Home > Shattered (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #4)(6)

Shattered (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #4)(6)
Author: H.M. Ward



When I get home, I'm blindsided. I walk through the door and drop my book bag on the floor. I expect to be alone. My parents go out to dinner together on Thursday nights, but tonight they didn't go. Tonight they're home, waiting for me.

"Mari dear, pick up your school bag and put it away." Mom's voice meets me before I find her in the kitchen. I don't double back for my books.

"What's wrong? Why are you still here?" I glance around, looking for Daddy, but I don't see him.

Mother replies, "There was an important development with the lawsuit. That girl you punched in the face came by looking for you. Your father sent her away, but her parents called later." She moves through the kitchen getting a lunch bag ready. She puts in a sandwich and pours the coffee into a travel mug. She glances at me. "We worked everything out. If you apologize, they'll drop the suit."

"What?" I squeak. My hackles rise. I can't stand it. I can't believe she even said it. "You want me to apologize to her? You realize that this is the same person who bullied me every day for the past three years? This is the same person who - "

Mother gives me a look that makes me stop talking. It doesn't matter what I say. The decision was made without me. I press my eyes closed and sigh way too loud. I want to scream at her. I want her to act like she loves me and not like a goddamn robot all the time. She tries so hard to make my dad happy, like he's the only thing that matters. Why'd they even have me? I don't understand. I doubt I ever will.

Mother's voice carries a warning when she speaks. "Go upstairs and apologize. She's been waiting for you."

My eyes go so wide that they nearly fall out of my head and roll across the floor. "What? What did you say?"

"She's in your room, Mari. You've kept her waiting long enough already. Go apologize and you better be nice. If this blows up, your father won't like it." She glares at me and wipes down the counter. I stare at her. It's the only thing I can do. Screaming at Mother doesn't help. It's like she's a hollowed out shell. It doesn't matter how loudly I speak, she won't hear me. Mom would let me sign away my own life if it made my dad happy.

Gritting my teeth, I say, "Fine." I sprint-walk toward my room and fly up the stairs. When I pull the door open, Brie is standing in front of my desk. She was obviously looking through things.

"Hey, virgin," she beams and waves the tips of her fingers at me. "My daddy said you owe me an apology. So let's have it." She folds her narrow arms over her ample chest and tilts her head to the side, obviously pleased.

I want to pull her hair out. I want Brie to go away and leave me alone. I knew she was gunning for me and this is lightweight for Brie. I suppose I should be happy, but I still want to shove her down a well. I manage a fake smile, and say in my nice voice, "I'm so sorry I hurt you, Brie."

There's something about the look in Brie's eye that tells me that she already got what she came here for. My stomach falls into my shoes when she walks past me, her heels clicking on the floor. Leaning closer, she whispers, "This isn't over, Mary. I don't need my daddy to fight my battles for me. Watch your back." She smiles at me like she couldn't be more pleased.

My heart pounds harder. My fingers ball into fists at my sides. I'm so close to snapping. I don't care if my dad gets sued. It'd be worth it. But something holds me back. I don't clothesline her and shove her down the stairs. Brie leaves my room. I don't follow her out. Instead, I sit down hard on my bed and hold my head between my hands. How could they? Betrayal snakes up my throat and tastes vile.

Mother's voice carries up to my room. The door is open. I hear her thank Brie for her kind, forgiving, spirit and wish her a good evening. Then, Mother walks up the stairs. I hear her familiar footfalls and I wish so badly that she tried to help me, just once. I need her. I want her, but she's never there.

"Now, that wasn't so hard was it?" She's standing in my doorway with her jacket on over her scrubs.

"How would you know? You aren't the one who stood up for yourself and then had to apologize to the asshat that was harassing you. Was that you? Because I thought that was me?"

"Don't be so dramatic, Mari. This will end well, and before it wouldn't have. Be thankful that she was so forgiving." Mom walks into the room, and fluffs a pillow on the bed next to me. She doesn't sit by me, she doesn't offer any support whatsoever.

Tears are in my eyes. I shake my head and look up at her. "Yes, I'll remember how forgiving she is next time she hurts me. I'll remember how my mother liked Brie better than me, and I'll thank Brie for kicking my ass and invite her to tea!" I lose it. I'm standing, screaming in her face. I can't help it.

Instead of fighting back, my mother rolls her eyes and turns to leave. "Honestly, Mari. You're almost an adult. Such juvenile behavior is unbecoming."

She glances over my outfit, over the cami with no flannel, and scrunches up her nose. "And you are not to dress like this again. You look like a streetwalker in that shirt. The boys will think you're giving it away and then what will you do? You can't punch every person who offends you, dear." She looks back at me and smiles, like one of those TV moms that always knows best - the one with an apron and a pie in her hand - the one who is there when her children come home - the one who is there when they cry. My mom thinks she is that mother, and that all my cries for help are silly attempts to get her attention. It makes me crazy.

"Good night, mother," I say through gritted teeth. Too many thoughts race through my head. They are things I should never say, things I should never feel.

Mom leaves and I close the door behind her. Turning I press my back against the door and slide down to the floor. My hair sticks to the tears that refuse to stay in my eyes and fall down my cheeks. I push my tangled mess back and slide my palms over my eyes. When I look up, my gaze lands on the wall with the bulletin board. I stare for a moment. Something's different, but I don't know what.



Ditching Seth is easier said than done. The guy doesn't want to part ways until he knows where Trystan is going. He wants specifics. Trystan won't give any. Seth finally caves in and follows some girls out of the diner, which pisses Katie off to no end. She abruptly leaves and says a few choice words to Seth. That breaks up their little party and Trystan is free of them.

It's dark and chilly out again, like it might snow, which is bad since Trystan is homeless. He takes his time walking along the streets, weaving his way past the pristine homes as he heads toward Mari's house. When he arrives, he sees a light in kitchen. A woman stands at the window. She's tall and slender with Mari's dark hair. That must be her mother. Trystan glances at his watch. It's past 7:00pm.

He waits and the woman finally shuts off the lights and leaves. When her car travels down the street, Trystan pulls out the cell that Mari gave him. He keeps walking, not wanting to linger in front of her house. He walks down to the end of the block and turns the corner, planning on coming up to the house from behind, like last time. He texts Mari:

Can I come up?

A few seconds pass and then:

Yes. I'll b down in a sec

Trystan turns at the corner and heads back in the direction of Mari's house. He cuts through the backyard directly behind her house and squeezes through the gap in the fences. Soon he's standing on her back patio. Mari is in the open door, looking down at him. Light spills around her, creating a perfect silhouette. She looks so beautiful. Everything about Mari is so far out of his reach, so why is he reaching? Does it matter if she loves him?

Our lives are so different.

But they're so similar, too. Wealth doesn't get rid of abusive parents. It just hides the damage better. Trystan feels a flutter in his chest, like he shouldn't be here - like something bad is going to happen. He remains on the patio and holds Mari's gaze for too long.

"Are you going to come in?" she says, smiling at him. Tension creases the spot in the center of her forehead like something's wrong. Trystan can't leave her alone. Not now. Not when she needs him. Any second thoughts about being at Mari's vanish.

Trystan grins at her, wanting to see her smile. He wants that worry line pressed flat, erased like it was never there. "Do you always invite boys into your room when your parents leave, Mari Jennings? I had you pegged for a good girl. To think, all this time, I was totally wrong." He teases her with each step he takes, closing the distance between them. When he's in front of the door, Mari still hasn't opened it. She stands on the other side of the screen in a cami and a pair of jeans. His eyes drift to the bare skin at her neck and arms, then back to her face. "You look beautiful tonight."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, Mr. Scott." Mari looks at him from under those dark lashes and smiles. Every inch of skin burns for her touch when she gives him that look.

"I'm not so sure about that. Let me in and let's find out." Trystan grins and she breaks his gaze. Looking away, Mari tucks a curl behind her ear and opens the door. Trystan brushes past her just as Mari turns to the side. It aligns their chests so that they barely touch as he passes. The sensation shoots through him in a crippling wave that takes his breath away. Trystan sucks in air softly, trying to hide how much she rattles him.

Mari turns toward him. Those big dark eyes are filled with remorse. He can see it. He can read it on her face, in her stance, and the way she holds her fingers and twists each one. Trystan wants to ask what happened, but he doesn't want to invade her privacy. It's weird. There's a spot where he wants to be, and it is invasive. That spot is smack in the center of all her most intimate thoughts and feelings - the ones that no one else knows. Trystan doesn't speak. Instead, he steps toward her and pulls Mari to his chest. His hands find her hair and he just holds her gently. Mari's hands lift and slip under Trystan's jacket. She buries her face in his shoulder and stares blankly.

Mari looks up at him with that expression on her face, and Trystan feels like he's going to shatter into too many pieces. He kisses her forehead and whispers, "What's wrong?"

Mari's eyes fall to the floor. She doesn't let go of him. "My mom decided to humiliate me instead of paying a settlement to Brie's dad. It's nothing. I don't want to talk about it."

Trystan splays his fingers and runs them through her hair, forcing Mari to look up at him. A million emotions flash across her eyes. He doesn't press her. "Then, we won't."

Mari smiles softly. She steps away from him and walks away. Trystan remains frozen by the door, his eyes sweeping over her back and drinking in her curves. Mari glances back at him and extends her hand. "Come on. I have something in my room for you."

Trystan smirks and takes her hand, not bothering to contain his excitement. "That is quite a line, kiss ninja."

Mari laughs and bumps him with her shoulder. "I didn't mean it like that! You're so stupid, Scott. I swear - "

"Nah, you like me like this. Admit it." They walk up the staircase to her room side by side. "You wouldn't want me if I were all polite and proper. For instance, telling you that I intend to kiss every inch of your bare skin later is something that I would say. Telling you that you're pretty isn't something that would ever fall out of my mouth. Mainly because it's such a ridiculous understatement that - "

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