Pretending(4)

By: Shanna Clayton



“He’s uh…got a bit of a gash across his stomach,” Tyson says. He turns, looking back at the lifeless Wesley and tilts his head. “Among other problems.”

“What other problems?”

Crap—I’m curious now, especially since it sounded like there’s a story behind those words. But I really shouldn’t be asking. His problems, whatever they are, have nothing to do with me.

“Never mind,” I say before Tyson can answer. “I don’t want to know the details.”

The problem is I do want to know. What did Tyson mean Wesley had a gash on his stomach? A gash could mean something as small as a scratch or something as big as a gaping flesh wound. It’s on the tip of my tongue to ask, but I swallow it down.

No more questions. I can’t involve myself in Wesley’s business any more than I already have.

“Go help your friend,” I say to Tyson. “I’ll show you where his bedroom is.”

Wesley’s friends end up carrying him, Tyson holding his arms and Chase in charge of his legs. When I hear Wesley groan—an agonizing sound—I stop.

Chase catches my look of horror. “Don’t worry about it, babe. Just keep going. He’s not exactly light.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Tyson grunts, breathless. “You’re not carrying his upper body.”

I continue to lead them down the hallway, ignoring every painful sound Wesley makes. When we finally get to his side of the house, I have to stop and think about where to go. The first room I check is a bedroom. The only other bedroom on this floor is mine, so this one has to be his.

They lay Wesley on top of his king-sized bed, then take a moment to catch their breaths.

“You should take off his shoes,” I suggest from the doorway.

I don’t know why I said that. Wesley’s comfort doesn’t matter to me, but it’s too late to take it back now.

Looking tired and aggravated, Chase and Tyson each wrench a shoe from Wesley’s feet. Before I can ask them to do anything else, they both turn to leave. Chase nods on his way out by way of a goodbye, and Tyson pauses at the doorway. “Thanks, Doll. Maybe I’ll see you on campus.”

He sounds hopeful. Tyson is one of Wesley’s friends. It’s not like we can be buddy-buddy or anything, but I don’t think he realizes that he’s playing for Team Wesley just yet. Once he understands how divided this house is, it will be the end of us knowing each other. “Night, Tyson. Drive safe.”

With one last wink, he’s gone. I suddenly find myself alone in the dark bedroom.

With him.

I shuffle my feet. I’ve been in this room before. Once. I hadn’t been prying…

Okay, maybe I was prying a little bit.

So what. I’m curious. I’ve lived with the guy for the past three years, and I barely know him. Besides, it’s not like he keeps anything personal in here anyway. Not unless you count the drawer full of condoms or the set of dumbbells in the corner. I shake my head, remembering my disappointment. I always held a starry-eyed image of Wesley Kent, figuring he’d be one of the most fascinating, adventurous, intelligent people to walk the planet. If he had any of his dad in him, he should’ve been all those things and more.

Sadly the most noteworthy item in this room is the picture Wesley keeps of his brother, Sam, buried in the back of his closet behind his clothes. From what Harland told me, they were inseparable. Sam died in a car crash a few years back, and Wesley never recovered from the loss.

I can relate. Loss and I are old friends. Harland and my mom were all I had, and now they’re both gone. That picture of Sam is the only thing that makes sense about Wesley Kent. It’s the type of thing you stuff in the back of the closet to make their absence easier to deal with. All my mom’s things are tucked away in a drawer somewhere too.

Daring a glance at Wesley, I decide to move closer. I know I should turn and walk away, but I can’t help myself. An overpowering need to look at him up close takes over my body and propels me to the edge of the bed.

Whenever we cross paths, I usually avert my eyes and go about my business as if he’s not there. Ignoring him is the easiest way to deal with him ignoring me. But he doesn’t know I’m here, and I can’t let this chance go to waste.

Moonlight spills in from the window, giving me just enough of its glow to take in his face. I let out a small breath; he’s so damned gorgeous it’s a shame. Everything about him is lean and chiseled, and it makes me wish things were different between us.

Sleep softens the hard lines of his face. The squareness of his jaw becomes a little less rigid. His eyes aren’t open, but I remember the color vividly. It’s a dark shade of blue, almost black but not quite. Like the night sky.

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