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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(12)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(12)
Author: Kasie West

“I can’t today. Sorry.”

“But the doctor said this week, right?”

“Two more weeks.” Trevor’s voice sounds tight. The little boy lets out a disappointed groan, and Trevor says, “You’re tellin’ me.”

My eyes wander to my bare walls. They’re an empty canvas, waiting for me to decorate.

The boy continues, “Oh, Ma called and said to tell you to put dinner in the oven because she’s going to be late.”

“Okay, I’ll be right there.” To me Trevor says, “Sorry about that.”

“What happened to you?” I ask.

“Excuse me?”

“Why can’t you throw?” I think about the two purple scars down his right shoulder. “How did you get hurt?”

“Playing football.”

I keep a groan from voicing its opinion. “You’re a football player?”

“I was last year, before I got hurt.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah, pretty much. So, anyway, I have to go, but did you need a ride to the movie or did you just want to meet us over there?”

“I don’t have a car yet.” Another casualty lost to the move. Even though my car is ancient, it’s still more advanced than anything they have here, so I had to leave it behind. My dad promised to get me a Norm-friendly car soon.

“Okay, I’ll come get you then.”

“Thanks. I’ll just text you my address.”

I hang up and pocket my phone with a smile. I have a friend. I’m proud of myself. I spin around and nearly trip over the basket full of clean and folded laundry near the foot of my bed. The phone in my pocket vibrates, and I answer before the number has time to register on the screen. “Calling to cancel already?”

“Cancel what?” Laila asks.

“Oh! Hey!”

“You sound happy. Why are you happy?”

I start to put away my laundry. “Because I’m going out with Trevor and his friends on Friday.”

“Aw, I’m like a proud mother bird watching my daughter fly from the nest. Fly, little bird, fly. Oh no! Don’t fall. No, that’s the ground. Addie, watch out for the ground. Man, tough luck. You’d better come back home.”

I stick out my bottom lip. “Was that supposed to be encouraging?”

“No, but it amused me. And I’m ready for you to come home.”

“Why?” One of the cuffs on a pair of folded jeans is sticking out farther than the other, so I refold them.

“Because you’re my best friend.” She sounds down.

“There’s another reason. What is it?”

“It’s just … it’s just nothing. I miss you. So tell me about Trevor.”

She can’t get off that easy. “Laila, talk to me.”

“You just keep me grounded, that’s all. Now, please do your job. So this Trevor guy is my supposed replacement?”

I sigh. “Yes.”

“You know that will never work. Boys and girls can’t be best friends. It’s impossible.”

I shake my head as if she can see me. “No, that’s not true. He fits all the criteria of a male best friend.”

“Okay, I’ll play. What are the criteria of a male best friend?”

“One: I feel completely comfortable around him, no nervousness or anxiety. Two: He’s really nice. And three: He doesn’t annoy me.”

“Wait, are you saying a love interest has to annoy you?”

“At first. And then eventually it’s realized that all that annoyance and mistrust is actually romantic tension.”

“Addie, you’re seriously screwed up.”

I add the folded jeans to a stack in the closet and then sit on my desk chair. My other line beeps, and I pull the phone away from my ear to see who’s calling. “Ugh, my mom.”

“Answer it,” Laila says.

“I don’t want to.”

“She nearly attacked me the other day at the grocery store asking how you were doing and if you were adjusting. It was pathetic.”

“If she wanted to know how I was doing, maybe she shouldn’t have left my dad.”

“You have to talk to her sooner or later.”

I bite my lip. I know she’s right. I know my dad’s right—I should call my mom. But just the thought of talking to her makes my throat close up. “I choose later.”

I hear a knock on Laila’s door. “Hey, hold on.” In the background her dad asks her if he can borrow some money. “I don’t have any, used the last of it on lunch today,” she tells him. I can’t hear his exact response, but I can tell he’s not happy. She finally gets back on the phone. I can practically hear the eye roll in her voice when she says, “My dad is killing me.”

“What did he say?”

“He owes some guy money. What’s new?”

“I’m sorry.”

“No feeling sorry for me.” She lets out a long sigh and then yells, “Dad! Doorbell.” To me she mumbles, “It’s probably Mr. Debt Collector.” There’s a pause and another grunt from Laila. “Hey, I gotta go get the stupid door. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay. Be careful and don’t do anything stupid,” I say, but she’s already gone.

CHAPTER 11

PAR-A-li-a-tion: n. beyond the average humiliation I stare in the mirror, trying to ignore the nervous pattering of my heart. The strip turned out more electric blue than I thought it would. Plus it covers a larger section than I had intended. I could tell it was bad when even Laila’s eyes got wide after we dried and straightened my hair.

Laila fluffs it. “Maybe you should wear it curly after all. Straightened probably brings it out more.”

“No,” I insist. “Rebellion requires commitment.”

“I think it looks hot,” Duke says. “But that’s just coming from the guy who hopes to play another role in your rebellion.”

Laila looks between us. “What?”

“Nothing,” I say. “I’d better get home.”

“Hey, Duke, can you take her? I need to check on my dad.”

I throw Laila a look, but she sings, “Thanks” as she runs out of the bathroom and disappears down the hall.

Duke laughs. “I should be the one thanking her.”

“I’m kicking her butt tomorrow. Come on, let’s go.” We walk out the door and Duke says, “I’d put my money on her in a fight.”

I gasp and backhand him across the stomach. Then I blush when I realize that counts as flirting in Laila’s Flirting 101 crash course she’s tried to give me many times over the years. “Sorry,” I say, shoving my hand in my pocket.

“It didn’t hurt.”

When we get in the car, Duke turns up the radio to just short of unbearable and proceeds to talk above it the entire ride, about football and how small his meditation cubicle is and how his mom makes the best peach pie that I should try and on and on. I’m glad I don’t have to try to fill the silence.

“This is me.” I point out my house that seems so small and plain with Duke looking at it. He lives on the edge of town with all the other large houses. He pulls over. “Thanks.” I start to get out.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you? Your mom probably wouldn’t yell quite as loud with a witness.”

I do not want him to come inside. “We can’t lay it on her all at once. The hair is first. The boy is second.” I have no clue why I said that.

He nods. “All right. Well, good luck. I’ll see you tomorrow.” His stare is so intense, I feel like he can see right through me.

I put my hand on the center console, inches from where his rests. “Do you like to read?”

“Read?”

“You know, download a book onto your tablet and read it … for fun.”

“Not really.”

I raise my eyebrows. “See you tomorrow.” I hop out of the car.

“We’re like magnets, Addie,” he calls after me.

I laugh. He does make me laugh. I sigh and walk into the house.

“Addie, where have you been?” my mom asks from the kitchen.

I take a deep breath and pat my hair for a moment, tempted to run to my bedroom and grab a hat. I remind myself that rebellion takes commitment.

“Addie?” my mom calls again. “Are you going to answer me? Where have you been?”

“Just at Laila’s house.”

“I wish you would’ve called. I made dinner.” From the smell of it, she burned dinner.

“I already ate.” I walk into the kitchen and grab a water bottle from the fridge, trying to act casual. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mom gaping.

“What did you do to your hair?” Her voice is low and angry.

My commitment falters. “It comes out. Twenty-one washes.” That’s not what I intended to say. The plan was to put my hand on my hip and say, “It’s my hair. I can do what I want with it.” That’s what brave, angsty teenagers say after they do something rebellious. But I’m pretty sure those teenagers didn’t ever have to answer to someone like my mother. I’m also sure I’m neither brave nor angsty.

“Addie, seriously?”

“What’s the big deal?” Again, it is supposed to sound punkish, but I sound scared.

“Go away from me. I don’t want to look at you again until your twenty-one wash cycle is complete.”

I start to walk to my room.

“Oh, and no one else gets to look at you outside of school until then as well. You’re grounded for as long as it takes to wash it out.”

Could she be any more controlling? “No wonder Dad left.” It’s the first thing I say that actually sounds how I want it to and the only thing I instantly regret. I don’t have to look back to know I hurt her with the words. The lights in my room come on as I enter, and I sink onto my bed with a sigh of frustration.

My cell phone rings with a number I don’t recognize. “Hello?”

“How’d it go?” Duke is on the other end.

I stand up and part the drapes covering my window, wondering how he timed his call so perfectly. Did he see my bedroom lights go on? The street is empty. “How did you get this number?”

“I made a few calls, but eventually found Laila’s number. Then she gave me yours. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since you were already kicking her butt.”

“Are you a stalker? Because I’m not really into stalkers.”

He laughs. “So, how’d it go?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, a dull ache starting behind my eyes. “Perfect, actually. Just like I thought it would.”

“What movie is she taking you to?”

I collapse back onto my bed. “Um, we’re not quite that far into the reaction process yet.”

“I see.”

My mom knocks on my door and it slides open. “They can’t hear your voice either. Off the phone,” she says, and then leaves.

“What did she say?”

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