Whenever I thought of her, I wanted to forget everything. She probably didn’t even know who I was. She and her friends weren’t caught up in the drama that was Jonesville High. She was special. And I had nearly ruined that. Nearly ruined her. And for what? As I drove into my driveway and turned off the car, I knew that I had to make things right. Ultimately, the only person who could do that would be Lexi. No matter the cost to me, I had to speak to her, even if she had no idea who I was asides from the night. I needed to absolve things properly. Going to war had been the coward’s way of trying to fix things. I needed to do it right this time.

I bit my lip as I thought about what I should do next. And then it hit me. What better way than to invite her to my party? She may think an invitation out of the blue was odd though. I had three days to figure out a way to get her to my party without it looking suspicious.

I jumped out of my car with a vigor I hadn’t felt since being back in town. I had a plan and I hoped that I was making the right decision bringing everything up again.

Chapter 3

“Are you going to tell Luke?” Anna grinned at me as we pulled into my driveway.

“Well, duh.” I grinned and played with my long blonde hair as I jumped out of the car. “There is no way that I can keep this a secret.”

“Keep what a secret?” Luke looked out of his window and I groaned.

“You are a serious stalker, Luke Bryan,” I laughed up at him.

“I’ve been waiting on you to get home and so I had my window open.” He laughed and I noticed his black hair flopping across his eyes. “Now stay there and I will be right down.”

“Okay, stalker,” I shouted and Anna and I went and sat on the swing chair on the front porch.

“You are soo lucky that you live next door to Luke.” She smiled at me and, before I could answer, a big golden dog came leaping on me.

“Bongo!” I screamed as the dog sat in my lap and slobbered my face. “Luke Bryan, come and get your dog.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” he laughed. “Bongo, down boy, down.” Bongo didn’t even turn his face but continued to leave saliva all down my face.

I jumped up and pushed Bongo off of me and hit Luke in the arm. “That’s for getting a dog without asking me.”

“I didn’t know it had to go through you, mum,” he grinned.

“You know, I’m going to be the one who has to clean up after him and walk him,” I pouted.

“I’ll come over and help Luke,” Anna said, softly.

“Lexi, stop being so dramatic.” Luke rolled his eyes and grinned and me and I laughed at his goofy face.

“I wouldn’t keep your face like that, Luke. If the wind changes and it gets stuck like that you’ll be sorry.”

“It can’t be worse than my face now.” He made an even more grotesque face and Anna and I laughed. I cocked my head and looked at him carefully.

“You could be right.” I laughed and he grabbed and we fell to the ground as he tickled me. “Luke, stop, stop!” I shrieked, as we rolled around and we both burst out laughing as Bongo jumped on top of us, trying to join in the fun.

“Well, when my best friend calls me ugly, what do you think I’m going to do?” He grinned and blew into my ear and I shrieked again with laughter.

“Stop, it tickles.” He stopped and I stared into his green eyes with laughter in my eyes. He looked down and me with a gleam and held my arms to the ground.

“Take your words back then.” He stuck his tongue out at me.

“You’re not as ugly as a gargoyle,” I squealed and he made a sad face. I burst out laughing and looked into his face again. “Come on now, Luke, you know you’re hot.” I laughed. And it was true. With his jet-black hair, hazel green eyes and nicely toned body, Luke was one of the hottest boys in Jonesville. Only he really wasn’t a boy anymore, he was a man. Only I could never really see him that way. He was always going to be my childhood pal, snotty nosed Luke.

“Wow, a compliment from hard nosed Lexi Lord.” He grinned and pulled me up from the ground with him. “Come here.” He brushed the grass off of my trousers and smiled at me.

“Are you guys done?” Anna walked towards us with a forced smile and I rolled my eyes.

“Anna, please tell Luke to stop manhandling me.”

“You wish, Lexi.”

“Yeah, right.” I laughed and sighed as Luke pulled me into his arms to give me a hug. “What’s the hug for?”

“Can’t I hug my best friend?” His eyes sparkled.

“You want me to look after Bongo already, don’t you?” I sighed and looked up at him with slanted eyes.

“How did you know?” he laughed.

“I always know, Luke.” I poked him in the stomach. “When?”

“This weekend?”

“Why, where are you going?” I looked at him in surprise. Luke, Anna and I usually spent the weekends together.

“To Boston.”

“Oh,” I frowned. I guess maybe he was serious about this MIT thing. I tried to ignore the sad swell in my stomach. “Guess what.” I changed the subject, not wanting to think about the fact that Luke may actually move away from Jonesville.

“What?” He studied my face and we all walked into my living room. My mom wasn’t home and I sighed with relief. I didn’t want her to overhear the conversation.

“Guess!”

“What?”

“Bryce Evans is back in town and said hello to Lexi.” Anna interjected, quickly. I looked at her in reproach and she sighed. “Sorry, but I didn’t want this guessing game to go on for the next thirty minutes. I have to go home and cook dinner for my dad soon.”

“The Bryce Evans?” Luke spoke up before I could answer. I knew he didn’t want to be in the middle of another Lexi-Anna pseudo argument.

“Yes.” I grinned, too excited to let anything get me down.

“I thought he joined the army or something?” he frowned.

“The marines.”

“Or was it the air force?”

“He joined the marines.” I said, louder.

“Figures. He wasn’t smart enough for the air force.”

“Luke!” I admonished him.

“Sorry.” He rolled his eyes. “So that’s the super exciting news that you were thinking of not telling me?”

“I was going to tell you.”

“A guy you knew from high school said hi?” Luke looked at me with a serious face.

“He is more that just a random guy from high school,” I said, in a soft voice.

“I know that, Lexi,” he sighed.

“You know what would have happened if he hadn’t been there, Luke.” I looked at him, seriously.

“I know.” Luke turned away from me, with a clenched fist. I could see he was upset.

“You know I don’t blame you, Luke.”

“I should have been there.” He turned back to me with real concern in his face. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret it.”

“It’s the past, Luke,” Anna said, angrily. “You really need to forget about it.”

“Anyone want a drink?” I jumped up and tried to break the heavy mood that filled the living room. “I think we have coke.”

“What? No Pepsi?” Luke grinned and I laughed at him as I shook my head.

“Sorry, we are a coke household.”

“Luke, I wanted to thank you once again for adopting Bongo,” Anna interjected. “I can’t tell you how happy you have made me.”

“Anything for you, Anna.” He grinned at her and she blushed. “Plus, now I can make sure Lexi gets some exercise in.”

“Ahem!” I faked an angry voice. “And how are you going to make sure of that?”

“When you walk him.”

“I’m not going to be walking your dog, Luke.”

“But won’t you join me when I walk him?” He put on an innocent, pleading face.

“I guess,” I sighed. “I guess I could stand to lose ten pounds.”

“Or twenty.” Luke stared at me with a bland face and I swat him on the arm.

“I will get you for that, Luke.”

“Uh huh.”

“Just wait.” I grinned at him and I saw Anna rolling her eyes.

“Are you guys ever going to grow up?” She stood up. “We’re not in high school any more, guys. We are adults and we should all act like we are.”

“Hey, are you okay, Anna?” I frowned at her as she walked to the front door.

“I’m fine,” she sighed. “I should get going. Dad had a long day at work today. I should go and get dinner ready for him.”

“Okay.” I walked over and gave her a hug. “Do you want a ride?”

“No. I can walk.” She smiled at me softly. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Bye, Anna Banana.” Luke called to her as he poured himself a coke from the kitchen.

“I hope she’s okay,” I frowned as I walked into the kitchen and joined Luke.

“Who?” He chugged his drink and looked at me in confusion.

“Anna, Luke. Anna,” I sighed. “You know, our friend, who just left.”

“I’m sure she’s fine.” He sidled up next to me. “Want a Dawson’s Creek night?”

“Tonight?” I raised an eyebrow.

“It’s Bongo’s first night. I think it will be fun.”

“Where?”

“My place?” He cocked his head. “I figured your mom wouldn’t be too happy if Bongo spent the night already.”

I laughed and grabbed an apple. “You got that right.”

“So we down?”

“Can we eat chocolate in the bed?” I grinned at him.

“Only if you promise to eat it carefully.”

“Don’t I always?”

“No. The last time, you dropped a bunch of crumbs that melted and it looked like shit all over my sheets.”

“Well, maybe you need diapers then?” I looked at him with a funny face.

“Funny, Lexi,” he laughed. “You can have chocolate if you don’t turn my bed into poopyville.”

“Eww—you’re gross,” I laughed. “And who knows what Bongo is going to do.”

“Anna said he’s potty trained.”

“I sure hope so.” We both laughed and watched as Bongo licked his balls on the rug in my living room. I knew I should get the dog out as soon as possible, because if my mom came home and saw him she would have a fit. Just like she did over everything she had no control over. I sighed and turned to Luke. “Take Bongo and get out of here. I’ll be over later.”

“So you can talk more about dreamy Bryce?” He wriggled his eyebrows and I slapped him on the arm.

“Luke.” I growled at him and he cocked his head and looked at me curiously. “Okay, maybe a little bit,” I laughed. “This is exciting for me.”

“I don’t know why,” he sighed. I pushed him towards the door.

“I’ll be over around 9pm?”

“That sounds good.” He picked up Bongo and they left the house. I surveyed and smelled the room to make sure that there were no discernible traces of Bongo anywhere when my mom got home. I really wasn’t in the mood for an argument and I didn’t want her to spoil my good mood. I ran to the rug and straightened it out, before running back to the kitchen to wash out the glasses and dry them. If she saw two empty glasses she would want to know who had been over at the house. And then she would put me though the fifth degree. I didn’t want that. Not today. Not when I was happy.

I knew that I should just move out and try to find a place of my own. Well, with a friend. Anna would never leave her dad and her animals, but Luke had seemed quite keen whenever I had discussed getting an apartment. Especially now that he had some money. In fact, he thought it was a great idea. Only I felt guilty about leaving my mom. My salary, though meager, helped to pay the rent for that house. Something my mom couldn’t do on her waitress salary fully. There was no way I could just leave and not help out. And there was no way I could leave and still help out.

Luke had suggested that he could pay the whole rent, but I had not been comfortable with that. Money was the quickest way to ruin a friendship is what Grandpa Webb had always said to me when I was young. And I didn’t want to lose Luke. Not now and not ever.

So here I was, at twenty-two, still stuck living with my mom. My crazy, erratic and heartbroken mom. I put the last glass in the cupboard and felt my shoulders tense as I heard my mom’s clunker pull into the drive.

“Lexi?” she called out, softly, as she walked through the front door.

“Hi Mom,” I called out from the kitchen. My mom panicked if she didn’t hear an immediate response from me.

“Lexi, where are you?” She walked through the living room quickly and then into the kitchen. Her blonde, wispy hair was hanging around her shoulders and she came up to me with a big hug. “Oh, I wasn’t sure if you were home yet.”

“My car’s in the driveway, mom,” I sighed and hugged her back.

“I know, but something seemed off when I walked through the door.” She sighed and looked at me with big, wide blue eyes. “I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m fine, mom.” I tried to stop from rolling my eyes. I knew how important I was to my mom, after everything that had happened.


Tags: J.S. Cooper Scarred Romance
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