Falling into Us Read online

Page 21


I leaned back in the seat and laughed, remembering. “You looked so hot in that dress, Becca. I literally had a hard-on the entire night. ”

  “What’d you end up doing with that shirt?”

  I grinned sheepishly. “I actually stopped at a McDonalds and threw it away. ”

  She giggled. “I wondered about that, since I never saw that shirt again. ”

  We chatted aimlessly until we were pulling off the freeway and onto the highway that led to our hometown. “Do we have plans?” I asked.

  She shrugged. “Nell is being difficult again. I want to get together with her, but she’s…she’s just not cooperating. We’re having lunch with Ben and Kate tomorrow. ”

  “Kate?”

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  “His girlfriend. ”

  I nodded. “So how is Nell not cooperating?”

  Becca answered in a calm enough voice, but she spoke facing the window, and she spoke slowly and enunciated the words carefully, which was a pretty good indicator as to how upset she was. “She just doesn’t seem to want to hang out. Every time I text her, she’s ‘busy. ’” Becca made air quotes with her fingers. “The last time I saw her, she was definitely drunk. ”

  “When was this?” I asked.

  “Over the holidays? You were at the gym, and I got her to stop by my parents’ house. She was so drunk, Jason. She stank of whiskey so bad it made me sick. She was s-scratching at her wrists again, too. ”

  “Was she driving?”

  Becca shook her head. “No, her mom dropped her off. ”

  “Her mom didn’t notice?”

  Becca had her hand over her mouth. “I guess n-not. ” The stammers were a precursor to tears, I was pretty sure; I pulled into the parking lot of a dive bar not yet open at 3 p. m. “I don’t know h-how she couldn’t tell, though. Like, I smelled it on her as soon as Nell walked in my room. I don’t know what her parents are d-doing, Jason. She’s getting worse every t-time I see her. It’s like she’s fading away or something. She’s going deeper and deeper into her s-self, and her parents aren’t doing a f**king th-thing to stop it! I love Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne, I do, you know I do. They were there for me when I was mad at my parents, but now Nell needs them and they’re…they’re burying their heads in the sand. And I just—I don’t know what to do. ”

  I unbuckled my seatbelt and slid across the bench to put my arms around her. “I don’t know either, Beck. She’s their daughter, and you’d think they’d do something. But…she’s eighteen, you know? What are they going to do? Ground her? Take away her car? From what you tell me, she barely leaves the house. If she’s refusing to see a therapist, how can they make her?”

  Becca nodded, sniffling. “I know, I know. I mean, unless she does something drastic like tries to kill herself, they can’t really forcibly admit her to a psych ward or something, and I’m not sure that wouldn’t do more harm than good. ” She was trying so hard to keep it together, and it hurt me to watch her hurting. “She’s my oldest friend, Jase. I love her, and I’m so worried about her. The arm-scratching thing really scares me. ”

  “What do you think it is?”

  I held her against my chest as she quietly cried. Eventually, she straightened up and sniffled, wiping underneath her eyes with a finger. “I don’t know. The obvious thing is drugs, but she’s not, like, twitchy or moody or anything. I saw that with Ben, so I kind of know what to look for. She’s not scary skinny like Ben got, either, so I don’t think it’s drugs. I just don’t know, but it scares me. ”

  “Well, maybe we can get to the bottom of it this summer,” I suggested.

  “Maybe. I hope so. ” Becca took a deep breath and let it out. “Okay, I’m okay. So where are you going to stay over the summer?”

  I’d stayed with her family over the Christmas holiday, sleeping in their basement on the most uncomfortable pull-out bed in the known universe. I wasn’t eager to repeat that experience. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe I can find a summer job or something and get a short-term lease on an apartment. ”

  Becca glanced up at me. “I don’t know how you’d feel about this, but Ben has an apartment with his girlfriend Kate. I know they have a two-bedroom, but they’re only using one room. One of Kate’s friends was staying with them, but she moved out. If you got a job, they’d probably let you stay there if you helped with rent. It’d be better than my parents’ basement, that’s for sure. ”

  Her parents had warmed up to me a good bit, since it was clear I was responsible and loved their daughter. It didn’t hurt that her dad was a U of M fan and I could get him tickets for home games at a discount. They still didn’t entirely approve of me, or of her dating in general, I didn’t think, but they’d smartened up enough to know they couldn’t stop us from being together, and to try would be to alienate Becca. They’d let me stay at their house whenever we came back for weekend trips or holidays, but I had to stay in the basement, two full floors away from Becca. I think they knew I had a bad home life, and finally over the past Christmas holiday I’d explained that I wouldn’t be going back to my parents’ house ever again, due to “differences with my dad. ” I left it at that, and I was pretty sure Mr. de Rosa understood the context of what I wasn’t saying.

  I considered living with Ben and Kate over the summer, and the idea did hold certain merit. Becca could come over, and we could do what we wanted in relative freedom, whereas there was little to no opportunity for much of anything at her parents’ house. I didn’t know Ben all that well, but he seemed like a decent guy. I knew he was severely bipolar and had a history of drug abuse, but was currently going on a year sober and had worked at the same job for nearly two years, so he was doing better.

  “If Ben and Kate would let me stay with them, I’d stay there. It’d save my back some pain. ”

  Becca grinned. “You know you just want to be able to sleep with me without worrying about my parents. ”

  I nodded seriously. “Absolutely. That’s my top priority. I’m thoroughly addicted to you, Becca. If I don’t get a regular fix of your body, I might go into withdrawal. ”

  She didn’t bat an eyelash. “That’s a very serious condition. Maybe we should wean you off that addiction. ”

  I shook my head. “Oh, no. I’m happily addicted. I don’t have many vices, you know. I don’t really drink, don’t smoke, I’m not into partying or anything like that. But you? I’m very much into you. I wouldn’t give you up for anything. ”

  Becca nodded, touching her chin as if in thought. “Well, in that case, we’d better make sure you get your fix, Mr. Dorsey. I wouldn’t want you to go into withdrawal. ”

  I traced a line up her thigh, the supple flesh giving easily under my touch. “No, we wouldn’t want that. It’d be bad. ”

  She turned on the seat slightly. “What are the symptoms of withdrawal, just so I know what to look for?”

  I turned my hand to face palm up, following the seam of her yoga pants up her groin. The pants were so tight I could feel the lips of her privates through the thin cotton. She stifled a gasp as I found the spot I was looking for and massaged it through her pants.

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  “Well,” I said, “I tend to get cranky, that’s the first thing. I get really horny, and it’s hard for me to concentrate. ”

  She let her thighs fall apart a bit, eyes hooded and back pressed against the door. “I see. And what’s the best method of giving you a fix?”

  “I’m not particular. ”

  “So if you touched me, right here in this parking lot, that would help you?”

  I tilted my head back and forth in a “yes and no” kind of gesture. “Well, temporarily, it would. I mean, it’s been, what, three days since I had you last? We’ve been so busy studying there just hasn’t been time. And now I’ve got you where I want you. I might need more than that. ”

  “But it would be a start, wouldn’t it?” She took my hand, twisted on the seat so her back was nes