My fingers curled into fists when I saw her approach his driver’s side. He had the window rolled down, and she leaned in, giving him a perfect view of her chest and the other driver a view of her ass. My eyes burned with fire as they almost bugged out of my head.
“Excuse me,” I mumbled to Ben before I walked onto the track.
Rounding Jared’s car, I came up to Piper and grabbed her by the hair. I forced her away from his window and pushed her ahead of me.
Too extreme, I told myself. But I wasn’t thinking.
And I liked how not thinking felt.
“What the hell?” she shouted and turned to look at me.
“Tate,” Jared called, but I ignored him.
The crowd was abuzz in the background, and their chanting for a fight made my heart race. I could barely hear anything else with their unintelligible noise filling the air.
“You bitch!” she snarled. “What the f**k is your problem?” But she didn’t wait for my answer. Instead, she charged me in high heels, and I almost laughed. As she stomped up to me, I swept her foot out from underneath her, and she fell to the ground.
As she lay on her ass, I clapped my hands twice in her face and shouted. “Hey! Now that I have your attention, I just want you to know—he’s not interested in you.” I tossed her words back at her like a pie in the face.
Taking a deep breath, I looked up to Jared, who had gotten out of his car and looked at me with a mixture of shock and amusement.
“I’m not wallpaper,” I clarified, walking up to him.
Pulling the fossil that I’d made for my mom out of the pocket of my hoodie, I pooled the necklace into his palm. “Don’t hide from me, and don’t ask me to hide,” I said for only him to hear.
He nodded and tipped my chin up, running his thumb along my jawbone. I sunk into him, and he caressed my lips with a light kiss. I instantly felt relief. More taunts and whistles came from the crowd, but I only cared about the warmth of his body close to mine.
“Ahem!” The guy in the next car signaled us loudly. “Jared, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to get this done some time tonight.”
I shook my head and sighed happily. “Good luck,” I wished to Jared as I pushed away and walked to the crowd.
“Are you tired?” Jared asked as we headed home to which I shook my head.
He had won the race, of course, and without a scratch to either car. There was another bonfire afterwards, but Jared hadn’t even considered it or asked me if I wanted to go. I didn’t mind, though, and a giddy tingle spread over my body when I thought he probably just wanted to get home to finish what we started before.
Part of me was scared. We’d almost had sex earlier, and if Sam hadn’t interrupted us, we probably would have. Did I want to be with Jared? I only had to think about it for a second before I knew the answer was yes. But was he ready to be with me?
I wasn’t so sure.
I still hated the memories he left me with the past few years, and I wasn’t sure if I’d forgiven him. Did I know for sure he wouldn’t hurt me again? Did he deserve me?
No. Not yet. Without a doubt, he hadn’t earned my trust yet.
“Jared?” I broke the silence. “Where do you go on the weekends?”
His fingers tightened around the steering wheel, and he wouldn’t look at me.
“Just out of town,” he mumbled.
“But where?” I pressed. If he cared about me, then it was time to come clean, about everything.
His eyebrows creased with annoyance. “What does it matter?” He turned onto our street and hit the gas way harder than he needed to. My head nearly hit the roof with how roughly he drove over the dip leading to his driveway.
Steadying myself, I grabbed the handle above the window. “Why can Piper know, and I can’t?”
“Fuck, Tate.” He threw off his seatbelt, and hopped out of the car. “I don’t want to talk about it.” The edge in his tone was angrier and louder.
I climbed out of the car after him. “You don’t want to talk about anything! What do you think’s going to happen?”
He stayed on his side of the car, so distant, and he looked at me like I was the enemy. I saw the wall go up behind his eyes. The wall that said we were done.
“What I do with my free time is my business. Trust me or not.”
“Trust?” I spat out. “You lost mine a long time ago. But if you try trusting me, then maybe we can be friends again.” Or more, I hoped.
He pinned me with disdain. “I think we’ve moved beyond friends, Tate, but if you want to play that game, then fine. We can have a sleepover, but there will be f**king involved.” His sour words cut me, and I sucked in a breath.
Was I nothing to him? My vision blurred with the tears pooling in my eyes.
He must’ve seen the pain on my face, because his hard expression faltered, and his eyes dropped.
“Tate…” He started walking towards me, his voice softer, but I plucked out the photo I’d stuffed in my pocket and shoved it in his chest. I darted around him and ran home. I barely made it inside the house before I broke down.
I slid down the door after I’d locked it and cried at his cruelty and my stupidity. Had I really been ready to give him my virginity a couple of hours ago? I banged my head once lightly against the door, but it didn’t help erase the blow to my pride.
Jared didn’t deserve me, but with little effort, he’d almost gotten me.