Unedited and subject to change.*
“Looks can be deceiving.” I stare off into the night, the pills slowly starting to dull the anger that throbbed in the back of my head. I wobbled, unsteady and leaned back on my arms. The cracked wood digs into my elbows, but I’m too focused on the wave of euphoria that is slowly licking at my toes and weaving its way through my veins.
“Like this house. It looks like it is not worth a shit, but there are memories here. Old ones,” he looked at me again. “New ones. You have to look past the chipped paint and creaky floorboards, but it is there.”
I nod but my mind is pulsing in waves and I lay on my back, the splintery wood poking me through my shirt. Abel does the same and we stare out at the moon as he pulls another drag from his cigarette. The night is quiet, just the sound of our deep breaths as we both get lost in our own thoughts. He begins to ramble, picking up where he left off, but his sentences run together and he never seems to complete a thought.
“You can’t change what is on the inside… inside of people, not the house... the house can be changed.” The cherry from his cigarette blows brighter as he takes a long pull and exhales slowly. “Not really true though. I changed. Things changed. My whole life…” He tucks his arm under his head to angle his face towards the moon.
“I’ve changed, but not really. Changed a lot some ways, others not at all.” I offer, but my words seem to get caught on my tongue and I stutter as I try to push out a thought. I feel deep but the translation is lost on its way from my brain to my tongue. I feel like I’m sinking into the old wood of the porch, becoming the decrepit house that has been forgotten.
“What are you on?” Abel is on his side, propped on his elbow and looming over me, blocking out the light of the moon.
“A dilapidated porch,” I reply with a smirk like I deciphered a trick question. His eyebrows pull together and I want to reach out smooth the skin between them but I am frozen under the stormy ocean of his eyes.
“Did you take some of those pills?” His body sways slightly.
“Sorry,” I shrug and run my hand over my face. My skin tingles and itches from the medication. I want to scratch it all away, peal the paint from my shell and see if what is inside is just as fucked up, but I know it is.
“How many?” His voice is stern and I feel like I am about to be lectured by my father, but I don’t have a father so I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry.
“Two…maybe three.” I fight the smile that tugs at the corner of my lips. The moon light is making him look like an angel with a glowing halo and I want to run my hand through his hair to see if the magic scatters around him and floats off into the thick night air.
“Fuck,” he mumbles as his jaw flexes. He’s angry but it seems aimed at himself.
“I’m sorry.” I can feel sadness inside of me, but the pills hold it off, keep the tears from ever hitting the surface. I don’t want to feel anymore. I don’t belong here. My thoughts become words and I push myself up to sit, too fast. “I don’t belong here.”
His long fingers wrap around my arms and he holds me firmly in place. “Tonight you do.”
TERESA MUMMERT is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her work includes word-of-mouth bestselling, White Trash Trilogy, which landed her a three-book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster. She is also the author of the wildly popular Honor Series which chronicles the taboo romance between a student and her college professor.
To date, she's written over twenty-five novels and plans for many more releases in the future.