Breaking the Rules (Page 53)

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits #1.5)(53)
Author: Katie McGarry

I study the egg roll like it can read my fortune. Let’s see: drunk guys, me with scars on my arms and a high Beth. Sounds like a freaking fantastic time. Why didn’t I think of it earlier? “I don’t know. Where’s it going to be?”

“Around. Someone from work is throwing it. We should go. It’s been a while since we’ve let loose.”

“Let loose?” I repeat. “Did you block out how drunk you were the night of the beaver with headphones?”

“I got drunk to block out the beaver with headphones. Not to have a good time.”

Noah rarely asks for anything, and he’s probably itching to do something fun since Isaiah’s in town. “You, Beth and Isaiah should go. I’ll stay in.” I wiggle my bare toes and fake a smile. “My feet are in desperate need of a home pedi, and that’s sort of weird to do with a boyfriend around.”

Noah scratches the spot above his eyebrow. “I want you to go.”

“Why?”

“Because it’ll be fun, and I want you there.”

I shrug, feeling a little peer-pressured and not appreciating it. “I’m not a big party fan.”

“One of the first times we talked was at a party, and you were drunk.”

I grin at the memory of me spilling my private thoughts to the great Noah Hutchins on the back patio of Michael Blair’s house. “That proves my point. Lila blackmailed me into that party, and I was drunk out of self-preservation with a little desperation thrown in for good measure. It was either the party or having dinner with my father and Ashley. I chose the party.”

“You drank at the party at my foster parents’ house.”

What is this, the Spanish Inquisition for underage drinking? Losing my appetite, I toss the rest of the egg roll into the container. “One beer and it took me three hours to finish it. I spent most of the time drawing, talking to Antonio, then making out with you in the basement. In case you noticed, I’m not stopping you from going. I’m encouraging you.”

“That’s not the point.” Noah stabs his fork into the chicken, slides off the car then throws the container into a nearby garbage can. “I want to spend time with you at a party. Don’t you want to spend time with me?”

“Sure. I love it when drunk guys make fun of my scars, and then you get pissed off and punch them in the jaw. Which will be great because Isaiah will be here, and if you hit someone and that someone hits you back, Isaiah’s going to kill them. Yeah, that sounds like a fabulous time. I don’t know why we don’t do it every single stinking night. Before we go, can you tell me how much bail is in Colorado, because otherwise I’ll have to call my father to wire the money to get the two of you out of prison.”

Noah throws his arms out. “Is that how you see me, Echo? Most likely to spend time in prison?”

“No! I don’t, but I do know that you lose your temper when someone hurts me, and what’s frustrating is that I don’t even know why we’re fighting, so do you mind telling me what your problem is?”

Noah places his hands on his hips and lowers his head. “Nothing. Just forget it.”

Yeah, because I can force amnesia. “If it means that much to you, I’ll go.”

He glances up at me from behind the hair covering his eyes. “You’ll go?”

“Yeah.” Though I don’t understand why the heck this is so important to him. “I’ll go.”

Noah collapses back on the hood of the car and, honest to God, looks relieved. “Thank you. It’s crazy, but I want you there with me.”

“I like being with you.” And boys think girls are confusing. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“You didn’t. Come here.” Noah widens his stance, and I cozy up next to him between his legs and settle my head on his chest. We stand like that for a while, and I lose myself in the soothing and addictive beat of his heart.

Noah pulls at my curls, and a tingle reaches my toes. “Do you believe your mom’s going to change? Is that why you think about letting her into your life?”

The chicken in my stomach begins to crawl back up, and Noah’s fingers creep onto the nape of my neck and start a slow massage.

“I don’t know,” I answer. “I guess. She could be a good mom. Like I told Mrs. Collins, she was never the cooking or baking type, but she was awesome at doing fun stuff with me. Mom used to let me play dress-up with her clothes and makeup. As I got older, she used to talk to me about art.”

“Is that what you miss? Having someone who understands your art?”

I replay being in that room full of people who love art so much that they forgot their own canvases to watch me work. As much as it freaked me out, it was insanely cool.

“Maybe. I…my mom…” How do I explain it? “She’s my mom. See…Mom being selfish…always making everything about her…that wasn’t the bipolar. That was just her. I get that now more than I got it before. Meeting her at the cemetery, hearing what she had to say, knowing that she was finally taking care of herself and she still couldn’t say she was sorry…”

The words catch in my throat, and breathing becomes difficult.

There’s this need inside me, this desperation to say out loud that one frantic and dark truth that no one knows. The one thing I internally beg for day and night. “I want to forgive her, but how can I forgive her when she can’t admit that she’s sorry?”

Noah’s massage increases when my muscles tense. I wait for him to get mad because I’m considering cutting my mom slack, but the rebuttal segment of the conversation never solidifies.

“Why do you want to forgive her?” he asks in a soothing tone, and a part of me is a bit startled that he’s not angry.

Why do I want to forgive Mom? “Dad loves me, but he has Ashley and Alexander. Aires…is gone.” My voice breaks, so I let any thought of him drift away with the cool breeze blowing across the parking lot. “Mom seems to be trying. It’s messed up that she asked her friends to buy my paintings, but…”

My hand touches my throat in an attempt to ease the strangling sensation. “I’m tired of the blackness inside me—this goo that sludges in my veins. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of being heavy. Letting the past go, it’s got to be easier, right?”

I peek up at him, wary of Noah’s reaction.

“I’m the wrong person to ask,” he says. “Me and the past aren’t friends.”