In this Teaser Tuesday excerpt from THE PROS AND CONS OF BREATHING, the first day of school has finally arrived–and the secrets begin to unfold. Ariel learns that Liam isn’t the guy she thought he was.
Zoey was sitting at a table when I walked into Study Hall. I slammed my books down grabbing her attention.
“Why didn’t you tell me Liam went to our school?” I asked.
She shrugged, “I didn’t think it mattered.”
My jaw dropped, “we hug out for like a month, and you couldn’t mention it?” I said, stammering to speak. “Did you know he played football for Clearwater? Owen pretty much hates him!”
I started pacing, pulling at the root of my hair.
“Listen, Ariel,” she said. I stopped and turned toward her. “I didn’t realize I had to give you a family tree every time I introduced you to someone.”
Liam walked in. I groaned, irritation twisting in me. I stood at the table. He came over and sat across from Zoey, with a cocky grin. Ugh! I was so annoyed. I pivoted away, wishing I had long hair to toss over my shoulder—but it was gone now. I sat beside Devin, continuing to pull at my scalp.
A few tables over, Zoey pinned a few poofy strands back, and adjusted the crystal choker around her neck. It seemed everyone around me was keeping secrets. I was beginning to wonder if anyone told the truth anymore.
Devin smiled wide, her pearl white teeth shining through the plush pink lip gloss.
“I have the 411 on the new guy,” she said.
I wrinkled my brows, tearing my eyes away from him.
“Lay it on me.”
She hunched forward, causing her dark hair to fall over her tiny, round shoulders.
“He’s an only child, he loves the color blue, he dated some girl two years ago, but they are so over, and apparently, he was expelled from Clearwater,” she said, taking a deep breath.
“Expelled?” the words fell out of my lips, my mind racing. I wondered if it had to do with football and that scholarship to camp he lost.
“Ouch, new boy is totally macking on you!” she squealed.
My eyes followed hers to where he was sitting. Liam’s book was wide open, and he was looking right at me—those metallic eyes burning my skin. My face felt hot.
“Word on the street—and when I say street, I mean Miss Gordon’s filling cabinet—is that his mom died two years ago,” she said, whispering.
“How?” I asked.
“Cancer,” she said. “I guess she was sick for a while, and he took care of her. Isn’t that sweet?”
I bit down on my lip, and tried to comprehend that kind of pain—the kind that wallowed inside for months, just anticipating the death of someone you love. I couldn’t fathom waiting for my dad to die—taking care of him all those months.
There was so much I didn’t know about Liam and his life. Was he in pain? Did he ever get over it—and if he didn’t, would I? Suddenly his Jekyll and Hyde behavior between me and the world seemed to make sense. It was a defense mechanism, like my drug usage.
“Girlfriend?” I asked.
“No,” she said, flatly.
“Gay?” I asked.
“Definitely not gay,” she said. “Apparently, he’s waiting for something.”
I shook my head, what?
“You learned all this from his file?”
She rolled her eyes laughing, “of course not, silly. I made a call to a friend at Clearwater.”
“You have friends there?” I asked.
“You know what they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Thoughts. comments, suggestions?