Crushed Page 48

Something flashes across Devon’s face. Confusion, maybe? But he recovers quickly, and takes a bite of his fish and chips. “Fair enough. What do you want to talk about?”

I lean forward and steal one of his fries, deciding that for now, for today, I’ll simply appreciate that I have Devon’s undivided attention for the first time in nearly a decade, with no threat of Kristin waiting around the corner with a pouty demand.

“Tell me about law school,” I say. “When do you leave? How often do you shit your pants thinking about it? Are you taking your cowboy boots to Boston? I want to know everything.”

With a deep breath, Devon starts talking, answering all my questions, his voice as animated as I’ve ever heard it.

But it’s not his words that have my heart thumping louder than normal.

It’s the thoughtful way he looks at me in between the words.

Chapter 21


I rent a basement in a town house in the heart of “downtown” Cedar Grove, which basically means it’s right off the main drag.

Which is pretty much the only drag.

Cedar Grove is mainly a bedroom community, so outside of the club, the Pig and Scout bar, and a handful of chain restaurants, there’s not much “town” to speak of.

The dude who owns the town house rents out the whole thing. I had the pick of basement or first floor (some weird lady who I’m pretty sure is a hoarder lives on the top floor), and I went with the basement because it was cheap.

When I moved in eight months ago, I didn’t know how long I’d be in town, and since I’d hightailed it out of New York without a penny from my father—the man who raised me—the cheaper option had seemed smarter.

But it’s starting to feel small.

And dark.

And honestly? Lonely.

At least it has its own entrance, and the windows at ground level let in a little natural light.

But I don’t fool myself. My current home is little more than a cave. A place to hide.

And never does it feel quite so isolated and barren as at four A.M.

I worked a shift at P&S tonight. Technically the bar closes at twelve, but there were some stragglers, and then Blake talked me into a couple beers and a game of pool after close, so I didn’t get home until two.

There’s been shit on TV, and the thriller I picked up at the used bookstore has taken a turn for the stupid.

As for sleep? It hasn’t come easily in a long while.

Luckily I don’t have to be at the club until eleven today. Kristin’s exile to Seattle has left a hole in my schedule. Bad for my bank account, good for my night-owl tendencies.

I frown as I realize how little I care that Kristin’s disappeared from my life. Hell, I’ve barely even noticed. Just a couple months ago my entire week had been based around Wednesday afternoons, when I’d get to see her in her short skirts. Now I barely remember what she looks like, much less why I wanted her.

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten to know Chloe better, and next to Chloe, Kristin seems so … mundane. Hell, anyone compared to Chloe seems mundane.

Bored, and annoyed with myself, I flop backward onto the king-size bed that I rarely bother to make and pull out my cellphone. If I’d been born a decade earlier, I probably would have some beat-up manila envelope where I stashed a bunch of creepy newspaper clippings of Tim Patterson.

But since I can’t remember the last time I touched an actual newspaper, or even a manila envelope, for that matter, everything I need to know about the man is saved online.

I haven’t looked at it since the Fourth of July, when I realized that merely sharing blood with the man wouldn’t make me his son in a way that mattered.

Not since I realized that I didn’t feel any magical pull toward him, and he definitely didn’t feel it toward me.

We were two complete strangers. Nothing in common save inconvenient DNA.

So what the hell am I still doing in Texas?

I have a sinking feeling that the answer is as pathetic as this: I have nowhere else to go.

My thumb swipes across the screen, not really absorbing anything more than the headlines and grainy photos.

I’ve looked at these articles so often, I practically have them memorized, but I wonder if it’ll be different now that I’ve met the guy in person.

By the time I get to the last saved article—a fluff piece mostly featuring his wife’s dedication to literacy—I realize that shaking the guy’s hand didn’t give me even an ounce of clarity about how I feel about all of this.

I can’t straddle the line.

Either I’ve got to walk away from Cedar Grove, Texas, acknowledging Tim Patterson as little more than a sperm donor who has no place in my life—nor I in his.

Or I can get some balls and confront the guy.

I don’t need to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner or anything, but a part of me wonders if the guy doesn’t deserve to know that he’s got another son. Because my mom swears up and down that she never told him.

I wince a little when I think of my mom. She calls every Sunday like clockwork. I decline her calls like clockwork, too.

I try telling myself that I’m not mad at her; I don’t feel much of anything when she calls, to be honest, and I worry that makes me the biggest asshole on the planet.

She’s my mom, and other than being a little self-absorbed, she was a pretty good one.

But she’s also the woman who cheated on her husband. Who spent twenty-three years lying to her only son.

No … twenty-four years.

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