk to her, right?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Thanks, bro.”
I knew I needed to talk to her, but I wasn’t sure that would make a difference. With her new-found clarity and anger toward the drunk-driver who killed her parents – what could I possibly say?
I couldn’t wait any longer. After the four hour drive with nothing but the radio to keep me company, I couldn’t resist going straight to Knox’s place. With darkness settling in, I parked on the street and grabbed my overnight bag from the backseat before jogging to the front door. I’d been planning on coming home tomorrow, but as the morning had stretched on, I became more and more anxious to see Knox. I’d hastily packed, said my goodbyes, and hit the road. I wanted to surprise him.
Tucker answered the door a few moments later.
“Kenna!” He latched himself around me, squeezing tightly.
“Hi, bud. I missed you.” I leaned in and kissed his forehead.
“I missed you, too. Are you back for good?”
“Yep. I sure am.” Following him inside, the cozy familiar feeling of being home settled over me. A tower of Legos was half-built on the living room rug and the TV was playing cartoons. The house even smelled the same. I inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of boys. “Where is everyone?”
“Luke and Jaxon went out somewhere, but Knox is here.”
My heart picked up speed. I couldn’t wait to see his deep soulful eyes, to kiss his scruffy jaw, inhale his masculine scent. I’d missed him so much. “Where is he?”
“Knox?” Tucker asked.
“He told me to wait down here. He brought a girl upstairs.”
My stomach dropped like a stone and I broke out in a cold sweat.
“McKenna? Are you okay?”
I pulled in a lungful of air. “I’m fine.” I couldn’t let him see the blood rising in my cheeks or the sheer panic in my eyes. Turning from Tucker, I marched up the stairs. The journey up the three flights of stairs felt like an out of body experience. I floated above myself and watched my legs climb each step, my shaky fingers gripping the banister. My pulse thundered in my ears as I waited outside his closed bedroom door. With my heart pounding way too rapidly to be safe, I raised my fist to knock. Then stopped. And listened.
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