Made for You Page 33

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“We haven’t really talked about Micki,” I tell them.

“Will she be home by the funeral?” Jessica Greer, one of the Piper-ettes asks.

The others watch. Laurel Dawson and Bailey Owens whisper to each other, but they’re as likely to be talking about this as shoes. CeCe Watkins seems utterly unconcerned by the drama, but she is still waiting for my answer like the others are.

“I’m not sure,” I hedge. I don’t want them to know Eva is home in case she isn’t ready for a deluge of visitors. “She’s doing a lot better, but . . . we haven’t talked about it.”

“I’ll ask Robert,” Piper says. “I know he’s been visiting her during the week. His mother was complaining about how much time he’s spent there. She thinks he blames himself because he had a flat that night.”

My mouth opens as I turn to stare at her, wondering what to say. Jessica and Bailey both nod, mutely agreeing with Piper.

“She’s lucky.” Piper pushes off the lockers and quickly amends, “I mean, she’s not lucky because the accident was just horrible, but she’s lucky you both care about her so much.”

“Right.” I nod my head.

I see Nate standing nearby. He’s staring at the girls, and I realize he must have heard Piper’s remarks. “I’ll catch you later,” I murmur, and then call out, “Hey, Nate?”

He meets my gaze, and I concentrate on looking at him instead of letting my attention drift to Piper or the other now wide-eyed girls. I’m not worried about being seen talking to him. I’ve never been under him, and I have no intention of changing that, especially since it’s obvious that Eva has a thing for him. When I’m standing directly in front of him, I ask quietly, “Did you hear them?”

He tips his head slightly and then glances at Piper. “You probably shouldn’t stand here too long.”

“Because the Piper-ettes will think I’m chasing you?”

He nods once.

“I’m not a sycophant, so I’m not particularly concerned about what they think.”

Unexpectedly, he laughs, and for a moment, I get why Eva and half the girls in school look at him like he’s a god. He’s beautiful when he laughs. He’s still an emotional train wreck, but at least he’s an attractive disaster.

“You’re certainly a step up from the asshat.”

“We’re just friends,” he says quickly.

“You and the asshat?”

Nate rolls his eyes. “You’re about as funny as she is.”

“You want funny? Watch this.” I hook my arm through his. “Walk with me to our exam.”

Once we pass the gossips, Nate looks down at me. “That’s your idea of funny? Your reputation—”

“Will be just fine,” I interrupt.

“You don’t know what they can be like,” he says in a low voice. “Amy Crowne used to be one of Piper’s friends. I grew up with them. It doesn’t take a minute to end up worth no more than the muck on the bottom of their shoes.”

I’m a little shocked to get a glimpse of the person Eva sees. He’s trying to protect me, but I don’t think he realizes how much he’s sharing. He was one of them. Now they don’t even talk to him. Whether he says it outright or not, there’s bitterness there.

“I don’t care if they ignore me,” I admit just as quietly. “I’m only around them because Eva’s my friend. Soon I’ll be applying to college, and then I’ll be gone, and none of these people will be anything but vague memories.”

I release his arm as we walk into the room.

“The joy of not being a native Jessupite,” he says, softening the bite of his tone with a quick smile.

I watch him stalk to his seat and drop into it. The girls who aren’t looking at him are staring at me with blatant curiosity on their faces.

Reid and Jamie look at me and then at Nate. He glares at them and very pointedly doesn’t look at me at all. Everyone is tense after Eva’s accident and Micki’s death. I can’t imagine that’s going to get any better once they hear about Eva’s renewed friendship with Nate and her breakup with Robert.

DAY 11: “THE JOB”

Eva

I’M STARTLED WHEN THE doorbell rings, and nervous when I hear Nate’s voice. The awkwardness of my mother talking to Nate is enough to make me want to cringe, but he’s here, and there’s no way around it.

“How are your parents, Nathaniel?” she asks as they walk into the room.

“Mom’s doing fine,” he says.

“And your father?”

“I have no idea.” Nate shrugs. “I guess he’s alive. He sends child support for my brother; that’s all I care about where he’s concerned.”

I’m sure my mother is flipping through her copious mental files to recall details about the Bouchet family. I’m not sure if Nate meant to lead the conversation into awkward areas, or if he simply didn’t steer away from them. I’m almost sure he wasn’t aiming to be confrontational, but as I watch him, I realize I might be wrong. His body is tensed for conflict.

“His father has another child, a little boy named Aaron,” I supply helpfully.

My mother hears the unspoken words—that there is a different mother—and I can see the moment where she recalls the cause of the Bouchet divorce. She smiles politely at Nate and lets the subject drop.

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