Unravel, page 1
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Also by Tara Lynn
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CHAPTER ONE Eliza
CHAPTER TWO Everett
CHAPTER THREE Eliza
CHAPTER FOUR Everett
CHAPTER FIVE Eliza
CHAPTER SIX Everett
CHAPTER SEVEN Eliza
CHAPTER EIGHT Everett
CHAPTER NINE Eliza
CHAPTER TEN Everett
CHAPTER ELEVEN Eliza
CHAPTER TWELVE Everett
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Eliza
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Everett
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Eliza
CHAPTER SIXTEEN Everett
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Eliza
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Everett
CHAPTER NINETEEN Eliza
CHAPTER TWENTY Everett
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Eliza
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Everett
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Eliza
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Everett
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Eliza
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Everett
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN Eliza
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT Everett
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE Epilogue
I shouldn’t be burning with as much anger as I was right now.
I was too young for a lot of awful things that happened to me, but this surely had to rank near the top of the list. And again, it was happening in my own house, in my very own living room.
And again, my mom was bringing it upon me without a care in her little head.
“Please Eliza,” she said. “Sit down.”
“Sit where?” I spun on her, boiling harder at the sight of her calm face. “Sit on this couch? Sit in my room? Sit anywhere in this house? What does it matter? Thanks to you, there's nowhere I can go to get away from him.”
I jabbed my finger at the cause of my eruption.
“I've got a name,” he said, deep and full.
“I'm never going to need to use it.”
“Sticking with 'brother' then?”
Fire could have shot out of my eyes at the sight of that soft smirk on his face.
Everett Tull. Strange how quickly a name could turn to ashes on your tongue. Once I couldn’t say his name without smiling. Now, I counted the good days as ones without him troubling my thoughts.
Fat chance of that happening anymore.
He stood mirroring my position, standing beside his dad who was seated on the couch. Two very different chemical reactions were happening in this room. My mom – a quiet, slender woman - apparently wanted to bond for life with the apologetic, pudgy man sitting across from her. Me? I’d die before getting closer to the oversized prick smirking at me.
Rett had on a plain dark t-shirt, darkened some more at damp spots. Sweat from football practice? For all I knew, it could be blood. The fabric clung to his muscles of his wiry form. His face lay olive under a deep tan, long and rugged, with a wolf jaw, cliff edge cheeks and a steep nose. The hardened features ran neatly into his pitch black hair and cast a shadow over his copper eyes.
Eyes that now lay fixed mischievously on me.
“Want me to sign you a picture?” Rett said. “You can use it however you want.”
I huffed. “I’ll let you know if I ever decide to head to a shooting range.”
“Hey,” his dad spoke up. “You two don't have to be best friends, but you do need to get along.”
“We got along fine before you two decided to put us in this room together,” I said.
“Well, you’ll just have to get used to seeing each other around.”
Rett seemed to really be taking that advice to heart. His gaze slipped up and down my form, as if I were dressed up for a pageant. All I had on was a T-shirt and shorts, standard wear for a blistering west Texas fall, but my shorts felt awfully too short and tight. My messy blonde hair was slung back in a ponytail. I clasped my arms over myself.
I turned on Mom. “Do they have to move in?” I said. “It's already November. Can't you just wait another half-year until we graduate? Ok, until I graduate, at least.”
“I'm going to be right there on that stage behind you, girl,” Rett said from behind me.
His voice had grown a growl. I smiled. Good, let his fuse light. He might just explode and leave.
“It's not even a year, Mom,” I said. “It's only until spring. I can even move to college early. Heck, I should have been planning to do that anyway, if it takes me far away from here.”
“Eliza, that's enough,” my mom said. “Now we are going to be a family. I know this isn't the first time you've heard that, but that doesn't mean you can't give it the same chance you did then.”
I had to bite my tongue so hard I nearly drew blood. Give it the same chance? She knew how that had ended. She knew.
Now, she was asking me to shut my eyes and shake hands with the father of the guy who had shown me that hell had more than just one level.
“I don't need a family,” I said. “And Rett certainly isn't going to be a help. You know he's a criminal, right?”
Rett's eyes sharpened on me. My heart sped an instant. Had I taken it too far? He didn’t hide his leather cut or his chopper, but maybe there was more to it than him being a prospect for the MC that ran this town. Who knew what he’d done for them already? If he literally killed me right before I could flee this town, it’d be the most ironic thing I could imagine.
“Rett is an adult now and free to make his own choices,” my mother said. “As am I. And that's why I'm not marrying Rett. I'm marrying his father.”
“So it's ok with you just having the prospect for some gang hanging around the house?”
“Trust me,” Rett said. “I'm not going to be hanging in this hole, sis.”
“Everett,” his dad said.
But my mind was fixed firmly on the last word that had slithered out of his mouth. I shivered at the ease of it.
Sis. It sounded so final. There was no such thing as an ex-stepbrother. Even if this marriage lasted only a week, we'd be tied together for life.
“Now Everett may not be perfect,” his dad said to me. “But he won't give you any trouble. Heck, he'll be too busy tearing it towards the end zone. Ain't that right, boy?”
He slapped his son on the thigh. Rett shot him a withering look with a dozen times the venom he used on me. For a moment, life flashed years back, to us sitting on the back porch of this house.
“It’s fine if I’ve got nothing,” Rett had said, staring off at the desert beyond. “As long as I remember how to pick myself up when I fall. As long as I don’t end up a waste of a life like my old man.”
For a moment, I recognized him. And then I saw the biker actua
So much for not falling.
“In any case,” my mom said. “We've made our decision. I hope you two can come to accept it soon.”
“How long do I have to adjust?” I said.
My mom smiled across the coffee table at her beau. “We're planning for a Valentine's Day wedding,” she said.
“That's right.” Ronald clasped her hands. “It'll be an extra special time of the year for us.”
“That's a great idea, Lynn,” Rett said to my mom. “He might actually remember your anniversary then - if you manage to last a year.”
My mother lay silent. His father shot him a dumb, flabby smile. He couldn't even mount a comeback. No wonder Rett despised him. What exactly could my mom see in this man? The air force pilot? That’d been ages ago.
But I was seeing something good myself now.
“You're getting married in February?” I said. “So I only have to spend four months living with my new family.”
“Officially, maybe,” Ronald said. “But we're moving in within the month.”
My stomach plummeted. Never have hope. Hadn't I learned that lesson enough already? Hope always led to disappointment.
“My ass is staying in that old house as long as I can,” Rett said.
“Language,” my mother said – as if that was the worst that could happen in front of her. Rett cut off anything more with his gaze.
“In any case, I already sold it,” Ronald said. “We have to be out of there in a couple weeks tops.”
Rett stalked over to the window, clasping his hands above his heads.
I should be happy he was fighting it just as hard. What right did he have to be pissed though? Like I posed any threat to him. I meant nothing. He’d made that very clear these past few years.
Not that it mattered. This fight had ended before we walked in this room.
“It'll be smooth,” Mom said. “You'll see.”
“You'll see,” Rett said. “There’s nothing smooth about this.”
He tore open the front door and slung out into the blazing afternoon sun, slamming it shut.
The two adults turned to me, hands still bound together. Were they looking for my blessing?
“Do whatever you want,” I said. “Don’t act like you’ve ever given me a choice.”
“I'm sorry you feel that way,” Mom said, but I was already staging my own walkout.
I went up to my room and sat glumly at my desk. A pile of AP test practice books sat in front of my laptop, but I threw them onto the dresser nearby, and jabbed keys on my laptop until music started warbling through my speakers - a soft brass cushion for me to shut my eyes and rest on.
The blues really shouldn't have been my genre. The radios in town never played anything but country, pop or some unholy combination of both. But long ago, when I’d been lying in my bed, broken and seeing nothing but darkness with my eyes open – a bit of BB King had somehow found its way in my playlist. It had reached down the well and told me that I wasn’t alone.
I didn’t need it now as bad I had then, thank god, but it sure suited my mood.
Even under the beats, conversation rose up from the living room. Soft murmurs, a couple laughs. God, what else was I going to be hearing later? They were going to frolic like teenagers, and I was going to be the adult here, getting some work done so I could make sure I could escape this house of horrors once and for all.
I tried to memorize some history, but it was hard to concentrate with the music and impossible without the music. I checked my mail and saw some articles from Maria and Jasper for the newspaper. Those would be easy to proofread. I paced the room with with my tablet, tapping out fixes. Maria’s were immaculate obviously, but I hardly had to use my finger even on Jasper’s piece on the football game. At least someone in this town could learn from his mistakes.
Some movement outside the blinds caught my eye. I tweaked them open.
Rett stood facing away in the shaded half of the driveway, smoking. He looked like a tall, broad shadow of himself from behind.
Of course he hadn't left. The rumble of his motorcycle would have been impossible to miss.
A cloud of smoke wafted away from him. Why was he smoking? It was a weird thing to wonder. The criminals in this town did far worse to their bodies. But that tall wedged shaped back reminded me that he was QB of the football team more than anything else. The star QB couldn't be wheezing out on the field.
Rett spun. He held a thin white joint, not a cigarette. Well, that explained it.
His eyes lifted directly to my window. I fought every urge to jump away. He couldn't see me. He just knew where my room would be.
His gaze lingered, copper eyes shining. He didn’t glower or smirk. In the stillness, I saw the outline of a different guy – one I’d known so long ago.
“I’m here.” His breath tickled my ear, and when he spoke again, my body went warm all over. “I always will be.”
“I know,” I whispered back, holding myself tighter to him, his muscles a shield, his face a sun I couldn’t peel my eyes from. “I’m yours and you’re mine.”
Rett stamped out the smoke and went over to his chopper. He flicked the engine to a low rumble. I plugged my ears, against the coming explosion, but his hands gripped the handles and simply held.
He turned and glanced up at my room again. His eyes were tightened as if the glare from my room burned brighter than the sun at his back.
His stance hardened. The bike kicked to life and he shot down the road to a dot and then nothing.
The tingle hadn’t left my shoulders.
I couldn't lie, not to myself. It wasn't just the anger or fear that had made me burn so hard down there.
What scared me the most was that a little part of me was still burning for Rett.
“You looked good out there, Rett.”
“Oh yeah, really good.”
The two girls nearly dripped over the stadium railings, and I stopped before I walked past to the locker room. They were both blonde, both cheerleaders. Their red and white tops bulged at the chests, right where our rattlesnake mascot lay coiled.
I’d fucked better. The hang-arounds at the MC came skimpy and stacked and they didn’t play high school games. But something about the closer one of the two blondes gave me pause. I pressed up against the steel bleachers.
“I ain’t as nice as I look,” I said. “Best be careful.”
The girl took another admiring gaze. She had a nice, round face, cute but not hot. Her waist was just plump enough to let me imagine the feel of them cushioning my thrusts. Soft, little numbers looking for danger happened to be my specialty.
“I already told her who you run with,” the other girl said. “She knows you’re a prospect.”
I granted her another glance, but the first suited me more.
“Don’t let the title fool you, sweetheart,” I said, returning my attention. “Full members haven’t done half the things that I have. Title’s just a formality.”
“What sort of things?”
“Whatever deeds the club needs done. Don’t worry your sweet self about the particulars.”
“Aw, I bet you’re all candy inside.”
I wasn’t about that line drift off into the ether. “Oh I’m happy to show you exactly what I got inside.”
She cupped her face an instant, as if the words were hers. My breath clenched. This girl was innocent to the forces she was toying with and that just made me want to inflict myself on her. She must be a freshman. I'd have been through her already otherwise, ran my snake right between the soft mounds of flesh that the cartoon on her shirt covered right now.
“School year’s half over,” I said. “How come I don’t know you?”’
Her brow crossed. “You do. We're in the same freaking English class. I moved into town a month ago. The teacher announced it.”
“And you didn’t pay attention to me.” She sulked.
Moving senior year wasn’t the worst deal in the world, but it wasn’t all fun. Dealing with a shitty situation gave you the right to some snark.
Something in the pout of her lips reminded me all too well of another girl, though - of the shitstorm I was heading into.
A week had blazed past since the day my pissant of a father dropped the news on me. Another week and I'd have to sleep in a new house.
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