Дженнифер Ли Арментроут
If There’s No Tomorrow
“Sure,” I replied, going for my usual bored tone when talking about Sebastian.
“Where’s he at now?”
“At the school. They’ve got a scrimmage game tonight. He’s not playing, but they’ve probably got him practicing.”
“You’re working this weekend?” she asked.
“Yeah, but this is my last weekend for a while, since school starts. Why? You want to do something?”
“Of course. Better than being stuck on babysitting duty at home and listening to my parents bitching at one another.” Abbi nudged my leg with her sandaled foot. “You know, I hate to even point this out, but do you think Skylar might’ve had a point asking—”
“About me and Sebastian? No. What? That’s stupid.”
A doubtful look crossed her face. “You don’t love Sebastian at all?”
My heart started pounding in my chest. “Of course I love him. I love you and Dary, too. I even love Megan.”
“But you didn’t love Andre—”
“No. I didn’t.” Closing my eyes, I thought about my ex even though I really didn’t want to. We’d dated almost all last year, and Abbi was right: Andre was awesome and nice, and I felt like a jerk for ending things with him. But I tried, really tried, even by taking it to the next level—the level—but my interest just wasn’t there. “It wasn’t working out.”
She was quiet for a moment. “You know what I think?”
I let my arms fall to my sides. “Something wise and sage?”
“Those two words mean the same thing, idiot.” She kicked my leg again. “If you’re not being entirely honest with yourself about Sebastian, then applying to UVA is a smart idea.”
“What does he have to do with UVA?”
She tilted her head to the side. “Are you saying it’s a coincidence that the one school that’s not high on his list is the one school you’re gunning for?”
Stunned into silence, I wasn’t sure what to say. Abbi had never insinuated that I was interested in Sebastian beyond being friends before. I was confident I’d kept that embarrassing yearning desire well hidden, but obviously not as well as I believed. First Skylar, who really didn’t know me, and now Abbi, who did?
“UVA is an awesome school and has an amazing anthropology department.” I opened my eyes and my gaze fixed on the cracked plaster of the ceiling.
Abbi’s voice softened. “You’re not...hiding again, are you?”
The back of my throat burned as I pressed my lips together. I knew what she was talking about, and it had nothing to do with Sebastian. It had everything to do with the missed call earlier. “No,” I told her. “I’m not.”
She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Are you really going to wear those shorts to work? You look like a low-rent Daisy Duke in them.”
* * *
At Keith’s. You coming out?
The text from Sebastian came just as I was pulling into my driveway after my Friday shift. While I normally didn’t pass up an opportunity to hang with Sebastian, I was feeling a little weird after the whole conversation with Abbi. Plus I was exhausted, so I was ready to climb under the covers and lose myself for a little while in a book.
Staying in tonight, I texted back.
He promptly replied with the smiling poop emoticon.
Grinning, I replied with Turd.
The triple dots appeared and then, You going to be up later?
Maybe. I climbed out of the car and headed toward the front door.
Then maybe I’ll swing by.
My stomach dipped as it twisted. I knew what that meant. Sometimes Sebastian snuck over really late, usually when something was going down at home he didn’t want to deal with...that something usually being his dad.
And I knew, I knew deep down, that even with all the years he’d been dating Skylar, he’d never done that with her. When something was troubling him, he sought me out, and I knew I shouldn’t have been thrilled about that, but I was. And I held that knowledge close to my heart.
I followed the low hum of the TV, passing through the small entry room that was overflowing with umbrellas and sneakers and the small table piled with unopened mail.
The glow of the TV cast soft, flickering light over the couch. Mom was curled up on her side, one hand shoved under a throw pillow. She was out cold.
Stepping around the love seat, I grabbed the afghan off the back of the couch and carefully draped it over Mom. As I straightened, I thought about what Abbi had told me earlier. I had no idea if her mom was cheating on her dad, but I thought about my mom and how she would’ve never cheated on Dad. The mere thought almost made me laugh, because she loved him like the sea loved the sand. He’d been her universe, her sun that rose in the morning and the moon that took over the night sky. She loved Lori and me, but she had loved Dad more.
But Mom’s love wasn’t enough. My and my sister’s love was never enough. In the end, Dad still left us. All of us.
And, God help me, I was a lot like my father.
I looked like him, except I was more of an...average version. Same mouth. Same strong nose that was almost too big for my face. Same hazel-colored eyes, more brown than any other interesting shade. My hair matched his, a brown that sometimes turned auburn in the sunlight, and it was on the long side, falling past my breasts. My body was neither thin nor overweight. I was somewhere stuck in the middle. I wasn’t tall or short. I was just...
Not like my mom, though. She was stunning, all blond hair and flawless skin. Even though life had gotten way harder in the last five years, she persevered and that made her all the more beautiful. Mom was strong. She never gave up, no matter what, even if there were moments where she looked like she just might want to pack it all in.
For Mom, our love was enough to keep going.
Lori got the blessed side of our genetics, taking after Mom. Blonde bombshell to the max, with all the curves and pouty lips to back it up.
But the similarities ran deeper than the physical for me.
I was a runner, too, and not the healthy kind. When things got too rough, I checked out, just like Dad had. I made an art form of looking toward tomorrow instead of focusing on today.
But I was also like my mother. She was a chaser. Always running after someone who didn’t even realize you were there. Always waiting for someone who was never going to come back.
It was like I ended up with the worst qualities of my parents.
Heaviness settled in my chest as I went upstairs and got ready for bed. This November would be four years since Dad left. I couldn’t believe it had already been that long. Still felt like yesterday in a lot of ways.
Throwing back the covers on my bed, I started to climb in but stopped when my gaze fell on the doors leading out to the balcony. I should lock the doors. Sebastian probably wouldn’t stop by, and besides, even if he did, that...that wasn’t good.
Maybe that was why no one else interested me.
Why Andre hadn’t kept my interest.