Home > Pricked(14)

Author: Winter Renshaw

I change from pajamas into cuffed jeans and a white scoop neck t-shirt and twist my hair into a messy top knot before locating a pair of red Chucks in the back of my closet. Grabbing my keys, phone, and purse, I bolt downstairs, popping my head into the living room where my mother is still lost in her book, which I now see is a Nancy Reagan biography.

“Hey,” I say, breathless.

She looks up, sliding her glasses off her face. Her eyes scan the length of me. “Brighton. Why are you dressed like you’re going somewhere at ...” glancing at her gold Michele wristwatch she adds, “nearly ten-thirty at night?”

My phone vibrates with a text from Devanie—an address.

I’m not normally in the habit of lying, but if my mom knew where I was really going, she might feel the need to lecture me about boundaries and simply stated, I don’t have time for that right now.

“Just going over to Honor’s,” I lie.

“This late?” She sits straighter, almost scoffing at me. I know she disapproves.

“She just got in from Portland and we haven’t seen each other since spring break.”

My mother stares ahead, silent for a moment, and then she places her glasses back on. It’s a good thing she loves Honor.

“All right. Don’t be out too late.” She licks her index finger and flips to a new page in her book.

I head out through the back door, dashing to my car and plugging the address into my GPS. The house is in Olwine, which means it’s going to be at least thirty minutes until I get there.

I shoot Devanie a text, letting her know I’m on my way, and then I head out.

The house at 1352 Vernon Street is a yellow split-level with a sprawling oak tree in the middle of the front yard and a basketball hoop attached to the two-car garage. Every light is on inside and I see an abundance of teenage-sized shadows moving around behind the curtains.

It’s definitely a house party. I suspect someone’s parents are out of town.

I text Devanie, letting her know I’m outside, and a second later she comes out from behind the garage, emerging from the shadows.

She practically runs to my car, wasting no time climbing in, and when the dome light flicks on, I see dried tear tracks on her cheeks.

“Are you okay?” I ask. “What happened?”

She’s shaking. I place my hand over hers.

“Can you just drive, please?” she asks. “I want to get out of here.”

“Of course.” I shift into reverse. “You want me to take you home?”

She dabs at the corner of her eye with the back of her hand and sniffs. “Yeah. Turn left at the next stop sign.”

“Can you tell me what happened?” I ask as we drive. “You’re so shaken up.” She’s quiet. “I won’t tell your brother, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Dragging in a ragged breath, she brushes her palms against the tops of her thighs. I realize now she’s wearing one of the dresses I’d given her—the pretty pink Lilly Pulitzer with turquoise flowers and little gold pineapples.

“I was texting my friend Kyler,” she says, “from school.”


“And he asked if I wanted to hang out tonight with him and a few friends.” She glances out the window. “You need to turn left at the light up there. Anyway, I showed up and it was him and, like, three other people, and they were watching a movie and there was pizza and I thought we were just going to chill or whatever. And then more people started showing up and more and more and some of them were older. I didn’t recognize them. And then one of them pulled out this little baggie with a bunch of little white sticks in them. They lit them and started passing them out. Kyler took a hit and then he tried to get me to take one. That’s when I locked myself in the bathroom and texted you.” She buries her face in her hands. “He probably thinks I’m so freaking lame now.”

“No, no. Sweetie. God. No,” I pat the top of her hand. “You did the right thing. And honestly, I’m so proud of you for texting me.”

“Madd’s going to kill me if he finds out I went to Kyler’s.”

“He’s not going to find out.” I stop at the light and flick on my left turn signal. “He doesn’t have to know. But what about your mom? Does she know you went?”

Devanie laughs through her nose. “Yeah. Right. She’s still at work, and I probably won't hear her come in until after the bars close. Take a right up here. I’m on the corner. The white ranch with the porch light on.”

I pull into a single stall driveway a moment later and she gathers her things.

“Thank you so much for picking me up,” she says before she gets out.

“Of course, sweets,” I say. “Anytime.”

She quietly shuts the door and I watch her walk up the front sidewalk, fishing around in her bag for her keys. I intend to stay here until I see to it she gets inside.

A minute passes and she’s still searching for her keys.

Dropping to the steps in front of the door, she empties the contents, spreading them out on the concrete in a frenzy.

I roll the window down. “Lost your keys?”

She shoves everything back into her bag, her mouth half agape as she walks back to my car. “They must have fallen out at the party.”

A moment ago she said her mom doesn’t get home until after the bars close—which is about three hours from now. She can’t call her brother because then she’ll have to tell him what happened.

“Get in,” I say. “You’re staying at my house tonight.”

The ride to Park Terrace is quiet, save for the music I let Devanie choose. It’s some pop band I’ve never heard of, but it seems to put her in good spirits because a few times I catch her tapping her finger along to the beat.

Stopping outside the iron gates, I punch in my security code and wait for the doors to open.

“This … is your house?” Devanie asks, eyes wide and bright in the dark of my car.

“My parents’ house,” I say. “Technically.”

“Holy sh....” Devanie unbuckles her seatbelt, perching on the edge of her seat as she scans the expansive property, the perfectly placed mature trees, the trickling fountain in the circle drive, and the strategically arranged lighting that makes the house equal parts terrifying and majestic this late at night.

I drive around back, parking in front of my designated garage stall, and we head inside the house.

It’s dark. Quieter than before. I assume everyone’s in bed by now, given the fact that it’s almost midnight. I stopped on the drive home to get her a cheeseburger and fries after I heard her stomach rumbling.

“Follow me,” I say, leading her through the kitchen, down the hall, and into the foyer, where we stop at the base of the curved staircase. “You’re staying in the guest room tonight. Last room on the right. Next to me.”

She follows me up, the stairs creaking softly beneath each step, and I stop when I get to my door.

“Hang on. I’m going to grab you some pajamas.” I head in, emerging a minute later with a gray t-shirt and drawstring sweatpants that she can tie tight so they don't fall off. When I come out, I find her staring at the collage of framed and matted family photos that clutter the walls of our upstairs hall. “This way.”

I take her to the guest suite next to my room and flick on the lamp on the bedside table. The bed is king-sized but comfortable, a Duxiana pillowtop, and I point her toward the en suite.

“There’s your bathroom. I’ll be next door if you need anything,” I say, yawning. “And these are for you.”

I hand her the pajamas, realizing she’s yet to say a single word since we walked in.

“You going to be okay?” I ask.

She nods.

“I’ll take you home in the morning,” I say. “In the meantime, you should probably text your mom and let her know where you are. Give her my number too, will you? Just in case.”

“Okay,” she speaks. Finally.

“Goodnight, Devanie.” I close the door behind me, attempting to make as little noise as possible. In the morning, I’ll explain everything to my parents and then I’ll have Eloise, our weekend chef, make her a proper breakfast before I take her home.

I meant what I said when I told her I wouldn’t breathe a word of this to her brother. I’m beginning to get the impression that he’s more of a parent to her than her own mother, but their family dynamics seem a bit complicated and I don’t want to get involved in any of that. The Boys and Girls Club handbook explicitly stated we’re only allowed to communicate with the child’s legal guardian(s).

I wash up for bed and climb under my covers, trying my hardest to relax after an eventful couple of hours, but every time I close my eyes, I see him.


And while I hardly know him, I find myself wondering what he’s up to tonight, on this ordinary Friday evening. I picture him surrounded by friends, maybe a brown bottle of beer in one hand. Music blasting. People laughing. The smell of cigarettes lingering in the air. Not a designer accessory, nose job, or European luxury car in sight.

Just regular people.

Nice, unassuming, genuine people having a good time.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Pricked
» Soul in Darkness
» The Light We Lost
» More Than Words
» Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck #3)
» Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)
» The Risk (Mindf*ck #1)
» The Risk (Briar U #2)