Home > Collide (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #1)(8)

Collide (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #1)(8)
Author: H.M. Ward

Katie said, "So what's up? You avoid Trystan all day like I said?" I didn't answer. "Mari! What'd you do?"

"Nothing," I replied not wanting to talk about it. The truth was I had no idea what happened. One moment Trystan was going to tell me something about Day Jones, the next he says he's having girl issues. If I didn't know better, I would have thought he was talking about me. But that's impossible. I pushed aside the thought. It was a little too close to a dream to even consider. Things that raised my hope, that teeter on the edge of impossibility, only hurt harder when you smack face-first into the ground.

Katie stopped walking. We were standing in front of the school where the buses drop off. There wasn't anyone else around. "Stop letting him screw with your head. The guy's a player Mari. Look at his best friend for chrissakes. Seth Sexbot." She shook her head, her eyebrows rising with her voice.

"He's not like that," the words slipped out of my mouth before I realized what I was saying.

Katie grabbed both my shoulders and shook me, "Do you hear yourself? He's not like that? Is there anyone in that entire group of theater girls that he hasn't nailed?"

"Me," I said softly.

"Exactly," she said forcefully. Katie had always been like a sister to me. She said what I needed to hear, which wasn't always what I wanted to hear. This time, I definitely did not want to hear it. It was like she could tell. Her hands flew as she spoke, "Wake up Mari. He's not that kind of guy. You're the only one. Get a clue. If he's paying attention to you, now you know why. Seth and him aren't that different, it just looks different for the girl. Trystan's seduction is more tempting, but in the end you're just another chick to check off the list." Her words smashed into me. I didn't want to hear them. It felt like she was throwing bricks at my stomach. I wanted to double over and cry. Katie wrapped her arm around my shoulders. I didn't shirk her off. Softly, she said, "He'll hurt you." The quiver in her voice was like being doused by cold water.

My first boyfriend hurt me. He was the only one I was serious about and Katie knew it. Trystan was not a step up. If anything, he was a step down and backwards. He'd hurt me. In the end, he would. It's the way he was. Katie was right. I'd seen it over and over again.

Sitting next to him in the prop room I'd asked him once, "Why is your life expectancy on relationships so short? They don't die that fast, you know. There's more there than sex."

He'd looked at me with those glittering blue eyes. A wicked grin lined his lips. "Not that I've seen."

"You haven't stayed long enough to find out." His answer had upset me. As if he could tell, he looked around to make sure no one saw.

When he leaned in close to my ear he said, "I haven't found anyone worth staying for."

"That's because you're dating the skank squad, Trystan." I rolled my eyes as I said it.

"And you'd be different?" he said amused. "How?"

I didn't answer him that day. I dated with my whole heart and there was no way I was giving it to someone who would tear it out of my chest without a backward glance. Katie thought Trystan was that person.

I nodded at Katie, "I know you're right. I'm just having trouble getting my head and my heart in the same place."

Katie slid her arm down and side hugged me, practically squeezing me to death. "Ah, I know how to fix that. Your heart is easily confused. Let's toss some chocolate at it and next time you get a free period, come and drool at Mathboy with me."

"Deal," I said, not bothering to explain that it wouldn't be for a week. If she knew I was stuck with Trystan for several additional hours every day, she'd insist that I transfer to a new school. Maybe it was inevitable. Maybe Trystan was destined to break my heart. I didn't want to find out.

Chapter 18


Trystan slipped away from practice as soon as humanly possible. There was no food at home. He'd have to run into the deli and hope Sam was still there.

The door chimed as he walked inside the small shop. The deli wasn't big, but the owner was great. Trystan called out, "Sam? You here?"

A small man with dark skin walked out of the back room, "Trystan Scott. What can I do for you?"

"Can we barter this week?"

Sam walked up to the counter and looked at Trystan. He knew the kid was on his own and had been for some time. Whatever so-called parent was supposed to be taking care of him deserved a punch in the face. Trystan was a good kid. "Sure, grab whatever you need and set it up here."

Trystan went through the shop grabbing what he needed, checking dates, and trying to pick up things that had been reduced. When he was done, there were two bags filled with food. Sam tallied the items as he put them in. "Not bad. Only $45. You can work that off in one day."

Trystan had done the math in his head as he picked up the items. "No charity, Sam. You shaved off nine bucks."

Sam's face reddened a little. He looked down at his pad and said, "It's not charity. I was going to throw those things out."

"We do this every couple weeks, Sam. I try to get as little as possible and you always forget to add something in. Come on, I don't want a hand out. I'm good for it. I'll work Saturday and Sunday, the 5:00am shift. I'll see you then." Trystan reached for the bags.

Sam pushed the groceries toward the young man. "You're a good kid. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Trystan smiled at the old guy. It was a lopsided grin, filled with pride. Sam was one of the few people who could evoke that emotion. Trystan nodded and headed out the door.

When he arrived home, he swallowed hard. His dad was home. The lights were blazing in the windows, the sound of the television wafted out the front door.

Trystan pulled opened the rusted screen, balancing the paper bag on his hip. Nights like this made him what he was - an actor, a liar. His dad was a thin man well past his prime. He sat in a tee shirt and shorts in front of the TV with a beer can in his hand. It was still early. He'd move onto the hard stuff later.

"Where the hell have you been?" Dad grumbled not bothering to look at his son.

"School. Then I stopped at the store for some food. I got some of that pasta you like. I thought I'd make it for us for dinner." It felt like he was walking on egg shells. Dad worked to pay the bills, but he didn't bother buying food or cooking. Trystan learned how to use the stove before most kids could tie their shoes.

Dad scoffed, "You expect me to believe that?" Trystan didn't bother pointing to the grocery bags. He knew it was pointless. "I'm talking to you, boy. When are you going to stop lying to me?"

Trystan stepped in front of his father, blocking his view of the TV. One grocery bag was clutched in each arm. "I'm not lying."

"Then what the hell is this?" his dad asked, holding up a guitar. Trystan's heart clenched. For a second all he could do was stare. He'd hidden it, locked it in his room. "Yeah, I thought so. My son's a fag, singing fairy songs around a campfire. Perfect."

Trystan saved his money forever to get that instrument. It was an acoustic guitar with honey wood. It came from a second-hand shop, but it still cost more than he had. He saved his money for months to get it. Since then it'd been hidden in his room at the top of his closet. He'd put enough stuff around it to block it from view. But that didn't matter since it was sitting on his father's lap.

Trystan tried smiling. Ignoring the comments, he walked to the kitchen counter and placed the groceries down. Part of him hoped the guitar would be forgotten, but his dad kept it clutched on his lap. Trystan made dinner. It was a generic Hamburger Helper without the meat. He walked a plate of it over to his dad. Last time they'd eaten it, he liked it a lot. This time was different. Trystan would never forget this time.

When he reached out to hand Dad his plate, the old man swatted at it. "I'm not eating that shit. You stole it. Like you stole this!" Dad shot out of his chair. Trystan watched the plate go flying, the noodles stuck to the wall before they slid down leaving a rust colored stain in their wake.

Trystan took a deep breath, trying to brace himself. He knew it was coming. There was no reasoning with him when he was like this. It was one of the few times Trystan wished his dad was a sip away from passing out. But he wasn't and he was angry. "I bought it, Dad. I have a job."

"You think I can't provide for you? Is that it?" He advanced on his son.

Trystan stepped back. "No, that's not it. You work hard. You shouldn't have to cook and get groceries too." It's not what he thought, but now wasn't the time for that.

"Damn right," his father said, taking another step forward. "I take care of you. I give you everything I have. Everything. And you repay me like this." He pointed to the guitar. Shaking his head, Dad looked down at the instrument. One second he was calm, like he was going to hand it back, but Trystan saw the tell. His father's lips pressed together tightly, his biceps twitching as tension corded his muscles tighter and tighter.

The guitar swung forward and smashed against the floor. It made a cacophony of notes and cracking wood as it splintered. Wood flew through the room as the strings popped off one by one. His father held the neck of the broken instrument in his hands. A single string was still attached.

Trystan swallowed hard. Rage flowed through his body, barely in check. He wanted this to end, but there was nowhere else to go. He had to stay here until graduation. That was his way out. He'd already spoken to the military recruiter. He had to keep his nose clean until then. He couldn't fight back.

"Put it down," Trystan said, his voice deeper than usual.

Dad laughed, as he stepped forward, brandishing the piece of the guitar like a weapon. "Why don't you make me. Show me who's the man here, Trystan." Without warning, his Dad's arm swung. The piece of wood collided into Trystan's thigh, sending a sharp burst of pain through his hip.

Knowing it was pointless to talk, he turned and bounded down the hallway to his room. He ran inside and pushed the door shut. His hand reached for the deadbolt, but grabbed only air. It was gone. "Shit," Trystan said, panicked.

Just then his dad tried to crash through the door. Trystan kept his body braced against it to keep him out. With each slam, Trystan flinched. Just like old times, he thought. But now I'm old enough to keep you out, even without the lock.

Trystan knew the old man wouldn't learn. He'd keep beating the door until he passed out or Trystan did from lack of sleep. Hours passed. His father screamed at him for the first few, but eventually it grew quiet. Trystan slid down the door, but kept his body pressed against it, ready to brace himself if his dad tried to force it open again.

It was after 1:00am the next time he heard his dad's voice, "It was your fault, you know."

Pain shot through Trystan's heart, threatening to tear him in half. He'd always though it was his fault, but hearing his dad say it was unbearable. He swallowed the knot in his throat and replied, "I never said it wasn't."

"You were too much for her. She said it over and over again."

He didn't remember his mother leaving. There were no pictures of her, only faded memories that he wasn't even sure were real. Trystan hung his head, lowering it to his knees. His arms were wrapped around his ankles, his back still pressed firmly to the door.

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