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chapter thirteen

Jared sat down in front of Frances at a lunch table. Frances wasn�t eating anything. She was sipping a Diet Coke. Jared had a tray full of spaghetti from the cafeteria.

"Go away," said Frances. "I don't want to talk to you."

Jared started to shovel spaghetti into his mouth.

"I mean it," said Frances. She'd stopped taking the pills, and now she was hungry all the time. She wasn't eating anything except lettuce and celery, and she'd still gained a pound. That scared her. Jared scared her.

"We had a deal, Frances," said Jared between bites. "Can't back out now."

"I stopped taking the pills," she said.

Jared raised his eyebrows. "You liked being fat?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Doesn't matter anyway. I can't have you being fat. I need you thin. So, you've got to keep taking the pills."

"I won't."

"Why not? What have I ever done to you that would make you angry? I think I've been more than nice to you."

"I can't believe what you did to Maureen," said Frances.

"What are you talking about?"

"The only people who knew that the two of you had sex were Maureen, you, and me. I didn't tell anyone. Maureen didn't tell anyone. So it had to be you."

Jared shook his head. "I didn't tell anyone."

"It had to be you. You told Trevor."

"No. I absolutely did not."

"Then who did?"

"I don't know. Maybe somebody at the party saw us."

Frances glared at him. That could be true, but she didn't want to believe him. "So, then, why aren't you with Maureen now? Isn't that what you wanted? To date Maureen? She doesn't have a boyfriend anymore."

"I never said I wanted to date Maureen," said Jared. "I got what I wanted."

"You bastard."

"Frances, less than a week ago, you hated Maureen's guts. Why the about face?"

"She's my best friend."

"She's only talking to you now because she's lost Trevor. Keep up, Frances."

"Don't talk to me like that."

"Listen to me. I am now within striking distance of getting you with Trevor. Isn't that what you wanted?"

"Why do you want it?"

"I don't really think that's any of your business. Besides, can't I just be doing a favor for a friend?"

"No. You're not like that."

"Take the pills," said Jared. "Take the pills and do what I say."

"Or what?"

Jared took a pill bottle out of his pocket and offered it to Frances. "Ms. Trask didn't like doing what I said."

Frances bit her lip. He was lying. He had to be lying. Ms. Trask had committed suicide. The police had ruled it a suicide. There was no way Jared could have had any part of it. Still, she reached across the table and took the bottle from Jared. She unscrewed the top and shook a pill into her hand. Jared nodded at her, and she popped it into her mouth, swallowing it with some Diet Coke. Almost immediately, she felt less hungry. Not hungry at all in fact.

She felt better too. There was no way the pill could work that fast... The thought faded. She looked at Jared. "You said I would have to do you another favor."

He nodded. "I think you'll like this one."

* * *

It was late. School had been out for hours. The sun was going down and the world was bathed in twilight. It was cold. Trevor huddled in his jacket as he sat on the worn path of the cross-country track. He had half a pack of cigarettes. He'd smoked the other half. He also had a bottle of tequila, but he hadn't drunk as much of it as he'd expected. The taste of tequila was disgusting, and as much as he wanted to get drunk, he couldn't make himself guzzle the liquid. So he sipped at it and smoked.

It had been two days since he'd gotten the e-mail. Maureen hadn't offered anything by way of explanation when he'd talked to her at lunch that day. She'd just looked sort of tired and defeated.

"I guess you'll break up with me," she'd muttered.

Was she smoking crack? Of course he was breaking up with her. He'd told her as much. She'd said she didn't blame him. For what it was worth, she was very sorry, and if she could go back in time, she'd do everything differently. That didn't help, and he'd told her so. She'd left then. He hadn't spoken to her since.

He wasn't going to hurt her. He'd promised himself that. The thought he'd had in the bathroom about the shotgun. That had just been because he was angry. He'd never do anything like that. He kept having dreams about doing it. About shooting her. Shooting Jared. Shooting Frances. Shooting all his teachers. Shooting his parents. But they were just dreams. Trevor didn't think they meant anything. If they did, they were just leftover trauma from his brother's death.

His mom had made an appointment with a psychiatrist, but now that it came down to it, he didn't want to go. He didn't want to take the pills. He wasn't sure if he were actually crazy anymore. His craziness now seemed to him like a power. He was a clairvoyant. He'd seen that Maureen was going to betray him. He'd seen through Jared. If he took the pills, they might suppress his ability to see. So, he wasn't going to take them.

At least not yet. He had a feeling. A feeling that everything was coming to a head soon. Everything he'd experienced since moving here was leading him toward some important moment. When he reached that moment, it would be a turning point for his life, and then he would know if he needed the pills or not.

He wasn't sure how he could sense it. It was almost like a buzzing in the air. It was getting louder and louder. The dreams he was having were getting more vivid. Certain things seemed sharper, others more blurry. Right now, the sharpest, clearest thing was the tip of his cigarette, blazing bright orange embers, acrid smoke, the sting as he drew it into his lungs. Everything else was hazy. The cold, the trees that surrounded him, the dead leaves he sat on. Even the liquor bottle seemed slightly unreal. A figment of his overactive imagination.

Trevor didn't think Jared was Simon Finch anymore. Now he thought Jared was some kind of all-knowing, all-seeing evil god. In first period, Jared had taken to sitting right behind him, and Trevor could feel his eyes on him all the time. Jared knew what he was thinking, because sometimes, Jared would whisper things to him that were answers to the questions in his head. Jared had assured him that taking the pills was a bad idea.

Trevor didn't trust Jared, but he respected him somehow. He knew that Jared was part of the big thing that was going to happen. When Jared was around, the air buzzed louder.

Yesterday, he'd seen Maureen in the hall, and the buzzing had quieted. He wondered if that's why he hadn't heard the buzzing before. Maureen had distracted him from it. If that was true, then she'd done him a favor by cheating on him. If he hadn't broken up with her, he wouldn't have come in touch with it, and whatever it was, it was his destiny.

Trevor took a long swig of tequila. He gagged. The liquor burned its way to his stomach. He felt warm. His cigarette had burned its way down to the filter. He ground it out next to him. He didn't care about collecting the butts. If the teachers found the spot, it really wouldn't matter. Trevor would turn eighteen in a few months anyway, and then he could smoke legally.

"Trevor?" said a voice.

It was a girl. Maureen?

This was the spot where they'd met, after all. It would be appropriate that she'd come to him here. He felt longing wash over him. He wished he could have her back, suddenly. He didn't care what she'd done. She was one the best things that had ever happened to him, and he'd let her go. He wished he could take it back and be close to her.

"Trevor, is that you?"

That wasn't Maureen's voice. That was...

"Frances?" he said. His voice was slurred and slow. Maybe he was drunker than he thought he was.

"Hi Trevor," Frances said. She approached out of the darkness and sat next to him. "What are you doing out here?"

"What are you doing?" he rejoined, not sure he wanted his peace and quiet invaded.

"Looking for you," she said.

Looking for him? Why would she be looking for him? Well, it didn't really matter. He realized he didn't care one way or another. He offered her the bottle of tequila. "Want a drink?" he asked.

Frances took the bottle, sipping at it, and made a face. "It's cold out here."

"Drink more of that and you won't notice so much," Trevor advised.

"Are you okay?"

Trevor shrugged. He took the bottle back and took a long drink. "Guess so."

"Do you wanna go for a ride?" Frances asked.

"I think I might be too drunk to drive," he said.

"I'll drive," said Frances.

"I don't know."

"If someone sees you out here, you'll get in trouble," Frances said.

Why did she care? Trevor stood up, swaying slightly. "Where are we going to go?"

Frances smiled. "Just for a drive."

Maybe it was the lack of light, but something about the way she said it sounded downright eerie. Trevor looked at her and thought briefly about turning her down. But he didn't. "Okay," he said. "Let's go."

Frances turned and began walking back up the cross-country track. Trevor followed. She attempted to start a conversation several times, but Trevor didn't answer or replied monosyllabically. She seemed to give up after a few tries, and they walked in silence.

It didn't take long to get to Frances' car. Once they were both inside, she turned on the heat and turned down her music. Inside the car, Trevor felt as if he'd returned to reality. The cross-country track had seemed dreamlike. This was waking up.

"So, really," he said. "What were you doing on the cross-country track?"

"I told you," she said, "I was looking for you. I saw your car parked in the student lot, and I thought you might be depressed after what happened with Maureen."

"Fuck Maureen," Trevor said. "Can I smoke in your car?"

"Sure," said Frances.

They still weren't moving, but the car was on.

"Are we going to go somewhere?"

Frances shrugged. "Maybe. This is nice, don't you think? It's warm."

"You're wasting gas."

"My parents pay for gas."

Trevor nodded. He guessed that made sense.

Frances took off her shirt.

Trevor blinked, but didn't say anything. Maybe this wasn't waking up. Maybe this was still the dream world. She reached for his hand and put it against her skin. Wasn't this wrong? She was Maureen's best friend. Wasn't this one of the things best friends weren't supposed to do to each other? He didn't pull his hand away, though.

More clothes came off. They ended up in the backseat, with Frances wordlessly handing him a condom.

He didn't think about it. Guys weren't supposed to think in situations like this, right? This was supposed to be every guy's dream. Sex with a girl that wasn't talking.

And she didn't talk. She moaned, though. Not a lot, but a few times. Maureen had never made any noise. Trevor liked the moaning. Then, at the end, she whispered something in his ear. Shocked, he jerked back. Part of him was horrified, the other part fiercely turned on. He debated for just a second, and then he did what she'd asked.

Trevor wrapped his hands around Frances' neck and squeezed.

His orgasm was instantaneous.

chapter fourteen >>

Copyright (c) 2010 Valerie Chambers