“Give me your phone,” I ordered Madoc as I made my way through the crowd of hushed whispers and nosy-fuckin’-invasive eyes.
“Man, just leave her alone for now,” he groaned.
All these damn people. Their eyes were on me, and there were even some hanging out the school’s windows. Everyone had seen this, and someone had probably shot a video of Tate tearing up my car.
My car. I groaned. I couldn’t even look at it.
“Phone. Now.” I held out my hand after we’d gotten some space. He plopped it down in my hand.
“I’m going to look for her.” I started dialing Tate’s number. “You stay here and go talk to the principal. Make sure she doesn’t get in trouble for this.”
Principal Masters was scared of Madoc’s father, and thank God for that. Mr. Caruthers wasn’t just a lawyer. He was the guy whose cases were studied in law schools.
His weight kept us out of trouble, and now Tate was going to keep her record clean, too. I dug in my pocket for my keys.
“They’re going to know about the video, Jared. He’ll keep her out of trouble, but he’ll call her dad.”
“Fuck!” I growled, shutting up everyone around me. Girls squealed and others backed away.
That’s when I noticed I still had an audience, and for the first time in weeks, felt the need to hit shit. “All of you,” I bellowed, pointing my finger around me in a circle, “erase that video from your fucking
phones! Now! If I see anyone with it, you’re dead! Bitches included.”
“Oh, Jesus.” Madoc ran his hands over his face. “Are you trying to get arrested?”
Fuck ‘em all.
“If she shows up, for any reason, get a phone and call me.” And I turned around and climbed into my nearly broken car.
I drove around for about an hour before I worked up the courage to call her father. He might hear it from the school, but he needed to hear it from me first. I’d been calling and texting Tate non-stop, but it time to face the music.
Tate’s dad picked up on the first ring.
“Hello?” he asked, confusion filling his voice. I had Madoc’s phone, and he didn’t know the number. “Mr. Brandt? It’s Jared.”
“Jared?” he blurted out. “What’s wrong?” I almost laughed.
Mr. Brandt and I texted. If I was calling, then he knew something was up.
“Tate’s fine,” I assured him right away, but it felt like a lie. Physically, she was okay. “But something happened.” I paused and then spitted it out. “It’s probably a good idea for you to come home as soon as possible.”
That tasted like vinegar, but there was no way around it. Tate needed her father right now.
“What the hell happened?” he barked, and I jerked the phone away from my ear.
I slowly and timidly, using the most sugar-coated language I possibly could, let him know that Tate and I were having sex, a video was recorded of us at a Homecoming party, and it appeared to be sent to the whole school from my phone that I’d lost.
Yeah, I was going to be shot.
The heavy silence coming from the other end of the line had me cringing. I kept telling myself to shut up, because at any moment he’d reach through, grab my neck and squeeze until he killed me.
“Mr. Brandt?” I squinted my eyes like I was bracing myself for a beat down when he didn’t respond. “Do you have any idea where she might have gone?”
He was silent for a moment and then cleared his throat. “Maybe to the cemetery.” “Yes, sir. I’ll try there.”
“Jared,” he piped up again, calmer than I expected. “Find my child. Get her home safe,” he ground out every angry word. “And don’t leave her side until I get home.”
I nodded, even though he couldn’t see it.
“And then,” he added, “I may never let you near her again.” My stomach dropped to my feet, and he hung up.
Driving into Concord Hill Cemetery was like stepping into a dream on shaky ground. I’d been here a lot of times before but rarely without Tate.
Her mother was buried there, and it was where I’d realized that she was more than a friend. I’d brought a balloon to her mother’s grave and stolen the fossil necklace that Tate had left her mother from here.
Even though this place was tied to something painful for Tate, I looked at it with good memories.
My heart started bouncing around my chest like a tennis ball when I saw her dad’s Bronco parked along the side of the lane near her mom’s grave.
She was safe.
I let out a breath and pulled in behind her truck, cutting the engine.
My boots ground the shattered glass under my feet from Tate smashing my windows as I got out of the car, but I barely noticed.
My eyes were on her, lying on top of her mom’s grave, forehead down to the ground. I tried to put myself in her shoes.
Did I care that people saw me having sex with someone? Yes.
Did I care that people saw my girlfriend’s body? Not just her naked body but what it was doing to mine?