Home > Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(3)

Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(3)
Author: H.M. Ward

“Good thing your parent’s didn’t care then, huh?” Trystan’s gaze cut to Brie.

The snake-like smile that spread across her face fell as his words hit her. “Fuck you, Trystan.”

“Anytime, Brie.” Trystan smirked, as Brie’s face contorted into a scowl that resided in evil bitch territory. Brie folded her arms across her chest and turned away. Venom radiated off of her. He’d pay for that later. He knew every jab, every insult he hurled at her would be repaid tenfold, but Trystan didn’t care. Brie needed to be knocked down a few pegs and he didn’t mind doing it, not when she kept trying to screw with him.

Tucker yelled, “From the top. Now, people.”

They started again. The guy in the lighting cage changed the lights on the set so there was a single golden spot on center stage. Its broad beam was soft, spilling light across the stage like a streetlight on a dark night. Trystan moved to stage left and started his lines again. He had no trouble with this part. As the scene went on, they moved closer together. Romantic tension was rising steadily. Tucker didn’t stop them. Brie played her part well, but not as well as Mari. Trystan said his lines with conviction. They were perfectly played, because he pretended Brie was Mari, the girl he wanted and couldn’t ever have. It fit perfectly into that scene and made it easier to act opposite Brie and not puke on her.

They ran through the act perfectly. Everything was flowing at a steady rate toward the end of the scene. Trystan’s stomach was pooling with dread. That act ended with a kiss, a passionate kiss. To make matters more awkward, Trystan could feel Mari’s eyes on him, watching him get ready to kiss someone else. He couldn’t think about that now. If he wasn’t half way convincing, Tucker would have them start over.

With every ounce of charm he had in him, Trystan pulled Brie close, gently wrapping his fingers around her waist. Brie let him, and slipped into his arms like she belonged there. The scent of her perfume filled his head. At one time it had been attractive, but now the scent repelled him. He breathed through his mouth, inhaling as little as possible. Brie pressed against him, letting him feel her curves.

Trystan’s voice was deep and seductive. He acted as though he were saying the line to Mari, “I’d do this.” Trystan moved in slowly and pressed his lips to Brie’s. Revulsion shot through him, but he didn’t stop.

It’s Mari, he told himself. Pretend she’s Mari. Trystan closed his eyes and splayed his hands across Brie’s cheeks, kissing her a second longer than he should have. The students in the wings got wrapped up in the steamy kiss. Trystan could feel all eyes on him, and for once, he wished they weren’t. It was the emptiest kiss he’d ever had.

After all this time, he finally understood what Mari meant—that a kiss was worth something—that it meant something. This was the difference between a shallow kiss and one that he craved with every ounce of his being. When Trystan opened his eyes, he looked Brie in the face. For once, she was silent. Shocked. They both stared at each other as the spot light faded and curtain swung shut.

Trystan dropped his hands and stepped away. He felt sick, like he’d done something wrong.

“Trystan,” she said his name like he had a tremendous effect on her. Brie stared at him with her red lips parted, waiting for him to respond. He’d never kissed her like that before. Sure, he’d kissed her plenty of times before that, but it never meant anything. It was purely fun, purely lust. This time was different, because he was thinking of Mari and her perfectly sweet lips. Apparently, Brie felt the difference. The look in her eye said she wasn’t done with him yet, that he could have more.

Trystan said nothing. There was no way he was telling her what changed, why the kiss felt passionate. Instead, he turned to the wing where Mari was sitting and walked off stage. When he passed through the curtain, there were several stage crew members blocking his path. One slapped him on the back and said, “Holy hell! That was hot!”

Brie watched him walk away with her fingers to her lips like she never realized what she had while she had it.

When Trystan finally plowed through the kids, he found Mari’s seat empty. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. That was Mari’s kiss and he gave it to someone else—someone he detested. Trystan sat down hard in Mari’s chair and leaned back, running his fingers through his hair. Where was she?

Tucker’s voice boomed from the other side of the curtain, “Take a break, Scott.”

That was all he needed to hear. Trystan got up and exited through the side stage door. He walked through the empty halls toward the cafeteria and went to the vending machines. He normally didn’t buy stuff like that. It was too expensive, but he wanted caffeine. He was shaking, his stomach churning inside of him like he’d be sick.

Fishing a dollar out of his pocket, Trystan fed it to the machine and then pressed a button. A Coke tumbled out of the bottom of the machine. He bent down and picked it up, lost in thought. Trystan walked back slowly, drinking his sugar quickly, when Seth ran up next to him. A teacher screamed at Seth to stop running, but he didn’t slow until he reached Trystan.

“Hey man,” Seth huffed. “You almost done? I have us a dinner date lined up.” He waggled his eyebrows, very proud of his latest catch. It had to be the 7-Eleven twins. Seth had been hanging around them nearly every day.

Trystan groaned inside, but he didn’t show any sign that he wasn’t interested. He didn’t want to fight about Mari again. Nodding, Trystan said, “Yeah. Give me about forty-five minutes. We should be done by then.”

Seth grinned, “She’s so hot, man. And her rack is like,” he paused his hands cupping the air as a look of awe spread across his face, “so perfect.”

“Which one?”

“Like it matters?” Seth laughed. “They’re twins. They’ve got the same of everything.” He elbowed Trystan, like his crass comment amused them both and then took off in the other direction. “Later, Scott! Don’t be late!”

Trystan shook his head. He was starting to think that he and Seth had little in common anymore. At some point, Seth fixated on bodies and Trystan wanted more than that. A good body was great, but without a brain it didn’t hold much appeal. Mari had a great mind, filled with tack-sharp wit and other awesome things. Plus she had the body, too. He grinned, thinking about it. Trystan started back toward the auditorium, chugging the rest of his Coke.

As he rounded the corner, Trystan saw Mari leaning against the wall by the stage door. Her head was tilted up, her eyes closed like she was upset. His heart twisted in his chest. He watched her for a moment, unsure if he should approach, but he couldn’t help himself. His feet took him to her. It was like they were two magnets and when she was near, he couldn’t pass her by.

“You okay?” Trystan asked, stopping in front of her.

Mari jumped when she heard his voice. She looked directly at him. There were no tears in her eyes, but he knew something was bothering her. Something had been bothering her all day. Mari seemed more agitated and jumpy than normal. “Yeah, fine.” She waited a moment, then crossed her arms and sighed, “I don’t get it.”

Trystan leaned his shoulder against the wall next to her. The hairs on the back of his neck started to rise. He ignored the warning premonition. Looking down into her face, he asked, “What don’t you get?”

“How you can do that. How you can make everyone believe your emotions are real, even when they aren’t. That kiss...” She spit out the word kiss, shaking her head. Mari’s soft brown curls moved as she did it, falling forward into her face. She pushed them back, her gaze skewering him in place. “It makes it hard to believe that you like someone else. That’s all.”

Trystan didn’t understand why she was upset. Her reaction was strange considering what she’d told him earlier. She didn’t care about him that way, and while kissing Brie made Trystan feel dirty, it shouldn’t have had any effect on Mari. Unless…

Unless what, Scott? Take a hint, the voice inside his head scolded, she doesn’t like you. Stop acting like she does.

Maybe his words were too clipped, but once he said them, he couldn’t take them back. “Why does it matter, Mari? It doesn’t affect you.” And you’d tell me if it did, he hoped.

She straightened like he’d hit her.

Crap. That was the wrong thing to say.

“No, it doesn’t.” Mari looked at him once like he was cruel, and started to walk away.

He reached for her, grabbing her wrist, wanting an explanation. “Hey, wait a second. Mari, what is this? You know me.” His heart throbbed harder as his hand gripped her wrist. Her skin was so warm, so smooth. When she looked up at him with those dark eyes, he was lost.

“I’m not so sure anymore.” She looked down at his hand on her arm like she didn’t want it there.

“What do you mean? Of course you know me.” Trystan tried to strangle the pleading tone out of his voice, but it wouldn’t budge. An icy feeling was pooling in his stomach as he watched her.

“I’m never really sure if the guy I know is the real Trystan or the act.” She tucked a curl behind her ear and looked up at Trystan with those eyes. They said everything. She didn’t trust him. She didn’t know what to believe anymore and it was his own damn fault. “You can put on a dazzling show when you try. How I am supposed to know what’s real and what’s not?” When she asked the question, she couldn’t look at him. Her gaze fell to the floor.

He took her shoulders in his hands. “Look at me, Mari. You know me. I wouldn’t lie to you. About anything.” Her gaze lifted and met his. Her brown eyes seemed incredibly vulnerable right then, and he didn’t know why. Trystan knew this was important to her, that she felt misled and he wanted to fix it. He lifted a hand to her face and tucked a stray hair behind her ear, letting his fingers linger in her soft hair. His voice was soft, beseeching, “You know me better than anyone else. You always have.”

Mari swallowed hard, her eyes locked on his. She didn’t look away. She didn’t shirk him off like she usually did. Instead she stood there, barely breathing, looking for the truth in his eyes. His gut twisted like someone was wringing it out. The way she looked at him said so much. Did she really not see it? Of course not. She saw the guy on stage, the one who kissed Brie—the one who was never serious about anyone.

Finally she said, “I don’t know.”

“Come to the prop room tomorrow with Tucker’s pass. I’ll show you that I’m serious. Acting is acting. Brie doesn’t have my heart.” He paused, willing her to see it, to feel it. Squeezing her shoulders, he said, “Someone else does.”

Mari broke the intense gaze, nervously tucking her hair behind her ear, and stepped back. He smiled at her. The way she tucked her hair behind her ear was a tick that he hadn’t noticed before. Something about the way she did it, like she was trying to hide from him, made him adore her even more.

“We’ll see, I guess. I want to believe you. I really do. I just... I don’t know anymore, but I’ll come. I’ll be there because of what happened today. All of it.” Mari gave him a weak smile and turned on her heel to leave.

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