Punk 57 Page 27

I should’ve just given her the book back. She’d found Annie’s locket, and I don’t want to start any shit with her, especially when she’s not the reason I’m here, and I’m skipping town as soon as I get what I came for.

And she and I will never have to cross paths again.

But, I have to admit, fucking with her in class today was the first time I’ve smiled in a while. It’s hard to resist.

I walk out of the warehouse to my truck and climb in the cab, slamming the door.

But then I see the passenger side door swing open, and I jerk, startled.

Dane hops in the truck and shoots me an easy smile as he sits back, looking at ease. “Netflix and chill?”

I scoff and turn my keys in the ignition. “Get out.”

The engine rumbles to life with a smooth purr that I’ve worked hard to maintain. My cousin left me this truck when he was “indisposed” for three years, but now that he’s around, he hasn’t come to claim it, so I guess it’s mine. I was grateful when he passed the keys to me all those years ago. I hadn’t wanted to ask my dad for a car when the time came.

“So I had this date last night,” Dane goes on, ignoring my order. “Do you remember that girl from Sigma Kappa Whatever? She was at the gig last night, and everything was going great, both of us eye-fucking for like four frickin’ hours…” He pauses and turns to me, his voice turning urgent. “She takes me home, dude, and I’m sitting in the living room while she’s in the bathroom, and I’m so ready, because she’s so hot, right? And who walks in?”

“Dane.” I close my eyes, willing him to shut the fuck up.

“Her mom, dude!” he bursts out. “Her mom in her light pink nightie with legs for days. And let me tell you, man…Stacy’s mom has got it going on?”

I can’t help myself. I break out in a laugh at the song reference and pinch the bridge of my nose, tired but a fraction more relaxed, even if I’d never admit it to him.

Such an idiot.

Dane is twenty-one, but he never quite figured himself out after high school. He still lives in his parents’ house, loves to make music, but he’s in no hurry to be someone by a certain age. I wish I could let things go as easily as he does.

I let out a calm breath and look over at him, guilty that he’s still a good friend, and I’ve been a shitty one lately. “I’m sorry about the band.”

After Annie died I couldn’t see anything beyond that. I started skipping school, I left the band, I stopped trying to have a relationship with my dad…

He was destroyed, losing Annie, and I went through the motions for a couple months, sticking around, but we couldn’t mourn together, and I couldn’t stay to watch. He was sad. I was angry. Losing her only broke whatever small link we had to each other.

And my piece-of-shit mother never even showed up to the funeral. Every day I think about it, I get more livid.

But Dane just shrugs. “We’re killing time until you’re ready to come back,” he tells me. “You know we’re not shit without you.”

“Yeah, well… I haven’t written in months. It’s gone, so don’t wait for me.”

After I left the band, the guys all stepped in and carried on with three people. They still perform here and there, and the summer tour is still on. I know Dane is hoping I’ll be back on track by then, but I have zero interest. When I lost Annie, I lost Ryen, too, and now nothing is speaking to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever have anything to write or anything more to say.

“What’s this?”

I cast a glance over at Dane who holds Ryen’s white notebook, fanning the pages as he looks inside.

“Are you writing, after all?” he asks but then stops on a page. “Nope. This is a girl’s writing.” He continues to read and then lets out a little laugh. “A very bad girl’s writing. Who is she?”

I snatch the notebook away from him and drop it to the seat. “My muse.”

“Does she want it back?”

I smile to myself. “More than anything.”

And he grabs his seatbelt, fastening it. “Well, then let’s go.”

Walking into the school, I hear the distant hum of a vacuum cleaner, probably coming from the library, since that’s the only room that I’ve noticed in the school with carpeting.

I cast a look left. A janitor must be in there. I’m not sure how many there are, but there has to be more than one with a school this size.

My school, Thunder Bay Prep, is a bit smaller but, in many ways, a lot nicer. Falcon’s Well has almost no security—I glance up at the cameras that are being installed but are not yet active—and the Athletics here suck.

The hallways are dark, classroom doors are closed, and since we noticed the parking lot was nearly empty on the way in, that means the lacrosse, cheer, and track practices must be done for the night.

Maybe a few teachers are lurking on the second and third levels, but other than the janitors, only Ryen is left, teaching down in the pool.

I walk up to the front office doors, glancing around me to make sure we’re alone, and hand the notebook to Dane. “Hold this.”

“What are we doing?” He pulls up the hood on his black sweatshirt, nervously looking up at one of the dead cameras.

I slip out a tension wrench from my jeans pocket and immediately dig back in, feeling for the paperclip I swiped off a page in Ryen’s notebook. I unwind the clip and straighten it, bending the end just slightly.

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