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Losing Grip(9)
Author: Scarlett Haven

When I kiss a boy for the first time, I want to be certain. The only certainty I have with Preston Lomax is the certainty that he will annihilate my heart.

“I’m going to head back in there.” Preston points toward the door. “You want to come dance, Cove?”

“Maybe later.” I smile, trying to soften the blow. I just can’t be around him right now. I need to breathe. He’s way too intense.

He smirks. “You have my number. Call me when you’re done being scared.”

With that, he turns and walks back inside. I just lean against the railing, trying to breathe.

What is with him?

“You should stay away from that guy.”

I turn to see who spoke to me. When I look up, I see…

“Hunter.” I purse my lips.

“Cove.” He nods his head at me. “I meant what I said. Preston Lomax is bad news.”

I huff, putting my hands on my hips. “Don’t tell me what to do.”

His light green eyes appear to darken as he takes a step closer to me. I swallow hard, but I don’t back down. I don’t want him to think I am scared of him, even if I am.

“I’m serious, Cove.” His voice is soft, which surprises me. “A guy like that only wants one thing, and something tells me he wants something you’re not willing to give.”

I frown.

Can he tell by looking at me how innocent I am? Does he know that I’ve never even kissed a boy? What about me screams ‘naive?’

“Don’t look so sad,” Hunter says.

I turn to him, frowning. “You don’t know me. Why do you care?”

He shrugs. “I just do.”

I put my hands on my hips. “Well, there is something you should know. I wasn’t planning on seeing Preston again. He’s… too much.” I shake my head. “But now that you told me I shouldn’t see him, I kind of want to, just to make you mad.”

Hunter chuckles. “I should’ve known that this wouldn’t be easy.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I ask.

“Nothing.” He smiles at me. “Have a good night, Cove.”

With that, Hunter turns and leaves me standing on the balcony.

I sigh, thinking boys are confusing.

 

 

Sunday, August 23

One wrong move.

 

 

When I was a kid, my mother hated when I got compliments. People would stop us in the grocery store to tell my mom how ‘beautiful’ her daughter was. Every time somebody did that, I remember being so tense, knowing what was coming the second we would leave.

You see, my mother can’t stand for anybody to be prettier than her—not even a five-year-old kid. Eventually, she stopped taking me places. I haven’t been seen out in public with my mother in years. I am completely fine with this fact.

When I wake up on Sunday morning with my phone ringing, my stomach clenches when I see ‘Karen Bradbury’ on the screen.

Why in the world is my mother calling me? Especially this early in the morning. It’s seven o’clock. My mom doesn’t like to get up before noon. Though, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what time my mom calls—I always dread seeing her name flash on my screen.

For a moment, I think about sending the call to voicemail, but I know better. She won’t stop calling until I answer.

Taking a deep breath, I slide to answer my phone.

“Hello.”

I hate how shaky my voice sounds. I already know my mother is probably smiling smugly at the fact that she thinks she probably ruined my day. Normally, talking to her would ruin my day, but I won’t let it now.

I’m at boarding school. I’m free! I’m finally away from her. What can she do to ruin my day? She’s over two hundred miles away.

“Hello, Cove. How is boarding school?” Mom’s voice sounds sweet as she says it, but I know not to trust the sweetness. She may be the devil, but she can disguise herself as an angel.

I know not to be truthful in my answer to my mom. If I tell her that I love it, she will find a way to force me to come home. If I tell her I’m miserable, she will ensure I stay through the end of the school year—that is what I want.

“Can I come home?” I ask. I even manage to drum up a few fake tears. “I hate it here. Nobody likes me, all the kids are stuck up, and I’m miserable.”

I can practically feel my mother’s delight through the phone. “You know you’re not a likable person. It’s something you should just get used to now, while you’re young.”

Her words cause a sharp pain to go through my heart, even though I know they’re not true.

“Have you been leaving your dorm room much?” Mom asks.

Her question stuns me for a minute. Why is she asking if I’m leaving my dorm room? She’s never cared before how much time I spend in or out of my room.

Is this a trick question?

I sit up, twirling a piece of hair around my finger. “Well, I kind of have to leave my dorm to eat and stuff. But since I haven’t made any friends, I’ve mostly been in my room.”

I hope that I am answering her question the way she wants me to.

She sighs. “Cove, you have to leave your dorm room. I want you to leave your room today. Don’t come back until curfew. You can’t expect to find a loser willing to be your friend if you don’t try.”

I roll my eyes.

Of course only a ‘loser’ would want to be friends with me.

“Okay, Mom. I promise.”

“Call me Karen. You know I hate it when you call me Mom.” I can hear the disgust in her voice as she says it. “I’ve got to go. I can’t stay on the phone and coddle you all day. Get out of your dorm room and quit being such a loser.”

“Of course.”

“And you better not bother Liam. He doesn’t have time to put up with you. He’s too nice to tell you when you’re bothering him.”

“I know.”

“If I find out in any way that you have been bothering him, it’ll be off to military school for you.”

I swallow hard at her threat. “I promise. I barely see Liam anyway, only in passing.”

It’s best to lie to her about Liam. Later, I’ll have to text him and tell him to make sure our parents know that we’re definitely not hanging out, even though we are.

“Good. Don’t embarrass the family. In fact, don’t even let anybody know that Liam is your brother—best not to ruin his reputation by being associated with you.”

I put a hand at the base of my throat. “I know, Karen. I wouldn’t do that to him.”

“You better not.”

My phone beeps as the call comes to an abrupt and sudden end. I sit there, looking at the blank screen, wondering what I did to deserve a mother like Karen Bradbury.

I put my phone down on my bed and rub my hands over my face.

One minute—that is how long I will allow myself to be upset over the conversation I just had with her. I’m at boarding school now. I’m far, far away from Karen Bradbury and her stupid rules. I will not let her dictate my life here.

My phone vibrates on the bed. Cringing, I pick it up, hoping it’s not Karen—it’s not.

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