Then started all over again.
She would keep calling until I answered.
Finally, I swiped and held it to my ear. “Yeah?”
Laughter, and then a snort, met my hello. “Thatch is going to kill you!”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” I said through clenched teeth, then frowned. “Hey! I promised him revenge, and he still refused to tell me why, so he can just—suck it!”
“That’s the spirit.” She giggled. “But a word of warning, Thatch isn’t the type to take things of this magnitude lying down.”
My stomach clenched. “Meaning?”
“Meaning, according to Lucas, he’s an equal-opportunity revenge taker. In fact, Lucas said the last person he would ever want to start a war with would be Thatch.”
“But, but—” I did a little circle in place and tried to calm my racing heart. “Lucas helped us! He helped me, the whole list thing and—”
“Right, the list was Lucas’s idea, remember? His way of helping you get even without you actually engaging in a battle that you’d most likely lose! He was trying to help you NOT get in this situation!”
“You’re telling me this now!” I shrieked.
A knock sounded at my door.
Eyes wide, I waited as my heart slammed against my chest.
Thump, thump, thump-freaking-thump.
He’d only been to my house once.
I was being paranoid.
“Austin?” Avery yelled. “Hello!”
“I, uh, someone’s here,” I whispered.
“You live with your parents. Of course someone’s there.” I could just see her rolling her eyes.
“Look, all I’m saying is you’ve basically just dropped a red flag in front of a horny cheating bull—keep your guard up and your A game strong.”
“Thanks,” I said through clenched teeth. “Great advice, anything else?”
“Hiding out until this blows over wouldn’t hurt either.”
I huffed out a breath and grumbled my good-bye, then very slowly went over to the main entrance and peeked between the blinds.
There was something in front of the door, but I couldn’t make it out. It looked like part of a yellow flower, but I couldn’t tell if it was part of the potted arrangements by the door or something else.
I opened the door a crack and then wider.
A huge bouquet was sitting on my doorstep.
I rolled my eyes—I was ridiculous to even think he might have sent me flowers. My dad always bought my mom flowers, once a week. It was kind of their thing.
Head still pounding, I bent down to pick up the vase and screamed bloody murder when I turned the glass around and saw a giant tarantula inside, just waiting for me to pull out the flowers so it could pounce.
I almost dropped the vase.
I looked around. What the heck was I supposed to do? If I put it down, the tarantula could escape—if I put it in my house, the creature would most likely find its way into my bedroom and eat my face while I slept.
With shaking hands, I set the vase back down on the ground and went in search of a bucket I could put over it—surely, the pet store could use another giant flesh-eating spider, right?
It took me longer than it should have to find an old bucket in the garage that wasn’t infested with dirt and more spiders—the last thing we needed was some sort of Arachnophobia situation where the spiders mated and created a superspider.
I hated spiders.
Thatch wouldn’t go that far.
There was a note tucked between the pretty roses, but the last thing I was going to do was pull it out and aggravate the hairy thing.
It was officially the morning from hell. I was sweating, most likely going to be late for class—again—and had had a run-in with one of my biggest fears.
The front door was open when I made it back to the front of the house. Frowning, I stepped over the threshold. Where had it gone?
“Hi, honey!” Mom held the temporary glass vase in her hands, her boobs so big and pressed up against the spider side. “How was your night?”
“Mom, no!” Bucket raised high in the air, I ran toward her, ready to slam it down on her hands if need be. But clearly, she was used to my dramatics, since she frowned and reached for the card, tugging one of the roses up.
“Thatch?” She turned the card around, and that’s when the aggressive little monster crawled right out of its prison and landed on my mom’s hand.
What happened next was like something out of a war movie.
She screamed, glass went everywhere, and I swore the spider made some sort of high-pitched noise while I charged at it with my blue bucket. I captured the furry beast just in time before it scurried into the living room.
But the spider had been drugged.
That was the only explanation for why the bucket moved across the wood floor like the spider was pumped full of ’roids and well on its way to eating through the plastic.
“I think . . .” I was breathing too heavily, and my mom was standing on the countertop. “That we need to call animal control.”
“That”—she pointed down at the bucket—“is possessed!”
The bucket made a scraping noise against the floor. I jumped onto the couch and yelled.
And that, folks, is when I realized we had an audience in the form of a slow clap from the open door, and a cell phone held high in the air, the camera lens pointed at me.
“You!” I glared at Thatch, unable to move from my safety zone on the couch.
“What?” He tilted his head. “I was in the neighborhood.” His cocky grin was menacing, aggravating.
“I’m going to murder you!” I yelled. “You KNOW how I feel about spiders!”
“Spiders?” He stared down at the bucket. “I’m not responsible for the shipments of flowers, I hope you realize that. I was just trying to send you flowers to apologize for last night—oh and . . .” He checked his watch and made a face. “You should probably go—don’t want to be late for class.”
He held up his phone, snapped a picture, and walked off; two seconds later, he retraced his steps and called over his shoulder, “I hope you know . . . this is war.”
I fumed and screamed after him, “I thought you wanted to be my hero!”
He turned fully around and braced his hands in the door frame. His look said it all. He was pissed, not just a little, but a whole lot. “Consider this my warning. Post any more shit, and I’m going to make my way down my own little list. Bike shorts are one thing, but this? A viral video. War.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” I said, calling his bluff.
He nodded toward the bucket. “Funny, because I think I just did. Have a good day!” He winked at my mother. “Mrs. Rogers, sorry for the mess.”
“I’ll be your hero.” The first sentence that was texted to me by an unlisted number.
The morning just kept getting weirder.
When I went to grab my coffee at my usual Starbucks, the barista stared up at me with wide blue eyes and said, “Enrique Iglesias is boss.”
“Okay.” I drew out the word slowly. “Thanks for the coffee, good talk.”
As if that weren’t weird enough, my Facebook feed was full of hero memes, one of them a picture of me wearing a cape.
“What the hell?” I scrolled through my phone.
And then a video started playing on my newsfeed.
From Austin’s page.
I’d been meaning to unfriend her—it was too hard seeing pictures of her all the time.
Instead, like a masochist, I’d remained friends so I could stalk her and get angry all over again at my decision to push her away.
My drunken voice sang out not only the wrong key to the “Hero” song but also the wrong words.
t,” I whispered as I stared at my drunken self belting out a song in a pitch that probably only dogs could hear and understand.
It was already going viral.
With more than five hundred shares and two thousand comments.
The video had been shared from her new website.
And when I clicked on the website, lo and behold, there I was, in all my satanic-looking glory.
I was going to murder her.
This was my life she was messing with! I had a career—a reputation!
That’s why they always warn you about scorned women.
I quickly sent out a text to Lucas to meet me at my office and then tilted my head as a sign in the pet store window proclaimed “Tarantulas.”
A smile curved my lips.
Oh, she wanted to play?
I’d play alright.
Her forehead had the word “whore” written on it backward. She’d been using a mirror. Enough said.
I took a picture because it had been so hilarious.