Home > Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(17)

Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(17)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

“I bet he was a great one,” Nora said.

Sebastian snorted as he stood to clean up. “Don’t let him fool you, Nora. He packs a mean wallop to the head when you least expect it. I only keep him around ’cause he can cook.”

And immediately, I felt my jealousy of Sebastian ebb away. He was the only real family I had left. I loved him. Hard. And I had no right to be mad at him for flirting with Nora.

I hugged him and rubbed his head playfully with my knuckles. He was long overdue with all the lip flapping he’d been doing this morning.

“See how he is?” Sebastian said, grinning as he pulled away from me, trying to smooth down his styled hair.

The buzzer pealed from downstairs. “What’s that?” she asked.

“Door bell. Looks like it’s payback time, Nora,” I said.

Her face turned white and her fork clattered down on the table. “Shit. Parents?”

“No, it’s friends of ours, and I want you to come downstairs and meet them,” I said.

She nodded, her face still pale.

I stood there for a moment, wanting to tell her it would be okay. That I wouldn’t let anyone hurt her. But I walked out the door and didn’t look back, leaving her there with Sebastian.

“Behind every beautiful thing is a world of pain.”

–Nora Blakely

AFTER LEO DISAPPEARED from sight, I sped out of the kitchen and went to the bathroom, grabbing my phone and backpack on the way. My mouth dried, thinking about who could be waiting for me. If it wasn’t family, then who could it be? What if he’d changed his mind and called the police?

Whatever was waiting for me, I could handle it. I simply needed to do the things on my list: get drunk, get high, and get laid. Get relief. End of story.

My phone buzzed. I opened it and saw Mila had texted me five times during the night and early this morning.

--What happened last night! You never texted me!

--Where are you, chica? You better be in your car! Asleep!

--Hello?? Okay, are you alive?? Don’t drive drunk, or I will be MAD!!

--Now I’m scared! Call me!

--Crappola, are you in jail! I better be your one phone call!

My stomach lurched when I saw Finn had called me several times as well, and the thought of listening to his nasally voice made me feel nauseated. I hated how weak he made me feel, even though he lived four hours away. I deleted all six voicemails he’d left with a shaking hand. He hadn’t tried to call or text me in months, and I suspected him moving back home had him trying to reach out. He’d hated living there as much as I do now, so he had to be desperate if he planned on coming back to Highland Park.

I washed my face and then redid my ponytail, easing around the yellowish bruise on the side of my face. I grabbed some toothpaste and cleaned my teeth with my finger.

Someone knocked on the door. “Hey, we’ll be in the big room past the yoga area. It’s downstairs,” Sebastian called out.

“Okay,” I mumbled.

Thinking I should get this day started the right way, I took out the flask and gulped down a big swig of vodka, coughing at the bitterness. I took another swallow, watching myself in the mirror, staring at the strange girl who’d gotten drunk last night. I didn’t know her, but I liked her a lot better than numb Nora. Yeah, this girl was real. She wouldn’t do everything Mother said. She wouldn’t break down behind closed doors, dreaming of knives, blood, and secrets. This girl could handle whatever shit came her way.

To make sure I was ready, I searched around the bathroom for a word to roll around, yet there was nothing that caught my attention except nail clippers, dental floss, and, of course, the toilet. Damn it. I closed my eyes, riffled through my cerebral dictionary and got what I needed.

“Hydraulic,” I said aloud. “A noun derived from Greek and Latin, referring to a system, such as the mechanism operated by the pressure transmitted when a liquid is forced through a small opening or tube. Such as a toilet,” I said, nodding at myself in the mirror for a job well done. I flushed it for good measure, watching the water swirl around.

There, I felt better.

Nope, not loony at all.

I walked out of the bathroom and halted. Sebastian was standing there, his head cocked as he looked at me.

“Who were you talking to?” he asked.

I didn’t answer.

He arched his brow at me. “It sounded a lot like you were saying all this technical shit about the crapper.”

I burst out laughing.

“Yeah, I didn’t mean to make a joke, but it’s a pretty good one, huh?” he said with a chuckle.

I nodded and smiled widely, not able to resist his easy manner.

He held up a hand. “Wait a minute; you weren’t actually talking to the crapper, were you?”

“No,” I said. “I was defining a word, repeating its definition, parts of speech and etymology. The usual.”

His eyes widened. “A word?”

“Yeah, I got a thing for words. You know how some people collect sea shells? I collect words. I think about them all the time. They make me feel better when I’m jittery. I can’t get through the day without them. Well, I guess I could, but it wouldn’t be fun.” Understatement of the year.

“My mom collected porcelain figures,” he murmured, nodding like it was everyday you heard some girl admit she was neurotic.

Looking at Sebastian, I couldn’t help but see the differences in his and Leo’s appearance now. The opal-blue eyes were the same, but Sebastian’s blond hair was gelled in a buzz cut while Leo’s was longer and sexier. Enough to run my hands through and hold on tight while he pounded away.

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