Breaking the Rules (Page 33)

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits #1.5)(33)
Author: Katie McGarry

Echo giggles then sighs. “He also would have tossed me in.”

She stretches her arm toward the keyboard of her laptop. I swivel the chair so that she can reach. With a brush to the pad, the monitor turns on. “Have you considered searching for your mom by her maiden name? Sarah Perry?”

“Thought about it.” But I haven’t. There’s this heaviness inside me, an ache, preventing me from typing my mother’s name. A name that belonged to her before my father. A past she never alluded to. “Let’s sleep in the tent tonight.”

She scans my face, weighing the change of subject.

“I’ll do everything,” I coax. “Pitch the tent, put out the blankets, make dinner and repack. Plus, Beth and Isaiah need sleep.” More important, I need time with Echo.

Her nose wrinkles, not believing me. “So all I have to do is sit. No lugging the cooler, no opening a can of beans…nothing.”

“Nothing,” I repeat. “Except make out with me.”

She’s still examining me. I can sense her energy extending out to touch mine as she tries to gauge how close to insanity I am as I delve into my mother’s past.

Come on, Echo. Let this go.

A shadow crosses her face. “Hunter asked me to paint the constellation Aires.”

My heart beats once in pain for her. Jesus, it’s like the two of us can’t catch a break. I cup her face with my hand, and Echo leans into me as if she needs my strength. She’s been strong for too long. Even with the summer reprieve, can either of us survive more reminders of our hurts?

“Don’t do it if it bothers you.”

“But this could be it, Noah. My chance to prove that I have talent beyond my mom.”

“You don’t need him to prove anything.”

Neither one of us blinks as she thinks over my words.

“I mean it, Echo, you don’t need him to—”

“I’ll sleep in the tent,” Echo says, cutting me off.

I stiffen at her sharp reprimand, but hear the words underneath. She let my shit go, and I need to let her shit go. Camping isn’t her favorite, and she’s giving me what I asked for when I promised her a week in a hotel. “Then I’ll pick you up after work.”

Echo

Noah left the hotel’s business office hours ago. With my computer in my lap, I permit the seat to cradle me with my back against one arm of the chair and my legs dangling over the other. I have several windows on the computer open. Noah’s mother the subject of all of them. They’re sites Noah will want to see, I think, even if they lead to dead ends.

“S’up, Echo.” Isaiah strolls into the room and rubs his hand over his shaved head as if to wake himself.

“Hey.” I perk up at the sight of Noah’s best friend. Even with his tattoo-covered arms and the double row of hoop earrings in both ears, Isaiah’s definitely one of the good guys. “How are you?”

“I’m all good.” Isaiah flips a metal folding chair around and straddles it. “You?”

“Good.” And because it’s polite to ask… “How’s Beth?”

“Still sleeping. Whatcha working on?”

I readjust my legs so that my feet touch the ground and I’m straight in the chair. “Stuff for Noah.”

Isaiah’s eyebrows shoot up, and I weigh whether or not I should tell him what type of stuff. Noah can be private. Isaiah and Beth are, too. Hanging out with them is like tangoing through a minefield of secrets, and I never have any idea which secrets the other person knows. I go with safe. “How was your trip?”

The left side of his mouth tips up. “Nicely played. Trip sucked. Look, I told Noah and now I’m telling you—Beth and I will split. Last thing I want is to bring trouble.”

I’d rather play leap frog in traffic with a porcupine than engage in small talk with Beth for the week, but I like Isaiah and love Noah. Beth is part of their package deal. “It’s okay. Noah and I have had a rough couple of days, and he failed to mention your plans, but we’ll work it out. He and I are going to sleep in the tent tonight, anyhow.”

Isaiah shakes his head, and I lean forward to catch his attention. “Noah needs the tent tonight, and I need to give it to him. It doesn’t have nearly as much to do with you and Beth as you think.”

He pulls on the bottom earring of the double row. “You sure?”

“Yes.”

“I’m paying for me and Beth. All the way.” Even though, like it is for Noah, money is hard for Isaiah to come across. He’ll pay because Isaiah also possesses Noah’s stubborn pride.

“We’ll figure it out when the time comes,” I answer.

“Cool. Don’t hang in here because Beth and I are crashing, otherwise I’ll be mad.” He hitches his thumb over his shoulder. “Vending machines?”

“We have drinks and food in the cooler.”

“Vending machines,” he repeats.

Yep, same infuriating pride. “Around the corner.”

Isaiah stands, and my fingers lightly slide over the keyboard. A bit of panic seeps into my bloodstream as I contemplate what I’ve been doing since Noah left for work. If anyone understands Noah, it would be Isaiah. “Isaiah?”

He pauses at the door.

“I…I found pictures of Noah’s mom…when she was a teenager. Do you think I should show him?”

Isaiah sucks in a deep breath, and the tiger tattooed on his arm appears to ripple as he shoves his hands in his pockets. “Does he know you’re hunting around in his business?”

“I suggested he search the internet for her earlier and…Noah shut down. But it’s his mom. He may want to see them.”

He leans his head back until it softly bangs against the corner of the door frame. His gray eyes stare at the ceiling like he’s envisioning something else, somewhere else. “What’s he looking for?”

“I thought maybe he’d like pictures of his parents.” I blink three times.

“You’d suck at poker. What’s he looking for?”

My fingers tap the arm of the chair. “I don’t think I should be the one who tells you—”

“Is he looking for his mom’s blood relatives? The ones that his foster parents said are still alive?”

My eyes meet his. Dang it.

“I know, Echo. At least I know that they’re alive. He’s searching for them, isn’t he?”

I’m tiptoeing on thin ice with Noah and his trust issues. My fingers stop the rhythmic tapping and go for persistent. “Don’t make me say something I’ll regret.”