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Ordinary anything but se.., p.2

Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1), page 2

 

Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1)
 


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  “Fine. It was school.” Honor avoided her mother’s gaze.

  She and her mother were pretty close and talked about most things, but something held her back from mentioning the odd occurrence during class and later. She’ll think I’m being melodramatic and exaggerating. Plus Honor didn’t really know what had happened. Maybe they had simply been helping Christian because he was sick. Then why had he tried to fight them off? Had he really? She didn’t know.

  Honor shifted uncomfortably, the apple like lead in her stomach. She set the uneaten portion down and pushed away from the counter.

  “Is everything okay?” Cassie’s eyes were trained on her daughter.

  She worried too much—about everything. Cassie worried about not being there for her daughters, she worried about their health, she worried that something bad might happen to them. Honor understood why her mother was the way she was, but sometimes, she wished she wasn’t.

  It was exhausting continuously trying to deflect apprehension from her mother’s conscience, and it had to be fatiguing to her mom as well trying to live under that suffocating weight of never knowing what the future held. That was the thing—no one knew what the future held. People had to live with that knowledge and make the most of the time they had, because they never knew when it would be gone. They didn’t know if tomorrow would always come. Her mother couldn’t change what was to be by worrying about it or wishing it away. It didn’t work that way.

  “Yeah. Everything’s fine. I gotta get ready for work.” Honor tossed the apple in the wastebasket beside the fridge and went to her room.

  The third step groaned as she rushed up the stairs, opening the first door on the left. The walls were pale pink from Honor’s younger days when she was infatuated with fairies, princesses, and the myth of a happily ever after. The room smelled faintly of the vanilla lotion she favored. Sheer white curtains covered the two windows in the room. She’d glued swirls of glitter on them that sparkled when the sun hit them. Iridescent butterflies attached by string hung at different lengths from the ceiling and a small bookcase full of anything from science-fiction to romance to horror books was beside her bed.

  Honor quickly undressed, kicked her clothes toward the laundry basket, and rummaged through the dresser drawers for her work uniform. Dressed in a burnt orange polo shirt that read McDermott’s and black slacks, Honor pulled on a pair of black socks and dug black and hot pink tennis shoes out of the back of her closet.

  She braided her hair and was ready to go, pounding down the steps. “Mom, I’m leaving. ‘Bye Scarlet!”

  “’Bye, Honor,” her sister’s high voice called back.

  Her mother hurried out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. “But you didn’t eat supper.”

  Honor grabbed keys to their lone vehicle from a hook on the wall. “I’ll eat when I get home.”

  “But that won’t be until nine or later.” Brushing a strand of hair out of Honor’s eye, she said, “That’s too long to go without food.”

  “So I’ll eat at work.” She took a ten dollar bill from the wallet in her purse and shoved it into the pocket of her pants.

  “That food is not healthy.”

  She tossed her hands in the air. “Mom! I have to go. I’ll get a salad or something. Okay?”

  Cassie pressed her lips together and slowly nodded. “Okay.” She put her hands on Honor’s shoulders and pulled her close. “Love you, baby cakes.”

  Warmth swept through her as her eyes stung. She felt so safe in her mom’s arms.

  “Love you too, Mom. I gotta go.”

  She disengaged herself from her mother’s embrace though it was the only place she wanted to be at that moment, and with her face averted so her mother wouldn’t see the wetness of her eyes, Honor left.

  The house was small and tan. There was an old, rusty green swing set in the yard. The drone of a television flowed out through an open window. A little girl laughed; the sound tinkling and reminiscent of Scarlet’s laughter. Honor jiggled the Impala keys in her hand and took a deep breath. It’s now or never.

  She hadn’t really planned on stopping there on the way to work, but she recognized the house as she passed by and decided it wouldn’t hurt to make sure Christian was home and okay. Now that she was there, Honor had to quit being a chicken and walk up to the front door. She didn’t feel comfortable showing up at a classmate’s house she barely spoke to. Honor also knew she wouldn’t stop thinking about it and worrying and wondering until she knew Christian was safe.

  She closed her eyes, counted to ten, and forced her feet to move.

  A tall woman with gray eyes and dark brown hair answered the door. The resemblance between her and Christian was so striking she could only be his mother. The longer Honor stared, the more she thought the woman’s eyes were more silver than gray, which was unusual. She didn’t think she’d ever seen eyes that shade of gray before.

  The lady tilted her head and studied Honor’s face. “Yes?”

  She smiled. “Hi. Are you Christian’s mom?”

  The woman’s throat convulsed as she swallowed. Her face went from curious to suspicious. “Who are you? What do you want?” She held on to the door so tightly her knuckles were white.

  The smile fell from Honor’s lips. “I’m Honor Rochester. I go to school with Christian. He seemed sick today and I saw him leave with two men.” She tried to see behind the woman into the house, but it was dark inside. The television was quiet. The whole house beyond the woman seemed silent and still; much different from when she first arrived.

  She looked at the woman. “Is he okay?”

  “Are you one of them?”

  “One of what?”

  Christian’s mom looked over her shoulder and then faced her. The fire in her eyes swept Honor back a step. “I don’t know who sent you or what you think you’re trying to do, but you better leave. Right now.”

  “But—“

  “Get out of here!” Her chest heaved up and down as her face was twisted into something scary and ugly.

  Honor’s jaw dropped. “I just…I was worried. I…” The door slammed. A lock slid into place. “…wanted to make sure he was okay,” she ended softly.

  The windows closed and the curtains shut. Honor stared at the house in disbelief. She slowly turned on her heel and walked on shaky legs back to the car. What just happened?

  She shook the episode off to a case of crazies and drove to work, but she couldn’t get over the woman’s odd behavior, try as she did. That wasn’t normal. That wasn’t right. Honor had a strong feeling something seriously wrong was going on. It made her think back to when her father died and no one wanted to tell her. She’d known something terrible had happened. She’d felt it. It hadn’t mattered that no one told her. Honor had known, somehow.

  She swallowed, pushing the thought away. Dwelling on the past didn’t change it.

  “Honor. Table three. Hustle, hustle.”

  Honor’s boss, Richard McDermott, clapped his hands together an inch from her nose. He was in his fifties, happily divorced, and reminded her of The Hulk, except he wasn’t green and The Hulk wasn’t overweight.

  When she gave him a look, he raised his eyebrows at her on his way past to holler at some other poor soul unfortunate enough to have to work for him.

  She kept seeing that lady’s face in her mind. She’d been so scared and upset that Honor had thought she could almost smell it. It was unnerving and making it hard for her to concentrate. And she still didn’t know anything about Christian as far as whether he was all right or not.

  Not your problem, either way. Don’t think about it. Do your job.

  Taking a steadying breath, Honor dug a pad of paper and a pen from the apron tied around her waist and walked into the dining area. The walls were wood, as was the floor, and the room was accented in navy blue décor. It smelled like onions, burgers, and French fries. Voices were loud and the clank of dishes and silverware rang throughout the establishment. There were five tables in
the building, all full, and Honor was the only waitress. There were two more hours left to her shift and her feet were killing her. She felt old and she had only recently turned eighteen.

  Someone nudged her back and Honor looked up into eyes the color of the ocean. A smile, the first real one in a long while, touched her lips. “Oh. Hey, Anna.”

  Annalise Becker was tall and slender with wavy brown hair halfway down her back and the prettiest turquoise eyes. She liked to dress in loose, fluttery pale-colored clothes that made her look ethereal; like a fairy or goddess. Anna was Honor’s best friend and had been since their first day of kindergarten when their nap mats had been placed by one another.

  Her friend smiled and her whole face lit up. “Hey. Where were you after school?”

  A flashback of Ryder in the bathroom swam through her head, then of Christian being pushed into a vehicle, followed by his mother’s weird behavior, and along with all of that, came unease.

  “What are you talking about? I wasn’t anywhere,” she answered quickly. “Why?”

  A pucker formed between Anna’s eyebrows. “Ooh-kaay. Moving on from odd reaction to completely innocent question.” She shook her head and the scent of lavender teased Honor’s nostrils.

  Anna rested a hand on a hip and zeroed in on Honor with her eyes. “You weren’t where you said you’d be after class. I thought you were stopping by my house. So? Where were you?”

  Honor thumped a hand against her forehead. “Crap. I am so sorry, Anna. I completely forgot you wanted to show me your dress.”

  Anna’s older sister was getting married in June and Anna was the maid of honor. Apparently the dress was hot pink and horrendous. Her friend wanted Honor to commiserate on the pain of having to be seen in public in such a fashion atrocity.

  “Honor. I don’t pay you to stand around talking to your friends. Get moving,” Richard tossed over his shoulder as he strode for the kitchen, his overabundant gut jiggling as he moved.

  She rolled her eyes. “I gotta go before I get fired.” Honor grabbed Anna’s cool hands. “But I promise I had a really good reason for unintentionally standing you up. I’ll explain later, okay?” Only she didn’t know what she would tell her friend and she didn’t know if she should tell her the truth.

  “It better have been a boy that made you unintentionally forget about your best friend. That’s all I have to say. Nothing else is forgivable.”

  Honor dropped her friend’s hands. “Uh…”

  Anna leaned closer. “Honor Alexis Rochester, it was a boy, wasn’t it?” She let out a squeal and clapped her hands.

  “Sort of. But not in the way you think. Annalise Quinn Becker,” she added.

  “Who was it? Was it Ryder Delagrave? He’s liked you, like, forever.”

  Honor recoiled so fast she jabbed her hip against the sharp corner of the bar counter. “No. Of course not. I can’t stand him.”

  She rubbed the sore spot she knew would bruise. “Anyway, he doesn’t like me either. He’s not nice, and no, I don’t like him. At all. Just to reiterate. The thought is absolutely crazy.”

  Anna studied her friend. “Hmm. You know what they say about the ones that protest so much.”

  “They really mean what they’re saying?”

  She twirled around, saying over her shoulder as she walked through the door, “Something like that. I’ll be waiting to hear all the details. Call me later.”

  Honor inhaled deeply, trying to calm the thundering beat of her heart. Ryder did not like her. She knew that. Why didn’t anyone else realize it? He was mocking and rude and…odd. And everyone knew she couldn’t stand him.

  So he was good-looking. Big deal. There were lots of good-looking boys in the school. It didn’t mean he was nice. Why would Anna act like maybe she did like him, but didn’t want anyone to know about it? Was that what people thought? Honor really hoped not. That would be terrible, horrible. She swallowed, feeling ill.

  Stop thinking about it. Get back to work. She straightened her shoulders, took a deep breath, and forced her lip muscles into a ghost of a smile.

  “Honor!” her boss bellowed from the opening between the kitchen and bar.

  She jumped. “Coming already. Geez.”

  Honor strode to table three, took one look at the customer, and immediately turned around. Dismay hit her, hard and fast. He’d probably heard that whole conversation with Anna. Her life was over—completely over. She couldn’t face him, couldn’t go to school again, and especially couldn’t bear to look at him. She wanted to go back in time and not have the conversation she just had with Anna. Of all the bad luck for him to be there, at that moment, probably overhearing everything they’d said. Today was full of bad luck, at least for Honor.

  She could feel his eyes on her back, branding her with their intensity, studying her like he always did. He was so creepy. Why was he always watching her? Honor’s stomach felt queasy and her skin hot. What did he want from her?

  “So did you hear all that?” she asked with her back still to him.

  “Yep,” was his cheerful reply.

  She took what was meant to be a calming breath. It didn’t really work. “Wonderful.” Honor turned and offered a stiff smile in case her boss was watching. “What can I get you?”

  Ryder smiled at her, looking amused. “Hello, Honor.”

  He lounged in the chair like he didn’t have a care in the world. He probably didn’t. His family was rich, he was good-looking, and girls sighed when he passed by. What could he possibly have to worry about?

  “How’s it going?” he continued.

  “It was going okay.” Pen posed over notepad, she waited.

  “And now?” Laughter danced in his eyes.

  She frowned. Since when did emotion of any kind other than mockery appear in his eyes? It made him almost…real, not so fake.

  “Not so much.” Honor motioned with the pen. “Most people order a drink or food or something when they sit at a table in here. I imagine that’s why you’re here. So what do you want?”

  Ryder chuckled, the sound disconcerting coming from him. He didn’t laugh. He ridiculed. What was wrong with him tonight?

  “Do you really need to ask that?”

  Honor narrowed her eyes at him, annoyed when shivers went up and down her arms at his intimate tone. “What is that supposed to mean?”

  He opened his arms, palms up. “I always get water. You should know that. You’ve waited on me before. That’s all.” Ryder gave a faint smile. “You know; hydration and all that.”

  She inwardly seethed, the smile on her face turning brittle. “Do you know what you want to eat or should I come back?”

  “Please come back. I so enjoy our visits.”

  Honor shoved the pad of paper and pen into her apron, imagining it was a pillow over Ryder’s face.

  “Don’t try to be charming. You’re not. You’re completely wasting your attempt at charmingness on me. I am immune,” she said.

  “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

  She tossed her hands in the air. “Who are you trying to kid? You don’t talk to me; you mock at me. Your tone is sincere, but your eyes are not. You say weird, inappropriate things to me all the time. Today was a perfect example.”

  Honor lowered her voice as she said, “I’m a disturbing kind of guy? Really? Who talks like that? And another thing! You never say what you really mean and you always mean something else and it’s very…irritating.”

  “I think you just said the same thing twice using different words. And I don’t think charmingness is a word. I could be wrong.” He paused. “But I doubt it.”

  Honor jutted a hip and placed a hand on it. “Because you’re always right?”

  “No. Because I’m never wrong.”

  She caught a glimpse of his straight white teeth that had probably cost his parents thousands of dollars to make look that way. Everything about him was well-polished and smooth. That was probably the thing that bothered her most about Ryder. He didn
t have any imperfections, at least not any visible ones. His personality on the other hand—that was a huge, whopping, unable to ignore, flaw.

  Honor whirled around and stomped over to the bar with a clenched jaw.

  The bartender, Eric Jones, lifted a brow at her.

  “Water, please. With extra spit,” she added in a loud voice.

  Eric was in his thirties and a quiet guy. He was short and chubby with brown hair and eyes. Honor only knew the basics about him and that was the way he seemed to like it, but from what she’d determined, he was a sweet guy. Of course, he never said anything, so it was easy to find him likable.

  “Honor,” her boss admonished, looking around. “Don’t say things like that.”

  “Sorry. I was kidding. Really.”

  Honor ducked her head when Richard McDermott continued to glare at her. She glanced over her shoulder and Ryder saluted her, that maddening smile on his lips.

  She grabbed the glass of ice water and slammed it down on the table. “Ready to order?”

  He lifted one finger as he sipped from the straw, his full lips somehow making it a sensual act. Honor looked away. “Mmm. Delicious. Just the right amount of spit.”

  She felt her face heat up and had a crazy urge to laugh. “What do you want, Ryder?” Honor asked in exasperation.

  “Are you sure you want me to answer that?”

  Honor swallowed, flushed all of a sudden with his gaze so intent on her. She hadn’t dated a lot, but she wasn’t completely immune to innuendoes. “What do you want to eat?”

  He slowly pushed the glass away. “I would like to buy you dinner. When’s your break?”

  “No.”

  Ryder looked down, but not before she caught his self-deprecating smile. “Somehow I knew you’d say that.” He looked up. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”

  She looked over her shoulder, made sure her boss wasn’t around, and leaned down to be at eyelevel with him. “What game are you playing at?” She studied his face, looking for a hint of his ulterior motives in his features.

 
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